Masaan

Upar se bas dekh chal diye,
Bin Samajhe teri kahani re,

Jaat paat me doob gaye sab,
Tha punya paap ka saani re!

Jhoot thi ye sab kaaya puri,
Shool bhari khahani re,

Jab Dom neech ke haatho sabne ,
Thi naiyya paar lagani re!

Maana tha duniya ne tab bhi,
Masaan ye sadiyon purani re!

Maana hai duniya ab phir
Kashi tu hai niraali re!
Kashi tu hai niraali re!

#MasaanTheFilm

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Bazaar sa laga hai

Bazaar sa laga hai
Insaan bik raha hai

Satta ki rehguzar pe
shamshaan ban raha hai

Hai ilm kya kisi ki ko
ki ho bhi ye raha hai

Daulat ki hai khumaari
ya parwah kho raha hai.

Dikhte hain gali kuuchon
mein fir wahi nazaare

Jaati ki badhti duuri
qaumon ke uthte naare

Aam aadmi ki roti
ko karke vo kinare

Chadte chale hain jaate
hukoomat ke ye galiyaare.

Unmaad le ik din ka
khush ho gaye hum saare

Mat bech ke hum apna
kyun ho gaye kinare

Puch tu fir khudse
khud dekh ye nazare

Chahe koi bhi jeete
kya hum nahi hain haare?

‪#‎JharkhandElections‬ close up..

Understanding the Needy

This guy Abraham Maslow in his theory ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ argues that one has to fulfil the basic stuff like physiological needs (hunger, sex etc.), security needs (bodily, financial etc.) and social needs (friendship, family etc) first, before gaining the ability to fulfil the higher category of esteem needs (achievement, respect by/for others) and self-actualisation needs (morality, creativity, lack of prejudice etc.). needsThough it has its exceptions and drawbacks, Maslow’s theory is a simple and powerful tool. It seems this theory has unrealised applicability in context of the relatively new conception of Human Development.

I have often seen people criticize the poor for their lack of morality, poor business acumen, lack of social cohesion, rampant social prejudice, their general lack of ability and what not.

Yes I have seen tribals in far off haats “foolishly” selling off their forest pickings for absolutely unjust petty amounts. But we need to viscerally understand that one needs to first be bodily satisfied and secure, to think of waiting and selling the produce at a better price or thinking of a better way to process it or sell it at a better market. You need resources and social contacts to do so. We often hurry and rationalise that they do not want their own development and that they do not aspire for any greater achievement due to their conscious fault. Maslow would say that their short sightedness is structural and their physiological and security needs at the moment, and in their life and culture in general, are so great that they are completely alien to the need to build new contacts and conserve resources for greater achievement and actualisation.

One is reminded here of John Lennon lyrically praising the Working Class Hero:

‘When they’ve tortured and scared you for twenty-odd years,
Then they expect you to pick a career.
When you can’t really function you’re so full of fear.’

The question of personally standing up for the morally correct position would more often than not, not rise, until the person has had a recent meal, in her secure home, with her family and has a certain level of respect in her immediate social environment. Maslow argues that one is positively motivated towards higher goals only when such basic needs are satisfied, until that is done, it is only negative motivation to fill up the gap. Also, It is only after all this basic stuff is achieved that one may expect entrepreneurial creativity or “good” voting behaviour. As Marx would argue, it is the material/economic infrastructure which determines the political/social superstructure.

Yes there are all kinds of people in all kinds of places but you cannot expect great levels of morality and collective action in places of abject hunger, ignorance and want of resources. The morally degraded democratic politics of give and take, is because of the structured short sightedness of the poor who need to be first secured with food, shelter and social security to subsequently realise their higher needs of democratic self-rule and self-actualisation. We need to internalize that there is a clear hierarchy of needs and need to stop judging them from our moral/creative standards that we have built up in our secure and privileged  backgrounds.

The foremost solution is provided by the Right to Food. And as regards the Social and Esteem Needs, a feminist perspective is pertinent and the biggest support system can be found with the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) which, through its Self Help Groupsshg hands 1 (SHGs), is bringing in the all essential ‘weak ties’ (akin to our own social networking) for the rural women breaking their over-dependence on regressive aspects familial ties and fulfilling the social needs of half of our population in one go.

Only when everyone is personally, bodily and socially secure can you expect moral behaviour and creative thinking to unleash a truly democratic society and a thriving innovative economy. This Maslow guy may have given us a clue or two more than he thought he had.

A touch of empathy

#luck #touch #children #fear #guilt #malnutrition #neglect #PMRDF

 

On entering an anganwadi today, what I noticed first were the unpainted and dilapidated walls. I did not notice anything about the children for long, in the spate of inspecting the physical infrastructure and asking questions to the anganwadi sevika and her supervisor.

Slowly I began to notice the children. The children in this anganwadi were much more untidy as compared to the other anganwadis we had visited over the week, though this was supposedly the best anganwadi of the block. Some of the children were highly unkempt but I again drifted to the physical infrastructure complaining to the supervisor about the small dari being the reason for uncleanliness.

But then someone else took charge and I sat on a chair. That is when I noticed the children intently. Most of them were quiet, wary of whom the strangers were. While some of them were still in their own, moving around, playing. I noticed a small girl of about 4 years of age staring at me intently. She was wearing a brown frock which seemed torn from the back. Her hair was exceptionally dirty and unkempt. Then I noticed a small boy who had his side towards me. I could not see his face. He seemed smaller than 3 years and should have been at his home and not at the anganwadi. He wore a small pair of shorts and nothing else. I noticed he had a bulged stomach, suggesting malnutrition. My gaze broke when I noticed the senior officer amongst us began suggesting to leave.

But another question arose and I went back to noticing some of the other children, some of whom also had bulged stomachs though covered. The small half-naked boy though caught my attention again. He was still looking the other way but I could now see much more of his stomach and it was then that I noticed that his stomach was quite deformed, strangely protruding towards one side. The skin had a large creamish spot over his smooth brown skin. I couldn’t help but get up and go towards the boy. Lightly massaging his head, I tried to get his attention but he did not look towards me. I said to everyone ‘Iske pet me kuch problem hai kya.’ Other kept talking, though the senior officer lightly said ‘Haan maine bhi dekha’. I then called on to the sevika ’Didi, Iske pet me koi dikkat hai?’ She did not respond. I touched his stomach and IT WAS WEIRD. The skin was smooth but the stomach was hard, strangely hard. And I think I could feel a shape within the bulge. A tumor, maybe, maybe not.

But I came back to senses again and the environment had suddenly changed by then. All the visitors had started to leave and the boy had started crying on my touching his stomach. He seemed fearful of my touch and of my getting everyone’s attention on him. I had to get up, leaving, I tried to console him, ‘kuch nahi hua, kuch nahi hua’. But then turned to the sevika and said, ‘isko kuch badi problem hai’. She still did not respond. Maybe she knew it. Everyone was leaving. I found myself among them, leaving. I went ahead fast and sat in the front seat, thinking, and somehow fearful.

I had not seen the boy’s face. But the touch and the bulge were all over my mind. I felt a kind of overwhelming empathy because of the touch. I was an outsider before the touch, examining the walls, the dari and the unkempt hair but with that touch,somehow, I think I had a glimpse of what state he was in, the pain he felt and the psychological distances people live in. That sense of touch still lingers in my mind.

Why do I have a feeling that he won’t have much to eat tonight and is waiting for tomorrow afternoon’s anganwadi meal.

The Small First Step

Up over solid hard ground, hanging on a leafless tree
Scared like hell, two limbs waving free.

Not in my sane mind, in a battle within me
Twisting on my mattress, screaming in my dream.

Not letting a breath out, holding it all tight,
In what seemed like hours, it was me and my fears in a fight.

Scared of what, tangible or not, that is not known
Of death or of heights or just of the unknown.

Down there was the demon, telling me to beware
Pulling me down using a long long snare.

Two tough steps and i could have been free
But the second step was too big, or that is what it seemed.

Hanging in desperation, sweating in spree
Twisting on my mattress, screaming in my dream.

In the end, i take the small first step,
Just to to find myself, standing beside the tree!!

Hang on to your reveries

Often you may not see the beauty of trees,
the patterns in stars or the buzzing of bees.

Often you may not notice the irony in poetry,
the smell of soil in a rose or beauty in a hidden line of prose.

But hang on if you’re not too afar,
hang on if you still see the door ajar.

Hang on if you ever had a feeling of elation
hang on for that moment of revelation.

Sometimes the smells may be faint.
Irony subtle, light may be the paints.

Life often plays its harp out of tune,
and the world may adjudge you to be a loon

But hang on if you feels somethings there,
an abode of stillness still in you somewhere.

Seasons will change, beings may be,
hang on to your reveries, hang on to thee.

Murder Of The Arts

A child by his mid teens invariably develops a fancy for some subjects and a disregard for some. The leanings may be developed by his superior understanding of a subject or when people around him guide/influence him to take up that subject. Here, subjects of Arts/Humanities in general are at a bit of a disadvantage as compared to the pure sciences.

 

The inherent problem with a humanities subject like literature is that generally a child is unable to understand the real depth of literature for no shortcoming of his own but rather due to the integral character of subject. The kid may have innate talent for the subject but has to be groomed with nothing but experience of life. For instance, how is a child of fourteen expected to appreciate Shakespeare’s plays in the real sense, when its needs an understanding of the startling psychological depth of his characters, and this understanding at some level needs experience of having seen the flaws of human nature, that the heroes too have shortcomings. The point here is that the arts need time to be appreciated and a talent in arts even if present cannot completely be judged at a relatively smaller age. But this is not to say that such a judgment is impossible to make. A careful system of counselling can be developed involving the parents and teachers which impartially counsels the child for what he/she is good at. A child, for himself would be unable to see what’s best in him and the loss here is not only of the child or the parents but of country and society in not harnessing what could have been something great.

Now, the problem with identifying an inclination of the child is that an aptitude for science and that for arts are not much different in their early stages of development and one can be misunderstood for another in a child. He/she may have developed logics in accordance with those needed for arts but such logic can be easily well used in high school basic sciences and mathematics. And here comes the myth that a child with a high IQ should invariably apt for pure sciences.

Another matter killing the arts is the pitiful state of pedagogy in India and the fact that teachers with a passion for teaching are a rarity today. Science may get away with teachers who are not as passionate for their subjects but it’s not the case with arts.

This was a look from the bottom. A peek from the top of the pyramid may point to another relevant point in discussion. The world today in its mainstream is a run for money. And herein lays another innate problem in arts with its financial risks involved. A parent would rather want the offspring to be joining the science, commerce or management fields for a “secure” future.

All these problems pull down arts/humanities subjects in the preference list of children, but can we afford to let this happen for long. It does come down to the basic philosophical questions like what is the importance of art and what to live for. This is basically a question of individual choice but still it has to be accepted that a neglect of art that is being seen in today’s world would lead to a loss of something of great value. For as Ray Bradbury, the American writer said “While our art cannot, as we wish it could, save us from wars, privation, envy, greed, old age, or death, it can revitalize us amidst it all.”