Laser treatment

We always knew tough times call for draconian measures but how draconian can the tough beget - seems like we had little idea. 

At a time when corporates across the globe are waking up to a new ESG reality in a living-with-Covid environment, the CEO of a leading cryptocurrency player has sought to do the reverse - induce narcolepsy within his fraternity with his 'laser focus' on a discernibly ruthless military mission. 

He wants his team champs to focus on what unites them, not what divides them; at the same time, he wants them to steer clear of broader issues as he believes impact only comes with focus, nay laser focus, whatever that means.

Does his cryptic blog post seek to inspire folks to tide over the tough times  - or is it the outcome of some mysterious 'employee exodus' that the post makes a passing mention of? Also, what this laser focus will do to the commitment to create a better world for people of every age, race, gender, sexual orientation etc (proudly proclaimed in the same post) has been kept as vague as the 'etc' in the statement.

Hopefully the head honcho would spare some time in examining the seemingly counterproductive connotation of his argument. Maybe he can proactively seek the opinion of his blog readers (we mean those who don't opt for the generous exit package announced for daring to think otherwise.)

Plump Journos of PrimeTime Fame

Watching the prime time antics of a certain media analyst-turned-motormouth mouthpiece has unexpectedly become a rich reservoir of pure, nutritive laughter - an absolute MUST in these Covid times. 

His plump frame, dutifully covered in chequered shirts, pervades across all leading channels and leaves us in splits, but we are not quite sure what is more funny - his incessant nods, his prehistoric spectacles, or the daily dosage of his flotsam and jetsam arguments in a futile attempt to absolve his employers by default.

Having heard a bagful of tales about his 'awesome' wit and wisdom from some of his illustrious former colleagues - facebook journos of some repute themselves, proud  '10 percent' real estate tycoons, and die hard members of the mutual admiration club - the tomfoolery in loose motion comes as no surprise. 

I have fond memories of having been offered the cushy role (unpaid of course) of a property agent for Mr. Plump (along with a snappy wisecrack by the facebook journalists aimed at the deprived tribe - "wonder why he needs a property in a godforsaken location like Thane?") ...and imagine, I had the temerity of rejecting the offer from a '10 percent' luminary. How dare I? 100 percent Homeless Hopeless Loser! 

Mr. Plump, enjoy your prime time fame, but do mull over what Agatha Christie's brainchild Hercule Poirot told us long back: The truth, it has the habit of revealing itself...and when it does, you'll be reduced to a joke, a big one at that.

As for the facebook journos, their insatiable appetite for orchestrated adulation (so also their startling, new-found love for animals, plants, food, and environment, and the sheepish tributes to the dead and departed) soaring high on the wings of borrowed wisdom and fake humility has reduced them to another joke - not as toxic as the first joke, but certainly more tragic given their inherent talent and linguistic skills, a priceless gift of impeccable lineage, as also the outcome of their tireless and sincere effort during student years, and unconditional devotion to work during formative employment stints. 

The visionary poet William Blake said it best:  

You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough. 

We hope our friends know what is more than enough while they are yet in their prime time, beyond which no amount of perfunctory applause will help surmount the pangs of regret, in brooding over what the unspent force could have fetched but didn't.

A new blog abode



Architecture of Activism

The defining trait of author, activist, and architect Vandana Khare's persona is her ability to articulate, precisely and purposefully, what she sees through the world around her, including the personal and political doublespeak of people, as also their showcased (and briefcased) agendas. She plots the three-dimensional contours of societal hypocrisy way better than the quintessential feminists endorsing ludicrous black and white claims like "Women are better leaders as they are intrinsically virtuous and conscientious unlike men."

Khare with daughter Mukta

To cite a prominent case in point, note how she astutely sums up the different takes on sexuality, ironically in a staple media interview soaked in paste-up pleasantries.   

"While the mainstream media unleashes sexuality as a filthy collage of gaudy images, commoners prefer to talk about their sexual orientation, desires, attitudes and behaviors in hushed tones, bogged down by traditions advocating water-tight concealment. And then we have the NGOs and healthcare activists who limit themselves to the controversy-free aspects of safety, hygiene, and sanitation, largely to shun the greater responsibility of condemning the hypocrisies engulfing sexuality and gender bias. No wonder, only confusion can loom large in this clumsy environment which acts a deterrent to prevent the natural urge across all age groups to speak one’s mind.”

Here's another pithy observation in one of her highly incisive papers:

“Feminist literature and discussions with many crusaders taught me how political insights can help you defend yourself in personal situations, but it took me as many as 25 years to gain some proficiency in this vital skill. After the awakening, there was no looking back. Even the seemingly trivial issues of day to day life, I sought to fit in broader frameworks of larger truths. For instance, one fine day, I finally cut my hair short, what had been an act of unthinkable defiance for a long time. It finally dawned on me that a matter of convenience need not bow down before regressive  diktats. More important, my insolence was not accompanied by the usual pang of guilt this time around.”   

In the context of her play “Aata Tuzhi Paali”, she explains what theatre means to her:

“I find a play essentially a weapon of mass destruction – a potent tool to explode societal myths and misconceptions. Menstruation, a purely biological cycle has been needlessly likened to a stigma, something to be suffered in silence. No wonder, a popular sanitary product is named ‘Whisper’. This play taught me how even the girls from remote and rural areas wish to share their mini trials and triumphs, provided a conducive environment is created for them to break free of their inherent inhibitions.     

 “What is personal is political in the same breath, life has taught me the hard way,” says Khare as she looks back in time with a discernible oven-fresh detachment in this freewheeling tete-a-tete.

You have traversed diverse spheres - whether architecture, advocacy, arts, or activism. How was the experience? did you find a few of them more invigorating than the others?

It's not easy for me to address this question. Honestly, I never planned any of my shifts. As one thing just led to another, I never took stock of the pros and cons of my vocational choices. Post my 12th standard results, I chose architecture inviting the wrath of my family folks. I completed my education surpassing umpteen hurdles, but in 1998-99, after a good 10-12 years of practice, I embraced the world of social development for good, in what was very tough decision then. I had some theatre experience amid a background of feminist movement. Besides, I had a flair for media analysis. Armed with these assets, I joined hands with a prominent media organization to analyze textbooks and conduct gender training.

After a successful stint, I moved to another set up, this time into development media training. In the four years I spent there, I did way beyond my contractual obligations which helped me become a people's person. The firm closed down eventually but a bigger opportunity with an independent research organization welcomed me with open arms. Though I did not have any formal qualification or training in either research or sociology, I successfully implemented a pilot project involving 100 children. Subsequently, this project, which employed research as a methodology, spanned almost seven years, involving about 500 children each year. I relished this pilot project opportunity end to end, but little did I realize that my success had added to the growing insecurities of the institute director. Before I could add two and two together, she swung into action and engineered my unceremonious exit. This setback though painful was fortunately short-lived. I joined UNICEF soon after and this was the time I staged Yonichyaa Manichyaa Guj Goshti (YMGG) - a Marathi adaptation of the Eve Ensler's episodic play The Vagina Monologues. (For more on YMGG, refer to

Coming back to your question, I thoroughly enjoy acting in this play; I experienced a deep sense of exhilaration, which I had earlier sensed only while conducting training programs. Perhaps it was the common factor of 'performance', albeit in different forms, that touched my soul in both capacities. YMGG was a bigger challenge no doubt, since I also was the producer and director. By this time, I also realized how I intuitively integrate gender issues into all my work (YMGG audience must have noticed my penchant for sure) which probably is a self-springing source of joy for me, even though I always sought happiness in everything I did and hence found work at every decisive juncture. I am, by my very nature, wedded to change. I can't stick to one role for more than 6-7 years. And yet, I can't tell with certainty whether I would have been happy or not, had I stuck to architecture.

In your quest to bring about social change, did you at any point feel you were left with little time to foster your individual skills and competencies or pursue your interests and passion areas?

From 1994 till 2007, I had absolutely no time for films or plays. From 2009, I became very busy with YMGG. So, paucity of time was a recurring feature of my schedule for long. Now that the lockdown has forced me to spend all my time indoors, I occasionally do abstract painting. To an extent, I have tried to pursue my interests, but yes, many of my aspirations never found the light of the day, for instance script writing and producing films. But now, I have lost interest in both.

Your commitment to activism must have surely fetched you a mixed bag of bitter-sweet experiences. Which of them shocked you the most - good and bad both?

I suffered on both counts. I really don’t wish to recollect anything unpleasant at this moment. I would only focus on the heartening aspect of remembrance – how virtually unknown people came to my rescue in times of crisis. Such pleasant shocks fuelled me with hope and energy at critical junctures.