You thought they existed only in movies………#AtoZThemeReveal

The suicide of Robin Williams had a profound effect on many people who felt that he was a part of their life, having grown up with him on TV.  It made people stop and think how such a vibrant and dynamic person may have suffered silently.

It is critical that persons with mental illness realize they are not alone and that there is support to help them through difficult times. Most importantly, it’s essential that they understand it is possible to cope with and recover from the grips of mental illness

Mental Health is still a word we don’t want to talk about. A taboo which prevents people from talking about their suffering.

Rather than ask why so many people are living with mental health problems, we will seek to uncover why too few of us are thriving with good mental health. With people struggling to cope with the demands of life and stuck on getting through the day, we will explore through the world of movie characters.

The characters from cinema we have loved, the characters we have hated but they come from within us. There is “A beautiful mind” between us, a “Silver linings” among a dark clouds of mental illness, a “Kartik” always calls another “Kartik” in a parallel world.

All through April, let’s spread the awareness against Mental illness and why it’s necessary to speak up through the power of cinema only on #AtoZChallenge.

Dear Ms. Gandhi: For a change, let’s ask women who actually carry the child in womb

Dear Maneka Gandhi

This February you  wrote to Health Minister Nadda saying that all hospitals be asked to declare the number of cesareans they performed every month. Gandhi also called for the “naming and shaming” of gynecologists who performed C-sections on women “for no reason at all except money”.

I read your statement saying: “I would like all women in India to get together and start protesting because a cesarean for a woman is very invasive, and it turns a natural delivery into something that is an unnecessary operation.” Behind all this concern lies the deep rooted crisis that women all over the world are facing. A bunch of men sit at oval office and declare abortion illegal. Why are you telling women to chase after so-called “natural deliveries”. Why are women being kept out of the loop of the whole decision making process that concerns their uterus.

Maternal mortality is nothing short of an epidemic. Worldwide, hundreds of thousands of women die from complications during pregnancy or childbirth each year – that’s one woman dying every 90 seconds – and millions more are left with life-altering disabilities. In some countries, one in seven women dies in pregnancy or childbirth. It was estimated that in 2015, roughly 303,000 women died during and following pregnancy and childbirth. Almost all of these deaths occurred in low-resource settings, and most could have been prevented.These women aren’t dying because the health community doesn’t know how to prevent their deaths; they are dying because the world is failing to help.

When health insurance was provided through smart cards all that was done was to perform hysterectomy on women as young as 18. A scam is uncovered, there is hulla and the accused are let free be it Chattisgarh or Odisha. But we can’t get hold of them.

Women die as a result of complications during and following pregnancy and childbirth. Most of these complications develop during pregnancy and most are preventable or treatable.

Other complications may exist before pregnancy but are worsened during pregnancy, especially if not managed as part of the woman’s care and no efforts are being taken to address the problem comprehensively through skill development or infrastructure development.

However, saying that the high number of C-sections is due to the fact that modern independent women are irresponsible, they don’t want to adjust and want shortcuts to giving birth is bullshit. The day we hit puberty and this monthly “aunt” comes home with excruciating pain we are told thatf that pain is something that women need to go through for a birth to be ‘natural’ and our body is just preparing us for that.

There are many complications….err medical complications that require C-sections if we wish to save two lives, saving lives should come as natural to us as child birth. Because we believe pain is a natural biological burden that women have to bear, whether or not it involves motherhood, we make them believe that every pain is natural.

But Ms. Gandhi, all you choose to is glorify the puritan form of Natural birth. No doubt it should be encouraged as it’s most natural and healthy way to deliver a child but isn’t as a policy maker you have bigger responsibilities of addressing the gaps coming in way of “Right To safe motherhood and contraception” rather than just giving them some preaching.

For a change, how about shifting the global burden of family planning from women to men. Not a single man, who was a part of the sample in the National Family Health Survey, had opted for vasectomy in 2015, suggesting that women continue to bear the burden of family planning. The latest survey reveals that while 50.7 per cent women went for sterilization, merely 0.4 per cent men opted for it.

How about some gyaan there too.

Why should boys have all the fun.


A woman who won’t take pain and bullshit.


P.S- Writing this post for International Women’s day. We are #WomenOfBlogging

Dear FM, You disappoint healthcare again

A DOTS centre in bihar, India

Continuing the decadal trend where public health suffers apathy on part of government both in terms of funding and focus, Healthcare which needed a big bang announcement owing to a very meagre improvement in our indicators, it again bears the brunt of favoring electoral politics upon developmental.Public funding of health sector remains at 1.2 percent of GDP, with Central government spending constituting a third of overall government funds.

Union Budget 2017-18 has relied again on National Health Mission stepping up allocation from Rs. 39,888 crores (revised estimate during 2016-17) to Rs. 48,880 crores, with a nominal rise of 23%.FM Arun Jaitley talks of an ambitious action plan to eliminate Kala-Azar and Filariasis by 2017, Leprosy by 2018, Measles by 2020 and even more ambitious target to eliminate Tuberculosis by 2025. They seem promising but let’s talk from the field. Are they even possible? With country fighting against Multi drug Resistant TB, Poor health infrastructure, Underfunding, bad implementation of Non communicable disease mission and diversion of funds, this plan seems nowhere in sight.

Let’s talk about Universal Health Coverage ,the minimum required resources for this socially relevant scheme should be 1.5-2% of GDP. There we are, already underfunded.With Demonetisation projected as a game changer to plug loopholes, increase fiscal accountability and strengthen the public finance, why does the health sector still has to face under-allocation.

The structural reform in Medical education is a welcome step but it should be associated with a strict monitoring and regulation over MCI witnessing the huge corruption MCI and DCI is involved in.The renaming of Health SubCentres into Wellness Centres continues the present government’s efforts to sell old wine in new bottle.From leakages to a collapsing health infrastructure, from skilled professionals to consumables availability, HSCs do not need a new name, they need a new approach.

Dear Finance Minister, from a person working and observing Public Health from close quarters, this budget is disappointing.We were hopeful that healthcare would be accorded a national priority sector status but it still looks a far fetched dream.

I was hit by a man in Patna and why I chose to speak about it

This Sunday night, me and my bestie Remya decided to celebrate Friendship Day. I am back in Patna after a brief stint last year working with an organization that’s striving to improve the health care services of Bihar.

So we were going to Hotel Maurya for a coffee on a cycle rickshaw (Please note that Maurya is considered a 5 star hotel) and we spotted two men peeing right in the middle of the road. My friend in signals told them that they should not do this. Yes told them that they should not pee right at the public place. We didn’t make fun of them, we didn’t laugh. We just told them that it’s wrong.

Few minutes later, these men came from behind on a bike and the one sitting pillion tried to hit me or slap. My hair was falling on my face and that is why he missed. But he had to hit me, the plan was to teach us a lesson, so he grabbed whatever hair he could grab in his hand and pulled me off. The first thing that occurred to me after realizing what has actually happened was to look for the vehicle number. The brave duo were smart enough to cover it with a gamcha before coming to hit me.

I was shocked, I was stunned, I was scared. Yes I was scared, for the first time in my life I was hit. I was scared to tell it to my papa who hates the fact that I work in Bihar. I was scared of the fact that what if he had gun and decided to take revenge the other way.  I was scared to accept it publicly but when I thought over it, i decided to speak. The first thing that I did was to make a police complaint and thanks to cctv in adjoining shops I was assured by SP Patna that they will be nabbed.

The whole incident is not important in terms of what happened but the mindset behind it. The mindset that’s rotten, that’s disgusting to its core when they think “ Wait, I will come back to teach you a lesson”. How dare you not accept my proposal , Wait, I will come back to teach you a lesson with a bottle of acid. How dare you say a no to my untoward advances, Wait, I will come back to teach you a lesson and rape you. How dare you say a no to sex when I am your husband, wait I will teach you a lesson. How dare you pointed out that I should not pee in the middle of the road, wait I will come come back to teach you a lesson , wait I will hit you

I have been told that Bihar is a wrong place to speak up, Bihar is a wrong place to take a stand. But then if we shut up just because a pervert has the guts to slap me in the middle of a posh road in the capital city of a state, every place is a wrong place to speak up for any woman in any part of the world.  I had to speak up so that they don’t think it’s so easy to go off after a show of masculinity. I had to speak up because in my small town called Bhilai, I have two niece who want to be like their bua when they grow up and I don’t want them to grow up in a world where we live in fear. I had to speak up because in Patna women’s college when I spoke at their event, hundreds of girl said they wish to be courageous like me and I simply cannot deny that trust. I had to speak up because I have a conscience to answer. I had to speak up because I share the bond of a friendship with a girl who has no second thoughts about standing up.  I had to speak up because shutting up is not me, because I want that shutting up is not the way out for any woman.

For the brave men who ran away speedily after taking that “manly revenge”………..Dude someone needs to tell you that you are fucked up big time and hope you have brushed up your ego and gave it a boost, this very time it has gone wrong. For years, when everyone asked me if it was difficult to be an independent woman travelling alone, going to difficult places, living by myself I brushed them off, saying you needed to know the rules, Don’t fear, stand up, speak loud, and enjoy. Most of the days I am  proud of being one of them but one fine day incidents like this strip you of all the mettle that you think you are made of.

People told to always be cautious and to shut up (I myself did that the same day). Others will tell me that what happened to me was normal because we live in a patriarchal society. Others said that I should not get involve in FIR jhanjhat and let the man go. It is bizarre that my options in this situation involved letting go off the perpetrators to release myself of conflict or standing up to them.

Do you really thought that there are any options? I shouldn’t ever be asked to let go, to bhool jao, to stop thinking about it because standing up against an assault on your liberty is not even a choice at all. We owe it to the same society we live in.

She was happiest when i told her i am registering a FIR……Strong women have ripple effect, believe me


माँ ने कुछ सिखाया नहीं क्या ………..

आज अखबार में खबर पढ़ी कि एक महिला समूह शनि शिंगणापुर मंदिर में 26 जनवरी को उस सालों पुरानी परंपरा को तोड़ने की तैयारी कर रहा है जिसमें महिलओं का उस चबूतरे पर जाना वर्जित है जहां शनि पत्थर स्थापित है।पिछले साल नवंबर महीने में शिंगणापुर शनि मंदिर के चबूतरे पर एक महिला के प्रवेश पर काफी बवाल हुआ था. मंदिर के पुजारियों और गांव के लोगों ने मंदिर का शुद्धिकरण किया था।परंपरा का हवाला देते हुए कहा गया कि शनि मंदिर के चबूतरे पर महिलाओं का प्रवेश वर्जित है।

मुंबई के शिंगणापुर शनि मंदिर में महिलाओं के लिए कुछ नियम हैं. इस मंदिर में. हाल ही में अनीता शेटे को मंदिर ट्रस्ट का अध्यक्ष चुना गया है और वह भी शनि मंदिर में महिलाओं के लिए बने नियमों को नहीं बदलना चाहतीं।

शनि शिंगणापुर मंदिर की अध्यक्ष अनीता शेटे भी महिलाओं से जुड़ी 400 साल पुरानी परंपरा नहीं तोड़ना चाहतीं।अनीता का कहना है कि हम इस परंपरा को कायम रखना चाहते हैं। मंदिर की पवित्रता के लिए गांव के ज्यादातर लोगों की भी यही मान्यता है कि चबूतरे पर महिलाओं का प्रवेश न हो।

पढ़कर अच्छा लगा, याद आया इस मंदिर से जुड़ी एक ऐसी घटना जिसने मेरे बाल मन को विचलित कर दिया था, कुछ साल पहले मैं अपनी माँ की सहेलियों के साथ शनि शिंगणापुर और शिर्डी की यात्रा पर गयी थी। तो हुआ ये कि यह महिला समूह शनि शिंगणापुर मंदिर पहुंचा, महिलाओं का शनि प्रतिमा पर तेल चढ़ाना वर्जित होता है इसीलिए सभी लोग किसी प्रॉक्सी की तलाश में लग गये जो उनकी तरफ से शनि भगवान पर तेल चढ़ा दे।

जहाँ सब महिलायें व्यस्त हो गयी तो मैं घूमते, घूमते उस चबूतरे पर पहुँच गयी और चबूतरे के किनारे लगी रेलिंग पकड़ कर प्रतिमा पर हो रही पूजा देखने लगी इस बात से बिलकुल अनजान कि मैं कितना बड़ा “पाप” कर रही हूँ।थोड़े देर बाद एक पंडित का ध्यान रेलिंग को पकड़े इस छोटी सी लड़की पर गया।वो उसकी ओर बढ़े, हाथ से एक धक्का दिया और कहा “ माँ ने कुछ सिखाया नहीं क्या?” वो बच्ची थोड़े देर रोती रही, उसे समझ ही नहीं आया कि उसकी गलती क्या थी. उसे कारण तो बता दिया उसकी माँ ने पर फिर भी उसे समझ नहीं आया कि उसकी गलती क्या थी।

ऐसा नहीं है कि शनि शिंगणापुर ही ऐसा मंदिर है जहाँ इक्कीसवी शताब्दी में भी ऐसी रिग्रेसिव परम्परायें चल रही हैं. कई ऐसे पूजा स्थल हैं जो नारी सशक्तिकरण को चिढाते हुए खड़े हैं- राजस्थान के पुष्कर शहर के कार्तिकेय मंदिर, मुंबई के वर्ली समुद्र तट पर हाजी अली शाह बुखारी की दरगाह और केरल के तिरुअनंतपुरम में स्थित पद्मनाभस्वामी मंदिर।

वे 400 महिलायें जिन्होंने इस मंदिर में जाने और सदियों से चल रही अंधी परम्पराओं को चुनौती देने का फैसला लिया है, जाइए : उस बच्ची के लिये, इस लेखक के लिये, सदियों से पीछे धकेली जा रही औरतों के लिए और उन स्त्रियों के लिये भी जाइये जो आपको धर्मं के नाम पर, परंपरा के नाम पर रोकने की कोशिश करेंगी ।

नयी शताब्दी के दौर में इसी देश में स्त्री ने कई पुरुष वर्चस्वी क्षेत्रों में हस्तक्षेप किया है। विस्मय तब होता है जब धर्म के नाम पर वह मनुस्मृति के विधान धारण करने लगती है, वह हर उस नियम को स्वीकार करती है जो उसके लिए किसी और ने लिख छोड़े हैं , यह कुछ और नहीं रूढ़ परम्पराओं के प्रति उसकी भयजनित मान्यता दर्शाता है …विचित्र लेकिन सच।

“ आओ मिलें

मिलकर तोड़े

हर उस ज़ंजीर को

जिसने कल पैर बांधे थे

आज गला जकड़ रहे हैं

देवी-देवी के ढोल ने हमें कर दिया है बहरा

श्रध्दा के शोकगीत से होती है उबकाई

परम्परायें जब उठाती हैं सर

तो कुचले जातें हैं कितने नारी विमर्श के स्वर

गन्दा समझ जिसे करते हो बाहर

गर उस खून का रंग लाल है

तो क्रांति का भी

मैं नकारती हूँ तुम्हारे हर उस भगवान को

जो माँ की कोख से नहीं जन्मा है “

फोटो साभार- इंडिया टीवी




Sudha Verghese and her story of being#madeofgreat

DSCN0007I went to meet Sudha Verghese, a social activist working for upliftment of Mmahadalit girls in Bihar through her organization called Naari gunjan for last 21 years and when I saw this opportunity to write about #MadeOfGreat , I remembered Sudha didi.

She arrived from Kerala to Bihar in her twenties as a teacher way back in 1965. She came across a community called Musahar community ,the most backward of all where the men folk worked daily as labors and then drank in evening, women were abused ,girls were married off at the age of 7-8 years , dirt and filth occupied their colonies, poverty has taken such an ugly form that they started eating “Rats” and to her utter shock, rapes of the girls by dominant caste groups were a common occurrence, never reported.

She then started working for their cause selflessly from their small needs like constructing nalas to demanding equal pay for work for the women,educating their children to making aware of their rights, Sudha Didi was everywhere on her cycle, at their call.Though there are endless stories of service and humanity by this lady what really made me salute her was when she decided to fight against the rape of the dalit girls .It all started when she persuaded the family of a Gang rape victim in 1997 to file an FIR against the rapists assuring them that their prevails a justice of land and the accusers just can’t walk away. The dominant caste from which the rapists belonged came to their colony and threatened them. They could have never imagined that a frail looking Sudha didi was the strength behind women standing against them .After Thana gheraos, Road blocks, petitions , dhamki,years of legal fight and attempts to even shoot her she managed to put the rapists behind the bars .It lits up her eyes when she tells me that within two years of that incident ,9 rape cases were reported which brought down the incidences of rape as a tool to suppress women of lower caste.

And after 21 years of self less work this woman has pulled hundreds of girls out of the trap of poverty ,rape and oppression through her Nari Gunjan which has 250 hostels, 550 self help groups and now giving training to thousands of girls for making them self dependent.

I herself asked her what drives her to work tirelessly for these girls?

You know why do I strongly believe she is #madeofgreat ,because to my question she replied : “ I found meaningfulness in life by dedicating my life to them , to the people who were left with no choices. I have seen many deaths, multiple struggles which gives me hope to carry forward this journey with people. It’s a blessing of God that I chose to work for them and without their support ,their generosity , their love and care I could not have done what ever has been achieved .Its these people who drive me , they eat a chapati less but they never forget to feed me ,they catch fish and rats and gift it to me as a matter of gratitude. what more can I ask for?

What impact she made on my life – She taught me the meaning of Service, meaning of true strength, trustworthiness and the larger cause of life.

She is a woman #madeofgreat just like Tata motors the name which symbolizes “Trust, Excellence &Self belief .With the Lionel Messi joining this team isn’t it cool that the most trusted brand is associated with someone #madeofgreat just like Sudha didi , her courage, her Naari Gunjan and belief in her work.

Watch this video for the rocking union of Tata and Messi as two brands #madeofgreat unite: