Income Tax Slab And Income Tax Benefits For Women

Posted: May 6, 2024

Over the years, the Indian government has taken significant steps to empower women. One of these steps has been to provide them with monetary perks and concessions. Stamp duty exemptions, property tax exemptions, home credit subsidies, and lower interest rates on home loans are just a few examples. In this article information on Income TaxSlab for Woman, Income Tax Benefits for Women and Income Tax Exemption for Women.

However, beginning in the FY (Financial Year) 2012-13, the government has abandoned this approach and replaced it with a single income tax slab for both men and women. There is no longer a separate income tax bracket for women, and there are no particular income tax exemptions for women.

Information on income tax slab for women

The applicable tax rates based on one’s income and age are referred to as Income Tax Slabs. While the technique of categorizing remains the same, the slabs are subject to change during each Union Budget. The tax rates stay the same as the previous financial year in a budget where no adjustments are officially announced.

Income tax slab rates for women under the age of 60 years

Income Income Tax Rate
Up to Rs. 2,50,000
Rs. 2,50,001 – Rs. 5,00,000 5%
Rs. 5,00,001 – Rs. 10,00,000 20%
Above Rs. 10,00,000 30%

Income tax slab rates for women above 60 years but below 80 years

Income Income Tax Rate
Up to Rs. 3,00,000
Rs. 3,00,001 – Rs. 5,00,000 5%
Rs. 5,00,001 – Rs. 10,00,000 20%
Above Rs. 10,00,000 30%

Income tax slab rates for women above the age of 80 years

Income Income Tax Rate
Up to Rs. 5,00,000
Rs. 5,00,001 – Rs. 10,00,000 20%
Above Rs. 10,00,000 30%

What are the income tax benefits for women?

At the time of repaying a house loan

The Income Tax Act allows you to claim tax benefits on home loan interest payments. If the taxpayer lives in the house, deductions of up to INR 200,000 are permitted under certain circumstances. Under some circumstances, a deduction of INR 50,000 maybe available to first-time buyers.

Although women’s income in India is taxed at the same rate as men’s, knowing how to save money on taxes is crucial. When a woman understands how and where to save money on taxes, her purchasing power increases, allowing her to become more self-sufficient.

Deduction under Section 80C of Income Tax Act

You can get a tax break of up to 1.5 lakh on your profits, if you have earn profit from the following:

    • NSC (National Saving Certificate)
    • Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana
    • National Pension Scheme
    • EPF (Employee Provident Fund)
    • Senior Citizen Saving Scheme
    • ELS (Equity Linked Saving Scheme)

Benefits in education loan

Tax benefits can be claimed on interest paid on a loan used to complete senior secondary education. The loan can be for the borrower, their spouse, or their children. Exemption claims can be made for up to eight years or until interest is paid. Fortunately, there is no cap on how much you can claim.

Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana

For a girl kid under the age of ten, a woman can open an SSY account. As a parent or legal guardian, you can deposit up to INR 150,000 and get a guaranteed 8.5 percent return until your child turns 21. The interest as well as the maturity amount are tax-free.

Income Tax Exemption for Women

Section 80GG of Income Tax Act

If you do not get House Rent Allowance, this exemption applies to your rent payment. The amount of this exemption is limited to the lesser of the following:

    • Ten percent of your overall income is spent on rent.
    • A quarter of your overall income
    • INR 5,000

Section 80D under Income Tax Act

Exemption from paying health insurance premiums for oneself, one’s spouse, dependent children, parents, and so on. The following is the exemption’s upper limit:

    • 25,000 for self, spouse, and children under the age of 18
    • Up to 50,000 (self, spouse, and dependent children under the age of 60) + up to 50,000 (self, spouse, and dependent children under the age of 60) (for parents above 60 years of age)
    • 25,000 (for self, spouse, and children under the age of 18) + 25,000 (for parents)
    • 25,000 (for self, spouse, and children under the age of 18) Plus up to 50,000 (for parents above 60 years of age)

Section 80DD of the Income Tax Act

This clause allows for medical treatment exemptions for disabled or dependent family members. The exemption limitations under this provision are as follows:

    • If the disabled person has a 40-80% physical or mental disability, you may be eligible for a INR 75,000 tax break.
    • The tax exemption ceiling is established at INR 125,000 if the bodily or mental handicap is greater than 80%.

Section 80G under Income Tax

Contributions to charitable organizations and a few relief funds are eligible for tax exemptions. In some situations, you maybe eligible for a tax deduction of up to 50% of your donation, while contributions to other programmes are tax-free 100 percent of the time.

As a result of these exemptions and income tax benefits, women can significantly lower their tax liability by making appropriate investments and expenditures. Despite the fact that these investments are often long-term, they can be quite useful when it comes to tax savings.

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Why Domestic Violence Is Such A Well-Kept Secret 

This is a true story. The name of the woman has been changed to protect privacy.

Shruti’s life was a living hell. Physical and emotional abuse meted out by her husband and his family were not only affecting her but her two young children as well.

One day the toxic home atmosphere forced her to take a drastic decision. She got into a train with her children and fled to another city. She knew nobody in that city. She had very little money with her. After struggling for many years, she made a new life for herself and her children. Today, she is working and supporting her children. She is divorced, and though she did not get adequate monetary compensation to raise her children, she says it doesn’t matter. She is free!

Alarming statistics

Not many women who suffer domestic violence are able to break free. Shockingly, in India, research indicates that 87% of women who suffer domestic violence do not report it!

According to a 2023 study published in PLoS One, it is estimated that in India, 32% of women who have been married have reported experiencing physical, sexual, or emotional violence from their husbands. The most common type of domestic violence is physical (28%), followed by emotional (14%), and sexual (6%). Considering that so many cases go unreported, this is the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

In India, domestic violence against women includes physical, sexual, verbal, and emotional abuse, as well as economic exploitation. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, defines domestic violence as any act that causes bodily pain or endangers the victim’s life, limb, health, or development. A debatable point is that marital rape is illegal only if the victim is under 15 years.

Inherent cause

The inherent cause of domestic violence is patriarchy. But trigger issues can be many, including alcoholism or drug abuse, mental instability of the perpetrator, the abusive partner having an affair, desire for a male child, dowry harassment, anger issues, and poverty leading to frustration and violence.

The more comprehensive term used these days is Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). The PLoS One study says IPV leads to poor health, injuries, malnutrition, pregnancy complications (3.1% of pregnant women reportedly go through domestic violence), and risks of sexually transmitted infections. On the mental health front, it causes emotional stress, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and sleep disorders.

Why the silence?

Why do women who are subjected to IPV stay silent? Why don’t they leave toxic relationships? Dr Urmi Nanda Biswas, social psychologist and academician who has a special interest in gender studies, explains the major reasons for the silence. “Dependence proneness is one factor. The more dependent a woman, the more likely she is to tolerate violence from her abusive partner. Another reason why married women put up with domestic violence is the lack of support from families and the community if they try to break up their marriage and seek divorce,” says Dr Urmi.

The third reason is related to sexism, which can be benevolent or hostile. In the case of ‘benevolent’ sexism, women are made out to be paragons of tolerance and resilience. So, women who keep quiet in the face of violence are glorified. This is probably more common in rural areas among less educated women, she says.

‘Hostile’ sexism

“When it comes to educated working professionals, they are victims of ‘hostile’ sexism. If something goes wrong in the marriage of a successful woman, it is the woman who is blamed.  She is castigated for being ambitious and career minded and as a result ill-equipped to manage her marriage and home,” explains Dr Urmi.

So, it’s a loss-loss situation for women. Either they are expected to tolerate violence with stoicism for the sake of their children or families, or they are shamed into silence by being made to feel like failures, she says.

A fourth factor which is prevalent in dating violence cases is relationship addiction among youngsters. Dating violence has three components – psychological abuse (swearing, jealousy), physical abuse (slapping, pushing) and sexual abuse (unwanted touching or kissing).

“Women would rather stay in an abusive relationship than be without a partner. That’s because if they don’t have a boyfriend they face low self-esteem issues. Many girls go into deep depression after a break-up,” says Dr Urmi.

The fear factor

Prita Jha is the director of the Peace and Equality Cell (PEC) in Ahmedabad, which works on issues of gender-based violence. “There are many layers to the complex issue of why women do not leave abusive relationships. Fear is major factor. Women who are about to leave an abusive relationship are in the greatest danger of violence and even death, she says. True. Around 38-50% of all homicides of women are committed by their partners during acts of violence.

Financial dependence on the partner is a significant practical factor, especially if there are children to be raised, says Prita. Social stigma attached to divorce is a second deterrent. Thirdly, changing the status quo and building a new life is not easy for all women, she adds.

Approaching the police and taking legal recourse is easier these days. In fact, you don’t have to go to a police station, you can file a case in a civil court under the Domestic Violence Act, 2005, she explains. It is not very expensive though it may time to get justice. “I have not seen women stay in long-term relationships where they face violence because they are intimidated by legal processes,” she says.

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Would You Intervene If You See Another Man Sexually Harassing A Woman?

Women know exactly how vulnerable we are in public, but whenever we speak about it men seem to believe that the solution is to learn the art of self defence. “Teach your daughter karate so she can defend herself when she is sexually harassed”, they say, quite forgetting that that even being among the best wrestlers in the world didn’t save Sakshi Malik and Vinesh Phogat from being sexually abused, or that a number of police officers trained in the use of firearms were among the victims of HD Prajwal Revanna.

While the only long term strategy to reducing sexual harassment is a combination of behaviour change communication directed at men and speedy legal action being taken against the perpetrators, we know that calling out (or distracting) the perpetrator will almost certainly diffuse the immediate act of sexual harassment.

A dipstick survey had interesting results

It was to get a dipstick of how men behave when they witness an act of sexual harassment that I create a poll on X (formerly Twitter):

Question for men:
When you see a man sexually harassing a woman what do you do- (a) Call him out immediately, (b) Look away- not my problem, and (c) Join him in harassing her”

Since a few women said that a better indicator would be to ask women how men behave when they see a woman being sexually harassed, I created a companion poll:

Question for women:
When a woman (/you) is being sexually abused, how have you seen men react- (a) ignore/ look away, (b)Call it out/ distract, and (c) join in the harassment”

Seeing the way the results of the first poll were going, I deliberately used the word “sexually abused” in the second poll to drive the urgency (and therefore the probability that men would act more proactively). I also introduced “distract”, because someone had rightly pointed out that creating a diversion might be more effective in diffusing the sexual harassment than outright calling it out.

After removing the people who didn’t participate in the poll, but wanted to see the results, there were 235 men and 152 women who responded to the surveys.

The 235 male respondents, when asked what they would do when they witnessed sexual harassment said they would:
Call out immediately: 89% (209 respondents)
Look away/ not my problem: 10% (23 respondents)
Join in the harassing: 1% (3 respondents)

It was interesting to see that almost 9 out of 10 men said that they would immediately call out the predator. If the number of men who stand up for women being harassed is that high, why are there so many instances of sexual harassment?

The second poll painted a very different picture. The 152 female respondents, when asked how men behave when they witnessed sexual harassment, aid that men would
Call out/ distract: 31% (47)
Ignore/ look away: 59% (90)
Join in harassing: 9% (15)

According to women, only 3 out of 10 men actively attempt to stop sexual harassment; the rest either ignore or actively encourage the sexual harassment.

There is clearly a perception mismatch

Assuming all the respondents were being totally honest, it is interesting to compare the perceptions of men and women. While 89% men think they take action to actively prevent sexual harassment, only 31% women agree that they do. 59% men believe that men ignore or look away, but only 10% men admit to doing so.

Clearly, there is a perception mismatch, and (assuming the respondents were honest) the only way to explain the disconnect would be through two reasons (or a combination of the three):

First scenario: men don’t understand what constitutes sexual harassment but respond proactively when they witness it. So what women perceive is men looking away, is in fact a case of the man not even being aware of what is going on.

Second scenario: the male respondents picked what they would do if “their women” (mother, sister, wife, daughter, cousin, friend) were being sexually harassed, not what they would do if a random woman was being abused. Women, on the other hand, evaluated the behaviour of men in general, not just men known to them.

Neither of these scenarios is particularly encouraging for women, and both can only be addressed through sustained behaviour change communication directed at men. Men need to be taught to recognise the entire gamut of sexual harassment, and they should be made to realise that all women deserve to live a life free from sexual harassment.

Some of the comments were quite illuminating and need to be addressed

More than one man said that they would not want to get involved because they fear that the perpetrator and victim might then gang up against him. One quoted the example of a time when he found a couple arguing and said that when he intervened after the man slapped the woman, she turned on him and abused him. Clearly these people are talking about specific cases of intimate partner violence, while the question was about sexual harassment in general. To use this to justify not intervening, is to make yourself complicit in the harassment.

Another man pointed out, quite rightly, that confronting the perpetrator might not always be the right strategy, and that unless the woman is in immediate danger of violence, he prefers diffusing the situation by distracting the perpetrator.

One person took exception to the fact that I had clubbed “call out and distract” because (in his words) “if I distract the man, how will the woman know that I helped her”. It is indeed a sad commentary on the male psyche if the only reason why they call out a man who is sexually harassing a woman is to make her feel gratitude towards him as her saviour!

It is not hard to intervene when a woman is being sexually harassed. Often, all that a person has to do is to strike up a conversation with the perpetrator to distract him- by the time he has finished giving directions to the nearest metro station, for instance, the impulse to pass a lewd comment would pass. While using public transport, moving slightly to put yourself between a voyeur and his target is enough to let the person know that their behaviour has been noted and will not be tolerated. Clearly, there is a long way to go before men can become allies of women in combating sexual harassment.

Image source: a still from the film Pink

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There Is A Prachi In All Of Us! Why, As A Society, Can’t We Look Beyond Appearance?

Prachi Nigam’s photo has been doing the rounds on social media for the right reasons. Well, scratch that- I wish the above statement were true. This 15-year-old girl should ideally be revelling in her spectacular achievement of scoring a whopping 98.05% and topping her tenth-grade boards. But oddly enough, along with her marks, it’s something else that garners more attention – her facial hair.

While the trolls are driving themselves giddy by mocking this girl who hasn’t even completed her school yet, the ones who are taking her side are going one step ahead – they are sharing her photoshopped pictures, sans the facial hair, looking nothing less than a celebrity with captions saying – “Prachi Nigam, ten years later”.

Doctors have already diagnosed her with PCOD in their comments, based on photographic evidence. While we have names for people shamed for their weight – body shaming, for their skin colour- racism, for their age- age shaming, for being a female- sexism, this category of shaming where one faces criticism for their appearance has no name. With that, it also has zero shame attached to it.

How does this impact young minds?

Young minds are fragile, and when they are at the receiving end of scathing comments for no fault of theirs or because they don’t fall within the criteria laid out by society, it can create an everlasting impact. As a growing teenager, puberty brought along with it abundant facial hair and hair sprouting from other parts of my body.

Until tenth grade, I could never get my eyebrows threaded or upper lip hair waxed. I still have my farewell photos, with me donning a big smile and a bright pink saree with the beginnings of a light moustache. Aah, those carefree days when I had not yet realized that I wasn’t attractive enough to grab the attention of the opposite sex and when I could let a guffaw or snort escape from my lips without worrying about the world judging me.

But I was also a part of the generation that grew up seeing The Princess Diaries and Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin. When even Anne Hathway and Mona Singh had to rely on epic makeovers to appeal to society and the male gaze. It’s funny how each time when the fuzzy eyebrows become arched curves, the ugly braces come off, the horn-rimmed glasses disappear, and the wild curls are tamed into submission – they always elicit collective sighs and murmurs saying, “Aah, now that’s the ideal beauty”. Not that it matters that the person looks like a dismal shadow of their former self, shedding their uniqueness along the way and joining the bandwagon of look-alikes.

I too, hopped onto the bandwagon before I left school. The pressure of being a hairy girl amidst a sea of waxed and tweezed girls got to me as well. For a long time, my appearance was rather important to me and visits to a salon were an integral part of my routine. But then, bam came the pandemic! For nearly 18 months, salon services were out of reach for the common woman. I let my eyebrows grow wild then and the hair everywhere else because those who were going to judge were locked away in their own houses. But that period also empowered me in some way.

I felt comfortable with my body hair for the first time, and it didn’t seem as unsightly to me as it did when I was in my 20s. While I have an epilator that I occasionally use to groom myself, my hair removal activities no longer align with my proclivities to appease the outer world. They happen when I want to look hairless for myself.

Now, when someone’s gaze lingers on my face longer than necessary, I know it’s mostly not to appreciate my beauty. Chances are that they have spotted that extra hair on my chin or upper lip, and the beauty of all this is that I am perfectly fine with it.

I hope Prachi, too, can come out of this crazy whirlpool of viciousness unscathed. I hope she has someone to tell her that this, too, shall pass. I hope that smile never leaves her face. I hope that she never thinks that appearance has the power to outshine one’s talent, abilities, and personality. Lastly, I hope that the people commenting cruelly on her photos can heal from their traumas and insecurities, which they chose to inflict on a young girl whose only fault was that she did well in her exams.

P.S. – I just found out that there is a term for the prejudice people harbour against others based on their appearance. It’s called lookism. However, that doesn’t change anything I have written above.

Image credits: DNA India

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15 Foods and Drinks to Avoid During Pregnancy: Your guide to a healthy pregnancy

Pregnancy is a delicate phase in a woman’s life. Throughout pregnancy, it is vital for women to exercise a level of diet caution in order to provide a healthy balance of being for themselves and the baby. Specific components of the food carry a chance of impairing the embryo and consequently might cause a miscarriage. The article below talks about 15 Indian pregnancy food items that should be avoided as they can be harmful to the mother and the baby. Moreover, we will discuss the frequent reasons of miscarriages experienced in India. Also, we will emphasize the fact that eating nutrient-rich foods is essential for a mother and the development of the baby.

Food Items that are a NO-NO During Pregnancy: 

  1. Pineapple: Bromelain, which is found in pineapple, is said to relax the cervix and induce true labor bringing about the baby’s early demise.
  2. Sprouted Potatoes: The work using gamma rays is associated with steroids that may trigger a dangerous miscarriage.
  3. Wild Apples: Wild apples at the times that are sour and acidy make the uterus pushy and lead to the miscarrying and the premature delivering.
  4. Spices: Some herbs for example garlic, angelica, and pekelagus do stimulate the uterus and cause contraction and blood thinning.
  5. Papaya: Because of the fact that protamines found in papaya are contractions for uterine that which impede the fetus progress and cause the abortion.
  6. Smoked Seafood: Seafood which is preserved with cold or treated with smoked process is cultured with listeria that causes early abortions. Lox or nova are some of the names in the seafood.
  7. Sesame Seeds: Sesame seeds, honey is in extreme fact nightmarish to pregnant women because it offers heat to the body, thus the contraction of the uterus.
  8. Unwashed Fruits and Vegetables: They supply the media through which these contribute to bacterial infections in the body.
  9. Aloe Vera: Aloe vera has got anthraquinones and they can act as a laxative which may also result in blooding and in the course of the phenomenon labour may end.
  10. Drumsticks: Spite their high level of iron and vitamin drumsticks are full of alpha-sitosterol that prevents a baby’s development which in turn stunts growth.
  11. Energy Drinks: Energy drinks have a large concentration of caffeine, side product of which is abortion.
  12. Soft Cheese: Only soft cheese such as blue cheese, feta, and pre-packaged seafood and meat are suggestive of the development of the listeria infection and therefore should not be consored.
  13. Raw Eggs: The risk of salmonella virus carrying in raw eggs is one of the highest causes of miscarriages, placental site disease, and maternal infections.
  14. Unpasteurized Dairy Products: Unpasteurised dairy products can cause infections and as they carry substantial health risks must be avoided. 
  15. Green Sprouts: Green sprouts have a lot of harmful bacteria present in them, such as salmonella,
    which can lead to infections.

Food items pregnant women should eat during pregnancy:

While it is essential to avoid certain food items during pregnancy, it is equally important to consume food items that are good for pregnant women. Here are some food items that are beneficial during pregnancy: 

  1. Dairy Products: Dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese for instance are great sources of calcium which to be flesh part of the composition of the baby’s bones and teeth. Furthermore, diaries products not just protein, but other important nutrition too, which are better good for a baby’s growth during pregnancy. Lesser fat containing yogurt and milk can be an alternative way for pregnant women to get as many nutrients needed while staying at their calorie limit. 
  2. Lean Protein: The specific protein present in lean protein sources such as chicken, fish, tofu and beans promote the growth of the foetus and its development by all means. Protein therefore is of great signal meant in the construction of the baby’s organs, muscles and tissues making it the major component of a healthy pregnancy diet. With the aid of the addition of such lean protein sources as fish and chicken, meals may be made nourishing not only for the mother but also the baby in terms of the required nutrients to grow up healthy. 
  3. 3. Fruits and Vegetables: These complex carbohydrates contain not only simple sugars but also vitamins, minerals and fibre that are important nutrients for both the foetus and expectant mom. These foods, which are high in nutrients, assist in the strengthening of the immune system, the improving of digestion and in general, the support of individual’s health. Pregnant ladies are advised to obtain a wide selection of various colour fruits and vegetables to capture a broad range of essential nutrients. To have a nutritious diet during this period, using foods that are fresh, frozen or in a can is a key feature that helps maintain constant convenience and diversity. 
  4. Whole Grains: Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, oats, and whole wheat provide complex carbohydrates, fibre, and essential nutrients such as folate, iron, and B vitamins. These nutrients are crucial for maintaining energy levels, supporting foetal development, and preventing birth defects. Choosing whole grains over refined grains ensures a steady release of energy and helps regulate blood sugar levels, reducing the risk of gestational diabetes and other pregnancy-related complications. 
  5. Nuts and Seeds: Nuts and seeds can easily be named as nutrient-rich snacks which provide the consumers with healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. These foods are specifically rich in omega-03 fatty acids which are necessary for fetal brain development and that would facilitate the reduction of the risk of some neural tube defects. Giving the nutrients that are found in nuts and seeds variety like, almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds in one’s diet during pregnancy is important, as it offers myriad of benefits to both the mother and the baby. 

Below are a few common reasons for Miscarriages in India
Miscarriage is a common problem in India, and here are some common reasons for miscarriage in India: 

  1. Nutritional Deficiency: Nutritional deficiency is a common reason for miscarriage in India. It is essential to consume a balanced and nutritious diet during pregnancy to ensure the health of both the mother and the baby. 
  2. Infections: Infections like listeria, toxoplasmosis, and salmonella can cause miscarriage. It is essential to avoid food items that can cause infections. 
  3. Hormonal Imbalance: Hormonal imbalance can cause miscarriage, and it is essential to maintain a healthy hormonal balance during pregnancy. 
  4. Chromosomal Abnormalities: Chromosomal abnormalities can cause miscarriage, and it is essential to ensure that the baby has a healthy chromosomal structure.
  5. Lifestyle Factors: Lifestyle factors like smoking, alcohol consumption, and drug abuse can cause miscarriage.

Pregnancy is a very sensitive stage in a woman’s life, and it is crucial to own a healthy diet so that it can be both the mother’s and the baby’s health. It is worth mentioning that consuming specific foodstuffs that are associated with miscarriage and ingesting food items that are good for pregnant women is important. Finally, it must be noted that a healthy lifestyle as well as the avoidance of the risk factors that cause miscarriage is equally important. Pregnant women need to adhere to these rules so that they have a solid impulse to a healthy pregnancy that can lead to a healthy baby.  

If you are experiencing difficulties in conceiving, you may consider seeking help from a fertility clinic like Banker IVF. With advanced fertility treatments and expert medical care, Banker IVF can help you realize your dream of starting a family. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you. 

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Through a Traveler’s eyes

It won’t be a cliche to say that our mind broadens and we get a fresh perspective of life with the varied experiences we gather during travel. One may assume this as a leisure activity but in reality, a deep-rooted work goes on in our psyche.

I have had the privilege of traveling to most of the continents and from my personal experience, nothing can beat the well-traveled human eyes. The variety of cuisine, the myriad customs &  traditions, the different cultures & dressing sense, the climatic & landscape differences, the exposure to various languages & dialects, etc are something one starts appreciating when one goes beyond their daily territory. The interactions we have are precious for our personal growth.

My childhood dream job was anything to do at an airport, the reason being that I loved watching families travel and observing the excitement they share among themselves being spread to those near them. I would feel happy seeing the travelers just as I used to feel when I would witness my parents planning, organizing, and arranging the different aspects related to our travel usually to our hometown. I would get excited days before our due travel date and I would start my own planning with my younger brother and elder sister. Needless to say, I got attracted to any profession related to travel and finally I did land up with a job in the airline industry.

The virtues we learn with our travel are also no less. We learn to adjust, adapt and accommodate, We understand that the  basic necessities of life are more important than any extra comforts & leisure. At times we also get to experience a better lifestyle than our regular day-to-day situation. One can also get ideas on interiors, furniture and the likes in their stay at different hotels, lodges, guest houses, self-catering chalets or Air BnB. The use of different modes of transport   be it a train or a flight, a bus or a car, a bike or a scooty or any other kind of transport found in some countries like an autorickshaw or cycle rickshaw in India or a phatphati in NewDelhi can offer the traveler a unique experience. Any travel is worthwhile be it a leisure travel or a work travel. Even an emergency travel has some hidden advantages. One learns to quickly pack and book the tickets.

The perks of traveling are multitude and once we realize those, there is no looking back.

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From Some Women to All Women- Feminist Films by Women Behind the Cameras.

It should come as no surprise that, across the world, male filmmakers outnumber female filmmakers. The field is indubitably hegemonized by male directors, screenwriters, producers and so on. According to the 26th Celluloid Ceiling Report which maintains a statistical record of women employees behind the cameras in Hollywood films, ‘94% of the 250 top grossing films in 2023 had no women cinematographers’, ‘83% had no women directors’, and 74% had no women writers. This apparent disparity puts forth the discrimination women encounter behind the lenses which subsequently obscures their individuality. The opportunity extended to women to demonstrate their skills or to make their dreams come to fruition is dramatically negligible.

As it has always been the case, men have been dominating every field since ages and this truth has been well put by one of the most celebrated authors, Jane Austen in her classic “Persuasion” in which she writes- “Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much a higher degree; the pen has been in their hands.” Every word of Austen rings true, bespeaking of the brutal and grim reality of the society. Amidst such scenario, within the male-dominated film industry, there exist several trailblazing women filmmakers, who have made and are continuing to make astounding movies that not only present their individualistic views but also allow the viewers to understand the gynocentric approach of the movies. Undeterred and undaunted by the onerous challenges that are posed within the male-dominated realm, these female filmmakers push the boundaries of the patriarchal precinct, thereby gaining grounds for themselves in order to present to the world their masterpieces.

Threatening remarks, suppression and irrelevant adverse reactions have followed these women filmmakers whenever they make any realistic movies about women. Terrible public furore arose when Deepa Mehta’s critically acclaimed movie ‘Fire’ was released in 1996. The film navigates through the lives of two women trapped in the shackles of patriarchy and how they set themselves free of their sealed fates to make own choices by discovering their identity that drew the two women closer to each other. Mehta’s last movie of the elements trilogy, ‘Water’ (2005) is simply a veracious depiction of the plight of widows in colonial India. The film exudes the tribulations faced by a group of widows who were married off as a child bride to men thrice their age. Deepa Mehta’s attempt to present before the audience the predicaments of young girls or women who tragically became widows and got caught in the maze of patriarchal practices was met with massive public outcry.

In Saudi Arabia, where cinemas were banned for 35 years (1983-2018), Haifa Al-Mansour became the first female filmmaker in the country. Her movie Wadjda (2012) has a candid and thought-provoking storyline. The movie itself is very simple, it is about a ‘rebellious’ ten-year-old girl named Wadjda who wishes to buy a bicycle to compete against her friend Abdullah. But she is denied of it by her mother who sharply tells her that if she rides a bike, she “won’t be able to have children”. Despite her persona as a wayward among her teachers, Wadjda decides to take part in a Quran reciting competition that has cash rewards with the hope of purchasing her favourite bicycle using the money. Al-Mansour’s Wadjda is a tranquil tale of a ‘defiant’ little girl with strong determination of fulfilling her ‘forbidden’ dreams of buying a bicycle by refusing to abide by the rules set-up within a patriarchal society.

The Iranian-American filmmaker, Ana Lily Amirpour’s debut movie ‘A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night’ is an enthralling top-notch black and white feminist movie. The movie cast a spell of awe among the viewers with the portrayal of its protagonist who is a ‘terrifying’ formidable ‘chador-clad’ vampire, skateboarding and preying on the ‘Bad Men’ who resides on the fictionalized Iranian town called ‘Bad City’. She bears no name and is just called as ‘The Girl’ throughout the movie. She is a typical fanged-mouth, bloodthirsty vampire who feasts on miscreant men who mistreats women or commit other vile deeds. By portraying a chador-clad vengeful and malefic vampire girl who ‘walks home alone at night’ in a city filled with terrible men, Amirpour altered the vulnerable status of women in a society of pompous patriarchs.

Well, there are several other movies made by women about women that most certainly deserves high praise and attention. The list is definitely exhaustive despite the smaller number of women filmmakers compared to men. These women filmmakers are compelled to make low-budget movies because of lack of funding or rather a lack of interest by investors and financiers in investing on these filmmakers. These movies being portrayed from a gynocentric perspective might not appeal to the patriarchs who therefore resort to violence, hooliganism and protests demanding a ban on both the films and the filmmakers. Despite facing all sorts of obstruction and resistance by the fundamentalists and chauvinists, these filmmakers with their forthright views and uninhibited attitude continue to challenge the patriarchal norms by making riveting movies.

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Making friends- Social media experiences

Many a times, in women gatherings, we discuss our experiences about “online friends’ in the social media. And it was intriguing that many of us could notice similar patterns  of approach. Being a woman, obviously, I can only say what is endearing, annoying and irritating from a woman’s perspective. But I certainly hope that there would also be a man’s side of the story, which I am keen to learn. No doubt, there are many men, who are genuinely nice and cares for us, but nevertheless, I thought of penning few steriotypes that are usually found in social media, that leaves you sometimes annoying instead of being friendly.

Forgive me, but we could not but agree more, that there are few men who after getting their friend requests accepted they tend to take it in a literal sense and start acting like they have just been rejoined with their long lost friend (psychological move, I guess?!)  And when you disapprove, you become their worst enemy.  

Once I received a call at 10.30 AM when I was  in a haste to go for wore at the other end asked, “enthundeda vishesham??” (What news in Malayalam, in the most cosy manner) (“Eda” has different meanings depending on context, and it is colloquially used by youngsters to address their very close friends and peers). I  was dumbstruck. Who could be that close friend that I forgot so easily?! Many faces from my school and college days flashed through my mind and I felt guilty for not recognizing him. When I said, I could not recollect the voice, and he turned out to be a young lawyer whose request I had accepted just two days back. He literally said that he was just “catching up” with his friend. Not to mention, the number of “edas” in the conversation and inquisitions about minute details of my family, went beyond tolerable levels. When he was treated with cold responses,  he retreated after showering the worst abuses at moi, labelling me the tag of the rudest person on Earth. (Well I dont mind being the rude one, but dont ask me about the abuses!  Any way I had to block him off after saying the magic word, Get lost!
POV: Cool it guys, accepting friend request does not mean, you have been made her bestie and you can talk like one to her!!
Then the non stop chatters! The minute green light is lit, they jump in. No harm, those who are interested can engage in time pass. But it depends on  the nature of persons as well. Basically I am not a chat person and I do not use messengers. Myself, being the most anti social element I have ever seen in my life, the lengthiest chat I can do  is to wish some one Good night.  For me, there are many other good things to do in social medias, like watching comedy reels to cool your head off, or play some random games rather than engage in boring chats with random persons.  It took me sometime to realise that when you log in the chat light turns green and then you alert your “friends” that the traffic to your route is open.  Honestly, its just green, because  I have still not figured out how to turn it off (Once a tech savvy I was, now I am lazy even to study the settings.) If she talks, well and good, go ahead,  but if she clearly gives you a signal that she is not interested, then I do not know why they take it up as everyday ritual of pokes and Hi’s to grab attention. Its plain irritating. 
POV: Green light does not always mean she is ready to mingle.  
The funniest thing that we women experience are the “caring” alphas, asking if you had tea, coffee, breakfast on time and what not, regularly with accurate precision of time.  I just wish to say every time, ‘No man, I will send you my GPay, I am starving’ and then order a loadful at his expense. Jokes  apart, I have always, wondered if every one had this much of time in their personal lives to ask their respective spouses or girl friends such questions, we could have avoided many break ups and family issues.
POV: Brutal it may sound, but the height of joblessness among men, can be found in the inboxes of random women.!!  
I just want to convey that we do not become friends on the click of a button and every one should respect each others boundaries. There can be no forced friendships. A mere reply or a healthy conversation, is not a signal to barge into someone’s personal life or think that its a sign to start a real friendship or relationship.  I beleive not all men and women on social media are here for loose talks. There are ways to be friends and my take is that it should be a connection of two minds and hearts that hold feelings for each other. Respect a ‘No’ as much as you respect ‘Yes’  Please dont think that I am against social medias and making “friends”.  Its just that there is something  that we should all understand and respect that friendships cannot be forcibly created, but it should happen on its own.
POV: Friendships happen, it cannot be created.
Then the passive mute spectators, no doubt, they are there for both men and women alike, who are there just to watch you. They have a microphone and recorder handy to capture the moments when you fall and spread the word.
POV- Not all friends are there to rejoice at your happiness or applaud you. Some are just there to see your vulnerable side and rejoice at your fall.
There are many whom we love, those who really do care for us and that goes to those who do not connect with us on social medias as well. Those who want to see you happy, those who can see and hear us through our silence. Those with whom, we may not even engage in  chats or talks for months, but still catch up like we have just parted the previous day.  And I am lucky to have those kind of  people also around.
The lesson I learnt the hard way over the years, is not to sit around a table, with whom I am not comfortable with or where I am not accepted as who I am. So with age and maturity, I have just learnt to accept right people and avoid unwanted people and it applies to social media as well.
These are my three Golden rules
Learn to say NO, when your mind says NO
Learn to say WHO CARES? when you really dont care
Learn to say GET LOST when you dont need drama in your life!

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Just Do The Math, Is Even Trying For An IIT Really Worth It?

Imagine studying for 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 whole years for the JEE exam only to find out that there’s only a very, very slim chance of getting into an IIT. It is a fact widely acknowledged that the IIT-JEE is one of the toughest exams not just in India but in the whole world. Apart from IITs, the NITs and IIITs of India also accept the JEE scores for admission. There are said to be a total of 23 IITs, 31 NITs and 25 IIITs across the country.

Now, let’s first get a few facts about the IITs right. First, according to the NIRF rankings of 2023, only 17 IITs rank in the top 50 engineering colleges of India and only a few (around 5) IITs are in the list of the world’s top 100 engineering colleges. Second, the dropout rate of IIT-qualifying students stands at least at 20%, with reasons being cited ranging from academic pressure and unmanageable workload to caste discrimination and high levels of competition within the IIT.

So, it’s quite clear that the journey of making it through IIT is as challenging as the journey of getting into an IIT. Third and most important of all, the acceptance rate or the odds of getting into an IIT are below 3% which is a lot lower than the acceptance rate of highly and very highly ranked US universities. Four, getting into an IIT of one’s choice doesn’t mean one will also get into a branch of one’s preference at that IIT.

As for the NITs and the IIITs, according to the 2023 NIRF rankings, only 22 NITs were in the top 100 engineering colleges of India, of which only 11 were in the top 50, while only 3 of the 25 IIITs were in the top 100 engineering colleges of India while none was in the top 50. Besides, getting into an IIT (or an NIT for that matter) doesn’t guarantee job placement (or even graduation). In fact, IITs are facing a major job placement issue (if not a crisis).

Make an informed decision

The calculations that follow are not exact, but the purpose is to give the reader a rough but fair enough idea about the chances of making it to an IIT or NIT. In 2023, around 11 lakh unique students appeared for the JEE exam and there were around 17K seats in all the IITs and so, assuming that all these students wanted to get into an IIT as their first choice, the odds of getting an IIT seat were as low as 1.56% (that is, there was a nearly 98.44% chance of not getting the seat).

Similarly, for the same year, NITs offered near about 24K engineering seats, meaning that if students wanted to get into either an IIT or an NIT as their most preferred choices, then the chances of getting into either of the two were as low as 3.7% (which means a nearly 96.3% chance of not getting in).

When one realizes and understands how the odds are very much stacked against any student, is there a point in still pursuing these institutes so aggressively and spending so much of one’s valuable time, energy, money and efforts on not-at-all-easy preparations?

The rigorous preparations for cracking JEE for IIT certainly takes a toll on one’s overall well-being. Is there, then, any point in spending hard-earned money and savings or taking out a loan for IIT-JEE coaching classes? Also, taking admission into the “best coaching classes” doesn’t guarantee admission or a seat of your choice in an IIT or NIT. Then, sending children to a different city (or place) to study for IIT-JEE doesn’t really seem to be worth it at all. And, if spending tens of lakhs of rupees (on coaching in coaching institutes and other expenses for the IIT-JEE preparation) is the idea, then might as well complete the undergraduate studies from a better ranked university abroad.

What does the student really want?

Questions that are of far more importance and relevance here are:-

  1. Is a student certain that engineering is what the student truly wishes to pursue?
  2. Does the student really want to live away from home for IIT-JEE preparation or even while pursuing engineering?
  3. Does the student feel that the student should compete for an IIT or NIT seat that there is a less than 5% chance of getting (or in other words, over 95% chance of NOT getting)?
  4. Does one really find it worth it to spend lakhs of rupees on IIT-JEE preparations when the odds of getting into an IIT are so low?

Sure, children should be taught to aspire to be successful, but what everyone needs to understand here is that success can mean different things to different people – for someone, success might mean getting a dream home/car/job, while for someone it might mean getting a chance to serve the underprivileged, while for someone else it could mean feeling content and living a healthy life and for somebody else it could mean being able to pursue their hobbies to their heart’s content.

Today, you don’t have to be an IIT student to be able to do innovative research or to have your innovative solutions taken seriously. It’s, thus, important to consider other factors such as the location of college also while planning which colleges to aim for. Why not make life easier for the student and shift the focus of studies on engineering entrance exams where there are better chances of success and of getting into a college and branch of one’s liking? After getting into an engineering college, one can, then, choose the path of working towards pursuing a master’s degree from a university abroad that has a better ranking than the IITs and way better odds of getting into compared to an IIT or NIT. It’s so, so important to spread awareness regarding this among everybody. If you are reading this, please give it some thought.

It’s always better to take well-informed decisions and think properly and thoroughly before getting into something as intensive and demanding as the JEE exam studies and preparations. And so, it’s crucial to teach children that IITs aren’t the only way to achieve whatever dreams a child may have and that there are multiple paths that can lead to a successful, happy and comfortable life. The idea of this post is not to discourage anybody from achieving their dreams but for every one of us to realize that giving too much importance to one exam is not really fair and may not actually be in the interest of students and their career. Thus, JEE preparations for IIT may just not be the right or sensible choice for so many of us.

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Till death us apart

With you,
I felt like this is my conclusion.
I collected everything that I knew about you,
Your everything, favorites.
From coffee to food,from black to blues.
That how life is and how rain amuses you.
I ended up with a gist.
My heart added broken dreams to be with you,
Beautiful but empty home to live .
To met you was a tragic accident, I lost my heart.
Initially, I finalized to see your face and die.
But the end is more sad than a funeral.
The last days with you were life to me
Thinking about reincarnation,
I would just be in love to be with you or else there is no me in any parallel universe.
Meeting would make us more weak and timid of being together . You have always blaspheme your heart when you see me with a person. We couldn’t but only free fall in the embrace of peace,sanity and pure love. Love made me crawl for you,you cradled me with extreme care and beyond love.
Everyday with you has kept me lived happy
Our mutual murder has left me with the loss of words that I fail to express. Nothing can actually define the utter despair and depression, as I write with the audacity of being fragile and painful cold fingertips.
Being loved from being unloved is such a disaster.
As I stumble to write,I wipe my tears
Hoping to see you soon in life some other way.
Remaining yours,
Till death us apart.

-Randhir kaur


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