28 Sunday
January 2018
Raising a Gender Neutral Generation

In the wake of the horrendous rapes against women and children in Haryana, I have been wondering if there is something that can actually be DONE, more than Candle Marches and Social Media posts. Something concrete that will actually STOP this horror from repeating ad nauseatum. The Government could put its act together, improve the policing, Judiciary could hasten the course of Natural Justice to give judgments within 3 months, give the harshest of punishments and create a FEAR of the Law in the potential rapists. All the people’s movements will fail when there is No Lasting Government Action to follow it up. When the Nirbhaya incident shook the world with its Barbarism, the entire country was up in arms holding candle marches and talking about women’s safety. 5 years later, so many more Nirbhaya-like incidents have happened, more rapists are being arrested, but the delay in delivering justice is emboldening lumpen elements to keep doing whatever they please with a Zero Fear of the Law.

So, what India really needs is a Ctrl+Alt+Del of the entire mindset and start all over again. I am looking for a lasting solution which is in the hands of the people like us. After all, we are not the Government. What CAN we DO?

I think the key is to raise a Gender Neutral Generation.

The way we raise our kids is going to make the India of tomorrow. We have to change our own mindsets and raise a generation which does not think of their Gender, at any step of their life.

Our Boys can be taught to respect not denigrate emotions. They could participate in house work , not “help” in the house, but “perform” their share of domestic duties. There should be “NO” segregation of work which is done by “men” or “women”. Work is work, and it should be done by everyone. They should be taught to cook, to clean the house, wash and iron clothes, to stitch a button and darn a rip. They should be made self sufficient. This is a life skill. They must be taught to be responsible citizens, to intervene if anyone teases a girl on the road, to not be mute spectators to violence against women. They must be taught not to make sexual innuedos or advances to women working with them. They must be taught its NOT OK to raise their hands on their spouses and teach them their position in the family.They have to be impressed that women are EQUAL to them in every aspect and that men and women together make a balanced whole society.

Our Girls have to be made brave and outspoken. They must be taught to raise a voice for their own selves and for their peers. They must also be taught how to drive well, fix things around the house and handle finances. They must have the ability to dream, the courage to follow through and the support of their families, always. Is there ANY profession in the world that Women have not excelled in? Our daughters’ dreams are limited only by the inhibitions of our minds.

Education is the key to a better society. We must educate our children and there should be no deprivation of knowledge because of gender. There are now girls in Mechanical Engineering and Orthopedics and boys in Home Economics. It gladdens my heart. Education is not giving bookish knowledge, but also changing the gender associated mindset. My children’s textbooks still say “mother cooks and cleans the house, while father goes to work”! It should be perfectly acceptable if the man gets joy in looking after the family and the woman earns a living. Education must also be vocation based. Every degree that we study for should enable us to go out and earn a living, whether we need it or not. We must have the ability to be financially on our feet. Give your boys and girls the ability to fend for themselves and their family when the need arises.

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

― Robert A. Heinlein

There are a few Social Traditions which really need to change to Make A Gender Neutral Society. Dowry has been illegal for so many decades, but even now, it is a widely prevalent socially accepted custom. When will this Change? Customs like Dowry; Parents of girls spending on the marriage functions; spending on the grandchild’s birth, on the grandchild’s mundan, on the grandchild’s marriage. This has to STOP NOW. If a person knows that if the child born is a girl, they would be spending extra on every stage in her life, vis-à-vis, if the child is a boy, they would keep getting gifts at every stage of his life, this will obviously not let Boys and Girls be equal. The discrimination between boys and girls across society in every age stems from here. At the same time, there should be No pressure on sons to look after their parents in the old age. Both Boys and Girls have equal DUTY of looking after their parents, as they are both equally sharing their inheritance. The Gender Bias must change at EVERY level. The opposite of a Patriarchal Society is not a Matriarchal Society. It is a Gender Neutral Society.

When boys see girls as equals, they will not grow up into men who tease women, nor feel that they have an entitlement over womens’ bodies. Behavioural change is the most difficult thing to do, but if we can do it, hopefully we will have a saner world when they grow up.

Stop the Horror of Rapes. Raise your Children Responsibly.Be the change you seek in this world.

Jai Hind.
Dr.Sarika Verma
ENT Surgeon,

26 Friday
January 2018
Republic Day 2018

We are not a young nation anymore

We’re 70 years old.

A future Superpower

It has been foretold.

The worlds largest number of youth

But without skill or education

Bursting with energy and enthusiasm

Lacking a focused direction.

Loud and ludicrous media

No moral fortitude or ethics,

State governments repeatedly held hostage

By all sorts of Moral Police.

Justice, Freedom , Equality

Were promised in the Constitution

Mere words, without substance,

All lost in translation.

It’s 70 years of Freedom

68 since we became a Republic.

A government for and of the people

Has forgotten it’s public.

Dr.Sarika Verma
ENT Surgeon & AAP Volunteer

11 Thursday
January 2018
Democracy is dying. And No One Cares.

I have been in the heat of a few elections in recent times. The Parliamentary elections of 2014, we lost miserably. The Delhi Assembly elections of 2015 gave us a mind blowing victory. The Punjab Assembly elections of 2017, results surprised even the victors. They didn’t know they were so popular until the results were declared. So this blog is not about winning or losing elections, but about the transparency and fairness that should be given to the process. After all, our Preamble states India to be a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular and Democratic Republic

I was recently in the eye of the elections in the All India ENT Doctor’s Association (AOI). The elections were for office bearers for the year 2018. In 2016, the electoral process was unanimously approved by the General Body to be made digital in keeping with the Prime Minister’s digital India initiative. We are Doctors, who has the time to waste? Why not go paperless and the online voting system was created.

Everything went smooth in 2017 February when the election results were announced. No one believed anything wrong had happened. It was celebrated as new age technology and thing of the future. This year, unfortunately there were two factions in the Presidential race. Inevitably, the entire body was split down the middle. There were audio recordings submitted as evidence of one candidate asking voters to give him the password for e-voting, and there was an instance of the other candidate using the official AOI SMS handle to garner votes. There were several instances of voters claiming their votes were cast despite them already having voted, duplicate voting, bogus voting and candidates threatening to go to court to get the whole process nullified. Regardless, I think the gentlemen did the AOI body a disservice by making ugly allegations, counter allegations, and it became a mudslinging match. When the results were announced, everyone who was on one candidate’s “syndicate” won, and everyone who was on the other side lost. I’m sure this candidate was very strong and popular, had universal appeal, but this candidate also had the open support of the President AOI who had given the contract to the webmaster handling the elections.

Every Doctor I spoke with one-to-one said, yes, this election was rigged. The matter was shrugged off so matter-of- factly, like such things happen every day, and no one needs to raise a voice against the same. Considering that this is an unpaid honorary post, I wonder why anyone would go to these lengths to rig such an election. There was no hue and cry in the General Body over the election process, no discussion on whether we need to change the system, make it more transparent, make changes which ensure that a similar situation does not take place in future. Don’t my esteemed colleagues, all 6000 of them feel that Democracy dies every time any rigging takes place?

When the AAP talked about EVM malfunction in the Punjab elections, they were called sore losers. A few media channels highlighted the Uttar Pradesh Municipal elections. In one district, the booths which used EVMs, the Ruling Party won, and adjoining booths which used paper ballots, Independent candidates won. This pattern was repeated in every place that was checked. The thing is, every time a malfunctioning EVM is identified, the votes always go to the ruling party. ALWAYS! There has not been one single instance of the EVM malfunctioning and helping ANY OTHER party! That just goes to show Jiski laathi, usi ki bhains. I really miss former Election Commissioner Mr T.N Sheshan. He used his position to ensure that democracy was alive and kicking.

I don’t believe in the Collective Conscience. I don’t expect the Nation’s inner voice to wake up and start questioning. But I do have to ask you, if you think something is not quite right, what are you planning to do? Are you going to pick up the phone and ask? Remember what an American Senator once said, one caller is a crank , two calls is worrying and three calls is Public Opinion. The future of every organization is built on its past. We have two choices, to ignore what’s happening in the name of elections and keep doing our daily work. Or stand up and say, I want an enquiry into what happened, and I want to ensure Free and Fair elections the next time around. If it means going back to paper ballots or insisting on a count of the VVPAT slips, let’s do it. Democracy is a very precious commodity; ask people living under Autocratic rule what they would do for the chance to cast their vote. With every election big or small, Democracy is dying…..and unfortunately no one seems to care.

Dr.Sarika Verma
ENT Surgeon and AAP Volunteer.

04 Thursday
January 2018
I lost my hero today.

The whole point of blogs is to write honestly what one feels ,and I would be doing a grave injustice to myself if I didn’t express my deepest anguish, heartbreak, and the loss I feel today. It may echo amongst a lot of AAP volunteers, may cause a lot of others to click their tongues…. Regardless, this one is purely for myself.

No one asked me to join AAP. I went to a rally with a friend who believed in its ideology and heard Yogendra Yadav speak about a new kind of honest politics. The dream of an India where there was no corruption, where people got things on merit, where normal people like us would be heard. I joined after paying Rs 10 and wore the AAP topi somewhat self consciously that December 2013.

One thing led to another, and I ended up running the AAP Badshahpur assembly office in my clinic. From what was supposed to be a just a service to provide a rent free office to a fledgling party, it became an “I’m an ENT surgeon also”. I handled people coming in morning to night, planned the daily programmes , was part of the strategy making, monitored the progress of activity every day, collected funds, became responsible for all the equipment, getting speakers fitted on autos, projector shows co-ordination, volunteer management and distribution! All in matter of 3 months! The MP election of 2014 April gave me a crash course on Indian Politics as seen by AAP. The results also helped me to accept defeat, but never had me doubt the course we were in.

Come Delhi elections 2015,I volunteered to get more responsibility. I reached out and said give me work! I shut my morning OPDs in hospital and clinic and co-ordinated the audiovisual program for all 70 assemblies of Delhi. Since that was a evening job, I joined the metro wave and walked through the Delhi Metro System from North to South to East to West spending time talking, being seen and converting votes. Along with my brave lot of AAP volunteers, we stood on highways and metro stations in Gurgaon , catching the eyes of Delhi voters to please vote for “Clean Politics”, and the result was sheer joy!!

As if that wasn’t enough, I joined Delhi Dialogue Commission as Co-ordinator Health for entire Delhi and was part of the team which ideated on Mohalla clinics. I then moved to Chandigarh for family reasons, and thought I was as far from the AAP family as possible. But Social Media is a great connection. Never lets one feel the distance. Punjab elections came and I was asked to join the Punjab Dialogue team to make the manifesto. I learned to read write and speak Punjabi so I could connect with the people. Eventually quit my job as Head of department in a charitable Hospital in Mohali so I could work full time with AAP. The results were unbelievable as I was on the ground, and there was such a dichotomy in what people said to us and how they voted. It was shattering, but my faith never wavered.

The thing is, no one asked me to do anything for AAP. My belief system echoed with what AAP and Arvind Kejriwal projected. I believed that I was strengthening the dream of a corruption free India, I was making India slightly better for my kids to grow up in, to feel proud of, to not want to migrate else where. I met people who were admirable, heroes in their own spheres….all working towards a shared dream.

Arvind Kejriwal is legend. He has inspired lakhs of normal people like me to dream, to get out of their comfort zones, do things we could possibly never have dreamt of. I would never travel in a metro in India, let alone wearing the AAP cap and carrying placards! I would never have dreamt of entering into the slums of Delhi, walking alone through the gullies and stepping over open drains to understand what “tokni” is, or learning that waking up at 2 am for water is a reality for so many Indians living in the capital city!I would never have quit my job to be an unpaid co-ordinator in a war room of a political party! I did, and i enjoyed every minute of it. I would do it again.

Arvind Kejriwal has never said to us, I need you, come follow me. We have followed him through failures and successes….. failures were his own, the success took him to the chief ministers chair. We were always rooting for him. He never said I will take your opinion seriously, but we still opined. He never said I will listen to you while taking important decisions, but we imagined that we mattered to him. We don’t. He walks alone. You can follow him. Or you can leave him. He really doesn’t care about what we do.

Yogendra ji had called me while making Swaraj Abhiyaan, and I said to him, as long as Arvind ji is honest, I will work with him. I don’t know what to make of all the allegations of money for Rajya Sabha nominations, they seem way too far fetched to be believable. I’m not sure money would buy “ my hero” off despite what Mayank Gandhi might write. Like Arvind ji says, proof le kar aayo, tabhi maanengey . I believe though that money is not the only thing that corrupts. There’s Power. There’s Ego. There’s Insecurity. There’s the fear of being over shadowed by someone who is better. Why else would Gupta and Gupta be better candidates for AAP Rajya Sabha than Kumar Vishwas?

I don’t think Arvind Kejriwal is over. I’m sure he has mastered the art of being an Indian politician. I wish him great success. I have lost the ability to support his every action, his every word, his every decision. I have lost my hero today.

Dr.Sarika Verma
ENT Surgeon & Allergy Specialist