Thursday, March 24, 2016

Women's Day!

Though I personally do not believe in "Fathers' day" "Mothers' day" "Women's day" etc., I feel it is unfair for anyone to stop others from celebrating. It is individual's choice! The reason I do not believe in such days is, I think we should respect and love our father and mother  everyday; there should not be a need for a specific day to remember them. But, if someone feels that they want to celebrate the greatness of their parents it is absolutely fine. I think it is like celebrating birthdays! Though each day is new and a beginning of the next one year, we still celebrate birthdays. Similarly though each day is precious for women (of course for men too), they can celebrate women's day on a specific day! No one else can question it! Any celebration is individual's choice and others do not have a say in that has been my view!!!

There was a heated discussion on "Women's day".  Someone was very upset that there is no men's day. No one is stopping men to celebrate men's day; in fact there is a men's day in November. It is just that it is not as popular. Another person exclaimed why are women so special and how can they have a day dedicated to them! Ha! There is an international day for almost everything under the sun! There are international birds day, migratory birds day, snakes day, turtles day and so on. Why should people be so very upset about women's day in that case, I do not understand!!

The next comment was the most interesting one! This person said, "This women's day etc. is western thinking. In India we worshipped women. India is the only or one of the few countries that had 'Goddesses'. So India always gave equal respect - in fact, more respect to women".  While I agree with his statement about the "Goddesses" part, I have my reservations about equality! Sure, we probably are the only country where there is a female form for every single male form of God. We are the only country which considers God to be a transgender as well. India declares God as formless and genderless explicitly ('ஆணிலன் பெண்ணிலன் அலியுமிலன்' ) at the same time, worships God in all the forms - male, female and transgender!

I am thinking of the Ardhanaree form. Great, we consider a man and a woman as part of single body. Why are we not considering Shiva to be on the right side of Parvathi? Why should we consider  Parvathi to be on the left side of Shiva?   Don’t they mean the same? Okay,  it is very close to the scientific discovery of men having X & Y chromosome but women have XX chromosome; so Shiva only needs Her and She does not need Him. So let us leave that part.

I could not see any evidence of Shiva getting into penance for Parvathi; it is always Parvathi who starts with rigorous penance to be with Shiva - so many temples to represent that - Thiruvanaikkaval, Mylapore, Kanchipuram, Kanyakumari are some examples known to me. There are many more! In an equal / fair society, there would have been at least 50% cases where the reverse happened! The only place where I see a man doing "Tapas" for a woman is Arjuna doing it for Subhadra; that too, his Tapas is not towards her; he does it for her; that is all! Whereas wherever women have done tapas it is towards the man concerned! Is this equality? Is this how it happens? I will be glad if someone can show me examples of other kinds!

Don’t we see examples of men pleading/ pressurizing/ impressing  (even threatening and harassing) women to marry them and women to men in today's society? Which is more? In a society that does not have any restrictions on men and women, it should be around 50-50!

More interestingly, women could only do penance but not express. We know how badly Surpanakai was insulted by Rama and Lakshmana for expressing her love! What right does Rama have to point her to Lakshmana? How can Lakshmana cut her nose off for proposing?

Sure, we had many women poets and yoginis when other civilizations have not even learnt to write. But our great poetess Avvai had to ask God for grey hair! I cant see a man willing to let go of his youth for the need to be "undisturbed"!! While wives of the men "nayanmar" were happy about their husband's devotion to Shiva and were ready to cook their own children for Shiva, Kaaraikkal ammai's husband ran away from her looking at her devotion to Shiva!  Akka Maha Devi was provoked let go of her jewels and clothes  by her husband as a result of her devotion to Shiva! Meera's husband is no exception! Though Vasuki taught a big lesson to Konganar, she is not as popular as him! What do these stories indicate? 

Not only that, even today, there are so many rituals where women are to pray for the longitude of their husband's lives. I do not see any such rituals where men do the same for their wives! Is it a sign of a fair society?

I am not that familiar with other philosophies, mythologies, culture, traditions and history to comment on them! But from the current statistics and the way men treat women in the current times all over the world, I realise that the situation would not have been better! I have not seen a woman who has not said at least once her in life time "I don’t want to be a woman again" irrespective of the country they are from, religion they are from… that is a good indicator of quality of life for women!  Hmm…

More than the past, the current worries me more! I am seriously wondering, why this group of men I met is not even able to consider women's day, while there are days even for turtles!! It is not that they need to agree with or accept or bless women's day; If these men can not even digest women celebrating a day, I am wondering what respect they hold for their counterparts!! Do they understand equality? Do they really understand what it means to intrude into other's personal choice!!

Any intrusion into another person's personal space / choice is a form of violence! Will we ever understand? 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Proposal Vs. Proposal!!

Though I enjoy writing ideas, criticism, thoughts, views etc. as blogs, I never liked writing sales proposals. So, when my mentors and peers told me that research proposals are not like sales proposals, I felt relieved! Ha, little did I know! :-) :-)

Having completed a research proposal after 60+ versions, I thought it is a good idea to note down the differences for the benefit of other newbies, more importantly for my own reference later (I assume, I will have to come up with more such documents in future and most likely, it is going to feel the same every time!! It is better for me to remember)

  1. Sales proposal (SP) is to win the competition and Research Proposal (RP) is not to that extent.
  2. In case of SP, the problem statement is usually given; at least problem focus area is given in the Request For Proposal (RFP). Here, there is no RFP.
  3. SP is about giving "something" to the reader. RP need not be value adding to the reader directly; as long as it is value adding to someone, it is fine. It need not even be application oriented. It could just be for knowledge - and just for the sake of knowledge!
  4. In SP, you have to show off and brag about your solution without appearing so.  here, you have to doubt your own solution without appearing so and more importantly should not show off at all :-). In SP, if you show any element of doubt or possible negative outcome in the solution section, you are gone. Of course, you will include all the negative stuff in the risks section to save your back, otherwise, you keep a very low tone on the potential negative outcomes
  5. Usage of jargons in SP is encouraged to a reasonable extent - to be good enough to impress and confuse (sometimes we intentionally confuse the customer and complicate simple things :-) ;-)!) but, at the same time, simple enough to convey the meaning and convince the client that you have a solution; in RP, complicated stuff should be simplified as in a good training session (of course not conducted by a consultant)
  6. In SP, usage of more "we", "our" and "us" is encouraged. In RP, you can not use "we" and "us".
  7. Passive voice sentences are despised in SP. In RP, it is the preferred way of writing!
  8. In SP, references are important; but not priority; sometimes, just "nice to have". In RP, references make or break your proposal.
  9. For SP, you'd usually have solutions ready and look for supporting material to strengthen our solutions and arguments! Whereas, in RP, you look for all supporting materials - ok, not supporting material - all related material, look for an argument/problem that is valid! Two sentences seem to have just very simple change of words. But they are so very different. In case of RP, you need to keep open mind and be ready to change your problem/solution/both completely after you read a "relevant" and convincing material. In SP, we would look for more "relevant" material and may not change our view!!
  10. Reference material could just be Wikipedia in case of SP. That is a no-no in an RP! OMG, I did not know this when I wrote my first draft :-)
  11. In RP, it is recommended to use simple sentences with minimal "and". Not many bulleted lists! Paragraphs are more welcome. In SP, bulleted lists add value!
  12. A team with cross functional expertise works on SP usually but RP is a single person work! After working in teams and only in teams for so long, working alone is tough!
  13. Segmented / incremental review is mandated before an integrated review in corporate world. In academics, that probably is not a normal approach
  14. If we get about a week's time to write an SP, we are lucky. So, the amount of boredom you develop towards the topic is less! Duration of the proposal writing seems too large in RP and you have fair chance to feel sort of an aversion towards your own document! Towards the end, I was even wondering, if I will have the interest to pursue the problem and solution stated in the proposal. The boredom was that high :-)
  15. SP will be treated as a contract in the absence of an Statement of Work or signed contract. Hence it is very important to state all the assumptions, constraints and risks clearly. RP does not expect that. The problem stated in RP may be shelved and a new space may be taken looks like. I don’t know how it works when comes to proposals written for securing funding - either from government or from private sponsors. I have not experienced it yet.

In spite of being so very careful / mindful of the differences, veterans in RP may find your RP to be more like an SP!! The transition is tough but interesting!!

The journey has just begun!