REDEFINING MASCULINITY

By Juliana Pasker

 

“Mard ko dard nahi hota” a real man feels no pain- An age old Indian saying originating from Bollywood. So, who is this real man? What makes a real man? “Be a man” don’t show emotions, don’t show vulnerability, be tough.  Masculine ideals like physical toughness, emotional stoicism, dominance over women-can be detrimental to boys’ (and men’s) well being, despite the advantages of being male and acting masculine. 

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Masculinity is not a concrete concept and the social constructions of how an ideal man should be are often larger than life and therefore seldom fully obtained. As a result, boys who believe that adhering to masculine ideals is necessary to being acceptable, desirable, and successful are destined to strive towards standards in relation to which they will inevitably fall short. This illogical lack of compatibility of the gender role of how a boy should feel and how he actually feels often lead to inadequacy and the need to hide one’s  alleged shortcomings.

Masculinity not only affects heterosexual men but everyone else around them. It leaves men broken in many ways but adopting this masculinity gives a tremendous amount of power which is used to render everyone else as second and third-class-citizens. The  society socializes boys and men to conform to a definition of masculinity that emphasizes toughness, stoicism, acquisitiveness and self-reliance. And that, leads to aggressive, emotionally stunted males who harm not just themselves but their children, partners and entire communities.

Toxic masculinity is one of the ways in which Patriarchy is harmful to men. Toxic masculinity is a narrow and repressive description of manhood, designating manhood as defined by violence, sex, status and aggression. The  idea of male-female interactions as competition, not cooperation. The idea that men cannot truly understand  women, and vice versa, that no true companionship can be had between different sexes. The expectation that Real Men are strong, and that showing emotion is incompatible with being strong. Anger is either framed as the exception to the rule, or as not an emotion.  Relatedly, the idea that a Real Man cannot be a victim of abuse, or that talking about it is shameful. The idea that  Real Men should be prepared to be violent, even when it is not called for, are few examples of the toxic masculinity bestowed upon men by the society. Conformity with these traits lead to psychological trauma and mental health problems like  depression, increased stress, which often result in substance abuse. These ideas of toxic masculinity damages everyone, men and women alike, and contribute to crimes like rape and sexual assaults that we see and hear of  everyday. 

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The first step to redefine this masculinity is to acknowledge that there is a problem. Then, to educate boys and men that  masculinity is not equal to violence; be it violence against each other, violence against women or violence against themselves. It is not shameful to show emotions or be vulnerable. To thrive in today’s new world and culture with a new way of being that is about leading by example, embracing service and becoming role models amongst their personal and public communities. To redefine masculinity so that it is no longer toxic to themselves or those around them.

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Heteronormativity.

By Juliana Pasker

 

Heternormativity is the belief or assumption that all people are heterosexual, or that heterosexuality is the default or “normal” state of human being.

It tends to supplement and go with ideas like cisnormativity, sexual orientation binarism, and gender essentialism. A heteronormative society works on the supposition that heterosexuality and particular gender features are the human “default.” These presumptions can be frightful in light of the fact that they are vilifying and minimizing, making individuals who are LGBT+ feel like they are seen as degenerate or unnatural.

Heteronormativity, is a system that works to normalize behaviours and societal expectations that are tied to the presumption of heterosexuality and an adherence to a strict gender binary. 

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It is the assumption which considers heterosexuality as not only “normal” but rather the “correct” state for human being. Thus a relationship between two men or two women will be considered not only abnormal but also incorrect or wrong. Society propagates the relationship between man and woman with associated gander based roles. The gender binary is vital to the system of heteronomativity.   There is a lack in the representation of the LGBTQ+ community in the media. Heteronormative marginalization is similar to marginalization of people of colour in the media thus most programs or films do not include gay characters and present them in an unrealistic and stereotyped way even when they are included.

Heteronormativity ,the priviledge of heterosexuality that results in social pressure to conform to heterosexual roles leads individuals to conceive themselves and their social worlds in a particular way. This creates a stress caused by heteronormative social pressure, prejudice and discrimination targeted at sexual minorities. The stigma and lack of representation created by heteronomativity pushes the sexual minorities further from the society making them outcasts or others. This ignorance creates hatred and intolerance. Homophobia thus becomes a major issue as it more of a dislike and non acceptance of people who are different, rather than fear. Homosexuals are not identified as individuals but only in accordance to their sexual orientations. 

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Challenging heteronormative assumptions is not the same as challenging heterosexuality: the sexuality of heterosexual people is as valid as that of LGBTQ+ individuals. Rather, people seek to dismantle the belief that heterosexuality is the only natural sexuality and affirm the existence and rights of LGBTQ+ individuals as equally valid.

My visit to an Old Age Home

By Deepshikha De

 

The Udbartan social welfare organization has pulled in all its resources to provide a safe heaven for those who have no place to go, and no one to take care of them. This old age home is situated in the village of Khandra in the district, Burdwan. Old citizens from all over the state and some from all over the country have resided here during their retirement period to live a peaceful life. I had the privilege of visiting this home, and to my wonder and amazement, I found souls who had faced a lot of pain and sorrow, yet they had not given up on life. 

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The foundation stone of this old age home was laid by the Governor of  West Bengal , M.K Narayan on 11th July 2012.The orphanage consists of over five acres of land, there are beautiful gardens and a pond with plenty of fish. The president of the  Old age home is Mr.Prakash Sha, he had donated all the land and a vast amount of money to the orphanage. Arup Sinha is the vice-president, while talking to him, I found out about the routine of the old citizens and the lives they lead.

There are fifteen of them, twelve are female and three are male. The food they get is decent, although they all have different tastes, and it is extremely difficult to cook dishes individually for all of them. Sometimes, these senior citizens act like children. For example, every evening, they are given a light snack of Muri(puffed rice) and Beguni(a fried item). Since these snacks are oily, and elder people need to have light food, the caretaker decided to give them fruits instead. However they all protested against this, they wanted their fried snacks back. This is almost childlike behaviour. When asked, how they spend their time, most citizens said, they invested their time in gardening, reading Bengali books and books about God. Doctors come to the old age regularly to conduct check-ups for the patients. Occasions like Rabindra Jayanti are celebrated, pandal hopping is mandatory during the pujas.

Some people have incredibly disheartening stories that led them here. 

Mr. Gorachand Mukherjee used to work for DSP(Durgapur Steel Plant). He had bought a few apartments in different parts of Kolkata. Unfortunately his son sold them all and decided to shift to Pune, he asked his father  to come with him. Mr. Gorachand agreed, however an unfortunate turn of events occurred. Mr.Gorachand’s son left him in a hotel in Pune and fled. After that, Mr. Gorachand tried contacting his daughter, however his daughter denied their relationship, and told him, he had ceased existing for her from the day her mother died.  Fortunately, Mr. Mukherjee’s daughter got him admitted to this old age home. He says he has found peace here, and he has stopped thinking about all the pain he had faced before. He spends his time by reading novels written by Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray. However the most surprising fact is, Mr.G.Mukherjee calls his caretaker, the same name he called his son,-’Bubla’. Mr. Mukherjee deludes himself into thinking his son stays with him, even after all the turmoil he had to face because of his son.

We also came across another old lady, who could not accept reality, and lived in her own world.  Her son is an aircraft engineer and lives in U.S, however he comes all the way from U.S to visit her as much as he can. It was very difficult approaching her for an interview, as she was wary of anyone trying to talk to her and was suspicious about everyone. She thought people were trying to hurt her .I couldn’t help admiring the staff who had to deal with such tough situations every day. 

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A view during the sunset from the premises of  the old age home.

Before leaving, we came across a jolly resident known as Saraswati, and although she was a little hard of hearing, her smile was so infectious that we could not help smiling back at her. It was a treat to watch all the resident’s eyes light up when we offered them sweets. By ‘we’ I mean, me and two of my cousin sisters, who were a big help. We did not know how time passed by, as we had interesting conversations and maintained a steady rapport with the elderly. Soon, it was time to go and we came out wiser out of the orphanage that we had gone in. We realised all lessons can’t be learned from books, we need to experience slices of reality to learn the life changing lessons.

Rendez-vous with the rising star Nikita Gandhi

By Deepshikha De

 

Most of us have heard the Raabta title song, and although all eyes were on Deepika, we couldn’t help admiring the beautiful voice that sang that song. For those of you all, who are patiently waiting for the movie Jagga Jasoos to release, if you have tubed the song ’Ullu ka pattha’, the female voice along with Arijit Singh belongs to Nikita Gandhi, a playback singer who is taking Bollywood by storm. She has sung in four other Indian languages, including Tamil and Telegu until she was discovered by Pritam, who gave her an opportunity to showcase her talents for Raabta. The Raabta title song was her first song in Bollywood, it became extremely popular and was number one on the charts. 

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What people don’t know about her is, she is also a dentist and a very responsible citizen as she is associated with many social initiatives.  She is in her late twenties, and it is overwhelming to see her achieve so much at such a young age. This is what I discovered about her during a whatsapp interview, she gave this interview while she was dubbing for Jagga Jasoos. 

Q: From what age did you start singing?

Nikita: I started singing at the age of five.

Q: What instrument do you play, if any?

Nikita: I play the guitar. I also play the harmonium.

Q: Did you take music lessons?

Nikita: I learnt Hindustani Classical from a very young age.

Q: During school and college, did you take part in any musical events?

Nikita: Yep! I took part in all the festivals in Indian and western music, both in school and college.

Q: Who is your favourite singer/band, both in Indian and Western?

Nikita: I really never know how to answer this question. I have plenty of influences and favourites!

Q: What is your favourite song?

Nikita: ‘My way’ by Frank Sinatra. It’s not only my favourite song; it’s my motto for life.

Q: How does it feel to make it big in Bollywood?

Nikita: It is extremely overwhelming and exciting. It feels like I am living a dream that i did not know I had, but I am so glad I found it. 

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Q: How did Raabta happen?

Nikita: I guess my work in Tamil films brought my voice to Bombay and to Pritam da!

Q: Who is your role icon?

Nikita: My dad. He’s patient, he’s focused, he is hardworking and he is passionate about work. Most importantly, I am living his dream in a lot of ways and I owe it to him and mom for being the strongest most supportive pillars.

Q: You are involved with some social initiatives? Can you tell us about them?

Nikita: I am the ambassador for the Grow and Save Trees initiative which was launched by Rotary Club of Mahanagar on the 1st of July, this year. 

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Picture courtesy : Instagram @nikhitagandhiofficial

Q: How do you manage your career as a dentist, along with music?

Nikita: The first two years were very hectic because I was literally dodging to two lives and pulling all-nighters. Now, I’m used to it.

Q: What are your plans for the future?

Nikita: More music, more collaborations, more social initiatives.

Q: What message would you like to give to your fans and aspiring singers?

Nikita: Hard work and being true to your self is the only dogma, and stay grounded. 

Dipa Karmakar: The flat footed gymnast

By Juliana Pasker

 

Dipa was born with flat feet – not a good physical sign for a gymnast.

She was born in Tripura, one of the poorest states in India. 

But what she lacked in facilities and how life turned out to be, she made up for in sheer determination and grit. Standing at just 4 feet 11 inches, the 23-year-old, pocket-sized gymnast is a powerhouse dynamo. 

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Dipa Karmakar, born 9 August 1993 is an artistic gymnast, who represented India at the 2016 Summer Olympics. She is the first bengali as well as Indian female gymnast ever to compete in the Olympics, and the first Indian gymnast to do so in 52 years. She attained 4th position in Women’s Vault Gymnastics event of Rio Olympics 2016 with an overall score of 15.066. She is recipient of Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in the Republic of India.

Karmakar, hailing from Agartala in Tripura started practicing gymnastics when she was 6 years old and has been coached by Soma Nandi & Bisweshwar Nandi since. She was flat-footed, and that was the first thing her lifetime coach Biswaswar Nandi noticed when she came to train with him. If caught early, flat feet can be fixed by increasing the curve of the feet.

Flat feet are an inherent disadvantage for gymnasts. It affects their jumps and landings, and her coach and Dipa worked really hard to fix it.

Because she trained in Tripura, her training grounds would occasionally get flooded.

Add to it the difficulty in getting funds for training and maintaining top-notch health without any recognition whatsoever. It is worthwhile remembering that Dipa was almost unknown in India until she qualified for Olympics. 

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Karmakar is one of the only five women who have successfully landed the Produnova, which is regarded as the most difficult vault currently performed in women’s gymnastics. She also won a bronze medal at the Asian Gymnastics Championships and finished fifth at the 2015 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, both firsts for our country.

SUNIL CHHETRI- 4TH highest active international scorer

By Juliana Pasker

 

Sunil Chhetri is an Indian professional footballer who plays as a striker for Indian club Bengaluru FC and the Indian national team. He is both the most-capped player, and all-time top goalscorer for the India national team, with 54 goals in 94 appearances. He is also the current captain of the national team. 

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Sunil Chhetri became the fourth highest goal scorer for their nation among active players. With the 54th goal in his bucket against the Kyrgyz Republic, Sunil Chhetri surpassed England’s star player Wayne Rooney.

It also seats him fourth from the top among the active scorers in the highest international goalscorers’ list. He is only behind Cristiano Ronaldo (73 in 139 matches), Lionel Messi in (58 in 118 matches) and American Clint Dempsey (56 in 134 matches) in the overall tally. Ronaldo, Messi and Dempsey chalk up a 0.49, 0.42 and 0.45 strike rate while Chhetri’s more efficient boots bring him a 0.57 goal to match ratio.

There are only three players ahead of him – Neymar Junior (0.68, Brazil), Ali Ashfaq (0.68, Maldives) and Edin Dzeko (0.63, Bosnia) – when it comes to scoring rate.

Needless to say, he is the country’s highest international goal scorer, having overtaken Bhaichung Bhutia’s 43 scalps back in 2013. It is only a matter of time that Chhetri, who is six short of a century of appearances for his country will edge past Bhutia’s 109 India caps as well. 

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He has expressed his desire to participate in the 2019 Asian Cup to be held in the UAE, should his country qualify.

Chhetri’s goal against Kyrgyzstan in Bangalore not only helped India win the crucial AFC Asian Cup Qualifier in Bangalore but also increased his greatness quotient for the cricket-crazy country. This comes as another encouraging news for Indian football. Under coach Stephen Constantine, India have rapidly improved their FIFA rankings to stand in the top 100 for the first time in 21 years.

Center for Learning and Social Responsibility: Education Above Social Class

By Juliana Pasker

 

In life, the odds are against you if you’re from a village or an urban slum, if you haven’t been to an English-medium school, and if your parents don’t have a high school education. Less than 3% of the engineering and business school intake is from rural schools.  Poonam Gupta defied all odds and made it to IIT Kharagpur in 2012 and is now the CEO and co founder of Alive Home Technologies to revolutionise the smart home space in India. 

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Alive Home Technologies is an IoT based startup system. The Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. 

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Poonam Gupta, CEO and co-founder of Alive Home Technologies.

Her family lives in Delhi’s Geeta Colony, six individuals sharing a solitary room. Gupta studied at the Rajkiya Pratibha Vikas Vidyalaya, a school for talented students run by the Delhi government. Her family didn’t trust she could crack the JEE, and neighbors disclosed to them she ought to simply get married. Be that as it may, Poonam made it to IIT Kharagpur in 2012, on account of the time, and instructions and training she found at the Center for Learning and Social Responsibility (CSRL) Super 30 in Delhi.

Super 30 is an initiative started in Patna in 2002, it picks 30 smart students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and strenuously trains them for the joint entrance exams (JEE Main and Advanced) to IIT and other engineering schools. The original Super 30 has split into two; the school run by Anand Kumar continues to work out of one site in Patna, and posts record victories. Meanwhile, the branch under retired IPS officer Abhayanand has sprouted many others, like the Rahmani Super 30 meant for Muslim students. It has also partnered with public sector units across the country under the canopy of the Centre for Social Responsibility and Learning (CSRL). There’s a GAIL Super 30 in Kanpur, a Petronet Super 40 in Kashmir, a Railtel Akanksha Super 30 in Uttarakhand. Now, with 13 centres across the country, it has helped 550 students make it to various IITs, central and state engineering institutes in the last seven years, says CSRL director S K Shahi.

The majority of these students are a first in their families. None of them have the home condition, schools and educational cost, or even recreation that middle class students underestimate. Aside from a determined few, a large portion of them didn’t dream of IIT. But once they get in, they motivate others around them to do likewise. 

 

If education is to convey genuine change, as opposed to only recreate social hierarchy, these endeavors are indispensable. Also, a more diverse classroom improves learning, for everybody.

PARADISE GONE WRONG

By Aspriha Mandal

 

Imagine going on a vacation to unwind and get away from life, to cool down a bit and then finding yourself in middle of chaotic state turmoil, can certainly change everything. Being stuck in a picturesque place can be certainly good but not when it’s on boil. 

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West Bengals northern town Darjeeling which is famous for its tea and toy train is in sate of turmoil. In the recent past the situation in the hill station has been favourable for the tourism industry especially since 2013 – with the Morcha refraining from calling flash strikes and long shutdowns. 10,000 to 15,000 tourist stuck there compelled to State Government to call in  the Army  when the clash between the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) supporters with police went out of hand

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Paramilitary forces deployed on the streets of Darjeeling. Picture Courtesy : HT

However since 111th morning life was returning to normalcy in West Bengal’s troubled Darjeeling hills as no fresh violence was reported on Sunday, but uncertainty prevailed as the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) called an indefinite shutdown from Monday.

Many tourists, who were stuck in the picturesque tourist town, reached Kolkata on Sunday heaving a sigh of relief after tense few days in the hills.

The West Bengal government has arranged buses to ferry the tourists free of cost from Sealdah station of Kolkata to their homes.

However this experience will remain the most bitter and fearful  memorable vacation for those who found themselves in that unforeseen and unfortunate turn events. Many tourists were forced to take the streets when all the hotels went for a bandh.Once again humanity proved that even in the middle of violence there is bit of humanity left when the locals helped them by providing food to those stranded.

Representatives of the Eastern Himalaya Travel and Tour Operators’ Association said they would try their best to help tourists with the support of the administration.

After the Morcha’s call, tourists began making hurried arrangements for returning home, either by rail or road or air. Lines outside ATMs lengthened for the tourist.

However people are only hoping for things to calm down and Darjeeling becomes like before. A town where memories are created out of emotions and beauty .

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WHY IS IT RUNNING AWAY FROM RE-EVALUATION?

By Aspriha Mandal

 

It is no surprise that CBSE has made it to the Nationl News head lines once again. After delaying the results by a week because 0of the moderation row ,it has some new and not-so pleasant suprises in store for its students-this year,CBSE will not allow any rechecking of answer sheets

Following petitions from the 18 students, the Orissa high court on June 7 had asked the CBSE to re-evaluate their answer sheets and inform them about their result by Saturday.

But the way CBSE went about executing the HC’s order left the students rattled. While the order was delivered on Wednesday, it was only on Friday evening when the students started getting phone calls from officials in CBSE’s Bhubaneswar office, who asked them to check their emails and inform the Board about 10 answers from each paper they wanted reevaluated. The deadline for this was 11.59 pm on Friday and some students got barely a couple of hours to finish the exercise. The emails sent to the students included photocopies of their answer sheets and a form in which they had to specify the answers they wanted to be re-examined.

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Initially some students thought the calls were hoax, but their nightmare started once they opened their mails..

They were required to download the form, scan and then upload the same and send it to the CBSE office. With most cyber cafes shut, students could reach the CBSE office only on Saturday morning to physically submit their documents. The board authorities did accept the forms, but by then many parents were a nervous wreck by then.

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After all it was a matter concerning the future of the students which is not something one should tamper with in a casual way.

It also created problems for those who were out of state at that point of time  and had to rush back immediately .

CBSE is certanly denying the rights of the student ,the board is certain to be percieved as more undemocratic by children .The high satkes nature of 12th standard marks makes all the more harsh for students.

Ritesh Agarwal : The man behind Oyo Rooms

By Juliana Pasker
A college dropout, who once needed to sit for a engineering exam, Ritesh today heads among the most important start-up by a man who never studied past school.

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Ritesh Agarwal

Agarwal comes from Bissamcuttack, a small town south of Odisha, a region known to teem with Naxalite activity.
He even sold sim cards to survive; perplexed his well off family would end his entrepreneurial dreams and summon him back home to Odisha in the event that they was aware of his battles. He did enroll for the University of London’s International Programme provided by the Indian School of Business and Finance, Delhi – “to keep my parents happy.” But most of his time went into attending entrepreneurship events and traveling to research his business idea.
His education came from something else: the Thiel fellowship for under-20 entrepreneurs. It was started by PayPal founder Peter Thiel for young businesspeople.
Ritesh started his entrepreneurial journey when he was 17 years old. He dropped out of college and launched his first start‐up Oravel Stays Pvt. Ltd. in the year 2012. Oravel was designed as a platform to enable listing and booking of budget accommodation. Being an avid traveler, he soon realized that the budget hospitality sector lacked predictability. Therefore, he pivoted Oravel to OYO Rooms in 2013 with the key proposition of offering affordable and standardized accommodation.download.png
Ritesh Agarwal is one of the youngest millionaire from India’s blasting startup group. He is the founder and CEO of OYO(On Your Own) Rooms, a system of budget hotels and accomodation alternatives. OYO rooms is the nation’s biggest budget hotel network with around 50,000 rooms in 500 inns all over India. Oyo doesn’t possess hotels, rather, it ties up with specific hotels and gets a few rooms to be offered out to individuals who need to benefit OYO administrations. It focuses on standardizing the hotels in the non-branded hospitality sector. Oyo rooms is an extremely effective venture as it has figured out how to unravel the issue of reasonableness, cleanliness and accessibility of budget hotels over all Level I and Level II cities in the nation.

Apart from an entrepreneur, he is an author, a coder and a great orator. At a young age, his book- A complete Encyclopaedia of top 100 engineering colleges, was published and soon became a best seller. Agarwal started coding at the tender age of 8 and at the age of 16, he got a chance to be one of the 240 students who were a part of an Asian camp held at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. He was the youngest speaker in the panel of Think EDU panel,2014 and is a constant at VCCircle events.