Whistleblower's musings... Then some trivia. Write to me at ranjanyumnam@gmail.com

Monday, October 24, 2005

Leave it to dad!

Brit fathers have become eligible for a six-month paternity leave. Do we need it too?

If all goes well, British workers can soon claim paternity leave as a part of the UK government's plan to move towards a more family-friendly work culture. According to the new proposal, slated to come into force by 2007, dads in the UK would get six months to look after their babies, if the mothers return to work early.

While the Brit dads have already earned a place by the newborn's cradle, Indian men are also asking for this right. Carrying the debate forward are media, blogs and informal forums: Do Indian dads also need a paternity leave? For how long?

Argues singer Palash Sen, a doctor by profession, "Men and women should not only share equal responsibilities for raising a child, but also make equal sacrifices on the professional front. Why should only women miss work and hamper their career prospects?"

According to experts, urban women are postponing having a child in order to pursue their careers. Boardroom battles are being fought by the fairer sex even as their biological clock ticks.

If paternity leave ever comes into force, especially in the private sector, men and women can share responsibilities between themselves and thereby not mar their career prospects.

"Other than career, it's also important that the new parents spend quality time with each other. It goes a long way in building a great rapport and strengthening familial relationships. When my child was born, I used to change diapers and take care of every little want of the newborn," says fashion designer Jatinn Kochchar.

Psychiatrist Samir Parikh agrees: "The father also goes through the same emotional stress and involvement as the mother during the pregnancy. And just after the delivery of the child, the mother needs more emotional support which her husband's presence can provide. At least three months' leave is necessary for the new father."

While workers may be happy with this idea, employers – especially those in the small enterprises – may not embrace it with open arms. "If male employees started taking leave for such a long duration, small firms will face serious labour shortage.

And since the number of male workers is much higher than the female workers, the claims for paternity leave will be unmanageable. A month or a few weeks is fine, but anything beyond that will cause a lot of confusion," says SR Singh, Head Consultant, Small Scale Enterprises, FICCI.

"Instead of long paternity leave, government and private companies should provide health-care and child-care facilities and other allowances. Paternity leave may be suitable in the context of UK where nuclear family is a dominant social norm, but it is too early to be implemented in India," he adds.

However, women's groups are all out in support of this proposal. Hailing it as a step in the right direction, they believe this will help in "equating the household.

We would certainly want such a labour proposal to become a statutory requirement in the private sector," says NK Bannerjee, Director, Center for Women's Development Studies.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

MSAD's Ching-Tam Musical Nite

Roop Raag's artistes descended on the DU campus and entertained thousands, leaving them asking for more…

Manipuri students in Delhi had one of their most memorable moments the other day — when Manipur Students Association of Delhi, MSAD brought to reality their most cherished desire: A musical night in which their homegrown filmstars and singers came down to Delhi and performed before a crowd of thousands. “It is an event that will go down in the history of NE students in Delhi, as it is the first time that they are getting to see their idols together on stage here. We have organised the musical concert not only to fulfil the popular demand of the students but also to make them relate to their roots,” says Seram Rojesh, president of MSAD.
If those were the intentions of the organisers, they were quite successful. Students putting up in different parts of Delhi turned up in full strength – most of them studying in Jawaharlal Nehru University, Jamia Millia Islamia and, ofcourse, Delhi University – to see their favourite stars. Hours before the show began, DU’s Police Ground, the venue of the programme, was packed to its capacity. One student said, “I have come here just to see Sadananda. He rocks.” The most well known actor-cumsinger didn’t disappoint and he did actually steal the scene with his foot-tapping and sentimental songs from his blockbuster movies. Though his movies have been traded among the students here, there was something special about his live performance. Students’ frenzy had reached such a climax that some of them jumped up on the stage to shake hands with him, before bouncers could come to the rescue of the startled star.
As the evening progressed and with more and more students thronging the venue, the event also doubled up as a place to find lost pals.
Besides Sadananda, other famous Manipuri singers like Ranbir Thouna, Roshibina, Umoni, Swamikumar and Nandeswari also captivated the students with vernacular songs that ignited nostalgia among the students. The extravaganza, titled Ching-Tam Musical Nite, meaning ‘unity in diversity’, continued till dawn even as sound of whistles, claps, dances and laughter reverberated through the cool and breezy moonlit night. Could they ask for more?
(Above: Screenshot of a newspaper coverage)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

‘Stars help create awareness for a cause’

PERIZAAD ZORABIAN, actor on celebrities endorsing social causes

You’re in Delhi to be part of a social cause. In between your shooting schedules, how do you find the time for all this?

I do manage to find the time because I’m deeply touched by the plight of special children. So, I try to help in raising funds for their welfare as often as I
can. Since my mother had worked
in schools that cared for special children, I have a certain affinity towards them.

But don’t celebrities often hog all the limelight, making the cause a secondary issue?

That’s not true. Since the masses idolise celebrities, they turn up to listen to them. And then follow the examples set by them.

Isn’t star endorsement of charities a Hollywood import?

Yes, if the stars are doing so to gain publicity. However, I’d say that one needn’t shout from rooftops about what they feel about a certain cause. These things come straight from the heart.

Tell us about your forthcoming Bollywood projects.

I am working in Ek Ajnabee which also stars Amitabh Bachchan and Arjun Rampal.

B(l)ooked your blog yet?

Blooker Prize, aims to reward ‘blooks’ — books printed from blogs

Move aside Man Booker Prize, it’s time now for the ‘Blooker’ award to take centrestage. A Blook is a book whose content was originally posted on a blog and the Blooker is an annual award to recognise the writing talent in the blogosphere.
Stephen Fraser of Lulu, the organisation behind the prize says, ‘‘Blogging represents a growing literary trend. Publishers have noticed it and are commissioning books based on material published on blogs.”
Prominent blogger Cory Doctorow (of BoingBoing) and a judge for the prize says that the yardstick for judging the blooks will be similar to those for normal books. “This includes looking for things that make a traditional book noteworthy, and, of course, a blog noteworthy,” he says.
Undoubtedly, the Indian blogosphere is abuzz with the news of the prize. Says Preeti Desai, president Internet and Mobile Association of India, ‘‘The Blooker will encourage bloggers to create quality content.’’
The prize will be an annual event and is expected to be announced next year.
The Clandestine Diary of an Ordinary Iraqi by Salam Pax: An account of Iraq’s US invasion
We The Media by Dan Gillmor: Story of a new emerging communication order
The Washingtonienne by Jessica Cutler: An account of the sexual exploits in Capitol Hill
Belle de jour by Anonymous: A callgirl’s account of her day-today life and intimate moments

In the lie(n) of duty...

Employees are coming up with imaginative excuses when it comes to taking a day off

HR managers, did you know that nearly 43 per cent of your workers have called in sick once with fake excuses during the last year? According to a recent survey by a career website, 23 per cent of employees who call in sick are doing so just to catch up on their sleep while 27 per cent voted Wednesday as the favourite day of the week to take a sick leave. Also 26 per cent of workers call in sick on weekends.
The big question is: Why do workers want to keep away from work? ‘‘Blame the management. Most workplaces have become unpleasant as the management emphasises on productivity rather than creativity,’’ says adman Prahlad Kakkar.
With the boom in the BPO sector and the service industry, there is no dearth of career choices but this doesn’t help. ‘‘In fact, a majority of employees in all sectors yearn for a career switch,” says Vandana Jain, CEO, Impact Management Consultants, a job placement agency. Psychiatrist Jitendra Nagpal feels the absenteeism of workers is because of work’s mechanical nature. ‘‘We have sacrificed our passion for work to earn big bucks, leading to depression and mental anguish.”
Bizarre excuses
‘‘I’m too drunk to drive to work.’’ ‘‘I accidentally flushed my keys down the toilet.’’ ‘‘I had to help deliver a baby on my way to work.’’ (employee was not in the medical profession) ‘‘I accidentally drove through the automatic garage door before it opened.’’ ‘‘I’m too fat to get into my work pants.’’ ‘‘I cut my fingernails too short,they’re bleeding and I have to go to the doctor.’’ ‘‘My son accidentally fell asleep next to wet cement in our backyard. His foot fell in and we can’t get it out.’’ ‘‘I was walking my dog and slipped on a toad in my driveway and hurt my back.’’

Monday, October 03, 2005

"Hockey suffers from a middle class image"

Vidya Stokes, President, Indian Women's Hockey Federation, on what ails Indian hockey.

Is women's hockey given a stepmotherly treatment in India?
That's true. Not only is the public apathetic to women's sports, even the government and media are indifferent to female players.

Why is our women's hockey team not consistent?
Our women's team is at par with the best teams worldwide. It is managed by professionals, there is transparency in team selection, and to keep players' preparedness at its peak, we organise national championships at the junior, sub-junior and senior levels. As a result of these developments, we'll see more consistency in the team's performance.

How can the standard be raised?
Indian players need more practice sessions. For this, we need training infrastructure like astro turf. Proper diet should be available to players. Besides, we need money for aspects like accommodation of players.

Why has there been a 9-year gap since the last Indira Gandhi International Gold Cup tournament for women?
Because we didn't have adequate infrastructure in Delhi and publicity-conscious sponsors insisted on supporting the event only if it was held in Delhi.