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SENSATIONAL DRAMA & FILTERATION OF NEWS WITHOUT BEING SENSITIVE

Screen-shot-2011-01-30-at-7.53.49-PM1[1]

(Below is the image at: http://connectedcops.net/2011/01/31/new-media-old-media-policing-needs-to-get-busy-in-the-news-media/)

The term ‘Media’ gets related to entertainment, knowledge, talk shows, reality shows etc. But when we talk about ‘News Media’ specifically, the synonyms related to it are Daily happenings reportage, News Bulletins, TRP’s, drama, sensationalisation, 24 hour on- going race for news stories, unethical reporting etc.

According to ‘Business Dictionary’- ‘Media means communication channels through which news, entertainment, education, data or promotional messages are disseminated.’

This above definition of Media only gives out a direct explanation of the outside image of media but instead it does not takes into consideration the manipulation, sensationalisation, unethical news coverage done by the media. The loop holes regarding the function of the media in the present times with regards to its reporting manner have not been pointed out in the above definition.

Media as a whole, has turned into a ‘Manipulator’

Later Mr Ryan from the Forbes online Magazine, mentioned, ‘Today the Media is driven by blogs, is assailed on all sides, by the crushing economics of the business, dishonest sources, in human deadlines, page view quotas, inaccurate information, greedy publishers, poor training, the demands of the audience and so much more. These incentives are real, whether you’re the Huffington Post or CNN or some tiny blog, they wrap everything you read online and let me tell you, Thumbnail cheating Youtube videos and paid edit Wikipedia articles are only the beginning.’

This brings out the fact that whatever the Media says is not the ‘ultimate truth’ of the daily happenings but instead a ‘filtered’ version of the news. The news we receive is not the actually information of the news story but instead it is packaged in such a way that it meets the standards of entertainment and controversy at the same time.

As he states further too, that ‘Everyone is on the game, from the Blogger to non profits to Marketers to the New York Times itself. And when everyone is running the racket, the line between the real and the fake becomes indistinguishable.

The News Channels try to manufacture content which entertains people more than being informative and so due to this it becomes very difficult to draw a line between the ‘actual’ and ‘dramatic & non sensible and controversial truth.’

Further, there is also a mention as to why Manipulation takes place with regards to blogging.

This all happens because of the poor incentives. When Readers don’t pay for news, the creators of the news don’t have any loyalty to the readers either. Everything is read one off, passed around on Facebook and Twitter instead of by subscriptions. As a result, Journalists are not responsible for deceiving readers.’

The above fact with regards to blogs, which is another medium of media, the truth that can be pointed out is that even though a particular news article is noted to be as unreliable or misquoted, many a times Bloggers can escape defamation charges as they can even register under a fake Blog ID and give out a fake news. This in turn, can create a wrong message and controversies & debates to the readers and viewers of Youtube as well.

Case 1: The Guwahati Case:

On Monday, 4th February, 2012, the news website called ‘Zee news.com’ reported the Guwahati Rape case under the Headline: ‘Guwahati girl molested: It was like a Gang rape, says reporter.’

The Headline itself brings a sense of unsure out throw of news facts to its readers. The very statement by Live Wire News Reporter that ‘it was like a Gang rape’ seems as if he wasn’t there at the spot and just assuming it to be a gang rape. But if one takes into consideration the video footages that the camera man captured, it surely shows that it is a gang rape. There seems no reason for the reporter of not being sure of whether it was a gang rape or no.

This news website stated that the reporter tried to rescue that girl by telling them “Don’t touch her. Don’t touch her. But later the mob was growing. There were about 50 very angry people over there.’ Further the reporter also mentioned, “She was crying but no one came forward.”

These two statements do contradict each other, because it seems that the reporter is putting the whole blame on the people around.the question that rises over here is that knowing the fact that 50 angry men were there and he couldn’t save the girl. But if he would continue may be even the other individuals would step forward to help. But instead he got more interested in capturing the footage.

From a analytical point of view, it can be justified that Journalism expects capturing the event on the spur of the movement. But on the other hand, isn’t Humanity to play a role during such a threat and rape? Not only the journalist but the people around her could have tried to free the girl at least on humanitarian grounds.

When we compare this News report of Zee News website to the Broadcast News of NDTV, it gives the viewers a completely different argument to discuss-

At the very start of the News show, questions that were asked by the Anchor to the reporter of Live News was ‘What did journalists do when this was happening?’’ “Why did the Police take half an hour to reach the spot?” the first question was not at all relevant to the discussion of this news as only one news reporter was present and it was not at all a event going on where several journalists were invited. These questions actually highlight the dramatic nature of the news Journalists of NDTV specifically.

The second need that can be raised up is that even of the Camera man captured the footage which showed the identity of the rapists, doesn’t it become necessary to maintain the ‘confidentiality’ factor that should be maintained by the Journalist and even other media houses. I mean revealing the identity without giving out a critical reasoning of the purpose behind it, isn’t right from the ‘truth’ perspective. The video footage went viral and in this case the confidentiality should be questioned. The media should have instead submitted the video copy to the police, Judge and other officials who are involved in the investigation and not broadcast it so openly. This seems like Live News wire and NDTV were on a race for highest TRP’s and sensationalisation of this video. Live News wire actually used this news video as a image building for their own reporters and claimed to be responsible journalist.

As NDTV proceeded further, the news anchor mentioned the question, “Only three arrested, why have the others not been arrested?” this question tried to bring a sense that the video footage that was captured didn’t bring any solution to the arrests. But the Live Wire Journalist smartly gave an answer to this as well “Guwahati has only 2.200 police due to which no patrolling and police van doesn’t reach on time” This was actually a good analytical finding out the reason as to why was the police unable to reach on time. This instead in a way brought out the actual fact of why safety of women can’t be ensured fully in a place like Guwhahati as well.

This type of media terror investigation put up by the live wire news and then further broadcast of it brings out two important points to be noted:

The capturing of this incident had helped the police to figure out who were the rapists, as this video worked as a clear eveidence for the Judiciary as well. But on the other hand the broadcast og this video on air seemed too much and an effort to reveal the identity of the rapists which might highlight the fact that it goes against the norms of maintaining some degree of comfidentiality that should have been maintained by the media.

Case 2: The Aarushi Murder Case

‘The Aarushi murder case has seen dramatic twists and turns and clearly the last words on this might not have been spoken on this just yet.”

These were the exact words that the News Anchor started with while the murder case was reported by NDTV on 16th May 2008. Just a day before the Jaipur attack was a big national story but then the news of the 14year old girl took over the story of the 80 dead in the Jaipur attack.This clearly shows that how immediately the media can switch on its focus from a bomb blast issue to making a murder case convert into a nationwide issue.

There was even a question asked by the media to the officials regarding of “How many days would it take for investigation?” The police said 2 days but well, it wasn’t able to complete the investigation within 2 days. And so the media took a chance to exaggerate this by putting out statements like ’30 days top police officers on sounded foolish.” “ Multiple police agencies, political gains but the end of it all 2 arrests but still no clear murder weapon or clear motive.”

Questions were raised up like “Why had the Police failed to pick up essential clues from the murder spot?” In the later half, the NDTV reporters themselves started investigating regarding the case. It was reported that NDTV reporter discovered and found out that by the time Aarushi’s servant Hemraj’s body was found, within an hour, the reporter got to know that by the time the body of Hemraj was discovered, it had started decomposing. The reporter on the spot also pointed out to the palm mark that was found showing the sign of struggle.

The news anchor of NDTV also stated further , “ It didn’t necessarily need to be a sharp weapon but it needed a doctor’s skill , that theory was abounded and reported that the police said it might be a nepalis hand who could have used a cookery  to kill Aarushi.”

“In front of the camera, the police faultered, apologized and again faultered.” This actually created an image in the minds of the people that the police aren’t a reliable arm to be dependable for investigating such murder cases.

Further this news channel also stated that the police faultered and stammered while declaring their suspect of Aarushi’s father being her murderer. The investigation of the Policetook the form of Aarushi having extra marital affair with Hemraj due to which this case can be given the Honor killing status.

In the further weeks, the same channel also covered the people’s rallies that resulted due to character assassination of Aarushi and NDTV’s question were put forward as people’s questions as to why there were gaps in the police’s theory?

Through critical analysis, it raises up questions like even if the people are questioning the theories of the police, which is the news channel that’s revealing the theory per se?

The answer to this NDTV itself. It has played with the coverage of this news in such a way that the questions asked are by the news channel itself and not by the people. Because if it would be by the people, Reporters would have surely recorded the questions asked by the people on first person account basis. This shows a pre- assumption by the channel regarding the questions, which in a way is very unethical.

While delivering the news story to its viewers it can’t just make statements which point out the reliability of the cops without any proper evidence.

On the other hand, if one takes into consideration the report on ‘Meri news- power to People’, Miss Binu Joseph stated and pointed out the dark sides of the media while reporting Aarushi murder case.

She also states that ‘Ever since the 14 year old was murdered, media made sure that no one missed out on the developments. Well, Media did its job well. People all over India, were glued to the channels, to find out whether the guilty was caught? Whether Aarushi received justice?”

This above fact or opinion from Binu Joseph is very true if we compare it with regards to NDTV. The questions and statements made by the news channels actually made each Indian want to see the News channel again and again and this in turn, resulted in the highest TRP’S of NDTV channel especially.

Binu further also mentioned, “By the evening, a news channel flashed an explicit video of Aarushi in a compromising situation. The channel claimed that they received an MMS showing the deceased undressing herself, A hand was visible in the video clip. This video was on air for nearly an hour.’

Now if we take into consideration the reality that Binu has stated above, it clearly states that putting such videos on air is clearly a game shot for money played for gaining highest TRP’s and there’s no conscience consideration while playing such revealing videos on air by the unmentioned news channel.

It is justifiable where Binu questions that well is it just for TRP’s that the News channels work? Where did the duties of a Journalist disappear? While flashing such videos of Aarushi did the media help the police in nabbing the guilty? The answer to all this is ‘NO’ This video didn’t actually help the police but instead it proves how insensitive and unconcerned the media has become while reporting such sensitive issues of news.

Even if we take into consideration the Delhi Rape case, the reporting of CNN IBN shifted form law and order problem to Asaram’s views. There was a 1 hour debate as to why and how could Asaram put up a statement that the girl should have called them brothers to save herself from the rapers and later on the same news channel also followed up this by flashing headlines which reported that Asaram was not regretting for the statement made. This is actually an irrelevant importance given to the statement and a total shift of focus on the part of the media.

What has Aasaram’s views got to do with the law and order or justice that the rape victim should get? If the media goes on broadcast such views, then where is the right of freedom of speech lying? Doesn’t it contradict the freedom of speech? Yes it does and so it is questionable as to why and how the media just shifts focus from time to time.

Case 3: Delhi High Court Blast Case                                    

 On the News website of ‘Beyond Headlines’ the article on 31st December 2011 reported about the controversy regarding the Delhi court case and space and speed at which the investigations by the National Investigations Agency and by the media as well were carried out.

This report straightforwardly stated out the fact that the case of the Delhi High Court Blast of May 25th, 2011 was handed over to the National Investigating agency as the Delhi Police failed to make any concrete progress.

It also further states that, ‘Investigators are yet to identify the real perpetrators of the terror design, but the media has revealed almost everything including the entire game plan and identities.’

The above revealing of identities is totally on an unethical stand. Knowing the fact that the NIA investigators are still investigating, the media should not try to reveal identities unless and until it is not revealed officially. And even though it is revealed officially, it should be revealed by the media only after the NIA gives permission or shouldn’t do so mostly due to the sensitivity of the case. The initiative taken by media of mentioning the names is totally unethical as the truth is not clear and it becomes a prime duty of the Journalist to reveal the truth after proper investigation and not jump without it.

Due to not confirming who were the suspects from NIA, the Media just victimized Shariq Bhatt, a minor student of class XI in Kistwar and even more two minors from the same area of Jammu & Kashmir.

It was Abhishek Upadhyay who got to know that the media had appointed its own terror investigators. The investigation of Shariq was just done on the basis of unofficial terror briefing. This type of briefing should actually be considered as unreliable by the media but instead the media is more interested in questioning the investigations done by the police or NIA.

‘On November 1, the Indian Express reported with the headline—“Delhi blast: NIA finishes blast jigsaw, except for the bombers.” It had point-wise exact details about the whole scheme of the blast and the faces behind it.

This had very interesting claims about Wasim Akram Malik, the third arrested accused who was pursuing his MBBS from Jalalabad Ragib-Rubeya Medical College and Hospital in Sylhet, Bangladesh. The same Express story claimed  –“According to sources, Malik has told interrogators that he regrets having committed two mistakes: organising to send out the email claiming responsibility from his hometown Kishtwar, and meeting Aamir Abbas, another accused (who was contacted in connection with the email) in person.” 

The Indian Express in its story of November 1, gave the entire blueprint of this terror operation, all according to sources, and at the same time raised doubts over the story though it did not explain as to why it carried a story entirely based on sources which it did not believe in in the first place. When you file a story as per sources, it means you believe in your sources, then why raise a doubt and, if it is doubtful, why publish it?

Here again the same style of terror investigation, reporting news based on a mere confession (which was later denied), discreetly provided by the agency with no actual or circumstantial evidences in place. This is also a fact that Wasim Akram Malik has denied his confession in court. He claimed before the judge that he had been tortured  in custody and had “no knowledge” about Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru until the National Investigation Agency told him during questioning. Waseem even corrected in court that he was an MBBS student and not a student of Unani medicine as claimed in media reports. 

As the above fact states that Wasim Akram didn’t know in the first place that any such High court blast had taken place. It was only when the judge told him that he got to know any such thing happened. On this there might be a counter argument that may be Wasim was trying to show himself innocent and the media may not be at fault for its investigation. If this was the case, then how could media not even figure out which degree was Wasim pursuing. The media had declared that Wasim was a Unani medicine student but in fact he was a MBBS  student. This shows the factual error of the media and this might lead to the loose of trust of the viewers and readers towards the media.

The reality was that Wasim had just sent a casual mail to his friend Aamir Abbas(3rd accused) claiming that he would take the responsibility from his home town Kishtwar ‘The NIA followed the traces sent after the Blast , from a cyber cafe at Kishtwar with the address harkat-uljihadi2011@gmail.com. ‘

This type of investigation acts like an interference , in the sense that, if an individual claims to take responsibility from his hometown, it can’t be always assumed that he or she meant to be in charge of the terror attacks. And overall, the identities of all these appeared in print as well as in the electronic media. Each and every detail of these suspected terrorists by the media was carried out without any sense of sensitivity.

According to Abhishek Uphadhaya, this type of media coverage is a typical type of terror form of Journalism due to which the minors were very soon well known figures of across the country. Thus brings out an argument that media hypes and sensationalises in ways which damages the reputation of the accused to a very greater extent.

As per the Court guidelines, The media cannot disclose the identity of a minor accused however grave or light the nature of the crime allegedly committed by him. But in case of Shariq, all norms were demolished only in the pursuit of blindly following NIA leads.’ According to Uphadhaya, ‘No newspaper or channel issued an apology.’ For going against the Court guideline and neither was nay channel sewed for such drastic insensitive step.

Even after this, the media didn’t get away with its sensationalisation nature. After Shariq was released, Newspapers reported Headlines “We wish him Good Luck for his forthcoming Exams.” ‘Kishtwar boy released , SSP tells father ‘your son is brilliant’”

The media shamelessly put forth such type of headlines without any regret of spoiling the reputation of an innocent. This proves how the conscience of media is deteriorating day by day which is unable to judge what is right or wrong but instead, it easily gets away with it.

Case 4: PUNE CASE

The word ‘Terrorism’ is a concept that each and every person is familiar with in some or the other way. In India, the terrorism concept gets connected to Pakistanis and the caste of Muslims. The media is actually responsible for creating such images in the minds of the people.

On the Two circle.net news website there was an article headed under the title ‘Media misinformation in India: Spreading terror when suits them.’ Noted on the contrast of two major incidents

i.e.1. Terrorism attack in Manipur, which led to the death of teo Two Assam Rifles troopers and a civilian. This coverage was largely ignored by the national media.

But on the other hand,

Pune attack in which only 1 person was dead and the media created a sense of terror all over the country. When one analysis the above two cases, it can be observed that there was a difference in the way the media covered the two attacks.

The Manipur attack was not covered by any news media except by DNA Newspaper in one of the inside news pages that reported this news under the headline-‘3 killed, 6 injured in Manipur Bomb blast.’

The DNA report to only giving out the official quotes and News happenings which were declared by the Assam Rifle troops itself. It did not cover the dreadful situation or the brutal killing of people. This in a way can be justified that DNA was quiet responsible for not bringing out panic among the people in other parts of the country but instead just kept them informed about the incident that happened. One of the reasons might be because Manipur in Assam is a smaller area of News coverage considered by any news media.

The Major cities that are considered to make ‘the News’ are Pune , Mumbai , Delhi.

When there was a similar attack in Pune and it was reported tht only 1 person was dead. Still at that very moment, all the programmes on National news TV channels stopped and this news story was flashed.

As Two circle.net news website also mentioned, ‘It was constant coverage of terror attack for hours from then’ ‘People rushed to their homes, tried to contact their and dear ones. Phone lines were jammed. Cell phones were out of coverage due to the massive number of calls. Channels feasted on this frenzy and continued this ‘Panic’ creating industry throughout the night.’

From the above stating of facts by the Two circle.net news website, it is clear that the news coverage of such major cities is always hyped and this is done to create a great chaotic tension & stress among the people in the country due to which sensationalised version of news is reported day by day.

And the question asked normally in such attacks is that “who does the Police think is responsible for such attack?” in a way this question makes people think in the way the media wants them to think that X/Y especially Pakistanis might have a hand for the attack that took place. This is a baised judgement of the media. Due to such Labeling by the media the Muslims all over the country also feel besieged which in a way creats disharmony among different religious communities.

The 5 cases above prove how media brings out baised, sensationalised, unreal reports in front of the people which victimizes the innocent and many atimes we as individuals don’t question what is being reported but instead think it’s ‘the gospel truth’ which encourages the News Media of India to become a ‘DRAMA’ stage never the less.

by NICOLE FERNANDES

TYBMM, 3744

Bibliograhy: ( THE LINKS BELOW WERE REFERRED TO FOR LOOKING UP THE NEWS HEADLINES OF THE ABOVE RESPECTIVE CASES)

http://twocircles.net/2012oct08/media_misinformation_india_spreading_terror_when_it_suits

_them.html

http://thehoot.org/web/Victimsofthemediasterrorinvestigation/5657-1-1-22-true.html

http://www.merinews.com/article/aarushi-murder-case-the-darker-side-of-media/134551.shtml

http://zeenews.india.com/news/assam/guwahati-girl-molestation-it-was-like-gang-rape-saysreporter_787411.html

http://www.merinews.com/article/aarushi-murder-case-the-darker-side-of-media/134551.shtml

http://zeenews.india.com/news/assam/guwahati-girl-molestation-it-was-like-gang-rape-saysreporter_787411.html

http://twocircles.net/2012oct08/media_misinformation_india_spreading_terror_when_it_suits_them.htML

by NICOLE FERNANDES

TYBMM, 3744

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CHILD LABOUR

Tears tracing lines of dirt on his face, six-year-old Nepali boy Deepak cries while crouching on a pavement to scrub motorbikes, his job for nine hours a day, six days a week.

He is one of millions of children driven into labour by poverty in a country where the unpopular government is seen as too corrupt and ineffective to care for its citizens, even the young and helpless.

“I want to study and become a doctor but we don’t have any money,” said Deepak, who helps his family make ends meet.

Rising food and fuel prices and a struggling economy have forced many families to send their children to search for work instead of to the classroom.”From the bottom of my heart, I want to send my son to school but we have so many expenses … We struggle to put food on our table”, said Deepak’s mother, Rajkumari, who also has a four-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter.Her husband, Subodh, a street barber, earns only 7,500 rupees a month, not enough to support the family.”He’s learning to work and he also earns around 300-400 rupees. So what’s wrong in that. We are poor,” said the boy.

Economic pressures are forcing young nepalis, like teenager manisha and her three brothers, to leave home in search of work.They now live in a tiny room above a grimy tea shop where they toil all day in India’s biggest city and commercial hub of Mumbai.”I have so many dishes to wash. When I get tired the men serving tea become very angry with me. They swear and shout,” said Manisha.

Others, like 11-year-old labourer Kashif, are subjected to harsher treatment.”If he makes a mistake I’ll hit him,” said his 19-year-old supervisor, Dilip Gavas, who said he had endured the same hardship as a child labourer.

With little government protection, children keep falling into the same vicious circle of exploitation.

“It is all very damaging for a child’s psychology,” said Anuradha Nagar, executive director at Social Innovations, a human rights advocacy group.”Once you are abused, you grow up with that abuse.”

Twelve-year-old Kukiya, the eldest of three orphans, ran away from his first boss. He could not take the verbal and physical abuse.But his new work, scraping rust all day for 25 rupees at a mechanics shop to feed his sisters, is still gruelling.”I don’t see any other life for myself. What can I do. I’m helpless. The government is doing nothing for us,” said the boy, wearing soiled clothing and open, oversized sandals.

“All I ask of them is to assist me in my helpless state. To take it away.”

 

Reputation more important than Lives?

Image

I have always thought of an individual’s life to be of greater importance than reputation. But is that everyone else’s thinking as well?

In the year 2002, a friend of mine, was coming back home from a funeral when a car rammed into her car. The impact of the accident was so great that her cousin brother was thrown out from the back window onto the road and died on the spot, while the four other family members were critically injured. The mother of the boy died eventually of a heart attack, after learning about the death of her son. The man responsible for the accident did not want this issue to come into light and offered her father Rs. 25 Lakh to keep his mouth shut and close the case. The devastated man replied, “I will take the money on one condition, bring back my nephew and sister-in-law.” He decided to fight for justice, but unfortunately all the evidence had been wiped away. Medical reports went missing, reports against the accused disappeared. Since there was no evidence and many others chose to remain tight lipped about it. The case is still in court with no outcome, yet! Justice Delayed! Reason? The man was the grandson of a famous politician and he had to keep up with the reputation that his family had. He couldn’t be called a culprit. Hence all the evidences against him were taken care of.

The girl’s father was not someone who did not know how to go about it, how to get justice. He had done it before. He was a lawyer. He fought for other people and still he could not get justice for himself, for his family members who lost their lives due to a rich-reckless driver, who had power to back him.

This is just one incident, that I am aware of, there may be so many others happening every now and then. Incidents where lives are not given importance and weighed with money. It is like putting a person’s life on the same platter as business. Souls sold for money. With incidents like these coming up, it makes me wonder whether I have thought of it in a reasonable way. In India, many families kill a girl child, because she is a girl. The family’s reputation is considered to fall down for this reason, hence the murder. Young boys are killed. Why? Because he fell in love and chose not to marry a girl of his family’s choice. This may tarnish the reputation of the family. A valid question that people should ask is, ‘Is Reputation of that great importance and so essential in a person’s life or for a family that an individual’s life is of no importance at all?’

Alice Peter,

TYBMM Journalism,

Sophia College for Women, Mumbai

photo courtesy: http://www.google.co.in/imgres?q=injustice+symbol&hl=en&sa=X&biw=1241&bih=593&tbm=isch&tbnid=pl7V4luwR6NurM:&imgrefurl=http://www.clipartof.com/interior_wall_decor/details/Brass-Scales-Of-Justice-Off-Balance-Symbolizing-Injustice-Poster-Art-Print-15110&imgurl=http://images.clipartof.com/small/15108-Brass-Scales-Of-Justice-Off-Balance-Symbolizing-Injustice-Over-White-Poster-Art-Print.jpg&w=450&h=380&ei=KfI8UPO5OIPorQfM64HwAw&zoom=1&iact=rc&dur=468&sig=114901159961305371548&page=1&tbnh=122&tbnw=144&start=0&ndsp=22&ved=1t:429,r:3,s:0,i:79&tx=109&ty=33

SHOULD WE CELEBRATE INDEPENDENCE DAY?

15th August 1947, it is a milestone in the history of India. After hundred years of struggle, we finally got our freedom from the British. India became a free Nation on this glorious day. Is glorious the right word for this day? Well exactly, I don’t know that. Are we as a country, successful in preserving our freedom? I don’t know this either. My mind was overlapping with these questions today, when I had to decide on the colour of clothes I was to wear for my College flag hoisting Program. Unlike all years, I was lacking interest in the whole aspect of celebrating Independence Day. At first, I thought I would wear Indian attire, with tricolor combination, but I end up wearing black and white contrast. Well western and colour combination doesn’t matter, the point that I want to make is that as an aspiring journalist, I couldn’t think of a reason to commemorate Independence day. India, country of numerous festivals, has the culture of wearing colourful clothes on festivals and 15th August is the most important day for any Indian.  I as an Indian couldn’t find a reason to be motivated on this day. We remember this occasion because of the above-mentioned reasons but one cannot ignore that our nation was also divided into two pieces of land on this same day. In addition, nobody can ignore the fact that we are still facing its consequences.

As a female, what is there to be proud of being born in India? Even after 66 years of Independence, we have perfect examples like Guwahati Molestation case, naked women paraded in Orissa in front of her husband and she recently died as she couldn’t recover from the head injurious she got on the day of incident. Women are easily targeted in any kind of criminal approach. Partition of our country gives us the clear picture of crimes against women. There used to be sacks full of breasts on the trains crossing the border of India and Pakistan. Women of both the communities were picked up like a material and then raped, killed or forced to marry an unknown man and convert into his religion. Moreover, this is still happening in Pakistan. Case of Rinkle Kumari now known as Faryal Bibi is a 19 year Pakistani girl, who was kidnapped and supposedly forced to convert from Hinduism to Islam and marry Muslim Naveed Shah. Past is influencing the present. Well past is gone and we can’t do anything now but what about things that are happening in this 21st century.

Mumbai, city known for being slightly safer for women than other parts of the nation is now facing numerous cases of crimes against women. Recently on August 11, 2012, there was a protest on Azad Maidan Mumbai for supporting the muslim victims of Assam Riot and expressing disappointment on Congress’s failure in controlling the issue. This protest ended in violence as there were few people attending this protest with the intention of creating riot. In this whole act, women constables were molested and their weapons were taken away by the mob.

When so many things are happening in this country then what is there to celebrate? Unknowingly I wore black and white but it gave me a reason to think about my country. For how long we can ignore things that are happening around us. Yes, there are good and positive things taking place in this Nation but by just remembering them on our Independence Day will be absolutely wrong. We have to look forward towards the solution of the problems arising in different sectors of our Nation.

Unnati Maharudra

Spare the Media!

We live in a country where blood is thicker than water

On August 11, 2012, things went out of control in the Mumbai city as the protest against the killing of Muslims in Assam and Burma got violent. In addition, media not covering the Assam and the Burma issue also lead to the protest. Thirdly, many videos and photos about the crime taking placing against Muslims in Assam and Burma went viral on the social networking sites. According to the newspaper reports, two people were dead and fifty people were badly injured especially on their heads. Several policemen and the media people were attacked during the rally. The rally was organized by the Raza Academy at the Azad Maidan, Mumbai.

After watching the riots, which was flashed by several news channels, I was in utter shock. The first thing that hit me was that we live in country where religious conviction plays a very important role in one’s life. We live in a country where blood is thicker than water. Secondly, when I saw the videos and photos that went viral on social networking site, I was disturbed and deeply hurt but at the same time, I thought whether those videos and pictures were real or fake? Were those pictures misleading? Also, there was no information from where these images were sourced. Thirdly, why was the media targeted? The protesters say that the Media is biased towards the Muslim community. How far is this truth? Why do they think like this? Media might be bias towards covering certain issues while neglecting few issues but how does this turn into a community/ religion biasness. Fourthly, the Assam riots took place because the Bodo community thought that the Bangladeshi Muslims are refugees and they are trying to  illegally stay on their land. What is wrong if the Bodo community thinks in such a way? I do understand that thousands of ‘human beings’ are dead but is the Bodo community thinking wrong? What would you do if someone illegally stayed on your land or took away your land? One may argue that, riots are not the solution but then how do you send the refugees back? Fifthly, why was the Mumbai city destroyed? Who will pay for the damage? Why can’t the Bodo community and the Bangladeshi Muslims find out a solution in Assam and Burma only and work on it? Sixthly, when the Gujarat riots took place, no such protest was held. I question, why no protest was held at that time? Seventhly, before protesting did the Muslim protesters try to figure that the information that they have received was correct or was it because the victims were Muslims  the entire community outraged. If a similar instance would have had taken place where the victims were Hindus, would have the Muslims reacted in similar manner? All these questions kept running in my mind but I have no answer to this. Do you’ll have an answer to it?

A friend of mine named Daniya Aziz Khan said, “The media deserves what they got from Muslims protesters. We are always neglected. We want our rights.” This statement of her hurt me. If every individual thinks like Daniya Khan, our efforts to free our country from gender, class and caste bias will go waste. We shall never be able to set free our country from these biases.

My views on this entire issue might seem very Anti- Muslim but I can’t ignore the details that I have stated above.

Ruchi Nandu – T.Y.BMM

Moral Policing – Jism 2 and Vagina Monologues face the music

The controversial poster of Jism 2

 

Mandakini, in a controversial still from Ram Teri Ganga Maili

Jism 2 received its fair share of publicity (undue? Not in the film industry!) when Sunil Prabhu, Mayor of Mumbai wrote a letter to BEST General Manager O.P. Gupta, asking him to remove the ‘obscene’ Jism 2 posters from their buses (according to the Hindustan Times report, August 3, 2012). All the posters were taken down from 70 buses. Mr. Prabhu’s justification for the same was this – “Such obscene display of a woman’s body on public places leads to the disintegration of our society and should be banned.”

The poster had the silhouette of a nude woman draped in a diaphanous white sheet against a black background. The contours of her body are visible through the damp covering, suggestive yet subtle with implied eroticism. It is reminiscent of the (in)famous white sari scene in Ram Teri Ganga Maili, where Mandakini frolics under a waterfall in the song ‘Tujhe Bulaaye’. Despite its ‘vulgarity’, the film is now considered a classic, more so as a veiled critique of the political double standards regarding social causes.

To come back to the issue at hand, the mayor’s appeal found favour with Pratibha Naithani, social activist. “This is a good step taken by the administration. Why should children and women be forced to see a nude woman’s poster?” Her rhetoric question seemed to imply that gazing upon a naked woman seemed the sole prerogative and occupation of men.

Mumbai is not new to censorship or moral policing. It lurks like an unpleasant reality in the back alleys, only to emerge on a Valentine’s Day or to protest against ‘objectionable’ material, which seems to be importing Western values. Despite being touted as India’s most cosmopolitan city and the heart of the Hindi film industry, there remain precedents for restrictions on freedom of expression. The ‘moral disintegration’ of society remains a constant reason and finds resonance in prior cases of censorship.

The cast of the Indian adaptation of the Vagina Monologues

A month ago, the Marathi adaptation of Vagina Monologues (titled Yoni Manichya Gujagoshti) was not permitted to perform at a Borivli auditorium. Vandana Khare, who translated, distracted and produced the Marathi adaptation, expressed disappointment on the matter. More so, since they had performed previously in the same hall. “It is just a refusal to address issues of sexuality,” she said.

The theatre manager had defended their stance, stating that every show that has to be performed at the auditorium needs to be appropriate for all ages. This piece of news may have been met by approving nods or disapproving scowls. Perhaps even plain indifference, depending on perspective. The common citizen would argue that the state government could devote its time and resources to better use.

These two instances had me raising my eyebrows. I had never seen more instantaneous government action or group solidarity regarding any other social issue like better roads, public transportation or the safety of women. But when a poster or a theatre performance is perceived as a threat to our social fabric, it does not take long for agitations to congregate. Suddenly, women’s rights become of prime concern and Indian values, an institution to be aggressively defended.

‘Obscenity’ is used liberally and public property is vandalised when demands are not immediately met. The film and the play received more than its fair share of attention. Jism 2 did not garner critical acclaim or audience appreciation, whereas the Vagina Monologues (and its adaptations) has performed for years in the metro cities, constantly facing censure.

Having its first performance in India, in March 2003, the play frequently courted controversy.  The Chennai performance in 2004 was banned, despite planned guest appearances by Jane Fonda and Marissa Tomei. Mahabanoo Modi-Kotwal, before one of the productions of the play earlier this year, said that the Chennai performance was cancelled because the authorities did not want to incite any kind of violence among the public.

“Although how a group of perfectly non-violent women were capable of inciting violence remains a mystery to me.” she said. “And also, we came to the conclusion that the city which banned us obviously had no vaginas. Which means they only had assholes.” The audience tittered at that line. I did too, not so much at the punch-line, than at Ms. Kotwal’s delivery of it.

I have yet to see Jism 2, but having seen Vagina Monologues, I can say with utmost confidence that the play, though a possibly noble attempt, does not merit such immense coverage. Yes, the play speaks of the woman’s most intimate organ, either allegorically or blatantly (mostly the latter). But instead of creating a removing the taboo and creating a comfortable acceptance of the area, the play ends up catering to the elite and is sensationalist in its approach. It lacked an overall Indian identification (performing mostly Western skits), while possibly contributing to the stereotype that only the ‘Westerners’ would talk so freely about their private parts.

Despite its subjective objectionability, no member of Indian society was compelled to watch the play. As is the case with Jism 2. The posters may have been criticised for being openly displayed in the public domain. Why is this degree of attention not given to the posters of B-grade films that we see regularly plastered on walls?

Is it a thing of elitism? An attempt to humble the English-speaking class when the lesser-known regional films (at least in mainstream English press) slip under the cynosure of the media glare?

There needs to be greater acceptance of sexuality in our country. ‘The Land of the Kamasutra’ is an argument that evokes sniggers among the cynics. But do you really blame them?

Change the outlook. Grow above the pettiness. Beneath the razzmatazz of a glittering, ‘shining’ India lies an uglier truth of female exploitation. Accept it. Change it. We will have a forward-thinking nation. A better one. Surely that is not such a terrible thing?

NIHARIKA PURI
TYBMM JOURNALISM
SOPHIA COLLEGE FOR WOMEN

HOW SAFE ARE WOMEN IN MUMBAI?

 

Breaking the Myth.  Facing the Reality.

“No way!” yelled my father when I tried to persuade him to let me fill out the forms for admission into Delhi University. “Don’t you know how unsafe the city is?” added my mother who was as furious as father. It was after my standard 12 results that I was keen on pursuing Bachelor of Arts in the prestigious Lady Shreeram College in Delhi. I finally enrolled myself in Sophia college, Mumbai, much to the joy of my parents, who, like many, unequivocally believe in the myth of Mumbai being highly safe for women.

After the unfortunate incident that occurred in Andheri, where Young Keenan and Reuben were brutally assaulted on the streets for raising their voice against the lewd remarks that were being passed on the women friends in their group, the city was shaken to the core. Mumbaikars woke up to the fact that it is not only the woman who is unsafe on the streets of Mumbai, but also the man who dares to intervene when the woman is being harassed sexually. But the sad aspect is that the aforementioned incident could have been averted had people and the police been a little more aware of the falling standards of safety in the city.

Miss Kaschit Mishra, a clinical psychologist, recalls one such incident. “I had just got off at Kurla station and was heading towards the bridge. The CST bound train on the harbour line arrived and the commuters walked up the bridge while an equally heavy crowd, including me, were walking down the stairs. The man behind me was practically clinging on to my body trying to feel me up. As I turned around and yelled at him, another man groped me from the left side. I held his arm and twisted it. All I wanted was to drag both the miscreants to the RPF station. But they managed to disappear in the crowd.”

A student at Sophia College remembers how a man tried to rub against her on a crowded BEST bus. “It is a lot safer in trains where at least you have the ladies compartment. But on a bus, it becomes very easy for men to harass you. I yelled at him and so did the other women on the bus. He eventually got off,” she said.

Though Mumbai, as opposed to Delhi, is better in terms of gathering support from bystanders during incidents of sexual harassment, this does not always hold true. In 2007, a woman was practically stripped and raped in full public view in the middle of a huge crowd that gathered at the Gateway of India to celebrate New Year. The Hindustan times- Akshara Survey conducted by Cfore Market Research Company, reports that out of 4,255 women, 99 per cent feel unsafe on the roads of Mumbai. According to government statistics, as reported by NDTV India, Mumbai alone recorded a whopping number of 194 rape cases in the year 2010. The figure is just a number, which in reality is way lower than the actual cases of rape and sexual assault that happen. The Indian Penal Code states that only penile penetration qualifies as rape, and not the other forms of penetration, which results in the sweeping away of many brutal sexual assaults in the name of “Outraging Modesty”.

Newspapers carry incidents of rising sexual harassment on an everyday basis. Hindustan Times had  dedicated two pages on this particular issue for the month of July and even goes out of its way to interview the police, college students, both male and female, professionals from different fields, women who have been sexually assaulted in the past. It is important for women to know about their rights when it comes to incidents of sexual assault and sexual harassment. It is important for people to gather and protest against miscreants who have turned the once safe Mumbai into a city as unsafe as Delhi. Laws must be more severe. Instances of stalking that are on a rise must not be taken casually. CCTVs must be set up in buses, trains and public spaces. Besides the helpline 103, that is available across the state of Maharashtra, more and more police squads must be formed to look into the gravity of the situation. The Indian Penal Code requires changes and additions that can empower both men and women. Also, the language in the various sections needs to be less ambiguous and more lucid.

It is important to turn the myth of a safe Mumbai into reality. Women must not feel that they have got no choice but to keep quiet. The issue of Sexual harassment in educational institutes, workplaces and public spaces must be addressed with equal seriousness as Terror attacks and blasts.

NEEL KAMAL MISHRA

TYBMM JOURNALISM

SOPHIA COLLEGE FOR WOMEN

DHOBLE KE SIDE EFFECTS!!

The hockey-stick wielding cop

However much may he be loved or hated; there are some facts that have to be known about him…

It is the typical Bollywood masala flick formula- an angry copy, with his oh-so-ever-zealous agendas, ever controversial, hated and loved in equal measure. The man who has been the target of ridicule by the media as well as on several social networking sites; the hockey-stick wielding man who is known to be the “dabangg of Mumbai”; the man whose zeal is to ensure that late night bars do not defy rules related to music and overcrowding dance floors; the man because of whom all the women of the city are scared to be seen out of their homes after 12am – harboring the fear of being held and tagged as “prostitutes”; the man who gives a new meaning to the phrase- “ghar jao bache warna Dhoble aajayega”; is none other than our very own- Vasant Dhoble, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) of the Social Service (SS) department, the man under whose ‘gunda raj’, Mumbai’s nightlife is struggling to stay alive!

Some say that he has made the nightlife of Mumbai come to an abrupt halt while some say that he is simply trying to ‘clean up’ the society by protecting our ‘culture’ from further damage, which has already been distorted due to westernization.

However, unintentionally and unwittingly,         
he has largely contributed to the employment sector; by giving rise to an entirely new industry- that of informants who specialize in the sleuthing field.
Apparently, Mumbai’s arguably most
unpopular person has a network of more
than 200 informers who keep him posted
about the bars, pubs and discos violating
government rules. Interestingly, this job
is applicable to both kinds- one, for those
who keep Dhoble updated and the other who want to know about Dhoble’s whereabouts and plan of action in order to be prepared to take preventive measures.

The moment Dhoble’s official white SUV leaves the headquarters at Crawford market; the informants follow and cover all possible routes that he could be travelling and depending on which turn he takes, they alert the pubs, bars, hookah parlors and clubs that are in the line of sight. Who are these informants? Well, these are nothing but boys hired by pubs and club owners and their henchmen, who keep their ‘bosses’ abreast about Dhoble’s movements.
But given that Dhoble is Dhoble, he knows how to give them THE slip! There have been instances when he parks his SUV in front of a private building and pretends to go upstairs but actually gets into another car or auto-rickshaw to head towards his destination.

So, before making plans for a friends’ night out, think twice. In Mumbai now, any movement after 12.30 am is almost considered a crime. This means everyone needs to get home by then. But even then, you might not be safe, says Fashion choreographer Alison Woodham. Her 22-year-old son Ronit invited a few friends over for dinner recently. “The doorbell rang just as Ronit, his friends having left after a hearty home meal, was preparing to wrap things up for the night. It was the police who said that Ronit needs to come to the police station and pay Rs 12000 as no one is allowed to have people over after 12. They finally took Rs 3,000 and left.” After lodging a complaint at the local police station, she is now concerned about her children. “What if these cops find me somewhere?’ And I have an 18-year-old daughter. What if she gets bullied by these cops when she goes out?”
People have started questioning their human rights. And who blames them? These cops have the apparent ‘authority’ to barge in your homes or strip-search you while in a club- WITHOUT a warrant!

If someone like Dhoble can hold the city’s nightlife in this manner, then the blame falls squarely on outdated laws. Imagine: the age for marriage and eligibility to vote has been slipped down to 18, but to drink alcohol, the allowed age limit has been upped from 21 to 25; for reasons best known to the Congress-NCP led government in Maharashtra.

In the aftermath, a few more questions emerge. One, the police appear to be on an inexplicable targeted rampage, shutting dozens of clubs and bars in the last few months, dredging up archaic laws that are an era old as pretexts for making busts. The laws have existed for decades, why the rush to enforce them now? Assistant commissioner of police Vasant Dhoble’s explanation that this “moral policing” is to “save” us from “exploitation”, is hardly rational! It’s like the whites (British) repressing the browns (India), all over again!
Baajate raho!
But what’s peculiar is his hockey stick which hardly leaves his side. When asked if he plays hockey, he says,
“Khelte bhi hain, bajaate bhi hain.” (I play it, I use it too.)

–Sakshi Raina
TYBMM Journo.

Photo Courtesy:

http://www.google.co.in/imgres?q=dhoble+mumbai&start=83&num=10&hl=en&biw=1024&bih=667&tbm=isch&tbnid=M4LzELi7T_A22M:&imgrefurl=http://article.wn.com/view/2012/06/20/Hands_off_Mumbai_party_raid_SADAF_MODAK_Dhoble_Mumbai_June_1/&docid=tQHjaOSCZ1PUuM&imgurl=http://i.ytimg.com/vi/HsC0Dro1eE4/0.jpg&w=480&h=360&ei=QckNUKPWJYaJrAfrqqH7CQ&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=438&vpy=117&dur=3839&hovh=194&hovw=259&tx=126&ty=105&sig=101300139993745638585&page=6&tbnh=144&tbnw=192&ndsp=19&ved=1t:429,r:6,s:83,i:25

I know what you did “Last Friday Night”

Vasant Dhoble : Khauf ya Kanoon ka Rakhwala

 By : Niyati Agrawal

Last Friday night,
Yeah, we danced on tabletops
And we took too many shots
Think we kissed but I forgot

Last Friday night
Yeah, we maxed our credit cards
And got kicked out of the bar
Yeah I think we broke the law
Last Friday night
(Last Friday Night by Katy Perry, Album Teenage Dream)

This Friday night
We are scared to go out after dark
Because Dhoble raids the bars
I want to party but I’m afraid to get caught

This Friday night
Lets don’t do it all again.

Yes, this is silently being played in all the pubs across the Mumbai city. The chances of getting caught while partying, has bought the city nightlife to a standstill. It’s the effect one single cop with a hockey stick can have.

Vasant Dhoble, the name has created a scare in the minds of the young party goers of the city. Colleges have known to cancel their fresher’s party with the fear of getting caught. “We want to give our juniors a party but are scared to do so. What if Dhoble raids the place we are at? Most of our juniors aren’t even adults”, says a second year student of a Mumbai suburb college.

The legal age of drinking in the city is 25. If an 18 year old is caught drinking then who is really at fault? Mr. Dhoble or the person drinking? Most of the pubs and discotheques do not have the required licenses. Quite a few teenagers are complaining that we aren’t getting to party anymore. A lot of above 25 people are complaining that since we don’t have drinking permits we will be caught. And then they say that Mr. Dhoble is ruining our night life.

If the laws of the city are read carefully and if some of his actions are observed then he is doing nothing that is outside the law. He is merely following it. True, his means and ways of doing it are wrong. He even termed a few girls as prostitutes, when they were not. But where is the blame actually to be put? WHAT he is doing or the WAY he is doing it.

A rally against Mr. Dhoble had been organized at Carter Road, Bandra. But why? For shutting down an eating joint that’s placed on a pavement and causes a lot of traffic on the road or for an overcrowded disco?

The laws are outdated. Amendments need to be made but is it going to happen over night? No. Any change of law takes time. Be the change to see the change. It is time that the people also started acting responsibly. They cannot just sit at home and keep blaming the people who are trying to do something right for once. A drinking permit that is valid for a lifetime takes a mere 1000 rupees. How difficult is it to get one? If one can spend huge amount on liquor then why not on a license. If a piece of paper is allowing you to drink then why not? Why blame someone else?

Pubs and discotheques should also get proper licenses and abide by the rules. No one gets joy in harming innocent people. We refuse to follow rules and then blame the institution when we get caught.

So, to those who are scared to party don’t be, if you are following the required rules. For those who aren’t following them “Beta party chodo aur jaldi so jao, warna Dhoble (aka Gabbar singh) aa jaayega”.

CRIME AGAINST WOMEN – RAPE

CRIME AGAINST WOMEN – RAPE

 Though efforts have been taken to  improve the conditions of women, women  are still not considered safe. There are several crimes done against women almost every day. Some of them would include murders, dowry deaths, molestation cases, sexual harassment and many more. Crime against women is on an increase. And yet many cases of crime against women have gone unreported in our country. Every day there are stories of  rape in the newspaper. States like Madhya Pradesh  has the highest number of  rape cases. Delhi  takes the top place in cases of rape as well and is known as an unsafe city.

Rape is the one of the fastest growing crime in our country. Women are sexually assaulted and raped. There are cases of raped mentioned every day. On July 9 there was an article reported in The Times Of India where an auto rickshaw driver raped his friend’s wife and kept her hostage for six days. He black mailed her of making  public nude pictures of her which were shot by him. The report says that the driver raped the women several times. The women did not return home that  night. On returning home after six days she narrated the story to her husband and her husband filed a case against the auto rickshaw driver. Yet there are many cases which go unreported as said earlier. This shows the law and order  the situation where instead of finding ways of stopping such crimes they are becoming worse day by day.

There were several other cases mentioned in the last few months. In Latur, a 14 year old girl was raped and killed by four men. In Konark, four men were charged of dragging  a woman out of the bus and raping her. On filing a report the victims are showed apathy and the punishments of the convict would be a day in jail. The reason of the increasing rates is because there is no strict action being taken. There are several other reports where  foreign tourists were assaulted and raped.

Despite of all this, the police still say “She asked for it. It’s all about money”.  They  believe that  it is the women who provoke men by dressing indecently. And women are blamed yet. As a result of the increase in the number of rapes women are hesitant to work late nights in many places. Comparatively Mumbai is considered to be more safer as compared to Delhi. Most of the convicts of rape go unpunished  because we instill fear in our hearts. It’s time we wake up and take a serious step.

 Another a question that comes up to my mind is when the cops in  the metropolitan cities like Delhi and Mumbai are so insensitive what about the cops in the smaller cities and states?  India seems to be country where women are considered  safe but are actually not. The government needs to take some strict action or women  some years from now on will refrain from stepping out of their houses.