Friday, February 14, 2014

No money, no honey

A perfect card, a huge teddy, lots of chocolates and a bunch of fresh roses- this was the idea of a perfect Valentine’s date till the people in love started asking for more from their lovers and eventually from the gift shops.

This is not how the celebration of February 14 started. Its origins stem from fertility festivals of ancient Rome, when young women were not given candy or flowers. They were whipped with strips of animal hide because they believed that this would make them more fertile. A couple of centuries later, Christians celebrated a priest named Valentine, who secretly performed marriage ceremonies for soldiers when the emperor had forbidden it. By the 1400's Valentine's Day was firmly established in England.

Slowly and gradually the tradition changed and people became softer. Roses and chocolates started to substitute the whips. But now lovers almost strike gold on this day.

For chocolatiers, jewelers, hoteliers and greeting card manufacturers valentine’s day is like Christmas in February. The multi-million industry which is thriving on not only on the pocket of people but also on their minds, has been successful in creating a whole week of expressing love. Exquisite roses on rose day, foreign chocolates on chocolate day, teddy bears on teddy day have made room for expensive jewellery and exotic holidays on the V-day.

Another blot that this beautiful day has seen in the last few decades is that while many feel this is a harmless bit of fun, others find it an abhorrent craze, or worse still, a plot by multinationals to impose Western culture elsewhere and increase their sales. It has been reported that many people celebrate it because they don’t want to be seen as unromantic.

A study conducted by a Stanford professor has put the estimated expense on this year’s Valentine’s Day at $130 per person. This Valentine’s Day, enthusiasts are expected to spend more than $17.6 billion on romance-related goods, jewelry, cards, flowers and chocolates, a ten-year high. That’s not even the whole picture, when you include all the other things that go along with the “perfect” romantic experience: heart shaped doohickeys, fancy dinners, candle lit romantic massages for two, romantic getaways, puppies and couples counseling.

But for many it’s just annoying. People dislike how Valentine’s Day represents the commercialisation of relationships, dictating how people can demonstrate love, defining what ‘romance’ should be, and suggesting being loving during the 364 other days of the year isn’t important.

You love it or hate it but Valentine’s Day is a phenomenon that you can’t ignore it. Clearly, the economics of love is serious business.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Indian stocks await stable politics

In the last one year, Indian Stock Market has been like a topsy-turvy land. A land wherein on the one hand a single statement by the US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke could jolt the Indian economy like never before then on the other hand the dynamism of the newly appointed RBI Governor, Dr. Raghuram Rajan is standing tall like a wall in the way. It is not only economic instability that has rattled the nation but also political precariousness. As India goes to polls in April-May this year for the 16th Lok Sabha elections, it is very difficult to determine whether there  would be a stable government or not. This political uncertainty is making Indian Stock Market suffer. The general elections are happening at a time when the economic growth is at its all time lows and inflation is at its all time high, therefore it is very important to have a government which is capable of strengthening the confidence of not only the country but also of its (1)

While the Trade-Pandits are banking on the Bhartiye Janta Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi as “the Indian stock market's greatest hope” the current political scenario says that it is too early to decide it considering the performance of an year old Aam Aadmi Party in the Delhi elections. Modi has been presented by the BJP as the pro business future Prime Minister who comes with a proven business model. Both Rahul Gandhi and Arwind Kejriwal have failed to attract and convince investors. This was well reflected by the assembly elections results of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Chhattisgarh on December 9, 2013 when the markets jumped by 1.5 percent because of BJP leading the way. But one can’t ignore the fact that things don’t come easy and expected in India. Political instabilities have led to economic downturns and economic vulnerabilities have resulted in political crisis in the past. Whatever be the voter mood in the 2014 elections, the Indian market needs a stable government for a strong economy.

The unnatural ‘rights’ and wrongs

For the world the date was 11-12-13 but India was back to 1860s. The forenoon of December 13, 2011 will be remembered as one of the darkest hours of Indian judiciary. Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice Ganpat Singh Singhvi gave one of the most contradictory judgments by ‘setting aside’ Delhi High Court’s verdict of decriminalizing homosexuality.

Justice Singhvi, through his last judgment set the cogwheels rolling to the 19th Century which banned homosexuality as “against the law of the nature”. The judgment is being criticized for its logic.

Section 377 is an infringement of Article 14 of the Constitution which deals with the fundamental right to equality, Article 15 which deals with the fundamental right to non-discrimination and Article 21 which covers the fundamental right to life and liberty, including privacy and dignity. The judgment, in just one stroke, has turned millions of people into criminals who engage in consensual sex in the privacy of their homes.

A lot has been said about this judgment. Like one can’t bind love, or everybody has the right to choose his or her course of life. Innumerous questions have been raised on the equality of the LGBT community. But one of the biggest dangers is to the safety of the LGBT community.

We aren’t unaware of the cases of rapes, sexual assaults, extortions and other crimes against the community. Now that the risk has multiplied, the future of the community seems to be uncertain. Surprisingly the court is unmoved by the plight of the families whose members have suddenly turned into criminals if they express their love physically.

The inability to understand the essence of Section 377 is shocking. A closer look shows that the British imposed this because of the then prevailing Victorian beliefs. Sexual intercourse for the British was meant for begetting children and not for mere pleasure.

Thus, only penile vaginal intercourse was considered to be natural and any kind of penile non-vaginal intercourse was considered to be “unnatural” including penile oral and penile anal sex.

This lack of sensitivity towards a marginalised community puts at risk not only one community but also the value system of the society.  As the SC calls a section of society “unnatural” and snatches the Fundamental Rights from them because they are a “minuscule minority” the situation to me seems to be of absolute disdain. And what is more appalling is Supreme Court’s decision to not to re-consider the judgement. For some it is the age of wisdom but this judgment has made it an age of foolishness.