Expectations from a World Beyond Corona

WhatsApp Image 2020-06-06 at 12.45.16 AMIt’s been 3 years since I sat down to write a blog. I could not pen down anything, not in the literal sense, of course, but in the digital sense of the term but today I was forced to rekindle my love for writing due to the times we are living in.

Everyone has been writing about the fateful year of 2020, depressing images and stories of loss of livelihood & food and forced marathons by migrant workers as well as about good Samaritans. Some are sanguine enough to be hoping for the world to change dramatically as it has got a lot of time in hand suddenly to rethink about ‘LIFE’ whereas others are learning new skills for a dream job which they could not do earlier due to paucity of time. The world seems to be slapped with one great problem after another at a random pace. There is so much noise that it is difficult to focus on one point in a coherent manner and collect one’s thoughts without dipping into others. 

I would try to write on the hopes of people for the world to change for the better without getting digressed by other pressing issues. As Franklin D. Roosevelt quoted,

“We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.”

If I read this quote with respect to the kind of change we are hoping to see in the world, there are different kinds of expectations attached here. I would like to make a list of those expectations which are coming to my mind right now.

  1. More flexibility to work from home
  2. The changing International relations between the powers and Global Organisations
  3. Adaptation to Minimalism and less extravagant lifestyle,
  4. Respecting the labor of our staff/helps
  5. Lesser Materialism

In this article, I would focus on the social aspects of the expected changes(Point no 3,4,5) . With the help of narrowing Digital Divide and growth of social media and smartphones, one no longer is dependent on the newspapers or publishing houses to be heard of. This led to various opinions getting circulated from different social classes on what this lock-down has meant for them.

When people, including I, had to do the household chores, we were faced with the pains of managing a house. This helped them(and me) realize how much of an effort, time, labor, care, vigilance goes into being a Housewife, a term replaced recently by “Homemaker” ( to make it sound niche, a topic I would delve into in another article some day soon) and still not receiving an ounce of respect or dignity by most people. This lock-down led to people opening up about how they realized how much hard work a maid does in their homes, whose labor goes unrecognized in terms of respect, if not monetarily. I, personally,  have always had some issue with physical labor not being monetarily rewarded even close enough to the mental or intellectual labor. Well, one change people expect here is that they would now respect their maids and staff members more but I feel this is not going to last in the long term. Although I want this to last forever yet the realist in me feels that it won’t. My reasons are confined to the human nature and the kind of world we have constructed for ourselves. Once this lock-down and corona is over, we would be back to our usual lives at least after 2-3 years if not soon enough. We would not have so much time in our hands and once that will happen,  we would rely on our maids and staff again and would expect a perfect job done. The feeling of respect will dissipate when we would be busy meeting our deadlines. We would be ‘ourselves’ again.

Once economic and health  setbacks would have been dealt with, most of us would forget Minimalism and the talk about less extravagant lifestyle and lesser materialism.  Everything will be once again about showing off. We would turn our back on these philosophies and would be back to our usual lives. The reason here, again is about human nature and our necessities. Today we are vouching for these concepts because we have been stripped off our luxury of going to malls or being a jetsetter.  Humans want attention and the easiest way to grab eyeballs is by succumbing to the already built system around us. A system, which is our society in this case, one which dwells on Classism. A society that respects the one with a Mercedes over WagonR. A society which respects a woman with a Gucci bag over a woman bargaining over vegetables. A society which automatically accumulates respect for a government official over the one who is his/her driver. A society which gives value to a leather bag over a jute one. A society which considers English speaking ones to be qualified to be respected while others speaking indigenous languages as illiterate or backward. This is proof enough that as a collective, society would not change to adapt to either Minimalism or a less extravagant lifestyle. Corona will be unable to change this society and hence no adaptation to the philosophies of Minimalism and Lesser Materialism would take place as expected and opinionated by some.

I would still hope that a few of these positive lifestyle changes are adopted by individuals for a better world beyond Corona and it would be appreciated if these individuals set an example for others to follow.

Ramjas Fiasco-An Outsider’s View

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The Ramjas fiasco has once again stirred the debate on nationalism, Freedom of Speech and Expression, Right to peaceful protest as a fundamental right being infringed upon and what accounts as a national or an anti national but one point that I find the most important here is about the “Student Politics”. I think what happened in Ramjas is deplorable and unfortunate. Students aligned to opposing student organizations hurling shoes, abuses and what not on each other. I don’t even know which party did what because in such situations, categorically marking students as per their ideologies is a very difficult process as some hooligans, not aligned to any ideology in particular take advantage of the situation to further the damage and nuisance. Through this article, I am not declaring anybody neither the culprit nor the victim. What I am trying to convey through this article is the misuse of rights given to Students or individuals in general, as power derived. Formation of Student Organizations like any other organisation must promote the interests of the group they are representing. The youth is the future of every nation. It is only right that they in their capacity learn to work towards the progress of the nation. Since the era of the Congress Party domination, the students’ unions in India have developed a complex tradition of student politics. Most of these unions are affiliated to a political parties and actively participate in any current crisis, especially those related to students. But lately, we have witnessed student organisations turning to violent attacks and radical ideology of not allowing opposing views to be given an audience. There are numerous cases where such Student Organisations have not allowed an opposing point of view to be heard. I respect the feeling of Nationalism and at the same time also am aware of the atrocities people in some parts of our country have to go through and the problems they deal with but I find it absolutely unwise to raise slogans against one’s own country. I also feel that there are many ways and means to stop somebody from doing that. Turning to violence, creating a fracas and fear among students, leading to police being called in a campus for such reasons and converting a place of study into a ground for politics and waging war is something that I do not stand by. I do not want to sound too idealist here but I do believe that as students, as youth, as future of the country we should not only be tolerant of the antagonistic opinions but must also not succumb to violence and abrupt belligerent behavior. As a student of DU, I believe that University should be more a place of conflicting beliefs and arguments rather than National level politics being myopically reflected by students and that the sacredness of this place must be maintained in its absolute sense.

Bateshwar-The Uncharted Complex of 101 Temples

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Bateshwar Nath temple is very ancient temple, situated at a distance of 70 km from Agra (Uttar Pradesh) on the bank of river Yamuna. Bateshwar is one of the oldest towns with a rich history. It is one of the important spiritual and cultural centers in India. Bateshwar is known for the 101 Shiv temples, built by Raja Badan Singh Bhadauria situated on the banks of Yamuna. Hindus make pilgrimage to the river Yamuna in honor of lord Shiva. Some of the temples have decorative ceilings and ornamental walls. The 22nd Tirthankar lord Neminath was born in Shaouripur. This area attracts Jain tourists as well. In fact, not many are aware that Bateshwar is the ancestral village of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

As per the mythology and legends, here under a marvelous Banyan tree (Bat in Sanskrit), lord Shiva took rest for some time under that tree which is still standing at that place, the place hence came to be known as Bateshwar (i.e. Bat ishwar or The banyan lord).Legend has it that King Badan Singh Bhadoriya changed the flow of Yamuna river from east to west towards Bateshwar. Earlier the river used to flow from west to east. The king also built a dam to protect these temples from the heavy water coming from river Yamuna. Bateshwar Nath temple finds its mention in the holy scripts of Ramayana, Mahabharata and Matsya-purana.

Bateshwar Fair
Every year an animal fare is organised here in the month of October-November. One of the names of Lord Shiva i.e. Pashupati signifies this animal fare. Tourists from different part of the world come here to see and enjoy the event.This animal fare event comprises of three stages. In the first stage, Camels, horses and donkeys are sold and in the second stage cow and cattle are sold. The third stage ends the fare with cultural programs. The animal sellers start reaching this place one week before the start of the fare. Many animal races are also organised during the event.  This small town of Bateshwar provides peace in the hectic lifestyle.

Due to its obscure location away from the urban into the rural, not many know that a chain of 101 temples along the river Yamuna exists. The temples are of varying sizes and some  are situated a little bit away from the main stream of the river, into the fields. This has led to a dilapidated state of majority of the temples except a few big ones which gather most of the attention of not just the tourists but also the pilgrims. Bateshwar which was surrounded by the hub of dacoits-the Chambal Valley boasts of large-sized bells hanging in the temple complex with names of various dacoits carved onto them. Another story attached to the temple goes about Raja Badan Singh Bhadauria’s daughter and her marriage and a series of events that followed which led to the building of these temples by the Raja.

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This makes the temple not only mysteriously captivating but also intriguing in its own way.

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Alana Coates at LSE Summer School

WhatsApp Image 2020-06-06 at 12.53.51 AM (1)Alana Coates, working in the Engagement Team at Financial Times was the Guest Speaker on “Towards Audience-First Journalism” London School of Economics Summer School.

With technological advancements and larger digital platforms reaching people, Journalism has now started adapting itself to these changes that leads to competition and Rat Race among the news media. But Alana brings us to another dimension of how more important it is to stick to the quality of news and yet attract audience. At Financial Times, Audience first is considered the main marketing policy in spite of it being called a cliche in the News Market today. Alana says that Financial Times is trying to get the right audience not a large audience. And today journalism being mobile and happening on news websites through videos, question-answer live sessions, she says that for print media it is harder for them to reach people today. She says that Journalism has changed from being a monologue to now becoming a dialogue propelling a whole new interactive relationship between online platforms and people. This has changed the way traditional newspapers worked.
As a member of the Engagement team, she says that it is important for journalists to know who their audience is and what do they need. It is equally important to understand their expertise to plan out their marketing strategy and the time of publishing. Reactions play a very vital role in comprehending the changing needs of the audience. In this aspect she says that social media helps build loyal audiences as we talk to people directly and a “comment” section helps further with the kind of news audiences want to read. To make this process even more interactive and alive, news media/journalists can further reply to the comments posted by the audience.
Alana quotes that Financial Times has 200 thousand print audience but a lot more global audience but still for Financial Times essentials don’t change. Financial Times still follow the rules of “Traditional” Journalism. She proudly says that Financial Times is data informed and not data led and that priority for Financial Times would always be its audience and not the “clicks”.

My say on Turbulent India

WhatsApp Image 2020-06-06 at 12.59.35 AMToday I am compelled to pen down a turbulent wave of thoughts that’s been disturbing me for quiet some time now. Today, when I was watching news in the morning and simultaneously scrolling down my Facebook timeline I realized that it is the time to speak up now, it is the time to let my thoughts be known to all, it is the time when a student should let her opinion be told!!! There’s so much going on, so many opinions, so many disturbing events,Rohit Vermula’s suicide case, JNU controversy of who is a nationalist and who is not, Media’s trial,  JAAT agitation for reservation, Murthal Case, Smriti Irani’s Speech, “Aunty-National” controversy and subsequent debates on all those matters- provoke me to finally give my opinion as a student,a 19 year old, a young body trying to understand things of national importance.

Without going into the details of the matter,I just want to give my opinion on the crux of each matter. JNU controversy rose around the issue and debate on who qualifies as a nationalist and who does not. While reading news reports on the ongoing verbatim quarrel, I read several articles where the “accused” either calls them an “Internationalist” from a Marxist perspective or explains his own interpretation of being a nationalist by using confused rhetoric from scholarly works. I do not want to comment who said what and what not but as a simple citizen of my nation, phrases like ” Bharat ki Barbadi tak jung rahegi ” is purely an anti-nationalist statement and i do not need alesson of some nationalist scholar to teach me what NATIONALISM actually means. Whether JNU students shouted these slogans or some “foreign” students, I just want to say that this does not qualify as a “DISSENT” for me and whether whoever shouted these slogans, they surely belonged to the “STATE” of India. If we as Indians are going to glorify these terrorists and shout “ Har ghar se Afzal niklega” then I would re-quote Smriti Irani’s mentioned quote –

“A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear. The traitor is the plague.”

And that is a big concern and not a thing to pretend to be cool at- as some media houses were trying to portray it through their media trials.

Coming to the JAAT agitation.However, personally I am against reservation but still the way Jaat community has put forward its demand for reservation considering themselves as poor and backward by destroying public and private property and yet again rewarding the country with a national shame of mass molestation and rape of women behind the aegis of the so called agitation. I want to ask the so called “JAAT” community that if you are burning down the schools, colleges, hospitals, etc then for whom are you asking reservation for? Where will you study after getting reservation if you yourself are smashing, destroying and burning down the temples of education?? Why not simply give reservation(if you have to) on economic basis because there is a large so called “general” community that is still poverty ridden?Well, reservation is something that I would like to comment on in a different post.

Smriti Irani, a woman Member of Parliament, an HRD Minister has, in my opinion, given one of the greatest speeches in the parliament of our times. MPs like Mayawati tried to get down on the government by debating upon the issue of inclusion of a Dalit member in case of Rohit Vermula’s probe committee. I understand her sentiments as a Dalit leader but I am amazed to know that a non-dalit member cannot provide justice to a dalit victim and the only one who can do that would be a Dalit!!!! If that is a case on which Mayawati tried to debate upon in the government then I believe a separate Court should also be instituted for the Dalit community in the country.

And then a newspaper’s headline comes as “AUNTY-NATIONAL” and I see some websites publishing articles in favor of the newspaper and I see very little uproar by the feminists of the nation who try to create a scene out of almost every little issue but a lady MP is being mocked at by a leading newspaper but to my amazement I see very less people coming and standing up for Mrs. Irani. Chetan Bhagat tweeted-” When a man makes a passionate speech,he becomes a hero.A woman does it,she gets sexist headlines.” and I couldn’t be more satisfied with the tweet.

I am really glad to see the comments of the general public on the posts by several websites, trying to create a public opinion in favor or against the government instead of just putting the facts. It is the time that we become more rationale, more logical and more mature, if not for anything else in life but at least for the issues of National Importance.

 

 

Reservation and still Inequality persists

The concept of Reservation is justified in India as positive discrimination to rectify historical injustices towards certain groups. We all know how reservation, a concept evolved to uplift the historically marginalized sections has deepened its roots in the Indian soil.Issues in our country are so easily politicized and sculpted into separate issue entities that the true essence of the original issue dissipates and fades away.Earlier, the caste groups granted the status of a reserved category considered themselves menial and subservient to other non-reserved groups and showed reluctance to tell publicly if they were enjoying the benefits of reservation but Modernity, Development and Globalization have led to a dignified encouragement that today people not only frankly tell which groups do they belong to but other “non-reserved” groups claim themselves to be socially and economically backward so as to be labelled as a “backward” group and benefited by reservation policy .

We have witnessed how OBC reservation has been demanded by  JAT community and others (because they agitated , brought loss to government property,etc.)so I will not go into the details of it. We need to think intensely as to why agitation for the grant of reservation status is considered so easily. Here comes the point to discuss Hardik Patel , a so-called pioneer for the rights of the Patel community in Gujarat. He is trying to bring together the so-called backward communities of the country under one umbrella and seeks for an OBC status henceforth. It is clearly evident that he is politicizing this struggle for Patel Reservation in order to  either become the political face for the people of Gujarat and garner for himself a major position in Indian Politics or to create a state of perturbation , distress and conflict in the much vulnerable Gujarat, excited by other major political parties of India.

I would like to raise a point how can the socially and economically well-off Patel community be given an OBC status? How can one individual raise such a vast agitative fracas and be successful at mobilizing people of a certain community and bring the whole state to a standstill? We need to ponder upon why people raising their voices against reservation are taken for granted and voices demanding reservation are given such a vast media coverage?

A concept developed to compensate for historical injustices and inequality meted out to the present reserved categories is  today sidelining and marginalizing other non-reserved communities due to the flawed implementation of the reservation policy.Due to such inequalities prevalent in the country we see that there has been a major setback in the living standards of people. Even the lower middle class family stands prone to reach the poverty line due to increasing inflation today. Further, we notice that there is a growing inequality among people with reference to opportunities and capabilities as there is a section of people who has access to not only the opportunity but also the means to achieve that opportunity whereas the other section is unable to access either of these.Policies to address inequality should…focus on ensuring equality of opportunity, improving upward mobility and providing adequate support to mitigate shocks for the poorest” (Urbanization key to offsetting inequality in India: World Bank Report, business-standard.com). If that is to be followed then the poorest class not only consists of SCs, STs and OBCs but the non reserved groups as well. Rural India still has a lack of opportunities and the limited opportunities are bagged by the reserved categories and the non reserved remain in poverty and ignorance. Why not treat all those equally backward people of a village(for instance) and uplift these people to a similar standard.

So, a country like India is today compensating for previous inequalities and then tomorrow’s India will compensate for inequalities meted out to the present “non-reserved” community/group. Will the Indian state forever feel sorry for its previous flawed mistakes and keep repenting and recompensing for its past mistakes? Is India always going to exercise reparation?

Law breaking and suspicious manoeuvre of “Singham” -Patna SP

The news much in controversy for 2 major reasons :
1. a police officer gets “ARRESTED”
2. an IPS officer drags him holding by his uniform’s collar into the Police vehicle.
At first , the news was broadcast-ed through various famous and trusted news channels that an inspector of UP Crime Branch gets arrested by SP City Patna in civil dress who had covered his head with a “chunri” for allegedly asking for bribe from a cyber cafe owner and the inspector was exhibited as the wrongdoer, the lawbreaker, an offender whereas the SP city Shivdeep Lande was honored with the title of “SINGHAM” with appreciation and praise. After few hours the perception of viewing the news got changed and a mere question of suspicion on the procedure of arrest came into limelight. This is what happened.
Now I would like to speak on what should not have happened. To begin with , SP City of Patna Police,fantasized by the Bollywood and South Indian movies tried to be a “DABANG” or “SINGHAM” but in the whole act committed an offence himself due to the procedure he followed. First of all, the Law of Arrest in India states that -” Merely on suspicion of complicity in an offence, no arrest to be made” and Arrest shall be effected
(a) where it is necessary to arrest the accused to
bring his movements under restraint to infuse confidence among the terror-stricken
victims or where the accused is likely to abscond and evade the process of law;
(b)where the accused is given to violent behaviour and is likely to commit further
offences unless his movements are brought under restraint or the accused is a
habitual offender and unless kept in custody is likely to commit similar offences
again;
(c) where the arrest of the persons is necessary to protect the arrested person
himself; or
(d) where such arrest is necessary to secure or preserve evidence of or
relating to the offence; or
(e) where such arrest is necessary to obtain evidence from
the person concerned in an offence punishable with seven years or more, by
questioning him.

In this case, the inspector was neither posing as a threat to anybody nor he had till then bribed anyone, he was not even found with any such evidence and EVIDENCE is all that matters the most in such cases.
The complete methodology and operation of this arrest raises doubt and suspicion against the will of SP City Patna. In fact, the undertaking cannot even be called as a “ARREST” legally as it was much like kidnapping or capturing . Another wrong act was to drag the inspector by his Police Uniform’s collar, which is considered as a grace on a body of a Police Officer. This resulted in an insult, disgrace and ignominy to the inspector of UP Crime Branch.
The inspector came to Bihar to investigate regarding a case and instead of providing him with help and assistance, SP City Patna arrested him merely on suspicion and that too in a very violent and aggressive manner which embellished the inspector.
An IPS officer must be well acquainted with the laws more than anybody because they are the ones who have to exercise these laws but Shivdeep Lande has exhibited the most unauthentic way of arresting . Above all , the inclusion of Media persons on special invitation by him to record his heroic deed points out how influenced Mr. Shivdeep lande is by Bollywood movies.The worst role is played by the negligent and careless news channels which aired the video recording of an inspector being captured by an IPS officer without going into the details and legal aspect of this incident, without knowing the legal facts that such a procedure was not authentic, without realizing the fact that it may result in slander and defamation of the inspector.
The Police does not file an FIR even on cases of sexual assault, rape and molestation as per the statistics many a times and on a case of suspicion of asking for a bribe by an inspector, the Patna Police displayed its energetic , rapid and instantaneous response . I hope I get to see this kind of energy in every and any kind of case in future by Police .
The inspector might have gone there to enquire but before he could do that he was arrested. What was the hurry to arrest the inspector in the middle of the act ? He could have bribed the cyber cafe owner and after that too he could be arrested with evidence or if he was alerted by the CCTV cameras then he could have been followed secretly and then held for bribing a person afterwards as well . Was it a conspiracy to hinder the inspector from inspecting the case to protect someone or was it a plan to take a revenge or was it something else???Doubt and suspicion arises out of the violent outburst and ferocious body language undertaken by SP City Patna Shivdeep Lande.

FUTILITY OF ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE

The middle-of-the-road Ice Bucket Challenge – the widespread and well accepted challenge has been on everyone’s mind. Facebook and Youtube have profited beyond our imagination due to this ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE and we- the facebook users have gained enough likes and comments on our uploaded videos featuring our various styles of accepting and practicing the ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE . AS per Wikipedia , the idea of ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE was to raise money for charity which involved the process of nominating participants and then dumping of ice cold water on their heads and then donating some amount of money for the research of ALS. I won’t go into its further origin but on its high popularity on social networking sites . My notification pinged all the time from May to mid September with notifications of my friends accepting the challenge and uploading videos but it is shocking to know as per BCC REPORT of 12th Sept 2014 that only ONE out of TEN people who did the challenge , actually donated. Awestruck I am . Another shocking data reveals as per Forbes that ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE resulted in millions of incremental dollars in ad revenue for Facebook and Youtube . The ALS ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE raised considerably more than $100 million for research into degenerative neurological disease . All this at the cost of thousands of gallons of water !!! When already we are running short of water , was it necessary to waste such a large amount of water in this challenge ???Instead of accepting the challenge and then resting on bed in fever and cold , step out of the house and do something for those people who are hungry and have nothing to eat. Do something real . Think upon it .
Was this the only way left to grow awareness about this neurological disease??
We should ask ourselves why were we uploading a video if we did not have to donate anything ?? The psychological answer to this is that we want to gain popularity among our social networking sites’ friends and also to gain enough likes and comments . If we have to do charity , then do it without stating and showing off about it . Instead of wasting water and not even donating anything , we should look out for real needy people and do charity not for the virtual world but for our own satisfaction and peace . There could have been other methods to collect money for ALS research rather than at the cost of vital water and profiting the capitalist class.