My support to Sarita

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It is important to stand up for Sarita Devi in her struggle today. Not only because cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar has backed her and urged government to fight her case but also because in spite of so much imbalance in sports favoritism in our country (sadly, we can even die for cricket!!), such athletes and sportsperson are able to bring laurels to our nation. We need to give them their due importance which we have reserved only for cricketers, at least during such times. Through this article I voice my support for her to tell her that I empathize with her pain and that her genuine tears were nothing to be ashamed of.
 For an athlete who has toiled hard to reach an international podium, it is not easy to take in a defeat but it is almost impossible when one is sure of being the winner. Sarita's outburst was an emotional expression of a controversial judgment. It was a humanly reaction for which she has apologized later. It is not a big enough crime (unlike doping or match fixing) to end a thriving career. Such sportsperson may need proper training and consultation but certainly not punishment. That will be heartbreaking for Sarita and too bad for the morals of sportsperson of all developing countries. For, it is a fact that partiality do happen in favor of athletes of developed country. And since we are very poor on our general knowledge about other sports and players, here is a humble attempt to spread information about her:

Who is Sarita Devi?

Sarita Devi is from Mayang Imphal who turned professional in boxing in 2000, inspired by the achievements of Muhammad Ali. She represented India at the 2001 Asian Boxing Championships in Bangkok, and won a silver medal in her weight class. Following this victory, she won medals in various tournaments, including gold at the 2006 World Championships in New Delhi and the silver medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. She is sixth of eight siblings to her parents and used to spend her time helping her parents in collecting firewood and in the fields, which helped her build the stamina she has today. 

2014 Asian Games controversy

Devi entered the semifinals of 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea to face South Korea's Park Ji-Na on September 30. After the match, she was handed a controversial 0–3 defeat verdict by the judges of the match, considering that Devi had knocked Park out in the third round and also a convincing fourth round, before having rained heavy blows on Park throughout the first two rounds. The Indian team lodged a protest against the decision, which was rejected by the AIBA's technical committee. At the medal awarding ceremony, deeply hurt and crying Devi refused to accept her bronze medal and handed it over to the silver medalist, Park. However, she accepted the medal later. This was followed by provisional suspension of Devi and her coaches by the AIBA, barring from participating in the AIBA's events until further notice. AIBA President, Wu Ching-kuo has said that Sarita could be given heavy punishment for refusing to accept the bronze medal at the Asian Games.

Why I would like to stand for her?

First and foremost - voicing out dissent in a world where conformation is what is expected of powerless people at large is something worth applauding. What she did in her angst might not be the best or the right way to express what she went through. But she did take a stand against bias. We must not forget that she is still human and humans make mistakes. Her mistake was in method - not intent - and it is that intent I fully support. We are tuned to accept injustice all around meekly. Injustice which is subtle - but keeps on happening, keeps on repeating. A car jumping lanes, driving wrong side, jumping signals - all these are small examples of injustice. Paying bribe to register property, contractors building poor quality roads so as to get repeat contract again are examples of injustice. But "chalta hai" attitude makes us bear with all this and more. 

No, not anymore.

I express solidarity with Sarita in her struggle for being respected, and being allowed to be what she truly is - a sports(wo)man - to express true sportsmanship by playing harder, and coming back leaving all controversies behind.

Sab kuch nahi chalta hai...


This is why I hate travelling by train early morning.

Travel by a train in India early morning and it becomes impossible to look outside the window. For instead of enjoying the beauty of a rising sun or admiring the hues of trees and fields, one gets to witness our fellow citizens adding fresh ingredients to national manure. India still has 597 million people defecating in the open. It is not a funny sight but one which make our heads hang in shame. More than 60 years of Independence and still our India is not literate and capable enough to provide our women, children and people right and dignity to proper hygiene and Sanitation.
credit: healthydunia.com
Literate? Yes, because the problem is not solely about awareness and poverty. But something else too.

We do have lack of sanitation facilities and the lack of hygiene amenities are the reason for feeble health, a rise in ailments like cholera, diarrhea as well as incidents of rape cases. Lack of setup is a big hindrance but another lesser known yet prevalent factor is - Indian households are not willing to have the lavatory at their homes thinking it will impure their houses where they place the idols of their deity as well. They believe defecating in open far off field keep their home and surrounding area clean. Some households that do have the sanitation facility have members who still prefer going outside. So apart from providing the infrastructure, a shift from superstitious and ignorant thinking is required.

Illiteracy, population and poverty form a vicious circle and can be eradicated with initiatives like - 'A toilet for Babli' by Domex. I even appreciate the recent campaign ads by Vidya Balan stressing the importance of having Toilet. This level of participation, celebrities are expected to showcase instead of just posing with a broom for shutterbugs. I hope these messages reach everyone who is unaware of the harms of defecating outside.

The Domex Toilet Academy

Domex, HUL’s flagship sanitation brand, currently runs the Domex Toilet Academy (DTA) programme. Domex Toilet Academy was launched on 19th November 2013. It aims to become a sustainable and long-term solution to provide sanitation that benefits the local community and helps stimulate the local economy. The Toilet Academy makes toilets accessible and affordable, while promoting the benefits of clean toilets & good hygiene. Their effort has resulted in bringing the change in the villages of Maharashtra and Orissa and it aims to build 24000 toilets by 2015 in rural areas faced with the problem of open defecation.

You can bring about the change in the lives of millions of kids, thereby showing your support for the Domex Initiative. All you need to do is “click” on the “Contribute Tab” on www.domex.in and Domex will contribute Rs.5 on your behalf to eradicate open defecation, thereby helping kids like Babli live a dignified life.

Hats off to Domex for a meaningful and much needed campaign!

This post is written as part of the Domex #ToiletForBabli campaign in association with indiblogger Happy Hours.

God is a Gamer - Book Review

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Prelude

God is a Gamer is a new page turner thriller novel
by Ravi Subramanian. Written by a financial wiz, the book naturally is a financial thriller, one of the very first ones to have the concept of bit-coins as central theme. The story climaxes on the theme of revenge. However has ample amount of twists, turns, suspense, drama & character to keep the reader hooked.

Plot

The novel has multiple seemingly disjoint threads, each opening, flowing, growing in its own avatar. How various mini stories converge, how different characters get engaged, involved and animated in the course of the story is quite a read. It is interesting to note that the protagonist is not apparent in the early phases of the story and there are multiple strong characters in their own ways. Story delves into themes of greed, crime, money laundering, deceit, corruption and revenge ultimately. The revenge part becomes clear only towards the end of the story - who is avenging whom for what is a slow revelation, and mostly satisfying.

What works?

Multiple story threads is not a new concept. By the very nature of the theme it is common to keep introducing multiple characters in the beginning of the narration, with little or no correlation. However I must say Ravi has done an excellent job in keeping tight control over character introduction and interweaving of stories, in an effortless way that the reader never misses a story line. Narration jumps places and times, but reader is always in sync, engaged with the happenings in the print. When a thread switches, Ravi brings back the reader in the original story quickly so as the flow seems continuous.
Language is contemporary and clean. Usage of the concept of virtual money is interesting. The story is like Opera, builds slowly with various stories progressing and reaching crescendo towards the end of the story.

What does not work?

While showing physical intimacy between two of the characters could be argued by Ravi as being required by the story - I felt it was shown a little too often - may be an attempt to keep the story juicy? Also some of the technical stuff in the story does not look factually correct. Banks providing internet banking over VPN is unheard of, but I guess this is creative liberty writer has taken. Some of the twists and sequences to converge stories seems just too convenient - are just cliched in reality.

*Spoiler Alert*

The novel has a tag line - "Is Revenge a Crime?" - however the revenge is not very apparent not until the fag end of the story. You feel bad for one of the characters caught in cross-fire and it is questionable if that character really deserved the treatment it got. But I guess not all is fair in life too!

Verdict

God is a Gamer is a fast-paced quick read. It is easy on brains, keeps the reader entertained and hooked till the very end of the story. The whodunit factor enhances in the end and it is fun to make guesses about what will happen next. With enough twists, turns and an interesting plot, the novel does ample justice to its price-tag.

Rating

Plot - 4/5
Language - 3/5
Pace - 4/5
Hype - 3/5
Overall - 4/5

Recommendation

Go, read it. Good companion for a long journey :)

Children's day with a Difference

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I had a chance to touch the lives (through a very very small gesture) of few less fortunate kids by associating with two organization in Bangalore working toward this goal of extending help to destitute, orphan, abused, abandoned children. Though I want to write a separate post about each, still on Children's day I would like to share some of my experience.
      
Visit to ThayiMane : ThayiMane establishes and operates children's home that provides home based on a family model to destitute children, orphans, less fortunate and those who are abused. 
A visit to Thayi Mane was organized by SoftwareAG 'Make A Difference' group (MAD) on Saturday Nov 1. These are the posters we mailed to call for volunteers.

We organized ‘Lemon & Spoon’ race for kids. Everyone enjoyed playing and when the results were announced, it was nice to see their sportiness to encourage the winners. Sometimes we may really need to learn a lot from the small angels. Later kids showcased their talent by singing and dancing. The show went on and on, our SAG volunteers joined them to dance and we had to force our self to stop the program. It was a pleasure seeing smiles and happiness while we served them special lunch. With all the kind donors from SAG, we were able to raise substantial donation and sponsored some essential items needed by the home. 



I was deeply moved by my meeting with the founder Mr. Thayimane Keshavamurthy and his wife, a very simple couple who considers this as a noble task and do not mind any difficulty coming his way. I liked the simple and peaceful surroundings and hats off to the real-life hero Mr. Keshavamurthy for dedicating his life for such children. Though may IT companies, as part of CSR, have come forward time to time to support Thayi Mane but such mission needs constant backing. 

The Minchu Gift Program: Through one of the resident in my apartment I participated in fulfilling wishes of two less fortunate kids. 4 government schools have been picked from the villages around Sarjapura Road by Minchu. Minchu is strictly a Non-Profit, Non-Government organization that solely works towards the individual happiness of underprivileged children across the city of Bangalore and its rural suburbs. One of the programs they run is a "Gift Program". 
·  Their volunteers go to schools for underprivileged children and take a wish from each child. 
·  These wishes are then written on a card with the child's name and other details. (Most of the wishes are very simple - a sports t-shirt, a badminton racket, a dictionary, a dress, etc.). 
·  You can pick a card, buy the gift that the child has wished for, gift wrap it and hand over the Minchu team. 
·  They will then pass it on to the child along with your special note, and make the child's wish come true! 
·  The whole transaction does not involve any payments to the organization - the child tells you what they want, you buy the gift and the organization delivers it to the child. 
·  The gifts are typically restricted to a value between Rs.300 and Rs.500, so that there is no large discrepancy across gifts to different children.

I got the privilege to fulfill wishes of cute Bhoomika (7 yrs) and brainy Bhaskar (8 yrs). Here are their wishes card:

It was a delight to buy a coloring set and a fully loaded pencil box for Bhaskar and the preferred beautiful Pink suit for Bhoomika. We are planning for joining the team for gifst distribution tomorrow and let Pihu meet her friends over there. I will surely write an exclusive post about my experience and the pics :)

After becoming a mother, just the thought a child not having parental love and basic need make me cry. No childhood should go unloved. I hope I can be of more help in future and request all my readers to celebrate Children’s day by helping needy children in best possible ways. Acha lagta hai :)