Sunday, April 24, 2016

Kitnay Aadmi Thay








 
Following an interesting NEWS on the Indian media, ''How can 18,000 judges tackle 3 crore cases, CJI TS Thakur asks PM Modi", a small dialogue from a classical movie came across my mind:

The Sholay of our times..
Gabbar : Hmmmm.... Kitane aadmi thay Thakur?
Thakur: sardar.. Three Crore aadmi the.

Gabbar: hmmm.. three crore aadmi ? .... SOOWAR KE BACHCHO.. woh three crore the aur tum 18000?! .. phir bhi waapas aagayeye . khaali haath.. kya samaz kar aaye the?.. sardar bahot khus hoga sabasi dega kyoon? DHIKKAR HAI ... Arre O Saambha...

Gabbar: Soona.. poore 18000.. aur itna isliye hai ke yaha se pachas pachas kos door gaanw me jab bachcha raat ko rota hai to maa kahti hai beta soja ..soja nahi to Sureme Court aa jaayega. Aur yeh teen haraam jaade..ye Supreme Court kaa naam poora mitti me milaay diye..iski sajaa milegi.. baraabar milegi...

(ek aadmi se revolver leta hai aur usse poochhta hai)
Gabbar: KITNI GOLI HAI?
DAMAAR! Damaar! damaar! (18000 times) Isko bhi case may dalo! ek our file open caro Sarkar-kay Office may. kya farak padda (?!) eko ou'ur kol'kay...

And its a never ending story...

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Nature Of Commodification

“It is very simple to be happy, but it is very difficult to be simple.” Rabindranath Tagore

Prelude
A few years ago, in India, a classic painting of a legendary artist got into a controversy not for the content but for its portrayal; perhaps, the portrayal seemed too real rather than figurative for the fringe groups of violent observers to digest. The artist was forced to leave the country for his depiction of ‘Mother India’ in art. This particular piece of art where two bulls ravage a child and the mother with a spear-like line running through with droplets, suggests India's fate in the backdrop of communal violence that tore Bombay apart during a particular point of time. The Mother simply is not able to escape the clutches of this horror as the child (India) barely retains its cling on her. The spear shedding that droplets (perhaps blood, perhaps sweat, perhaps tear...) shows the painter's frustration and anger; probably those droplets are those last few drops that the mad people who ruthlessly carnage our country finally manage to squeeze from it. This classic painting that shows the helplessness of rape and the agony of the people who are caught between this politically instigated power struggle got every beholder brewing with anger for its powerful depiction, content and the direct titling got a minority to think and reflect before the majority decided to silence the artist rather than the issue that was in focus. This controversial painting was titled, 'The Rape of Mother India' and the artist was none other than Maqbool Fida Husain. 

“Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.” Benito Mussolini

A Shift of the ‘Unseens’
To begin with, Kerala is a beautiful state in terms of its rich natural bounty though within a narrow path of land. For an outsider who would conclude Kerala as a small state from what it appears on a map, that could be a gross mistake. If its topography were to be considered, the hills that fill most of Kerala are like apartments that houses more fauna, flora and human settlements in steps, stages and layers and has more land area than what appears. Kerala is bigger than it seems and is quite cleverly hidden-the obvious yet ‘unseen one.’
Kerala is said to be a favourite destination for tourists. According to information pulled straight out of public documents, during the year 2014, Kerala recorded a 12.11 per cent increase in the total revenue from the tourism sector, which is supposedly the backbone of the state's economy. The total number of tourists who visited the state from various countries was recorded at 8, 58, 143. The number of foreign tourists who visited the country showed an increase of 7.60 per cent in 2014 than its previous year and the number of domestic tourists recorded a rise of 7.71 per cent while the total revenue (both direct and indirect) from tourism was estimated at Rs 22, 926.55 crore during the period.
The tourism industry feels that visitors prefer to come to Kerala during September to January. This is mainly because the festival season in Kerala is from September-January. Robinet Jacob, Director, School of Tourism Studies, MG University, mentions that, the average stay of tourists in Kerala is the highest varying from minimum of one to two weeks, due to which the revenue earning from tourism is also high in the state.
The problem with these statistics is that it does not define a ‘foreign visitor'. Kerala is a state with perhaps one of the highest mobility rates a.k.a emigration that results in Non Residential Indians (NRI) who quite occasionally travel to India with foreign passports. People seldom travel when they find a festival in some destination that is so attractive that they would suspend their job, education or any other regular activity of life they are engaged in their homeland. Rather, the season is made to fit into the tourist’s arrival and tourist’s arrival based upon the holiday the tourist gets. State government data shows that there are about 16.3 lakh non-resident Keralites (the Centre for Development Studies puts the figure at a much higher 24 lakhs). These are people who are settled in what we call the Gulf or the West-places where the holiday season is during Eid, Muharram and Christmas-holidays that fall between September and January (seems like a coincidence!) A chunk of these so called ‘foreign travelers’ must be local people who speak the vernacular, who travel to Kerala on a foreign passport for their (atleast) yearly-once-visits they try to make during holidays; these are people who are compelled to mark themselves as ‘tourists’ upon arrival whose visits last for a week or two before they depart, as the statistics suggests as well.
Meanwhile, Non Resident Indian (NRI) deposits in Kerala crossed the magic mark of Rs 1 lakh crore, soaring by more than 17% from Rs 93,884 crore to Rs 1.1 crore (at the end of 2014-15) in the space of just one year, according to data collected by the state level bankers committee (SLBC). Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data shows that there was a little over $115 billion in NRI accounts in India, which is about Rs 7 lakh crores. Kerala, thus accounts for roughly a sixth of all the money deposited in NRI accounts-a monstrous amount, almost five times more compared to Kerala’s revenue from tourism. Perhaps, in purely monetary terms and considering statistics and data as a guide for arriving at logic, Kerala is economically better off keeping the NRI abroad rather than welcoming them home as tourists. Tourism is smaller than it seems and the actual visitor (the NRI) is not even a tourist and remains cleverly hidden-the ‘unseen two.’
Further still, tourists will have their own sense of logic and rationale to choose their destination of travel and sadly our country’s statistics do not show a very favourable tourist-friendly climate. The total number of crimes registered against foreign nationals in 2014 stood at 384. There is, however, no comparison data as the Ministry of Tourism said it does not maintain such data and the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) began compiling such data only in 2014.  The number of foreign tourists arriving in India dropped by 25% during the first three months of 2013, largely because of fears about the risk of sexual assault, according to an industry survey. The number of female tourists fell by 35% in 2013 compared to the previous year due to wide-spread global reaction to the sexual assault and the murder of a girl in the country’s capital that year. The concoction made with the presence of global fear and insecurity and our habit to sensationalize and tarnish our own identity and image without missing an opportunity that affects us in more ways than we perhaps see-the ‘unseen three.’

“By plucking her petals you do not gather the beauty of the flower.” Rabindranath Tagore in Stray Birds

The Other Side
Today, we live in a world that sells ideas. Everything we consume is hardly real; rather, they are just ideas of reality that we consume. The tomato we consume is not really a tomato anymore; rather, it is just an idea suggested to our senses that we seem to accept. Like tomatoes, cars, batteries, nature, water bodies, human dignity and our way of life have become an idea rather than reality that seems to be constructed around the idea of consumption; everything to be bargained for in a world where everything is up for sale and disposable.
In the context of tourism and exploitation, a few variables seem to be dependant and correlate finally.  A 748-page study called "Trafficking in Women and Children in India," sponsored by the National Human Rights Commission, said, India is fast becoming a hotspot for child-sex tourism. In India, the abuse of both male and female children by tourists has acquired serious dimensions. Goa and Kerala are the places often visited by tourists in search of child sex and beach boys, shack owners and former victims of pedophiles. There are fewer laws against child abuse in India and the beaches of Goa and Kovalam in Kerala are increasingly becoming the main destinations for those seeking child prostitutes. Child pornography, which is closely associated with child sex tourism, is a technically advanced crime that is thriving as well.
O'Connell Davidson (2000) mentions that sex tourism is linked to poverty and disparities in wealth and power between rich and poor countries, between men and women and between adults and children. As Leung (2003) argues, child prostitution is linked to causes such as poverty, marginalization, underdevelopment and the emerging trend of tourism. Rao (1997) addressed issues on women and tourism in Kerala, including consideration of tourism as a part of modern consumerism and the sex industry. He also reports on the link between poverty and the ease with which traffickers can lure their victims. The silence of the community and its unwillingness to speak out and openly discuss the issue has further compounded the problem. For some women their marriages were so violent that they preferred prostitution in such situations.
Bangalore is one of the five major cities in India which together account for 80 percent of child prostitutes in the country. 90% of the 100,000 women in prostitution in Bombay are indentured slaves. In Bombay, 95% of the children of prostituted women become prostitutes. 60% of prostituted women in Bombay's red-light district areas are infected with STDs and AIDS. About 7,000 sex workers cross over from Nepal into India every year. Between 40 - 50% are believed to be under 18. India is one of the favored destinations of paedophile sex tourists from Europe and the United States. In December 1997, a nine-year-old girl from Pune was found living with a 54- year- old Swiss national in a Goa hotel. In 1990 an orphanage owner in Goa was arrested for allegedly supplying children to British, French, German, Swiss and Scandinavian prostitution tourists. A convicted British pedophile is resisting extradition to India to face charges of being part of the pedophile ring that sexually abused and tortured children in a Goa orphanage between 1986 and 1992.
The Indian government has filed an appeal in Britain for the extradition of Raymond Varley to face charges of sexual offences against children in Goa. His lawyers claim he will commit suicide if he is returned to India and that he cannot stand trial as he suffers from memory loss and dementia. Indian and British activists are horrified that Varley, who has previous convictions for abusing children, may avoid trial after he manages to get a neuro-psychologist,  chosen by himself, to testify that he suffers from dementia.
Kerala, Goa, and other tourist destinations are hot-spots for western pedophiles, offenders who often escape to their own countries with impunity. 
Meanwhile, the Indian government has introduced the tourist visa on arrival enabled with Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) for travelers from 43 countries in November, 2014. “This will enable Kerala to receive more overseas tourists in the coming years,” says A.P Anilkumar, minister for Tourism in a recent NEWS report. Perhaps the Minister, like many others, values tourism above human issues, unaware of the irreparable and irreversible damages it causes that may be conveniently pushed to his fellow-minister from the crime desk to handle along with the blame.

The Process of Commodification
Commodification usually happens as a process for a natural attribute-traditional, natural or human-to undergo transformation.
Like the commodification of a dance for instance… what once was seen as a powerful exultation of the soul to rhythm and was immersed in traditions of honour and revered with sacredness-that required years of practice to reach a certain level of perfection to be admired as a cultural expression-today, stands commodified to the viewer’s requirements. There is a visible shift of focus from the dancer to the viewer, from the stage to the audience and from traditional command to monetary demand.
Today, non dancers in elaborate clothes and more than required layers of paints on their body with absolutely no skill are available for a cheaper rate to a bargaining audience waiting for experiences in packages to fill the spots of traditional dancers. A time when one witnesses a compromise of culture and traditions to mint more profit by tactfully reducing costs and by increasing supplyto meet the demand; the shift thus consequently exuberates a business model replacing a traditional pride.
This is how attributes are realized, tapped, customized and rationed to the customer’s demands-dance, tradition, culture, ecosystem, business, humans and even our way of life. And this is how commodification begins the moment the focus shifts from a natural, free-flowing attribute and changes to fit into a constructed, restrictive business model.

Commodification and its Effect
Land is no longer the source of food and shelter, but the source of money and is seen as a ‘real estate’-and by doing so, we choose to see it as a commodity and distance ourselves from it rather than see it as a sustainer of life and learn to live closer with nature and what is natural. It is often a questionable irony that water considered scarce in certain areas and often unavailable to the natives even for basic daily needs, is found flowing in abundance in swimming pools, jacuzzis and towering fountains in a hotel, spa or resort in the same area for anyone who can pay a price. 
Beautiful areas, once sacred are now the sites of expensive hotels, spas and resorts; coastal areas which supported the livelihood of fishermen are getting converted to domains for recreational activities such as sunbathing, open air pubs, surfing, jet skiing and any other silly adventure sports. In the name of establishing Coastal Regulation Zones (CRZ) for the safety of the fisherman, he along with his tools, home and family has been forcefully evicted from the beach and the stolen spaces have been handed over to giant corporates to set up hotels, spas and resorts-just as tribals are forcefully evicted from the forests for corporate houses to build tree houses, game reserves and jungle cottages in a pretext to encourage sustainable tourism or like when a farmer loses his fertile agricultural land that soon gets converted to an airport or a golf course with a helipad in a pretext to develop a commercial infrastructure for economic development or like how coconut trees are cut from beaches in the pretext of clearing grass (apparently coconut tree is technically only a (tall) grass as the Goan government recently figured out) to provide accessibility for the tourism industry and hotel lobbyists to expand-seems like spaces considered unsafe for the ordinary becomes safe haven for the wealthy just with a change of policy and lobbying at the right places and at certain levels.
The very way of life changes all stakeholders after this point when a business model takes over and dictates life in strategies and operations and brings it to a question of survival. For displaced people like our fisherman for instance, even access to beaches near these newly established infrastructures is strictly regulated or more often denied. In the context of developing/promoting tourism the tourist spot goes through environmental modification and landscaping, wherein a quest to profit maximization makes even a small group of competing elite to establish their tourism-based business excluding their own community to make space for alien, distant and foreign visitors in the process. Perhaps, the displaced fisherman without a livelihood will be invited with his family to sing a song of their misery to entertain the foreign audience staying in these hotels and that too for a bargain.
Governments seem to be more concerned with the right to economic development over the rights of the individual, especially if the individual in question is poor and powerless. With an obligation to fulfill their responsibility to promote tourism and other forms of economic developments in the state, they comfortably forget or conveniently forego their obligation to protect the (human) rights of the people often violated during course of such hasty developments.

The Process Continuum
Development of tourist superstructures, such as hotel facilities and entertainment also eventually becomes supporting factors for certain practices to emerge like smuggling, gambling, drugs, prostitution, trafficking, bonded labour, slavery, child labour, land grabbing, mafia, crime and other allied serious social-legal disturbances. It often has been observed that in tourism, civil and political rights along with socio-economic and cultural rights are not always respected. People's dignity and privacy is disrespected when even loss, vulnerability and suffering of certain indigenous groups are optimized for building business opportunities in the name of tourism. For instance, when disruption and loss were made ‘exhibits’ for attracting tourists when communities were affected by tsunami in South India or when communities were affected by war in the North and East of Srilanka in the advent of a recently developed concept called ‘disaster tourism.’ This phenomenon may also be blamed for the delay in establishing progressive settlements, delay in rebuilding, reconstruction, rehabilitation and reconciliation and for delayed justice at the end of the day for the so affected communities.
Tourism as an industry, an alternative and altered way of life, is evoked to fill the unemployment lines within the state in an attempt to cover up unavailable social security, by promoting the hotel and tourism industry. Increasingly, many natives fall for this trap to convert skills, traditions, customs and nature to money-making ventures, not by choice but out of economic necessity. It is also a paradox to witness that the so called ‘lucrative’ tourism sector with ever-growing opportunities, is also a low-paying service industry that, no matter how huge the numbers of tourists, it always generates low-paying jobs. Consequently, many think of tourism as the only employment opportunity and are trapped by the lack of alternatives having invested in haste a far vaster deal than they can retrieve from the sector.

Impacts of Tourism
To consolidate the impact of tourism, we find it crossover into the following three arenas:
Socio-Cultural
On one hand, tourism is said to generate positive impacts by serving as a supportive force for peace-building by making people open to invite and accept varied cultures, fosters pride in their own cultural traditions and helps in creating jobs; while on the other, the socio-cultural impacts of tourism due to direct and indirect relations with tourists and the tourism industry in the host country cannot be denied. Host communities often are the weaker party in the bargain with their guests and service providers, leveraging any influence they might have on them. The impacts arise when tourism brings about changes in value systems and behaviour and thereby threatens indigenous identity, community structures and traditional life styles.
Environmental
On one hand, tourism has the potential to raise awareness of environmental values and it can serve as a tool to finance protection of nature as the quality of the environment, both natural and man-made, is essential for the growth of tourism; while on the other, tourism's relationship with the environment is complex and involves many activities that can have adverse environmental effects. Many of these impacts are linked with the construction of general infrastructure such as roads and airports, and of tourism facilities, including resorts, hotels, restaurants, shops, golf courses etc. The negative impacts of tourism development can gradually yet systematically destroy the environmental resources and the stakeholders on whom it depends.
Economic
On one hand, the tourism industry generates substantial economic benefits to both the host as well as the tourists' home countries. One of the primary motivations for a region to promote itself as a tourism destination is the expected economic improvement it is perceived to bring in; while on the other, tourism does not come without a cost for the countries to bear. Land grabbing and illegal eviction of the natives, prostitution and trafficking, pedophilia and rape, smuggling and drugs, mafia and increase in crime rate are associated costs that tourist destinations are destined to bear-a counter cost that falls ultimately on the government and on the people who pay the taxes. 

Postlude
Catching up on the prelude and attempting to be self-critical before others mock at us and shame us, wouldn't it be ideal to stop and think, think for a moment if the image of the country that MF Hussain had portrayed wouldn't be the ideal picture to depict what the country is going through at present(?) with all the scams, corruption, environmental depletion, price hikes and inflation, Rupee's plunge, cover-up politics, silencing-counter-politics, poor performance at international conventions, shameful heads hanging in the human rights courts, unattended development issues and equally ignored issues relating to health, education and justice present in our country... and everything and everything more you can add to the list till the line runs through you like the spear to squeeze those final drops as our heads get turned towards an idea called tourism to distract us with a false hope in an attempt to divert our attention and nothing less by keeping us entertained to expect an unexpected rain that is going to shower in the desert. 

At this point, the following lines of a novelist from God’s own country comes to my mind. She said:
“Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness – and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe.
The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling – their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability. 
Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them. 
Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” 
                                                                                                            Arundhati Roy in War Talk
 
Let the Gods and Goddesses (if any or in absentia) save God’s own country from this illusion-one more ‘ism’-called tourism.

Note: Based on a paper presented at a National Tourism Conference in Kerala

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

First Message To IFSW

'Professionalism'-a buzz word that moves the moment one even dares to think of "Social Work". The moment this word (somehow) kicks in, the market gets filled with ideas, ideologies, principles, values, ethics, theoretical frameworks, practice models, competencies, networking, memberships, associations and so on... 

Talking from the point of view of an Indian Social Worker, its been 80 years since we brought in Social Work as a discipline into our universities-that is 11 years older than our country's independence that we received in 1947-yet, we have only done our bit, as individuals and more collectively as associations that have mushroomed all over India that hawkers memberships at different rates, to cripple the growth of Social Work as a profession rather than boost it in any form.

Think we are all confused. The higher we try to reach to the ones perched on top of these institutions and associations for clarity, the sooner we realize that the older and more confused they are who have learnt mute and pointless babbling as new languages. Often in the academia, we are asked to refer NASW for our code of ethics and every other detail connected therewith; after a point of time, we realize, NASW is so national by its limitation with no space to accommodate others that they leave us with space only to wonder, 'Why patronize them at all?!" Different schools of thought occupy the Indian scenario-perhaps like every other healthy democracy-we have the liberals to the conservative with the moderates in between wondering where to draw the line-like in politics, more so in Social Work. It took many of us a while to understand that Social Work is not (yet) a "professional" course in India (too) as it does not fit into the "professional" requirements other actually professional courses such as medicine, law or its allied courses mandates. Any Deepak, Rani or Chandru can be a Social Worker here unlike the Tom, Dick and Harry there. The associations are as confused as its members; there is neither a council nor a culturally-relevant locally and commonly agreed code of conduct or restrictive/promotive unit to monitor its practice. This as mentioned earlier, after 80 years of its existence. 

International organizations talking to a member of some God-forsaken association in India and feel a right to claim that they have associated with Indian Social Workers are so absolutely wrong. One organization or for that matter a bunch of their pseudo-collectives, DO NOT represent the collective Social Worker community from India. 

Where are we? 
Are other countries with us in this regard? 
What should we do that perhaps our seniors in the field have not done?

Kindly advice...   

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Federation Gives In

After paying the membership amount, after waiting for more than the required time for some action to confirm the membership, after requesting, reminding and even begging, and ending up with still no response-not even for courtesy's sake, finally International Federation of Social Workers responds and gives the membership. (After making me use the only language the world seem to understand these days... 'legal action'). 



Extremely glad that I was able to get an insight into the functioning of the lousiest, clumsiest and most disorganized organization I have ever seen. So now, I am officially a member of an organization that I don't personally care a damn about. Word of advice to my fellow Social Workers: 'Don't make the mistake I did. Stay out of this organization and save some money.'

Monday, February 15, 2016

What Colour Is The Soil In Munnar

A walk across the rusty hanging bridge
to sway from the new to the old.
A magical transformation
from fake to real.
More to revel,
as stories of tea and Munnar wait to be unveiled...
Margaret Bridge, Munnar
"What colour is the soil on which tea grows?" my Mom asked as we drove through Munnar, a mountain range converted to a tea estate by the British colonists in India. The rich beauty of the carefully arranged tea trees-row after row and plantation after plantation-overwhelms even the hardest of senses. The crisp, thin air and the clear water below must infact make your heart skip a beat or two. My Mom happens to be more of a British adorer-a rung higher than a sympathizer; perhaps comes with her being a person with a bias-having taken English literature as her academic pursuit.

My Mom had a reason to ask me that question this time; for she was a witness during the times the great whites packed up their stuff to leave the country after 335 glorious years of their ravishing tenure in India. She has always insisted that the Brits have to be thanked for signs like the rail tracks and road ways-laid by them that have fueled economic growth-which if had been done by Indians, thanks to our bureaucracy, redtapism and corruption connected therewith, we never would have managed such a feat. 

This is where we begin to argue; for I see the railway tracks and every other monumental feat left behind by the Brits-the tracks and the cracks-a joint symbolic display of British (ill)governance and East India Company's dirty game on unsuspecting, innocent and a careless crowd-the natives of the land. Every rail track that was laid can be traced from the spot where the Brits found a fancy for something and anything they considered wealth that could be exploited and looted to the nearest port from where it could be boxed and shipped to her majesty's service straight to the white man's shore. All 33 and a half decades of wealth, human lives and innocence-spotted, looted and packed to be shipped-for which we as natives on whose back the dirty empire rode, even considered it our obligation to pay for their stray stay and upkeep while they were here to loot us; we even learnt to wave and say, "Thank you! please..." like a commission-earning pimp in a tourist spot. 

All of a sudden, to hear this question of what colour is the soil in Munnar to come from my mother, made me wonder if she was (finally) beginning to see the substratum buried beneath these beautiful fields that held stories of horror and barbarism waiting to be unearthed to let the ghosts of the air howl their stories to fill the misty mountains... once in a while. 

Today, when one walks past the little town of Munnar amidst its tea estates in plenty, buses with boards in the vernacular (Malayalam) that ply tourists who land for guided tours and to sip their chilled beer in the comforts of a chillier cold, walk past government buildings with name boards in the vernacular (in Malayalam and Tamil too) with hoisted red flags that sway with passive aggression. The aggravates of the tension in the air is smothered by the presence of local commercial establishments like the wayside eateries, taxi and auto-wallas, lodges and hotels that depends solely on the influx of the crowd of tourist. Early in the morning, armouring the heavy chill, a bunch of tourists drip in everyday. They are feast to the eye for the handicraft shop owners and the masseur and masseuse in massage parlors who have mastered the art of squeezing someone (literally) to earn their living. Today every brown man in Munnar owning a commercial establishment waits for a 'Cha'ip' (a white man) or a 'Madaam'may' (a white lady)-as he was taught to call-to earn back every penny they looted. Miles and years to go before that can be done to tally the account. Yet, it moves...

However, the question still remains, ''What colour is the soil that lies beneath the tea estates anyways?!''   

To be continued... 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Can Social Work Be Licensed In India

The Two Requirements to get a Social Work license in the West as I understand (with my limited perspective) are:
1. Formal Social Work Education (A promotive strategy)
2. Test for Licensing (A restrictive strategy)

Though I was worried about the latter, it seems like we have both working in India at present. UGC's NET is considered a test accepted by the Indian Government to test people for academic as well as (now) in non-academic recruitment drives too.

I am sure you would have read the headlines about 'A recent recruitment drive by Indian Oil Corporation that made NET crucial.'
NEWS: "Indian Oil Corporation is recruiting officers in marketing and human resource management. The written test for the selection process will be through University Grant Commission National Eligibility Test (UGC-NET) examination, conducted by Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) on behalf of the UGC." (Source: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/education/story/indian-oil-recruitment-through-ugc-net-december-2014/1/398201.html)

With the two strategies in place and existing already, there would be no need to reinvent the wheel; and with no need for a new system to be formed I really don't realize why there must be a delay in 'licensing' being made compulsory and with immediate effect. There should be comfortably no delay in declaring professionals with MSW and with NET as licensed Social Workers. All we would need after that is a stamping authority to declare the same; that can be worked out signing an MoU with IFSW or any such bodies by making it clear to them about this scenario present within their disposal in India.

Ofcourse there will be objections that can be expected as in any restrictive practice; perhaps people in India know better that passing the NET will not be as easy as passing MSW once this idea is enforced. As for consensus in this regards, it is a fact that those who do not get through the restrictive strategy, will find a way to oppose the existing option and will divulge in the pretext of finding alternatives.

Now since we are used to copying models and systems directly from the West (At times with little or no relevance to our country), if these criteria are the ones we need to make Social Work a licensed professional practice in India, it is only a matter of time that we need to make this a reality by working on it fast and expose IFSW to this option already available and install a stamping authority to further move this cause. Seems as simple as that.

May be after my (ongoing) trial to include Social Work as an optional subject in UPSC, licensing Social Work with the available options must be my next attempt. What say folks?!...

In the mean time, I also need to think:
1. Is a foreign degree in Social Work acceptable for a personnel to be employed in India to practice? When it is not possible the other way around quoting irrelevance and the need to adhere to passing local tests and exams.
2. Is a foreign degree in Social Work acceptable for a personnel to teach in the Indian academia? When it is not possible the other way around quoting irrelevance and doubting our capability.
3. Can a foreigner be allowed to continue to work as a Social Worker in India?! Esp. without the knowledge of the local customs or language (criteria used to test us if we plan to go to a foreign land) and/or without undergoing a security check or signing child/elderly/gender protection policies and/or without a need to adhere to any eligibility criteria put forth as policies esp. Universities?
4. Can foreign interns who come on 'volunteer tourism' be provided tourist visas for their academic pursuits in India when the same possibility is not extended for an India intern?
5. Why is Social Work syllabus offered by different Universities different? Then how can we claim that we are professionally prepared to be the same when the foundations of our syllabuses aren't?!
6. Can those who are trained in a discipline in a University by unqualified personnel (who have not met certain standards in qualifying to be employed like NET, PhD etc.) be accepted as 'trained' professionals? Shouldn't they be disqualified automatically?
7. What must be the penalty for institutions who destroy a profession and student lives by recruiting trained yet unqualified workforce be?

Friday, January 15, 2016

Social Work Petition In The NEWS

NEWS about the appeal to UPSC demanding recognition and inclusion of Social Work as a subject has started hitting the media; and I'm just too glad :)

NEWS in Daijiworld: Social Workers have sent a petition to UPSC for inclusion of social work as an optional subject in civil exams... Click here to read the NEWS

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Whats In An Identity

Today's Hindustan Times reads, "An Italy senator said on Tuesday Massimiliano Latorre, one of the two Italian marines accused of killing two Kerala fishermen in 2012, will not return to India after being allowed to go home temporarily for medical treatment. Latorre’s deadline to return to India expires on Friday." ( Source: http://www.hindustantimes.com/india/italy-says-marine-charged-with-killing-fishermen-won-t-return-to-india/story-H4twrRJVp17ZadVRgBVxbL.html ) as on 13th Jan, 2016, 0915hrs. 


Arundhati Roy=Indian Writer, 
Vidya Balan=Indian Actress, 
KR Narayanan=Indian President, 
KJ Yesudhas=Indian Singer, 
PT Usha=Indian Athlete, 
KG Balakrishnan=Indian Chief Justice, 
M Fathima Beevi=First Woman Indian Chief Justice, 
Aryabhatta=Indian Astronomer, 
Adi Sankara= Indian Social Reformer, 
Kamala Das=Indian Poet/Novelist, 
Shobana= Indian Dancer/Actress, 
John Abraham= Indian Actor, 
Raja Ravi Varma= Indian King/Painter, 
Shiny Wilson=Indian Runner, 
VP Sathyan=Indian Football Team Captain... 


Interestingly did you realize that all these great ones are also "Keralites"?! When it comes to violence against fishermen along the 'Indian' coastal line, in the South'Indian' states, how come we refer to them as "Kerala", "Tamil Nadu" fishermen and so on and try to make it a state-specific issue and move it away from being a national-level concern? 

Why is it that one gets garlanded with a national identity when successful while at the same time manages to get a state-segregated identity when one is a poor farmer or a fisherman subjected to systematic violence, oppression and injustice? Just ASKing... 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Like A Boss

As far as I am concerned, foul words do come way too easily for me; yet, the Bard, beats me square with these lines like a Boss:

“A knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats; a
base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited,
hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave; a
lily-livered, action-taking knave, a whoreson,
glass-gazing, super-serviceable finical rogue;
one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a
bawd, in way of good service, and art nothing but
the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pandar,
and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch: one whom I
will beat into clamorous whining, if thou deniest
the least syllable of thy addition.” 



Said William Shakespeare in King Lear; Not I. No wonder this bugger is a literary genius. 

Friday, January 8, 2016

Hurt Yet Not Retired

Its interesting to see that very often we end up expecting others, maybe another individual or another institution or another organization or another association-to do what we can do ourselves. There is always the some 'other' who thinks the same way too. And at the end of the day noone does anything.

As soon as this petition was started, the 'Indian Frog' theory once again surfaced; there have been discussions about why this move was not initiated through some of the associations or through some of the so called 'established' bodies and I found blockades and subtle threats coming my way quoting some unknown reason to pull a leg rather than offer support or a gentle lift forward. For some reason, it was felt that rather than being a flimsy sleeping dog or a clumsy barking dog, a bite is required at times to establish one's presence and ascertain an identity. Perhaps just tired sleeping and barking like many, something that takes just two minutes to sign and show a presence that could deliberate action could be done through this collective initiative and hence this 'untitled' 'unnamed' 'common' petition which I think is the best way forward in this issue.

Yet, I wish there could be a better representation. Could we just make an attempt to promote this link? Not just in words or discussions or any other thing that diverts us from this cause yet to move others closer into signing this petition and reaching a dignified number (God knows how much!) and move this endeavour closer to success...

Kindly reach this link to others to get the support we require to get UPSC to include Social Work as an optional subject in the civil exams.

Click here to sign the petition demanding UPSC to include Social Work as an optional subject in the civil exams

Thank You.