Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Pleasure of Service

I had always wondered about the power of giving. ‘Giving’ not only empowers the receiver but also empowers the giver. It is a win-win situation. I do not mean here materialistic give and take, but it connotes services of all kind. ‘Sensitivity is the jewel of humankind’ and only those who are sensitive can think of giving.
I had grown seeing my father give, sometimes beyond his means and still struggling to be happy. It pained me to lose my piece of pie and seeing it going to others. But, gradually I realized that it wasn’t mine at all. It was my greed, as I had enough, in fact more than enough.  We become so possessive that we don’t want to part that extra we have, which we don’t care for when it is lying with us, but strongly desire to have when shared with or given to others, who don’t have any. I even realized that I didn’t mind sharing with my dear and near ones, but didn’t want an alien to have it. Who are those aliens actually? It took me some time to comprehend. They were none but one of us, living in the same world, same community but still remaining as have not’s. The same flesh and blood, but getting different treatment from the haves.
Mahatma Gandhi, the great philosopher said, “Consciously or unconsciously, everyone of us does render some service or another. If we cultivate the habit of doing this service deliberately, our desire for service will steadily grow stronger, and it will make not only for our own happiness, but that of the world at large.”  Lately, when I stepped into my father’s shoes I figured out that he wasn’t struggling to be happy, but he was actually enjoying his magnanimity. I am so proud to be in his shoes now.
As a law enforcer I had a chance to see the worst of the world. I had two choices, either to be cynical or grab it as an opportunity to do my bit to change, help who were in need. I thankfully chose the latter. My interest grew in Anti-Human Trafficking efforts. Human Trafficking is one of the worst kinds of violation of human rights; a ‘modern slavery’ is what it is called as. I got a chance to interact with a community which was into ‘community based prostitution’. Most of the children would not have their father’s name for being a customer’s child. Mothers and brothers would be pimps for their daughters and sisters respectively. Education was a far cry in the society. Boys always aspired to be pimps and live on girl’s earnings, and girls had little choice but to become a prostitute at tender age, say around 13.  It was a big challenge for me to work with them. They are a very closed community, preferring not to interact with outsiders, except customers.
 I had multiple disadvantages for being a law enforcer. There was trust deficit between the community and law enforcement. They always received me with suspicion. My police organization did not appreciate my work as it was never my assigned job. They accused me of going wayward and act like a social worker. The civil society too did not take it well as they thought I was transgressing into their domain. Working with a community with stigma was a further challenge as the conservative society always suspected my intentions. Men were supposed to interact with the community only for sexual gratification. ‘I can’t be an exception’ they thought. My family was scared as they presumed that it may harm my reputation and credibility. The chances of character assassination were strong. So, it was never a cake walk; making inroads in the community, bringing my family to my side, taking head on the civil society and working by keeping my parent organization (police) in dark.
 I landed up working with them on experimentation basis, creating my own model of service, implementing with the help of a small group. My passion to serve unconditionally, selflessly, bore fruits and we started seeing results in no time. First, out of 40 children, 32 started going to local school. We facilitated the outreach of the government programs.  The women started grouping and discussed for better future.  But, soon I was to get a rude shock when the children started dropping out of the schools because of discrimination. They were either abused or isolated for being children of sex workers. To my surprise some children who desired to study enrolled themselves fictitiously as children of other community. “How can a child start life with a pseudo identity, compromising with dignity?”, “What sort of personality was in making?” were the questions that troubled me. We again took it as a challenge and tried to shift them to a better environment where they could live as what they were, in the capital of the state, giving them much better opportunity to interact with students from all classes and castes. First year, in 2011, we got six children enrolled. It was a hard decision as we met lot of opposition from all quarters, for having uprooted them from their roots. We had few families to our side that agreed and believed that it was the only way for the children to have education, without prejudices. I was banking on the ‘spillover’ effect. Our experiment worked and children performed extremely well. In 2012 children from three more villages (four villages in all) volunteered to send their children and 32 children, of same community, were enrolled in the schools. The most moving moment was when a girl studying in ninth grade rang me up, immediately after results were out, to tell that she scored 70% marks. She was the one whose mother wanted to push her into prostitution. If we would have failed to mover her out for 3-4 months more she would had been one of the trafficked child, a commercially sexually exploited child.
Now, when I go and meet these children, see them laughing and having best of their life, it motivates me, gives me pleasure and satisfaction. It cements my faith that serving others is bliss, a gift. People ask me why am I so passionate about Human Trafficking, and my answer is “I have seen misery from close quarters”. My passionate compassion is my driving force and I derive energy from those children, families, who have faith in me and made me believe that bringing change is possible. What we need to do is just be sensitive, join hands and do our bit for better world. As being human beings we all are stakeholders. A concerted, collaborative, coordinated and collective effort is a solution to fight this menace of human trafficking. 

Did USA think of moving opposite UK?

USA evoked a very stupid question in my mind...Why everything is opposite to our country, India. We drive car on left side with driver steering the wheel from right side and Americans drive from left staying on right side of the road. The switches have to brought from down to up to switch on lights!! the sockets have the single pin down and the two pins up, just opposite to what we have in India. The water taps in the bath tub will turn opposite, anti-clockwise rather than clockwise that we are used to. The refrigerator doors opens from right side and we are used to opening from left side. Even the spellings in english are different. So, there may be many more.......

I was baffled and for almost a month landed up doing things twice to succeed. It remained a question for me for long. Then during discussion with friends we discerned that perhaps this was an attempt by Americans to keep things opposite to UK and not India. At one point of time it must have been consciously decided that to ascertain their identity it was smart move to topsy turvy the UK settings. So, now it is USA vs UK, and we have to decide if we take up the colonial legacy or follow the current super power. I have to find if there is any other system in place, other than these two I am exposed to.... 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Passionate Crusade

I have always been warned "Are you not very passionate?" and always I throw back a question "Is it not good".  Surprisingly, the answer coming is "Yes", but the expression does not match words. Life has been very kind to me. I always wonder if it is equally giving to others.

My recent journey has been learning and awakening. It has somewhere touched inside me, prompted me to go beyond 'my-self', come out of 'ego-centrism', and thank those who may not matter to me directly, but matter to society, humankind, of which I am an inseparable part. My attachment with the children, their families, who have come a long way to schools from some forbidden land, who aspire to be like us, free and simply normal, who look forward to have a normal family, has given me a lot of happiness. It has made my voyage more meaningful.

I am said to be passionate about combating human trafficking. I do not have to wait and watch if they (who want to judge my passion) appreciate my passion or discredit it as an outburst of an emotional man. It is me; it is reflection of the voice of those who want  to be heard far and wide; it is mirror of the persons who want to travel through me distance, and raise people to the cause. My passion is admixture of many responsibilities, self created and hopes laid on shoulders.

When I look around me, as a law enforcer, I find myself to be privileged one. When I look around me as a law enforcer and social worker I find myself more privileged and honoured. When I look around me as a law enforcer, social worker and an academician I find myself to be privileged, honoured, and gifted. And when I look around me as a human being I find myself rich in all respects, the blessed one. Is not the, privileged, honoured, gifted and blessed a relative term. I found these terms gratifying only when I turned around to see people around me. Is not being simply human the right of all, all around us. I am passionate to know answer to the question that why to make ourselves the blessed one we have to step on others life and violate their rights. This passionate crusade is to awaken human beings that they can survive easily and happily without crushing the happiness of others. Let them all be simple humans with their basic rights intact and respected.