Priyanka Chaturvedi

It's all about me!!My people, my favourite things, my raving and my ranting too!

A chance to win Brett Lee’s book!

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The Book Lovers blog has an exciting contest on their blog. Participants of the contest stand a chance to win Brett Lee’s book ‘My Life’ by answering a simple question. For more details here’s a link to their blog http://t.co/l7MFVfk4. Only 3 copies to give away! So hurry!

Written by Priyanka Chaturvedi

July 23, 2012 at 7:25 am

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When 140 characters are not enough…

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Every time on reading news about what women are sometimes subjected to in this country and feeling that it can’t get any lower, the people of this great nation go a step forward in proving that theory incorrect. I have always maintained this and will continue to do so -why worship goddesses when we do not know how to accord basic respect to our women.

A look at the crime rate (recorded) till 2010 below will give the reader an idea how crime against women hasn’t subsided but only increased over the years. Now, well these figures have been compiled based on recorded cases there are many more that go unreported-

CRIME PATROL
Crime Heads 1995 2000 2005 2010
Rape 13,754 16,496 18,359 22,172
Dowry death 4,648 6,995 6,787 8,391
Molestation 26,856 32,940 34,175 40,613
Sexual harassment 4,689 11,024 9,984 9,961
Cruelty by husbands
and relatives
28,579 45,778 58,319 94,041
Importation of girls   64 149 36
Total Cases  78,526 1,13,297 1,27,773 1,75,214
Source: NCRBs

In a survey conducted by Thomson Reuters Foundation India was amongst the top 5 worst places for women to stay in the world, the others being Afghanistan, Congo, Pakistan and Somalia. The inclusion of India, a country rapidly developing into an economic super-power, came as a surprise to many. Being a part of such a list should indeed make our heads hang in shame. On one hand is the story about how India is the best destination for women entrepreneurs to grow and on the other is the growing crime rate against women. Yes in the very same country. Two Indias anyone?

The most recent case that happened in Guwahati and the audaciousness of the entire episode left the nation aghast and rightfully outraged. Any woman in the world would agree after reading/seeing the drama unfold, that India indeed lives up to the Thomson Reuters findings.

What was extremely disturbing was the role of the off duty journalist who recorded the entire episode on his mobile phone for 30 minutes but did not once stop to get the hooligans to back off- wouldn’t this be abetting the situation and what about the bystanders who just stood and watched the entire event unfold?

Whatever may have led to the circumstances, whatever be the background of the build up to the incident it is absolutely ridiculous and shameful to try and shift the blame on the girl and question her morals. The guilty people behind this episode need to be a taught a lesson they never forget and the punishment meted out to them should work as a deterrent for others who think they can get away with anything. As of now 8 of the 12 accused have been arrested by the police while the prime culprit is still absconding.

This entire episode brought back memories of an episode that happened in Mumbai just outside a prominent five star hotel on New Year’s eve with two ladies who despite being part of a larger group were molested by some men. It can happen anywhere, any state, any part of the country it can happen to you and to me tomorrow if we choose to keep quiet about it and not raise our collective voices to ensure the girl gets justice.

Some people have instead of genuinely wanting to get justice for the girl have started indulging in the usual pin the blame game and allowed the core issue be forgotten because of their personal biases. Not that I expected any better. It is time to talk in one voice, for one cause- yes very Satyamev Jayate type of a line.  But do remember it has always been the bickering of us VS them that has damaged any cause more than anything else. Sad to see it happening with this episode too.

Like every woman who is outraged after the episode so am I, just because I chose to stay silent does not give one the right to question my integrity or my honesty towards a cause. I will speak but when I want to, I cannot be bullied into silence and the same works for me vice versa too.

Written by Priyanka Chaturvedi

July 17, 2012 at 10:33 am

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My Yuva Desh column: Indian Businesswomen are making the world sit up and take notice

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In a recent study conducted on women entrepreneurs across USA, UK and India, to the surprise of many people, India came out tops as the most suited destination for women to start business in 2012.

The study (conducted by PC makers Dell) surveyed around 450 women entrepreneurs and came out with interesting perspectives on entrepreneurship for women across the globe but more importantly in India.

The study found women entrepreneurs in India expect 90 per cent growth in their business over period of five years compared to 24 per cent and 50 per cent growth in business expected by entrepreneurs in the UK and the US respectively. Not just that but also the women entrepreneurs surveyed in India  71% of them said their business is very successful and 8 out of 10 said that they were hiring for their company.

Women entrepreneurship is an important source of economic growth. Women have in many scenarios helped bring in a different perspective to managing and running an organization. However, women still represent a minority of all entrepreneurs in the country.

Khushboo Mehta, Principal Designer of Cuscino Lifestyle, an interior décor company,  the company five years ago because it  gave her a chance to “keep my personal & business growth constant, which means constantly rising.”

She also goes on to add “India has finally warmed up to women empowerment, the way society looks at women also has changed drastically, so the environment in the country is extremely supportive.” Her company over the years has seen growth in double digits.

Madhumita Goswami, who started her own unique retail store, Loose Ends, selling funky knick-knacks for homes and offices, feels it is a huge challenge managing a retail store considering the high rentals and various licenses involved to keep the store running.

Another woman entrepreneur I spoke to, Kranti Kothari, is the proprietor of Sweet Moments, a chocolate manufacturing company she started from home. Kranti Kothari is doing so well that she is soon going to start her own retail store. All this has been achieved in less than three years. The company now not only offers chocolates but cakes and other products, what started out as a small venture catering to only corporate clients will now also cater to retail clients through her store. She says that though there have been a few impediments in running her business till now, it has been an interesting growth journey.

The successes of these women entrepreneurs, notwithstanding, fact is a lot of them have to deal with gender-based barriers when they start out in what is a predominantly male bastion.

Lot of them suffer from lack of access to formal finance mechanisms, it is harder for a woman who is starting out on her own, often without any family support, to raise funds for her business venture. becomes difficult -dominated set up. The fact that inheritance laws are discriminatory against women doesn’t help matters either, often there is limited access to information.

Despite these not inconsiderable hurdles, the amazing success rate of business ventures started by Indian women entrepreneurs has encouraged many institutions specializing in business studies to offer specific Women Entrepreneurship courses to help women manage their businesses professionally. Such courses are also designed to ensure that women are armed with a business plan and ideas to diversify in order to keep their businesses growing. They also equip the women to take charge of their business in entirety by giving an overview of how a business is run, how funds can be obtained.

Women across geographies found funding their businesses the most difficult task as per the survey. The central government on its part has introduced many policies that work as a catalyst to have more women participating in the economy through entrepreneurship.

In addition to the special schemes for women entrepreneurs, various government schemes for MSMEs also provide certain special incentives and concessions for women entrepreneurs. For instance, under Prime Minister’s Rozgar Yojana (PMRY), preference is given to women beneficiaries. The government has also made several relaxations for women to facilitate the participation of women beneficiaries in this scheme.

So if you are an Indian woman reading this and believe that you have an idea worth exploring, why not sit down and prepare a business plan for the same?  You never know you might be a business tycoon in the making. Remember one thing: nothing ventured, nothing gained!

Written by Priyanka Chaturvedi

July 16, 2012 at 9:42 am

My DNA column: What’s better than good grades

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Recently, while getting my son to complete his homework I realised, rather, was struck with the realisation, that my son will soon be going to secondary school. Yes, I know there is one entire academic year to go for that, but it still got me worked up. While I was worrying about child one, another realisation struck, that child two will no longer be part of pre-primary schooling, but will be going to primary school from next academic year. My mommy worry-o-meter reached sky high levels.

Now you ask me why I am getting all strung up? That is because my son barely studies for half an hour a day, and that too just to complete some miniscule homework that his school gives him. The weekend homework he gets is also negligible. What worries me is if he is barely studying, how will he outshine the rest when it comes to claiming a seat when he reaches college?

As a parent, hope you are keeping track of the cut offs the college are coming up with. Even 100% is not good enough these days. That’s a far away scenario, I know, but then I don’t know where the cutoffs will reach by the time he gets there. And with no diligent studying, and bad handwriting to boot, how will he get there?

 

Then there are these external exams besides the school exams that I always insist he appear for as much as he hates to. Year on year he manages to get a two- or sometimes three-digit rank in these exams. But I haven’t given up hope even as my son hasn’t given up protesting.

Now to child two. She hates homework which again is hardly any work at all. She’d rather dance, go down to play, draw, and eat, whatever as long as she doesn’t have to write. The perennial complaint from her teachers have been she writes slowly, never completes class work, and that she’d rather talk than write. Whenever I have to attend her PTM, I end up saying a little prayer to god that the teacher has something better to say. My worry as a mom is what she will do when she reaches grade 1, and how she will cope with the rest.

Not that I am really losing my sleep over the two, but then I always envisage myself in the supermummy avatar (badly failing too), and hence I must strategise, arm my children with the best tools to just grow up to face their board exams with exemplary courage, get into the best colleges and have a dream career.

Ok, wait, does that include time out for creative growth, knowledge growth, personal growth, and all round growth in other activities? Well my question would be – do the schools/colleges that admit my children want to know that?

They only judge them by the numbers on their mark sheet. So should I not concentrate on the other stuff as a mother?

So I’d rather give up this supermummy tag since I am just going to let them be. Direct them the best way I can, guide them, discipline them and regulate their study time. Most importantly, be around in case they need any help. For me, a well-developed child in all areas is more important than the grades that he/she will get. We will cross that bridge when we come to it. Till then I continue my mommy rant Mera beta padhai nahin karta… bada aadmi kaise banega?

Written by Priyanka Chaturvedi

July 16, 2012 at 9:39 am

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My DNA Column: When Mommies go back to school

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Do you know what moment mums, dads and more importantly, the kids look forward to with bated breath? It is the time schools reopen. Parents wait for the moment to get a chance to breathe normally again, and kids to get back to their school friends and their routine again.

So how does one begin preparing for school to begin? What I remember from my time is the excitement of opening new textbooks, new stories, the smell of a new page and new uniforms. Of course, today, kids have the same things to look forward to, but there is also a whole new range of stationery, water bottles, and tiffin boxes to choose from. The kids are spoilt for choice.

This time round when I went to pick up a school bag for my kids, I was tempted to buy one for myself. Why didn’t we have cool things like the ones available today during our school days? But despite so much variety being available, our kids still don’t like what they see.

Do you remember the school uniform and the shoes you wore to school? Well, these days, uniforms are designer and shoes are branded. Gone are the canvas shoes days — today’s kids have the option of wearing international brands. As a mother I have to keep track of their favourite character on television or movies and ensure that the school essentials match up to those, else there’s hell to pay! No, that is a bit of an exaggeration, but if you were to step into any store selling these items, you would know what I mean. The battle is between the Avengers, Power Rangers, Ben 10, Hot Wheels, and Spiderman for the boys; and the girls have a huge variety too: Barbie, Dora the Explorer, Chotta Bheem, Angry Birds, and all the Disney women! So you know how tough a mum’s life is to have to keep track of their latest chosen character.
No, this is not a rant on how today’s kids are different and pampered from how we were, but just a look at shifting trends.

What hasn’t changed though, is the mommy network trying to get hold of a class senior’s books, so that their child is better prepared when he begins the new session; what hasn’t changed is the mother’s perpetual battle with her child to figure what he will take in his lunch box; what hasn’t changed is us mummies running after them to finish their homework on time.

But then all this is a part of the fun of going back to school. The shopping, the preparation, the excitement is the high point in every child’s life. For the children the countdown has begun. As much as they enjoyed the summer break, they are more than eager now to head back to school.

I am very well aware of what will follow soon after — the complaints about too much homework, no time to play, when will the weekend come, that they are overworked, that school hours are too long. But that is the circle I have been through as a school student myself and it is a routine we all have loved to hate! This is what they will recall as their wonder years when they grow up. The memories that they shall treasure forever.

Written by Priyanka Chaturvedi

July 16, 2012 at 9:35 am

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My column for Yuva Desh: Monsoon, Misery, Mumbai-Again!

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First drops of rain after months of sweltering heat,  the smell of wet earth when the raindrops come falling, the skies turn grey and burst into torrential rain which brings the temperature down by several notches. Summer rains send people into raptures the world over.

Not in Mumbai though.

In this city, people have begun to dread rains. This, despite the respite from heat the rains provide. For years now, monsoons in Mumbai have brought nothing but misery to the people of this city.

Waterlogging and breakdown of the civic transport system throws life out of gear. Children can’t go to schools, office goers can’t reach their places of work, but worst of all, the lakhs of people who live in slums have their homes flooded year after year.

This year the rains haven’t hit the city hard yet. Already stories of waterlogging, and potholed roads have begin to surface though. And like every year, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has claimed that it is fully prepared to tackle the rains and come up with figures detailing how much money has been spent in cleaning storm water drains and filling potholes.

Just months after the Shiv Sena  won the Municipal elections in Mumbai and promised the people of a much improved and more efficient Corporation, all the tall promises have been washed away by the season’s first showers.

The memories of 26th July downpour continue to haunt every Mumbaikar who suffered on that day.

 Brihannmumbai Municipal Corporation is the richest corporation in the country and in the last five years claims to have spent, at least on paper,  over Rs.21000 crores on roads, storm water drains, water supply, solid waste management, health and education in Mumbai.

The BMC budget is more than the combined budgets of five Indian states and one Union Territory (Goa, Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur, Sikkim and Chandigarh) in 2011-12. With a budget like this there’s just so much one can do to improve the lives of the citizens residing in the megapolis.

  • After spending more than Rs7,800 crore on water supply over five years, water supply remains erratic in many areas.
  • The construction and maintenance of roads have cost taxpayers more than Rs4,000 crore in five years, but in July 2011, the BMC counted 6,000 potholes on its 1,900-km network of city roads. It spent another Rs57 crores filling potholes.
  • Allocations worth around Rs 900 crore were made by the BMC for the construction of new roads in the city.
  • The civic body awarded contract of reconstruction and concretization of 161 major roads, worth Rs570 crore. But more than half of such projects have been stuck due to encroachments.

But despite the amount spent, despite the elections bringing back the same party and their grand promises the situation continues to stay unchanged for this city.

The monsoons have just hit the city and some areas have already seen water logging and roads caving in. The BMC has been blamed for a shoddy job done in laying paver blocks that has led to creation of bumps and depressions on the roads. The first showers on Saturday, June 19th, brought in complaints of water logging and potholes from several areas in the city. What is amazing is that these complaints are again coming from the same areas as every year.

As complaints mount, like every year the Sena leaders and BMC officials lie through their teeth, claiming a preparedness to tackle the monsoons that is simply not there.

Mumbai, you surely deserve better.

Written by Priyanka Chaturvedi

July 16, 2012 at 9:30 am

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Of differing opinions and trolling

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It has been an interesting ten days on social media for me, especially on twitter. It started with an article which was published in Hindustan Times by Namita Bhandare. Now Namita during her research for the article had been tweeting &asking people to write in to her about their trolling experience on twitter, and no it wasn’t specified that only a particular section of the twitter forum could write to her, anyone who replied was sent questions and their replies were used by her in the article. Similarly like the rest I was also asked and I gave her my answers. It was another thing that my quote didn’t find a mention hence she thanked me for my inputs. But then soon after all hell broke loose with regards to the ‘one sided piece’ that HT had carried out and how the writer had thanked a ‘Youth Congressi’ for her inputs. There were many counter articles written to counter what she had to say. The second episode was to follow soon after, this time it was a piece published in Global Post in which I was quoted. I spoke about trolling and on being asked specific instances I shared my experiences.

 I have absolutely no problems with another person’s differing point of view.  Exchanging my views with them has only ended up helping shape my own perspective towards a situation. I have come across some extremely articulate right wing supporters who I hold in high esteem and their opinions matter to me. And I follow them because I have so much more to learn from them. Differing opinion is always welcome and gives an insight into what the other side thinks too, and if it makes sense no harm in admitting it does.

But despite these sane voices one cannot shut ears to the ones which come out screaming the loudest yes there’s no denying this could be the voice of the oppressed, the people who are unhappy with the present government, the ones who haven’t got heard by the mainstream media and not that  we are snatching away the platform from them. Maybe 140 characters do not do justice to their angst and they come out sounding more aggressive than needed. No I do not label the people who disagree with me as trolls considering the fact that I follow some of them, neither the ones who are boorish or obnoxious (refer Jaideep Prabhu’s well articulated post for centreright.in. ) but yes those who repeatedly use the forum to abuse ,use profanities, provoke a person into reacting and then unleashing their anger at the person as per me is a troll. This is not trolling but a part of the “great unwashed” as per Jaideep. So be it. Let’s call them that but what can’t be taken away is that they do spew a lot of venom.

Leaving a venomous, angry rant on some you tube link or on some site is not the same as heaping abuses at an individual on twitter. There is a difference Mr. Prabhu. Yes I have an option of blocking such and filtering my timeline true but then my argument is why can’t I talk about the section which repeatedly attacks me? Why should I not call out such people?  Yes of course we are learning to live with the ‘great unwashed’ and just calling out to a few does not make me a victim, I am just choosing to share an experience I have had on twitter. If I had chosen not to deal with it I would have quit twitter when the Anna Hazare movement was at its peak.

Jaideep is right when he says Twitter is not the monopoly of anyone nor is the internet. Everyone is free to say what comes to their mind and what as per them is correct like Mr. Kanchan Gupta chose to do. He is a man I hugely admire despite his views; he chose to write about me after the Global Post article. I wouldn’t have had a problem but his tweet was factually incorrect with regards to the article as well as the point he made. But when such a tweet comes from a senior journalist like him it is taken as the gospel truth and was RTed over and over. My response sadly did not find many takers as it corrected his errors.  For me it doesn’t matter but what came out clearly was Mr. Gupta’s singling me out to make a point which wasn’t even true. He went on to say that the way I was quoted and the piece was structured showed I am setting up the writer to write it. That’s underestimating the writer’s ability & overestimating mine just to prove his theory. (tweets below)

Would just conclude this by saying you can choose to live with your truth and I’ll live with mine. You live with your theories, me with mine. A healthy exchange of ideas is good but if you try to shove your truth or theory down my throat don’t expect me not to holler right back and call you out.

Some Priyanka Chaturvedi is “elected office-holder” of Congress? When were elections held? Oh, my bad. When Sonia was “elected” president. “

 
Priyanka Chaturvedi ‏@priyankac19 @KanchanGupta Sir if you would have read the article carefully enough it says Priyanka is an elected member of the youth wing of Cong 

 And then this: 

 ‏@priyankac19 @indiantweeter Why don’t you write about it, would love to contribute. I am not the one setting up these write ups anyway! @KanchanGupta

@KanchanGupta @priyankac19 Manner in which you’re quoted, manner in which you selectively admonish, would suggest you are setting them up@indiantweeter
 
@priyankac19 @KanchanGupta WHAT?you really think I am tht important?Sir am just another aam admi trying to be a part of the political sys@indiantweeter
 

Written by Priyanka Chaturvedi

June 20, 2012 at 2:23 pm

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