Archive for category Musings

Yesterday and Today – RIP #UvaldeTX


14 students & 1 teacher killed at #Uvalde TX – RIP

Prayers & #GunReformNow

Oh I know this isn’t shocking us anymore and our tears have dried up. BUT when we think of each mother and father who won’t have a child coming home tonight, just for a second when we think of their grief then we know in our hearts, this isn’t about politics or our rights alone. We want guns that keep us safe inside our homes. Our children are not sitting inside homes. They are in schools, colleges, shopping malls, theaters – but we love guns too much.

Sharing my poem —-

Yesterday and Today…… a #poem

Yesterday, you’d come home from school and my world would be brighter
Today it seems, my world will always remain darker…..

Yesterday, I chided you for playing video games full of violence, torture
Today violence of my world stole your dreams forever….

Yesterday, your focus was college of your reach, you aimed higher
Today, you became a pawn in someone’s unwinnable war

Yesterday your biggest worry was a B score
Today trivial seems that fear

Yesterday, we prayed that you’d drive safer
Today, your blood streaked body drowns under my one long tear

Yesterday, with scarcely a hug you walked away with your peer  
Today, I won’t accept. I need yesterday and you. Right here

Yesterday, prom nights and college letters got your cheer
Today, your cheers are drowned under my long silent tear

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નાટો શું છે, શા માટે જરૂરી સંસ્થા બની રહી છે – NATO in #Gujarati


મેં ભારતમાં થોડા લોકો સાથે વાત કરી અને એવું લાગ્યું કે તેઓ યુક્રેન પર રશિયાના આક્રમણ માટે નાટોના વિસ્તરણને દોષી ઠેરવે છે. નાટોના વિસ્તરણને દોષિત ઠેરવતા પહેલા નાટો વિષે માહિતી જાણવી અગત્યની છે. 

ઉત્તર એટલાન્ટિક ટ્રીટી ઓર્ગેનાઈઝેશન (NATO) ની રચના, બીજા વિશ્વ યુદ્ધ પછી થયેલ. અને મારા મત અનુસાર સમગ્ર માનવતા માટે એક વિશિષ્ટ ઘટના બની. અલબત્ત તેને લીધે અમુક રાષ્ટ્રો માટે ફાયદા અને બીજા માટે ગેરફાયદા હોય શકે પરંતુ સમગ્ર માનવતા માટે, ઘાતક બીજા વિશ્વયુદ્ધ પછી મૂળ 12 સભ્યો સાથે શરુ થઇને હવે 30 સુધી વિસ્તૃત થનાર નાટો, માનવતા માટે સૌથી વધુ ફાયદાકારક પરિણામ છે.  શા માટે?

નાટોમાં જોડાતા સભ્યો શપથ લે છે કે “કોઈપણ એક સભ્ય રાષ્ટ્ર સામેના હુમલાને બધા સામે હુમલો માનવામાં આવે છે” અને બધા સભ્યો “એકમેકના સંરક્ષણ માટે પ્રતિજ્ઞાબદ્ધ છે”. તેવા સામુહિક સરંક્ષણને લીધે સભ્ય રાષ્ટ્રોને પોતાના સ્વરક્ષણ માટે શસ્ત્રો એકઠા કરવા પડતા નથી. અને માનવતા માટે ઓછી સંખ્યામાં શસ્ત્રો અને ખાસ કરીને પરમાણુકૃત શસ્ત્રો દુનિયામાં રહે તેનાથી વિશેષ કોઈ વિશેષ ઘટના નથી. અને છતાં પર્યાવરણ માટે આપણે તેવું કોઈ જબ્બરજસ્ત સામુહિક કામ કરી શકીશું તો તે ફરી એક વિશેષ ઘટના બની રહેશે. તેથી શસ્ત્રોને બનાવવા, ખરીદવા, તેને સુરક્ષિત રાખવા, જૂના થઇ જાય ત્યારે તેમનું સમારકામ કરવું, જુના શસ્ત્રોને તોડીને નવા વસાવવા, આમ શસ્ત્રોની જાળવણી, સંગ્રહ, સમારકામ વગેરેમાંથી સભ્ય રાષ્ટ્રોને રાહત મળે છે. સભ્ય રાષ્ટ્રો આ રીતે શસ્ત્રો અને દારૂગોળાના ભંડારને ઘટાડી શકે છે, તેથી તેમના સંસાધનો શિક્ષણ જેવા વધુ માનવીય હેતુઓ માટે વાપરી શકાય છે. જો સભ્ય રાષ્ટ્રોએ નાટોની છત્રછાયા હેઠળ, રાહતની લાગણી અનુભવી ન હોત તો તે રાષ્ટ્રો તેઓ પરમાણુ શસ્ત્રો ઉત્પન્ન કરવામાં લાગેલ હોત. ઘણા વિદ્ધાનો માને છે કે જો નાટો ન હોત તો યુરોપ સંપૂર્ણ રીતે પરમાણુકૃત બની ગયું હોત. તેથી નાટો વિશ્વમાં પરમાણુ શસ્ત્રોના વધુ નિર્માણ માટે અવરોધક બની રહ્યું છે.

નાટોના સભ્યોનો ઉદ્દેશ કટોકટી દરમિયાન એકસાથે ઊભા રહેવાનો અને કોઈપણ અને તમામ બાહ્ય જોખમોથી સ્વતંત્રતા અને લોકશાહીનું રક્ષણ કરવાનો છે. 2001 દરમિયાન જ્યારે અમેરિકા ઉપર આતંકવાદીઓએ હુમલો કર્યો ત્યારે નાટોના સભ્યો આ સંધિને કારણે અમેરિકન સરકારની પડખે ઉભા હતા. એ જ રીતે 1990 ના દાયકામાં બોસ્નિયા અને કોસોવોમાં ત્યાં થઈ રહેલા સંઘર્ષોને રોકવા માટે, નાટોના દળો ત્યાં ગયા અને અફઘાનિસ્તાનમાં આતંકવાદી સંગઠનોને પગપેસારો કરતા અટકાવવા સાથે મળીને કામ કર્યું. નાટોના સભ્યો એ જ રીતે સાયબર ધમકીઓનો સામનો કરવા માટે સાથે મળીને કામ કરી રહ્યા છે અને હોર્ન ઑફ આફ્રિકાની આસપાસ ચાંચિયાગીરી થાય છે તેનો સાથે મળીને સામનો કરી રહ્યા છે. તે રીતે નાટો માત્ર લડાઇ સંબંધિત મુદ્દાઓ જ નહિ પરંતુ રેફયુજીસ ની મદદ, સાયબર ધમકીઓ, આતંકવાદીઓ ઉપર નજર રાખવામાં અને તેવા અન્ય વૈશ્વિક જોખમો સામે સાથે મળીને કામ કરે છે.

જો કોઈને આશ્ચર્ય થાય કે શા માટે આપણને એક સંસ્થાની જરૂર છે અને વિશ્વ શા માટે એકસાથે મળીને કેમ ન કરી શકે તો તે વાજબી પ્રશ્ન છે. નાટો હેઠળ સહકારનું નેટવર્ક એક માળખા હેઠળ તૈયાર હોય છે. સભ્ય રાષ્ટ્રને મદદ કરવા માટે, ક્ષણભરની સૂચના સાથે કાર્ય હાથ ધરી શકે છે, પછી તે યુદ્ધનો ખતરો હોય કે સાયબર ખતરો. આ માળખું હોવાને લીધે તુરંત જ એકત્રીકરણ અને પ્રતિસાદ આપવા માટે લોજિસ્ટિક્સ, સંકલન અને ખર્ચની વહેંચણીની ખાતરી સભ્યોને હોય છે. યુરોપિયન એટલાન્ટિક ક્ષેત્રમાં કોઈપણ દેશ નાટોમાં જોડાઈ શકે છે. સભ્ય રાષ્ટ્ર તેના જીડીપીના 2% પૈસા સામુહિક સંરક્ષણ માટે ફાળે તેવી અપેક્ષા છે. અને ક્યારેક તે તકરારનો મુદ્દો પણ બને છે કે દરેક રાષ્ટ્ર તેમના વાજબી હિસ્સાનું યોગદાન આપતા નથી અને અમેરિકા નાટો માટે મોટા ભાગનું યોગદાન આપે છે. ક્યારેક અમેરિકા નાટોના સભ્યો સમક્ષ તેમના ભાગનું યોગદાન આપવા માટે ફરિયાદ પણ કરે છે.  ટ્રમ્પના પ્રમુખપદ દરમિયાન આ મુદ્દો ચર્ચામાં આવ્યો હતો જ્યારે તેણે નાટોને તોડી પાડવાની ધમકી આપી હતી. જો કે, અન્ય પ્રમુખોએ સમયાંતરે અવલોકન કર્યું છે કે નાટો એક ફાયદાકારક સંસ્થા છે. ક્યારેક અન્ય કેટલાક રાષ્ટ્રો તેમના જીડીપીના 2% કરતા પણ ઓછો ફાળો આપે છે કારણકે તેઓ સમૃદ્ધ નથી અને તેમની પાસે પુરા સંસાધનો નથી. અને છતાં સામુહિક સરંક્ષને કારણે તેમને સમય આવ્યે મદદ મળવાની ખાતરી છે. 

હા, હું સ્વીકારું છું કે રશિયાના વડાપ્રધાન પુટિન માટે નાટોનું વિસ્તરણ ચિંતાનું કારણ હોય શકે. પરંતુ નાટોને અને પુટિન ના વગર કારણે કરેલા આક્રમણ ને સમાન માપદંડથી ન માપી શકાય અને એક સમાન દોષિત ન ઠરાવી શકાય. બંનેના મૂળભૂત રીતે અલગ રહેલા સ્વભાવને આપણે સમજવા જોઈએ. પુટિન એક ફાશીવાદી છે અને તેણે અવારનવાર ઉશ્કેરણી વગરના હુમલાઓ કર્યા છે અને લાખો લોકોને માર્યા છે; અગાઉ જ્યોર્જિયા અને ક્રિમીઆમાં અને હવે યુક્રેનમાં. તે અરાજકતા દ્વારા વિકાસ કરવા અને યુ.એસ.એસ.આર.ના મોટા ભાગને શક્ય તેટલી વિશાળ સ્થિતિમાં પુનઃસ્થાપિત કરવા ઈચ્છે છે. પરંતુ નાટો એક એવી સંસ્થા છે જે સજીવ રીતે વધે છે અને વિશ્વમાં શસ્ત્રો અને ખાસ કરીને પરમાણુ શસ્ત્રો અસંખ્ય રીતે ન વધે અને છતાં રાષ્ટ્રોને સામુહિક સંરક્ષણ મળી રહે તે ઉપર ધ્યાન કેન્દ્રિત કરે છે. 

આ બધું જાણ્યા પછી હવે તમે નાટોને આ ફાશીવાદી પુટિન જેટલા દોષિત માનશો?

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Blame NATO if you must, but not before you understand what NATO is.


I talked with a few people from India and they have been blaming NATO expansion for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Fine blame NATO expansion if you must. BUT at least be informed about what NATO is. Now, there is a lot of information on what is NATO. But for my readers I am going to go ahead and share some information here.

Formation of The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), an intergovernmental military alliance formed after the Second World War, was in my opinion, one of the best things to happen for humanity as a whole. Sure there are pros and cons for individual nations but for humanity as whole, it is the most beneficial outcome, after a deadly war. It began with 12 original members and now it is expanded to 30. 

Members who join NATO take an oath that states “An attack against any one member nation is considered an attack against all” and that is “all for one defense pledge.”. Therefore member nations are freed from accumulating defense war chests and weapons which get outdated, need to be maintained, stored, serviced and replaced from time to time. Since member nations can lessen the stockpile of weapons and ammunition, their resources can be saved for more humane purposes like education, there would be fewer stockpiles of ammunition in the world and fewer outdated weapons to dispose of, thus reducing waste. What is even more pertinent is that if member nations did not feel a sense of relief, being under the protection, under the NATO umbrella then those nations that could afford would be more likely to produce nuclear weapons, to stop external attacks. Many believe that if it was not for NATO then most of Europe would be entirely nuclearized by now. So NATO acts as a deterrent to more buildup of nuclear weapons in the world.

The objective of NATO members is to stand together during crises and preserve and protect freedom and democracy from any and all external threats. When the USA was attacked by terrorists during 2001, NATO members stood by the American government because of this treaty. NATO forces similarly went into Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s to stop the conflicts happening there and worked together in Afghanistan to prevent terrorist organizations from gaining a foothold. NATO members are similarly working together to combat cyber threats and are working together to combat piracy, that happens around the Horn of Africa.  

So the issues that NATO addresses are not only combat related. NATO members have also worked together to address the refugee crisis and also works with migrants to help them with home placement, visa applications and more. Over 13,000 NATO troops worked to train local forces in keeping terrorism from gaining ground. NATO members work together against cyber warfare, piracy and other global threats. 

If anyone wonders why we need an organization in place and why can’t the world come together, as it often does, when a threat rises. That is a fair question. An existing network of cooperation under NATO happens under a clear command structure. That enables mobilization with moment’s notice to help a member nation, whether it is threat of war or massive cyber threat. An existing structure ensures logistics, coordination and cost sharing to mobilize and respond immediately.    

NATO is not an exclusionary organization. It originated in the north of the Atlantic. And yet, it has an open door policy to allow any country in the European Atlantic region to join and take an oath towards collective defense of threats to all member nations. Members are expected to contribute 2% of their GDP towards defense. It is true and a point of some minor contention that not every nation has contributed their fair share and the USA contributes a lion’s share towards NATO.

From time to time USA complains and asks other member states to contribute their fair share. This issue came to a head during the Presidency of Mr. Trump when he threatened to dismantle NATO. However, other Presidents have observed from time to time that NATO is a very beneficial organization. Often some of the other nations contribute less than 2 % of their GDP, simply because they are not rich and they do not have the resources.  Even with some member nations contributing lesser amounts, many believe that the US gains a lot of value due to strategic locations of some of these nations that may even supercede in some cases than the military capabilities that could be obtained by them spending more. 

Yes, I acknowledge that for Putin, the expansion of NATO causes consternation and concern. However, those who blame both in equal measure, must understand the fundamentally different nature of both. Putin is a fascist and has often undertaken unprovoked attacks and killed millions, previously in Georgia and Crimea and now in Ukraine. He wishes to grow through mayhem and restore as much of USSR to its giant status as possible, through autocracy.  NATO is an organization that grows organically and is focused on protecting the freedoms and democracies of member nations and to collectively fight against terrorism, pyracy, cyber attacks and more. 

If you still believe that it is justified and rational for Putin to counter NATO expansion by waging unprovoked attacks on its neighbors then you have a right to believe that. But at least now you know what values you are advocating.  Mr. Yeltsin, the President of Russia had once expressed an interest in joining NATO. So let us envision a day when Russians will tire of autocrats like Putin and will revolt and bring a system of democratic Government. Could it be conceivable then that Russia joins NATO? 

My final point is that existing organizations that support freedoms and democracies provide forums and platforms for ongoing discussions that encourage further actions towards these freedoms. In that respect, NATO provides a diplomatic forum and an avenue for communication to address concerns. It is a platform driven by value, not by mad, megalomania-driven, fascist desire for expansion and control of world’s land or resources.  Of course, even then members may veer away. However, members also feel the weight of collective pressure from other friendly nations to abide by the pledge to serve in favor of freedom and democracy.   

Unfortunately, since one NATO member, Turkey evolved into a full fledged autocracy instead of being a democratically elected government, NATO isn’t requiring current members to maintain their democratic status, with the belief that the world faces more than one type of enemy. In my opinio, this is the real danger that NATO may one day become defunct. But right now, it seems to be the best organization we have that serves humanity well in more ways than one.

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ટેક્નોલોજી દ્વારા થતા દુષ્કર્મો ને બુલીબાઈ એપ ને પડકારતું કાવ્ય: #Gujarati #poem against #BullibaiApp


આપણા સમાજમાં એક એવી ખોટી માન્યતા છે કે શારીરિક પીડા ની સરખામણીમાં ટેક્નોલોજી દ્વારા થતું નુકશાન અને પીડા તદ્દન મામૂલી છે. વધુ ને વધુ ટેક્નોલોજીના દુરુપયોગથી વ્યક્તિઓને ખુબ નુકશાન પહોંચે છે. ટેક્નોલોજી દ્વારા આર્થિક રીતે લોકોને કેવું નુકશાન કરી શકાય છે તે તો આપણે જાણીએ જ છીએ અને સંસ્થાઓએ તે માટે પગલાં પણ લીધા છે. પરંતુ ટેક્નોલોજી ના દુરુપયોગથી વ્યક્તિની પ્રતિષ્ઠા અને ઓળખ ઉપર સખત છાંટા ઉડાડીને તેને ખુબ હામી પંહોંચાડવામાં આવે છે તે પ્રત્યે આપણે તેટલું ધ્યાન આપ્યું નથી. અને ખાસ કરીને ભારત જેવા પિતૃસત્તાક સમાજ માં સ્ત્રીની પ્રતિષ્ઠા ની અસર તેની પુરી જિંદગી ઉપર થઇ શકે છે ત્યારે સ્ત્રીઓ ઘણી વાર તેવા દુરુપયોગ નું લક્ષ્ય બને છે.  ડિજિટલ માહિતી એક વાર ઈન્ટરનેટ ઉપર મુકાય જાય તો તે હંમેશ માટે ક્યાંક ને ક્યાંક તો રહીજ જાય છે. તેથી ડિજિટલ માહિતીની સ્થાયીતા ને કારણે તે વ્યક્તિ ના પુરા જીવનમાં તે એક લટકતી તલવાર બનીને રહી જાય છે. ઘણીવાર કોઈ સ્ત્રી હિંસાત્મક સબંધ માંથી બહાર નીકળવાની કોશિશ કરે ત્યારે પણ પુરુષો તેને રોકવા માટે કે ત્યાર બાદ બ્લેકમેઇલ કરવા માટે ડિજિટલ ગેરુપયોગથી સાચી કે ખોટી હકીકત ઉપજાવીને સ્ત્રીને મહાત કરવાની કોશિશ કરે છે. મને તેનો અંગત અનુભવ છે.  

woman's hand holding smartphone and using grab application for car sharing service Chiang Mai, Thailand - November 18, 2017: unidentified woman holding smartphone and using grab application for car sharing service in local cafe in Chiang Mai, Thailand on November 18, 2017. grab application offers ride-hailing and logistics services. Reaching Stock Photo

તાજેતરમાં ભારત માં બુલીબાઈ એપ દ્વારા મુસલમાન મહિલાઓની બેઇજ્જતી કરવાનો અત્યંત દુઃખદ પ્રયાસ થયો. તેમાં મુસ્લિમ મહિલા કાર્યકર્તાઓ, પત્રકારો, રાજકારણીઓ, અભિનેતાઓ અને એન્જિનિયરોને નિશાન બનાવવામાં આવ્યા. આ મહિલાઓના ચહેરા પોર્નોગ્રાફિક બોડી સાથે જોડી દેવામાં આવ્યા હતા અને તેમની નકલી હરાજી સર્જવામાં આવી હતી. રાજકારણી મહિલાઓને પણ આવા કરતૂતનો અવારનવાર સામનો કરવો પડે છે. જ્યાં સુધી આપણે બધા તેની વિરુદ્ધ નહિ બોલીએ અને તેનો ઉગ્ર વિરોધ અને આક્રોશ વ્યક્ત નહિ કરીએ ત્યાં સુધી આ બદલાશે નહીં અને આવતા વર્ષોમાં આપણી દીકરીઓને આવીજ કરતૂતોનો સામનો કરવાનો રહેશે. મારા જીવનનો આ અંગત અનુભવ છે અને તેને આધારે કહીશ કે ગમે તેવી ચોખ્ખી પ્રતિષ્ઠા કોઈ સ્ત્રી ધરાવતી હોય, અને કોઈ પણ સ્ત્રી હોય તે આવી કરતૂતનો ભોગ બની શકે છે. 

જયારે દિલ્લી માં નિર્ભયા નામે ઓળખાઈ ગયેલી એક યુવતી ઉપર 6 પુરુષો દ્વારા બળાત્કાર અને ત્યાર બાદ તેની હત્યા કરવામાં આવી હતી ત્યારે મેં એક કાવ્ય લખ્યું હતું http://bit.ly/WyY4zf . તેવું બીજું કાવ્ય બુલીબાઈ એપ ની ઘટના બની ત્યારે લખ્યું છે તે નીચે રજુ કરું છું.

મારા ભાઈઓ અને બહેનો ને અનુરોધ 

મારા ભાઈઓ, હંમેશા તમારી સુરક્ષા ઇચ્છુ છું
તમારા કાંડે રાખડી બાંધતા તમારી રક્ષા પ્રાર્થું છું
આજે મારા ચરિત્ર ને પ્રતિષ્ઠા ઉપર છાંટા ઉડે છે
ત્યારે તમારા આધારની અપેક્ષા રાખું છું.   

સ્થિતિસ્થાપકતા ને ઉત્સાહ મારી ચાલ માં છે 
મોકળા મને જીવવાનો મોકળો રાહ માંગુ છું
મારા સોઉન્દર્યની ચર્ચા તમે ખુબ કરો છો 
આજે મારા ચરિત્રનો બચાવ ઈચ્છું છું   

એક દિવસ મારી કૃતજ્ઞતા વ્યક્ત કરશે  
મારી તમારી દીકરીઓ ની વાત કરું છું
ઇતિહાસના પાના ઉથલાવશે ત્યારે કૃતજ્ઞતા 
તમારા પ્રતિ પણ વ્યક્ત કરે તેમ ઈચ્છું છું  

પ્રિય બહેનો, આપણી લડાઈ દુષ્કર્મ સામે છે 
આજે તમારા સાથ માટે હાથ લાંબો કરું છું  
નફરત ને કટ્ટરતા સામેની લડાઈમાં, કોઈ જાતિ 
ધર્મ દરજ્જો કે વર્ગ વિભાજીત ન કરે તે ઈચ્છું છું  

હો ભલે મુસ્લિમ ખ્રિસ્તી શીખ કે હિન્દુ. છતાં પુરૂષો 
યુદ્ધ આદરે ત્યારે પ્રથમ લક્ષ્ય તમે અને હું છું 
અહીં કે ઇથોપિયામાં, લાઇબેરિયા, બોસ્નિયા, 
ચાઈના કે ઇરાક કે રવાન્ડામાં. તે માત્ર કહું છું.

ચાલો સાથે મળીને આગળ માર્ગ મોકળો કરીએ
તેથી આપણી દીકરીઓ સુરક્ષિત રહે તે ઈચ્છું છું 
શેરીઓમાં ફરતા કે ઑનલાઇન સર્ફિંગ કરતા 
કે બસની સવારી માં તેમની સલામતી પ્રાર્થું છું  

નરસંહાર ને નફરત ભૂતકાળની ઘટના છે લોકો કહેશે
દેશની મહિલાઓએ એકમેકને ટેકો આપ્યો શું
કેમકે જ્યારે એક સ્ત્રી સ્ત્રીને ટેકો આપે છે, તે બચાવે છે 
દેશો, સમુદાયો, પુરુષો ને બાળકોને, તે હું જાણું છું

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#MeToo – #DigitalAbuse Against Women Must Stop


There is a mistaken belief that #DigitalAbuse cannot be harmful, it is not real, serious or potentially lethal as physical abuse. Increasingly rogue elements use digital tools to harass and cause irreparable harm. We already know the extreme harm that can occur financially, and organizations have taken this threat seriously and taken measures to prevent such abuse. However, we haven’t given serious attention to digital abuse targeted towards someone’s reputation and their identity in the community. And because in patriarchal societies, a woman’s reputation can make or break her whole life, such abuse is often targeted towards women. In India, women politicians also often become a target of digital abuse by their male colleagues from opposition. The permanence of digital content makes it all the more harmful. Often perpetrators of domestic abuse try to sully a woman’s reputation when she seeks exit out of abusive relationships. I have first hand experience with such digital abuse.

Recently, that is also what was done by #BulliBai app. The app targeted Muslim women activists, journalists, politicians, actors and engineers. Faces of these women were attached to pornographic bodies and fake auction was created. This will not change UNLESS we all speak up against it and express vehement opposition and outrage. Else, tomorrow it will be our daughters who will be dealing with this crap. You may have impeccable reputation and yet be a target of digital abuse. It renders you completely helpless. I have experienced it and I am asking all of us to take a stand against all forms of abuse including those where overwhelmingly women are the target. I had written a poem (http://bit.ly/WyY4zf) in support of #Nirbhaya, a young woman who was brutally raped while riding in a public bus, by 6 men and was then killed, in Delhi. I have written a similar poem and I am sharing it below.

Stand with me, my brothers and my sisters

pile of female multiracial hands in union sign

My brothers, it is for your safety
I pray and tie this band, my rakhi
Will you now speak for me, be outraged?
My safety’s in peril, my soul damaged

I have resilience and verve 
Just asking for what I deserve
You’ve always praised my beauty
I’m asking now basic human dignity

One day, for paving the path, they’ll thank me
Your daughters who come after me
Their journey made easier minus many sorrows
For I took on my heart, the insults and arrows

When they turn the pages of history
With reverence, they’ll remember me
Perhaps they’ll thank you too
Stand with me for them, will you?

My sisters, we fight misogyny
Our battles are same, hate and bigotry
Let no one divide us by race
Or religion, status or class

Muslim Christian Sikh or Hindu
When men battle, first target is me and you
It’s the same story, here and in Ethiopia
Liberia, Bosnia, Turkey or Rwanda

Let’s pave the path forward together
So our daughters are safer
Walking the streets or surfing online
And safer riding a bus across town

Genocides & hate are things of the past
They’ll say, ‘cause women took a stand
For when a woman supports a woman 
It saves countries, communities and men

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Dems please stay engaged!!


This message is for my democrat friends who are losing hope. Increasingly and with rising sense of concern and alarm, we notice the disappointing and cowardly behavior from Republican leaders and citizenry. I notice many Democrats are losing hope. At such a time of divisiveness, I want to point your attention to something else that is simultaneously happening and perhaps indicates things to come, in the near future. 

First let me quote two anecdotal items. Recently I met a friend who is a dedicated trumper. He is a person who believes that the US should get broken into two countries so Republicans can have what they want in “their” country. He has taken the vaccine and the booster but does not believe in vaccines or the masks. We had this conversation.

He: All people who have taken vaccines are still getting covid. I am not going to take any more boosters if they come.
Me: But vaccines and boosters are keeping people safer and many of them out of hospitals.
He: How many exactly have stayed out of hospitals due to the booster?
Me: I don’t have specific numbers here.
He: So you just have a perception?
Me; No. There are some facts that can be checked and verified. So don’t ask me to do all the work. Instead, why don’t you try to check the facts by googling them? And instead of only tuning into Fox, also try tuning into CNN, MSNBC etc. to know about covid.
He: I am not going to. I don’t even listen to Fox. I don’t listen to any news. Sometimes I read some blogs. 

Another example. I saw on MSNBC, one journalist interviewing some Trumpers. One woman has 3000 connections on FB (she hasn’t met over 90% of them). She sends out many forwards on how the election was stolen from Trump and there were few others with the same beliefs. Many of them don’t even listen to right wing media like FOX and they do not trust fact checkers of companies like FaceBook (who are not politicians). In fact, some fact checkers employed by FB have even gotten death threats. 

SO here is the point. 

We are on a cusp of massive transformation and overhaul. Everything that is happening right now is precursor to massive transformation. Right now muck is rising to the top. As they say, it is darkest before the dawn. Isn’t it often the case in history that the muck that rises to the top, eventually gives an impetus for change in society? That is where we are. On one hand, all attempts to negate science and facts, is massively disappointing. AND YET, on the other hand, THAT is the beauty of living in this time that all the muck, false beliefs and insanity are coming out in the open. 

For instance, think of Jeffrey Epstein. He molested so many young girls for so long. When it all surfaced, it was extremely anger provoking. And yet, at least it surfaced and the guilty ones can then be held accountable. 

Also, let’s think of what is happening on the other side. My trumper friend is not listening to FOX along with CNN and MSNBC. He occasionally reads blogs. They are getting disillusioned and disengaged. Slowly many of them will go back to living on the periphery until and when they integrate true information or their children do. 

Why did I write this? I See a lot of disappointment among Dems. Biden can’t make progress, Dems are divided, some in the President’s own party won’t let him pass his bills that they originally believed in, Republicans continue to subscribe to falsehoods etc. SCOTUS continues to remain right leaning and the left continues to fear that with gerrymandering and lack of voting rights reform, the majority may lose due to technicalities. I fear this as well.

And yet Republican leaders are not all united. They are fully aware that the only strategy they have is to block and obstruct but that is not a strategy to govern. Mr. Trump has obfuscated their focus and it will not be easy for them to unite behind a nominee or a message. And consider the people who subscribe to conspiracies. They are divided as well. In fact, many are also divided within their own minds. Many of their beliefs in such conspiracies as the election was stolen, have become riddled with doubt. Some cling half-heartedly to what they knew to be true and some prefer to check out with occasional rants about how they would prefer secession. These assertions may sound more extreme but there is only fluff underneath the conspiracies and extreme stands they choose to take. 

So my friends, it is fine with taking occasional breaks from the news as we all must take care of our health and manage stress. And yet, stay engaged. If it is any help – remember, that a massive transformation needs for things to break down and not work for most. And this year we will likely see the transformation happen. When that happens, we want all hands on deck — all systems engaged – all people fully awake and contributing in building a better tomorrow.

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Me & You – #poetry


There is a very old tradition of poetry in Afghanistan, before the arrival of the Taliban. Written as couplets, they were called landay. After the Taliban came, women began writing and sharing in small private groups. And yet when her family members or Taliban came to know about it, women were sometimes whipped and even killed for writing poetry. Eliza Griswold, a Guggenheim Fellow traveled with photographer Seamus Murphy on assignment with the New York Times Magazine to learn about one such young poetess who was killed by her family for writing poems. There she privately met small groups of women and collected landays or poems written by them. For more details and to read these couplets: See the URL below.

https://static.poetryfoundation.org/o/media/landays.html

In one of my literature groups, we had to say something on the topic of “Me and You” in Gujarati language. I selected a few lines from their couplets and took the liberty to slightly modify them to fit the theme and shared them after translating in Gujarati language. I am posting them here along with my own poem below..

You forced me into marriage with an old man 
May Allah burn down the house where I spent my childhood

Making love to you old man
Is like fucking a shriveled cornstalk blackened by mold.

When sisters gather, they admire their brothers
When you brothers meet, you sell your sisters, kill them, burn them.

My body is my own;
Yet you are its master

And finally sharing the poem below that I wrote………

I, me — are not just words to inflate my ego
You — you are not just your masculinity

You and I are not always separate
Sometimes, you and I are a relationship

Then I exist, so do you
For a woman may have come from a man’s rib but once

But a man is born from her womb everyday 
If you are the question, I am the answer


Don’t make my existence the focus of your dominance

If you close me inside a veil, I will not cease to be


Don’t spend your time erasing my nail polish
For when your life is erased, how will you prove your worth in heaven?


Virgins don’t need nail polish scrubbers
But surely, gates of hell will remain open for your arrival

Afghan Women Fight for Their Identity | Voice of America - English

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The conundrum that is Afghanistan – Was there even a right solution?


Let’s first get this out of the way. The joke going around is that it took the USA 4 Presidents, thousands of lives, trillions of dollars and 20 years — to replace Taliban with Taliban. And also the fact that the Taliban was created and nurtured by the USA, during the cold war, to gain leverage over the former Soviet Union. So USA helped create Taliban, USA tried to destroy Taliban and USA leaving helped restore Taliban.

We can’t fight our old history but certainly must question the recent historical turn of events. 

Let’s consider reasons to leave and reasons to have stayed.

Why it is a right decision for US to pull out troops from Afghanistan

  • It has become a prolonged war, with no end in sight.
  • This war has cost the US and allies billions of dollars.
  • Wars consume lives and we should not risk any American lives for a prolonged war where the public has lost interest and we can’t remember what is in it for us.
  • Most importantly, if Afghani people are  just incapable or uninterested in minding their own country, then no matter how much external help they get, they will never rise up to gain control of their own country out of the hands of terrorists, tribal warlords, marijuana growers, and religious fanatics. There is not much anyone can do to help, until the people rise up to the challenge.

Why this decision to pull out the troops now is utterly wrong AND it has been strategically an absolute disaster. See from no. 5 to no. 1 — all the reasons.

  • Troubled countries cost resources, whether or not we are at war with them. If we are not keeping terrorists at bay and helping Afghani people to regain control then we will be fighting with terrorist insurgence, increased drug trafficking, and trying to ward off Russia from becoming cozy with the Taliban OR heaven forbid, even re enter Afghanistan.
  • We have reached a stable period where US and NATO commitment has substantially decreased. There have been only 3500 US military personnel AND not a single casualty in over 18 months. THAT IS AN INDICATION THAT THE COUNTRY IS LEARNING TO MANAGE ON ITS OWN, albeing under the guidance of the big brother.
  • We entered and stayed in Afghanistan with the lofty goal of rebuilding the country. THAT WAS THE HEIGHT OF HYPOCRISY. There is a Chinese proverb that says something like, if you want to grow rice, it’ll take 2 years, to grow trees it’ll take 20 years. But if you wish to grow and nurture people, you will need 200 years. REBUILDING A COUNTRY TAKES growing up of an entirely new generation. If USA did not have that kind of patience, didn’t want to make that kind of commitment then it should not have falsely claimed that to be the objective. AND YET, there wasn’t massive nation building troop presence requiring precipitous withdrawal. There was a happy medium of minimal troop presence. Instead, now USA abandoned even the new embassy after spending a billion dollars to build it.
  • US and allies needed to have considered the alternative and carefully weighed it against the current situation. Supposedly, USA and allies needed to maintain a small troop presence for an unforeseeable future then why would  it automatically be a bad situation? USA has troop presence for prolonged periods in other places — Germany and Korea for instance. If casualties are minimal and their presence is enabling young girls and boys to stay out of burkhas and fighting and keeps them in school then wouldn’t it have been only a matter of some more time when this new generation would assume control?
Afghanistan, School, Classroom, Girls, Children

Finally, THERE WAS AN ENTIRELY NEW GENERATION GROWING UP AND GETTING READY TO ASSUME CONTROL, when none other than a democrat President pulled the plug in the most strategically unsound manner, that may compromise the cream of that very generation that was the future and hope of this country. There is growing up an entire generation of educated young women committed to ensuring that this freedom is never lost and this hope is never taken from them by terrorists. Young men thus far had only got the taste for fighting and engaging in petty tribalism and protecting their manhood with strict nonsensical conservative, religiously sanctioned fanatical sharia system. And now there was a new crop of young men grown up with values of diversity, inclusiveness, gender equality and democracy. The best and the most committed of this new generation may perhaps be in the greatest danger because USA and the Western world cannot keep their commitment, don’t care about compromising others’ lives, and in the end make every bad decision that ends up with a tragic impact on other countries because they just don’t have the patience to nurture people and must not speak of winning the hearts and minds.

Map, Afghanistan, Atlas, Middle East, Asia, Geography

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Defund the police? NO, not until….


A police car rushes to the emergency call with lights turned on

It is disheartening to see the brutality from the police, armed to the teeth, supposedly there to protect the helpless.Most police departments all over the country may need reform and overhaul, some personnel and many policy changes, opportunities to know and understand people from up close, get involved in community events, get training, learn about unconscious biases, confront hidden agendas, and of course with that we need to fund and fortify community services for mental health, homelessness, domestic situations and so on.

Maybe in some societies and in some small cities/ communities disbanding the police department may have worked. But whole of America is not that country. With the kind of arming of the population that has occurred, with the prevalence of gangs, access and availability of drugs and with the kind of wealth divide we have in this country, WE NEED POLICE. 

Nice colorful street architecture and church view, tourist destination of French riviera, Alpes Maritimes depatment of France

If you believe we need to defund the police in America, then let us try to devote the next 10 years to making this country a better place, a place worthy of self management with the help of community policing.

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Diversity & Inclusion helps Recruitment & Retention


People often ask, how does promoting D&I within an organization help in exceeding revenue goals, expand market share, beat competition, and help gain happy customers? Some people may be surprised to hear that the business case for D&I not only exists but is now overwhelming. There is a growing body of research that shows that organizations that effectively weave in D&I into its strategy, policies and practice, tend to benefit in ways that go beyond the optics.

 

Let us just discuss two primary benefits today. A professional journey for an employee begins with getting hired. Research shows that leveraging D&I becomes a valuable asset in attracting the best talent and in retaining good talent. Companies that are diverse and value diversity, get an advantage of getting referrals from diverse sources. 

 

Retention is a big challenge for many organizations, especially when unemployment rates are lower. Employee Benefit News (EBN) reports that the cost to an organization to hire a replacement and train and bring them up to speed, when an employee leaves, is about 33% of a worker’s annual salary. In dollar figures, for an employee earning a median salary of $100,000 a year, it is about $33,000.  Hiring costs may be multiplied several fold for higher level employees, with unique skill sets. In organizations that value and leverage diversity, candidates feel more welcome and comfortable and are therefore less desirous of leaving. In addition to reduced costs, an organization that is competitive in its ability to retain talent also experiences reduced turnover hassle, reduced training time and therefore more productive time, increased overall productivity, better customer experience, knowledgeable company experts, and better morale. 

One, Inclusiveness, Unity, United

As a Diversity and Inclusion trainer, I feel grateful that organizations are increasingly acknowledging this reality and make space for insightful conversations to take place on this issue. However, D&I training should never be about checking off the box and is also less effective when done in reaction to bad publicity or a law suit. D&I conversations are most impactful when engaged pro actively, and when diversity is leveraged as an asset rather than a liability to deal with. This year, the conference at @TiEsv @TiEcon #TiEcon2020 has a track dedicated to discussing diversity and inclusion in organizations. Registration is open at http://www.tie.org .  Also here is a link http://bit.ly/38EWWAU to my diary and more of my thoughts on D&I and some advice to entrepreneurs.

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