Times of India – 4th April 2007

It’s not always rape if woman is drunk, ruled a UK judge, freeing a young man jailed for rape after he had sex with a drunken student. While the judgement raised hackles all around, experts here too say that ‘the law will see it no differently here’. But the truth, according to case workers and victims, may be lost somewhere in-between.

According to a case worker, “The questions that follow such incidents are often absurd, ignoring even obvious truths. People ask, ‘Why was she drinking with him then’; ‘wasn’t the drinking a preamble for other things to follow?’

But the fact is, it’s common social practice today for men and women to drink together. “College students may meet over a beer, instead of a coffee to discuss a project or a play. Does this mean that every time a guy is drinking with a girl it’s a preamble for sex?” asks college student Chetan P, who is also a volunteer with an AIDS awareness programme.

Having said that, the equation can vary depending on the occasion and the context. “Drinking at clubs with the opposite sex and in mixed groups is common and seen as quite harmless,” says final year law student Sanchita Samson.

“But a private party at a friend’s place once got totally out of hand. It was a large group, consisting mostly of friends. But a few guys who were friends of friends also landed up. Everyone was drinking and having a good time. But things got nasty when a few couples who were going around found quiet corners for themselves. These new guys who had shown up thought this was a done thing and forced themselves on some girls. There was screaming and shouting and hitting. The party ended soon after, but the scars will remain for a long time.”

No complaints were filed by any of the girls in this case. “What could we do? Who’ll believe us with alcohol on our breath?” asks Sanchita. But two of the girls who were affected badly are now in counselling and recovering.

Worse still is the practice of spiking drinks with substances that can knock a person out. “There are even drugs that don’t just knock you out, but make your body respond to the stimulation and yet leave you with no recollection of it,” says a volunteer, Sudha Ramachandra. All this works gravely against a woman and the law too is of no help, she laments.

Legal expert Sachidanand Murthy says, “The accused is presumed innocent till proved guilty. So even if a man has raped a woman, if he can prove that she had been voluntarily drinking with him, in an Indian situation, it will greatly weaken the case for her. An element of doubt will creep in and the woman can forget about a ruling in her favour.”

But counsellor Ian Faria says, “We should not make sweeping generalisations. It depends on the situation and the circumstances surrounding the case. It would also be necessary to consider the issue of misuse of the law. Men could misuse this law and get a woman to take an extra drink or two, and take advantage of the situation. However, without the law women could, theoretically, have an extra drink or two, do what they wanted, and then frame the man for rape. Therefore I still feel, the circumstances, and even more importantly, the character of the parties involved should also be considered in conjunction with the existing laws.”

Times of India – 16 Mar 2007

If men are choosing ‘sex’ only over love, young women today find nothing wrong in making a similar choice.

Men, according to a recent report, are fighting shy of love, preferring sex instead, even heading for exotic locales to get their fix. And don’t think the women are weeping over their broken hearts. In fact, they are quite cool about sexual flings, no strings attached! What’s love got to do with it, ask many young women today.

It’s bound to happen in the current environment, say experts. According to counsellor Ian Faria, “Working women today have to be aggressive, having to compete with men at various levels. They’ve got to be increasingly man-like. We all have a bit of the male and the female in us.

In women, it’s their male component that’s acting.”He adds that the way man-woman relationships are viewed will alter in this changing ethos. “Today’s standards are different,”he says, “women have begun to take charge of their lives. If they need something, they go get it.”

IT professional Ananya Seth agrees, saying, “I have no qualms admitting that I have had sex just for fun, with no emotional attachment. With the Indian mentality there may be an iota of guilt, but seriously, who has the time for a relationship?”She adds that she knows many young women who feel the same way.

“It’s because women today are comfortable with their sexuality,”says Ananya. Actor Ashmit Patel says, “Yes a lot of women today feel they can divorce sex from love. I think women have taken this equality thing to a whole new level.

I mean, they’ve put on the pants and also taken them off. And I don’t think they are doing it to prove anything. It’s just the way society is today. In the end, if both the partners are clear about what they want and are safe, I don’t think it really matters.”

Model Shama Swapan maintains that it is indeed an individual choice. “I wouldn’t judge any women on the basis of how they want to live their lives,”she says. “If I know someone who wants to indulge in sex without love, I will not discourage her.

It’s better than falling into a casual relationship. But the truth is, we all want someone to go home to, someone who cares about us. So even though they may say no strings attached, they’ll still be like ‘Oh, I like him’.

There are indeed others who still value romantic love above all else. Model Radhika Rao says, “Love rules! I would want to make love to someone, not just have sex. The whole thing about just having sex could be fun for a while but then later it can really make you sick and depressed.”

But that isn’t necessarily the case. “I don’t think depression is a natural outcome of a choice like this,”says Ian Faria. “If you are entering into a only-sex-no-love equation knowing what you are doing, I don’t think you should be affected by it.”

Men are likely to be challenged in a situation like this, feel many young women. “Indian men always thought sexual adventures were their forte, now women are taking over there, too,”says Ananya.

Times of India – 8 Feb 2005

Blame it on stress, noise, or deadlines, but very little of what you say is actually being listened to Schools and colleges have banned cell phones, and etiquette demands you switch off phones at a play or concert, but according to psychologists, gadgets and wired living are taking their toll on listening.

“The mind is working at such a pace because of modern lifestyles that face-to-face communication is actually found to be slow and wanting,” says psychologist Priya Devaraj. Add to this interruptions by the ringing of your phone, your chat screen bleep announcing you have a message, the thought of deadlines that have to be met, and the low attention span we have been blessed with thanks to early TV viewing. Amidst the buzzing and bleeping, not much of what is being said is actually being heard.

Taking this further is counsellor Ian Faria, who says, “We have been taught how to talk, but nobody teaches us how to listen. Only seven per cent of what we say is understood through words, 38 per cent is through voice modulation and 55 per cent through body language. In phone conversations, 23 is understood through words and the rest through voice modulation. So if a listener wants to get the full import of the message, he has to be sensitive to these other cues. He or she has to watch out for what the words are backed with, like voice modulation and gestures. Often, people don’t pick up obvious visual and kinesthetic cues, leading to a lot of stress and frustration.”

Like architect Mano Nathan, who found after 12 sittings with his client that the latter had not been listening. Says Mano, “Our client was a businessman who kept getting calls right through all our meetings with him. He saw our drawings, we advised him on corporation rules and made several changes to what was originally proposed. After the building came up, our client refused to pay us saying we hadn’t kept to the plan. Obviously, he hadn’t been listening to anything we said at the meetings.”

Companies too lose manpower when an executive feels he is not being heard. “This may lead to frustration and the worker may isolate himself and not feel a part of the team. Even one incident where the boss doesn’t hear out suggestions completely may lead to this,” says Sushil T, an HR expert.

The number one reason why people don’t listen is that they have not finished speaking, says Sabita Murthy, a trainer. “If you interrupt someone who is speaking they will not be able to listen to you because they will be thinking about what they still want to say. Therefore, if you want to make sure someone will fully hear you out, make sure they have finished speaking before you start talking. Sometimes, even when someone has stopped speaking, they haven’t finished their thoughts. Give them time and then they will be ready to listen to you,” she says.

Good listeners are better learners, have greater confidence levels and move up the ladder faster. “You will find that top CEOs, who have made quick strides to the top, are good listeners,” says Ian.

Toastmasters International Taped Speech Contest of 2001

Communication is the most sought after of all the skills in today’s world. It is the only tool for a universal connect. It is the need of the hour, the feed for the people and deed for all business.

This city is proud to have a citizen whose skills in Communication have been recognized at a global platform. Ian Faria, also known as the Transformator is the recent recipient of the highest award from the most reputed Toastmasters International.

In recognition of Ian Faria’s contribution in the field of Communication and Leadership, Toastmasters International has conferred upon him the most prestigious Hall of Fame award the ‘Presidential Citation’ at the recently held Annual Conference in Washington DC. Being the first recipient of such an award for India as a country makes Ian a legendry figure in the field of Communication.

He has won the Toastmasters International Taped Speech Contest of 2001

Ian is a ‘Distinguished Toastmaster’ and has been the Immediate Past Chairman of the Territorial Council of South Asia.

Ian specializes in behavioral changes. The “Transformator” helps cast away the past pains and realise the veiled potential in a person and empowers his trainee to “renovate” into a more effective person to create environments that promote high performance and appropriate appreciation amongst individuals. Ian strongly believes in the power that lies within an individual which has to be discovered, nurtured and put to practice to make the world a better place.

Faria has founded Academy for Personal Excellence & Power, which specializes in Communication and Attitudinal Enhancement. The Academy promotes experiential learning not sermons.