Sunday, 3 November 2013


The rich industrialist from the North was horrified to find the Southern fisherman lying lazily beside his boat, smoking a pipe.
'Why aren't you out fishing?' said the industrialist.
'Because i have caught enough fish for the day, ' said the fisherman.
'Why don't you catch some more?'
'What would I do with it?'
'You could earn some money' was the reply.
'With that you could have a motor fixed to your boat and go into deeper waters and catch more fish. Then you would make enough money to buy nylon nets. These would bring you more fish and more money. Soon you would have enough money to own two boats...maybe even a fleet of boats. Then you would be a rich man like me.'
'What would I do then?'
'Then you could really enjoy life.'
'What do you think I am doing right now?' --- Antony de Mello

How many of us are like this rich industrialist? we chase after money and affluence in order to be happy, but never realize that happiness is like a beautiful butterfly that will alight on you once you stop chasing the transitory around!
We live in an extremely busy world. The speed with which we run around is ever accelerating. But what is the reason that we are so preoccupied? What are we actually doing? Well we on this planet are chasing behind four major objectives:
Firstly it is MONEY or fortune that drives us around. Our world thrives on materialism. Consumerism dominates us and this is fostered by the media which entraps us in the web of a powerful consumerist culture. The verbal and non verbal messages we receive today, the body language and the sound of silence so to say is that economic well being is the most important and this condition must be acquired by all means, or so to say by whatever means! Yes the craving after money is an addiction that can be really harmful. It is one big time destroyer of peace and tranquility.
The next addiction that plagues the human race is FAME and popularity. We love to impress people we do not like by buying things we actually do not need!! Fame is the intense desire to be liked and enamored by the world around. The Bible frankly states that people of long ago nor people yet to come will be remembered ( Ecclesiastes 2:1). What is the use of wasting money building graves and maintaining them? What is the use of erecting statues of people - this is only wasting the tax money of the citizens of the country. If people are remembered, they must be for the good they do, not because they are buried in the most expensive, modern and well constructed grave in the most expensive graveyard or because their statues dot the sky line of a city! At this point I am reminded of Lord Byron who wrote:
 "My days are in the yellow leaf:
The flowers,the fruit of love are gone:
The worm, the canker and the grief
are mine alone."
POWER is another addiction. The craving behind power is the desire to possess the capacity to control others and manipulate and exploit them. If you become a leader without chasing behind power it is healthy, otherwise it is not.Manipulating others just because you can lord over them is nothing but selfishness. Yes 'power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely'- Lord Acton. The person who is in love with power normally struts around with this mantra in his or her head 'look at me, look at me, every one look at me!!' They love to be the cynosure everywhere, but deep inside are lonely and sad. They may have the outer garb of happiness, laugh aloud and have 'friends' around them but all along will be aware that deep down - really deep down they are living a life of sham and pretense.
The last addiction is the craze behind PLEASURE. People love pleasure, and this then creates the addiction for money. If you enjoy it then do it - is the norm of the peasure seeker. Dont ever worry about the other! Rapists, molestors of women seek such lust filled pleasure and never think about the trauma their actions cause in the person of the surviving victims and their families. 
"Pleasures are like poppies spread:
You seize the flower , the bloom is shed;
Or like a snowfall in the river,
a moment white-then melts for ever;
Or like the borealis race, 
That flit ere you can point their place;
Or like the rainbow's lovely form,
Evanescing amid the storm"-- Robert Burns

Finally looking at the four addictions it is clear that the four are interwoven into an intricate fabric! one giving 'hue' and 'colour' to the other! Let us not ever get embroiled into weaving such a fabric in our lives!

                                                                   ~~~ Crystal David John

Friday, 1 November 2013


The Indian economy has indeed forged ahead in terms of economic growth since the 1980s and it cannot be denied that India has emerged one of the world's fastest growing economies. Endowed with a rich heritage, a young population, enviable resources, India seems to have a bright future in the economic front. it must also be borne in mind that India also has the distinction of acquiring considerable economic growth within the framework of a democracy. this is not the case for other countries that have registered economic growth.

In spite of this optimism, India is not without doubt and problems. Development instead of reaching out to all has only augmented inequalities. For growth has not encompassed all sectors of the Indian economy uniformly. Growth has on the whole been service specific and sectors like the primary small scale and cottage industries have witnessed slow and erratic progress.

Economic growth especially after the early years of privatization of the economy, and later with globalization taking full control, the toll of the people of the country has been both positive and negative. Nearly all areas of life have been globalized, but all said and done, growth has not been inclusive in nature. Growth has not accommodated all peoples across cultures, caste, class, gender creed and color etc.There seems to be a growing disquiet and discontent among many groups.The growth in the economy has not been accompanied by the provisioning of good public services such as health care, education, power supply, water and infrastructure to all its citizens. 

Instead of gaining rights and freedoms, the poor only find themselves more and more alienated and subjected to wider abuses and denial of basic rights. Both the access to and the ability to use the resources, if accessed are out rightly denied to them.Large number of individuals are trapped in poverty and face a life of debt, deprivation, disease and starvation.A great divide exists between the rich and the poor, the urban and the rural, men and women, the bourgeois and the proletariat, upper and lower castes, higher and lower classes. The urban sector as Michael Lipton puts it "possesses most of the articulations, organization, money and power" Resource allocations between the dogs and the underdogs have always prioritized the needs and aspirations of the former. Elites in the country aided largely by global business view globalization as an opportunity to exploit the poor more effectively.Is it not true that one of the so called the resources of the nation is the continuous existence and nurturing of the poor, the marginalized and the powerless to remain thus? there seems to be an urgent need for them to exist in this state so that the others can rise the corporate ladder by using them as the  rugs. Has development not fostered and enlarged divisions in the economy? Should growth not be shared more equally? For, the question that stares us in the face is "growth for whom"? In this context what our Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh said comes to bear great relevance - " It is important that as a country we learn to walk on two legs, one embracing the process of high growth and the other on economic development to the marginalized."

It is important that we look at the ideology and paradigm of development and growth in the country, the impact of reforms, result of the ongoing economic growth and the losers and gainers in this scenario.

 The task for economists and policy makers is indeed daunting.The need of the hour is the joint effort of focused ,  honest, and selfless individuals - A resource we truly lack in our country!

~~~Crystal David John

Sunday, 27 October 2013

SORROW - A Poem Dedicated to my dear Parents

I dedicate this poem to my dear parents Mr. A. N. G. David and Mrs. C. J. David who have worked for us relentlessly through thick and thin. All the sacrifices of their lives cannot ever me quantified ! After my mother took seriously ill there is nothing more I can say for the sacrifice of my dear father. He has to this day never faltered in caring for his beloved wife. Even as age catches up with him and with immense criticisms that stalk him he has continued to be that devoted husband the world is so urgently in need of!!

Were there no nights,
We will see no stars,
Freedom is in sight
Only through prison bars

With no trial
We’ll know no comfort.
Success is obtained
Only by tedious effort

‘Twas in the cloud
Moses saw God’s face
Only through fire,
Doth gold find its grace.

Do you know that
Grief adds to beauty?
Music is sweetest,
In major and minor key.

Diamonds were but
Coal, under a mine,
But when compressed and
Heated they acquire their shine.

Joy and Sorrow
Makes life complete,
Roses always grow
With thorns at their feet!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Crystal David John 

Saturday, 26 October 2013


Prof Vera Augustus worked with me for 6 years in CReNIEO and Gurukul in Chennai. We worked together  framing the syllabus for the Woman's Studies Department in Gurukul Lutheran Theological College and Research Center. It was indeed a wonderful learning experience for me - a young faculty, with such a senior, erudite and well accomplished  professor. I treasure the opportunity given to me by God above. No class room learning, no degree per se could ever substitute the selfless teaching mechanism Prof Vera Augustus had in her ways of working and dealing with young faculty members like me. When she passed away on the 15th of August 1999, I realized that i had lost a good friend and teacher. Not to this day have I met any other person ( other than my dear parents and a few others like some of my teachers and Dr. Adella Paul) who has gone the extra mile to teach another, to impart knowledge and share all expertise. The world of Academics, sad to say is a wicked, hypocritical and selfish world. However few gems such as Prof. Vera Augustus shine forth. May her soul ever rest in peace! People may wonder why i am writing this 14 years after she expired - well it is for two reasons 1. I found the script of my talk during the thanks giving service 2. i have yet to meet such a sincere person to work with in academics where i find a whole lot of charlatans and lip service givers!!!

On the 21st of August 1999 GLTC conducted a thanksgiving service to commemorate the  work and life of prof. They asked me to speak during this service. Following is what i spoke:

I first met Prof. Vera Augustus in the late 1980s in Women's Christian College, Chennai when she was introduced to me by my sister's (Dr. Beulah Rajkumar) colleague ( Ms. Anna Abraham) of Lady Doak College, Madurai. I had then gone to Prof Augustus to get some details regarding the status of women, for my Ph.D. program. However, since her subject was History and mine is Economics, she felt she could not fully assist me, and hence sent me to another professor who is an economist.I was a total stranger to Prof. Vera Augustus, yet she went all out to help me.Later on when I came down south to Chennai from Lucknow and joined as faculty in CReNIEO and Gurukul, I met her again - this time she was my colleague in the Department of Women's Studies and soon she became my very good friend! This started my 6 year long association with Prof. Vera Augustus- An experience and friendship I will value for life!

An erudite individual she had so much of knowledge one could just not imagine. She was then my Google search -- you ask her anything ans she knew it - I did not even have to click a button. Not only this but immediately or just the next day she would get you all the references/books/clippings and discussions related to the topic in question! You name a doubt - she had an answer or a very relevant comment.There were very few authors she had not read, and by my association with her i got to know of so many more authors that I  had not read. I used to play a kind of game with her and ask her have you read this or that? nearly always her answer was yes, and if at all she had not read the book, she would pester me to get her that book and read it within a day, and then return it to me with her critique! This game of mine often humbled me as I realized how much I did not know. A Ph.D. degree does not definitely guarantee you with this kind of knowledge, it is no criteria at all. In fact Prof. Vera Augustus was an MA in History - not a Ph.D. holder! I am truly indebted to her as i have learnt such a lot from her, especially in the field of Women's Studies - A Champion of Women's Concerns she was attached to many NGOs in the city of Chennai.She always campaigned that Women's studies should be action oriented, besides having a rigorous theoretical component attached.

Ma'am was a walking encyclopedia - any clarification that was needed we would be drawn to her like a magnet. She was also the news paper for many individuals in college. If one had not had the time to scan the paper in the morning, a brief encounter with her would be enough. 

She was always ready to help yet she was never bossy. She knew so much had such a storehouse of information in her computerized brain, yet she was extremely humble. She had the wonderful ability to see good things in unexpected places and talents in unexpected people. She never ever projected herself, even though she was fully equipped to do so. 

She was also a special friend to my little daughter - she had so many baby books for her to read -- her name in my daughter's baby vocabulary was 'Gurukul Grandma'. 

An extremely conscientious person, she would never leave anything undone.However tired or sick she was she would always insist that we sit and finish what we had begun. Even as she became weaker she fought all ailments and worked relentlessly.
An extremely meticulous person with a fantastic memory she was good at any thing she laid her hands upon. From writing poetry and setting it to music to Origami, from knowledge about plants and the environment to politics and sports, from philosophies and realities - she knew it all. So versatile was she, that very often we at Gurukul were awe struck. Her vast interests, experience, capabilities and above all the desire to share it all, drew her into many committees and she willingly helped. So interested was she in her world of academics that she tended to neglect her health. Even when so many times I advised her to look after her health she kept telling me she was all right. Since my mother is a cancer patient I even told her 'Ma'am I think you have cancer' and she laughed and said "I like the way you are so straight forward" Even when she decided to got to Mangalore for the symposium with all of us towards the end of July 1999, he rill health did not seem to bother her. A number of times she told me that her trip to Mangalore had done her so much of good. Whether it did good to her or no, it surely did us a lot of good as we enjoyed her response to the papers presented there.

After her return from Mangalore when she took so ill that she would only cough and cough, she told me that all along I was right and that she did have a lump in her breast, for a very long time. She just could not eat and so I rushed out of the little staff room we shared in Gurukul, and got her a cup of soup to have, which she enjoyed. She then took me to her room on campus and gave me two books from British Council Library and requested me to return the same. Even in such distress she highlighted to me another of her treasured quality - Absolute Honesty. I took the books and that evening I returned them. Even when she left college on the 4th of August after her health condition was diagnosed, she did not tell me any thing about her health but gave me an outline that she had drawn up for the foreign students who would be coming to Gurukul, and requested me to hand it over to the Rev. Mani Chacko. Till the end she laboured and shamed many of us all along!

When she was admitted in hospital and I went to see her, she held my hand  and told me -- "Crystal it is Cancer -- you were clearly right all along" and then she asked me if I returned the books and I told her - 'yes' - she just smiled and said 'bye' - that was the last I heard her say for on the 15th I got the news that with the first Chemo she suffered a heart attack and went to be with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Speaking on behalf of Gurukul, I can only say that we will miss her tremendously. It has been said that no one is indispensable - but I do have a feeling that the gap ma'am leaves behind will not be ever sufficiently filled!

Wednesday, 27 February 2013


I believe fully that one must follow one's heart no matter what society or family or friends or teachers might tell you. Follow your heart and then you will control your profession and not the other way around. Do not ever become plastic dolls - male or female -- to fit into a profession. let the profession fit into you. unless there is this fire or passion within oneself the profession will take over the person and then we are bogged down with all the protocol, the artificiality, the built up flair that supposedly MUST go along a profession. If one controls the profession because we have followed our dreams dictated to us by our hearts and not the heads of others, then and then only will passion enter our profession and then and only then will your work be truly loved by others and not considered work - I mean work as a burden. I have noticed that many parents push their kids into streams they don't like or by accident students choose subjects they don't like and then we call them failures! well they are not really failures - they are folks who have not followed their hearts!
During my years of teaching I have  come across friends and colleagues who are extremely passionate about their profession. They are the ones who have chased their dreams and have had a vision and hence a mission cemented by the fire or can I say the passion that burns within a person to do something good for society. Such passions can be for any profession - be it  medicine, engineering, theater, music, art, etc... However if it has been thrust upon us --- it remains thrust upon us-- as a burden --not that which one has striven for from within. This then makes the difference in the quality of output. 
Hence before recruiting staff for any profession it would be wise to select the person not necessarily only with the qualifications in mind, but also from observation - as to whether the person is 
1. Cut out for the job, 
2. Has a passion that has driven oneself to the profession. 
3. Is not pretending to be possessing that passion!
I have had some very passionate and not so passionate teachers. It is for the latter that the burden of the profession is so heavy that the job gives them no satisfaction (except for the pay packet). It is in such cases that the quality drops.The burdensome 'job' becomes a baggage they carry along up to their retirement. In the process they put others on the receiving end through boredom, torture and agony. Let us be wary of such recruits for they tend to be a terrible drain on an institution!
                                                                   ~~~Crystal David John

Sunday, 10 February 2013


 We are anxious about tomorrow,
Missing the joys of today,
Worrying about numerous problems,
That may never cross our way
God takes care of all our morrows,
Today is but yours and mine,
Resting in God Who's always faithful,
Just live one day at a time!
 If God can clothe the grass of the field
And adorn the lilies fair,
He will surely care more for you, just
Trust Him with all your care.
~~~Crystal David John

Monday, 28 January 2013


“Sincerity is an openness of heart, we find it in very few people; what we usually see is only artful dissimulation to win the confidence of others” – La Rochefoucauld, Reflections

While signing letters we often write “Sincerely Yours”. Have you ever wondered how the word sincere evolved? The word “sincerity” indeed has an extremely interesting origin. At the height of Rome’s fame when the Tiber River was lined with noble palaces made of the choicest marble, men vied with each other in the construction of these dwellings. Immense sums of money were paid for the gifted sculptors. However some less skilled artisans resorted to deceitful tricks to maintain their position. If they accidently chipped the edges of the stone or discovered some conspicuous flaw in their carving they would fill up the chink or mask the deficiency with a specially prepared wax that looked exactly like marble. Sometimes their deception would not be discovered for months on end, until extreme heat caused the wax to melt and dislodge. Hence those who decided to erect additional mansions began to insert a clause in the contract to the effect that the work from first to the last was to be ‘sine cera’ that is “without wax”. Thus we derived our word sincere/ sincerity, which mean “to avoid any attempt to misrepresent”.
Let us then not ‘wax’ up our faults for this is not sincere! It is extremely important for all of us to be sincere, honest, and truthful in all that we say and all that we do. Very often we find it easier to shade the truth, and gloss up the facts. One of the distinguishing marks of the character of Jesus was His complete honesty. Being Truth incarnate His word can always be relied upon. It is beyond question.
White lie is one of the most common evils of our day. God cannot tolerate lies and deceitful soft soaping. He deserves within and without. Let us hence not bluff one another! Pretending to be that which we are not is living a lie. Being silent when we know the truth is also being insincere. Silence speaks and often does so very loudly!
If we are honest we will be sincere. Our God is a sincere personality and hence He lays a high premium on sincerity.
The older brother of Insincerity is Stealing. Stealing has different forms and often will not be recognized. It may be a carelessly prepared income tax return, taking a full salary for half hearted work, or even no work at all. Underpaying an employee or employing persons in jobs not corresponding to their expertise and qualifications, and then underpaying them amounts to cheating and robbing. One can be very insincere as far as promises are concerned; broken promises emerge from an insincere attitude. Keeping one waiting or going late for an appointment or for class also amounts to robbing -- robbing others of their time! All who encourage flattery; nepotism, discrimination, and bias are all different flavors of dishonesty. Pretending to be happy when the heart is in distress and worried or just the opposite are all the forms of insincerity - of nurturing the wax that glosses up the facts and the reality and are absolutely hypocritical.

“There should be more sincerity and heart inhuman relations, more silence, and simplicity in our interactions. Be rude when you’re angry, laugh when something is funny. And answer when you’re asked” ~~Anton Chekhov, Letter to A.P. Chekhov, Oct. 13, 1888.

~~ Crystal David John

Sunday, 27 January 2013


Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence!!

In stillness there is strength. In silence there is sound. According to Pascal most of a person’s difficulty materializes from the fact that the person is unable to sit quietly in one’s chamber.

All of us need silence to work,to reflect, to meet with oneself. Only by reflecting do we get to surpass exigent problems. Silence helps us think and meditate. Silence tends to challenge us, for in silence we actually face ourselves, and we have no cover - ups – such as words, and noise, and loud music. For the ones who can’t face themselves, noise is a balm – as escape mechanism to run from oneself!

In this world of addictive noise, words, and activity, it is a solace to withdraw into silence. Yes and in a crowd one can do so. In the din of the world one can acquire peace in silence! It is a wonderful experience to withdraw from the obsession of the clamour and clatter of the world. It is also the time we move away from all our inner obligations . Hence when we are quiet and tranquil, we withdraw from our own inner duress – from others’ expectations and our own cravings. If we are silent when we have to be, we will get the right words to speak. As Bonheoffer says "right words come out of right silence, and right silence comes out of right words. Yes there must be a healthy interaction between the right words and right silence."

St. Isaac of Nineveh, who wrote in Syriac, towards the end of the seventeenth century, clearly extolled the strength in silence. This is what he wrote: “Many are avidly seeking, but they alone find who remain in continual silence…Every man who delights in multitude of words, even though he says admirable things, is empty within.”

Talking of the value of silence Mother Teresa pointed out - -“See how nature, the trees, the flowers, the grass grow in perfect silence – see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence…silence gives us a new outlook on everything. We need silence to be able to touch souls.”  It is imperative that we nurture the habit of resting in silence, for in restlessness and, the din of the world there can be neither growth nor fruition.

Yet the clamour and noise of our competitive driven consumerist society deafens and paralyzes us. For some of us God is deaf! For others their friends and colleagues are hard of hearing, and for still other all are deaf. For such folks the whole world will get to know all that has happened to them the previous day, week, month, year or even their entire lifespan!!! Such are the folks who suffer from verbal diarrhea!

Noise is highly destructive and isolates persons; it beats constantly on ones eardrums and drastically reduces efficiency in any work environment. Noise causes stress and nervousness for the one who is a victim to the all pervasive barrage of words! In addition it has the discomfiture of tearing one’s heart apart, away from one self. Yes, we in India are truly citizens of a NOISY DEMOCRACY, creators, and perpetrators of sonorous pollution, besides visual, corporal, material, and environmental pollution. Our productivity will surely increase if there is less clatter around us. However our competence can still be augmented, if the quiet around us is complemented by inner peace and stillness. Inner stillness is necessary if we are to be in perfect control of our faculties. There can be no stillness without regulation, and order of external silence can help us towards that inner serenity that is so indispensable. Stillness within an individual can beyond measure, positively influence society. A convent comes into being because some fine women see how wonderful a thing silence can be. Little things like respect for another’s space, freedom, right to think and work in peace, can be a great blessing indeed!

 People have rights, and one right is the right to silence. Let no one tread on this right, and all others of others! It often shows an excellent authority over language, to desist from using it!

However, an outer garb of tranquility may be very deceptive to others, if the person is in turmoil within. Stillness and silence hence, is not a certification for true tranquility. Sometimes silence speaks volumes and, at other times it is cowardly to remain so. The right balance is needed, as in all else.

Noise, vapid tranquility, and turmoil within  the outer array of silence and peace are the intricate forms of noise pollution that pervades our very existence and rends our hearts asunder. The noise of senseless sounds and the stillness of senseless silence are a bane to our society!

~~Crystal David John

Monday, 21 January 2013


Solomon has wondered about the way of an eagle in the sky. For him it was marvelous to simply watch the bird soar in the blue sky way above the mundane activities at ground level. In Proverbs chapter 30 verses 18 and 19 he states how the way of the eagle in the sky is truly awe inspiring!

Soaring never simply happens. It is the result of strong mental effort - thinking clearly, courageously, confidently and working with determination. No one can ever get out of mediocrity by being lazy. The person who has achieved excellence is the person who has won the battle of the mind and taken captive the correct thoughts. These persons are like the active pen that flows with ink and not like the passive blotter that just sits and soaks up what others do. The world is full of people who give up very easily. What if our Savior was such a person? God still works in and on us. So often it must be so disappointing for Him but he never gives up on us!

Those who aim high are like the strong willed eagle. They are above petty skepticism, or negativism of the majority. Jesus was a person such as this. In everything He did as He sojourned the earth was perfect. We worship a perfect God, who plans everything in His creation. Hence we too must be as meticulous as He is. Even looking at the smallest insect we notice God’s perfect work in it, and He has meant for us to excel like the eagle that soars up in the sky.

Look at the ugly caterpillar. It will remain ugly and spend its life groveling in the dirt if it did not have the perseverance to weave a house around itself and remain quiet inside the cocoon, when metamorphosis takes place. How ever when the caterpillar emerges out of its self built home there is a great struggle. If at this juncture it asked for help or someone attempted to help it out of sheer empathy it would have been maimed for life. For excellence God’s will sure must be honored. Things must be worked out totally according to His plan. Then and only then can we steer clear off mediocrity. Let us also remember that excellence just does not happen. It is not talent. The eagle works at soaring high, and it is the will of God that it perseveres.

Hence we should never be satisfied with mediocrity. We worship an excellent meticulous awesome God and His standards are high. As Christians therefore we must excel in every walk of life.

~~Crystal  David John 

Friday, 11 January 2013


A matchless growth of the economies of the world and the vast exploitation of resources has led to an ecological crisis.  This crisis has dawned upon us only recently. It is a proven fact that the world over development has in varied ways eaten itself up. While all are affected by the ecological crisis, the life of the poor, the women and other under privileged groups are largely impoverished. It is the correlation with ecological crisis and exploitation of women that ecofeminism attempts to highlight. The domination of women is interconnected with the domination of nature. Women are largely identified with nature, earth and matter – all of which are inferior as compared to culture that is identified with men. It is nothing else but the power of mind over body as in the philosophy set for us by Descartes the French Philosopher.

Ecofeminism grew out of various social movements – feminist peace and ecology movements in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The term ‘Ecofeminism’ was first used by Francoise D’ Eaubonne but became popular with the growing number of protests against environmental destruction that were triggered off by ecological disasters. The first position argues that particularly equates women to nature and hence in order to understand environmental problems a feminist analysis is best suited. Where women are degraded, nature will also be destroyed and abused. When women are ever giving and nurturing nature will be endlessly exploited as it is looked upon as endlessly fertile.
The ecofeminist argument is therefore based on the ideological fact that women and nature should not be placed hierarchically below men. It is because of such a patriarchal pact that development – much of which is over development has led to the suppression of the voiceless – marginalized groups, women and nature.
The addiction with consumption that has been intensely increased due to globalization has intensified exploitation. Material progress is in the driver’s seat and this kind of driving, a chasing behind development goals leads us nowhere, except to a position of total abuse of all that can be subjugated.  It is against this kind of a development paradigm that ecofeminism raises its voice. Maria Mies calls this the ‘Myth of catching up Development’ and she states clearly that it has no where led to the desired goals. Other writers too have echoed this opinion. They have highlighted the fact that the poverty of the under-developed countries is not because of ‘natural’ lagging behind, but a direct result of the overdevelopment of the rich industrial countries who exploit the so called periphery in Africa, South America and Asia. According to Mies, the relationship between the overdeveloped industrial countries and the underdeveloped fringe countries is a colonial one – a colonial relationship between man and nature, men and women, and between urban and rural areas.
The secret of unlimited growth is based on this colonial relationship which is not a partnership but a relationship of force and violence by the colonizer of the colonized. Ecofeminism recognizes this power relationship as the main cause of exploitation and squalor of the natural environment and women. This has led to the escalating marginalization of the weaker sections and to the widening gaps between the haves and the have-nots. The tragedy however is that the haves continue to amass wealth at the expense of the have-nots. Globalization and its impact has been both positive and negative, but the negative impact is borne disproportionately by women, the environment and other vulnerable groups.
Are we not then on the wrong path? We pursue the so called growth horizon, yet find ourselves discontented. This is nothing but the Easterlin Paradox named after Richard A. Easterlin who explained this contradiction. The contradiction as he stated refers to the phenomenon that once basic human needs are met (food, shelter, community stability, etc) human happiness does not quantitatively increase with financial gain. It is fundamental that students and the youth are taught this. The more we run behind wealth and all that growth has to offer us, the more apprehensive we get, the less time we have and more we deprive others of not even acquiring their basic needs. What we are then left with is a set of people/countries that have too much and are not happy, and the other set of people and countries that do not have enough and are not happy!
 The modern pursuit of capital accumulation, production and consumption patterns have to be abandoned. Social values of sharing have to be encouraged. The model as advocated by ecofeminists is rooted in a new vision of a non-exploitative, non-colonial, non-patriarchal society which respects, not destroys nature. Let us help turn this vision into our mission!

                                                            ~~~Crystal David John

Wednesday, 9 January 2013


Knowledge is based on experience and experience is never gender neutral. Hence it is imperative that any body of knowledge must be inclusive of the experiences of the entire human population. Looking at the experience of only one half of the human race leads to the generation of fractional knowledge. Economics is a victim, so to say, of such partial knowledge, much of its analysis being largely a reflection of men’s experiences and an echo of men’s voices. In short Economics is largely androcentric and has been profoundly prejudiced by the ‘high value’ masculine attitude. This is evident from the very assumptions in the subject which is then bolstered together by male centered methodology.

Economics is based on the concept of cut throat competition and is obsessed with the profit motive. The classical writers like Adam Smith defined the capitalist market system and spoke vividly about the market mechanism which was termed the operation of the ‘invisible hand’…well the title of my article however does not suggest the working of this invisible hand (which is nothing but the price/market mechanism) which drives every decision in the jungle of wild competitors. What I intend to highlight is the working of the invisible economy which operates because of the invisible hands that drives it. No one sees them work - a population largely taken for granted, sidelined and under-represented in the national income accounts. Well I mean none other than THE WOMAN.
Since much of women’s labour is not marketed and economics specializes in the market economy, they get sidelined. They “labour for love” and this labour cannot be monetized. However the very fact that women work in this manner enables the man to be the bread winner. This however is not recognized. If these women did not exist or did no such labour out of love all household work like cooking caring cleaning (the therefore three Cs), or work such as provisioning for food fodder and fuel(the three Fs) would have to be paid for. Technically speaking therefore women are providing what one can term as LMC or Lifetime Maintenance Contract for their families. If it were not for the social costs they bear it would become extremely expensive for the man to be the breadwinner. In the real world there is a constant interplay between the production economy and the economy concerned with rendering reproduction, care and human welfare. Diane Elson has fittingly defined this, “we have two economies: the economy in which people earn wages in order to produce things to be sold on the market or financed through taxation. This is the economy based on goods, which every one considers ‘the economy’. On the other hand we have the veiled economy, the invisible one, the one devoted to care” What separates the two economies is the fact that domestic work is tremendously unwieldy to compute. Such work is generally carried out by girls and women inside the house and is only indirectly connected to the market. It is synchronized by ideologies, traditional, cultural and religious norms and of the society and is not assigned any pecuniary value. Household work is largely indivisible and not paid for. Indivisibility is coupled with patriarchal ideologies wherein only women are allocated the responsibility of providing the nurture and maintenance of the household. All such work which forms the major part of the embodiment of human capital is not accounted for at all - after all it is embodiment that flows from love, and love will not remain love if it is monetized!!!
Further even if they work for wages it is largely in the unorganized sector where again there are lacunae in the counting of the work done by them. Women hence get left out since much of their labour is contributed to the unorganized sector. It is non remunerative as there is an abundance of such labour available to perform such tasks freely. Very often women are the major or the only breadwinners in their families. However the meaning of the term worker tends to omit part time and seasonal workers, hence such women get counted out. These women are therefore veiled in data as portrayed by Ela Bhatt when she coined the term ‘Statistical Purdah’ to explain how women workers are under counted by the census and NSSO operations in India. These are the invisible hands in reality!! Not the market mechanism as promulgated by Adam Smith! Women’s work has always been looked at as secondary. Workers who earn just pin money. Yet without this contribution many a home will crumble under the yoke of insufficient finance. Many a home will come to a stand still if these invisible hands stop working! But ‘love’ will not stop these hands! Should I say love that is voluntary or love that is imposed artificially by moral cultural and traditional codes!
For most people and also the average enumerators women normally are housewives even if they work outside their homes for wages. Though the Census the NSSO and the ILO have widened the definition of the worker to include many tasks done by women, yet the mindset of such officials and policy makers needs total overhauling! There has to be the consciousness within these data office workers, as well as theorists and policy makers to recognize and accept women as equally productive workers. There has to be a revolution in the thinking process of both men and women.
If the working of the invisible hand is extolled on a pedestal in the Smithian system, is it not just and fair that these INVISIBLE HANDS are also duly recognized, for the work they do to keep the cogs of the economy functioning smoothly?

Dr. Crystal David John
Post Graduate Head
Dept. of Economics
Stella Maris College
Chennai 600 086