Sunday March 24, 2019
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It’s not what you wear, but the way you wear it

Men lack the enzyme which processes self-awareness, which is why we think we look good in Speedos

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A lot depends upon what we wear and how we carry it. Wikimedia Common
A lot depends upon what we wear and how we carry it. Wikimedia Common

Definition of being behind on the laundry: When you find yourself seriously considering wearing a Halloween costume to work.

I expected my wife to veto the idea, but she was okay with it, saying: “It’s not what you wear that counts, but whether you can carry it off.”

Mind you, this was a phone conversation and so she couldn’t see what I was wearing. In the event, going to work in a killer clown outfit was not as bad as it might have been, and the fake bloodstains on the costume proved advantageous. Fellow passengers quickly gave me a seat on the bus — actually, a whole block of seats.

Also Read: Get quirky with your shoes

The main (and possibly only) advantage of marriage for guys is that we are given full-time aides (“wives”) who generally prevent us going out looking too ridiculous. Men lack the enzyme which processes self-awareness, which is why we think we look good in Speedos.

Proof: In my true-crime file is a report about a criminal fugitive on the run in Japan who disguised himself in a girls’ sailor suit school uniform. Since he was a tall man with massive shoulders, he managed to evade detection for only minutes.

Definition of being behind on the laundry: When you find yourself seriously considering wearing a Halloween costume to work. Wikimedia Commons
Definition of being behind on the laundry: When you find yourself seriously considering wearing a Halloween costume to work. Wikimedia Commons

Another true story: Last year, a pair of bank robbers decided to dress as women to scope out a bank in Thomasville, Florida. The result was the opposite of what they expected: They became the centre of attention, of course.

It is really hard for men to dress convincingly as females as we lack the two main things that make a woman a woman — good taste, and the ability to walk with our feet clamped in instruments of torture known as “lady’s shoes”.

There’s one exception which proves my point. In November last year, the coach of the Thailand women’s kabaddi team was dismayed to find out that males were banned from attending women’s sports events in Iran, where his team was playing. So he wrapped his head in a female scarf and marched straight in.

Also Read: Why Do People Get Aggressive After Drinking?

He fooled nobody but correctly judged that the women would be too nice to throw him out. Smart guy.

Our UK correspondent shared a sad news item about a group of men who raised money for their local hospital by dressing as nurses and pushing a bed around town. The hospital refused to accept the cash as they said it was considered politically incorrect for men to dress as nurses these days.

It is really hard for men to dress convincingly as females as we lack the two main things that make a woman a woman. Wikimedia Commons
It is really hard for men to dress convincingly as females as we lack the two main things that make a woman a woman. Wikimedia Commons

This seems unfair, as I have seen marathon runners dressed as bananas, dinosaurs and Q-Tips without complaint from fruit sellers, palaeontologists or people who like to poke things in their ears.

But the political issues surrounding women’s clothes are complex. In 2011 someone organised a “slutwalk” in Canada. This involved scantily-clad females marching down the road with protest banners. When the Slutwalk arrived in Asia, the women were fully covered up and many of the marchers were male; so the event missed the point, a bit like the Animal Rights Barbecue that a friend of mine once tried to organise.

Also Read: 7 Unfailing Ways To Impress Your Lady Love & Swoon Her Off Her Feet

Anyway, like my wife says, it’s not what you wear but how you wear it. By the way, I look great in a Speedo. (IANS)

(Nury Vittachi is an Asia-based frequent traveller. Send ideas and comments via his Facebook page)

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Sikkim Holds Exceptionally Steady And Silent Progress In Improving The Lives Of Ordinary People

Given the track record, it may be safe to predict that Sikkim might be the first Indian state to offer solutions to the rest of India - and the world.

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Sikkim, along with Meghalaya, occupies the top two positions in the best performing region of Northeast on women's empowerment index comprising of participation of women in household decisions, ownership of land, cell phones and bank account, and instances of spousal violence. Pixabay

Everyone knows that Sikkim is a small extraordinarily picturesque mountainous state tucked away in the Himalayas in the northeast of India. That indeed it is. Even today, there are only around 650,000 people living in the state. However, much less known about Sikkim to the rest of India – and also the world – is the exceptionally steady and silent progress in improving the lives of ordinary people that the state has recorded over the past two decades.

How did Sikkim achieve this? The obvious answer is that Sikkim, like many countries in the world, has ensured that policies that promote economic opportunities go hand-in-hand with policies that ensure an equitable expansion of health, education, nutrition and essential basic social services.

Less obvious is the critical role of political leadership in ensuring improvements in the lives of people. Ensuring that the additional tax revenues from economic growth are invested in expanding human capabilities does not happen automatically. Chief Minister Pawan Chamling – the longest serving Chief Minister of any Indian state – has prioritized investments in health, education and infrastructure like no other political leader has. After all, ensuring adequate funds for the social sectors is as much a function of the funds available as it is of making it a political priority. Very few political leaders in India and elsewhere recognize the importance of investing in people as Chamling does.

What goes even more unnoticed is the role that women have played in Sikkim’s development success. Traditionally women have enjoyed greater freedom in Sikkim than in many other parts of the country. The Sikkim Human Development Report revealed that the state had the best gender parity performance among the northeastern states, with female labour force participation at 40 per cent, much higher than the national average of around 26 per cent. In recent times, with the support of the state, they have played an active role in various spheres of life.

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Traditionally women have enjoyed greater freedom in Sikkim than in many other parts of the country.Pixabay

Sikkim’s women have exercised leadership by taking advantage of the available educational and development opportunities. This is revealed by the progress on multiple indicators from NFHS 3 to NFHS 4 recorded by Sikkim. According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS 4), 41 per cent women in the state have 10 or more years of schooling – much better than the country’s average of 36 per cent. Only 15 per cent women, age 20-24 years, were married before age of 18 years as against the national average of 27 per cent. There are only 3 per cent teenage pregnancies in the state placing Sikkim as the best among the northeastern states. The infant mortality rate in the state is 30 against national average of 34. Sikkim has improved its performance with regard to safe delivery remarkably by 43 per cent points from NFHS 3 to 97 per cent in NFHS 4, the best in northeastern states.

Sikkim, along with Meghalaya, occupies the top two positions in the best performing region of Northeast on women’s empowerment index comprising of participation of women in household decisions, ownership of land, cell phones and bank account, and instances of spousal violence.

Women in Sikkim are more empowered to take decisions than women in other parts of the country. According to NFHS-4, in 2015-16, 85 per cent women have the freedom of movement, including to market, health facility and places outside the village or community compared to national average. Almost all (95 per cent) of currently married women in Sikkim participate in household decisions as against national average of 84 per cent. Nearly 80 per cent women in the state have mobile phones for personal use against 46 per cent at the national level. Close to two-thirds (64 per cent) of women in Sikkim – as against just over half 953 per cent) of women across India – have a bank or savings account that they themselves operate. Only 3 per cent ever married women have ever experience spousal violence as against 29 percent nationally – the lowest across Indian states.

Sikkim has, however, many things to worry about. This includes creating jobs for its young people within the state, improving the quality of education, protecting residents from natural disasters, expanding infrastructure and so on. Equally worrisome is the sharp decline in total fertility rate (TFR) – 1.2 in 2015-16 – which is well below the replacement level of 2.1. This sharp decline in TFR might have also contributed to the worsening of the female-to-male ratio at birth from 984 in 205-06 to 809 in 2015-16.

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Sikkim has, however, many things to worry about. This includes creating jobs for its young people within the state, improving the quality of education, protecting residents from natural disasters, expanding infrastructure and so on. Pixabay

The reduced TFR is not good news as it may result in an age-structural transformation wherein Sikkim, like Kerala, will have to address the challenges of an aging population. This could get manifested in the short supply of workers as well as a further decline in the sex ratio. With shrinking active labour force, Sikkim’s economy could experience loss in economic output and possibly a decline in income levels. There could also be an increase in the elderly dependency ratio and morbidity levels on account of a rise in non-communicable diseases. Sikkim will have to mobilize the resources needed to extend financial support of the elderly and make provisions to address, in particular, their health care needs. It will also have to deal with the challenge of declining fertility rates.

Also Read: Millennium City Is Witnessing Rise In Illegal Trade Of Marijuana

These challenges may not come as a surprise to the political leadership in Sikkim. They should not given how well Chief Minister Chamling and the executive are connected the people. Given the track record, it may be safe to predict that Sikkim might be the first Indian state to offer solutions to the rest of India – and the world. (IANS)