Sahil Sehgal

JAT RESERVATION: WHAT YOUNG INDIA THINK THEY WANT

Reservation categorically means the action of reserving something.

Due to the innumerable castes and communities in India and the social status that has been separating the so-called ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ castes since time immemorial, the makers of our constitution saw it fit to have reservations or ‘positive discrimination’ for a certain number of communities. This reservation was for 3 categories namely: Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes. Certain boxes had to be ticked for a caste, community or tribe to fit into this reservation quota. Incidentally, the makers of our constitution also decided that this reservation policy would hold ground only for a few years before being quashed. Sadly, that was not to be. Things like vote bank politics and ‘Vote Your Caste’ made sure that the reservation policy would never be completely caput. While this has resulted in the upliftment of the backward and so called ‘lower’ classes of the Indian society, there are certain communities that want the reservation quota to be completely sacked and there are others still who want their community to be included in the quota.

So basically, in a world where people are striving and working donkeys’ hours every single day to be forward and ahead in the mad race that the world is, people in India are protesting and protesting violently at that to be backward.

Presenting to you, ladies and gentlemen of the world, your largest democracy. The Republic of India. The land of a thousand cultures, the Ganges, The Royal Bengal Tiger and so much more. The country where the number of the working population or the youth is the highest in the world, THIS IS HOW WE EMBRACE DEVELOPMENT.

Many congratulations, young India, many congratulations. You’re making so many people turn in their graves and look at you with disgust. Why, you ask? Is this what the makers of our constitution wanted us to do? To fight among ourselves as if we already didn’t have enough problems? Is this the way you thank the countless freedom fighters who, irrespective of caste or creed, religion or race, held each others’ hands and fought for the independence you’re allowed to portray your nonsense today in? Why do you want this reservation? Let me rephrase that. Why do you want your reservation by protesting so violently? Are your actions of burning down schools, houses, malls, shops, public and private transport going to make things any better? Is this what Dr. Kalam’s vision of a developed India consisted of? Freedom of speech, you say? Well, might I take this moment to shed some light on the soldiers and officers of the Indian Army who are giving up their lives in counter-insurgency and terrorism operations to make sure you have the freedom of speech intact tomorrow?

So far, the agitation in Haryana has claimed 12 lives, buildings and vehicles have been burnt down to ash, families have been brought to the road and the Army has been called in. The latest news is that the Central and State Governments have given in to the demands of the community and are expected to meet them soon. Jat community leaders have been assured that reservation will be granted to them along the lines of being an Other Backward Class. A high level committee has been formed under Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu to see how to include the Jats as a part of the OBCs. Earlier the Supreme Court had rejected the inclusion of Jats into the Central Other Backward Classes list on ground that the National Commission of Backward Classes does not consider them socially and economically backward in Haryana, given the political majority they have and the socially powerful people that they are. Those attending the meeting with Home Minister Rajnath Singh included Haryana Minister Mr. Dhankar and BJP General Secretary Anil Jain, who is in-charge of the state. During the day, the protests had spread wider, with Jats blocking the Shimla highway near Panchkula and the Bahadurgarh road to Haryana from Delhi. Curfew was in place at several towns and districts including Rohtak, Bhiwani, Sonepat, Jhajjar, Hisar and Hansi. Later in the evening, blockades from Panipat, Jind, Kaithal, Bhiwani districts were partially lifted. The blockade of the National Highway 1, too, was lifted. Road and rail have been severely affected. Airfare, which is normally between 3 and 4K from Chandigarh and Delhi, shot up to between 16,000 and 27,000. More than 700 trains have been cancelled.

I can’t speak for the rest of the people out there, just that I despise where this is headed and this isn’t how I want India to be represented the world over. First rape, now this. We can’t even remotely hope to be one of the most developed nations in the world if we continue to fight amongst ourselves like this.

You want recognition? You want people to give you admission in various institutions? Work for it. Things like reservation are shortcuts. There is no substitute for hard work. With that, I rest my case.

 

Image Courtesy: www.civilsdaily.com

Image Courtesy: www.civilsdaily.com

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Cages.

Being a girl always comes with a feeling of being trapped. We can’t go out without feeling like it’s a privilege bestowed upon us, that this may be the greatest thing our family members or anyone has ever let us do.
I remember an incident in where one of my family members who was always very concerned about me coming home by latest 8’o clock informing me that his son, who was younger than me, was had gone out with his friends and was to return late in the most casual tone possible, as if what he was doing was perfectly normal behaviour but if I was to stay out even a little late, I am a ‘girl who is getting out of hand’.
As I have grown up I have hated this kind of discrimination. I am very well aware of the fact that this if just for my safety and nothing more but we ourselves have created such a society where my family members have to think a lot before sending me out.
The society tries to put cages around as much as possible, trapping us as if it’s a sin to be girl. I say let us out, let us fill the streets. Let us accept this plain and simple truth, the society will be a safer place if it’s us girls out there rather than the men dominating the city at nights. What I am asking for is not revenge but plain simple equality where even we, women of the new era are exposed to the night and beauty of the city lights. Oh, how we crave it!
All I want to say is – society, you may trap us but, darling, we will break free, for we were born to be free.

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Epitome of Courage

Courage is not the absence of fear, but the acquired ability to move beyond fear.

Courage comes from within. Makes us size up our adversaries, do the unthinkable, and achieve the impossible. It takes courage to stand up for what’s right, and what we believe in. Courage isn’t performance of stunts, or a test of bravery. Courage is a test of integrity, and the possession of the humane ability to distinguish between the black and white and acting upon one’s instincts. Standing undaunted in the face of brute power, and emerging battered but resilient, is courage. Courage is embodied in Sunitha Krishnan. One doesn’t know how to begin writing about Mrs. Krishnan. She was doing social work before most of us could even spell it. She taught dance to mentally challenged children at the tender age of 8, started running schools for the underprivileged children residing in the slums at the age of 12. The event that further solidified her resolution to work for the masses was a horrifying experience for any individual to go through. At age 15,while campaigning for neo literacy for the Dalit community, Krishnan was gang raped by 8 men. An event that usually breaks most women, only strengthened Krishnan’s fortitude. Since then she has been a part of major social campaigns such as the one against the organisation of Miss India contest in her city Bangalore, against the bulldozing of people’s homes in order for beautification, and the like. She finally started ‘Prajwala’, is her initiative to rehabilitate former prostitutes and help them lead better lives. She has drafted recommendations for the Andhra Pradesh government for the rehabilitation of victims of sex traffickers, which were passed by the State Government as a Policy for Rescue and Rehabilitation of Victims of Trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation. Based on the success of her anti-trafficking initiatives, Krishnan has evolved global parameters for best practices for shelter homes for Department of Justice, United States of America as well as National Minimum Standard for running second generation prevention program in India. Krishnan has been physically assaulted 14 times and she receives regular death threats. She says that a Sumo van once deliberately rammed her auto rickshaw, but she escaped serious injury. She was again fortunate to escape injury when acid was once flung at her. Good fortune saved her a third time when she was the target of a poisoning attempt. Krishnan says that these assaults have only steeled her resolve to carry on her crusade against human trafficking. Based on her courageous and tireless work as an anti-trafficking crusader, Prajwala’s founder Ms. Sunitha Krishnan has also received numerous accolades and honors, among which is the Padma Sri, the fourth highest civil honour in the country. No words of appraisal can fully convey our appreciation and wonderment at her work.

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A ‘Tukra’ of Kindness

In a country where nothing seems to be going right and everything is turning up over its head, so few of us notice the little things. It is at times like this, when the issues of the world seem too heavy on our shoulders, that we must cling onto the happy moments. Let us not forget the small moments of kindness. Let us not let them get overshadowed. On January 12th 2016, Ravi Bajwa donated clothes to people in a slum. We at iamstillhuman applaud his efforts because he serves as a timely reminder for the things that really matter. They may be just clothes but they make all the difference in the world.

You only need to see the smiles to notice that.

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Our kind of celebration.

The name ‘I am still human’ implies that humanity still lives inside people working in our organisation and we work hard to help everyone we can.
On Christmas day, ‘I am still human’ brought smiles to the lips of a lot of people by making donations to the slums. These donations came in the form of clothes, utensils, toys, and even money collected by whoever was willing to give. The happiness on the faces of people both giving and getting, made our day and that’s what we work for, to make people happy one at a time, put some more happiness into this gloom world.

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Scaling Heights- Aparna Kumar

Ever since the days of yore, since a formal notion of society has been established, it has been always felt that the existence of women and their duties in life are subject to certain limitations and obstacles by the virtue of them being of the sex opposite to the human male species.  This misnomer associated with the female gender has continued into the present societal scenario and more probable than not, it will continue for several other years to come before this misconception completely dies away. However, a multitude of strong and empowered women in the past and present have come and shown the world from time to time that being a women does not come with any strings attached. There are no physical or mental constraints on women to pursue and profess what they aspire and achieve.

 

Indian women have also tremendously helped in erasing this tainted image of women all around the globe.  One such feisty individual being an IPS officer of the Uttar Pradesh cadre, Aparna Kumar, who has conquered five out of the seven most challenging mountains for mountaineers in the world. She hoisted the Indian tricolor and the flag of the Uttar Pradesh Police Service on Mount Vinson Massif on 17th January this year. She bore the breath-freezing temperatures of -35 degrees and cut throw the thickest snow, dragging a sledge full of luggage along with a ten member team through glassy gales with a speed of approximately 100km/hour. Aparna Kumar lost six kg of weight and is at present suffering from mild frost bite which will take around fifteen days to heal completely.

She is India’s first civil servant to have won over the tallest peak of Antarctica which is only an added feather to her cap of achieved climbs. She has scaled Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, Carstensz Pyramid peak in West Papuan province of Indonesia, the highest peak in the Australian and Oceania region. She also plans on climbing Mount Everest in April-May and Mount McKinley in July-August of Alaska. Her brave achievements haven’t gone unnoticed as she has been bestowed upon with the “Rani Lakshmi Bai Puraskar” by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in March 2015 and  also was awarded with the special DGP Commendation Disc to applaud her efforts and encourage other women to follow in her footsteps on Republic day this year. Such women continue to break the gender based stereotypes that are promoted and propagated in the society of today.

 

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Volunteer Form

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Over-rated concepts of beauty.

‘You’re beautiful’ a simple sentence made up of just two words can make a girl’s day. Maybe because all we crave is to be beautiful in the eyes of others, we crave it with a deep force and many of us have succumbed to the society’s idea of beauty because of it.
The society never tells young girls that they are beautiful the way they are, instead their flaws are pointed out, creating a sort of insecurity since childhood. As a child, my weight was always pointed out to me, I was told a gazillion times that I would be beautiful if I lost a little weight. But 3 years later I realised that I am beautiful no matter how much I weigh. It took me 3 years to get the notion of beauty dictated by society out of my head and concentrate on what I find beautiful. You can be dark, you can be fat , you can be short, you can be too tall, you can be all these things and still be beautiful. All you need to do is realise that you are beautiful, to fully accept who you are. You need to fall in love with yourself to actually see how beautiful you can be. Make up is not the answer though wear it if it makes you feel empowered. Wear whatever you want, if it makes you feel good. It’s your body and it is beautiful.
The society tries to make us girls believe that beauty on the outside, is all that matters. So we become gift boxes, beautiful on the outside but completely empty inside. I mean c’mon, even in fairy tales the prince fell in love with the ‘fairest’ lady of the land making us all believe that unless we are extremely pretty, we would end up alone. So we grew up, grooming ourselves on the outside and killing ourselves a little inside.But we weren’t really made to be Barbie dolls, we were made to rule this world with our intelligence and our aura and not our looks. Groom yourself inside, your inner beauty will find its way to your face.
Repeat after me, I am beautiful, I am beautiful and I will forever be.

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Footloose

“Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.”- Voltaire
Human mind needs to express itself. Its infinite intricacies, desires, whims, fancies and emotions, are consistently looking for an outlet. Some write, some talk, and some dance to express themselves. We dance in ecstasy, we dance in melancholy, we dance when we feel shattered, and we dance when we want to let out the bottled up feelings. There’s hardly anyone who doesn’t like to dance. Some do it in private, whereas some showcase their talents with no inhibitions. Sudha Chandran had always harboured the dream of making it as a dancer. She trained since childhood. Her dreams met with a near dead end when she met with an accident in 1981 and suffered wounds on her legs. She received initial medical care at a local hospital and was later admitted to Vijaya Hospital at Madras. The doctors discovered formation of gangrene on her right leg, and amputation was required. This period was the toughest Chandran ever had to face. On one hand she was burdened by her disability, and on the other she felt her hopes slipping through her fingers. But, like a passionate artist, she came out of it. She got fitted with a Jaipur leg, learnt how to walk again for months, and then learnt to dance again for three years. She went on to become a world famous Bharatnatyam dancer, and had a successful television career. She has been invited to speak at events like seminars from all over the world. She starred in two movies based on her own life. She was awarded the 1986 Special Jury Award at the National Film Awards for her portrayal in the film. She has been invited to perform in Europe, Canada and the Middle East. Her television career encompasses diverse roles and have earned her much acclaim. She never lost her passion for dancing, and she established a dance academy in Mumbai,’Sudha Chandran Academy of Dance’, which has branches all over Mumbai and Pune. Chandran has also judged various reality shows and has helped in bring new talent. She is a symbol for will power and perseverance. She chased after her dreams and achieved them, and carved a niche for herself. After all, you don’t need two feet to dance!

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Specially for him.

India is a country where “special children” are never treated as normal. We show sympathy towards those with these special children and also bless our stars for having a normal child. So you can see that they have a stigma attached to them even before they are brought into the world. While they may be with disabilities, a lot of special children can perform their own menial tasks and in some cases even earn a living. But in the Indian society they are considered to be nothing more than a burden on not only the parents but the society in its entirety. Mental disabilities in India are treated with utmost judgement and they are treated more as ‘freaks of nature’ than fellow human beings.
But as we have been saying from our very first articles, the mentality in India is truly changing.
In the month of January 2016, Aditya Tiwari became the youngest Indian to adopt a special child. When Aditya had met Binney, the law stated that single parents below the age of 30 could not adopt and thus he suffered disappointment but not for long because in August 2015, the law was amended to let single parents adopt from the age of 25. Aditya was ecstatic as he had been trying to adopt Binney since September 2014. Binney sufferes from Down syndrome but this did not stop Aditya from fighting to adopt the toddler. She was at the time living in Matrachhaya which is a shelter for abandoned and homeless kids and a volunteer organization in the year 1997.
When Aditya had his first meeting with Matrachhaya in September, he was bombarded by useless questions like how he would get married if he adopted this ‘special child’ showing that Indian society does not see these children with mental disabilities as normal children that bring joy and happiness to the lives of their parents.
Fortunately, good news is that after much pestering, Aditya has finally brought the toddler home and begins his new life as a single parent.we begin to live in a better society where people like Aditya exist and it is through them that the ordinary man learns to hope and we see ‘human’ in the word ‘humanity’ come out in it’s true essence.

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