Friday, 25 September 2015

Do We Celebrate Ganeshotsav Right? A Question We Must Ask Ourselves...

The festival of Ganeshotsav is already going on across the country, filling people with energy and lighting up every road of the city. Being born and brought up in Mumbai, I haven’t seen Ganeshotsav celebrations in other parts of the country much but, I am pretty sure the festival drives entire Mumbai crazy, filling people with zest and enthusiasm. With thousands flooding the roads to seek the blessings of their beloved Ganpati bappa in pandals, this is one festival that I had loved since my childhood.

The festival was primarily started by Tilak to bring people together under the name of celebration and unite India in general. It is indeed commendable that people have nurtured the legacy and continued the festival to date. However, over the years, the nature of the festival and that of celebrations has changed phenomenally. Where it was a time for people to come together, celebrate with love and for peace in the country, the basic essence has been lost these days.

To start with, many news channels and newspapers have been reporting the miserable state of Ganesh idols after the visarjan which is indeed a heart-melting and a pathetic sight. The Lord whom we bring home with so much love and respect is left in a miserable condition after the visarjan, lying on the beaches of Mumbai. Not only is it a disgusting sight but something that pollutes water to such extent that the flora and fauna within them often dies after consuming the Plaster of Paris of which the Ganesh idols are made. The time when the festival was started by Tilak did not have Ganesh pandals on every road of the city. Also, the idols weren’t as large as they are made in today’s world. Currently, however, the festival has no longer remained a festival but has become a competition among pandals as to who gets the maximum devotees and collection.

Okay, let us forget about the aftermath of the festival. But the way Mumbai celebrates it, is it ethical? Since my home falls on the main road from where Ganesh idols are taken for visarjan, it is obvious that there’s a lot of chaos on the visarjan days. With families and pandals dancing to the tunes of bands and DJs, it really becomes irritating for one to stay at home in such a situation. And, although rules have been made that pandals should not play loud music after 10pm, the chaos remains the same till at least 1am. Is this justified? Is that the time to play DJ and dance to music when it is time to sleep for the world? Shouldn’t people consider that others have to get up early and head out to work so it is unethical to disturb their sleep? And, forget about sleep, people don’t even consider that there might be old people or patients at people’s home whose sleep might get disturbed due to the loud noises! We all know old people cannot bear loud noises, don’t we?

While music is not enough for people to celebrate, I had people bursting crackers on the road at 12.15 pm on Wednesday when it was the day of visarjan for the 7-day Ganesh idols. Trust me, it was really disturbing and irritating to fall asleep to this noise when it was already midnight.

Apart from this, one of the most disgusting ways of visarjan that I saw on the same day was that a large Ganesh idol was placed on a bullock cart by a pandal which had set out for visarjan at 12am.  The very sight of it was disturbing; like why do we have to trouble the bullocks at midnight having them to pull a large Ganesh idol on their back? Is this act justified? Can’t people simply hire a truck or a tempo to ply the idols to the visarjan spots? Or simply drag the cart themselves? Of course, the large idols at pandals are extremely heavy; so imagine the plight of the bullocks that were dragging it with people dancing in front of them? Shall we call this humanity? And will the Lord himself like it?

Festivals, in today’s world, have become more of a business and their face has been transformed drastically over the years. While we celebrate to enjoy ourselves, we must not forget the basic ethics or enjoy at the cost of others’ peace and happiness. Agree? 

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

A Job In The Corporate IT Sector: A Blessing Or A Curse?

Waking up to the alarm in the morning, running across the house to get ready and struggling in the public transport to reach office! This is what the life of most Indians typically looks like. Except for those who own businesses or are self-employed, most Indians are employed with some or the other firm and are salaried professionals. Also, with the exponential boom of the IT sector worldwide and particularly in India over the recent years, most employees are today employed with IT firms that are believed to be the best salary payers as compared to the other industries.

A job in an IT firm is considered to be a boon by many in India. This sector definitely offers handsome salaries as compared to the many others which is why every other teenager is opting for Engineering in IT and Software to make a career. Most of us believe that working in a reputable IT firm (its not actually working, but slogging) will eventually make us rich one day and help build a successful and bright future! This is the main reason why Indian teenagers are ready to slog an entire day at office, work day and night and put their heart and soul into the work they do. But, here’s an ALERT! If you think slogging at office could get you handsome salary appraisals and promotions, here’s why your company doesn’t think so!

A news that features on NDTV two days back read, ‘Indian IT companies among the 10 worst paymasters in the world’! Did that just make you skip a beat? Indian professionals have always been comparatively cheap labor as compares to most other countries globally. (Of course, that’s the reason why foreign companies have been outsourcing heavily in India!) The article revealed some shocking salary facts of Indian managers and employees and also made it clear that the package an Indian IT professional draws annually is not even one-fourth of the package of his Swiss counterpart.

Indian Companies And The Hectic Work Culture

Okay, let us forget about the salary part for some time! But do our companies at least offer comfort to their employees and employment benefits? Well, most of them won’t! Many IT firms spread across the different cities and states in India claim ‘5 days a week’ work culture but that is often only on papers. I have seen it for myself how most of the IT professionals are burdened with work and supposed to work even on weekends because they have deadlines to meet and projects to complete. Not only do Indian companies offer lesser leaves to employees as compared to the ones abroad, many of them won’t even provide a comp-off or extra working benefits to employees. The work culture is absolutely hectic with employees literally having to slog at office day and night with zero social life.

Need For A Change!

Although most IT firms offer better salary appraisals to their employees than many other industries, is it worth working in this hectic culture? Of course, they do not have a social life at all but, the culture has also been responsible for many physical and mental health problems among employees. A sedentary lifestyle will not only increase obesity and give rise to digestion and circulation problems, the constant work pressure also leads people to head towards depression and several other mental health problems. It has been clinically proved by doctors that working late at night or constantly slogging at office is a serious threat to the health and may also give birth to heart diseases, sometimes even resulting into fatal heart attacks.

My Honest Request To All Employees

Money is not everything that one needs for a sound life. It is important to be at peace of mind and stable rather than be under the constant pressure of completing tasks and meeting client deadlines. Say NO to working for more than 8-9 hours a day. Collectively, we can oppose this wrongly booming culture and save ourselves!

There’s no point in having a 6-digit salary a month while compromising with health and spending the same amount in hospital later to regain the lost health, isn’t it?

Also watch:

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

If India Needs To Ban Something Right Now, It Should Be This!

Over the last few months, India has witnessed a number of bans followed by the extreme and prompt reactions of people. Social media has assumed such power in today’s world that people now express their thoughts, views and opinions clearly on these platforms which has been making issues larger than ever! Amidst all these chaos, the government failed to determine things that actually need to be banned other than the ones that actually faced it. After the popular meat ban issue, many people came up with their own ideas of what needs to be banned in our country. And, whether it actually happens or not, here is my viewpoint on what the country actually needs to ban and ban it RIGHT NOW!

Recently, the month of Shravan (a month on the Hindu calendar that is considered sacred when people sacrifice on having non vegetarian food) came to an end. Since the month is considered sacred, many people also fast during this month on Mondays and Saturdays. Fasts, in India, have been typically associated with paying visits to temples where several offerings are offered to the idols. So, during the month of Shravan, I myself witnessed several devotees offering milk to Lord Shiva in temples. Some others make donations in the form of money while some come up with grains and other stuff as offerings to the God.

Basically, I am not against worship or paying visits to temples in any way. Everyone has their own set of beliefs and different ideas of prayer. But, this is one thing that I should think the government should impose a ban upon! And that is offering milk and grains to idols in temples! I perfectly understand that these practices have been going on in our society since ages and people are simply continuing them. Most of them feel that they are making donations to God so that he can solve their problems. But, in this process, does anyone know how much milk is wasted? Temples literally bath their idols in milk which later goes into the drainage. Is this really important or even relevant for that matter?

We know what condition that draught has caused in entire Maharashtra. Farmers are dying of hunger or killing themselves because they are unable to support and feed their children. And, there are so many children who actually stay on the roads in big cities and take up ways such as theft to fill their stomach. The number of malnourished people in India will leave you awestruck, forget about the world! While the conditions are getting more grave and difficult for farmers and the poor, on the other hand, even the literates in the city are wasting several thousand litres of milk by spilling it on idols in temples. If the same milk is offered to the poor, the homeless kids on roads or to the farmers, do you know how many lives it can save? Or simply how many stomachs would it fill for at least a day?

It is very unfortunate that the number of people dying out of starvation and hunger in our country is rising day by day. And, with Ganesh festival fast approaching, such wastage of milk, grains and even money is inevitable. Not only milk, people even make handsome offerings in cash at Ganesh pandals or at famous pilgrimage places. Although many of these pandals and pilgrimage places have their own charities set up in order to help the poor, why can’t we simply help the poor ourselves instead of making offerings at these places? Why can’t we simply sponsor education for a child or help someone who is fighting death in hospitals?

I know it is very difficult to change this mindset of people since these practices have been going on since ages. But, we can at least try to be different this year, isn’t it? Let’s just pledge not to waste milk or foodstuffs on idols this Ganesh festival and divert these offerings to the poor farmers in our state instead! Remember guys, if farmers die at this pace, we would soon have nothing to eat!

Monday, 14 September 2015

Dear MNS, Your Protest Was The Most Disgusting Demonstration Ever!!!

The #meatban issue has been the most talked about over the last week and has generated mixed responses all over social media. It has particularly remained in the media glare for its politicization and the expression of extreme views and opinions by people. Although this has been one of the most talked about issues, I never wanted to write on this. However, with what I saw in the news and on social media yesterday has put me to shame and compelled me to write this so that I, as a human, can apologize to everyone who was disgusted by the extremely shameless act.

As I browsed Facebook yesterday morning, there were several posts depicting pictures of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) people burning meat in front of the Jain Community Hall. One look at these pictures left me stunned and disgusted to the core. Of course, this was something that had to generate extreme responses from people, especially the youth. After targeting the North Indians for invading Maharashtra and securing jobs in our state, the MNS has now targeted the Jain community over the #meatban issue. And, trust me guys, this is the lowest level one can fall to in order to express protest or demonstrate dislike towards any issue.

Okay, so I am not taking any stand in the meat ban issue. I am convinced from both the sides; on one hand, it is not a good idea to force people for not selling flesh since it affects the income of the meat sellers for these particular days. On the other hand, I was also convinced with a Facebook post of a user who argued that we should look at the meat ban as a two-day freedom for the chickens and spare their life at least for two days. Anyhow, whether anyone sells meat or anyone buys and consumes does not matter to me! My main argument here is the extremely disgusting act performed by the MNS activists in the name of protests, not only hurting the religious sentiments of the Jains but many people in the country and across world.

First and foremost, why are we Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Jains? Can’t we simply be humans? Why not respect the sentiments of people or let them follow the rituals that they want to follow? Dear MNS, I won’t criticize you on not agreeing with the meat ban since everyone has their own opinion about it. But, the question is, how much are we going to fall down in order to show our disagreement for something? Whatever the MNS karyakartas did in front of the Jain Community Hall, was it really ethical? Why drag animals in the fight between two religions? Was cutting and burning chickens in front of a place that is sacred for a particular community a human act? I personally do not think so!

The MNS has always upheld the agony of the ‘Marathi Manus’ ever since its inception. So, instead of finding out ways to take the Marathi Manus ahead in life and make their life better, why are they wasting time in criticizing other communities and demonstrating in pathetic ways like this?

By the way, dear MNS, do you know how many farmers are dying in our own state because their kitchens are empty? Their containers are not filled with grains and cereals like ours due to which they are hanging or burning themselves, leaving behind their families to starve! At least, we do not have this situation at our home and we should actually thank God for it, isn’t it? What difference would it make if we do not consume meat for two days? These people, who grow the cereals and grains for us, are not even getting a two-time meal daily, forget about eating meat! Is this not a grave issue? We all need to collectively find a solution to this problem instead of coming up with useless arguments like these, isn’t it?

And, what if the Jains or any other community for that matter, cooks and burns chicken in front of your Ganesh pandals during the upcoming Ganesh festival? Wouldn’t that make you furious? So why not think before you act? Yes, the Constituion confers upon us the Freedom of Expression, but how we use it is in our hands. Of course, hurting the sentiments of others is never a good idea. Every religion after all, takes us to God and God is not different for the Jains, Christians, Muslims and Hindus. It is just that we have given different names to God! And, by doing this act, you have insulted God on the whole which also includes your own God!

Any comments on this, Mr. Raj Thackeray?

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

An ANGEL For Several Families - We Salute You NANA PATEKAR!

Have you ever seen God or Angels in real? Most of us worship idols as Gods while some only believe in the existence of this supreme force. But yes, on reading this, I believe that angels really exist in reality or maybe they simply come to help us when need taking the form of a person. That’s NANA PATEKAR for several poor farmers and their families right now!

Of course, I do not need to explain anyone the current situation of drought that is prevalent in different states of India, including Maharashtra. With the rainfall in these regions reducing every year, the droughts have now become more grave than ever, leaving farmers with absolutely no source of income. If we have a look at the statistics, they are surely shocking and disturbing. Figures reveal that as many as 32 farmers have committed suicide in just the first week of September owing to the drought which is nearly double the figure in 2014. In 2014, about 17 farmers were reported to have committed suicides every week on an average. Clearly, the situation is worsening in the areas of Vidarbha, Marathwada and many more places in Maharashtra and the government surely needs to do something about it.

In such a grave situation, where there is not time to wait for government action or efforts, there is this man who has now become an angel for countless families in Maharashtra. If you had been respecting Nana Patekar for his brilliant and natural acting skills till now, here he gives all of us another reason to love him and respect him from the bottom of our hearts. While most actors remain in media glare for their controversies, Nana Patekar recently made headlines for his generosity and kindness towards the farmers and their families. He has donated Rs.16 lakhs to the families of farmers who committed suicide in the month of August as well as September.

Nana Patekar is one actor who is best known for his acting skills, his simple living and for his unforgettable roles in numerous movies. Looking at him, no one would ever think he is such as respected and reputed actor in Bollywood; such is his simplicity. This generous ‘angel’ for the farmers has actually made a move himself to help the poor farmers in our state, stating that ‘if farmers don’t live, we would have to die too’. All of us have heard about the phrase ‘Charity begins at home’ but, this is the man who actually proved it and went a step ahead to donate his money to the ones who desperately need it.

All of us find the situation of the farmers heart-warming, but how many of us actually go ahead and help them? Neither you, nor I! And, when the entire world is busy worrying about the state of farmers getting poorer day by day and posting and tweeting about it on the social media, Nana Patekar has surely set an example for all us with his act of generosity, concern and kindness!


Monday, 7 September 2015

IRONY At Its Best...!

A woman sets herself ablaze because she couldn’t feed her children and, on the other hand, a woman sets her daughter ablaze because she didn’t want to feed her!

The Farmer Suicide Case:

The value of every penny is different for different people; for some, a hundred rupee note can be casually spent at a restaurant every day while for some it is a monthly earning! Life isn’t fair with all and this incident quite literally proves it. A woman famer in the Osmanabad district of Maharashtra, which is currently an adversely affected drought-hit area, set herself ablaze on Saturday because she was unable to feed her five children. The farmer was striving really hard to get something to eat for her kids but drought couldn’t be crueler. The family of seven was so poor that they did not have any grains, oil or flour in the house. The Marathwada region of Maharashtra has become a victim of the adverse drought for the third year in line and farmers are finding it impossible to shoulder the burden of their families.
Maharashtra has been witnessing the suicides of farmers in huge numbers for a quite long time now with their toll being between 1306 from May 2015 to May 2016. The drought in the state and especially in certain parts and villages has been so severe that already more than 600 farmers have taken away their own lives failing to nurture their children and feed them.

The High Profile Indrani Mukherjea Case:

While Maharashtra is witnessing the grave issue of farmer suicides who are unable to feed their families and children, here is the most talked about case in the media – The Indrani Mukherjea case! Personifying irony, this is the case of a woman who killed her daughter and set her ablaze because of a motive that’s unknown but thought to be a financial dispute. The rich in our country are so rich that they can easily have their future generations sit and do absolutely nothing to earn a living while leading a lavish lifestyle. And, on the other hand, the poor have absolutely nothing to eat; they cannot even afford grains or flour and are having to kill themselves to escape the situation. If even 10 percent of their annual income is donated by the super rich to these farmers, they will be able to buy high tech resources and technology that can aid them in farming and bringing out better crops with better market value.

But people like Indrani Mukherjea, a former media tycoon, don’t even wish to share their finances with their own children, forget about making donations to people. And, who knows, how much of the money belonging to politicians and media barons is actually their ‘hard-earned’ white money?
The two cases that have now made considerable headlines in the media are true ironies and perfectly contradict each other.

In terms of helping the drought-hit farmers and poor families, many people have actually come forward and made trusts for making donations. Also, the recent ‘dahi handi’ festival celebrated in Maharashtra also witnessed some organizers and prize winners promising to donate their prize money to these people who are actually in need of it. Just a hope, may these donations really happen and prevent any further suicides of farmers!

Sunday, 6 September 2015

The Power Of Photographs - They Can Fill Your Eyes Within Seconds...

While reporting and journalism have taken a different turn in the modern times than they were before, the concept of ‘photojournalism’ has emerged and boomed phenomenally. A picture speaks a thousand words and yes, they can literally drive the emotions of people and fill your eyes within seconds! I may write a thousand words using all my creativity but what a photograph speaks is brief and deep and can evoke the emotions of practically any person in the world.

There have been countless times that photojournalism proved its worth; from the pictures of people affected by the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings in Japan way back during the World War, the victims of the fatal Bhopal Gas tragedy in India to the very recent pictures of people and kids affected by droughts and famines are heart wrenching.

Photojournalists in Turkey yet again proved the power of photographs when this heart-wrenching picture of a 3 year old toddler named Aylan Kurdia went viral on the internet. The picture was taken when Aylan’s body was found ashore in Turkey after the boat his family had taken to flee from Syria met with bad weather conditions and drowned. The picture of the cute little boy lying dead on the shores is surely something that made news in the media worldwide and broke the hearts of people. We may not know the atrocities that are done to people in Syria or in any other country across the world for that matter but, this one picture shows the condition of the country and what people and even children are going through. Along with Aylan, his elder brother and mother also got washed away by the tides.

If this wasn’t enough to fill your eyes with tears then here is another picture of a very cute little girl, again from Syria, who surrendered herself after a photographer tried to click her. The child, aware of all the atrocities that go on in the country, thought that the camera was a weapon and that she was going to die. Her expression says everything; she is terrified, sad and helpless and it surely is absolutely heartbreaking to see kids as small as the ones in the pictures suffering pain every day and leading their lives in fear.

We all know what goes on in Syria and the violence that prevails in the country from various terrorist groups. Although this kind of torture does not prevail in India, even India has countless pictures of people and children that are heartbreaking and speak a thousand words. Just go to Google and type malnutritioned children in India and you will get pictures with the power to fill our eyes easily. This is the current situation of the world; if children are subjected to this, can we imagine what is happening with the teens, adults and the parents of these children? (I am happy to mention here that the festival of Janmashtami has been decided to be a low-key affair by some organizers considering the drought prevalent in Maharashtra currently and many of them have also vowed to donate the prize amount to the drought-affected people. A commendable intiative, really!)

There was a news in the media about a month ago where a kid’s mother was brutally kid when the two were fast asleep during the night. The poor kid witnessed the horror of her mother being killed at an age when all she could do was recognize her mother. The kid cried the entire night unless her mother’s body was discovered the next morning. This is what the world is coming up to! Enmity has reached such a stage where people don’t even bother about kids or give a second thought to killing them or their families. SHAME TO HUMANITY!

The power is these pictures is surely huge to even make an emotionless person’s heart break. Photojournalism surely has a long way to go!

Also check out 50 of the world's most iconic photos and the story behind them!

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Dear Media, What's With You?

The media is considered to be the fourth pillar of the society and a mirror of what’s brewing around us. Being a media student myself, we were taught that the media is the most powerful medium in today’s world that not only informs people but also helps them form opinions and come up with views of their own on matters that affect their life. But, seeing the current situation of the media and news reporting, I can only wonder what’s with the media these days!

The last time I wrote, I already talked about how sensational the media of today has become. The entire media is flooded with news reports and development stories of the Sheena Bora case. Since the past week, every time I read some news online or switch to a news channel on the TV, all I see is what Indrani Mukherjea said during her interrogation or what her ex husbands and present husband have commented on the case. Like there is nothing else happening in the country that the people would like to know or what is affecting our lives in some or the other way.

Sensationalism taking over like never before

Okay, every organization works with the sole purpose of amassing profits and there is nothing wrong with it. But, for an institution such as the media, it is really a question that what separates real news from sensationalism. There is a fine line between moral reporting and sensational reporting and it seems our media barons have really made profit their sole goal, forgetting the original purpose of news and reporting.
I have recently seen multiple posts on social media about people claiming that the Sheena Bora murder case has been given too much attention by the media. Or, I can say, the media is literally bombarding us with this only case and even the slightest of developments occurring in this. Okay, the entire world knows now who killed Sheena and plotted the murder of her brother. But, do we need to know what Ms. Indrani said to police in her interrogation or whether the police beat her up or whether she hated her daughter or not? The case has been undoubtedly getting huge space in newspapers, a huge time slot on the TV and great publicity in the digital media. Why? Because the people involved in the case are high-profile people (the so-called profile people I must say) who, the media wrongly thinks, affect our lives in certain ways. Since the people involved in the case are media barons, the news is receiving undue attention from the media.

And our media loves cooking too….

Yes, our media loves cooking…cooking stories and creating gossips by barging into the lives of celebrities and influential people, breaking their privacy. Recently, there have also been reports in the media about Arjun Rampal and his wife Mehr getting divorced since they were spotted at a court in Mumbai. Of course, I don’t need to tell you how stupid that sounds! The rumours were later rubbished off by the couple.

But, the question still persists…Is this what the media is meant for? Is earning profit so important to us that we forget our values and morals and cook up stories just for the sake of getting more TRPs and readers? Shouldn’t our media reconsider the norms of ethical reporting now?