Sunday, November 7, 2010

Welcome Letter to Mr Obama

Welcome to India Mr Obama, we simply love you like the way we loved Mr Bush, Mr Clinton….Mr Nixon and rest of them. Even though you will leave in the next 2-3 days Prannoy, Barkha, Arnab, Rajdeep, Sagarika and Vikram will ensure that you will stay in our living rooms for the next 10 days. We will get the breaking news of what you said, what you did not, what you ate, what you did not, what you are wearing and what you are not…etc etc.

Bad entry, you spoilt the Diwali for the Mumbaikars…but both MNS and the Shiv Sena decided to forgive you this time as they are glad that your team rubbed the CM & Dy CM on the wrong side even before you landed….it saved you from the trouble of making your speech in Marathi. I am sure the ‘Old Tiger’ will be glad to share his bathroom with you like he did with MJ for pronouncing Dharavi properly and referring Mumbai as ‘Incredible Mumbai’, because he has been trying to tell the Ministry of Tourism that it’s not Incredible India its Incredible Mumbai as for him Mumbai is India.

If you are feeling home sick and missing the great bashing by the stronger Republicans back home don’t worry right after your Taj emotional athyachar speech BJP has ensured that you don’t miss home. As you rightly said both US & India are the largest democracies in the world and we have a lot in common, including the opposition and unexpected election results. I humbly request you not to take offence of Mr Rudy’s direct remarks on you, BJP was just trying to put its best man forward, you can check with your TV monitoring staff, he never dresses in a suit for a press conference and he is the only young and good looking BJP leader.

You must also realize that Sena was happy that you called Mumbai incredible, you won over the Congress by referring to Nehru, you spoke about the brave cops and many other, but you did not say a word that touched BJP in your speech, trust me if you had just said hey Ram that would have been enough, next time please tell your speech writer from Bangalore not to miss out on anyone, representation is very important.

But I must thank you for visiting the Mani Bhavan where Mahatma spent some quality time and even inspired Martin Luther, its good once in a while to remind us about our Mahatma, also Gandhi story really sells. Did you watch the super hit Munna Bhai? maybe you should give up beating up countries and start giving them Jadhu ki japi or even start sending flowers to Taliban till the time they vacate Afghanistan.

Many of us are upset that you did not mention Pak-is-tan in your ma(i)de(i)n speech, maybe in India we did not realize that you-are-tan..oops was that a racist comment sorry!! We see things differently in the Asia for eg Afpak in India means you get only 10 cigarettes to smoke, Pak in Pakistan means Pakistan, America and Kashmir, Arunachal Pradesh means Tibet in China, you see we are all part of very old rather 5000 year old civilization after all.

I particularly like the fact that you are here to fill vacancies in the great US, I thought you were anti-outsourcing, but if you want us to hire people for you we will be glad to do that too. But just wondering if you are putting all your eggs in Indian basket? We already run your banks, software, websites, school tuitions, hospitals, shops, politics etc it’s just we do not want to be called a monopoly on a later date.

Our Harvard, Wharton, Silicon Valley returned and Desi business leaders seem to be very impressed by your long well rehearsed, flawless sales pitch, must say that they have not been used to it at all, they have generally been told what to do and what not to do by the politician in this part of the world. It looked like a welcome change; they seem to be soaking it up before you land in Delhi with a different agenda or a changed tone given that you are also a politician and your party has just got crushed in the mid-term polls.

You have brought in many business leaders from US to sell their products in India and to attract Indian investment in US, dangling a carrot of opening up imports and high-end technology to India. Sure we will export fresh fruits, vegetables, grains to the aging Americans whom you are struggling to keep alive and in return you can shove the Coke, Pepsi, McDonald, KFC etc etc down the throats of our young kids who are really the future of the great American economy. About Indians investing in US don’t you worry, the accumulation of the gold owned by middle class Indian exceed the gold reserve of US treasury, so we have a lot of ‘faltu’ money in our lockers, but don’t complain on a later date that we are controlling your economy like we already do in UK, buggers are now realizing how it feel to be colonized.

There are many who are very critical of your sales pitch, they tell me that you are playing for the galleries in US, and that your speech was for the Americans and not us, it’s ok we get to experience the same all the time out here, we never understand whom our politicians are talking to or talking about all the time. You signed 20 deals worth $10 billion that will create 50000 jobs in America, but you did not mention how many years will it take to create those 50000 jobs? Good you did not, it’s just two more years for the election dude don’t screw up your chance of being re-elected, knowing our and your bureaucracy these 50000 jobs could take 50 years and the American people are not in a state to hear that, no way. Simple call it the Diwali gift for the Americans as Diwali keeps comes every year.

Is it right that your visit is costing the US tax payer $ 900 million, and people back in US are asking if this visit was needed when the unemployment rate is at 10%, and your rating is at the lowest? Hmmm if you get SRK and Mrs Obama to dance to Bollywood songs I assure you that 100% of the Indian-Americans will be with you and that can swing the rating in your favor. Also try to influence your market research organizations to run popularity ratings survey online, we will ensure that Catherine, Liz, Anna, John, Ben from Bangalore vote for you, they too are trying to save their jobs you see and would not mind voting in your favor.

If nothing works on the job front may be its time you implement MGNREGA, you can still keep the same name and just remove rural since you consider Mahatma Gandhi as your Hero. You can get all the information from our MGNREGA champion Mr Rahul Gandhi, I am sure you will be meeting him since you are meeting his mother, kids stay with their parents out here in India. It’s important to meet the BJP president Mr Gadkari too, in case its missed out of your itinerary, don’t be overwhelmed by his enormity, he has been our undisputed ‘Biggest Loser India’ ever since. Its politics and you never know when the BJP will be back in power, maybe will be good to meet them before Mr Gadkari takes them back to the good old size 6 or may be 4.

Are you wondering why I have not mentioned anything about our great PM, you know him very well, you have already met him six times, he really looks up to you for support and kind words. He does not mind being looked down at, he is used to it, everyone in the opposition always looks down upon him, but we the citizens don’t care, we are happy that our PM is one of the most educated and brilliant minds, he is the inspirations to all our young people he is too keen to handover the PM‘s job to the next baba. Hmm I know what you are thinking….we can’t outsource our PM’s job to US it will be too costly we have cheap options.

On the lighter note, heard that some people were not happy that Mrs Obama visiting the red light area, simply ignore it, even our cricket team captain MSD did, since she danced for our Bollywood music we will not tell anyone not even Mr Clinton.

Kindly note, Indian press is giving you a lot of air time and space does not really mean that you can take them for granted; they understand politics and politicians very well, so watch what you speak or say, they can be very nasty like your channels back home. If Arnab calls you on his show don’t say no, just say Time(i)(s)now to go, NDTV thinks you are the President of India, now that you have mentioned your daughter would like to know more about the save Tiger campaign Vikram must have already taken a flight to meet her. Be assured that Sagarika has not put on that extra make-up and draped in a jazzy sari just for you, she always dresses like that. If Rajdeep is interviewing you please mention that cricket is a great game and that IBN is really the number one news channel in India. Don’t ever accept an invite to be interviewed by Karan Thapar, you will be impeached even before you go back home.

Lastly, Bangalore visit was removed from your itinerary; I totally understand dude, the city is already hearing enough from the Americans on a daily basis and they may recognize your voice. But I should not forget to mention that you really missed the guided temple tour by our CM, tips on the best way to perform black magic, how to get god’s blessing for America and the great opportunity to learn how to convert Republican senators to Democrats back home.

Aatithi devo bhava, once again welcome to India, enjoy your stay in India, after a long time we get to see a tall dark and handsome politician.

- Kavitha Reddy

Saturday, November 6, 2010

ಜಯ ಭಾರತ ಜನನಿಯ ತನುಜಾತೆ

Vandalizing the advertising boards that were in English, senselessly destroying the hoardings that would have cost advertisers lakhs of rupees is how some of the so called pro-Kannada activists decided to celebrate the 54th the grand birthday of Karnataka, also some intellects decided to celebrate the Karnataka day by calling for black-out of non-Kannada movies, all of these mostly rather only in Bangalore!!

Watching these ugly and totally dis-appropriated scenes on TV left me with nothing but outrage, wondering when will we stop this nonsense and start looking within. The barbaric, senseless attention seeking so called Kannada activist have no right to speak for Kannada by causing damages to others hard earned property.

What is the fuss about the language? Karnataka has been the epitome of amalgamation of various cultures and languages; we proudly speak of our diversity. Our tourism campaign is “One state many worlds”, we are one of the few states that has many of its own languages (Kannada, Urdu, Tulu, Konkani, Kodava Takk).

Few years ago I met a Canadian who had visited a shop on MG road, she told me that she was bargaining on the price of a brass idol and in the process discussed with her friend who was with her on the final price they should buy the idol for in French, after more bargain the shop keeper quoted the same price in English. While packing the idol the shop keeper spoke to the two ladies in fluent French leaving them totally stunned. For me this represents the true spirit of Bangalore and the very soul of Karnataka, we as people from Bangalore represent the modern India, the India of opportunities and the true global India.

Bangalore is the ONLY city in the world where a traveler or a citizen can speak most of the Indian and many of the foreign languages and we should never be ashamed of our strength. We should never sabotage our spirit in the name of Kannada, no one owns Kannada we are only the mere representatives of the language and not the language ourselves. Drunken driving can never be the reason to ban cars; we need to look within, we cannot ban the personal choice of communication because it’s not in Kannada.

Today representation of a language is not just in books or literature work it is also in very popular media of movies, internet and music. Where do we stand in this popular media, has one heard the names, dialogs, the lyrics, the content of our Kannada movies and programs!! How do one even related to these atrocious and ridicules usage of Kannada in the most popular media. Why are these Kannada activists not raising their voices on the brutal act on the language in the popular media instead of targeting the boards or malls or offices?

People like Narayana Murhty, Nandan Nilekini have globalised Karnataka; once a lesser heard Bangalore is today the city that gets mentioned by even the President of USA as a city that has changed the face of business worldwide. All this would not have happened if we were not enterprising and were not truly multi-lingual. Today countries with rigidity on language like Russia, China, France etc are moving towards being multilingual, what is the need for us to step back?

My mother tongue is Telgu, I am a Kannadiga by birth, I studied Kannada as my 1st language, my renowned Kannada Mastru Vasudev Ballal also thought me slokas in Sanskrit, encouraged me to take Hindi exams and made me read Shakespeare, beautifully narrated William Wordsworths poems and cracked jokes on me in Telgu. I have always believed that the more languages you know the better it is, language like civilization changes constantly imbibing the goodness of other languages and influencing its greatness on other languages.

Let’s not forget that our state song starts with Jaya Bharata Jananiya Tanujate....we are part of a large country with amazing diversity. Kannada literary works has won the most number of Jnanpith awards, hence let us not make fun of Kannada by these trivial acts of self-proclaimed activism which in fact has no purpose or agenda or even a clear plan to promote the language of Kannada.

As true Kannadigas we should not let our language to be represented by forceful, violent and undignified behavior of the so called self-proclaimed activist. No language is or can be an enemy of the other; it’s our failure to promote Kannada as a language of peace, acceptance and richness and it’s our responsibility to revive the language to its glory in a civilized way. We truly need to introspect on how we can make Kannada a language of ‘Choice’, let us also leave the choice of becoming part of a community and political process by shedding the ‘outsider tag’ and learning to speak Kannada is to the citizens.

If the government is unable to ban these ill-ideology outfits then they should at least crack them down with penalty to every penny they destroy in the name of the language. Forcing anyone to speak any specific language is against the freedom of expression and is against the very roots of our constitution and our democracy.

- Kavitha Reddy

Friday, September 10, 2010

Caste (A)way

End of 2011 India would have collected the data of the castes of its citizens; hot debate on caste based census was almost like a storm in a cup. Many of you who are reading this may not agree with the view but it’s time to call ‘spade a spade’. Sitting in the comforts of our living rooms and calling ourselves global citizens or being idealistic does not change the fact that the poverty in this country is linked to caste. If drunken driving is no reason to ban cars then the argument on caste census becoming a tool for minority or caste politics etc etc is trivial.

For sake of argument which country in the world does not ask your caste, which political party in this world does not address the vote bank? In the recent UK elections a person from Indian origin was given a ticket to contest from a constituency that had Asian majority. US can intellectually call it ethnic groups etc etc, it all leads to one single thing, ‘who were you born as’. Let's cut the bullshit of religion, caste, ethnic groups etc etc being irrelevant in the economic surge or political process.

If we accept that there is a problem then it’s easier to find a solution, hence let’s get the fact right, there is a pattern to poverty in India and that has to do with caste. 25 years of well run literacy program has still left us with 37% poverty (even though I disagree on the 37%, as the urban poor are different from rural poor). The ideological view of ‘literacy for all’ rhetoric has not changed the fact that the female feticide is the highest among the educated urban class, so leave alone it being ‘the plan’ for poverty reduction.

People from certain castes and certain religion have been left behind in the India growth story. If we have to address the 37% poverty and 35% illiteracy, then there is a genuine need to understand the social fabric of hungry India. The fear of politicians manipulating the vote bank or data leading to more reservation etc are petty issues compared to the larger need of creating a non-intimidating atmosphere, empowering every section of the society, inclusiveness in our growth process and finally not just creating opportunities but creating options to every single Indian.

As a country we are growing younger, which only mean we will have more ‘young and restless’, and large part of the younger population demographically are in this 37% population that is under poverty. If we do not identify and engage them rightly, as a nation we will be left with a lot on our plate to deal with. Today the only caste difference we want to recognize is the rich and the poor or the urban and rural, in this lopsided view we are missing the disease and are only treating its symptoms.

Our shining examples of people from the backward caste making it in life comes with the reality that they have worked harder than their counterparts from forward caste, and for some reason we seem to be very ok with them working harder. Did it ever occur to us that why should a person from a backward caste work harder than the one from the forward caste to be what he/she wants to be? We have type casted them as backdoor entries or reservation class for decades, laterally tearing into their self-esteem and the disregarding the right to opportunity.

Here are some facts to ponder, and if we still believe hungry India can be addressed without understanding the make of its population then we must be living in eternal denial.

- 50% of the 28% urban population lives in smaller towns
- 72% of India lives in rural areas
- Less than 32% of rural population are from forward castes
- 16% of the population is SC (50+ sub-castes listed under this)
- 7% of the population is ST
- 52% of the population is OBC (3000+ sub-castes listed under this)

Recently during a discussion on caste census at an alumni meet, I was appalled to hear a remark that ‘caste census will create more Mayawaties’, what I am not able to understand is not just the attitude of the remark but selective targeting of a caste and equalizing quality with caste. A bad politician has no caste; UP was not better during the time of N D Tiwari or Kalyan Singh or Rajnath Singh or R P Gupta or Mulayam Singh Yadhav, each of them have played to the galleries but we still believe in linking quality to caste, which in a way only makes it clear that the caste is in our heads really.

The growth of a country is in its inclusiveness, in its ability to bring all sections of the society to the discussion table and to the drawing board, if reservation is the only means to address it so be it. It’s time we realized that a group of think tanks or economic big wigs cannot decide on what is good for every Indian; let’s give an opportunity to people across board to speak for themselves. Economic participation is directly linked to Social and Political empowerment & inclusion, and caste census is the only way to assess the position we are in and strategize how we can make India inclusive.

I to believe in a casteless system and my only caste is ‘being an Indian’, but one cannot ignore the ground reality or feel intellectual by harping of no caste system. The fact of the matter is that there is no equality without equality in Political, Economical and Social process, inclusive India needs a better understanding of its make.

- Kavitha Reddy

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Roaring Mountain

Roaring winds from Mt Nanda Devi East was crashing the tent at Camp-1 (5200 meters); one lift would take the tent down 300 meters onto the other side of the ridge. Ice axes, 3-feet snow stakes and walking sticks that were used in anchoring the tent loosened out in no time. I used all that was in the tent to hold the 3 corners and stood firmly at the 4th, I knew I was losing ground and had to get out to safety abandoning the tent, my backpack and other essentials were ready to be dragged out, it was just a matter of time that I would be forced to exit. After one bigger round of pounding, I heard Bharath and Takpa, they rushed in kicking down the anchors into the snow and we were holding on to the tent for the next 45 minutes till Nanda Devi calmed down.

Locals believe that Nanda Devi range is one of the most powerful and dangerous range in the Himalayas, they offer prayers to Nanda Devi to ensure that her fury does not bring doom. For a mountaineer peaks in Pindari Glacier have always been the most challenging quests, given its inhospitable terrain and highly unpredictable weather conditions. But Pindari Glacier is also one of the most beautiful regions, and our quest to climb Mt Nanda Khat (6611 Meters) started for Loherkhet.

Trek from Loherkhet to Pindari Glacier (the glacier has receded in the last two decades) is a pure scenic beauty of 50 Kms, the trail is a traverse all through the huge rocky hills on one side, river Pindari gushing right below and rocky & lush green hills on the other side with several waterfalls that join river Pindari at the base. The rich forest cover on both sides of the river houses an amazing assortment of flora and fauna, birds like Eurasian Jays, Rose Finches, Snow Partridges, Snow Doves, Fly Catchers etc are found in abundance and Dr Lalit captured over 45 species of birds through his lens.

Even though the Rhododendron flowering season was over, there were still some pink patches here and there in contrast with lush green surroundings. The clear water in the river splashing the huge rocks, sound of the waterfalls all around and the wind was soothing. Dakuri our first camping site gave us a 180-degree trailer of the snow covered peaks like Maiktoli, Cream Roll, Sunderdhunga Col, Panwali Dwar, Bhanoti, Nanda Devi and its outer sanctuary ridge.

As we hiked up and down the hills crossing Khati, the chirping of the birds and the sound of the pleasant breeze was replaced by the roaring river; with water gushing down rapidly slamming the huge rocks in its way making its presence felt. Tiny brown dippers did entertain us for a while but the sound of the river was too loud to be ignored. As we reached a place called Dwali where the water flowing from Kafni & Pindari Glaciers meet, it was a different world all together; the enormity of the water was so much that the hills on both sides are literally invisible.

As we moved to higher altitude the trees and shrubs were replaced by grass and the trail opened into the meadows covered with the bright yellow Butter cups and over 4-5 colors of Potentilla. With clear blue sky, and ice covered peaks far ahead, it looked like a carpet of flowers just laid out to shoot a scene in Yash Chopra movie.

One of the threats that was very eminent was excessive grazing, each of the flocks were not less that 2-3 hundred sheep and the total sheep would not be less than 4000. Added to grazing, shepherds set off fire on the dried grass and in they do not even spare the Juniper shrubs. Birds were screaming out of the fire abandoning the nest and the little ones and the eggs. It was heart breaking to see the destruction caused; the grass that holds on to the top soils erodes within no time causing landslides.

As we approached basecamp, the view of the magnificent peaks, constant noises of the avalanches and rock falls welcomed us. Given the logistical difficulties for a 12 member team to manage itself for 20-30 days we decided to set up our advance basecamp closer to the peak we would be attempting. As we got closer we could sense that the furies of the nature got stronger, calmer nights were replaced by thunder, snowfall and the day with gushing avalanches. At advance basecamp it was indeed a 360 degree effect, as we were completely surrounded by the peaks, Lamcher, 1, 2, 3, Nanda Kot, Changuch, Trails Pass, Nanda Khat, Panwali Dwar, Baljuri.

Our movement to higher camps got slower than planned, and sometimes we stayed in the tents for 24-48 hours. Route to Camp-1 was about 4-hours with two rock faces of 150-200 meters each, an ice wall and an altitude of 900 meters. Occupying Camp-1 with all that we needed took us 8 days, and the approach to summit camp from there on was a snowfield filled with crevasses, snow bridges and a climb 3-4 hours. The hidden crevasses are always dangerous, many may not be dangerous but in bad weather anything can get worst. Reeba fell into a crevasse and could not pull herself out, we luckily had Wallambok who got down into the crevasse and release her climbing boots that was stuck. Smaller incidents more than being dangerous take away a lot of energy and time, thereby slowing the progress in the mountains or getting held up in bad weather. However well trained or experienced mountaineer one could be, there is no possibility of competing with the bad weather or taking an unsafe route trying to challenge nature at its worst.

After days of waiting for the weather to get better we finally got a clear window, summit attempt started with splitting the team into two. As it was an alpine style climbing we could do better with two teams and also the risk factor would be much lesser in smaller teams. As one team conserved their energy at Camp-1 the lead team successfully attempted the summit, it took over 20 hours, weather got worst at the end of 11 hours, but reaching the lower camp safely was a priority. The next day second team did not get lucky, they were to start the summit ascend by 10 pm and weather never cleared, with heavy snowfall, complete whiteout and strong winds they had to move down to safety with heavy hearts.

Every expedition, every summit attempt may not be always successful, what drives a mountaineer to these mountains again and again seeking new highest and new challenges is the sheer love to be midst of the magnificent peaks. Mountains do really bring out the best in you; one would look at them and wonder how tiny and insignificant human beings really are.

For a true mountaineer surviving the cold, facing the challenges, climbing the mountains is not a sport but it’s an ‘Attitude’ they love to live.

- Kavitha Reddy

Also got published in Deccan Herald - Sunday Herald Travel section on 11th Sept 2010 titled 'Conquring Nature's Fury'

Saturday, August 14, 2010

In Focus

Covered in City Plus - HSR Layout 13th Aug 2010
- Kavitha Reddy

Friday, July 9, 2010

Some Himalayan Flowers

Pics by Kavitha Reddy during the Mt Nanda Khat Expedition June 2010, Kumaon Himalayas

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Adventure Based Learning DH

Published on 26th May 2010 in Deccan Herald

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Risk and Danger never on Vacation

As the news of Carlton Towers fire spread, local channels aired heart-rending visuals of people jumping off the tower in most desperate attempt to save themselves from being charred; it was clearly an extreme measure of survival. It angered many and raised several questions, but accidents like Carlton Towers are not the first or the last, as risk and danger are never on vacation.

Whatever course law takes or enforcements happen on the Carlton Towers accident, for many who lost their loved ones it’s too little too late, and for rest of us it just wisdom at hindsight. As organizations and as individuals we do very little to assess and understand safety without realizing that fire drills, fire extinguishers, first aid kits etc are not enough to ensure safety, given that all can fail and failed at Carlton Towers.

Rescue comes ahead of safety indeed; it is an opportunity to be safe/survive when all safety measures fail. If safety measures are an assurance of being safe, rescue operations are about doing the right thing when assurance fails. Safety assessments as a process generally ignore rescue plans, and the assessment checklist mostly will just include fire extinguishers installed in the corridors, the red colored exit doors and approvals given by the authorities. Routine check-up and an alert drill ensures the safety measures are working but falls short of putting an alternate plan in place when things fail to work when it is really needed.

Being a mountaineer, key lesson I learnt was what best one can do when pounded under an avalanche or when slipped into a crevasse. Two most important distinctions are managing situations that are in our control and the other managing the one that are not in our control. As a mountaineer what is under my control is to use the best of the equipment and have the technical skills to use them, but what I need to be prepared for is to handle the one which is not in my control. Safety rules are the same where ever you are, if few basic principles of rescue are all it takes to minimize risk and casualties.

In a case like Carlton Towers, where it houses several small independent offices, ‘safety’ one really looks at is the neighbor next door who occupied the office earlier than you did. We live by the phrase “all izz well” if there are so many others in the same building. Not to sound rhetoric but the fact of the matter is that there are several such buildings across the city, we will see a lot of re-inspection, re-assessment that will happen across buildings and eventually will ignore all that and wait for the next Carlton Towers to happen.

The people occupying these building should at least start insisting on basic self-rescue facilities and points along with the safety measures.

- Self-lowering Anchor points / Bolted points, enabling ropes to be used to lower people easily

- Large Airbags, inflatable on release, ensuring people who may jump out to fall to safety

- Emergency Ladders, which can be easily installed in the balconies to let people climb down to safety

- Rail / String across 2 buildings, Where people can be easily moved from one building to other with very basic equipments

- Basic Rescue Kit – Ropes, Harness, Descends, Mittens, Karabiners, a must have, can be used to get people down faster

I do not know what could be justice for the people who died in Carlton Towers fire, because they are no more, we are not yet sure who is to blame and how long it would take to bring the real culprit to book. But Safety & Rescue are not just hygiene factor, they are to be assessed and re-assessed even when you don’t have to.

We have an instinct to survive, but should never be left just to instincts alone, there is a need to invest in securing the lives of people by looking beyond building approvals and safety protocols.

- Kavitha Reddy

Monday, March 8, 2010

Happy 100th Women's Day

In the year 1993 in a youth exchange program selection interview with an army officer (that I can NEVER forget), I was asked “What is the one thing you want to change or do that is close to your heart”, I had told him “Empowering women in whatever way I can”. With a smile on his face he asked “in a land of Indira Gandhi and Kiran Bedi do you still feel women do not have opportunities?”. I responded “Sir please don’t define opportunities for women by showing Indira Gandhi or Kiran Bedi they are just two women”.

I did not know if my response was aggressive or simply truth, did not even realize what a BIG word “empowerment” really is, as back then it was a right choice of words.

I am not a big fan of women’s day celebration, wondered why there is a need to celebrate our existence, was offended when people wished me “Happy Women’s Day” and would give a lecture on how silly it was to have a women’s day.

But over the as I grew older, working my way up I felt I was successful because I had opportunities and choices. In the last few years, my travel took me to the remotest of villages in India, it was a reality check indeed. Here was I who could speak, write, scream, talk, whatever I want do and make all the choice I could, but in “REAL India” the “REAL Indian woman” does not even know the existence of words like “Opportunity” or “Choice”.

If India has to be the world power it starts from the womb the women. I am not a very emotional person, but I would like to dedicate my run for all the women on the occasion of “100th Women’s Day” and do hope the historic women’s reservation bill gets passed and becomes the bill to Empower “REAL Indian women”.

- Kavitha Reddy