feminism, gender, gender equality, men, women

Determining gender equality

How do you determine gender equality?

The craziest and probably the strangest part about measuring gender equality is how far men or women have come from their previous beliefs and positions. This is extremely confusing simply because men and therefore compared with other men and women and compared with other women to somehow understand if there has been an improvement towards gender equality. To compare is the amount of water in two glasses is the same you don’t spend time looking at how much more water has been poured in each of the glasses. You compare the glasses to each other. This basic lack in understanding as to how to measure gender equality has stopped people from looking at the actual aim of this movement. According to the law, there are some colleges in India that have positions reserved specially for women as the ones from poor families don’t give them a chance to study leading them to get poor marks and not get admission in a college. These reserved seats still provide a chance for women with discouraging parents to continue with higher studies. However, when there was a movement in the country that said that women should be given equal pay and equal opportunities for work; most men could be heard saying things like, “They already have reservation, now they insist on getting equal pay and equal opportunities for work. They already have an easier way to get into college by getting lesser marks… they can’t be spoon fed and protected through life.” The issue here is however quite different, male children from poorer background are given very high emotional and economic support to pursue studying whereas women are discouraged since they assume that the female will naturally end up being a housewife who doesn’t require education. The men however look at it like this: The water keeps getting poured into the women’s glass. Her glass is already full, maybe over-pouring with opportunities… and look at us! No one listens to us! there is no water being poured into our glasses! Why should we only listen to the women? How is this equality?
The real situation is quite different, the water in the women’s glass is next to nothing as compared to the man’s whose may be half full. What men don’t see is that women are trying to bring the water to the SAME level. That is equality. This however can only be seen by comparing the two water levels to each other.
capitalism, government, law, liberty, philosophy, political science, political thought, politics, welfare

What is liberty?

Liberalism is a meta-ideology which emerged in Europe in the 17th century and has been an important topic of debate since then. The thinkers who were popular in their discussion of Liberalism were John Locke( in his social contract), John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham. Liberalism encompassed a wide variety of values and beliefs and has come to mean several things through time.

Why understand Liberty?
Social implications: Liberty seeks to take people from a stage of orthodoxy to one that believes it different beliefs of an individual. Let us take into account the religious aspect. The state may want to do away with religious orthodoxy and intolerance of other religions by making it secular. Therefore there is a process of removal of institutions and customs that restricts other people’s rights. It does not allow such artificial pressures to exist in society as they suffocate and stifle an individual and he is not free to express his individuality. That is why we do not like the IS it brings back an idea of inequality which allows some people to show their rights meanwhile being intolerant to the rights of other people.
Economic implications: Leaning towards a capitalist environment it asks for free trade and less regulations. There should be easy entry into firms etc. This is somewhat the Adam Smith idea when he was opposing mercantilism.
Political implications: It emphasizes that government should be accountable to them during elections and that ultimate power rests in the hands of the people.

There are two ways to look at liberty.
Negative liberty
Negative liberty is the same as says that liberty is the absence of interference in the private life of an individual.
Classic liberalism used the idea of negative liberalism to oppose the despotic rule of the monarchs.
1. There should be no interference by the state or social conformism with what the individual wants.
2. State should only interfere selectively for some rights (we don’t want murderers to have liberty) by providing laws and sanctions.
Laski has said that by liberty he means “the eager maintenance of that atmosphere in which men have the opportunity to be their best selves. ” C.B. Macpherson refers to “Possessive individualism” where the person wants to be the proprietor of their own space and exercise their own rights. Liberty is only a product of being able to have access to our rights. The state confers the freedom to exercise our rights and from this we get our liberty. It gives back to the citizen their individuality. That means that there is the absence of coercion and constraint in the exercise of choice and authority. Laissez faire was therefore the concept they strived to obtain. The state should just act as a neutral agent between two conflicting groups. This brought around the concept of democracy.

However liberty should not only be considered in a negative aspect i.e. the absence of constraint it must also be looked with a positive aspect. This is because it would justify unequal economic relations. It assumes the individual to be an isolated being, the actions of which do not have repercussions on society. The state is also not given a chance to create opportunities for others by interfering. The Positive aspect believes more in the opportunities that humans can use to improve their capabilities.

Positive Liberty :
This is the same as Modern Liberalism. From the 17th to the 18th century there came about a different form of liberalism which brought about the welfare state. This allowed for government intervention within the society to the extent that it helped provide opportunities to all people to exercise their capabilities. Through the methods of tax prevention and subsidy it took the excess wealth from the wealthy and gave it to the poor. The negative liberty brought about a liberal state. Here the state introduced policies as a response to electoral pressure was becoming insufficient. People were becoming more and more aware of the things around them. State was not just looked as a “necessary evil anymore” but a positive instrument for promoting general welfare. People wanted the state to participate in their lives for the larger interest of society. This would be more inclined towards a socialist or communist aspect.

So from where did it begin?
The liberal theorists believe state to be an artificial creation of an individual to consciously protect their individual rights. An important aspect of our perspective on a state is the rights of an individual it guarantees and protects. The purpose of a state to give rights to people is to derive allegiance from them, that is basically how a state works. Why do we even vote or support candidates. It is so that they guarantee the protection of these rights. The state does not create the rights it merely protects some and restricts some. The end to the working of state is its protection of our rights. Rights are those conditions of life that need to be maintained for us to live.

Classical Liberalism (17th and 18th century)
State is a means to an end and not an end in itself. This was used to oppose the idea of monarchy present in Europe; and ultimate sovereignty by thinkers such as John Locke, who had said that the only reason people come together to form a government is to protect their rights of life, liberty and property. Therefore the state was a means to securing the rights of the individual. They also wanted free trade and commerce to exist trying to bring forth the idea of a capitalist economy. The believed in the freedom of contract and free competition. Harold Laski has truthfully pointed out that it was not a universal concept as it was only restricted to those people who had some right to defend.

Modern Liberalism
Based on the positive liberty aspect.

In the wake of globalization capitalism has changed and brought about a fresh perspective on the way we look
at inter-relation between government and business. Neo-liberalism criticizes the government for taxing the hard-working to help the lazy. The government is said to have generated passivity among the people by removing their incentives and increased their dependency.

crazy, crazy science, Doctor Who, interesting theories, life, mulitiverse, philosophy, plato, science, theories, universe

Will these change the way you look at the Universe?

So i was looking at a few random philosophical theories on the net when I found one on this really interesting site.
It was so intriguing that I decided to do a piece on my thoughts about it.
1. Great Glaciation: We all know a few basic laws of physics – The universe has a fixed amount of energy. So what happens when we use that energy entirely. Well, according to this theory at that moment everything stops and freezes! Therefore a glaciation stage is what the final stage of our universe would be. It says that through heat loss, one of the laws of thermodynamics, everything will slow down, and one day everything will stop. However stunning and amazing this theory may sound… it’s not possible. The laws of physics say that we cannot create and destroy energy. It just changes from one form to another. So that energy is never really lost. Although… this theory would serve as a brilliant excuse for all the people out there who are wasting their energy on doing things they hate, to save it and start doing something they really love.
2. Solipsism: This is my absolute favorite theory. It states that nothing in this world exists except a person’s own consciousness. Wow. So that means when you’re reading this, it’s probably your own imagination conjuring it up and leading you to think that there is a person who has probably written it…. but that person really doesn’t exist. Is isn’t really that hard to imagine everything around you as a really intricate dream. For those who’ve watched inception, the movie does tell you that there is a certain real-life quality attached to what we dream. Sometimes we wake up in the morning and wonder if we dreamed up something or if it was real. Better still, there is no actual way for you to refute this theory. How can you ever discover if you’re not dreaming? There is a word in Hindi for this called “Maya”, it means illusion. Obviously implying that everything around us is an illusion.
3. Plato and Logos: Plato was a monist who believed that everything was made of a single substance. Which meant that gold, food and air were made of the substance. Only there made into different forms so they appeared different. This has been proved by the idea of atoms and molecules, which are only in different forms. He said that beyond what we perceive are different perfect forms. We see only one aspect of them and not the rest. Philosophy according to him was a search or inquiry into finding or seeing these perfect forms. We see only shadows of what is actually there and are not able to observe the rest. Logically also, this is true when we look at ourselves in the mirror, we see a completely different person that how somebody else sees us. We see different aspects of something or only just a shadow of them but fail to completely see it as a perfect form.
4. Multiverse theory: An epic theory which has been re-used by several TV shows and movies such as Doctor Who. This theory says that there are several parallel universes running at the same time. Only, each one of them is attached to a different version of reality. So in another lifetime we may be a president or not exist at all. This was done in Doctor Who, when Rose when to the other dimension,(season 2) to find that her parents existed but she did not.

So that’s about it for these theories, please comment below if you have anything to say about them or if you’ve heard any other theories.

David Miller, justice, law, law and justice, law student, philosophy, political science, political thought, politics, social justice

Political Science and Justice

The concept of justice continues to remain a matter of debate in the minds of political thinkers. There have been several attempts by political thinkers such as David Miller and Rawls who have attempted to define this concept. Generally it has been used as a substitute for words such as fairness, right and that which is morally correct. Which is why a good society is a just society and that which is unjust is condemned as something which is morally bad. Therefore, we can assume that till date, the term justice continues to remain a moral or normative concept. The figure of justice that has been depicted by holding her scales in her hands could also be referring to her balancing role between equality and liberty.
Justice has been derived from the Latin word jungere, which means a bond or a tie. Justice means to organize people into a right or fair order of relationships by distributing to each one a due share of rights and duties, rewards and punishments. Hence this brings out the distributive concept of justice. In short it means giving each person what is due. But the difficult is to define what that due might be. What may we assume about the sort of rewards and penalties that this concept of justice seeks to ensure? It could come to mean wealth, income, leisure, liberty, friendship, etc. The Roman Emperor Justinian’s concpets revolved around the same theory of justice that Aristotle had propagated- the treatment of equals equally and unequals unequally in proportion to their unequalities. Now we can also link the concept of justice and law, “legal justice”. Legal Justice is practically concerned with distributing penalties according to the particular wrong doing or allocating compensation in the case of injury or damage.
In the 20th century it was Rawls and David Miller who brought into the arena the idea of social justice with the concept of welfare of the people by appropriate distribution of resources and material rewards.
1. Procedural Justice: This refers to the justice, fairness or impartiality of the process through which a judge finally arrives at justice. This concept is related to the system in which laws are made and applied. It does not deal with the content of the outcome but the process that was involved in arriving at it. There must be a certain set of procedural rules that people must be strictly abide by. Let us take for example a singing competition. Now, the only factors that should be taken into consideration is the talent that a person has. This is irrespective of differences in gender, religion, race, caste, wealth etc. It is based on the formal equality of persons, that is equality of human beings as subjects of the rule of law.
This can be applied in law in the following aspects:
i. There is an impartial procedure that has been followed, for e.g. through independent and unbiased judges.
ii. Sometimes in the court of law, the judges have a fair idea of what decision would constitute justice and a fair procedure must be followed in order to achieve that very result.That it was the guilty who was punished and the punishment fit the crime.
iii. Legal systems should acknowledge possibility of mistakes and provides some machinery through which these can be rectified. This is achieved in practice through a hierarchy of courts and the higher courts being able to consider appeal from lower courts.
iv. In fact the idea of “Innocent until proven guilty” also comes from this theory where the mere facts do not make the person guilty, it is the procedure that is followed in understanding the case. If that is fair then the judgement is fair. There is the principle of equal treatment applied everywhere in this legal system.
v. There is no disadvantage to someone through ignorance of law as they are thoroughly informed of their rights and duties so that they can seek for legal advice.
vi. Evidence provided should make that person guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

2. Substantive justice: This refers to the justice or fairness of laws, policies, decisions etc. i.e. the moral rightness of the outcomes that follow the procedures. This is a normative concept as the outcome may be morally correct for some people and not morally correct for the others. There is no reliable concept for distinguishing just laws from the unjust ones. Patrick Devlin says that we can decide the just laws on the basis that we should enforce morality. This morality is based on the moral laws of the average citizen. His idea was of Consensus Law, which conformed to the commonly held standards of fairness or justice. Hence the people were prepared to put up with them. The criticism for this is that it becomes problematic in a multi-ethnic secular state.

This term has stirred a lot of controversy as to its political implications. In a positive sense it means laws related to egalitarianism and equality. The liberals however construe it a negative sense: as an excuse for government interference.

David Miller( No. Not that South African Cricketer.)
If you need background info – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Miller_(political_theorist)

He propounded a pluralistic and circumstantial theory of social justice; social justice that depended on the context of the situation. He decided that to achieve justice people’s conception of the principles of justice must first be taken into account. This way justice could be realistically achieved and it would not be a Utopian concept. He held opinion polls and found that people’s conception of justice was depending on the context of the situation.
To Miller, social justice deals with the conception of the distribution of disadvantages and advantages in society. Advantages relevant for social justice are money, property, jobs, education, medical care, child health care etc. Disadvantages are those dangerous work or hard labor. It was this distribution of advantages and disadvantages in society that made a it a just society.
He identified three principles for justice- Needs, Desert and Equality
1. Need occurs when one is lacking in basic necessities and is in danger of or is being harmed. The capability of that person has been affected and his capacity to function, impeded.
2. Desert is a claim on reward-based performance. Each man gets what he deserves. That superior performance should attract superior recognition. That person deserves advantages based on the kind of performance that he makes.
3. Equality is that the state should govern its citizens in such a manner that it considers them to be equal. That rights are distributed equally based on the first two principles.

These all depend on what he called the mode of human relationship, which defined the relations between people.


5 Essential iPad Apps Every Law Student Needs


While it may not be absolutely necessary for a law student, an iPad is an extremely useful tool. With increasing paperless law practices, today’s law students need to be comfortable with reading and researching electronically. I purchased an iPad entering my third year of law school and although it added an extra pound to my bag, I wouldn’t leave home without it. Here are the top apps I recommend:

Image1. Dropbox

Dropbox is a free cloud-based service that allows you to sync documents from your computer, tablet, and phone. Most note-taking apps on the iPad are compatible with Dropbox and any documents you create or edit on your tablet can be saved on Dropbox for later use on your laptop. Also, law students who don’t want to bring a laptop to school at all can bring their iPad, create and save their document onto Dropbox, and sign onto Dropbox through…

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brother, family, life, sibling relationships, sibling rivalry

Mein Bruder

No, this is not your typical first grade essay written by a German school kid. It does have the same objective of trying to explain my relationship with my brother. However I won’t spend too long boring you with the intricacies of his job or his intellect and god only knows what. Just so you know he’s an engineer working in Singapore and is probably just your average teddy bear like elder brother, that you’ve idolized you’re entire life.
We’re talking about why my brother instilled in me a love for Physics that got me interested in astrophysics and the likes of Hawking and Penrose. So basically when I was about 4 years old I decided to take upon myself, what I considered the universally accepted task of annoying my brother(who is 10 years older than me). He was involved in an experiment to determine the specific heat of stone which is 0.84 kJ/ kg K. In other terms when you let yourself touch that stone after it’s been on the stove for an hour it’s fucking hot. In truth specific heat has nothing to do with that. You leave anything on the stove for an hour and it’ll scald you.
When I asked my brother how he was going to determine if it was hot he said, “I’m going to touch it and tell.” He was probably in no mood to explain to a daft child what on Earth, the intricacies of that physics problem were. To this date I have no idea what calculations he was going to employ, but what I do know is that my 4 year old curious self could hardly resist touching the stone, and regretting it very much later. I’m pretty sure my brother regretted it too, not just because his little sister was in excruciating pain but because any child would bring down the house whenever they wanted to and successfully bring parents into the picture. So while I sniffled away, consoling myself by watching my brother get scolded, I realized something important, specific heat was a bitch. And I never forgot that.

family, law college, law student, life, The Hindu


If someone asks me why I decided to do Law or what truly influenced any decision that finally led me to take this step, I would say it was my mother. In fact it has always been my mother who has influenced my decisions. I look to my father or my brother to listen to me, help me, get me what I want. My father is philosophical with a beautiful old school knowledge that you rarely find these days. However it’s my mother that really gives the most grounded hard core decisions. My father would tell me to do what I really loved. My mother told me to do what I loved, but not forget that it should be a job that had a level of dignity attached to it or paid well. The thing is, she wasn’t straight-jacketing into taking a dignified job. She would have supported me in any decision I took. However she was practical about telling me the way things worked in this world and I truly appreciated that. Which was why it was her I listened to. She did also indirectly influence my decision to take law as a career.
It started with my slowly receding from my mother as an adult. I reached that age that children would hardly tell their parents what happened at school and decided to deal with peer pressure by themselves. We didn’t have much to talk about. My mother though, would keep trying and receive only disappointing results.
She had this habit of watching the news religiously. She and my father would come discuss it when he got back from home. It would be the center of discussion at our dining table. Most mothers of her age would definitely end up watching long, dull and monotonous soap operas on a stretch. She did have a phase of soap operas that lasted for about 6 months, but she got over it. She loved watching the news way more and would never discriminate, be it mainstream reporting,sports or celebrity news. When she was very excited about something that had just popped up on Aaj Tak or CNN she would drag me out of the room because she needed to discuss it with someone immediately. That was the beginning of my affinity for the watching the news. Every class when the teacher asked us if anyone knew about what had happened recently I would always know the answer to it. It continued with long discussions that mother and I had when she massaged my hair with oil, discussing the Godra riots, sports captains and what not-s. I was constantly aware of what was happening in the news. I grew into a habit of reading a newspaper much later on, when I realised that I got higher grades in my English essays when I wrote about current events. My love for reading editorials while sipping hot ‘chai’ was inculcated by none other than “The Hindu”. By then I had already decided that I would pursue law, I had received a prestigious by Buzz Aldrin for designing a space settlement and had won the 2nd prize internationally by NASA. I was considering astro-physics but had a change of heart and decided to pursue law instead.
If anyone tells you that deciding a career is hard, then they aren’t in law college. Our worst choice is getting paid by selling our sold to the devil and doing corporate law or doing what we all dream about – litigation. Now I’m stuck in law school wondering if I should listen to my mother become a corporate lawyer or join the most beautiful, albeit minimally paid profession litigation.