New Home

I have moved to my new home in the online world at my own domain. I hope I continue to have your support at my new blog, Apu’s World. All guests welcome!

Coming back soon

A Big Thank you to all those who wrote in to ask when I’m coming back. Its taken me longer than I expected, but I expect to start blogging before the end of this month. I’ll put up a note here as soon as blogging resumes. See you all there!

UPDATE: The move to own domain got totally jinxed…with some issues in site uploading etc. However, Desigirl-to-the-rescue has agree to step in and help as soon as her term papers get done. The move is therefore pushed by a fortnight or so…say, mid-May.

RECENT UPDATE: Finally, I am back! My new blog, Apu’s World has just started up! Please do visit me there! If you have me on your blogroll, please make the change in the url to http://apusworld.com/blog

So long! And thanks for all the …err…blog-love?

Well, not really, but I am on a temporary break from blogging here. I’m likely to move to my own domain shortly, and since that’s going to be integrated with some other stuff, it may take about a month or so. I have a lot of work on my plate at the moment, and with setting up the new site etc, I don’t think I can do justice to maintaining the blog too.

I hope all the readers who have supported me here will continue to visit me at the new address. Also, I wanted to thank all the readers – Amrita, Sparsh, Desigirl, The Hip Hop Grandmom, Itchy, Anindita, Shefaly, Debs, the mad momma – and everyone else – who opened up such wonderful dialogue, with your comments. I like the fact that even where we disagreed, we chose to be civil about it.

The new blog will continue to address some of the issues I blog about, but also, its likely to be a wider one where I blog on my other interests – Literature and Travel. This is also because, I’m likely to start contributing to that fantastic Indian Feminist colla-blog UltraViolet pretty soon, so I can now use my own blog in a slightly more personal way. I’ll keep everyone posted once its up and do visit me there!

Simply Marry? Why?

I just got back from a fantastic, but tiring trip from Hampi, so just a quick point to this ad for one more Indian matrimonial (oh no, this one is metro-nomial) website.

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I am so tired of hearing stale marriage jokes about infantilized/ incompetent men. Aren’t you? Many of the world’s biggest Fashion designers are men, but no, we must persist with this thing about men being color blind blah blah blah. And I can’t even count the number of times I hear the stereotypes about men not being able to clean up, do the dishes, or the laundry etc etc. The fairly competent men I meet must all be exceptions ofcourse. The media either bombards us with stories of to-die-for metrosexuals or presents us with pictures of Tarzan-to-be-civilized-by-Jane. Sigh.

Surrogacy – Exploitation or Choice?

Via the F Word blog, I came across this practice of women in India acting as surrogates for couples who are unable to have a child and also unable to go through with IVF. The F Word acknowledges that the surrogate mothers are being well taken care of, and receive a pretty good sum of money – infact a sum that would otherwise take them many, many years to earn. However they still raise the issue of whether this is exploitation of third world women to satisfy the desires of first world couples?

For once, I quite disagree with the F Word blog, of which I am otherwise a huge admirer. I do believe that there need to be some stringent guidelines – its quite possible that this company is doing a good job, and others who jump on to the bandwagon may not. To prevent that, it is necessary to have guidelines in India. But as for the other objections, I can’t somehow buy into them. These women are making a choice which they perceive as being beneficial for their families, in the long run. And I firmly believe that choice should be left to them.

Sure, they spend 9 months away from their families. But as the article states, their families are not prevented from visiting them. And perhaps, this way the organisation running the program can look after their health better? Take a look at India’s maternal mortality rates. Many women die without access to hospitals or even a primary health care centre. These women might very well feel that the care they receive is reasonably good. I’m not saying this is the only way to do it – perhaps there is a way to monitor their health even if they live at home. But considering the heavy work many women in India do, at all times, including pregnancy, it doesn’t per se seem so terrible. Now, can such healthcare be extended to our women when they give birth to their own children? Ideally it should be, but we all know how badly the government healthcare functions. And private healthcare is not going to get into unless they can make some money.

Now comes the issue of, would they opt to do this if they didn’t need the money? Quite probably not. But then. People wouldn’t opt to do lots of things if not for the money. People wouldn’t work in hazardous conditions if not for the money. Atleast in this case, no one is being placed into anything inherently unsafe. And we are talking about Anand here, the relatively prosperous milk belt of the country, not Kalahandi. Its quite possible that these women could view it as an opportunity to improve their lives and climb up to a situation they otherwise would never get to. It may not necessarily be a choice between this and dire poverty. Even if it were, should we call it exploitation? I don’t really know. Hundreds of women enter the flesh trade every year due to dire poverty. The choices may not be what they seem to a Western eye.

And whether the women will feel terrible giving up the child? Yes, quite possible. On the other hand, none of them are newbies who don’t know what it feels like to have a child. Only women who have had children before are chosen. Presumably, they understand the pain and joy of giving birth to a child, and can decide whether or not they can do it for someone else. Indian history and culture is infact replete with stories of one mother handing over her child to another, and for completely altruistic reasons. Infact, in my parents’ generation, it was not at all uncommon for childless couples to “borrow” a child from a sibling. Very different ofcourse from carrying a child for a stranger, but what I’m saying is, the concept of surrogacy is not entirely new to India. Which probably explains why some of the women quoted in the story also see it as a good deed they are doing.

I’m not saying this is the way to lift the third world out of poverty. No single thing is. Instead, everywhere women (and men) are doing things they can to lift themselves out of the situations they find themselves in. I don’t think we should get into this mindset that we know better than them what implications their choices have. If anything – we should work on the other end – ensuring safety; The rest – I believe these women, (even in cases where they come from fairly poor families) are capable of thinking it out for themselves.

The Missing Girls

I don’t know which is the organisation behind this ad really, but someone sent it to me today, and I thought it was worth sharing. (As a sort of grim visual accompaniment to this earlier piece).

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The women-friendly IT industry

I recently stumbled upon Krish Ashok’s blog, and wondered how I could possibly have missed it all this while. In yet another super-entertaining and food-for-thought post, he looks at the dismal state of women in the IT industry, supposedly a highly gender-neutral one. Not having worked in anything remotely tech related myself, and with very few friends from that line, I don’t have any insider info. But yes, it is common knowledge that the (in many cases needless) late-working culture of the industry does impact women much more than it does men. Relatively few women can manage past the age of 30, once claims of marriage and children set in.

Krish Ashok’s post brings in many other aspects of the working culture in this supposedly women-friendly industry. Go read, and tear your hair out on whether to laugh yourself silly over his hilariously worded post, or despair at the state of things!

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