It was great to read Aesha's post about a recent incident where large-hearted Dilliwalas extended a helping hand to a group of women stranded in a car accident. It appears the mass protests following the gang-rape of a physiotherapy intern last December have stirred the public conscience in some small way and urged people to treat women with respect.

Quite coincidentally, the post went up at a time when the country is celebrating Raksha Bandhan, the strong bond of love and affection between brothers and sisters. Though it is an important festival in the North, the sentiment behind the festival applies universally.

This year I found myself being drawn into the practices and traditions of this festival by my six-year-old twins. Their teacher at school had instructed all the girls to 'make' rakhis for the boys, who would in turn have to bring chocolates and 'thank you cards' for the girls. And so it was that the whole family was bent over the task of making a rakhi for the daughter and a 'thank you card' for the son.

Though it was a relief to finally have everything in place for the class celebrations, the whole episode left a very pleasant feeling. It underlines our country's rich traditions and the beautiful sentiment behind this festival. And we would do well to hark back to the age-old values held up for us by previous generations.

If one were to think about it, we take our national pledge as brothers and sisters of the Republic. In Chennai, it is common to hear women being referred to as 'sister' whether in a crowded bus or in a shop haggling for a better price. Similarly, young boys are thambi or little brother and the bus conductor anna, big brother. In Kerala this would translate into chechi (for sister) and cheta (brother). Up North, autorickshaw drivers, taxi drivers and shopkeepers are all called bhai saab.

This goes to prove that our society has encouraged men and women to look out for each other as brothers and sisters would. We need to build on these traditions, and the earlier we inculcate these values in the new generation, the better.