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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Mother Of All Roll Models!

Women in today's world have created a distinct place for themselves. In India, women were respected even in ancient times. The Vedas and the epics have upheld the equality of men and women. During the medieval period, the position of women deteriorated. The dowry system, sati and veil system have downgraded woman. Crimes against women have taken varied forms. These include female feticide, dowry death, eve teasing, molestation, abuse at workplace, wife beating and rape. Violence against women and girls continues unabated in every continent, country and culture. It takes a devastating toll on women’s lives, on their families, and on society as a whole. It is a problem of pandemic proportions. At least one out of every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. Perhaps the most pervasive human rights violation that we know today, it devastates lives, fractures communities, and stalls development.

Despite all the legal advances, little has changed for women who report a rape, the crime no one understands, because in far too many instances, juries don't believe the crime exists. Jeffrey Marsalis has been charged in USA with rape 10 times but never convicted of that crime. This story is a warning to all women. The testimony of 10 women wasn't enough to get a single rape conviction against him. The outcome reveals a disturbing truth about the justice system, worldwide. The only solution to the problem lies in the strength of the victims, the women. A group of women formed an alliance in India to fight sex offenders on gender divided trains. Not only did these women form a group, but they armed themselves with bats and when the men would break in, they would beat the crap out of them! These are the women who really are the finest role models in today's world to fight crime against women. And if that is not enough of inspiration to deal with the deadly criminals, let the women look to the all powerful, Durga Maa. Durga manifests fearlessness and patience, and never loses her sense of humor, even during spiritual battles of epic proportion.

Goddess Durga is an awesome deity amongst the devout Hindus the world over, who, by Her raging demeanor brings even the worst evil-doer to the doorstep of justice. The divine exploits and magical powers of the Goddess are reserved for not only Her worshippers, but also for the poor who seek justice. In Hindu mythology, Durga is a fierce form of Devi, the Mother Goddess, the all-powerful almighty goddess. According to a legend the gods could not defeat the buffalo demon Mahishasur, who was threatening the existence of the universe. They begged Shiva for his assistance, and Shiva advised all the gods to release their shaktis. The shaktis of the gods emerged in female form. These goddesses fused together in blinding light from which arose a magnificent goddess with many arms. She was as beautiful as she was deadly. Durga was born fully-grown and is depicted as extremely beautiful and full of rage. The gods called this goddess Durga, the invincible one, and they armed her with all their weapons. Thus armed, Durga rode to the top of a mountain on a lion. In a bloody battle, she defeated Mahishasur and his army of demons and thus saved the Universe from this demon’s menace.

Two instances of women power in recent history are an example of Durga Maa's blessing on those who bravely fight the evil forces. Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi was probably the bravest of all the leaders who fought for India’s independence against the mighty British. She died in battle as she led the Indian mutiny in 1857, the first armed uprising against British rule. Lakshmibai's courage, strength, and ability as she valiantly fought the British army's vastly superior forces, are remembered to this day. Indira Gandhi, one of the best-known women of the 20th century, was Prime Minister of India, and daughter of former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Her leadership qualities came to the fore during India-Pakistan war in 1971 that resulted in liberation of Bangladesh. India achieved decisive victory over Pakistan in the face of diplomatic opposition from both China and the United States and a lack of international support from almost every other nation except the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc countries. Indian victory over Pakistan led to a great surge in Indira Gandhi's popularity and she was compared to Goddess Durga by ordinary Indians.

On this Women's Day 2009, let all women look to Durga Maa as the mother of all roll models.


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