Media Hive is an Elabros Films group company

Write For Us

Students can mail us their write-ups on any topic/issue with their photographs at editor@mediahive.co.in

They must mention their courses & name of institutes/colleges as well as contact details.

Student Speaks

Want To Crack Jamia's Mass Comm, IIMC, ACJ, Symbiosis

READ Media Hive's Journalism & Mass Communication Entrance Exam Guide (Rs400; PDF format). To Buy e-mail at mediahive1@gmail.com Click HERE for details.
SUCCESS GUARANTEED for students seeking admission in Media courses.

Posted on 24.06.2015

Let's Not Politicised Yoga

By Surbhi Mishra
Media Hive News Network

Yoga, an ancient art of India to master the body and soul, was embraced by thousands of people all over the world to feel its power on International Yoga Day on June 21.

But this simple way of meditation, concentration has now became a debatable topic with the entry of politics, propoganda and religious fight for no reason. It seems that it was easy the way people practice in their daily life than making it worldwide factor because the motto of peace is now being transformed as a chaostic one.

Celebrating International Yoga Day means spreading positivity in each and every person who practice it but in a subtle manner it has been transmogrify as political agenda and benefit. Success came not by announcing itself but in silence embraced by hardwork. A great initiative is taken to proliferate yoga practices, for benefitting the people all around the world. Today if yoga is successful than its because of the contribution and efforts made by yoga guru like BKS Iyengar amd Ramdev baba.

Renowned yoga guru BKS Iyengar fuelled the practices of yoga globally by establishing studios in 72 countries and popularized yoga in the West. He died in 2014 at the age of 95, such is the power of yoga that can not only make you healthy but gives a long life. On the other hand well-known Ramdev baba made yoga a symbol of inner strength and energy, teaching a mass of people its benefit as a medicine to cure disease.

International Yoga Day should be marked with the contributions of such great personalities rather than focusing on the absence of India's vice-president Hamid Ansari and thus making it a religious issue without being sure. We are living in a world of multiculturalism, where a slight mistake may cause riots and doubt may led to war. Focusing on negativity make things worsened. It's a day to find one own peace of mind and a healthy life and be done with it. The only thing we can do is to live with sense of humor so as to not judge anything because it's in news and because it is against us.

What is admirable is, the step taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for giving yoga a world platform and recognition. Not only it does help to build India stronger image but also foster a sense of connectivity, within us, ourselves and everyone around. The notion is that they gave us direction and we need to build our own path, and to sustain our own culture and spirituality.

Be it swacch bharat abhiyaan, any reforms as planning commission or international yoga day, it is our duty to preserve the essence of it, its value and that is what we needed to build our path, to emerge not as a confused but a conscious citizen..
.
(Views expressed are personal. The writer is a student of Journalism from Maharaja Agrasen College, DU. She can be contacted at surbhimishra43@gmail.com

Posted on 06.04.2015

Now, Feel Free to Express Your Views

By Shagufta Ahmed
Media Hive News Network

Finally Section 66 A has gone on March 24.The Supreme Court has declared that the amendment is unlawful which first come in UPA II regime in 2008. Section 66 A of the Information Technology Act was deliberately misuse by police most of the times, who arrested the innocent citizens of our country.

What Exactly The Section 66 A was:-

In Section 66 A where you can't write any contentious thing online. Especially on social media like Facebook and twitter.This topic came in a light on 2012. When Renu Srinivasan and Shaheen Dhada, both students, were allegedly arrested for liking the comment following the demise of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray.

The Role Of Supreme Court:-

This is not a only an epitome for the misuse of law by the police and politician of the Section 66 A. There are many more like Ravi Srinnivasan, a businessman from Pondicherry arrested for posting an 'offensive' comment on twitter against Karti Chidambaram -- the son of the union finance minister P Chidambaram. Another example of S Skariah, a journalist from Kerala arrested for publishing 'offensive' content against Bishopes on his online Malayalam portal "Marunadan Malayalee". A total of 22 cases have been registered against him. Ambikesh Manapatra, a professor of West Bengal arrested for mocking West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee by circulating e-mails.

Aseem Trivedi, a cartoonist from Mumbai was arrested for allegedly pocking at the constitution and the national emblem. Last but not the least we all have seen the fresh case in Bareily where a student of class 11 arrested for commenting against urban development minister Azam Khan on Facebook.Supreme Court does commendable job by eradicated the law 66 A. Now, you can write whatever you want. At least you will not arrested for just liking the comment or post.

What The Law Is Now ?

It sounds good that the apex court struck down the Section 66 A. But it does not mean its free for all. According to article 19(2) of the Constitution means to give equality for all and if your comment found to be too "offensive" and ugly you will be behind the bars up to 3 years with suitable fine.this law kick's you any time.

Finally, in my opinion you are free to express your views and expression online, but you have to be careful.
.
(Views expressed are personal. The writer is an aspiring media student. She can be contacted at shgfthmd@gmail.com)

Posted on 24.09.2014

PR: An Exciting Career for Mass Media Students

By Dipjyoti Das
Media Hive News Network

Excellent communication skills and effective convincing abilities are some prominent qualities which might just help you to carve out a successful career in public relations. It is an exciting career option for media science graduates and post graduates in today’s global interactive digital era. Anyone having potential to persuade and communicate effectively may opt for a career in Public Relation which has emerged as a booming career option with the focus primarily shifting on branding, publicity and promotion among organizations ensuring openings for talented prospective mass media students.

After completing school, you may choose to pursue a specialised degree course on public relations or a degree on mass media which will eventually lead you to establish a career in public relations. The job prospects in India and abroad are high with several multinational organizations hiring skilled PR professionals to ensure smooth functioning of daily activities. The growth for PR professionals can be stated as phenomenal. Considering the fact that there are numerous TV channels, News channels and IT companies and BPOs/KPOs, the need for PR professionals in the market is on an all-time high. Other similar subjects include corporate communications, technical communication and so on. Considering that these are all interwoven subjects, a PR professional can succeed in any field if he has passion and willingness to learn more with time.

Some fundamental qualities are to be possessed by the aspiring candidates to achieve success and fulfil there potentials. A public relation professional not only has to be a effective communicator but skilled writers, journalists, public speakers and cold callers who are media-savvy and well-versed in pop culture and current events.

A brief insight into the public relation profile will certainly help the prospective applicants to have a better idea about the activities assigned to public relation professionals. Every government or private corporate entity has a separate public relations wing which primary objective is to monitor, evaluate and maintain mutual relations and understanding with its various stakeholders to make sure everything is operating smoothly in the company and in situations of crisis too it helps to resolve and mediate problems. It often acts as a bridge and liaison between different departments, management and employees of an organization. It is a profession where you need to have a thorough understanding of the listener’s psyche in order to achieve the desired results.
.
(Views expressed are personal. The writer is an MA in Mass Communication. He can be contacted at dipjyotidas.301@rediffmail.com)

Posted on 02.06.2014

Youth See Ray of Hope in Modi

By Saurav Khekde
Media Hive News Network

Last Month, the world witnessed the historical win of Narendra Modi-led BJP in India. The election of Modi as PM of the country marked the culmination of one of the biggest poll exercise. One of the most interesting section in this election was the 12-crore youth voters' turnout, Which proved to be the most important factor.

The party which was very much alert to woo this vote-bank was BJP. Modi knew that the country was going through the feeling of outrage against the ruling coalition, UPA, on the issues like LokPal, Corruption, Crime against women. He knew very well that youth wanted change and development and he projected himself as a Ambassador of Change as well as Vikas Purush.

The detailed branding and management fundas like 3D rallys, roadshows, micro-level booth management,full audio video campaign program were the campaign tools India saw
for the first time. But one of the main youth catchy tools was interacting face to face with students in Schools and colleges all over the country. Modi spoke on issues of the youth like need of changes in education system, new Employment programme, the plan of how the things will work if he becomes PM. These interactive and youth-friendly aspects impressed young voters, who voted for Modi.

(Views expressed are personal. The writer is BSC Mass Communication & Journalism student of Vishwakarma Creative College, Pune. He can be contacted at Sauravkhekde@gmail.com)

Posted on 20.11.2013

Young India or Confused India

By Ayush Singh
Media Hive News Network

According to the survey done in the year 2007 at least 60% of India’s population was below the age bar of 24 years. In 2013, we can assume now that that 60% population may have reached the bar of 30 till now(approx.) that shows the fact that more than half of our country’s 1.27billion is young. This section of Indian population is referred as “young India”.

Such people needs change and they are ready for the same, they are not going to accept each and every think that is told to them, they apply logic they may be wrong at times or more than a times’ but they are still ready to learn, ready to accept their mistakes and move forward, ready to combat each and every obstacles that act as a barrier in achieving their goal of change. They are not the same as before for whom the word of mouth from the politician is the ultimate hope for one’s growth and if failed then sitting and worshipping or just sitting and crying for their destiny, no they are not like that. This section of people do listen to the politicians but try to take things practically rather then unknowingly, they try they fail but keep on trying each time with a better approach and with the hunger of success.

The feature of this India is that they are not ready to be ruled, they want to be the torch bearer for the society rather than blind foldely following the path shown by others. They are advanced, techno savvy, up to date with the world and are ready for Change.

Now, let us have a look at the other side of the coin, Young India also have some characteristics that raises question on the subjectivity of their being intense and practical. Young India is energetic, knowledgeable, but again if you have a closer look at them then you will find that they are shadowed under their own profile they love to raise voice against the injustice but they don’t know of the result, they are awake nights’ and days’ but they don’t have any direction this will not take rule out the fact that they are not doing good for the country but the fact that arises here is that they, are they composed in their own sense, they will get irritated at no of times but that does not mean that they are not mature at this very blooming age of their life, they are definitely mature and have will to cut down of all the facets that come under the radar of injustice in their books but is raising the voice only will do good to them or something else need to done. This section of the same young Indian is “Confused India”.

Why this debate?

The people from old school of thought might think that what is the need of this debate, means if someone was not raising the voice against the bad things it was a problem of awareness now if people are raising their voice then let them do so what is point of discussion here to question their way of expression and how in the world will you relate the same with the end results, how mass can be composed and silent when they are demanding justice from such a government which has justified all the dimensions of being handicapped. The point here that arises is that if the results will come not come then the youth will get dishearten and here the point is not of being sad or happy here the point is that if your voice is against odds and you urge for change then go the way you can get your goal.

Also, the population that is youth for next 5 to 10 years will also change and become old not nullifying the fact that Indians are faster in miracle process of life but then also the ratio won’t be the same that was in the year 2007 and also the time would also not be the same because it is not that youth are only in this point of time they have always been there but it’s just the saturation point that make things happen and demand the change and seeking the need for change one should respect it and fight for it. So, it is necessary for each one of us to invest our time, fight and emotions in the right place because then only the Confused India will get convert into Young and Focused India.

A Closer Look

When we look at the factors that act as constraints they are lack of calmness, young India is not composed they are less immune and more prone. But, question here is that what could be the reason, when we closely observe then we get to know another face of this India and that is the dilemma between being confident and getting confused. Young Indians are happy go lucky people, our country has a huge market and as well as it brings more opportunities’ for Indians to go outside and establish themselves, this has brought the western culture in our country, not going into the debate that western culture has ruin us or we have destroyed ourselves. Now the factor that comes here is that the confidence of young people starts transforming into fight of within ourself. They think to be stayed in their root is better or to adopt the change is good, they need the change but that change should have Indianity attached to it, they go in the shell with reasons unknown and results unseen.

The probable reason for this confidence cum confusion could be lack of analyzing. Yes, because observing the things from a distance helps in a better way then going into the problem does. We have to realize the simple fact that the confusion here is nothing but the residual of our own thinking, when we want too much things at a single point of time then we end up getting nothing. If 5 years before we when in telecom sector 2g was in proposal state, or when the 2010 commonwealth games would be next big thing to achieve for the sports ministry no one would have thought that 2g would end up as 2g scam and commonwealth games would end carrier of number of politicians. It is just mere coincidence or one can say saturation point of things that all the scams are getting revealed at the same point of time when the Indians are demanding change or if you net a web it would end all same again. So many things have happened in so little time and that is the reason for confusion which is nothing but just an illusion.

Case Study

Any of Young Indian’s can be the part of this. For instance I will take myself, I am 22 year old a part of young India because I too feel the same for the ongoing scenario of our political system, the things that are not good for the society I want them to be rooted out of our backyard, the respect for women should be more and the price hikes’ should be less frequent over all I am the part of the “CHANGE”

India, which wants to break the shackles, which does not accept dominance and loves to live unchained. But now the question arises how to do? As discussed above we are not composed and does not possess calmness, agreed we have that trait, reason is also quite clear we are in that phase of our life cycle where we have less patience and more energy, we are smart thinkers but lack in execution of our ideas and demanding the same from us won’t be idle because then you are demanding to change the cycle which is not possible.

Then also here is a clause and it is that after all those drawback we do what was not done before and what is seen as the next big change we go to rallies which is not political but which is public, such public which are not bought or brought up by politicians, they are just “change driven” enthusiastic group of people which demands justice on any cost. One can also call us modern freedom fighters who are fighting with the power of their vote, the same vote for whom the politicians create the wishful garland which is nothing but again an illusion.

I too think the same that I will change the country with my power of vote and I am sure there would be cores of us with the same feeling of the same age group but to whom to vote ,definitely the parties that are in contention have done no good to us so reason for why to change is irrelevant but if not them then what are the options, some party which are new does not promises us that they will lead the change because if they can win the faith of even 5% of thinkers like us then they can use us for the next decade because we are so much vulnerable at this point of time and are so much obsessed with change that if given one we are ready to sacrifice but point ends there only, are they the one?.The party that shows us some faith needs to show us on practical note that they can really create that change. The funny part here is that people know that the current party is not good enough but they also rule out the fact of forming the new government, I need to ask them the question that if they know the reason then why do they won’t vote for the right candidate and the next second I get the answer that they may give their vote to their desired ones but the sad part is that the votes are just mere formalities to prove that it is a democratic country. Still as an active participant of the Young India group the race is on from my side.

Conclusion

This point of discussion has just one conclusion and it is “CHANGE”. We need to change the thinking of one self, we need to change the education system to eradicate this problem from root level and make sure this does not arise in future, we need to change the political system from grass root level or if possible take out the roots and bow new seeds because we are so badly influenced and trapped in this web that there is no way out but just to destroy this web and create a whole new system and reading all the above things you would be thinking that I am asking you to go to 1600AD and tell the East India company to not to come to India and not allowing them to trade in Bengal, or you can also say that I am questioning the foundation of one of the political figure on world map in 1885. No,I am not saying that I am just saying to “THINK”, just keeping thinking for the change, think and do, think and act, think and react, just keep thinking till that point of time that change is also bound to think and that is the point when change will come and young India will never be referred as confused India but rather it would be changed India.

“Think for change,
Change will also Think”

.
(Views expressed are personal. The writer is Bsc.MCAJ 6th semester student of Pran’s Media institute. He can be contacted at ayu.siingh1@gmail.com)

Posted on 22.10.2013

Love to Live Together

By Ayush Singh
Media Hive News Network

You love to spend time with the one, always want to see that face round the clock in front of you, you feel good when those eyes continuously look at you, after getting signs like this one decides to go in a relationship with their love one’s. With the time passing by and with the fast changing world one decides that they would love to live together because they want to spend more time with each other and want to understand their relationship so that one can decide about each other’s future and hence they live-in together.

The point that needs to be taken in concentration is that one goes in a live-in-relationship so that we can better understand each other’s feeling, emotions’, gestures’ and transform each other accordingly so if there is matter of physical attachment between the two of them it should not be taken with a negative frame of mind because it happens naturally and is a bold indicator of how close and compatible you have been or have become with your partner.

Now, if a love in relationship has taken place on any street x of Canada, then this would not be so much point of discussion but if the same thing happens on street of chadani chowk or any small town of India, then it’s a hot topic to gossip for the localities. So, this is important for us to know that such relationship is taken in what context in our country. In India, the thinking is quite diversified, where in cities like Mumbai, Pune, Goa, live in relationship is taken in a healthy way but the same seems insane when it comes to small town.

Now, the next thought that comes in mind is that what is the problem in accepting live-in-relationship in a healthy way in our country. The answer to this is easily understandable if we look at the end result of such relationships, you will find and be amazed to know that approximately 90% of the couple in live-in-relationship either end their relationship in a court fighting for their part or the girl is holding a new life after 3 to 4 years of relationship without the marriage or the boy ends up making MMS clip of his girlfriend just for the matter of fact that how dare she left him. These are the reasons that live-in-relationship is not being accepted in a healthy way in our society.

As mentioned above that one goes in a relationship so they can better understand each other, share their feeling, and the most important part is that they love each other, and have respect for themselves and their relationship,then why do they need to end their love by getting trapped behind legal bars or by displaying MMS of your own love one’s and making a mockery of it in front of the naked world. The simplest way to end this is to understand the reason of their love, the reason that led them to take their relationship to next level and encouraged them to take such a bold step breaking the barriers of the society and helped in getting out of the clutches of the so called culture, the answer to this is simple it’s your love, your respect,your bond,your passion and of course that “ehsaas” that helped you to live together. It was not by force, it was by passion.Think again.
(Views expressed are personal. The writer can be contacted at ayu.siingh1@gmail.com)

Posted on 23.4.2013

Renowned Bengal Handicraft in Need of Urgent Reforms

By Dipjyoti Das
Media Hive News Network

For decades now, Bengal has had a rich cultural legacy of handicrafts which is renowned throughout the world for its architectural splendor and creative beauty. It’s wide varieties of products ranging from household utility items, to gift items and interior decoration has infused an element of grace and elegance to an otherwise harsh and drab human life. Handicraft artisans are mostly populated in villages, towns and Semi-urban areas and have created a niche for themselves in the field of art and craft.

Pottery, brass and copperware, embroidery, tapestry, hand looms, fine muslin and silk artistry, wood carving, cane works etc. are a few examples of handicrafts which have blossomed across various districts of the state. However the situation in is not at all congenial in the region, since in recent times the sector has suffered from various problems like lack of advanced training facilities, capital, poor exposure to new technologies, absence of effective marketing infrastructure and poor institutional framework. The urban customers don’t always have access to many of the handicraft products. There is also an increase use of mass produced goods which are steadily replacing the utility items of the daily use made by the craftsmen.

A major chunk of rural population are dependent on there livelihood through this art, so there is an immediate need to address the deficiencies of the sector in a systematic manner. The government and the concerned departments have taken certain steps and measures but more needs to be done in regards to this aspect and resolve the critical gaps to ensure its further progress and development in a broader context. Production and marketing is couple of important areas which could contribute towards a faster pace of rural industrialization. Schemes for training and design development and for production and marketing assistance should be given encouragement. It is also extremely important to remember that the sector is a major contributor and backbone of the state’s economy.

Considering the importance of this sector from the point of view of employment and exports, the Government must provide an integrated development thrust to this sector with a view to enlarging the production base, thus enhancing the opportunities for employment and income through crafts as an economic activity and to give it necessary inputs for quality improvement and effective marketing support both internal and overseas.

To be precise emphasis should be given to extending services like supply of raw materials, design and technical guidance, market support, training and procuring of related materials/inputs in an integrated and area-based manner through the setting up of craft development centers in identified clusters of villages and market development support in the form of a package of assistance through expansion of marketing infrastructure, exhibitions, publicity, etc., through Central and State Handicrafts Corporations, voluntary organizations and support to direct marketing activity by craft persons.

The above schemes will help at promoting the state’s handicrafts by developing artisan’s clusters into professionally managed and self-reliant community enterprises on the principles of effective member participation and mutual cooperation. The main thrust is on a projective, need based approach for integrated development of potential handicrafts clusters with participation of the craft persons at all stages of implementation of the scheme with the ultimate objective of their empowerment and hence sustainability.

(Views expressed are personal. The writer can be contacted at dipjyotidas.301@rediffmail.com)

Posted on 18.3.2013

Reality Shows, The Perfect Eyewash Solution

By Salma Sultana Ahmed
Media Hive News Network

Weekends in India is synonymous to reality shows as you cosily snug up your bed and start the battle with your remote. The TV industry is generous enough to offer you variety of programmes which are categorized according to various talents. From food shows, quiz shows to the more popular dancing and singing shows one is sure booked on Saturdays and Sundays. People schedule their outings in manner that they don’t have to miss their favourite show and this is no exaggeration.

This solve this problem our very concerned broadcasters do run repeat shows. God will definitely bless for this noble deed. They understand it so well that it is always fun to watch a group of people who don’t even know you exist, bitch about the other.

No matter how much we criticise these shows we always manage to grab a sneak peak. We also have various channels such as our friends, the radio or the invincible internet. Of late I have discovered another benefit which makes keeps me hooked to these shows. It is indeed the ultimate eye care solution and best way to stimulate your tear glands. It is a boon for people like me who think that their tear glands are no longer functional. But mind you they start functioning so perfectly once you switch on these shows. Hence your eyes will never remain dry and you will not suffer from any kindof irritation in them henceforth.

According to Wikipedia there 187 pages are under the category of "Indian reality television series". I must say I am not surprised because in a country like India there certainly isn’t any dearth of talent. Hence we do need multiple platforms to present these talents. What baffles me is the CSR or Corporate Social Responsibility attitude of these shows. Every episode of these shows is nothing more than a charity show. Infact I believe that it is somewhere discreetly mentioned in the application form that you ought to have some sad show to show to the world.

I wish I could apply this tactic to secure some more marks or a hike in my salary. Infact if it such a foolproof formula then I think I can open a coaching centre dedicated to develop this skill. But seriously this is so not happening as the famous dialogue by superstar late Rajesh Khanna, 'Pushpa, I hate tears' is apt in the real world. I amazed to see how this skill is developed from a very young age now. The rush of child-based reality shows makes me wonder did I ever cry when I lost in some competition.

If tears continue to fall at this rate then I urge my scientist fellows to device a mechanism to harvest them. This will definitely save the world from water scarcity. Yes we all know that struggles make a man/woman stronger and have grown up hearing that ‘Failures are the Pillars of Success’. We don’t require reminders every moment of it. What we want is display of skills and proper appreciation of it. Yes my tear glands are fully functional now and I don’t want it to behave abnormally.

(Views express are personal. The writer is an ex-student of Indian Institute of Mass communication)

Posted on 30.1.2013

In Digital Age, Social Media Impacts College Journalism

By Jordan Friedman

The evidence of a digital revolution in journalism is only mounting: Newsweek has moved from print to completely online after 80 years of publication, and Internet news sources like The Huffington Post and Patch are rising in popularity.

But social media is increasingly becoming an integral component of the news, too. "Liking" media outlets on Facebook or following them on Twitter are modern ways of staying up-to-date on current events, as news organizations seek to drive traffic to their websites and provide instantaneous updates to their readers.

As journalism programs at colleges across the nation begin emphasizing the online and broadcast elements of news, they're also incorporating social media into their curricula and encouraging students to maintain an online presence. A new generation of journalists is emerging, and this time, writing isn't their only specialty.

Robert Quigley, a senior lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin's School of Journalism who focuses on new media, told me in an interview: "It's important for students to be on top of this because the media industry has embraced it... Students who are comfortable with using social media in a journalistic way have a serious leg up."

In a digital media class I took last year, we were required to create a Twitter account and "live Tweet" an on-campus event. And, the professor had us maintain a WordPress blog for two weeks on a topic of our choice. Several media organizations, including the New York Times, also offer internships exclusively in social media.

To read full write-up, click here
(The writer is a student of Emory University)

Posted on 21.12.2012

Delhi gang rape: Be helpful to victim & harmful to culprit

By Nafisa Khatoon

Delhi gang rape case already exposed the prevailing safety-deficient issues for women, inefficient laws and its proven record in letting the perpetrator going scot-free many times. If arrests conducted- lot of scope provided to get away from punishment through obtaining pay-rolls, bails, again most of the time. On Sunday night, 23 year old medical girl was sexually and brutally assaulted by group of men and was thrown out from moving bus. A few minutes after boarding bus the girl’s companion who intervened against molestation was too pulled out.

A soul-tormenting-punishment is neither allowed nor even effort been made pushing the offenders to face a part of the stringent form of punishment. That exactly is how the culprits’ lives are so easy even after committing heinous, atrocious crimes like rape, gang-rape.

Something is deeply and seriously flawed. All the brunt shift towards the one being ‘raped’ that’s actually meant for one who ‘rape’, ‘rapist’. Completely illogical to our sensibilities as to why the victims are left to live a life shying of what dreadful incident has happened to them as if an invitation from their side was sent, to come, to assault and to rape them. Social stigmas like- no boy will marry them, marriage prospects of their elder/younger brothers, sisters in well reputed families will be diminished or would be negligible. Victims, their family members cope with life threat from offenders, who weight strong on political or financial side.

Above all law machinery, police officers on the probe do their best to prove that it is always the ‘female’ gender at fault. Dressing up in revealing way, visiting pubs late night, working at unsafe places -- are some of the indirect tricks girls’ of which cops blame for inciting men foe sexual harassment. In a routine way -- if these low-grade reasons fail to cool down the public anguish. Assassinating the girl character, raising questions on background are a few way by which they delay the process of justice. Eventually, the case is closed and the file joins thousands of other dust-ridden files in some cupboard.

In the meantime a gross damage to the girl mental, moral health has been done. Without slightest efforts made to dispose justice, other than ironically labeling her ‘past’ morally loosened, dubious.

To a far extent, ‘Be both helpful and harmful’ therapy if applied probably will make things less sorrowful for the victims and the most miserable for the perpetuators. Empathize the victim, but don’t sympathize. Rape should not reduce her life to rape-victim, rather should be allowed for normal life with same zeal, spirit. Recovering from the trauma, fighting back against denied justice- has to be filled in victims’ turbulent life phase with some empathizing boost. Sympathisng with victims’ just aggravate their distressed physical, mental condition. Parents, siblings, friends, teachers, doctors, counselors support serve as pedestal of strength for the forced sex victims to cope with trauma. Discontinue belief that for ‘the raped’ post the rape-trauma ‘normal-happy’ life would be next to impossible. Discard these conventional notions. Get rid of hesitations, inhibitions in accepting them as loving daughter-law, life-partner. These small undertaken steps are a great form of ‘helpful forces’ to the victims driven to re-establish hope, happiness and shattered dignity. Be helpful to the victims’.

Along with all said- Don’t discourage from stepping out of home, or giving suggestion to avoid some specific routes, areas. Stop partying -out, stop watching new release on weekends at mall, stop travelling in bus- doesn’t offer solutions to shield rape incidents.
We as a part of society- a passive, accustomed recipient of cold, brutal sexual assault seems to just display strong anguish via talking, only talking. Limiting the serious discussion to candle marches, initiating or joining Facebook events might bring forth temporary addressal of the problem. But it stinks. As virtual protests minimise confrontation chances with deep-rooted problems and its eradication. Because with the passing days outrage-intensity tend to fades. Consequently the recent happenings gains priority to be looked upon. Easily we overlook a few weeks/ months old grave issue that still demand to stay outraged. Work on discarding frequent switch-on-off vulnerabilities
Please, for the sake of humanity, as all of us belong to society, being its part have to learn refusing from being mute spectator of shameful molestation episodes.

‘Let it be’, don’t get involved’, ‘it’s nothing to do with me’ kindly undo such ignorant reflexes. Enter to engage in, raise voice, and act against demons in the disguise of rapist. Be hostile; be harmful to offenders, rapists.

Being a bit a rebellion, barbaric in dealing with those who fearlessly commit the most barbaric crime is not at all bizarre.

Rise above fear, humiliation from the stereotyped and stand up to fight to get justice. Demonstrate you might be weaker sex in physical power but by no mean you are less than them in courage, fighting for justice. Put up a fight for the slow tempo of arrests, easy acquittals, no harsh punishment. Yes, castration should be legitimate (as form of harsh punishment) for deterring brutal sexual assault. Be harmful in this manner to the culprits. Taking steps focused on drawing or even nearing the culprits to more traumatized punishment; surely a way to heal hyper pigmented scars of the rape-shattered victims. Be both helpful to victim and harmful to culprit.

(The views expressed are personal. The writer is a former student of Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Dhenkanal, 2010-11 batch. She can be contacted at nafisalko@gmail.com)

Posted on 06.12.2012

When Jobless is 'Prideless’

By Tias Dutta

During my 500 days (1 year and few months) of stay outside Kolkata I met two classifications of Bongs: the ones who would distribute sweetmeats to his estranged once-upon-a-time colleagues when Pranab Mukherjee gets his ticket to the Raisina hills and then are the ones who would proudly post the disheveled faces of the street beggars, the floating debris in Ganga and the poor hand pulled rikshawalas on their FB album- ‘Amar sohor’ (My city), the pictures reaffirming that Kolkata is anything but the city of ‘joy.’

Well I am definitely not an ethnocentric bong, trying to figure out the bong connection gene gushing through my veins but my city indeed has qualities to set me on an ego trip. Whether it is the lip smacking tangy treat with the ‘Fuchkas’ or the Bangali babas assuring you cure from the toughest of all diseases, Kolkata is the city with a soul.

The first category are the ones who are putting up away from their hometown substituting Masoor dal with Dalma, or Alu posto with mixed veg, and worse when one has to replace Maacher jhol with grilled fish. The second category would surprisingly hit at their own roots, off course they have an art of mockery, framing the scenes evoking an instant apathy in people towards the city.

Well coming back to the ego trip I have set on, the splendor and the grandeur of Durga puja is a must mention as a supportive argument. People from all across the country and the world as well fall for the crowd, cacophony and the chaos that surprisingly adds the magnetism to the affair. My puja celebration has always started with the clouds turning fluffy, the sky flaunting its blue and the idol maker putting the first spread of clay on the thatch structure.

But this time I could only join the fervor with the ‘Kola bou snan’. The whole idea of missing out the fun of welcoming Maa Durga had already made me heavyhearted, and then was my friend ‘the debonged bong’, an integral member of the second group, whose day starts and ends with ranting about his homeland, Kolkata. If you are wondering about the contrast about me and my friend, when I have left behind the warmth and comfort of my hometown in pursuit of a ‘life’ for me, he is still languishing too much in it, jobless. Yes this is when I would prefer to hide my puffed up chest. The city has its soul, it has the warmth to connect the foreigners to its soil but it lacks in scopes to offer its youth. In the turf of war between the modernists and conformists the youth is left in the futile ‘bhagam bhag’ for a job. Where during your job hunting spree you would meet the employers turned career counselors or the HR manager turning consolers. Alas! I wish they had conformed to their job responsibilities!

My city, my Kolkata…I am proud to be her son, but while I vouch for her welcoming heart, I go mute when I see the industries, employment opportunities being driven out, when I have to plant a kiss on my grandmamma’s cheek and promise to come back as soon as possible, when I have to refuse to my friends’ ardent calls just because I cannot afford to come back jobless, when I have to compromise with the dream that I have always chased because you don’t stand by me. I sincerely hope that I don’t have to join my friend soon and Kolkata remains the closest to my heart.

(The views expressed are personal. The writer has studied at IIMC, Dhenkanal. She can be contacted at tias_dutta@yahoo.com)

Posted on 04.06.2012

It is difficult to imagine our lives without technology

By Trisha Mahajan

The importance of technology in the modern world can hardly be overstated. One way or the other, technology affects almost everything we do today and it also influences most of our plans for the future . In our everyday life, we owe mass media and technology for our modern way of life. When we use a cellular phone to call our friend, watch a DVD on television, listen to songs recorded on a CD, listen to radio, surf the internet for news, read newspapers to get knowledge about the world or the magazines for entertainment or fashion, we enjoy the benefits of information communications technology.

The revolutionary developments in the mass media have changed it from the old stand-alone technologies to the new convergent technologies. One form is now a convergence of two other forms.

We have come a long way since the time 'kabootars' were the messengers or there were 'Doots' (human messengers) or other ancient message delivery systems. Nowadays delivering a message quickly and efficiently by various forms of mass media is like a piece of cake.

Media content delivered through the television provides audio-visual appeal. With the ecommerce and social networking sites, the world has come close to us. Newspapers provide us with the detailed stories with a morning cup of tea, whereas, for the tech- savvy generation, e-papers serve the purpose as they can be accessed from anywhere and anytime. Radio commercials and popular TV shows attract a larger audience. Delivering content to the masses is no longer a task that is as cumbersome as it used to be.

What would we be without technology? Without it, knowledge would not have been disseminated as efficiently throughout the world. The message would have been hard to deliver to the right audience at the right time at the right place. Without mass communication , our technological growth would most certainly have been stunted from lack of information.

It is difficult to imagine our lives without the various forms of media. In fact, right from dusk to dawn, it is 'technology' that makes our life easier. (Courtesy TOI)

(The writer is in Second year, Master's in Journalism and Mass Communication, University School of Mass Communication, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University)

Posted on 22.02.2012

When Truth Comes With A Price Tag - Which Is Your Life

By Salma Sultana Ahmed

India is the land where good triumphs over the evil or truth over false. But gone is the ancient age and along with it that value. Welcome to the modern era where truth comes with a price tag which is your life if you want to unearth it. This has been proved by another incident of journalist murder. Last Saturday, a freelancer for dailies Navbharat and Hitavada along with his wife and two children were found murdered in their house in Madhya Pradesh's Umaria distict.

The murder of Chandrika Rai and his entire family has raised the question of journalist safety as fingers are being pointed at the involvement of illegal coal mining mafia active in the region. He had written a series of articles alleging the involvement of a local leader in illegal mining.

This is not the first time that a scribe had to lose his life for the telling the truth. At least 887 journalists have lost their lives in the line of duty since 1992 and at least 554 of these murders are still unsolved, according to reports from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). In a majority of these killings, investigations are still on or the culprits are nowhere near being brought to book. They roam scot-free, secure in the knowledge that they will remain so.

In 2010, Sushil Pathank of Dainik Bhaskar, was shot dead in Bilaspur, Chhatisgarh on December 20. In the same year, 27 other journalists were attacked, often by clearly identifiable assailants belonging to some political party or social group or even police or security forces.

In 2011, Umesh Rajput of Nai Duniya, was also shot dead on January 23 near his residence at Chhura village, in Chhattisgarh. A note, stating “Khabar chaapna band nahi karoge toh mare jaoge” (If you don’t stop publishing news, you will be killed), was found near the crime scene.

Barely a few months later, on June 11, Mid-Day journalist, J Dey, was shot dead in broad daylight. After a public outcry by journalists in Mumbai and other cities, police arrested eight persons for the murder. But the Mumbai police are yet to file a chargesheet in the case and are still chary of establishing a motive for the killing.

The police investigation, or lack of it, is a singular thread that runs through all instances of such attacks and killings. In Assam, for instance, 27 journalists have been killed in the last 23 years – a majority during the years of strife and political turmoil. But, even though the assailants were identified in a majority of the cases, there hasn’t been any conviction in even one case.

The Press Council of India (PCI) has appointed a six-member sub-committee to examine the issue of “safety of journalists in discharging their duties” with K. Amarnath, a member of the PCI and secretary of Indian Journalists Unions (IJU), from Andhra Pradesh as its convenor but nothing much have changed.

The Indian media is being attacked on all fronts for its declining standards but one fails to recognise the gravest threat that these scribes face to unearth the truth. It is high time that some kind of security is provided to them in real terms. If the torchbearers and whistleblowers are silenced forever then the day won’t be far away when the world will be full of dumb and deaf swinging to the actions of few pied piper.

(The views expressed are personal. The writer is a student of IIMC, Dhenkanal. She can be contacted at salmaahmed814@gmail.com)

Posted on 17.12.2011

Are Industries Boon or Bane?

By Tias Dutta

In the wake of the Posco agitation and other land acquisition issues all around, the questions that are likely to buzz our minds are, Is industrialization an efficient tool for upliftment? Is industrialization justified at cost of agriculture?

Industrialization undoubtedly initiates improved life style which is a mark of progress. But how far the so called ‘progress’ can penetrate? Or is it restricted to a bordered section of society? If the industrialization projects have ever proved to execute their promises then what makes the poor agro based population avert the changes?

The villagers from Nayagarha, Palasa, Balada and Badakalimati panchayats of Orissa who have been witnesses of the Posco industries, say that industries have turned a bane for them. The manganese plants and the sponge plants that are operational in the area have turned killers of their forests and natural resources. The forest cover has been their source of livelihood for generations. The industries could do no good than destroying their form of living. The industries have deprived the locals from the forest products like fruits, flowers, medicinal plants and other non timber products, which were a better bid for them than industries.

The widespread pollution has turned the rivers unfit for human use. The villagers foresee an unprecedented crisis if more industries usher in. They have alleged that the local leaders have threatened for use of force if the villagers do not cooperate for further industrialization and willingly hand over their lands. Amidst uproar in many Indian states against forcible acquisition of land the coercion continues. Sometimes intervention of high fliers can bring a change to the scenario. But alas every pocket of rural India is not as significant as Bhatta Parsaul of Greater Noida to a probable prime minister of the country.

The acumen, the labor and the plight of the poor rural mass of India have always been understated. Thus they are befooled with tall claims which are never executed. The same scenario prevailed in other agro based states of India like West Bengal etc. The poor farmers are brainwashed with prospective employment options that the industry would (never) offer. Rather offering any resistance the political portfolios busy themselves in amassing fortune from both ends. People’s miseries are the best choice for the politicians to bank upon whether to build a devout image before the mass or as an option which would enable them to move to power.

Though industrialization seems a lucrative scope for the prosperity of the nation but the impacts are world apart at least in India. The far reaching consequences rather harm the majority of the rural masses than help. Thus industrialization should be promoted with an alternative for the people whose livelihood is based on their lands. Land is indeed required for installation of industries but it should not be a fraudulent bid. The people should be the priority for any of the ventures. If the people’s concern is considered ahead of the personal gains, then these critical issues can be minimized.

(The views expressed are personal. The writer is a student of IIMC, Dhenkanal. She can be contacted at tias_dutta@yahoo.com)

Posted on 08.12.2011

Is India maturing?

By Salma Sultana Ahmed

Last week when ‘The Dirty Picture’ opened at the box office, it made a grossing Rs 8 crore on the first day. It is said that in India only two ‘S’ sells -- one is Shahrukh Khan and the other is Sex -- the three letter word with which this country shares a very juvenile relationship. Anything that is connected with this word has found some objection in one form or the other. Sometimes it is the extremity of a ban or at times censorship. This kindof treatment is quite unbelievable in the land of Kamasutra- an ancient Indian Hindu text widely considered to be the standard work on human sexual behaviour in Sanskrit literature.

There has been a sudden growth of a section of people who believe that it is their divine right to ‘clean up’ this society. They can do anything from beating up women to humiliating couples in the name of ‘moral policing’. Today when the need of the hour is proper implementation of sex education, it has become a hush-hush word. It seems like the slightest mention of this word is enough to cause the deadly HIV/AIDS!

So when last Friday the movie boomed the box office where was the morale police? Have they taken an off or even better, retired? With the rise of movies that show gritty sexual encounters, annual gay parades, homosexual couples in mainstream Hindi movies this country has come a long way and so has the moral police. Every occasion they come up with some innovative ideas to dress the public up like putting a dupatta over Kareena’s bare back in Kurban or censoring Delhi Belly’s song. But this time there not a whimper of protest. This kind of acceptance may kindle some hope that there has been a shift in perception of the aam janta(read the moral police). Maybe the notorious Indian hypocrisy has tired of its own weight.

But we can’t get away with the contradictions. There are still policemen who hit couples in park or marry them off if spotted together on Valentine’s Day. There can’t be the slightest mention of the word sex in any programme meant for family viewing or else the censor scissors are ready to gnaw the word down. Hypocrisy rules when it comes to India’s relationship with the forbidden three letter word. When will the people grow up and behave maturely? Is it the same land of Kamasutra or did it happen in some distant land? A question to ponder upon.

(The views expressed are personal. The writer is a student of IIMC, Dhenkanal. She can be contacted at salmaahmed814@gmail.com)

Posted on 30.07.2011

A novel and radical initiative: Legal bribe?

By Danish Khan

We all think of bribes, whether they are good or bad. But, for some certainly it is not a good idea. For the people belongs to middle and small income group, it is not something that really makes them happy unless the work they are bribing for is getting fulfilled. In recent remarks of Narayan Murthy on making bribe legal, where he was in support of Kaushik Basu’s, India’s Chief economic advisor, suggestion to make bribe giving legal. It forced some to frown and some to smile.

The suggestion made by Mr. Basu is itself a radical and revolutionary step in order to curb the corruption. Mr. Basu argues that for a certain class of bribes, which possibly for want of a better word he describes as”harassment bribes,” bribe giving should be a legitimate activity. Such bribes should be directed only toward getting services to which you and I are legally entitled at the moment, such as an income tax refund or customs clearance for an exporter’s goods.

He further explains the theory involves in making bribe legal. He said once a demand for bribe has been fulfilled, and the services is received and fulfilled by the bribe taker- the bribe giver may help in getting the bribe taker caught because after altering the law briber is free from any punitive measure. He also suggests that this would deter the bribe taker from taking bribe.

Mr. Narayan Murthy, founder of Infosys is also in support of such act. He added that this could really help in order to reduce corruption.

However, P Sainath, is not in a favour of this act. He referred it as a less pragmatic act if implemented. According to him, it will only benefit those who are willing to pay bribes without any hesitations, but what about those who are poor and not able to pay such bribes. If a bribe giver exposes the act after giving bribe, then it will also embroil him to more harassment, many legal complexities and he/she would be paying legal charges in the form of cases they fight.

Making bribe legal would also make the system of corruption even more strong.Unethical Lobbying would also become rampant, if the act is legalized. For instance, many scam from past have some kind of relations with corporate bribery. After legalizing bribes more instances of 2G scams and Aircel deal will appear in the future. And this time with more conviction and safeguards from the law, which doesn’t seem a good idea.

There is a matter of security as well. Those who are forced to pay bribes, if raise their voice against such act, then there is no safeguard that can be provided to them. The act of legalizing bribe is rather a gift to the corporate world, where they can easily bribe government officials to make their deal.
The act certainly doesn’t seem novel and radical so far and rather it allows us to succumb against the prevailed corrupt system. This act would undermine the honesty and integrity of a person. There should be more revolutionary and pragmatic approach, in order to stop the avalanche of such bribery scandals.

(The views expressed are personal. The writer has done Masters in Mass Communication from Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University. He can be contacted at danishlxr@gmail.com)

Posted on 10.07.2011

The Nuclear History of Pakistan

By Amna Sunmbul

If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass or leaves, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own. We have no other choice.

-- Zulfikar Ali Bhutto , 1965

Pakistan emerged as a sovereign nation on the August 14, 1947. The three wars fought between India and Pakistan made both countries a reason for insecurity and thus encouraged them to develop potent weapons.

Pakistan, unlike India, is not surrounded by hostile enemies. In fact, it has friendly relations with China (to the North-east of India), thus making India vulnerable to attack from both fronts. Why then did Pakistan feel threatened enough to go for nuclear weapons?

It has been argued that initiation of Pakistan’s nuclear programme can be attributed a definite date- 24th January, 1972. The mastermind behind the concept was Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, then Prime Minister of Pakistan, who in the wake of Pakistan’s crushing defeat to India in 1971, felt the need for possessing nuclear weapons. However, it is probably wrong to attribute the initiation of Pakistan’s nuclear programme as such to matters of national security since it had already been initiated way back in 1956.

The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) was set up in 1956 so that it could participate in the Atoms for Peace program which was started by Eisenhower administration. In 1960, this programme received impetus due to the appointment of Bhutto as the Minister for Minerals and Natural Resources. This was coupled with the appointment of Dr. Ishrat Usmani in the same year as the Chairman of PAEC. He was instrumental in starting of PINSTECH and the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant. In 1965, Bhutto became the Foreign Minister and enhanced communication between Pakistan and China (which was becoming a nuclear capable state). After a meeting with Chou Enlai in Beijing in 1965 China’s support to Pakistan in matters of national security was assured. This, in turn also meant that China shall not object to development of Pakistan’s nuclear capacity.

The 1971 war proved to be a turning point since Pakistan became quite vocal about its nuclear programme. In spite of Indian position of “nuclear ambiguity” in the 1970s, Bhutto considered India’s nuclear option as a threat to Pakistan. It was rather a response to the overwhelming Indian superiority in conventional arms as had been amply demonstrated in the 1971 Bangladesh War.

The war led to opening of relations between Pakistan and Democratic Republic of Korea (North Korea). This later, in the 1990s, helped Pakistan to obtain nuclear arsenals in acquiring delivery systems.

The first meeting was held on 24th January 1972 in Multan. It was a secret meeting and was first made public by Weismann and Krosney. The opinions in the meeting were far from unanimous. Some scientists opposed the programme on largely pragmatic grounds- Pakistan did not have the technology or infrastructure to handle a project of this magnitude. Among those who expressed this view was the PAEC Chairman Usmanli.

In 1971 the Canadian General Electric Co. had already completed a 137 MW (electric) CANDU power reactor for the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant. It began operating in October 1972. This shows that much of the work was already in progress even before the conclusion of the war. It, at the most, provided only an immediate cause for speeding up the project. In 1974 India conducted its first nuclear test in Pokhran, and therefore the fear of Pakistani leadership became more pronounced in spite of India’s declaration that it was a peaceful nuclear explosion.

It should be noted that Bhutto’s role was very crucial in this development. He had not only hastened the programme but also reached out to the larger Islamic world and asked for financial aid from the Middle East countries. After India’s successful nuclear test, Bhutto increased funding of the nuclear projects. However, due to the nuclear tests severe restrictions were imposed on proliferation of arms and nuclear weapons which did hamper Pakistan as well as India.

Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan was very instrumental in developing uranium enrichment process. He is called the Father of Pakistani Nuclear Arsenal. The reaction of the nuclear weapons states to India's nuclear test led to the formation of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, or "London Club", in 1975. In November of that year the group drafted a list of restricted nuclear exports called the "Guidelines for Nuclear Transfer". The primary focus of proliferation control efforts at this time were focused on technology applicable to plutonium production, and emphasized restrictions on complete systems for production - such as reprocessing plants, or in the case of enrichment technology complete gas centrifuges.

The French government began to show increased concern about the Chashma plant during 1976. A safeguards agreement for the plant was brought before the IAEA by France in February 1976, with was approved on 18 March and signed by Pakistan. This at least ensured that the plant would have monitoring so that diversion to military purposes could be made with impunity. Also in 1976 Canada decided to cut off nuclear relations with Pakistan because the latter has refused to sign the NPT and IAEA safeguards. This coupled with internal political turmoil in Pakistan slowed down the process of nuclear testing, but the policy remained the same. Pakistan made systematic purchasing campaigns which gained significance only in 1978.

PREPARATION OF NUCLEAR TEST SITES
This also began in 1978- reconnaissance surveys were conducted in the Balochistan region. The Special Development Work (SDW) was created as a subsidiary unit of PAEC. Ultimately the Chagai-Ras Kho-Kharan areas were chosen as the sites for nuclear tests. Pakistan’s first nuclear cold tests were carried out in 1983.

In 1998, India conducted its nuclear tests in Pokharan. Some writers argue that destabilized the balance of power in South Asia in favour of India. Therefore Pakistan speeded up its nuclear project and on 28th May, 1998 the final tests were conducted. Two days later, Pakistan conducted its sixth nuclear test at Kharan, a flat desert valley 150 km to the south of the Ras Koh Hills. This was a miniaturized device giving a yield which was 60% of the first tests. A small hillock now rises in what used to be flat desert, marking the ground zero of the nuclear test there.

As was the case following India's nuclear tests, President Clinton, as required by law (including the Glenn Amendment, part of the Arms Export Control Act) announced that the United States would impose sanctions on Pakistan. These sanctions, among other things, could stem the flow of financial assistance into Pakistan, potentially causing severe harm to the Pakistani economy.

In 2010 President Asif Ali Zardari, in a meeting with Director of US National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair, urged US to assist Pakistan in its own civilian nuclear technology deal to help overcome its dire energy needs. President had suggested that this kind of deal will not only bridge the trust deficit between the two countries, but also address many misperceptions about US inside Pakistan.

So far as the China- Pakistan Civilian Nuclear deal is concerned many analysts view it as a response to the Indo-US Civil Nuclear Deal. China’s commitment to provide Pakistan with two additional civilian nuclear reactors has caused great unease in the international non-proliferation regime. The secrecy of the Covenant has added all the more to the anxiety of the neighbouring countries as well as of western countries.

The Nuclear programme was on the agenda of Pakistan’s national security policy since the 1960s. It gained impetus post Pakistan’s defeat in 1971. Nuclear weapons were tested in May 1998 in Chagai. In spite of the delay caused by internal scramble for power in every decade, the nuclear programme was never sidelined. The Civil nuclear programme is still incipient and nothing substantial is known with regard to the same. It is, however seen as a reaction to Indo-US Nuclear Deal.

It must be noted that unlike India Pakistan has no official policy towards the use of nuclear weapons. There is no clarity when and why Pakistan would use nuclear weapons against any country. This is in contrast to India who clearly declared the policy of no first use of nuclear weapons.

In the South Asian region three countries have nuclear weapons- India, China and Pakistan. Therefore there is no hegemony in the region. But proliferation leads to insecurity among smaller neighbouring countries.

(The views expressed are personal. The writer is a student of School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She can be contacted at amnasunmbuldgr@gmail.com)

Share |

Posted on 19.05.2011

The Matrix of Relation

By Md. Ehsan

Every religion advises us to shun vices and acquire intrinsic worth according to the need of the society and Circumstances in which an individual endure.
Marriage: “I will always be here for you.”
Cohabiters: “I will be here only as long as the relationship meets my desires.” Materialistic scrutiny and infinite anticipation drives the wave that is precipitating the nuptials institution today. juvenile generation believes in responsibilities less autonomy and edge. Men and women are vacillating for nuptials. They are reaction at ease toward ‘live-in relationship’ institution without knowing that however deep is love but without sacrifice and responsibility it loses its entity.

These days capital becomes relation and it is enforced in the society in a premeditated way. We have forgotten our ethical assessment because of this it is said that nowadays a kid born adult by birth.

“Cohabitation is here to stay”, says an expert warning that “I don’t think its good news, especially for children”, he says.

As society shifts from nuptials to cohabitation. Nature has fashioned different genus for dissimilar purposes. Nothing is identical here each thing has its own value. We are howling for aberrant egalitarianism, why? Never we can gobble through eyes and imbibe through ear. This is the veracity of nature. Women are women furthermore men are men There is equality between men and women - and ‘egalitarianism’ does not signify ‘consistency’, the role of a man and woman is complimentary it is not competitive.

In short marriage is an acceptable amplification of all these grievances. Marriage means not only bonding man and woman socially but also taking responsibility, forfeit, considerate, accord and affection.This is the alpha and omega of relationship.
(The views expressed are personal. The writer is a student of IGNOU. He can be contacted at ehsan24@rediffmail.com)

Share |

Posted on 11.05.2011

Frailness of Democracy in India

By S N Nezami

Sixty three years have passed since India achieved independence and for the last 59 years it is being ruled by the governments elected through adult suffrage. The opinion of the average man today (mainstream media has more than a major role in making it), is that our stint with the democracy has been very successful. At the same time discussions are on that our democracy is facing serious threats from inside the country. And the argument has grounds too.

We are still struggling with the problems like regional bias—that often leads to violent clashes, communal bias and recurring communal violence—that is helping terrorism make inroads, casteism---that has marginalised the relatively serious issues in the agenda of political parties and then the most lethal among all, the fast widening economic divide---which is pushing us into a civil war like situation. When our forefathers strived to unify the numerous states and provinces at the time of freedom to carve out a stronger and larger India they had hoped that the common interest of the people of all the regions irrespective of their cultural, linguistic, ethnic and religious differences and history of unified freedom struggle will form a large scale solidarity that would infuse spirit of nationalism among the people of India, a cohesive force that will keep them united and integrated and will make them allegiant to the motherland too.

click here 

But very unfortunately that didn’t happen. Scams after scams, corruption from top to bottom, irresponsible citizens from a tax defaulting businessman to a ticket-less student travelling in Indian rail have all proved that most of our population is merely interested in acquiring wealth anyhow. They have very little to do with the process of nation building.

But let us think why did, this all happen? Why the expectations of our visionary nation makers didn’t fulfill? There are two basic reasons----first, our later governments failed to implement the action plan that was chalked out by the first generation of our national leaders. Infusion of the spirit of fraternity which was considered to be the corner stone that would have united and integrated the vastly diverse India in the real senses remained a distant dream. What Dr.Ambedkar did doubt in the constituent assembly is a reality now. We are still hanging at one man-one vote, denying every man equal value. This is why casteism is deep rooted in our society and caste backed leaders are at the centre stage of politics. The major chunk of government sponsored schemes launched for the development of weaker sections has been snatched by the corrupt executive and the loot is still going on. Adding insult to injury, the economic policies of the government guided by the World Bank and IMF in the post liberalised India have pushed the vast sections of this hoped fraternity to the margins. This has resulted into the fast expansion of Maoist mushroom.

The exclusive and inequitable model of growth has promoted regional bias among our own brethren. Language is used merely as a tool by the power hungry, conscienceless politicians to exploit these situations for gaining political advantage. Our ancestors had already resolved the language issue by reorganising the states on linguistic grounds, not declaring any specific language as national language and giving the states freedom to have their own official language. Then, where lies the space for any conflict making language an issue?

Now, come to communalism. Communalism has been fanned, mainly by an specific umbrella organisation; keeping in view the petty objective of attaining political power. Thousands of lives have been lost and minorities have suffered irrepairable damage. If some of them have resorted to militancy, it is not surprising. As a strong sense of insecurity prevails in the minority population, they are not able to take part in the mainstream process of nation building also. They, very simply vote for the parties who keep the state communally bother peaceful.

And, the second and the more important reason behind these failures is the adoption of the idea of western secularism without any major modifications. Though very farsighted the members of our constituent assembly were so impressed by the cotemporary western models of constitution that they didn’t bother to think over it very deeply. The inception of secular system in all walks of life made every thing valueless, be it an individual, the society or the whole education system. Enacting laws and creating police and investigating agencies is no solution. How can we expect anyone to be honest towards his duties without having any moral sense? The moral binding and the conscience of a good human being, is the most efficient police. Therefore, I conclude that the roots of all the problems we discussed, is linked to this materialist secular philosophy and consequently the invaluable diamond India should have been today, has instead become a frail imitation.
(The views expressed are personal. The writer is a journalism student. He can be contacted at nezami74@gmail.com)

Posted on 24.04.2011

Politics of national and regional aspirations

By Payel Chatterjee

The Constitution of India envisaged a polity where all the states stand on an equal footing with the central government. The various states formed on the basis of ethnicity, culture, language, food and traditions have given India a multilingual and multi-ethnic character. There have also been various malignant outbursts of regional movements like the Dravid movement, the Telangana movement, the stress on Marathi manus, etc. due to a feeling of being discriminated or suppressed by a dominating hand. There has also been an upsurge of a so-called “lower castes” and their pressure groups at the political and social forum. Thus, over the years the large national parties with considerable support in the country have lost their significance at the hands of local parties. India is a state with diverse ideologies and therefore, coalition governments are necessity for meeting the aspirations of the people.

However, for such governments to work successfully towards building of a better and developed India, it is essential that the parties that club together have similar ideologies and work towards achieving the same goals. In fact, they should always keep more pertinent issues on the forefront rather than their sectarian politics. It is almost impossible to work in an environment of conflict and disagreements.

There were hardly any regional parties in 1952 when India had its first elections. The Congress Party took away all the votes and dominated the political scenario. The national party had its way even in the sixties with nearly 90 per cent of seats.

However, this trend is no longer prevalent in India. In the general elections held in 2004, the national parties won 57 per cent of the total number of seats while rest of the 43 per cent of seats was taken away by regional parties. Today, there are 47 regional parties and more than 400 smaller parties contesting with each other in India. If a nation like India is formed of multi-cultural, linguistic and ethnic regions, regionalism is a natural phenomenon and cannot be ignored easily.

The regional parties try to receive political attention out of regional issues, since all regions must be given considerable attention. Mahendra Prasad Singh and Anil Mishra in their book “Coalition Politics in India : Problems and Prospects” mentioned that the past and likely future patterns of coalition governments in New Delhi are suggestive of at least three models of power sharing: (a) coalition of more or less equal partners, e.g. the National Front and the United Front, (b) coalition of relatively smaller parties led by a major party, e.g. National Democratic Alliance; and (c) coalition of relatively smaller parties facilitated but not necessarily led by a prime minister from the major party, e.g. the coalition of parties formed in 2004 around the Indian National Congress, avowing secular Indian Nationalism. Coalition parties are now the order of the day. No political party can stand on its own now. Some of the political gurus now believe that the age of a clear mandate in the favor of a single party is over. Since the Lok Sabha elections held in the year 1989 no party could come to power on its own at the centre. Some these coalition governments have succeeded, as in 1991, 1999 and 2004 elections; while the governments formed in 1996 and 1989 have failed miserably.

Every single election since 1989 reiterates my point that a single party mandate is now a far-fetched dream; coalition governments are here to last for long. Whether such a trend is good for Indian democracy is debatable; but we cannot ignore the fact that in a large democracy as in India smaller parties do not have a substantial foothold but have a crucial role to play. It is possible that sometimes the local aspirations of people can be neglected and totally forgotten by national parties in the larger interest of the nation. It is here that the local and regional parties highlights the local needs and bargains to get a fair representation of them.

Not only the center but also the states have slowly moved towards a coalition form of government, governments in Kerala and West Bengal are examples of successful coalitions. The first ever coalition government formed in 1977 was no doubt a disaster because the various parties couldn’t see eye to eye with each other.

The next coalition government, build on an anti-Rajiv Gandhi and anti-Congress foundation proved to be another humongous mistake. In 2004 the Indian National Congress emerged as the single Largest party but not large enough to form a government all by itself and thus, formed a coalition government with the left front. It is not surprising that today, two states of India today are ruled by independent regional parties and in eight states, there are alliance governments of regional and national parties.

The regional parties have dominated the political scene since 1967. Andhra Pradesh was ruled by the Telugu Desham Party between 1983 and 1989, and between 1994 and 2004. Since the last two decades Uttar Pradesh has been ruled by regional parties.
Time and again the national parties have repeatedly failed to represent the aspirations of people, leading to the rise of regional parties.

Recently Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, said that regional parties were “responsible for the backwardness of several states” and that they lacked a national perspective. This statement was dissented by many. Perhaps, he meant that regional parties indulged more in regionalism rather than having a broader nationalistic vision for the country. However, at times, single party rule becomes authoritarian and hardly care for regional issues. In such cases the Third Front consisting of regional parties makes considerable difference. Another notable aspect is that in various instances regional parties eventually grow to become national parties.

The present Bharatiya Janata Party originated from the Jan Sangh which was a regional party. The Left parties are no longer considered as regional parties as they have strong political presence in several states and contest Lok Sabha elections. While regional parties want to strengthen their base in their core states, they also want to grow nationally as a power to reckon with. Though it is difficult, it is not impossible to combine both national and regional aspirations.
(The views expressed are personal. The writer is a journalism student. She can be contacted at payel.c@iijnm.org)

Share |
 

Posted on 13.04.2011

Say no to Jaitapur project

By Faiyaz Iqbal

Nuclear technology is inherently dangerous technology with long-term consequences. It’s been 25 years since Chernobyl and the food is still contaminated. The recent tragedy in Japan will also have long-term consequences too.

In March 2011, almost 25 years after Chernobyl -- the worst nuclear accident recorded so far -- Greenpeace sent a team of researchers to one region in Ukraine to test food samples. The small pilot investigation has shown that key foods sourced in the region are still subject to contamination with radioactivity today. Greenpeace team in the Fukushima prefecture is also recording contamination of foodstuff, way above acceptable limits and outside the exclusion zone demarcated by the Japanese government.

If India is to avoid the consequences of future disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima, our government must phase out nuclear energy and invest heavily in energy efficiency and harness clean, safe renewable energies for our future. But unfortunately Indian government is taking a huge risk while planning large nuclear reactor parks.

According to Karuna Raina, Nuclear Energy Campaigner, Greenpeace India, India has 20 reactors currently in operation and it plans to increase its fleet with additional 21 foreign reactors. In Maharashtra, the proposed Jaitapur nuclear reactor park would be the largest nuclear power park in the world. With 6 untested foreign reactors of 1600mw capacity supplied by the French company Areva and built on a site which is earthquake prone, makes Jaitapur project a recipe for disaster. Nuclear projects have also been proposed for Fatehabad, Mithi-Virdi, Kodava as well as Haripur.

Recently, citizens of Patna has participated in a candlelight vigil to mark the one month anniversary since the nuclear catastrophe in Japan. People gathered at Gandhi Maidan and held a march and candle light vigil to express their solidarity with the people of Japan, and to clearly voice their opposition to nuclear energy. Vigils were held in more than 12 cities to mark a National Day of Action against Nukes.

According to GEMA Institute volunteers, who helped organize the vigil in Patna, they are afraid of the Government’s plan to build a massive reactor in Jaitapur. After seeing what happened in Japan and after learning about Chernobyl, I don’t think that the government should use such risky technology to generate electricity, especially when absolutely clean and safe renewable energy resources exist in abundance.

(The writer is Patna-based part-time PR professional and greenpeace active volunteer. He can be contacted at faiyaz.iqbal18~at~gmail.com)

Share |
 

Posted on 11.04.2011

No red light for corruption in India

By Jasleen Kaur Batra

Is India a country of democracy or a country of scams and scandals? Well, this is a question whose answer not only I, but many others seek. We are a nation with the world’s second-largest population, with a country full of smart, hardworking people. Then why is it that India is unable to reach the place it aspires to?

The answer to all these questions and many more is corruption. According to the Corruption Perception Index that measures public sector corruption in the world, India rank 87th among 178 countries in the most corrupted countries index. Isn’t that terrible?

Over the past year, India has been flooded with scams. The Commonwealth Games, on which $80 billion was spent without proper accounts, $2.2 billion was spent on mirrors and $600 million on soap dispensers.

The 2G scam tried to match up to this and had politicians, bureaucrats, media personnel and lawyers involved in it. The sand-mining scam hit Karnataka and looks almost irresolvable, but thankfully came to a halt because of the media attention that it got.

Not including Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and the land scam issue surrounding him in this list is impossible. His actions have prompted people to reconsider his fitness to be the leader of the state. Citizens also doubt he has the intention to bring change for the betterment of the people.

The habit of public servants stashing away taxpayers’ money in India has become an addiction that they cannot do without.

On Sunday, 16 corruption charges were filed against the chief justice of Sikkim, P. Dinakaran. Telecom minister A Raja has been in the news for weeks now. If ministers in such high positions are being charged with corruption, would the upcoming politicians of our country do any good for the country as a whole or try to benefit themselves?

The first scam that ever stung India was the Bofors scandal in 1980s, and the scams have left their legacy in India ever since—in the Defense Ministry, among the politicians, the lawyers and even peons. It has become a part of all of their lives.

Corruption today has entered almost every possible sphere of our society—education, health and many more. Getting an admission into pre-school costs Rs.50,000 plus the actual fee. Getting into an engineering or medical college without donation is almost next to impossible. Hospitals try to earn extra money by asking people to pay almost triple the amount for a single room. Those who don’t pay up are put in a normal hospital ward room which consists of 10-15 beds, and causes a lot of inconvenience, particularly to critical patients.

There are ways of combating corruption, but the problem is that corruption has polluted every stage of the organizational hierarchy. Corruption has so firmly embraced all its occupants that it has become difficult to get away with it.

Getting admission into college would mean paying bribes to the peon, staff officer, registrar, cashier, the guard outside the principal’s office and every person you meet on your way. If you don’t give these people what they ask for even on one stage, you can be assured that you are not likely to get admission in that college.

People pay a bribe of Rs.200 to pass a driving test in Bangalore, whereas doing so costs Rs.500 in Mumbai. It costs around Rs.1,000 to obtain a birth certificate. One has to pay 50 times more than they normally would to get their court marriage done within a week. Are these things that people need to pay bribes for?

But we do and only because we don’t have an option. The option to not fill the pockets of those fraudulent bureaucrats with your hard-earned money is always there, but that also means your work not being done on time.

Take the autorickshaws in Bangalore, for example. Have you not been in a situation where you have to get somewhere real soon and the auto driver asks you for an extra Rs.20 ? The reason—it’s too far and he would have to come back empty. Because of the time constraint, you agree to it. Is this not a form of corruption? Is paying Rs.50 to a peon to get you a table for dinner correct?
But we still do these things, which are wrong on the part of the receivers of the bribes, no doubt, but also on ours. It is the encouragement that a few of us give them that reaffirms their belief that everyone will bribe them.

There are people who try to fight corruption. But the number of people trying to change this is much less that the ones who succumb to the pressure of the situation and pay a bribe. Hence, this habit still surrounds us like a demon.

According to the latest Global Corruption Barometer report, one out of every four Indian has paid a bribe to someone or the other in the past year. These include bribes paid to ordinary members of the society and to any one out of nine service providers within education, medical service and politicians.

In a city known as the IT hub of the country, where intelligent and educated people from all over, is it not the responsibility of citizens to ensure that the filthy habit of bribery is uprooted?

This fight is definitely not going to be an easy one, but it is high time we learn to take little steps toward it. Otherwise, this country is in deep trouble.

(The views expressed are personal. The writer is a journalism student. She can be contacted at jasleen.b@iijnm.org)

Share |
 

Posted on 02.04.2011

Media ethics have gone down the drain

By Shruti Sharma

Media, which is the fourth pillar of democracy, is a medium to reach out to people and make an effort to bring a change in their lives. It is a source of knowledge and information and can be an effective way to educate people.

In India, media is the window to the world for many people especially those residing in villages. Villagers are dependent on the media for news from around the world. People who are not well versed with the use of computers still turn to the television of their daily dose of current affairs.

However, the Indian media, which was like a wall to depend on, seems to have lost much of its shine and glory. It appears to be losing its bearings amidst the tinkle of money.

The major thing affecting the ethics of Indian media is the concept of paid news. New agencies are sending out news that is profitable to them in some way. Companies are paying money to editors promote their products .Any person who pays more money can get the news he wants in the papers. The media ethics have gone down the drain and only the money appears to be the guiding force to putting news in the papers.

The second thing is the race for selling the most newspapers and getting the most viewers. The papers, these days have less news and more advertisements. The media has lost the real sense of news .Anything which gets viewership and readership is news. One can see the most vulgar kind of ads on the front pages of the newspapers each morning just because the newspapers received a huge wad of cash to put the ad in the paper. The newspapers just wish to earn money and get profits; real news can come later on.

The other thing affecting Indian media is Yellow journalism or sensationalism. The news anchor will say “The world is ending in 2012; see the bulletin which follows for further details.” People scared out of their wits would stick to their television sets in anticipation of what is going to happen. If a marble statue has started drinking milk, such uproar is created and the channel will bring along priests and religious experts to support their theories. No one would think of looking into the scientific or logical reasoning behind the happenings. Sensationalism is the new-age fad and all the media agencies are following it with their eyes and ears tightly shut.

The Indian media affected by people misguiding them or giving false news. The news agency gets a bit of information and without checking the facts will try to get it out first by telling this is breaking news and we have it first. They fail to check the facts and the reality of the news. Even after the agency gets to know about the falseness of the news it has put out, it fails to accept its folly and give out and apology for the same.
The reporters these days are merely typists who just copy whatever information is given to them and fail to check the reality of the news. It might be termed as lazy journalism or blamed on the laid-back attitude of the youth today. They just want to get a story done. They fail to realize the impact their story might have on other people’s lives and they consequences it might lead to.

Major problem with media in India is every other news is breaking news. The common man gets confused and dazed. One does not know what to believe and what not to. The news agencies assume on their own what they believe to be true and get it out before waiting for the reliability of the news and the facts.

The overall quality of journalism has gone down in the country. People view the news channels and newspapers as a source of getting entertainment fun rather than getting news. News agencies have more about what went wrong in an actor’s relationship than what is the cause of farmer suicides in Vidarbha. The poor and deprived seem to be neglected in the news and the news mainly covers how much more money the richest Indian has.

There is lack of ethics in the media. Agencies would keep out news if someone wishes them to do so if agency gets some benefits out of it.

I would like to bring a change in the Indian media in my own small way as each revolution begins with a single person. I would improve myself and check all facts and figures before I complete and submit any story. I would keep up with my principles and ethics.Bringing out the real news is more important rather than earning money. Even if one person is affected in a small but positive way with the work I do, I would believe my revolution for bringing a change in the Indian media has began.

(The views expressed are personal. The writer is a journalism student. She can be contacted at shruti.s@iijnm.org)

Posted on 27.03.2011

More institutional births in rural areas

By Rozelle Laha

Two out of five babies in rural Karnataka are born with the help of midwives instead of doctors because the mothers in labor are unable to reach a hospital. The percentage of urban population, who opted for institutional birth, was 84.8 percent whereas in rural Karnataka the percentage of institutional birth was 56.8 percent.

“Whereas in rural areas, they have to wait for vehicles to take them to the nearest hospitals or the Public Health Centers, in urban areas, there are more government hospitals and even a lot of private practitioners whom they can contact during emergency,” said Dr V D Palekar, Project Director (Reproductive and Child Health).
The connectivity to the nearest public health centers or hospitals in rural areas is very poor and hence the villagers are forced to depend on the midwives for assistance during the delivery.

“We try to get our child delivered in the hospitals. But, birth pain is something which nobody knows when it will start. Sometimes if it is late night, we do not have any other option other than calling the midwife,” a woman in Chikkerahalli village, northern part of Chitradurga district said.

However, the midwives are not skilled enough to perform the deliveries in most of the cases. Most of the midwives do not use fresh equipments for the deliveries.
“I have asked for new equipments from the government hospital doctors several times, but they have never provided me with anything. I am using the same pair of scissors from the past 25 years,” said Jayamma, the only midwife for at least four to five villages around Chikkerahalli village.

“I get paid nothing or very less for each delivery, I cannot afford two meals a day with that money, how can I buy new equipments for each delivery,” she added.
The nearest government hospital from that area is the Rampura Government Hospital. It takes around two hours for the villagers to reach the hospital. The only means of transport from those villages to Rampura are two buses: one at morning and the other one in the evening.

“It is better to get my child delivered with old scissors rather than traveling up to Rampura and find no doctor there,” a woman at Santegudda village said.
According to the third National Family Health Survey report, 89.7 percent of mothers who received 10 years of education or more opted for institutional delivery. On the contrary, 36.7 percent women with no education went to the hospitals to get their child delivered.

“Definitely most of the educated people live in urban Karnataka as compared to rural Karnataka. Educated mothers will automatically have better knowledge about the complications of non-institutional delivery,” said Dr V D Palekar, Project Director (Reproductive and Child Health). “We completely discourage delivery with the help of midwives. With the help of Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA), we are trying to promote awareness among the villagers for opting institutional deliveries,” said Dr. Neena Nanda, Consultant (Maternal Health), National Rural Health Mission.

There is more awareness among the villagers at present and the maternal mortality rate has come down from 228 in 2001 to 213 in 2004-2006 survey, Nanda added.

“In case of institutional delivery, the newborn babies are administered with zero day vaccine and hence chances of infections and other health risks are brought down. Moreover, the midwives usually tie the umbilical cord and that might be infectious. In case of institutional deliveries, the doctors clamp the cord, which is safer,” Palekar said.
“Only 15 to 20 per cent of the rural population receives education. But, with education, skilled manpower is also very important,” said Jasvir Singh, researcher on health and education in India.
(The views expressed are personal. The writer is a journalism student. She can be contacted at laha.rozelle@gmail.com)

Posted on 21.03.2011

It’s all in the family

By Jasleen Kaur Batra

A family with grandparents, uncles and aunts and plenty of cousins; a home full of chirping kids, a place where all the children listen to beautiful bed time tales; a house where one chocolate is shared between 10 kids, where in the name of friends, children play with cousins and in the name of outing, the entire family goes out camping; a house where the kids would run to their grandparents to get money to buy themselves an ice cream, where the grandmother would put all the children to sleep with her sweet lullaby. These are scenes one can just imagine but barely experience now.

Today’s age—the age of power, wealth and success—has become so narrow that it’s not just the houses that are getting smaller, but even the hearts and houses of people.There was once a time where serving your elders was the sole purpose of every child’s life. It would be their dream to succeed in life, so they could give their parents and loved ones a life full of comfort and luxury.


But today, people have become so self-centered, that they never mind taking care of their parents; people don’t even want to give them an accommodation in their houses hence the emergence of old age homes.

Everything today has taken a very compressed form. Be it technology or houses, everyone is in the desperate hunt for something less time and energy consuming. It’s all about money now. Bringing up two children is expensive, so let’s just have one kid. Taking care of your own parents seems too expensive, so let’s get rid psychological growth according to Dr. Shreenevas Reddy. A lot of children in the age group of 9 months to 2½ years suffer from respiratory infection, which is caused due to lack of attention.

Children suffer from low immunity, which is due to lack of attention from parents. A parent’s substitute or care taker cannot fulfill all the needs of a growing infant. Language, affection and lack of interest are major obstacles when a kid is raised by anyone but his/her parent.

This is where one realizes the advantages of a joint family. In a joint family, the children always have their grandparents by their side. Let it be the human touch, or any other requirement of the child, it is always met.

Having a lonely upbringing adversely affects a child’s mental state. According to Veena Kumar, a psychology professor in Mumbai: “Having a childhood devoid of parent’s attention, love and care can lead to a lot of psychological disorders in the child’s teenage years. Such children develop anxiety disorders, social phobia, low self esteem, eating disorders, depression, which in a few cases also leads to suicide, and in extreme cases, schizophrenia.”

A 21-year-old graduate student was suffering from anxiety disorder for a long time as she was staying in a nuclear family, with both parents working. She felt unhappy going back to an empty house with no one to greet her. Her parents had asked if she would like to have a sibling. “I selfishly said I would not like to share the love, affection and my parents with anyone. So I didn’t want a sibling,” said Reena. Today she regrets her own words and is spending time in solitude.

One feels that once a child has reached its teens he/she becomes more mature and the vacuum of not having anyone around would not exist. Surprisingly, this is not true.

Avanish Dewadi, a manager in a software firm, feels extremely depressed as soon as he steps into his house. “I really wish I had a younger brother or sister. It’s not that I don’t have friends, but friends are different. The kind of bond and love I would share with my brother is something I can never have with my friends,” said Dewadi.

In Dr. Hegde’s view, six out of 10 children get affected mentally, emotionally or physically due to the loneliness inflicted upon them in a nuclear family set-up. Dr. Veena Kumar also feels that 90 per cent of the families today live as nuclear families.

In a small survey taken in a busy area in Bangalore, seven out of 10 people felt that a nuclear family-set up is the best way to live today. Seema Dixit, a housewife, very strongly thinks that when one lives in a joint family, one might feel that the family members are a form of disturbance to them and there might be disputes. Fight between cousins, or between in-laws are frequent, which disturbs the child mentally.

“It is better to let your child be alone as opposed to a place where there are people yelling at each other every day. It is very important for a child to experience pleasant relationships in the beginning of their life; for them to perceive people and relationships in a light, happy manner,” Dixit said.

Dr. Sreenevas Reddy, an psychiatrist in Apollo Hospital, feels that it is better to stay in nuclear families. Though living in a joint family is a better atmosphere for a child to grow as they learn to love, care and share, the nuclear family set-up saves the child from the feeling of competition, anger and hatred at an early stage.

“Though a child becomes clingier when the parents come home, it is way better than fighting over who will sleep with the grandmother today, or who will get an extra piece of chocolate. These are unnecessary emotions and feelings that a child does not need to experience,” Dr. Reddy said.

A lot of arguments might arise as to which institution is better for the development and growth of children. But the point remains the same—let it be a joint family set-up or a nuclear one—it is the child who has to bear the consequences of the decisions taken by the adults.

“No one can be a substitute to the parents. Their role cannot be taken away by one’s grandparents and vice versa,” Dr. Kumar said.

Families need to come up with a consensus where the children are raised in the best possible environment, because what the children listen, feel and see in their childhood is what will become of them when they grow up to be adults and parents.

(The views expressed are personal. The writer is a journalism student. She can be contacted at jasleen.b@iijnm.org)

Posted on 12.03.2011

Is India-US ties cause of concern for Pak?

By Payel Chatterjee

The growing India-US ties is definitely a cause of worry for Pakistan. This fear was freshly renewed on November 8, 2010 when US President Obama visited India to hold talks regarding strengthening her economy and defense mechanism. While Indian leaders were rejoicing for the considerable success of Obama visit, Pakistan began to mull over the various possible discussions between Dr Singh and Obama. The complete indifference towards the Kashmir issue and Obama’s open support to India’s bid for a seat UN Security Council also raised a couple of eyebrows in Pakistan.

As mentioned by Reddif.com, the Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit had mentioned before Obama’s visit, that Kashmir is “an issue central to peace in the region” and Pakistan would be concerned if US-India talks did not give prominence to the Kashmir issue. Barack Obama said in his address to the Indian Parliament, "I can say today -- in years ahead, I look forward to a reformed UN Security Council that includes India as a permanent member".

 

According to Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, Obama characterized the India-US relation as one of the most “indispensable partnerships of the 21st century”. At a joint press conference with US President Barack Obama on Nov 8th,last year, Manmohan Singh said that in his discussions with the US President, they “decided to accelerate the deepening of our ties and to work as equal partners in a strategic relationship that will positively and decisively influence world peace, stability and progress.”
Dr. Manmohan Singh has high hopes that Pakistan and India would "find mechanisms that will be appropriate" to reduce conflict and tensions. According to Obama, Singh's "sincere and relentless desire", to pursue peace talks with Pakistan is commendable. Infact, U.S. President Barack Obama's statement that he regards India as the “cornerstone of America's engagement in Asia,” startled leaders in Pakistan. Obama’s claim that he "will continue to insist with Pakistan's leaders that terrorist safe havens within their borders are unacceptable and that the terrorists behind the Mumbai attacks be brought to justice,” is a definite cause of concern for Pakistan.

Moreover, India’s cooperation with the United States on issues like space, nuclear, defence etc. has been increasing. US and India decides to do away with controls on export of high technology items to India and US extended its support to India's membership with the Nuclear Suppliers Group, Missile Technology Control Regime, Australia Group, and Wassenaar Arrangement). This step reiterated the growing trust and confidence between the two countries.

While analyzing Obama’s visit to India for the ‘Daily Times’, Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi mentioned three important cause of concern for Pakistan- “the US’s reluctance to play an active role in defusing the tension between India and Pakistan, support to the seating of India in the UN Security Council (UNSC) as a permanent veto wielding member and India’s increased role in Afghanistan.”

India's former ambassador to the US and head of the National Security Advisory Board, Mr. Naresh Chandra analyzed Obama’s recent visit and came to the conclusion that he will no longer “mollycoddle Pakistan”. According to him Obama wants Pakistan to perform. Most importantly America never imposed any condition on India that she cannot use American military aid against any of its neighbor, like America did in the case of Pakistan.Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State earlier this year, called India a “rising global power” and also claimed that, “US was committed to the modernization of India’s military and that the US military holds the maximum number of joint exercises with the Indian Army.”Pakistan’s growing fear of Indo-US reached its peak this year in January, when American Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ visit to New Delhi was coupled by Afghan Taliban suicide bombers’ attack of Kabul. Moreover, Gates’ visit was seen by Pakistan as the immediate result of India raising its military budget to approximately $40 billion.

In contrast Pakistan's budget for 2009-10 is only $30 billion. On 3rd of June last year, India and US also held strategic dialogue in Washington and mutually promised to strengthen their cooperation in various fields like nuclear energy, defence, counter-terrorism etc. However, as quoted in the Zee News website, Phillip Crowley, the U.S. State Department spokesman, told Zee News reporters on July 28th 2010, that "A stable Pakistan is not a threat to India. A stable India does not need to be a threat to Pakistan.” He also claimed that United States military assistance given to Pakistan should not be seen as a threat to India and visa vis.However, all said and done, the recent development of strategic ties between India and the United States is raising obvious fears in Pakistan. Just like most of the countries of the world even Pakistan wants to develop diplomatic relations with the US.

(The views expressed are personal. The writer can be contacted at payel.c@iijnm.org)

Posted on 06.03.2011

A slum dweller’s lot is not happy one

By Prerna Changkakati

The fine wrinkles on her face and her grey hair like winter frost don’t reflect her age. She lost all her teeth when she was just 35, but there’s always a warm smile on her face, even for a stranger. She was an English teacher in a primary school before she was forced to leave her job to take care of her children. She always wanted to give them a good education even if it meant selling vegetables on the street to make enough money to pay for their tuition and uniforms. That was almost 20 years ago.

Today, Mary Farmila is one of the few literate people in the slum. She is an old woman and a mother who is suffering from a hypothyroid ailment, a problem that has been plaguing her for years now as she struggles to finish her daily chores just to run her family.

Disposing garbage is a big problem in the slum of EWS quarters in Koramangala. People are ignorant about the health hazards that garbage can cause, especially affecting their children. Garbage is strewn all over the place, behind their homes which has blocked the drains that always leaves a foul stench.

“Nobody here really cares about cleanliness and hygiene. They dump garbage and other waste just behind their homes.” Mary says. “People in the slum are illiterate and hence they are not aware about its consequences. My thyroid has aggravated due to this and I get exhausted very fast,” Mary added.

People, animals live under one roof
Mary’s husband Mathew is a security guard, and her two sons are auto drivers. Her daughters are married .She lives in a small room, one of the temporary sheds in the slum with a big dog that her younger son brought, to breed dogs and make some extra money, a cat and a few chickens that she has been raising. They all live under the same roof. They don’t have the privilege of a separate living room, a bedroom or a kitchen. There is just one room which they make do for everything. Mary’s family has no savings. They pay five hundred rupees every month for room rent. The rest of the money gets over in trying to meet expenses for food and paying off loan for the auto rickshaws that her sons brought.

“A lot of people in the slum suffer from wheezing, asthma and other respiratory diseases. I have tried speaking to a few of my neighbors but, nobody pays heed to an old lady like me,” Mary added.

Health problems rife
Lakshmi Kuppaswamy is one such victim of asthma. She broke down into tears as she explained how she didn’t have any money for her treatment. She works as a housekeeper near Ejipura, but her poor health doesn’t permit her to work regularly. She is a resident of the slum and has been suffering from asthma from the past two years.
Firdostraj is a mother of five. Her second daughter, Sabina trails behind her wherever she goes. She is just 4 years old but gets ill very often. “My kids fall sick often, especially Sabina, she is very weak. She is still recovering from fever that she caught last week.”

Though a BBMP truck comes and cleans the garbage, the heap keeps increasing while stray dogs feed on it. The garbage is also a breeding ground for mosquitoes. There is an NGO in the vicinity of the slum called Ambedkar Youth Social Welfare Association, and Lewis Patrick is its president.
“We try to help people of the slum in our own small way. We don’t get funds or financial help from anybody,”Lewis said. “We hold meetings thrice every week, trying to address various problems of the people including cleanliness.”

“The BBMP truck comes to pick garbage but they can’t enter the small lanes, so the garbage is left lying and unattended,” Lewis said. There is a government hospital inside the slum, but the doctor is often not available. People who fall sick go to the nearby hospitals or to Dr. Natarajan Settee, who treats most of the sick people for free or a token sum.

“I have regular patients from the slum. Most of them come to me with complaints of asthma and wheezing. Some of them even suffer from allergic bronchitis, scabies, respiratory tract infections, TB, malaria, dengue and chickengunya,” Shetty said. “During monsoons, chances of an epidemic breaking are high. The sense of awareness is lacking among the people in the slum,” Shetty said.

Gayatri L.T., the BBMP’s chief health officer, said: “The BBMP is creating health awareness by holding camps at the health centers and distributing pamphlets. We hold awareness camps where we talk about personal hygiene, food adulteration and other diseases that arise out of stagnant water consumption.”

She added: “There is a health center in the slum and our link workers and doctors hold meetings and create awareness every once in a month. But it’s up to the people living in the slum to understand the importance of living in clean surroundings.”

As for Mary, she tries to do her own bit by keeping the place she calls home clean. “While growing up, I always came first in class but in life I am last,” she said, wiping away her tears with the folds of her tattered sari as her smile got lost somewhere in the darkness of her pain.

(The views expressed are personal. The writer can be contacted at prerna.c@iijnm.org)

Posted on 27.02.2011

On death and dying: our down-to-earth politicians

By Paul Dharamraj

In the run up to Karnataka’s election campaigns, you are bound to come across the phase “mannina maga.” Loosely translated into English as “son of the soil,” it is a label that politicians plaster all over their campaign propaganda. Its purpose in political rhetoric is to show just how close your friendly neighborhood member of legislature is to the common man. The moniker, however, acquired a whole new meaning over the last month, when these “sons of the soil” were dragged down by a series of land scams. The irony, which has had punning headline writers rubbing their hands with glee, has not been lost on the public.

From B.S.Yeddiyurappa to Deve Gowda, they’ve all done a pretty unconvincing Bill Clinton on the news channels, with outright denials accompanied by copious weeping. There are more tears in their press conferences than a whole season of that soppy telly soap your mum has on every evening. The question really is: how much credibility would you give anything a politician says, especially if his initials are B.S.?

But like the five stages of dying, the denial turns to anger. The mud-slinging over land grabbing begins. Accusations over who started de-notifying land are all you hear. Of course, the media is there to catch it all, as it allegations fly thick and fast between the BJP, JD(S) and Congress camps.

The anger is short-lived. In our times of political pragmatism, deals have to be cut quickly. The rage gives way to bargaining. The BJP take stock of their loyalists and work out ways to buy the outsiders onto their side. Money exchanges hands as legislators trade political lineage. Old favors are called in, and quid pro quo is the lingua franca in the party circles.

The evidence, however, remains incriminating. No amount of “legitimate” documents waved at television cameras can prevent our politicians’ sins from catching up with them. The Lokayukta have a whole filing cabinet of land records that say otherwise.

And this is when all the media dust begins to settle.

The bargaining segues into depression. We haven’t heard from Yeddy for quite a while now, apart from the occasional religious visit. Of course, he is under instructions from the party’s high command to keep a low profile. Their damage control department works overtime to salvage what’s left of the battered BJP reputation. The land scams have pretty much stuck the BJP’s name in the dirt.

So there you have it. The five stages of the dying political careers in Karnataka—this is how the spiral descends.

Shock and denial. Check.

Self righteous anger. Check.

Desperate bargaining. Check.

Depression accompanied by a sudden religious impulse. Check.

All that’s left now is acceptance.

(The views expressed are personal. The writer can be contacted at paul.d@iijnm.org)

Posted on 23.02.2011

Uncertain world in second decade of the 21st century

By Nikita Bothra

The start of the second decade of the 20th century has been dramatic. The end of the cold war triggered huge economic growth with peace, economic stability and democratization in the Middle East.
The first decade of the 21st century has not been fulfilling in terms of growth and stability among nations because it has been fruitless and was misspent in rising intercontinental strains, economic catastrophe. In the Middle East it was followed by frequent conflicts, and political drama.

What will the second decade of the 21st century has in store for the world, is an uncertainty. First, globally the economic recovery from the 2008 crisis (recession) has been dawdling. Talking in terms of poverty and unemployment, there isn’t much progress. Nevertheless compared to the west Asia shows signs of growing. The United Nations will be completing 70 years, as a forum, incapable of providing international stability and its inability to handle the growing disengage between the Security Council and the share of political and economic power.

Second, the dilemma is the growing population which will reach nearer to 6.9 -7 billion. This in turn will invite massive poverty, accelerating global warming with its catastrophic consequences: drought, flood and environmental immigrants.

The US has maintained a ‘hyphenated’ foreign policy towards both India and Pakistan for almost half of the 20th century. It was Washington who sort of attempted to poise diplomatic calls, appointments and trade negotiations with one country considering the other country. With India’s marked progress economically, the President stated to de-hyphenate diplomacy concerning South Asia. When Obama was sworn as the President of the US, Pakistan has used its power over the Afghan war to side-track the US from intensifying its ties with India.

The US’s rolling tyrance over universal affairs, has undoubtedly revealed its true imperialistic character post 9/11.The 150 marginal countries are economically reliant and politically dictated by the so called imperialist states within the G8 and G20 international league which is handled by the US and its provincial partners namely UK, Germany, France, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Australia and the European Union.

The prospects are not too promising in the Middle-East. The economic growth has certainly helped only a few economies: widening the breach between the affluent and the meagre.

To talk about religion, tensions that prevailed previously are still a subject of worry. The Arab Israeli conflict is far from seeking declaration. The American military exploitation in Iraq and Afghanistan, military operations by sting operation (undercover strategies) will ignite the fire of clashes between fundamental Islam and the West from Pakistan to all the ways to the arid regions of North America.

The world in the second decade, will unrest itself due to political tensions and the growing hegemony between the developed and the developing nations. One will hardly see an iota of serious development except for a few major nations. Conceivably, we might be preoccupied by several socio-political and economic predicaments.

(The views expressed are personal. The writer can be contacted at nikita.b@iijnm.org)

Posted on 19.02.2011

Steep decline in Bangalore’s bird species sounds a warning

By Mattia Michielan

Bangalore’s trees are being replaced by cell phone masts, its greenery is being covered by concrete, and the Garden City reportedly has lost 50 percent of its birds in the last three years.

Satellite images reveal that in the last three years, Bangalore has lost more than one-third of its greenery. Work on the Namma Metro and other development has caused around 50,000 trees to be felled since 2008, according to a report by Environment Support Group, a Bangalore-based nongovernmental organization.

“What took 30 years earlier has been achieved in three years by this government,” said Dr. M.B. Krishna, an environmentalist and ornithologist, referring to the number of trees that have been cut down.

“I remember that 10 years ago, when I start going to school, I woke up to the sound of birdsong,” said Anup Subramanian,24, a resident of Shantinagar. “I wonder where the birds have disappeared to.”

Krishna said 340 species of birds have been recorded inhabiting the city of Bangalore and its surrounding area—more than half the number of species in peninsular India—and in winter many migratory birds come from the north. In the wetlands and numerous trees of the Garden City, the birds found a perfect habitat.

But the number of many species of birds has dwindled to 2 percent of what it was three decades ago, Krishna said.“In about 30 years, we have reduced bird life by 50 percent,” he said.
“That's the price you pay for development,” said Vinay Kumar, director of the World Wide Fund for Nature’s Karnataka office. “You want IT on the one hand, and all the wildlife to be there on the other.”

Telephone towers blamed Researchers say the increase in electromagnetic pollution is the main cause of the decline in the bird population. “When birds are exposed to weak electromagnetic fields, they become disoriented and begin to fly in all directions, which explains migratory birds’ navigational abilities being undermined,” said Prof. Girish Kumar of IIT Bombay’s Electrical Engineering Department.

“A large number of birds like pigeons, sparrows, swans are getting lost due to interference from the new mobile phone masts.”
Kumar explained that the disappearance of birds including kestrels, white stork, rock doves, pigeons and magpies has been observed near base stations for mobile telecommunications. It has been observed that the birds have a tendency to stay longer in the lower parts of the trees or on the ground, and that they suffer locomotion and breeding problems, he said.

Sparrows and humans have shared the same roofs for centuries, and because of the sensitivity to the environment that characterizes this bird, it is the preferred indicator of urban ecosystems. Prof. Kumar said that “a stable house sparrow population indicates a healthy ecosystem for human beings in terms of air and water quality, vegetation and other parameters of habitat quality, whereas a declining population of the bird provides a warning that the urban ecosystem is experiencing some environmental changes unsuitable for human health in the immediate future.”

Research conducted by V .P. Sandlas, director general of the New Delhi-based Amity Institute of Space Science & Technlogy indicates that electromagnetic radiation afflicts not only birds, but also plants and mammals, including humans.

Continued exposure to electromagnetic radiation can cause headache, migraine, cataracts, eye irritation, loss of appetite, fatigue, lack of concentration, memory loss, anxiety and depression, sleep disruption and insomnia. Depending on the duration of the exposure and the intensity of the radiation, humans can suffer serious biological effects such as brain tumors, eye tumors, Parkinson’s disease and leukemia, according to the research.

Noise pollution causes birds to sing at night “Nothing has being proved from microwave towers,” Krishna said. “There’s this speculation that it could have an effect, but since it is not really obvious it may not have as big a role as other factors. What we know for sure is that habitat change can bring about a loss. In fact if you look at all the bird species of the world, 60 percent of the birds are threatened because of habitat loss.”
Most trees in Bangalore grew along roadsides and not in gardens, Krishna said.

“The bulk of the large trees were in public places—public spaces that now are disappearing,” he said.

Work to widen Bangalore’s streets is thus removing a key habitat for birds.
Another key habitat being eroded is wetlands, Krishna said. While these occupy only 5 percent of Bangalore’s land, they support around 40 percent of the bird species recorded in the city. In recent years, development has caused the number of lakes in the city to fall from 51 to 17 and from 147 to 93 in the suburban area.

“Even crows are declining in Bangalore—everything is declining,” Krishna said. The only species that is increasing in Bangalore is the pigeons, which can perch and nest on the projections of multistory buildings, he said.

As well as habitat erosion and electromagnetic pollution there are others important factors that contribute to the decline in the bird population: air, water and noise pollution. “Do you know how the birds respond to the incredible amount of noise pollution?” Krishna said. “They started singing during the night.”

Bangalore’s unsustainable development is also afflicting the suburban area known as the rural-urban fringe. When a city starts growing, its boundaries became a target for speculation, farmers stop growing crops, landowners do not take care of their land or trees, and weeds grow wild because the only interest is in the value of the land. Usually an area of twice the radius of the city is affected by this socioeconomic change, which results in habitat loss. “This is an ecological disaster,” Krishna said.

He said that of all animals, birds burn up food fastest because they require energy not only to fly, but to get airborne. “Per unit of body weight, because of their increased food intake, birds also receive the highest dosages of chemicals in the environment,” Krishna pointed out.

In the past, miners took canaries with them to work in mines because the birds perished if odorless, toxic gases were present, giving the miners time to escape. What imminent danger is the loss of hundreds of bird species in our city warning us of?

(Thewriter can be contacted at mattia.m@iijnm.org)

Posted on 15.02.2011

A saga of blood, oil and corruption

By Kruthi Gonwar

A place where decreasing animal population is balanced by ever increasing human population, where government hospitals are shut after five whereas bars are open 24/7, where bartenders work harder than government officials, where there are stampedes in every place from movie theatres to temples and even in passport offices, where the police are actively sleeping during the duty hours and where people are always ready with reasons to blame the government. No prices for guessing, welcome to contemporary India.

Talking about issues being faced by the country, one of the most recent developments was the Yeshwant Soanwane murder case, in Malegaon, Nashik district, where he was burnt alive by the oil and kerosene mafia leader Popat Shinde and his accomplices. He was the additional district general of Malegaon. And an even more surprising event was that Popat Shinde was found abandoned by his accomplices after he suffered burns in the process near Malegaon Police Station.

Popat Shinde was admitted to JJ Hospital on January 25, 2011. He died on January 31, 2011. On January 28, 2011, two days after Sonawane was burnt alive the Maharashtra government carried out raids at nearly 200 places, in a move to crack down on the oil adulteration mafia. It took the life of an officer to bring about a realization in our governments and to act accordingly. Earnest and upright police officers like Sonawane, who come with a vision of bringing about a change in the way things have been going on in the country, are brutally burnt alive. If it would not have been for his death, the oil mafia would have spread like a fungus all over the country and nobody would have even felt its presence.

Sonawane’s family will be provided compensation; he’ll be in the news for a day or two and will be forgotten. “He died a martyr to the cause of anti-adulteration drive,” Oil Minister S. Jaipal Reddy told at a news conference in New Delhi on January 28.

In November 2005, a similar mafia killed an IIM graduate Shanmugam Manjunath for sealing a corrupt station in U.P. Shanmugham was an IIM graduate who was working as a grade A marketing manager in the Indian Oil Corporation, in Lakshimpur Kheri in Lucknow. He had ordered for the closure of the shutting down of two petrol pumps for selling adulterated fuel for three months. He was shot dead in his car. There were six bullets riddled in his boy.

Another incident of a sincere officer being killed in such an inhuman way. His family knew about his death only after three days. Satyendra Dubey, another engineer at the National Highway Authority of India, was shot dead and his body was found on the roadside in A.P.Colony in Varanasi after fighting against the corruption in Golden Quadrilateral highway construction project. He was an IIT Kanpur graduate and the only one from his village to enter IIT.

It is very unfortunate that the wave these issues created could not make a larger impact on people. A few protests here and there and one speech of compensation by a minister, and the cases are closed.

A mutual process of crimes being politicized and politics being criminalized has led to a lot of criminals getting away with crime.

(The views expressed are personal. The writer can be contacted at kruthi.g@iijnm.org).

Posted on 08.02.2011

How fair is it to be 'fair'?

By Deepa Ranganathan

His identity is defined by the colour of his skin: an unforgettable dark. He can’t get the right job, the right girl or the right confidence owing to the darkness of his skin. His self-esteem and he probably even feels emasculated.

Boom! Then enters the fairness cream, the religious usage of which, for six weeks, will guarantee a fair, glowing skin—the one thing required to get that right job in the office, to impress the ever-annoyed boss, to woo that one elusive girl in his life who suddenly begins to notice him thanks to his “fair” skin (pun intended).

No, this is not a fake, made-up story, but an actual narration of what the advertisements on these fairness creams for men portray in order to sell their product. Forget about the ads and the success level of these products; what is more interesting to note is this sudden growing obsession of men, particularly youths, with fairness cream products.

Whiteness sells

To say that fairness creams never ruled the market would be too naive and simplistic a conclusion. According to trade analysts, men’s fairness products are valued at Rs.30 million and constitutes 35 percent of the market for men’s beauty products. What has now emerged is an increasingly growing popularity among urban youth and the involvement of men in the market of fairness creams—a domain that was once restricted and meant exclusively for women. Traditionally, women have been expected to be physically appealing, which is closely linked to another booming market—marriage—and hence the need for such enhancing products. But gradually the marketing industry is noticing the sale and growth of fairness creams for men as well. According to a recent report, the men’s fairness products market is estimated at Rs.1.75 billion (nearly $40 million) and is growing at the rate of 25 percent annually, while the women’s fairness market is growing at 7 to 8 percent.

This raises some serious questions. Does the earlier notion of “tall, dark and handsome” no longer hold true, as far as “dark” is concerned? Why is there such an obsession with the need to look fair? Why is there an almost instinctive association of positivity and goodness with white and negativity and badness with black? What is this white-black dichotomy and how deep-rooted is it? The question thus raised is not whether such creams are useful or serve the purpose of lightening the colour of the skin, but whether men ought to be using things traditionally seen as feminine and how such products perpetuate colour discrimination.

Ads play on inferiority complex

A strong argument in favour of men using such creams is too obvious to be ignored: that it’s a matter of personal choice, that it complements the lifestyle of what is popularly termed as metrosexual. According to the definition provided by Merriam-Webster, metrosexual is “a usually urban heterosexual male given to enhancing his personal appearance by fastidious grooming, beauty treatments, and fashionable clothes.” But, the fact that the man is using a fairness cream and not just any other moisturizer, sun block or anti-aging cream speaks volumes about the inherent need to look fair, possibly arising out of a deep-rooted inferiority complex.

Coming back to the advertisement of the fairness creams, it is interesting to note that the ads, too, play on this inferiority complex. Going by what they show, the man is unconfident of his looks, talent, his real calibre and worth primarily because of the colour of his skin, which is dark. Thus, consequently, what the ad implies is that fair skin brings with itself not only better looks, but also confidence and success. Isn’t the ad derogatory to people with dark skin, as it categorizes them as a bunch of low, dull, rejected and pitiable souls? And we haven’t even spoken about looks here yet.

The central question that so emerges is: How fair is it to use a fairness cream, more so by a man? India and Sri Lanka have the biggest market when it comes to fairness cream products for men and women. In India alone, this market is worth a whopping Rs.7 billion. It is no wonder that the ads for these creams are coming up with innovative ideas like never before: a bit player getting the role of a lead actor, transformation from a rejected lover to a male heartthrob, getting employed at a top-notch company that chooses its employees by judging their confidence (which is suddenly upped by regularly applying the cream). The list goes on and on, while the obsession seems to be never-ending.

(The views expressed are personal. Deepa Ranganathan is a Trainee Journalist, specializing in Print medium, She can be contacted at deeps_jsr@yahoo.co.in)

Posted on 31.01.2011

Flying colours of India

By Shweta Rao

The poverty driven slum dogs in Bangalore city unknowingly keep a dying but beautiful art form alive - Kite flying.

As she rushed in from school, Kshama had beads of sweat trickling down her cheeks. Her upper lips looked as if adorned with tiny diamonds under the sun. It was the afternoon’s sun, over the asbestos sheets sheltering her family, glowering at its hottest. Kamala’s mother coaxed her not to drink water just after returning from the heat outside. But Kamala hears none of it.

Gulping down the cool water from an earthen pot in the only bedroom in her house, Kamala rushes outside clutching a five-rupee coin in her tiny hands. Joined by Sabu and Rehman who are the tiny tots in the locality, Kamala is headed towards the end of the street where she lives in L R Nagar. She needs to buy a green kite today, before her brother comes in.

Yesterday, Kshama’s brother had tried beating her up because she had tangled his kite into a bunch of overhead electric wires while trying to fly it. The young kid doesn’t want to invite her brother’s wrath today.

A walk in the L R Nagar slums -one of the biggest slums of Bangalore and a home to thousands of migrant and underprivileged labourers apart from others, and one can see numerous mangled remains of multi-coloured kites hanging from electric poles and transmission wires. As reported in Deccan Herald in October last year, the slum stands as one of the highest complaint areas for electric wire disconnection due to kite threads cutting through them.

At the end of the street lies a tiny shop run by Ramesh and his family. Ramesh Galipatta Angadi” (meaning Ramesh Kite Shop) sprawls in Kannada over a tiny make shift board above the shop. The shop houses numerous kites in different colours made out of various types of scrap, “manja” – the thread used to fly a kite often covered with a layer of powdered glass to facilitate cutting through threads of other kites in a competition and various other kite making material.

Ramesh’s family has been selling kites for over two decades now. His dad had a provisions store on the same place which later gave way to their present occupation. The reason? Demand, says Ramesh. The kites are imported from Maharashtra and Orissa.

Well, sadly the demand that his father saw in kites long ago has depleted to a large extent but Ramesh remains unfazed.

“Who says that no one flies these kites? I know of many shops in the city that sell them. In fact, during the months of December and January we specially bring in more kites from Dharavi, Mumbai and Gujarat. If the rich kids don’t buy them, it doesn’t worry me anymore. The children here still buy from us.”

Akshata, a software engineer living in the National Games Village nearby smiles, ”If a passer-by comes and asks to direct him to L R Nagar, you can safely tell him to follow the kites.”
Appropriate, don’t you think? After all which other children do any of us see flying kites in the neighbourhood?

It is only in the festival of Sankranthi, a very important festival observed in India for celebrating a good harvest that people remember to engage in kite flying. In earlier days, come mid-January and one could witness drama – with music on rooftops, crowds shouting sounding like war cries, the word “kaateh” (meaning “cut” in hindi) sung out loud whenever a kite is cut. The high pitched “kaateh” stood as a symbol of the celebration.

People from all religions irrespective of caste and creed, rich or poor enjoy the festival of kites. The ingenuity that involves making kites and flying them is almost a religion in itself, grown to the level of an art form, though it looks deceptively simple.

Not much of it is seen nowadays as many cases of accidental deaths of young boys falling off from terraces while flying kites have been reported.

One can still argue that open grounds could solve the problem, but our modern lifestyle which brings in iPads and PlayStations to children’s life curbs the urge to go out and play to a much larger extent. The increase in high rises in Indian cities also doesn’t help the cause.

Ayush, 8-year-old student at Bangalore International School says, “I love playing on my Sony Playstation after I get back from school. I have never flown a kite so I don’t know if I could fly a kite. I have seen National Geographic showing it as a part of our festival. They look nice. “

Not to forget, this tremendously popular sport of the yester years, patang-bazi (as the art of kite flying is called in Hindi) has its own misgivings.

Rajamani, constable at Audugodi police station says the boys in the slums use chinese manja and have caused many injuries in the past. The station has booked some culprits under the law for indulging in dangerous acts in the recent past.

Kites – those triangular thin objects capable of soaring to the skies while still being tethered to the ground, the mascots of a child’s playful heart and his subconscious desire to fly high. It is disheartening to see such a beautiful form of art giving in the hands of consumerism and video / computer games.

While you are reading this Ayush will be munching on a Mc Maharaja Burger busying his hands on a Playstation console, feverishly killing a militant appearing on a 70 inch Plasma TV screen in front of him, somewhere in the plush apartments enclosed in an air conditioned room, silently denied of experiences his childhood demands from a playground.

And while you are reading this, Kshama and her brother fix their eyes up in the sky, eagerly following a green kite dancing to tunes of the manja tied to their hands, their dirty, naked feet run through the myriad lanes of L. R. Nagar and their echoing shouts keeping alive the dying art form of kite flying.

(The views expressed are personal. The writer is a trainee journalist in print media, Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media, Bangalore. She can be contacted at shweta.a@iijnm.org).

Posted on 20.11.2011

Development should override caste in India

By Shayan Ghosh

India is a land of many religions and numerous castes and is also called unified as a whole as far as the saying ‘unity is diversity’ goes. Religion is at the basis of the caste system prevalent in the country. Just as we divide ourselves on the basis of religion, in the same manner we do separate on terms of caste. A debate in ongoing whether we should have an enumeration of the castes in the country, but if such a calculation is then the caste problems would increase instead of decreasing, bringing chaos, when the numbers are revealed.

The Hindustan Times article that read “Development overrides caste in Bihar battle” is about the emergence of a new mode of campaigning based on assurance of development in the region. This was not the case few years back when the political leaders of Bihar still utilized the caste politics and were dependent on castes to vote for the respective leaders. This massive vote bank on which they used to depend is giving way to, according to the article, development.

I disagree with the above mentioned article because this may only be the case before elections in certain part of India and this will end as soon as the elections are over. The leaders will again come back to their caste biases and thus this will lead nowhere. However, this is a very positive sign of India going beyond the caste borders and concentrating on development to gather votes. Bihar could possibly set an example for the entire country to follow its footsteps. This caste system ahs gone into the roots of the people and in Bihar, people used to vote for their own caste people only. But reports say that the situation is fast changing, though people cannot be lured only with few development projects undertaken in the country.

Development, in other parts of the country has not disappeared or is not disappearing at a fast rate. The only thing can be that now people are taking initiatives to make it a point to drive it away and this will take time. The article in Hindustan Times does not hold good for other parts of the country too. The movie ‘India Untouched’ throws a flood of light on the issue of caste system and the discriminations practiced accordingly. The documentary begins with a stark example of how innocent young children have somehow got into their heads that if they get into a Dalit house they will get ‘polluted’. This is the effect our caste system can have on young minds, which are the easiest to mould. The documentary shows how Dalits in almost all parts of the country suffer the same fate of untouchability and segregation. They are the ones who suffer because of the cruel practices of the society.

The religious minds are not there to ward off this practice but they are the ones who support the system of caste discrimination. We find a Hindu pandit explaining, in India Untouched’, how God himself divided the people on the basis of the works they should perform, this is profounded by stating slokas from the Vedas.

At some places in Madurai and Tamil Nadu the Dalits are not even allowed to enter villages dwelled by upper castes with their shows on. They have to remove it and carry it by their hands. This is the level of humiliation these people are subjected to. Such cases of deprivation are there to stand with others like not letting the Dalits to draw water from the same well where other upper castes do. This may seem to be history to the educated masses, but this is the reality at the grass-root level in Indian villages. Lower caste people are derided and looked down upon and no social status is granted. We forget, at times, that we are all human beings and then only we are divided into castes, creeds and sects. Humanity should be the only factor taken into consideration and nothing else.

The issue of honor killings should also be brought to focus while speaking of caste and untouchability. The case of Tamil Nadu needs to be discussed where in the past two years 1,971 women have killed themselves and many among them could be honor deaths, according to a Tehelka study. The article in Tehelka shows how a 35-year-old Dalit man was killed by his non-Dalit wife’s brothers. Thus not only untouchability but such brutal practices can also be attributed to the stringent caste system in India.

If development had given way to caste system then there would have never been a rebellion to separate Telengana from the state of Andhra Pradesh. This is the most neglected area in the state and they have been living in such a condition for years. There have been very little amount of development compared to other parts of Andhra Pradesh, mainly the capital, Hyderabad. The people there are aggrieved about the biases in budget allocations, water and jobs available to them. The protests have shaken the roots of the government, till then, sitting cosy in their chairs and counting on them only for votes.

Thus development should override caste in India but this is not the case as presented in the above paragraphs. India then will be an utopia if any day development overpowers caste system and says that it is what matters. However though I disagree with the Hindustan Times article on Bihar, I would like to state that if such a thing is substantial and not only for vote gathering, then India is set to shine in the upcoming years with everyone enjoying the same amount if rights everywhere, irrespective of caste, creed, ect or sex.

(The views expressed are personal. The writer is trainee journalist at Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media. He can be contacted at shayan.g@iijnm.org)

Posted on 13.11.2011

Techno-savvy kids might be obese

By Nikita Bothra

Laptops and iphones, cameras and play stations is what today’s kids identify themselves with. These gadgets have become a vital part of their lives: in schools, at homes and everywhere. Considerably, technology has undoubtedly taken a toll on their health thereby increasing the chances of obesity. User- friendly softwares, access to a personal laptop, gulping on aerated drinks and gorging on packed foods can be identified as the main cause of the quandary.

Recently, the DNA newspaper in this month came out with a report of obesity in children where according to a study conducted by the National Diabetes, Obesity and Cholesterol Foundation (N-DOC) and Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases, Diabetes Foundation (India), it was found that 30.4% children in private schools and 7.9% children in government schools were obese.

Packaged diet worsen health

Indisputably, a chain of fast food restaurants like the KFC and MacDonald’s can be accredited in defining the food habits of children especially in the age group from 5-15 years. Susan Charles, 10, of St.Agnes school in Museum road loves to munch on veg strips and chicken snacker every time she arrives with her mother to KFC after school. When questioned about her other favourite eating joints, she candidly replies, Macdonald’s. Besides, exciting offers in these eateries like a Game Box at Rs 99, offering a variety of junk food together, adds to temptation of Susan. Susan’s mother Pranita, fears her daughters food temptations as she feels that her child might grow oversize in years to come.

The Assistant manager of the KFC, Vishnu says, “nearly 10% of the crowd in KFC are children on weekdays and it is doubled specially on Sundays”. Well, crammed food is one of the recognized factors for growing obesity in children.

Pritwish, 9, prefers a day out in a week with his father to accompany him to the KFC. “I simply love KFC stuffs: be it chicken snacker, chicken meal or chicken strips. I always follow it up by gulping my favourite coca-cola”, adds Pritwish. His father Udit (name changed to protect the source) says, “it is hard on him to restrain from delicious chicken that is prepared at the restaurant. I know it is unhealthy but he is adamant on having it”. Although the father encouraged Pritwish’s mother to prepare chicken at home, Pritwish simply refuses to have it.

“Daddy, take me to KFC”. This is the only wish that Pritwish wants his dad to fulfil on every sunday. Udit does not fear of his son growing obese because he encourages him to exercise regularly. In fact, both father and son practice Yoga which helps them stay fit. “I want to inculcate in my child, the habit of engaging in some amount of exercise so that in long run he does not have any health issues. “We can change our lifestyle if not eating habits”, added Udit.

Technology drives children

The internet has done more harm than good to children. According to a recent survey conducted this month by Oxygen Factory, an organisation of youth and self-development experts, “facebook proved the most popular site, with more than 80 per cent of students regularly using it.”

Susan surfs net for two hours in a day where she is logged on to Facebook for an hour and a half though her mother claims that she uses the net to gather material for her school projects. She agrees that her daughter’s spelling and vocabulary is not up to the mark. Susan could not spell the words ‘situation’ and ‘standard’ (when asked her to spell). “I know she’s bad at spellings.

She’s in standard V and she should have spelled the words correctly. My daughter is fond of reading books but when it comes to Facebook, she forgets everything else”, added Pranita. She agrees that social networking sites like Facebook and Orkut are a good way to keep in touch with your friends and relatives. But the attractive features and other activities that it involves like uploading pictures, videos, commenting on one’s status and lots more, allures everyone specially the children.

A.M.Siddique, the general manager of Computer Planet at Brigade Road said “on an average, 3 children come to shop with their parents to buy themselves either a laptop or a camera. Many students of Std (standard) VI or VII place an order of MS Word 2010 (computer software) when we run out of stock”. What amazed him is that many of these kids do not have an iota of knowledge of the software’s usage.

“I try explaining them that the key features in the newest version of the software (Ms Word) are the same as the old with slight changes here and there and I recommend them to buy the old one because every new feature adds to the complexity and demands practice. Also people of a certain age are well adept to use the newest version with more features”. He adds that technology indubitably has ushered gadgets demands in children, since the past four years. Our assistants recommend the parents to buy their kids those softwares that are apt for their usage. “But even the parents are so technology driven that they hardly care what we say”, said Siddique.

The children have become couch potatoes: the play stations encourage indoor playing. To top it all, user friendly softwares have hit hard on their spellings and vocabulary. A lot depends upon parents who should act as role models to teach their children the consequences of obesity or simply over weighing. Adaptation to a healthy lifestyle, enticement for playing outdoor or to put it simply to encourage a child to take a walk to school or a shopping store instead of travelling in a car can go a long way in curtailing rising obesity in children. To ignore the issue is to risk failure in curbing obesity.

(Views expressed are personal. Nikita Bothra is a trainee journalist. She can be contacted at nikita.b@iijnm.org)

Posted on 29.12.2010

Has morality disappeared from Indian society?

By Ipshita Mitra

The principles of morality have become secondary to the system of pragmatism in the case of the recent judgment decreed against Ajmal Kasab, the prime accused in the Mumbai blasts. For a nation that has not recuperated from the traumatic memories of the terror attack, the lone surviving convict (Kasab) has become a legitimate embodiment of barbarism and ruthless violence responsible for the wounds and mournful cries of many. The death sentence delivered against Kasab has brought in a wave of celebration among a section of people which hails the legal decision as an adequate answer to the agents of terrorism and mass destruction.

But things are not that simple. Sending a person to the gallows will not resolve the growing menace of terrorism that has become an all-pervasive reality, but will breed hatred and antagonism of an even higher degree (especially among communities of conflicting religious faiths and beliefs) where murders and deaths will become the only possible “effectual” means to fight problems of social and political order.

The need of the hour is to employ strategic methods and principles of non-violent character which in consequence will ensure a society of harmony and peace. Taking away of lives is not the answer, and therefore should be replaced by a more constructive and congenial method that will address the root cause of the problem in order to guarantee minimum deaths and unnecessary execution of human lives for perpetuation of a healthy society.

It is important to look into the reasons which push people into taking up of arms against the State (the ongoing Naxalite movement in Chhattisgarh can be taken as a case in point). The concerns and needs of the dissatisfied and the marginalised sections of the people should not be sidelined or “shot down” but should be patiently addressed so that outbursts of similar kind do not break out in future.

It is important for India to reinstate the peaceful ideologies that Gandhi had once espoused in the events of the Indian independence from colonial rule, amidst the present “modern” age that is more or less defined by heavy artillery, nuclear power and military machinery.

Carrying forward with the notion of the absence of Gandhian principles in today’s militaristic age, I would like to draw attention to yet another realm of social realities which face a complete negation of social attention and depletion of Gandhian views and values. An extremely dehumanising practice of manual scavenging that strips an individual from even the vestiges of humanity and self-identity continues to be a living reality in the rural states of our 21st Century India. The continuing prevalence of the atrocious practice or let’s say “custom” of manual scavenging in the interior contours of Punjab and Haryana have completely dismantled the foundations upon which morality gets normally defined. It seems that Gandhi’s relentless voice against the practice of untouchability has fallen on deaf ears and souls in the 21st century’s society of “modernisation”.

A complete collapse of moral values and ethics is evident in the lives of the many Dalit men and (mostly) women who have been pushed into the denigrating “profession” of accumulating human excreta for waste disposal.

On the one hand, where the lone convict accused in the Mumbai Blasts has been denied the Constitutional Right to Live, the Fundamental Right to “Life” has taken on an abusive meaning for the victims of manual scavenging.

When we can question the nature of the Court’s order in Kasab’s case while trying to invoke Gandhian ideology of non-violence and respect for human life, why do we fail to uphold the very same tenets of Gandhi when it comes to fighting for the rights of people situated at the periphery of a graded society like ours?

The Dalit women plead for death night and day because it is only in death can they wish to achieve absolute riddance from the shameful social “obligation” that they have been thrust upon since birth, (as *Saroj’s, one of the victims of manual scavenging, statement poignantly brings into light the plight of the Dalit: manual scavenging as a job “is something (they) are born with”).

Social and caste oppression in addition with gender discrimination have sealed the fate of the Dalit women “scavengers” to a tragic existence within the dark chambers of atrocity and inhumanity. Society rationalises the association of the Dalit and Other Backward Classes with such menial and dirty tasks on account of their lower position in the hierarchical caste structure. The decadent norms that perpetuate caste-based violence are not only justified but accorded with social character and significance. The people of the villages stationed at the lowest base of caste hierarchy are made to internalise the redundant notions of those situated at the “seat of authority”; where any hint of resistance against the oppressive regime lead to severe punishment and castigation (e.g. the recent burning down of many Dalit villages in the Mirchpur village).

Sadly, we continue to live in a divided society where abolition of slavery and untouchability and exploitation of people of the lower strata of a structural society have not been fully realised. The very fact that manual scavenging as a means of earning livelihood continues to exist in the Indian society suggests that we as responsible citizens of a “democracy” have mutilated the sense of identity of the lower classes resulting in a total miscarriage of morality, humanity and justice.

Mainstream media of the 21st century is preoccupied with a plethora of national and global issues but practices a step-motherly treatment when it comes to lending voice to the voiceless. Development journalism in today’s era has been pushed beneath the overtly focussed genres of lifestyle, page3, sports etc journalism. Hunger for TRP’s has made the “fourth-estate” of the Constitutional heritage fall prey to the temptations of sensationalism and commercialisation.

One thing worth noticing then is the fact that where the judgment of the court (with Kasab as a reference) gets scrutinised threadbare in almost all branches of media from top news channels to leading newspaper dailies, criminal acts of manual scavenging hardly merit a mention in the media world…why? Because covering stories like the above will not generate TRP ratings nor will they garner much public attention. It is true that Kasab and 26/11 Mumbai blasts’ massacre left an indelible mark on the Indian consciousness and therefore justifies discussion on a wider platform but is it the only event that is eligible for large-scale coverage at the cost of other equally important development issues? The balance should be maintained at any given circumstance.

It is a known fact for example, that the Commonwealth Games is a mega sporting event, but it is also true that it not the one and only thing happening in the country. Other incidents and stories of socio-political relevance do not and cannot come to a standstill (which is sadly the current case) amidst the ongoing Commonwealth.

The role of media is to sensitise people against such atrocities, help build campaigns of awareness and provide platforms for the poor to articulate their grievances and difficulties. Social activists like Harsh Mander and Aruna Roy are some noteworthy examples who have fought for the cause of the marginalised sections of society. Still much needs to be done so that ill-practices like these are eliminated from the social infrastructure for the society to move beyond the shackles of class-caste distinction.

In an era of globalisation, industrialisation, commercialisation, Nuclear Bills, Commonwealth Games, IPLs, high profile marriages of global personalities and figures.... do we really have time for addressing and redressing “the marginal issues of the victims battling with such social ills?” Is this is the model of development that we are trying to build which strives towards an exclusion of half of our population? Have we descended into a realm of oblivion?
The answers lie within…

*Saroj’s statement on ‘manual scavenging’ has been taken from an article by Harsh Mander titled “Burning Baskets of Shame”, dated-May 9, 2010, Hindu Magazine.

(Views express are personal. The writer is a student of Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Dhenkanal, Orissa. She can be contacted at ipshi.777@gmail.com)

Posted on 23.12.2010

Draconian laws and the debate

By Tejaswini Pagadala

The acts like POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act), AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) and MCOCA (Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act) are considered unconstitutional and draconian which violate human rights. AFSPA gives the armed forces wide powers to shoot, arrest and search, all in the name of "aiding civil power". AFSPA violates Article 21 – Right to life. Under the Code, the armed forces have no grounds on which to justify their broad powers in the North East.
(Source:www.hrdc.net)

MCOCA is limited to Maharashtra. It came into force to effectively control the “organized” crimes as unlawful elements disseminating terrorism in the society can be checked and it will go a long way in minimizing the teeing of fear in the society.(Source: www.satp.org)

The reasons why these laws are opposed are: First, the section that makes confessions of the accused before a police officer admissible as evidence in the court of law but not before police under IPC. The second is the harsh provision regarding bail. In the tightrope between security and justice, these laws allow the police or forces to become lazy. Instead of being patient and doing rigorous investigative work that will put away actual perpetrators, they just catch anybody they like. The State is not enjoined to be careful. The Police and Armed forces when operating under laws like TADA, POTA, MCOCA or AFSPA take action with the certainty that they are immune from the reach of the law, making them more casual, violent and atrocious.
For example:
1. In the case of Indrajit Adua. (AFSPA)
2. Mahendra Jagadish Agarwal (Misuse of MCOCA)
3. Binayak Sen’s Arrest
4. Vaiko’s arrest under POTA
5. Manipur unrest.
6. Gang rape of 11 tribal women allegedly by special party police personnel.
7. The brutal rape, torture and murder of Thangjam Manorama of Manipur

Under these special acts, people are also denied equality before the law, apart from right to life. Also, women have been victims of rape, molestation, torture by the CRPF jawans. In Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Kharkhand, West Bengal and other states the armed forces accused civilians as naxalites and carried on fake encounters.

Apart from the civilians, people who have opposed these laws include Binayak Sen, T.G. Vijay, A.Y.Babu, Lalit Mehta, Mahashweta Devi and Irom Sharmila (8 years in prison and force-fed through a tube). The only way out is to repeal the AFSPA, POTA and MCOCA in order to remove the Military, Police, BSF, CRPF and Home guards from playing a civil role in the region.

Complete transparency should be established so that a public accountability is rendered possible. These laws have not only violated the basic human rights of the citizens but have failed to solve the problems of terrorism. Such laws increase the cycle of hatred and violence. Not only activists but state entities as well are concerned about human rights violation by the state. The only true way to fight terrorism must be to work closely with the community, rather than illegally detain people on the basis of their religion, status, or political affiliations.
(Views expressed are personal. The writer can be contacted at tejaswini.p@iijnm.org)

Posted on 14.12.2010

Bring back India's Picasso

By Prajwala Hegde

One of the most recent events which got me thinking and which gained enough national attention (for years) is the incident targeting Maqbool Fida Husain, the country’s most celebrated artist, better known as India’s Picasso.

It is a matter of national shame for the country that M F Husain has accepted the offer of Qatar’s citizenship because he is unable to live and work in his home country. His house was vandalised, his paintings that sell in international auctions at phenomenal prices were destroyed and court proceedings were initiated against him at various places. The result is that one of country’s illustrious sons is forced to live abroad virtually in exile. His decision shows that the constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression and even life and liberty are dead letters when it comes to the crunch.

Husain has been at the receiving end of a virulent company by hindutva forces since 1996 for his unconventional portrayal of Hindu deities in his paintings, notwithstanding the fact that such creative freedom has been the hallmark of Indian art for ages. The targeting of Husain had much to do with his own name, the rising tide of intolerance in the country & the inability to judge art in its own terms.

Commenting on this incident, once a BJP spokesman in the Lok Sabha said, “Husain is welcome to come back and face the charges. We don’t stop him from coming and facing the law.”

Well everyone needs to both face and abide by the law. This is not a contentious issue. The same law of the land must also protect the life and properties of the concerned individual. When these are violated with impunity by the saffron brigade, where is the protection?

This is not an isolated incident. Not so long ago, a hue and cry was made by the BJP over the issue of stay of Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen in India. It is, indeed, the heights of duplicity. Even Narendra Modi jumped into the bandwagon by offering asylum and protection to Taslima in Gujarat. This effort to project themselves as the champions of ‘Freedom of expression’ does not even serve as a mask to conceal their true intention of seeking to sharpen communal polarization through such a stand.

Given the fact that some sections of Muslims have taken offence to Taslima’s writings, BJP sprung to her defence. Thus, they are seeking to reinforce their anti-Muslim stance and consolidate the Hindu vote bank. The duplicity lies in the fact that and the saffron brigade continues with their relentless campaign and rabid intolerance of any artistic expression ‘they’ consider offensive to religious sentiments. And they have been quick to add that ‘Freedom of expression’ doesn’t mean hurting religious sentiments’.

Clearly they don’t accept the saying-‘What is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander’. This is one of those many incidents wherein the ‘moral brigade’ has jumped the gun in protecting the sanctity and ‘culture’ of our nation. And the sad part is that this brigade barely represents the voice of the nation.
The reason I felt even more strongly for this subject on Husain was that this 95-year-old artist has been on a self-imposed exile in Dubai since 2006,unable to face legal harassment and unsure of his safety and security in the country. He has faced hundreds of cases, launched in a concerted fashion to harass him. But a judicial clearance is the least of the problems. Our government has been unable to guarantee him adequate security, though he has expressed his keenness to come back to the country in spite of suffering threats and indignities. The government’s pussyfooting even created a ridiculous situation of the country’s best artist going unrepresented in India Art Summit of 2008.

Forget his celebrity status for a moment, aren’t we atleast considerate of his age (most of even at our prime wouldn’t be doing even half the things he is doing at this point) and doesn’t he deserve the basic respect and dignity any normal citizen would be worthy of ? My question is-‘Why make him alone target?’

I feel there are better ways to deal with it, rather than taking law into our own hands and displaying mob mentality. And yet the reason I feel his exile is a big loss to India. More importantly the Idea of India. And for centuries, Hindu temples, monuments and literature have portrayed the erotic as one more manifestation of the so many paths towards spirituality and salvation the fact is: Konark, Khajuraho, Ajanta and others are proof that eroticism was celebrated by at least a section of Hindus. We revere Lord Krishna and yet celebrate his interaction with the Gopis. To that extent, you can argue that M.F. Husain was merely repeating what many Hindus before him have done.

So let’s spare him. He’s contributed immensely to the world of art anf made us proud. . I think the persecution of M.F. Husain and his exile from India are bad for the country.And we certainly don’t need a ‘moral brigade’(who neither know anything about our ‘Culture’ nor about art) showing us the way and stopping him from coming back to the country he loves. So lets welcome him back with open arms and let him paint what he wants.

(Prajwala Hegde is a trainee journalist at IIJNM (Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media),Bangalore, specialising in Broadcast Journalism. Views expressed are personal. She can be contacted at prajwala.h@iijnm.org)

Posted on 14.08.2010

Women and the society

By Nikita Bothra

The Times of India on the August 9, 2010 comes out with another story of a tribal girl who has been beaten stripped and molested by men. What is the initial reaction of the reader who reads the story? He is astounded? He feels pity of the sorry state of affairs in Indian. No. The answer is, he is numb. This is because he has accepted the fact that there is nothing that can be done to bring to an end to it. He assumes the same or something alike would fall upon him if by any chance he stands to revolt.
How long will we as readers and citizens of this country be fooled by the socialists, the writers the columnists and make their work easy. This is not for today. If we look back, The Times of India recalls a similar incident in its writings “It was a shocking reminder of the Guwahati incident in November 2007 when a teenager was stripped and molested by a mob during an ethnic clash.”(http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Tribal-girl-stripped-over-affair-molested-by-hundreds-in-Bengal/articleshow/6278006.cms)

As a newspaper it has done its job of disseminating the information to the reader to make him abreast of the happenings around the world. The reader reads it and laments about the incident not more than an hour or so. The very next day there are massive reports carried by the newspapers highlighting statements and opinions of the social activists, psychologists or some eminent writers who think gravely about the sad predicament of our state. This provokes me to think where we are heading as a Nation. Can we call ourselves the responsible citizens of our Nation? If yes, what have we in the past and will in the future do, that can bring an end to these treacherous issues that are in the limelight ever other day.

I who is a ‘would be journalist’ of my so-called proud country “India” feels ashamed of myself born as female and more importantly born to this land. In today’s news it is found that the teenage tribal girl chose to marry a man of another caste which turned out to be a crime in the eyes of the selfish dominants and tyrants of the village. The paradox is, women in India do not have an iota of liberty: liberty of thought or to put it simply the liberty to live life on her terms.

The men in India still see women nothing beyond an object of sex. The stereotypical image is even carried forward by the media across the world. This is where one needs to think over.

Focusing on the cases of harassments and molestations, India is not lagging behind. Abduction of young girls, rape of the minorities has reached summit in the past five years. In 2009, Pune alone reported five girls aged between 10-14 years, raped and murdered by the old men in a span of three months (October-December).The stories died out with time but led to serious awakening of our readers. Seven months later, a similar story comes out in the national daily. I wonder what the story is intended for. It is for nothing except that it reminds us every moment about the status of women in our country- mere ‘puppets’.

History tells us the fight of the social leaders to upraise the status of women and who fought for women to be educated to bring about enlightenment in the society. It is these men who understood the need of women to be literate in order to defend against the prejudices of the society. This is the story of the past way back sixty years. The chauvinists had no alternative to demean a woman.

The only way they could do the same was by resorting to physical assaulting of a woman. This trend had since then been followed by the ego-centric men, when a women chooses to speak her mind. It is then when a helpless woman becomes a victim in the hands of the culprits. How can I as a journalist bring difference to the naïve affair of our country is a big question? There are reports of female journalists who are strangled to death for breaking controversial stories. This is not new. Till how long will the circumstances continue to be the same is what matters? Women have to ponder on this and act accordingly. We cannot keep our hands folded and let the others to determine what we need to do. In fact this is a lesson taught to those who still rely more on others than themselves.

The news story cultivates in us awareness and instigates us to protest rather than surrender. A radical overhaul is required on part of every woman to learn “self defense”. Or else she has many to chase and repress her.

(Nikita Bothra is a student of Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media, Bangalore. She can be contacted at niki.bothra@gmail.com)

Posted on 07.08.2010

Rape, sexual violence and the Indian law

By Deepa Ranganathan

The Union home ministry has recently proposed to work on readying a draft Bill on the laws relating to rape and sexual assault. It is heartening to note that the ministry is considering to rework on the definition of the word ‘rape’ so as to include many other forms of sexual assault and violence in its ambit. This has finally come after a realisation that the word ‘rape’ has often been subjected to multiple definitions and interpretations which have, sadly, in the process, managed to vindicate many assaulter(s) solely on the grounds that the act did not fall under the category of "rape".

The old archaic definition, as defined in Section 375 of the IPC (Indian Penal Code), defines rape as "non-consensual sexual intercourse". However, the definition clearly does not have any provision for other forms of penetrative acts that are equally brutal and violent, if not more, as rape.

Firstly, there are various kinds of sexual assaults, abuse and/or molestation that a person may be subjected to. Most of us are not even aware as to what constitutes a case of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and/or rape. And, secondly, if "penetration" is the key word to classify an act as rape, then the definition falls short of including various other ways by which an individual may be assaulted—physically, emotionally or psychologically. The IPC needs to look at rape beyond just its penetrative value. All forms of non-consensual sexual assaults, abuse and violation are meant to be equally condemnable under the law.

Last year, a survey was conducted in our college that surveyed young students in and around the campus who were asked some basic questions related to sexual harassment and ways to deal with it. The results were shockingly revealing. While more than 60% of those surveyed admitted that they never reported such cases, as high as 52% did not even know what constitutes a case of sexual harassment.

One primary thing that was realised was that, a majority of the people surveyed conveniently assume that only those cases that involve physical touch are to be categorized as a case of sexual harassment. While molestation, abuse and assault do fall under this category, even exhibitionism is a form of sexual harassment. But the victim generally does not report it as it does not involve any physical touch.

However, the harassment that a victim may face in such a scenario is clearly sexual in nature too. Thus, the challenge is not only to educate individuals on dealing with sexual harassment but also be educated on its widely inclusive definition. Likewise, rape's definition too, needs to be reformulated and reworked upon, so that it includes all forms of assault, abuse and molestation.

Further, the legislation has also proposed for making the definition of rape gender neutral. This was due for a long time. Nevertheless, it is most welcome. It almost comes as a relief that the law has finally woken up to the fact that gender is not a determining factor in cases of rape. It is not something that only women are subjected to, though one cannot deny that women have had to face it more often than men. But, that does not rule out its existence in the case of men.

Several cases of young boys being assaulted and sexually abused are increasingly hogging the limelight and being reported. The Hindu in its editorial (Rape Law and Reform, March 24, 2010) rightly asserted: "It is a mistake to regard gender-neutrality as a dilution of the rape law." The extreme trauma that accompanies psychological and physical assault on an individual has no connection whatsoever with the victim's gender.

Thus, one expects the ministry to realise that any new law on sexual harassment and rape will have to broaden its ambit to cover the entire range of offenses, both for men and women. Otherwise, more and more cases of harassment—physical and psychological, will continue to escape the law's dragnet. And that would only be another blot in our already notorious Indian judiciary.

(Deepa Ranganathan is a trainee journalist at Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media, Bangalore, specialising in Print media. She can be contacted at deeps_jsr@yahoo.co.in) 

Posted on 30.07.2010

Print media, a good career option

By Pratish Amin

Today journalists play important role in highlighting people’s problems. Journalists from newspapers and magazines file reports and articles to make people aware of what’s happening around the world. Journalists, who work for newspapers and magazines, are known as print journalists. They are designated according to their job profiles. If they are into reporting, then they are designated as reporter, correspondent, special correspondent, principal correspondent, chief reporter, bureau chief. If they are into desk job then their designations will be sub-editor, chief sub-editor, deputy news editor, news editor, assistant editor.

It is one of the interesting jobs that youth can go for it. Nowadays, a lot of openings are in magazines, journals and newspapers.

Course details:
There are several degree courses available in journalism. The minimum eligibility for this bachelor course is 10+2. For PG course, the students should be graduation from any stream.

There are some areas where students can have a specialization in journalism such as sports, television, lifestyle etc. Getting an exposure as a newspaper journalist will give great opportunity for any young journalist to show his talent.

Career prospects in Print Media:
After completing the course, students can get a break in newspaprers, magazines, journals and news agencies. They can also do freelance for different publications. They can even run their own agency if he carries an experience.

Remunerations:
Journalists get good remuneration. Freelancers get remuneration according to their work submission and it is also depends on the company or the publication they are working for. Field journalists also get travel and other expenses.

Some of the institutes offering print media course:
Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Delhi
Department of communication and Journalism, University of Pune
Amity School of Journalism and Communication, New Delhi

(The writer can be contacted at pratin254@gmail.com)
.

The importance of being on Facebook

By Pratish Amin

Facebook, which helps in getting in touch with friends and relatives, is fast becoming a tool to boost business. With more than 300 million users, the social networking site is building new relations in the world of business. You might be thinking how it helps the business. Here is how Facebook comes handy in improving the business:

Marketing tool: Facebook acts as a marketing tool. It is easily available to everyone as daily there are many users who sign up for various reasons. One can market his or her business to them.

Finding business contacts:  Having a prediction of 500 million users in near future, Facebook can definitely helps in getting in touch with the users with whom business contacts could be developed.

Building relationships:  One can build relations with new customers and existing customer by engaging with them to meet his or her needs.

Raising visibility: One can increase the visibility in the related field by just posting information of the product.

Develop your personal brand:  Facebook can be used to develop one’s personal brand as the line between personal and business has almost become negligible.

Placing target ads:  One can place the ads by using Facebook social ads with a low cost.
No marketing cost: There is no marketing cost as Facebook is absolutely free for signup and placing ads. So, what you are waiting for. Just open your account on Facebook and start placing your ads. You will certainly start getting responses from friends and other users which help you in increasing your business.

(The writer can be contacted at pratin254@gmail.com)

Posted on 17.05.2010

Banking on Islamic Finance

By Zohaib Bin Akbar
The recent global financial crisis has opened a debate over the loopholes in conventional banking system. Many scholars and finance experts are of the view that Islamic banking industry is an alternative to the conventional banking system, which is foolproof enough to restrict any other financial crisis in the future.

Although the Islamic banking industry has been operating from the past 30 years in the Middle Eastern countries, yet it has gained popularity and curiosity around the globe after the financial crisis of 2008. The main objective of Islamic finance is to create a society of investors, unlike the conventional banking system, which has made and created the society of borrowers and lenders from the past 800 years.

Islamic banking activities are to promote public interest, prevent malpractices, contribute towards the development of socio-economic justice and create investment society not a debt-ridden society. They focus on the real sector of the economy.

All financing under Islamic banking is asset backed, i.e. every financial activity should have an under lying asset. There is a concept of IWADH in Islam, which is one of the pillars of Islamic banking. It states that every economic activity undertaken should involve certain amount of ‘risk’, there should be ‘hard work’ or ‘effort’ put in it and there should be a ‘liability’ involved.

The three main things, which are not allowed under the purview of Islamic banking, are Al-riba (interest or usuary), gharar (extreme uncertainty), mysir (gambling). Anything in excess for which no effort or hardship has been put in is considered as riba. Thus, Interest is one form of riba and therefore, it is not allowed in Islam. Gharar refers to the extreme uncertainty or it may be referred as what we have today is speculation. Mysir refers to the game of chance. For example, gambling or betting, which is not allowed as it leads to a zero some game. In gambling the future outcome of an event is predicted without proper collection of facts, analysis and interpretation.

Every product that Islamic bank offers is based on contracts like Mudaraba (partnership),  Musharaka (joint venture), Murabaha (cost-plus), Ijara (leasing), and some hybrids combining two contracts (Musharaka Mutanaqisa) etc. Islamic bank involves itself in real time trading or investment activities by doing partnership with its customer through the above-mentioned contract of Mudaraba, or may be by the contract of joint venture (Musharaka) and therefore earns profit. The other sources of revenue for the bank are the service charge that they earn for providing facilities of letter of guarantee or letter of credit to its customers, either corporate or individual.

Today, Islamic banks around the world have a bigger non-Muslim customer base than Muslim counterparts. Many conventional banks like HSBC, Citi, Standard Chartered, RBS, etc have started Islamic banking windows.

It regards the public interest above all other motives or objective. Moreover, the creditor and debtor relationship in the conventional banking system have widened the gap between the rich and the poor (i.e., the rich are getting richer and vice-versa), and have become a real cause of many financial crises over the years and around the world.

Many countries around the world have already made necessary regulatory changes to pave way for Islamic banking. Today, Islamic banking is not only in the Muslim world but also in many non-Muslim countries. Malaysia is the hub for Islamic finance in Asia and it is competing very closely with UK to become the hub for Islamic finance in the world. Even countries like France have recently made necessary changes in order to attract Islamic finance investments. Soon Indonesia, which has the largest Muslim population in the world, is going to kick start the Islamic banking in the country.

India, which has the second largest Muslim population in the world, with a sound and strong economic fundamentals and being the second fastest growing economy, should also fasten up the desired regulatory changes and work towards the implementation of Islamic banking in the country.

The writer has recently completed MBA in Islamic Banking & Finance from International Islamic University Malaysia. He can be contacted at zohaib_bin@yahoo.com

1 | 2 |