Opinion

What’s the breaking news?


This is the era of online news portals. With an uncountable number of online news channels competing with the mainstream media giants to find a readership, news has lost its credibility long ago. Most of the so called online newspapers have their journalistic duties confined to copying articles from other mainstream media sites, barely attempting(?) to reword it before publishing it. Sometimes the articles are mindlessly translated from another language and the resulting end product has the facts hilariously twisted.

The concept of “copyright” seems to have become more of a joke. The online news portals generously adds a reference  to “extract from xxx channel”  before reproducing the exact phrase and words in a piece of article.

Social media is the place where the buzz is today. And the media have their eyes on Facebook and twitter. Most of the viral Facebook and twitter discussions often make way to the mainstream news. The Facebook posts and tweets in itself comprises half of the news published in some of the online news portals. It’s often found that the writers attach their own figment of imagination while retelling a story and after a series of telling and retelling the end news is left with no trace of truth. No one seems to be actually interested in verifying basic facts in a story that is being reported.

It wasn’t long ago when a media giant zoomed into the cleavage of an actress and caused a mayhem while they came out with a justification that “world of online is very different from that of newspapers. It is chaotic and cluttered — and sensational headlines are far from uncommon” . In the process of creating sensational news what the revered journalists forget to do today is to verify the facts and foresee the consequences.

This morning I was greeted by a shared post on my Facebook wall which spoke about how a young engineer managed to con the whole news channels, politicians and the public into believing that he had turned down a prestigious job offer from NASA because it required him to give up his Indian citizen ship. Various news channels have competed in getting his interviews and quotes on various topics. It was even reported that he was invited by the PM to Delhi. The incident in question had popped up on my timeline from time to time shared as ” act commanding respect” and “instance of true patriotism”. If this whole drama is going to be proved as a cooked up tale, then I am at loss of words ! This is not a third class paid news that we are looking at, but a whole bunch of mislead mainstream media persons.

Similarly, I found yet another interesting discussions on a lady from my state who has claimed to be “one of the 50 in the long list of Manbooker prize”. In fact this lady has been interviewed by many of the prominent channels and has been presented as the new writing prodigy. From what I have seen so far, her claims either fraudulent or very distorted facts.

Is it this easy to create a fake news and fool an entire battalion of media geniuses?

Before winding up my rants I would like to give a special mention to the news channels in from my home state , the Gods own country. About a year ago, a ruling ministers( now ex) extra marital affair and ugly divorce negotiations had occupied the front page of new papers and prime time news. This was soon replaced by a sex tape of an MLA. Next the solar scandal took the slot with a sexy con woman and her ‘potential relationships’ becoming the heated topic of news debates.Recently a news channel aired the kissing scenes of two college goers in a restaurant in Calicut, a clear case of moral policing, which ended up in a BJP affiliated youth group vandalizing the restaurant in question.With so many channels and the need to stand out, it is natural that the neo-journalists are forced to be competitive. But does it justify the fact that they even stoop down to the level of conducting sting operation on unsuspecting college students and airing consensual intimate exchange between two grown ups?

Would it be wrong to say that the media of today has made giving verdicts and judgement their right and passing information a lesser important chore ? Indian media is notorious for being the patron of paid news. But publishing unverified news is far more dangerous. How can an ordinary reader like me trust the media in today’s world ? The influence of media on the public is high and with the technological intervention it would only take seconds before a news goes viral. In such a context, doesn’t the media have the obligation to be more responsible?

In the mad rush to get better scoops and more breaking news, lets hope that these news channels and portals don’t end up screwing up the society to point where mending becomes impossible.

Opinion

Rants of a concerned parent


A six year old was allegedly raped in her school by two men, one of them a faculty member of the school.

And mind you, this is not just any school. It is one of those prominent schools in Bangalore where every parent dreams of sending his/her kid.

One look at their website and anyone will be impressed.The school offers both ICSE and CBSE syllabuses .Few international level examinations have been listed. The list of post school activities and extra curricular activities are mind blowing. The school infrastructure in itself is drool worthy.

I am sure they charge a fortune in the name of tuition fee, donation and an array of ‘other’ fees. There would have been cc tvs in all class rooms and every other corner of the school. SMSes and emails regarding the child’s daily activities would have been promptly sent every day. In fact it would have been a kind of school any parent would have envisioned for his/her child.

But inspite of all these, a six year old child was molested. And it was done by a faculty member, the fitness instructor they say, within the school premises during the regular school hours.

I went ahead and read a few reports about the unfortunate incident.I read reports about the school’s initial attempts to avoid any tie up with the incident;about the agreement with the clause “that the school will not responsible for the child’s safety” which the parents were made to sign during the admission; about how the school used it’s influence to print misguided articles in popular media; about the faculties for Sports and Performing Arts not being on the school pay roll and being outsourced from external agencies;about how the other parents were not informed about the unfortunate incident and how the school tried to cover it all up as it put its reputation at risk .

More shocking were the indications that such instances had been reported within the school in the past. The article in Citizen Matters talks about how one of the accused was reported to have been taking the photos of a sixth grader of the same school.
Was this incident not reported, if yes did the school authorities not look into the matter? Why was this guy still inside the school?

I know that child abusers are hard to identify.They pass with flying colors when it comes to socialization tests. But did the school do any back ground check on the faculty members they had outsourced?How close were the kids monitored? When the parents shell out a fortune to ensure proper safety and quality education for their offspring, how far do the schools go to actually achieve these expectations?

And this is not an isolated incident,more reports of this nature are coming out from all part of the country- from both private and public institutions.Being a mother, I am at loss of words. I feel my trust is broken.How can I ever trust my daughter with anyone else? How can I be at peace when my daughter is not with me?

And to think our health minister was talking against the sex education imparted in the schools!The least we can do is to educate our kids and help them defend themselves…

Opinion

Religion………


There is an old movie song in my native language which goes like this

“Man created religions..
 Religions in turn created Gods
 Man, his religions and those Gods divided the land, divided the hearts…”

I believe that nothing less than a supreme power could have created so much order in this vast chaos called the Universe. Being a person who thinks that there is nothing called too much of coincidences, all these theories that preach life as the end product of some random turn of events doesn’t appeal to me.

I believe in God!

Being that said, religion is evil, nothing less.I don’t need to list a vast variety of reasons to prove my point. Just one simple point is more than enough.It divides!

In today’s world, being religious is synonymous with being brainwashed. When the greed for power and other material things is cleverly disguised as being done for religion, thousands of individuals just jump into so called ‘holy’ battles quite willingly.They are ready to take extreme steps, to sacrifice their lives and to harm their fellow beings, all in the name of a great hypothetical  afterlife.

When it comes to religious riots,even the strongest rulers and powerful bureaucrats take a back seat to become mute witnesses.It is like religion has grown into something huge and dangerous, like a mafia.

Nowadays, religious leaders are more or less preachers of violence. Religious camps have turned into training places for ‘holy militants’. Priests and other religious heads have taken up responsibility of sanctifying and justifying the evil done in the name of religion.

And in our country,the ‘sovereign secular democratic republic of India’, everything in an individual’s life is tied to the religion he /she is born into. Starting from the name he/she is given, his/her whole identity is always forcefully linked to the religion he belongs to.Education, job,love,marriage -all of these important things revolves around something that we did not choose for ourselves,but was imposed on us.

How can something that has been the cause of the biggest wars and genocides the world has ever seen be something good?How can something that cash in the concept of God help in spiritual upliftment?

So yes, back to our question of the day-is religion overrated…hell yes, it is…!!

Other related posts:

Why I am not an Atheist

Prayers

Opinion

Pink


When I found out that I was pregnant, I knew that I wanted a girl.

If I had a boy, I would have loved him as much as I love my daughter,in fact it would have made no difference at all. But yes, I prefered a girl child.May be the wild ways of ‘boys’ I had witnessed during my school/college days and the ‘colorful’ pages from the lives of a few of my cousin brothers warned me against the ‘occupational hazards’ of rearing a boy!

But I think it has more to do with the fact that I was brought up in a household with two daughters. I am more familiar with the ways and likes of a girl child, since I myself am a girl and I had started baby sitting my sister, 5 years my junior, almost as soon as she turned 1 or so. So yes, I wanted a girl and was that gender bias? I am not sure.

My husband on the other hand wanted a boy.It could be because of the same reason as mine. He has only one sibling, a brother and has most of his first cousins boys. So he wanted a boy, one who could grow up to be his ‘buddy’ ,with whom he could do those ‘boy- things’.

And then she came to our world-our daughter!

When I think of it now, I guess I have a stereotyping mindset. Whenever we used go out for shopping, I was quick to pick up a doll or a pink dress for my princess. And whenever my husband suggested a toy gun or a truck or a helicopter, I used to give him one of my looks which said -‘she is a girl, she won’t like them’, accusing him of trying to impose his interests on my daughter.

Yes, she is a girl and she loves pink. She loves her dolls and everything else the girls usually love- princesses, fairies,frilly dresses! But yes, when ever my husband grabs a ‘boys” toy ( as I would put it) for her,she loves them too.She plays with her trucks, she loves to shoot with her toy gun, she loves her helicopter.

That got me thinking, wasn’t I being a little imposing when I decided that she would like only the ‘girl’ toys?

Since in my zeal, I had made her blind to any color other than pink, I decided to mend my way.Pink is still her favorite color,thanks to me, but she has started  ‘seeing’ the other colors too, sometimes even goes a step ahead to give a few of them the ‘favorite color of the day’ title!

Actually, it is not a big deal if you think about it. It is just a color, and liking one color better than another is not going make any difference in a person’s life. Loving purple instead of pink is not going to make one richer or wiser.But the ‘pink preference’ is only the starting point of a whole saga of stereotypes that are imposed on these kids.It is almost like brainwashing the kids, without them even realizing it it.Forcing them to see the world as we do, carefully molding them to fit into the roles that the world has  built for them based on their sex(and any such factors for that matter)!

A neighbor of mine once came home with a lunch box, she was wondering if I wanted to keep it for my daughter. It was a brand new one that they bought for their only son when he started his Kindergarten.The boy had taken it to school only for a week before which his classmates found a ‘pink’ heart on the box and started teasing him.It was a girly lunch box after all.The parents were left with no choice other than buying a new one since the boy refused to go back top school carrying something that would question his ‘manliness’. It took me a good 5-6 minutes to actually spot the pink heart and I was indeed amused!

I have heard the parents call their sons ‘feminine’ since ‘he cries like a girl’.I once even heard a mother sternly ask her son ‘not to act like a girl’ when he wanted to play with my daughter’s pink dolphin.May be it is acceptable for girls to be tomboyish in today’s world, but the reverse is something that the society has been warned against.My daughter has a pink cycle, a pink back pack and pink shoes.So does most of the other girls in her class !May be we are not even letting them see their options and are trying to limit their thoughts within the boundaries of the existing norms and rules carefully crafted by our predecessors and contemporaries.

Aren’t we forcing these kids to put on a mask to hide their real personality, just to not look different from what is expected out from them?These little roles that we set aside for our sons and daughters can even result in dangerous teasing and bullying that would eventually cause loss of self confidence, lack of self respect and what not?

I am not here to blame or criticize because I myself am a guilty of  giving my daughter very wrong ideas in the first place.In fact, we elders are the ones who gets brainwashed in the first place and we keep the cycle going. It would first start with a color and then it would extend to more important things like the choice of a career.

Pink is just a color, a doll is just a toy. I have learned to keep it that way.Let the kids choose what they like, let their choices be endless!

Opinion

Prayers


One of my favorite quotes from bible is :

Be Joyful Always;Pray continually;Give Thanks in All circumstances;for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus

Not an easy task,huh?

I am not an expert or anything, but i believe that being Joyful doesn’t actually refers to jumping up and down with merry, it should more or less relate to remaining gracefully calm even when you face the toughest times in your life.

No, I am not making any kind of suggestion that I the above is true in my case. Good God,no! I am not that kind of evolved soul, at least not yet.Yeah,that is kinda my long term goal.

But what can be more beautiful than being able to welcome every ups and downs in your life with joy, to be able pray for yourself and for the rest of the world continuously and being able to be thankful under all circumstances ?

I lose my cool at the tiniest hint of trouble.I do pray, but only when I am sad or am distressed! I give thanks, but only when something exceptionally good has happened. Well, looks like I have miles to go!

I believe in prayers. I have heard people criticize the very concept of praying by pointing out that the possibility of existence of a personal god is infinitely small. But trust me, praying works. Not sure how or why, but it works. If someone is going to claim that prayers getting answered is sheer coincidence, then I my life would be full of coincidences and that many coincidences are not quite possible in anyone’s life.

Back in my school days, my prayers were kind of bargains. “Oh God named XYZ, please do this, or else I will stop praying” or “Please lord named ABC, if I can have ‘that thing’ I will not do ‘this’ ever again”. And praying also meant taking care of all Gods and displeasing none(Hindus have quite a few Gods, plus there were Gods from other religion whom I didn’t want to offend). It started getting kinda complicated and so I gradually started addressing one particular person, a God, instead of inserting n different names.Later, my prayers transitioned into handwritten notes that I quietly burned-my own innovative way of posting the letter to God. I then started keeping those letters with me , to read later and remind myself of my state of mind at that point of time. It is amazing how quite often, ‘matters of life and death’ of past start to seem quite silly later on!

When I started living in the hostel during my college days, we used to have prayer groups at night. Praying in a group is more like sharing your grief and joy with others. It is a great experience , as if suddenly your problems are not your own, there are quite a few people around you who are willing to shoulder it and pray for you.That was when I realized that you can pray for anyone around you and actually feel great about it!

Yes, I do have my share of doubts, like any skeptical person. I don’t believe in going to religious places and standing in queue for long long time, pushing and shoving, all for one second of eye lock with the deity.I don’t believe in spending thousands in the name of pujas or offerings!

But I believe in the power of prayers and I believe in doing at least one good deed in return for an answered prayer!

 

Opinion

Why I am not an Atheist


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Do I believe in God?

This is an easy question which I can just answer with an yes or a no.

Now if the question is phrased a little differently, say why do you believe in God or why don’t you believe in God, it is going to get complex!

There are people who can give you a logical,convincing explanation about anything under the sun. There are people who can make the most illogical theory sound convincing.There are some others, who don’t even bother looking for any logic in anything. I am somewhere in between, I have a logical explanation for every thoughts and beliefs that live within me,but these explanations might sound lame and senseless to others.
Since our life is our own journey and each and every one of us is bound to have distinct hybrid shades of thoughts picked up at random time from random sources,logic might fail us while we try to put it all together!
So to answer the first question, yes I do believe in God.And the second question ,Why? would leave me scratching my head!

I have never had a personal encounter with the almighty, nor have I an impressive account of miracle to share. I have often heard that the concept of God is abstract, it doesn’t have proof! Well, isn’t that the beauty of it. God is an abstract idea, each of us can tailor it according to our imagination.

Why should I not believe in God, what good does that do? I won’t buy the idea that religion is the root of all evil, because I am talking about believing in God, not belonging in any religion. I don’t have to care about any religion or belong to any cult to believe in God. I believe in God because to me it is a necessity more than an option. My belief in a greater power blends well with the kind of person I am, I need some one to lean on all time and that level of support can’t be sought in anyone human.
Not believing in God would mean putting too burden much on my own shoulders, that would mean fighting a lone battle with no reassurance or hope!  There are times in our life where I can do nothing but to simply hope for the best – situations where I feel useless and helpless. Instances when I want to do something, but am powerless to do anything worthy. Like when somebody close to me is severely ill or if there is something that I cannot change how much ever I would want to or at some confusing crossroads of life where nothing makes sense and nothing looks good. In such terrible junctures of life, belief in God has always been my only solace.I could at least pray and it is better than merely standing aside.The unbearable uncertainty in life would sometimes drive me crazy.That is when I need to believe in somebody above everybody ! That is when I need a God! My belief gives me the much needed reassurance and make me feel more useful in the moments of helplessness.

When something terrible happens and that shatters us, when we cannot find a single solid reason to justify the tragedy, when we find ourselves and everybody around us in an inconsolable grief, we need a God to support us.It is to somehow convince ourselves that there is an explanation to all these, it is just that we can’t comprehend it.

Sometimes we  need a God to vent our insecurities and fears. Sometimes God is needed to take blame of all the bad things that happens around us. At other times we need a God to find hope in the darkest phase of our life.When we lose the power to keep going, a belief that it is a part of the bigger plan and that everything has to have a brighter side might help.

God is somebody who knows you for who you are, its a level of honesty that you cannot share with anyone human.Even if it is an invisible presence,once you decide the possibility of such an existence ,it gives you an opportunity to lay down your raw emotions at least once in while in front of someone other than yourselves.

But the biggest reason we need to believe in God and in an after life is Death itself.
When we lose somebody very close to us, how do we cope with it if you don’t believe in a life after death? How would we just tell ourselves that he/she has ceased to exist, and we can never ever see that person?May be over time we grow used to their non existence.But what about the immediate,crushing grief? We all might have at least one such situation in life where we have to believe in the possibility of the existence of a nicer place where our loved ones are happily waiting for us.  It would help us cross the bridge of grief, until we get accustomed to our loss.
What about the fear of our own death? How can we ever face the possibility of being dead every other second without believing in God?
I agree that strong people might not need a God to cross these hurdles. But I am not a strong person and my belief is like an umbrella that keeps me sheltered from the realities.I agree that over years my concept of God has undergone drastic transformation. But the belief in God stays and I am sure it will continue to stay, because it is something that helps me cope with life!

I don’t believe in God to achieve place in heaven or have a beautiful after life. I believe in God to be able to continue living in the perplexing place called earth and to pull myself out from all the heartbreaks and shocks this place has to offer. Even if I die one day and there is nothing but non existence awaiting me on the other side, I won’t be disappointed. My belief would have already served it’s purpose during the course of my life!

So if you have found my theory a little senseless, then did I not warn you in the beginning 🙂

My Life · Opinion

Warm fuzzy flattery


Man being a social animal and all, compliments are really important. If something can make a person a little bit more happy or more confident, it is worth it !!After all we all need some moral boosting via some honest flattery every once in a while…

And complimenting someone is the greatest ice breaker ever and one of the easiest way to make small talks .For example, compliment somebody about their clothes and if lucky enough you can end up conversing  thirty whole minutes on clothes. All those who are wrinkling their nose at the thought of spending thirty minutes talking about clothes,relax!It was just an example.It could be anything ranging from clothes to some creative works to kids to pets, I was just implying how you could get over the initial hiccups with new acquaintances via compliments.Also, the best way to get into the goodbooks of a parent is to compliment how smart their kids are(it works in my case, each time somebody says nice things about my kid, they are ensured my permanent loyalty :))

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Sometimes compliments just lift your spirits. Sometimes they make you more confident.I have read about an extreme case where a typical compliment stopped someone from attempting  suicide(I can’t find that article now, but i did read about something in that line). I mean, that is the power of telling good things about others, because some of us really need to hear something good about ourselves,even if it is from a random person.

Giving compliments is entirely up to an individual. we cannot make a rule or force a person to cough up any compliments. But there are some places where you ought to give a compliment or two.

If you are invited to a lunch or dinner , you have to compliment the host on how good the whole thing was and how nice the food was. It takes a lot of effort to cook special dishes and make the house look sparkling. the poor guys have spent all the time that they could have spent in a better way like watching movies or sleeping , to earn your compliments. So better live up to their expectation.

In a marriage or in a long term relationship,the act of keep complimenting your partner from time to time is a life saver. It keeps your relationship fresh.Complimenting him/her on his/her skills  would do wonders.This would also help a person in not  taking his/her partner for granted. Anything left unappreciated is bound to grow stale over time.But beware,mere complimenting with no intention of sharing chores won’t work, how ever flattering your comments may be 🙂

When it comes to work, the old saying that flattery would get you anywhere holds true even today.Studies have already proved that complimenting the employees can increase their performance and decrease the attrition rate.

As far as  kids are concerned, complimenting them is a necessity. Schools have in fact started using compliments as a tool to encourage kids. Do this and don’t do this replaced by gracious flattery have proved to be very effective with kids, of course when not overdone !

Overdoing compliments  can turn creepy too. The art of buttering up or fake complimenting is an effective tool used by a lot of us for our own advantage. Praising a person in power to cheesy heights is a popular means to get things done :). Even unintentional innocent compliments can be classified as disturbing when used repetitively. It would either point to stalking or buttering up :).

Apparently January 24th is observed as the National Compliments Day in some places in the world.Since we have a day for each and every element of life, it doesn’t come as a surprise. But I can’t help wondering,if a day was publicized as national compliment day and all are aware that compliments will be  given out generously the whole day, won’t it feel a little unnatural both at the giving and receiving ends?

Imagine this situation.

A, B and C are in the elevator.

A to B: “Nice Shoes”

B to A: Thank you, nice coat by the way!

A (smiles and looks at C): Nice hairstyle!

C(grins and nods and replies):Thank You, you  have lost some weight I guess! Looking great

B(interrupts):That’s true. C, you have lost some weight yourself.You look so young

A:yup.I was going to say that.

*****awkward silence*************

Elevator door opens, all three wish each other good day and go their way thinking…”Phew..that was embarrassing…Thank God National Compliments day comes only  once a year..”.