In short stories

She

 Note: The story has nothing to do with Mathai's unpublished chapter 'She'. It's a completely different short story, a fiction. Enjoy!
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A story of my colleague, nothing unusual, almost same as of every working woman in a metro, but what stuck to me was her self-liberation with consumed awareness, “It’s a man’s world where every woman has to fight extra to make it her own.” I asked, “Why? Why do you say so?”
She was a strong woman. Born in a middle class family of Gwalior, she did her MBA in 2005, and now, a Senior Manager in an MNC; she achieved everything at her own. “What made her to say that?” I wondered!
“It is a perception made over the years. I know it hurts. But, that’s the way it is!” She never gave any straight answer to it. I could understand it only after years of my attachment with her.

Yes, it was a day in her life.              

Ohh, shit! ‘It’s 1.45PM,’ Rita called her hubby Rishabh, ‘It is lunch time dear, you better have some food first.’ ‘Just leaving in a moment darling, what about you?’ nodded her hubby. ‘Me too going,’ she dialed her son who was out for a football match; couldn’t get his voice on the other end, and finally left a reminder.
Her colleague patted, ‘let’s have lunch.’  ‘Wow! PakauriyaanRita ne layi pakauriyan chaar….abki baar….’
 ‘Just shut up Akanchha, you know I hate politics,’ Rita fretted.

6.30PM.

She shut down the PC, ‘Bye everybody!’  
‘Bye Rita….!’   

 35 and counting. She was still sexy, gorgeous and eloquent. As soon as she reached into the elevator, she put her bag in a way to hide her curves. Earlier, she wasn’t that much alert within the office premise, but the recent series of incidents, especially the Tarun’s, Shakti mill, Nirbhaya case made her alert enough to do so. She found a boy, eleven years old with a bundle of paper cups and a tea bottle, staring at her.

Ignored.    

She usually didn't mind when office staff called her sexy, but outsiders? 'Dare not say anything.' Coming out of the lift, extra alert, Rickshawwala to bus, she counted her options; finally took a Rikshaw to the station.

Being a bibliophile, she didn't waste her time, started reading ‘The great lost minds.’ Page no. 231.

They were arguing round and round, “Not many fields are challenging. Not many actually do understand their challenges. Not many of them are up for the challenges. Even if they are exposed to, they try to pass it in silence. They don’t cry. They don’t react. It doesn’t suit them, but they fear of failure...they are afraid of making mistakes.”

Stopped …reading, it haunted her….. ‘We are the heroes of our own lives. We will write the story of our own.’

Standing in long queue at Rajiv Chowk metro, as the train arrived, somebody just pushed her hard to get into the train. She fell down, could not figure out, ‘Who the hell, the guy was?’ ‘Deserves a slap,’ somebody just uttered, ‘you should report to the police.’

She was a Delhite, not feared, but angry. Even before she could react, her eyes went on to the digital clock. ‘Ohh! It’s already 7.15PM. Forgetting rest, she just got into the next train.

At the dinner table, she listened to Shinu – how he saved the game point for his team; Rishabh – why is he not happy with his boss. But, she forgot to share her own….no, not forgotten, it was intentional indeed. Even after Rishabh insisted she could just utter, ‘everything fine, nothing new,’ with a candid smile. 
 
 She remembered, last year, during an argument, how her hubby threw her, smashing against the wall and door frame. She had some serious injuries then. Later, she forgave him; after all, he was her hubby. And yes, he felt sorry for that.    

While Rishabh and Shinu, both were watching IPL, she found herself busy with washing utensils. She felt angry at the cockroaches. Arghhh! She must make some time to deep-clean the entire kitchen.

At 10.30PM, Going to bed, she opened the book, ‘The Great Lost Minds,’ Page no. 233.

"You are not your mind…..can’t be a perception but an old saying revived by Eckhart tolle, a spiritual Guru (In his book, The power of Now). 

We are not our minds...how often it happens we wanna sleep but our mind doesn't let it happen (Our wish is not the same as of mind; it's something different..... sometimes sync). We can't control our mind but mind can control us. Our body being physical believes in realism so try to set realistic goals only which it can achieve. It's like a motor without driver. But the strong mind knows well that real and virtual are just like those postulates on the basis of which we set the goals. When Rene Descartes said "I think therefore I'm" he was satisfied with the thought and didn't try to look beyond which he thought as only realism. Realism is a matter to believe i.e. as much you believe you make it real, which other may think as virtual.”

…….Arghh! Her mind hardly grasped what was written. But, yes she has had moments when she wasn’t herself! In fact, in majority she wasn’t herself. Before getting married, she wanted to taste everything in her own way; she couldn’t. She wanted to fall madly in love; she wanted him to have that much bank balance, that for the rest of his life, he could spend only for her…she wanted to have her home in Paris….'no not in Paris, God knows so many Casinos are there, he might get distracted. London, yep London, less crowded than Delhi.'

She wanted all of this, for the rest of her life. While she was thinking, drinking in the tones of her thought, her physical became dominant for the moment. After watching the IPL, as Rishabh comes to bed, she wanted to reach out his hand in the darkness and touch him with the sensitive tips of her fingers upon the face or the lips. She wanted to draw close to him and whisper against his cheek—she did not care what she thought, but yes, above all she found herself lucky, he was lovable, inoffensive and brat.

5.30AM.

The alarm was ringing, ‘Good morning, good morning, good, goooood…gooooooood morrr…’Rishabh shut off the alarm, patted her, reminding it’s her time to wake. Gently, she wakes up.

After getting fresh and serving tea to everyone, she rushed to the kitchen; prepared everyone’s tiffin. It’s her high time; no robot could match the speed. Done the schedule, she left for the office. 
Rushed to common coach of the metro and not the ladies’ one, for most of the men inside, she was the only fresh air; doesn’t matter how she feels. For the moment, her hand went inside the bag holding tightly the pepper spray with face kind enough to deal with the situation diligently.
One of the kind men offered her, his own seat which she calmly refused, disapproving James Brown 1966 classic playing in someone’s mobile, “This is a man’s world, this is a man’s world, but it would be nothing… nothing ….without a women or a girl.” After all, she didn’t want to live as some precious object in a man’s world. She wanted to live her own.

 Akanchha called, ‘Hi Sweetie!’
‘Hiii…. U so early Akankchha? What’s wrong with u, dude?’ astonished Rita.  Nothing….you know na, it’s Friday, We will do masti today…you’re coming with us? Right! Now, don’t say no..no. Common, it’s been three years, you have never been with us in any party. Pls, pls, pls Rita, for me…you can have mocktail na!’

Rita tried to avoid, ‘okay, we will see,’ 

‘What see, you’re coming…no ifs and buts, ‘for one day, Rishabh can take care of himself and Shinu. I’ll inform him.’

‘Okay….ok, baba. I shall, happy??’ nodded Rita.

She was wondering…hell, how could she get trapped, what she was avoiding so far. It was her mind perhaps, not herself.  While correcting the quotes, as guided by her boss, she could remember, how madly she was in love with Martini, a secret, she never told her husband, how in her girls’ hostel, she with her besties spent whole night watching porn, smoking Cigar, drinking her favourite Martini simply with crispy. Gosh! Crazy nights never gonna come. Her boyfriend, Karan, a painter ….everyone wondered how could she fall in love with that gawky Karan who never speaks of his mind…only she knew it’s his painting which speaks the truth. In spite of all the differences, all the spats they had, in that short period of relationship, she liked his drinking taste, she liked his approach towards life. However, she called her ‘loser, coward….blah blah.’

Happy now, she still had a secret liking for him in a corner of her heart. Now she knew, it was him who controlled her flow of mind; otherwise, it could have been self-destructive. He never returned to her life after she messaged him post the last spat, ‘I am done with you.’ Nobody knew where he was, but he too had a limited patience, she got to know much later.    
 Ahh! Where was Ria, her bestie…. divorced from her husband, Ria didn’t call her once, since then.

6PM.

‘Akanchha, you go, I won’t be able to join you Yaar! See, have loads of work to finish. You know na, today it has to go to the press!’
‘Ugh, back to the same logic? Huh, you will never ….’ Akanchha left.
She, sitting in office waited until they, the party people sit in the car. She, like every other metro girls has small secrets which she didn’t want to share with her colleagues not even Akanchha, her new unmarried bestie, who shared everything with her.
In the lift, a colleague stares, as if her’ is a matter to showcase. She puts her bag on the front; a mobile rings, ‘it’s a man’s world.’
…Perhaps it didn’t need her approval.
-          - - - - - -     
Image Courtesy: dvdflm

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In Humour Satire

Singers welcome Dhinchak Pooja Act, 2017

After listening to #Dhinchak Pooja's songs, at the stroke of the midnight yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for an urgent Joint session of the Parliament and the Government of India readily agreed to the Indian Association of Singers' plea to enact a bill, limiting the freedom of singing in Public spaces to authorized singers only. For obvious reasons, the enacted bill is called Dhinchak Pooja Act, 2017.


According to the Act, unauthorized persons found singing at public spaces like Youtube , myspace, Vimeo etc would be sent to jail for a minimum seven years.

Singers like Shaan, Shankar Mahadevan, Shreya Ghoshal welcomed the move, meanwhile Sonu Nigam was quite happy with the development and announced his comeback on twitter. On the Newshour tonight, Arnab said, "Ms. Dhinchak, never ever, ever, ever....sing a song to defame my country, otherwise I assure you, in addition to the latest Dhinchak Act, you will be charged with sedition too." The panelists clapped in response.
See Mr. Modi's response on the Daily Social below.


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In Aadhaar Act The EDIT PAGE

The Curious Case of Aadhaar

Ever wondered, if the concerned issues pertaining to an Act are not addressed properly, what would be the possible aftereffects? Uh.huh! Obamacare is here to tell you the long story cut short. Aadhaar, the world’s biggest biometric ID programme ever, if conveys the story of successful implementation of a scheme in the world’s largest democracy, it also questions the efficacy and sincerity of the Indian government, amid the lack of law of privacy and data protection.    

Learning the Unlearned Way
Among the most debated news at primetime slots in both the countries, almost at the same time, Affordable Care Act, 2010, USA and The National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010, India, have finally met the same fate. Of course, there are differences.  The Affordable Care Act, famously called Obamacare was enacted by the 111th US Congress and signed into law by the then US president Barack Obama. The NIAI bill, however, could never see the light of the day and finally withdrawn from Parliament.


Having said that in spite of the outright rejection by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance, headed by Yashwant Sinha-Former Finance Minister of India, the Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI) continued its business of distributing Aadhaar Card based on voluntary basis. It was never made mandatory until Aadhaar Act, 2016 came into picture. Obamacare failed to address Republicans’ as well as experts’ concerns at large, in its lifetime and hence was finally repealed by Trump’s administration. However, on the stake are 24 million lives who subscribed to Obamacare.
Similar to NIAI bill which failed to address the then opposition, BJP’s concerns, the new Aadhaar Act has not only bypassed the opposition's concerns, but also the legal windows by making its day as money bill. The Supreme Court is yet to constitute the 7-members judges’ bench hear the year old standing plea. On the stake, are 118 crore people’s data. 

What is Aadhar? What exactly it aims to achieve?
Soon after the 15th LokSabha election results, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, partially inspired from the then Infosys chairman Nandan Nilekani’s book ‘Imagining India: The Idea of a Renewed Nation’, asked Nilekani to envision and implement Multipurpose National Identity Card – a 12-digit Aadhaar number – for every Indian. The aim was quite clear: efficient delivery of welfare services. Since this Unique Identity card would be biometric, the huge challenge against Nilekani, the chairperson of UIDAI, was creating a failsafe electronic government data base of the entire population of India. Nilekani recalled it – the biggest social project on the planet.

Well, what do you mean by the efficient delivery of welfare services?
Among the welfare schemes are: LPG at subsidized rate, mid-day meal to kids attending public schools, rice-wheat distribution at subsidized rate to people living below poverty level (BPL) and so on.  And, as per the Planning Commission reports, every year, almost Rs50,000 crore went in vain, as it never reached to the beneficiary owing to the duplicate identity cards and dealers and agencies involved in between the government and beneficiaries. With Aadhaar card being biometric in nature, making duplicate cards under the same identity is theoretically impossible.   
If Aadhaar Card is all about the genuine benefits to the people, then why so hullabaloo?
The Aadhaar card detail is not limited to the biometric, but it has got the entire personal details that include: Name, Father’s Name, DoB, Mobile No. and Address too. The data is sensitive, as Aadhaar is going to be a single window gateway to all your details, your banks’ accounts, Tax details and so on. Responding to Quartz, Nilekani averred, “Each device is individually encrypted and registered with the UID system. So you cannot fake all this.”   However, it has been widely reported that how Aadhaar data of 130 million people were compromised; how Jharkhand Govt. has accidentally leaked more than 1 million Aadhaar records of pensioners. Also, how various Common Service Centres across the country were involved in leaking the information, right from the collection to storage, accuracy and use of Aadhaar data!   
Some people are aware of trade-offs between privacy and convenience while using Microsoft OS, Google search engines or Apple iCloud. However, providing services for more than a decade, there have been no intentional leaks of the collected data to third parties, by the above mentioned companies. This is not the case with Aadhaar. The recent leaks and Aadhaar data accessibility through simple google searches also questions the governments’ capability of handling data at large scale. This doesn’t stop here. Despite the 27 Do’s and 9 Don’ts guidelines released by the central government, section 8, of Aadhaar Act, is drastically different from that of NIAI bill, 2010. While the NIAI bill allowed the authentication limited to the biometric match only with Yes/No option. The Aadhaar Act allows the requesting agency/person to ask for other information too, pertaining to the person’s identity.

Legal Glitches
As notified earlier, the Act has been passed under Money Bill. However, according to the Article 110 of the constitution, a bill can be classified as Money Bill, only if 
 It imposes, alters, abolishes, or regulates any tax; 
 Regulates borrowing or alters the financial obligations of the government; an
 Affects the custody of the consolidated fund of Indiaor appropriates payments, withdrawals and expenditures from the fund and matters incidental to all these actions. 
Under the same Article 110 (3), the constitution has given the Speaker of the lower House, LokSabha, the final authority to decide whether a Bill is a Money Bill or not.  Responding to queries, whether Aadhaar falls under Money Bill or not, Dr. Anup Surendranath, Professor, Constitutional Law-National Law University, Delhi averred, “Introducing  and  passing  the  Aadhaar Act  as  a  Money  Bill  amounts  to  a  gross  illegality because there is no manner in which the contents of the Act can be justified under the terms of Article 110(1). Many commentators have rightly pointed out that the use of the word “only” in Article 110(1) prevents the Aadhaar Act from falling under its scope.”
While 98% of the countrymen are being reported to have the Aadhaar identification as of now, in spite of successive petitions at the Supreme Court, the successive CJI’s have failed to constitute a seven membered bench to hear the hear the constitutional irregularity (not procedural) under the Article 212.
The legal window is wide open. The petition was filed by Former Union Minister, Jairam Ramesh. The Aadhaar Act can meet any of the following three fates: 
1. Mohd Saeed Siddiqui case, (State of UP) and Yogendra Kumar Jaiswal (State of Bihar) are two landmark decisions of the Supreme Court where SC  held  that  the  decision  of  the  Speaker  of the corresponding State Legislative  Assembly,  in  determining  a  bill  to  be  a  money  bill  could  not  be  judicially reviewed  and  that  the procedure  adopted  by  the  State  Legislature  was  beyond judicial review by virtue of Article 212(1). Hence, the case would fall null and void.
2. The Supreme Court brings the Jairam Ramesh case under 212(1) purview  citing gross constitutional irregularity. This might bring the government of the day under huge pressure to address take back the Act.
3. Congress which is totally against the Bill getting passed as Money Bill, might take it back, once it comes in the government.

How does the Aadhaar Act affect professionals?
Once linked with PAN card, the Aadhaar card would be a single source for ID checks, ITR details, Police records, and even employment history too.  Every agent who is in the business of verifying e-KYC forms (Know your Customers) will end up knowing more than they should, as the procedure would allow them to access the customer’s Aadhaar Id. And, interestingly, the new Aadhaar Act allows them to do so.  Devangshu Datta, Contributing Editor-Business Standard opined, “Given excellent facial recognition programmes and off-the-shelf image converters, a digital photo can be instantly converted and compared to databases of base-64 images.” He, thus, suspected, “Then such an agency will be able to trawl public pictures downloaded from wherever, and recognise random people and tie mugshots to Aadhaar data.” This way, the enrolling agencies will have much more information linking to an Aadhaar no. than even the UIDAI data base can ever have.
Such agencies which are found often trading data base for professional uses such as sales pitching etc. might misuse the same for a large range of activities. Hence the question is: passed under Money Bill, where will it land up in the absence of basic laws pertaining to people’s privacy and data protection?
On the other hand, the government never showed even an iota of sincerity while dealing such grave concerns. The Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said, “The arguments on so-called privacy and bodily intrusion are bogus."

What is the way forward?
If Aadhaar is the face identification no. of a person, every other information linked to the particular Aadhaar must have layered encryption where each layered data must have a higher/different secured encryption, and should be immune to agencies accessing Aadhaar info.  



This will not only separate and failsafe each and every layer from the other, but would also address the privacy concerns. On the other side, one must not amplify the privacy concerns, just for making some buzz in news space. For e.g., if we study in a foreign university, the institution collects every bit of data, right from the biometric data to Passport Id, Domicile, References, PAN and Police Records. We don’t mind sharing the information because of the trust we usually have over these institutions or even private companies like Apple, Google or Microsoft, Dropbox and so on. However, given the massive Aadhaar leaks intentionally done by the CSCs across, it’s hard to believe whatever the Gazette of India depicts under Aadhaar Act, 2016, at a time, when the Supreme Court is yet to decide the legality glitch of the Act.


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