Saturday, February 6, 2010

Writing without technology to be difficult for generation next

Few years back, a sub-editor used to have a dictionary along with the immense knowledge that he had saved in his memory. One had to remember everything such as correct spelling of words, proper usage, parts of speech, grammar, etc. for writing something in English. Old newspapers had to be collected for reference. If someone was interested in a specific subject, he/she had to keep the newspaper cuts of the related articles published before. All this and many more efforts had to be involved in the production of an article a generation back.

On the contrary, Microsoft Word and access to internet have made the process of writing/editing extremely easier than ever. Today’s generation doesn’t need a dictionary or cuts from newspaper to support their writing process. By just clicking ctrl+alt+w, one can simply access to the free WordWeb which not only shows the meaning of a word but also offers all the synonymous, antonymous, related words, similar words and nearest words as well. The most valuable thing is offered by Microsoft Word. The software underlines all the words spelled wrongly in red and all the words and phrases written ungrammatically in green. The facility doesn’t end here. One just has to get the cursor on the word/phrase and right-click the mouse, and the software gives several options that can be considered.

One can also check spelling and grammar at the end of his writing without getting him/her disturbed in between the writing process. With the press of the KEY F7, numerous options can be availed and the entire document can be checked within minutes.

The concern here is that few years down the line, when people may rarely get to write with pen and paper, flawless writing without the support of a computer will probably be impossible.

so much for a marriage!

On 3 February 2010, police arrested a 23 year old youth at Thakurli railway station, Mumbai, for allegedly abducting and killing a 13 tear old boy. It was reported that the accused abducted the boy and demanded a ransom amount that he planned to spend for his marriage.

One life was ended and another was ruined along with that of many amongst the relatives of these two individuals. And that too, to have a lavish marriage! Was it so necessary to have that marriage so lavishly when ample money was not available?

This reminds me of another story that happened few years ago. My neighbor was a 24 year old rickshaw-puller. The only other member of his family was his mother. She was working in a coal factory. I came to know that Sanyasi, the rickshaw-puller, had been saving money since last seven to eight years for his marriage. His mother had also been doing the same for the marriage.

I still remember the day when Sanyasi got married about seven years ago. He did not look like a poor rickshaw-puller from any angle. On the contrary, being dressed in a well-fitting suit, he looked so handsome that even the best looking people in the locality envied him. On the same day, another middle-class businessman also got married. But, Sanyasi was praised by everyone for providing a spectacular dinner to the guests. The businessman failed to earn compliments.

The next day of the marriage, I heard Sudashna, Sanyasi’s mother, talking to my mother. She said that they had spent everything they had for the marriage. They had also spent the amount that they received as dowry.They had also taken some loan for the marriage, for which they would take five more years to pay back.

After the bride-groom’s proud mother left, I asked my mother whether their house was a rented one or they owned it. She said that it was a rented one. I was sure that with all that money they spent in that marriage, they could buy a bigger house than they were living in. In addition, if the marriage had been a little less lavish, the tension of paying back a loan for five more years would not have remained. They could concentrate fully on nurturing the children and creating a base for their future.

Now, Sanyasi has two sons and one daughter. He is living in the same rented house struggling to provide a manageable education to his children. His current monthly income is equal to the amount that he had spent for crackers that were fired during the wedding procession.

Truly, how much a lavish marriage costs to poor people!

Are you buying a dream and not a product?

Recently I came across a new and strange way of marketing (at least for me). Let me first describe how it takes place. One person buys a product from a given list and becomes a member of the chain. He makes two members, each of them has to buy one product out of the standard list of options. And then, the process goes on. The first mentioned member will get an amount as soon as his subordinates make two members each.

What is more interesting is the way you are introduced to the process. A friend of yours or someone who knows you properly or someone who just came to know you recently asks you to attend a seminar. You are promised that the seminar is going to be quite educative. Now, who won’t be interested to get free education? The greed of getting education free of cost takes you to the seminar hall. And shockingly, what you see is a handsome, powerful speaker who is there to tell you how you can be a millionaire within a few years. He will give you all the examples of rich people, convince you that this is not a member-making scheme from which everyone runs away. The effective leader introduces you to the process while giving you examples of people who have already been benefited by the scheme and proving how other people who are not a member are living a worse life than those who are members.

What is even more interesting is that your friend who took you there was instructed that he would not reveal the entire thing before you. Maybe it was feared that he wouldn’t be able to leave a mark as effective as the experienced speaker could. Though your friend has cheated on you and violated your citizen rights by not informing you about where you were guided towards, he will try his best to convince you that he is your well-wisher and that he wants to see you as a rich man, without any sign of repentance on his face.

Anyway, the only thing that remains in your mind is that one can be a rich person within a few years by being a member of the scheme. And, you buy a product to become a member. And advertise the product to two more customers whom they term as members and even employees. If you think that the product is something as small as a pen or pencil, you are totally wrong. It will be something like a vacuum cleaner or washing machine costing you as much as thousands of rupees. But, anything to become a millionaire in few years is always welcome!

What is missing here, in the whole description, is the significance of the product. I am not saying that the product will be of low quality. But, did you need that now? Did you have any plan to buy that now? Even if it’s a big NO, you had to buy THAT. By the word “THAT” I didn’t mean the product, but ‘a dream to become rich’. Yes, you buy a dream to become rich, at the same time, you buy an accountability to lie to your friends that you will buy dreams for them too. By the way, just imagine, how smart you have to be to convince your friend that you want him to become successful when you think, he is a step of the ladder to your success.

The point here is to avoid being consumers unconsciously. If we want to buy something, we will buy it on the merit of the product complemented by the intensity of the necessity. And finally, what they say on TV, Jaago Grahak Jaago (consumers, be alert)!

Existence of Dowry system in disguise!

The dictionary meaning of the term ‘Dowry’ suggests that it is the money, goods, or estate that a woman brings to her husband in marriage. However, the practice, in real sense, has been deteriorating even more. In school, all of us had been asked to write essays on dowry system in India. We used to write on how a bridegroom’s family exploits that of the bride. Each and every demand has to be fulfilled. Maybe, one or two examples could be included.

The best point is that finding instances never used to be difficult for us as we could find some of the cases happening within our own families. Whatever the case it might be, as we developed the essay, we started hating the practice. While submitting the write-up, we had also promised to ourselves that we would never become a part of this cruel tradition. Day by day, when we grew up, the existence of that hatred faded off. And one day came when it disappeared. And we started attending marriages in which our friends accepted dowry or offered the same. We considered it as a norm of the society.

Now when it came to us to take a decision whether to accept dowry or not, it was a big issue. We thought - “What would our friends think of us? They would say that we were also a part of the dirt.” Hence, we had to come up with an excuse. What we had to do was that we would not demand anything, but accept whatever was offered. Consequently, we did not do anything great. The fact that we did not demand proved to be more beneficial for us and made the bride’s family think that we were nobler and in turn, offered even more.

However, not everything fell on right places for people like us. There were occasions when the bride’s family offered a dowry which was below our expectations, as they thought we had self-respect and did not want it. Then, there was a problem with the entire relationship. The series of taunts began to create a hollow in the bond. Ultimately, we ended up with a bad marriage.

The point here is that the existence of dowry system in disguise is more dangerous than that in open. At least some people have the guts to express that they are shameless and that they have greed and can’t do away with it.