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.”

H. P. Lovecraft: "What a man does for pay is of little significance. What he is, as a sensitive instrument responsive to the world's beauty, is everything!"

Martin Amis: “Gogol is funny, Tolstoy in his merciless clarity is funny, and Dostoyevsky, funnily enough, is very funny indeed; moreover, the final generation of Russian literature, before it was destroyed by Lenin and Stalin, remained emphatically comic — Bunin, Bely, Bulgakov, Zamyatin. The novel is comic because life is comic (until the inevitable tragedy of the fifth act);...”

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."

Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”

विलास सारंग: "… . . 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."

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