G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

W H Auden: "But in my arms till break of day / Let the living creature lie. / Mortal, guilty, but to me/ The entirely beautiful."

Werner Herzog: “We are surrounded by worn-out, banal, useless and exhausted images, limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Art Spiegelman: "You know words in a way are hitting you on the left side of your brain, music and visual arts hit on the right side of the brain, so the idea is to pummel you, to send you from left brain to right brain and back until you're as unbalanced as I am."

विलास सारंग: "संदर्भ कुठलेही असोत, संस्कृत, इंग्रजी, बुद्धिवादी, तांत्रिक, इतिहासाचे, खगोलशास्त्राचे, आधुनिक पदार्थविज्ञानाचे, शिवकालीन व पेशवाईतील बखरीचे, अगणित ज्ञानक्षेत्रांचे, अशा वैविध्यपूर्ण ज्ञानावर लेखन- विशेषत: कवितालेखन- उभं राहत."

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Of Dying Kittens and Rajasthani Girls

For the past several weeks, two stray female kittens had made our home their playground. We fell in love with them. I was coming in close contact with a cat after almost 26 years. Before that Chintya, our pet cat, had given us a lot of pleasure and pain from circa 1969-1981.

One of the kittens has died since then.

I had been warning my family about chances of their survival in this cruel world. I said probability of them reaching child bearing age is much less than 50%.

I did not know this was true of Rajasthani girls too!

Rema Nagarajan (Times of India September 10, 2007) says:

“Nearly half of all female deaths in rural Rajasthan are of girls below the age of 20. The precise figure is 49.4%. Out of these, 42% of the deaths are of girls who haven't yet celebrated their fifth birthday. In short, a girl born in a Rajasthan village will have to be very lucky to grow up, marry, bear children — things that are taken fairly for granted in the modern world.

The shocking news doesn't end here. What's worse is that the situation is virtually the same for girls in most Hindi heartland states, including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. In UP, for instance, nearly half the female deaths in a year — 47%, to be precise — are of girls below 20 years. Bulk of these deaths are in rural areas.

What this really means is that the girl child is barely looked after. The first case of influenza or whooping cough, and there is a good chance that the girl child from these states will not be able to survive it. This tells a lot about the attitude towards females in these states. It also means that all the effort by the government to increase awareness about the girl child is hardly making a dent into deep-seated prejudices……”

However there is some good news too.

DONALD G. McNEIL Jr. (NYT September 13, 2007) says: “For the first time since record keeping began in 1960, the number of deaths of young children around the world has fallen below 10 million a year, according to figures from the United Nations Children’s Fund being released today.

This public health triumph has arisen, Unicef officials said, partly from campaigns against measles, malaria and bottle-feeding, and partly from improvements in the economies of most of the world outside Africa…..”

If we pay attention, we will hear Indian girl child telling us……….

Artist: Mike Twohy The New Yorker May 16, 1994