Missing Children

I met Mrs.Nirgudkar after a long time, she still looks angry not that I blame her, her son was kidnapped at the age 7 or 8, fortunately he was rescued, now twenty years later he was reported missing from an army expedition, he went on.  she had received a letter from the army asking her to tell her son to return or he would have to face consequences, she just shot back a letter to the army chief and the defence minister that the last she saw of her son was when he left for the expedition, so the army owed her an explanation as to what happened to her son.

About 180 children go missing every day in India. Many of them never found. From 2013 to 2016 there has been a 84% raise in missing children.

May 25th is dedicated to Missing children internationally. It is a public awareness drive to create awareness about missing children and spread a message of hope to their families.

This commenced when in 1979 a 6yr old boy Etan Patz was kidnapped and killed, his father Stan Patz resorted to all means to find him, including put a picture of the boy on milk cartons.

1998 the US national centre for missing and exploited children and international centre for missing and exploited children launched a global venture, and this network now connects 22 nations.

The first event in 2001 spotlighted the problem of child abduction and some steps parents could take to protect their child. The event annually honours the missing children and celebrates the recovered ones.

What worries me, is the raise in missing daughters of India, there is a huge increase in female foeticide, this is causing a imbalance in the male female ratio, there are states, that put hoardings like,”pay now, save later”  to advertising for gender identification and female foeticide.

The missing daughters, particularly in northern states where dowry and expensive marriages are an issue, brides being imported from other places, religion, caste all social boundaries do not matter, the girls are actually bought off from their impoverished parents, despite dowry being the norm in these states and the only criteria is having a male child.

The missing daughters have resulted in an association of bachelors emerging and they are asking the politicians to eradicate unemployment, and female foeticide or yes, find ways to get bachelors married. I do wonder if these bachelors will go on to father daughters and send their to be born daughters to a prenatal grave!

The symbol of this event is the Forget-Me-Not-Flowers, so that people spare a minute for the missing person and spread a message of hope.



World Goth Day

Asterix and Obelix go on a quest to find the kidnapped Druid Getafix, they go to Goth that was the first time I came across this term, there were Visigoths and Astrogoths. I looked up the dictionary to see what “goth ”meant well my friend philosopher guide, the Merriam-Webster tells me that…

Goths are members of a Germanic people that, over ran the Roman Empire in the early century. It was also rock music marked by dark and morbid lyrics. It was also a subculture of people wearing blacks, using dramatic music and often has dyed hair.

The last bit sounded very “Ethnic– arty” kind but they are into earthy pastel colours, to show their grounding with the earth.  Somewhere I figured that Goths were a cult and presumably had a new way of life.

The Goth ideology emerged from the dark crevices of the Gothic style of literature of the nineteenth century, rather morbid, focusing on its believers frustration with society, its norms, the rules and regulations, maybe even personal setbacks and a general disillusionment  with mainstream culture and ethics. It could also simply be a way of demanding attention.

Goth music is about the evils in the society, like racism, war and hatred, ethnic groups and meant to be thought provoking, while they also claim a love for German expressionist silent films, and the works of Dante, Byron and Tolstoy.

Goths are in general non-violent, pacifists and tolerant. Though they are presented as rebels and rather unsavoury elements in the society.  If there is any violence they practise it is infliction on the self through a process called scarification where a thin tissue of the body is removed leaving behind scars, they are also into huge tattoos, body piercing and sometimes also body modification.

Goths have their presence in India too… for those of you who are interested… check Sepia Mutiny.com out.

22nd May is the World Goth Day, a day where the Goth scene gets to celebrate its own being and an opportunity to make its presence known to the rest of the world.

This event originated in 2009 with the BBC Radio 6 dedicating a week to the musical subcultures. They even have a website dedicated to the World Goth Day. all the cultural aspects of the Goth subculture is acknowledged and celebrated here. this has now become worldwide with  40 countries participating as of 2016.

What I learnt when I was researching for a Gothic play was, Goths in today’s scenario have personalities within them though most of Goths do have violence in their past, or have come from humanities of violent past..

There are Cemetery Goths who like to visit graves and graveyards, nothing morbid about it, it could just paying respects to the people who passed away or interest in Graveyard architecture, particularly the monuments built. The Cyber Goths who are into website designing and game creation, usually tend to be long-term internet surfers or professors. The Diva Goths older or larger women who reclaim their place in society with elegant dressings, dark satin, and velvets and lace the dark somehow seem to have the power to change. The Egyptian Goths who the paradoxes of the Goth cult, since they worship the sun, yet they are the most sophisticated of the Goth cult as the Egyptians thought themselves godlike and they took care of their bodies and minds. The Pagan Goths, who connect with nature deeply, they resort to ways to empathize with the destruction of nature; many of them are also into magic and tarots. The high achieving Victorian Goths, who think themselves above the rest, they embody the Victorian spirit of discovery. Finally the charming Vampire Goths, who almost always get their way, they are not early risers and tend to enhance cosmetic appearances with bright red lipsticks.

From the Visigoths and Astrogoths of Asterix, through Govind Nilhani’s Rukmavati Ke Haveli, this is just paying respect to the Goth cult in my life.


World Metrology Day

May 20th is the world Metrology day, and the ignoramus that I am read it meteorology day and wondering about the relevance of the theme measurement for transport.

Then I looked again, and realized, it was not written by someone who was challenged when it came to spelling but Metrology was different from Meteorology and it dealt with the science of weights and measures or of measurements.

Merriam-Webster assures me  this mix up often happens. When it comes to metrology three types of metrology are used in the world today.

  • Industrial metrology which ensures the proper functioning of the wide variety of instruments used in various industries.
  • Scientific metrology that deals with organization and development of measurement standards and their maintenance. That makes it involved in industries concerning government, healthcare and research for commercial products.
  • Legal metrology concerns with measurements that influence economic transaction,this is a very refined type of metrology. This does not tools like other fields,but focuses on buying and selling of materials for economic studies. It can also be used by law enforcement fields.

The objective of a measurement is to provide the required accuracy at minimum cost, metrology also deals with aspects like

  • Evaluation of newly developed products.
  • Minimize the cost of inspection by effective and efficient use of available facilities.
  • To determine that the measuring instrument is capable and efficient for their respective measurements.
  • To provide statistical quality control so that cost of rejects and rework reduce.
  • Standardizing the measuring methods,
  • Ensure methods are accurate
  • To prepare designs for all gauges and special inspection fixtures.

The science of measurement is important for scientific research and works a parameter for solving technical problems, particularly in engineering designs. The designing engineer carries the onus of designing a design that is economically viable, has strength and can be specifically checked or measured. Though this gets lesser priority as compared to economic viability.

Present manufacturing techniques call for higher productivity and accuracy. This needs the science of metrology, it accurate measurements particularly dimensional and geometrical accuracies, this allows the automation and automatic controls

This year the theme is Measurements for transport as transport plays a major role in the modern world.

Not only are people moving, so are things like food, clothes, the goods etc, all the raw material that these are made of, all rely on transportation. Ensuring safe and effecienty transport with minimal environmental impact requires amazing range of measurements.

Metrology becomes vital in scientific discovery, innovation, industrial manufacturing and international trade.

Transportation occurs through

  • Aerospace
  • Automotive
  • Rail

Can you even imagine the measurements that go into keeping these safe, efficient and environment friendly? Whatever the measurement system is it needs to be consistent, repeatable and unbiased as possible, the yard stick that we frequently use to determine if something can be restored is based on a handful of inches that we bring to the process, when God has come up with infinite amount of miles. For us who trained to think “Science is measurement” its time to search Darwin’s works for numbers and equation. Somewhere we tend to overvalue the things we can measure and undervalue the things we cannot. Just on a lighter vein I leave you with a quote: “

“Wisdom is not measured by age ,
Intelligence is not measured by grades ,
Personality is not measured by what others say”
― O.Z “Osama Alzoubi”

Paying Cinderella

Its Pay Time — Cinderella

All my commitments and targets are not really met, simply because a large chunk of my time goes in playing spider solitaire and I play solitaire whenever I have to get back into a working frame of mind. Housework I realized did eat into a chunk of my time.

of course I did reorganize my work schedule to optimize my efficiency but new challenges like travelling, in-laws moving in I was getting overwhelmed and having temper tantrums, fuelled by menopausal mood swings it was time to call the cavalry. Or rather hire help.

Growing up in feudal environment I never really I just took things and the domestic help for granted, as I did when I set up my own house. but the last 5yrs I have been without domestic help, (the family accused me of not being able to retain help), never mind I had one before, when my daughters were young it was full time help, and then part time.

Yet when people did show up for the job, I was clueless how to handle it, I actually sat down to figure out what was the core issue here, it was I did not want to someone to do my work, ironically on one hand I cribbed that my vagina did not come with a I’ll do the housework clause yet   I was reluctant to hire a maid.

The first step was for me to figure out what were my priorities I realized I wanted to have a house that was running, and lets me honest my command being obeyed I did not want to relegate command.

Once the decision to hire help was taken the next step was finding one, the best possible way to do it, is to seek help from our community and people we know. They are the most reliable way of finding good help. The people who introduce become referrals,  usually a person working in a friends house is looking for a job and that is how most people connect. We left the informal “wanted info” with the watchman, the milkman the fish and vegetable vendor.

We also looked up reliable placement agencies based on the recommendations online, while www.quikr.com did get back to us with their referrals quickly the vendors they referred to us did not get back.

When the chief of security got the person, he told us that she was Nepal and her background check and police verification was done, I was quite taken aback for never in my 50yrs of life have I heard of a background check done for domestic help since most of them came by referral through mutual friends or connects.  But now it is mandatory to have this check done.

Most of them asked me what are the jobs to be done, again I was a little agitated, then I realized that unless I told her what I expected she would not know. Before I spoke to the maid I had to create my check list

  • What are the working hours, day off etc.
  • What are the jobs that I delegate to her.
  • How do I want it executed.
  • What are the rules of the house regarding phone
  • What about food and tea.

Like I mentioned before in the feudal system we did not worry, it was assumed that food was taken care by the employer, sometimes the help took home left over too. so were medical expenses either the employer paid it outright or if it is was too large then it was an interest free loan. They were part of the family, I remember we got two of the girls working in our house educated, one learnt tailoring and “Delhi cooking” so she has a “Delhi durbar” a small wayside restaurant at a village where lot of truckers travel.  The other did her graduation is a pharmacists assistant. Another maid we had, was an impoverished semi-educated lady, so my parents got her daughter married and as per the Indian custom took care of her entire first delivary. Actually last month her daughter built a house and my mother sent in the gifts as if it were for her own daughter.

This kind of bonding may no longer be there, but yes we do need to give them respect and treat them the way we would like to be treated. When my last help quit I was quite upset because there was a bit of flare up with the other house she worked, then I realized I was so caught up with my illness that I had failed to recognize that the maid was diagnosed grade one cancer and had to go for therapy the other lady did recognize and support her. We need to be involved a little bit in their lives too.

Sometimes there might be work beyond the designated time, it should be adequately compensated for, how you do it is between the two of you, but it has to be acknowledged and dealt with.

Working with Mr. Roland Martins in the consumer awareness and women’s forum I was aware though domestic help is unorganized sector and it is rather not very practical to cover them, there are certain guidelines to be followed.  For example we never really discussed the medical expenses. I still don’t intend to.

Anyway, coming to the domestic workers in India, the Domestic Worker act was introduced in 2008 – it deals with registration, social security and welfare. This is applicable to both men and women, though as the presence of women is larger it becomes more significant to women. The state government governs its implementation as it is subjected to the state legislation.


  • Applicable to whole of India except the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Not applicable to domestic workers who have immigrated for employment to any other country.
  • Employment of child is prohibited under any law for the time being in force as a domestic worker or for any such incidental or ancillary work.
  • Implementing authority under the act will be Central Advisory Committee, State Advisory Committee And District Board.

As per the act any person older than 18yrs, but less than 60yrs, and is engaged in any domestic work for not less than 90 days, in the preceding 12 months can be registered as a domestic worker under Section 16.

Any domestic worker registered under the Act who lives in the premises where workplace is situated is entitled to 10hrs of rest between the ending and recommencing of work. Also workers living in the house are entitled to 15 days paid leave annually. Section 22—Working Hours And Leave With Wages.

All registered domestic workers should be paid minimum wages as per the minimum wages act 1948

The Act has specific safety and Penalty provision (Section 23) in cases where any person knowingly sends, directs or takes any girl or woman domestic worker to any place for immoral purpose or a place where she is likely to be morally corrupted or in manner sexually exploited. Such a person can be subjected to imprisonment for a period of 6 months which may extend up to 7yrears, and fine up to 50,000 Rs. month or both

Any service provider who contravenes the provision of the act can be punished by 3 months imprisonment  or/and 2000/Rs. fine.  Obstructing the inspection by an authorized person or refusing co-operate faces the same penalty.

Anyone knowing abetting trafficking of domestic workers, faces a penalty of 3 -7 yrs imprisonment and/or Rs.2000/- as fine.

States like Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Jharkhand have included domestic workers in the schedule employment with hourly, daily, monthly wages fixed by the states. For example Andhra has a minimum per hour wage as Rs.12.5/hours, Rs.107/day or Rs.2800/month.

With the passing of the Domestic Workers Act 2008, domestic workers are slated to receive pension, maternity benefits and paid leave that is a weekly off.  Workers living on premises are entitled to 15 days paid leave annually, and 15days otherwise throughout the year. Constituting a district board has been proposed to ensure the proper implementation of the act.


Athiti Dev(il)obhava

Athithi devo bhava…



What about the responsibility of tourists, nobody talks about that, not even the effervescent travel bloggers.

Yesterday we went Basilica Bon Jesus at Old Goa, the place was swarming with tourists.

The guidelines to tourists are placed all over the Basilica, “Do not photograph people” being the most prominent one. yet the tourists, were blatantly clicking pictures of themselves, using selfie sticks. When the security personal objected, they would steal the selfie and gloat about it.

There was one particular crowd standing right in front of the board that said do not click people and went trigger happy. So Mr.Aamir Khan do you have something to tell the tourists? About responsible behaviour?  This is just some stuff to help you with the script.

Tourism  no doubt plays an important role in the economy of Goa, that does not mean that tourists are “Devo” or gods, they people we welcome into our homes, it is an interaction of mutual respect, there are certain norms to be followed.

There is a concept called responsible tourism, this was defined in AITR’s 2005 resolution it goes like this == responsible tourism complies with the principles of social and economic justices and exerts full respect towards the environment and its cultures. It recognizes the centrality of the local host community and its right to act a s a protagonist in developing a sustainable and responsible tourism. Responsible tourism actuates to foster a positive interaction between the tourist industry, local community and the travellers.

Here is what probably most local host communities look to

To minimize environmental damage caused by the carelessness of the tourist and growing destruction to environment corresponding to the growing tourist influx.

To give the local population a central role in the tourist development of their own territory.  That the involvement of the local community through a participatory democracy and in decision making process is essential for sustainable touristic development.

To respect the local culture by including its essence in the overall touristic experience by focusing on and creating awareness of the local culture , its traditions, the lifestyle, the gastronomy, the handicrafts etc.

Maybe next time any of you decide to travel to a terrain, you could keep an open mind, particularly when you come to Goa, yes we are different from rest of India, but we are not very different from the west coast culture.

Respect human rights particularly privacy and decorum in public places.

Help to preserve the natural environment that you have come to see, there are wildlife and habitats that need to be safe guarded.

Each place has its own cultural resources that are the document of the history of the people, please respect it, selfie in a Basilica, or loud hooting is Salarjung Museum is disrespectful.

When you buy something you do contribute to the economic and social development of the place, try to see that you can pick something that is truly local.

In your Google search do look at the cultural expectation at a place, like not wearing run down shorts into a temple or church, not clicking pictures within the prayer houses,  not scratching the edifices, along the way.

These are just small gestures that reflects you culture and your upbringing to the host community. It is about your dignity…

I hope soon the Basilica will come with deposit your mobiles rule like the Thirupathi Temple.

The World Migratory Birds Day

Their Future is our future

This is the theme of the world migratory bird day being commemorated on May 13th.

Avian migration is one of the most wonderful events of nature. Birds fly distances to find best ecological conditions and habitat for feeding, breeding and bringing up their young.

Migratory birds are birds that travel distances for various reasons, but primarily reason being food and nesting. birds move between the northern and southern hemisphere in search of food, and safe and comfortable nesting zones.

Migration could be short distance that is in the geographic range from high altitude to low  or it could be of medium order within a reasonable radius and  then there are long distance ones that are across continents. A bird like Red knot travels 16,000 km twice a year.

These birds fly year after year with very little deviation in the flyway corridor. The first year birds often make their first migration on their own, it is almost as if the flight chart is memorized by the DNA. How the birds do this is not really understood. However it is known that they orient themselves with the sun during the day, the stars guide the navigation at night and geomagnetism can be tapped on any time. Olfactory sense seem to play a great role when it comes to navigation in the case of the homing pigeon.

Many birds have a preferred pathway for their annual migration, these usually involves important stop overs that provide food supplies that are critical to the birds survival.

These flights are dangerous and ardours. It challenges the physical and mental capacity of the bird. There are predators that threaten the bird. In the recent years, the land reclamation and poaching is eating into the natural habitat disorienting the avian migrations. Many birds are attracted by bright lights while some are confused resulting in collisions with structures. The latest hazard being the tall communication towers.

Role of migratory birds in economy.

Migrant birds are biodiversity indicators of the state of our environment, as their migratory patterns match their feeding and breeding needs. With change in climate there is a change in the timing of the elements of their life cycle too.

Migrating birds act as eco-wardens, and health wardens as they feed on insects and rodents. Vultures which are almost non-visible these days are natural scavengers they can dispose large carcasses rapidly , thus playing a critical role in nutrient cycling. Vultures west Africa to southeast Asia are declining partially due to poisoning of their prey.

The migrant birds follow the food trail, this feeding pattern leads to flower pollination and seed dispersion.  This is part of natures ecological regulation.

Project UNEP Siberian crane wetlands were about sustaining Siberian cranes and millions of other migratory water birds. This restoration not only provided the migratory birds like Siberian Crane to rest and feed it also helped to provide millions people water. The wetlands act as carbon sinks and help in combating climate change. The wetlands are flood defences and help to sustain productive fisheries.

Guano in Quechan language means droppings of the sea birds, this is considered one of nature’s best fertizers.  The Incas considered it so valuable that access to was restricted any disturbance to the sea bird incurred death penalty. Guano allowed improved soil texture, clearing of toxins and speedy decomposition.

The bird dropping result from a complex process starting with the living plants eaten by insects, which in turn are consumed by the fishes that are eaten by the sea birds and digested by the sea bird.

Falconry is another economic activity that uses avian migration, the roots of which lies in Asia dating back to 2000BC. Falconry has been recongnized by UNESCO as global cultural heritage since 2010, it is an art of hunting with trained birds of prey. The decrease in the demand has brought about 60% drop in the species over the last 20yrs. Falconers however are working at conserving of raptors and their prey through preservation of natural habitats and captive breeding. Recently the falconers have reintroduced a species that had totally vanished.

Bird hunting is a major socio-economic activity around the globe, and billions of birds are hunted each year. This along with land poaching has resulted in a decline of migratory bird population. The flyway of these global avian, run across nations and their decline effect globally.

At the end of the day it is for us, to sit up and ensure that these health wardens, natural pollinators, biodiversity indicators , natural scavengers and soil doctors are safe. for their future is also our future, we need to re-commit to sustainable development.

UN migratory movie