Friday, 27 November 2015

Does Our Media Tell Us The Complete Truth?

There have been numerous debates among people on social platforms lately on diverse issues. Whether it is a fatal crime or rape case, violence in the country and across the world or the comments made on it by prominent people, everyone nowadays has an opinion to share and express with the world. But, how do we form our opinions? Ever thought of it seriously?

I am a Journalism graduate and we had a subject known as ‘Journalism and Public Opinion’ during our course. This is where I first thought about my own opinions seriously and realized the truth behind it. Yes, our opinions are largely based on our media, the content that it shows us. Referred to as the fourth pillar of the society, the media has a huge relevance to play in our day to day life and influence and shape our opinions on diverse issues. In fact, all our opinions of different subjects and matters happening across the world originate from the media or from the content that the media puts in front of us, in particular.

If the media reports a man to have molested a woman, the man is cursed by every single person in the country. No one ever tries to understand the man’s point of view or even find out the truth behind the news. Immediately posts go viral on social media and criticism starts pouring him. But, none of us, even for a second, considers the other side of the story. Does anyone think that he might not be a molester or a rapist and the media must have mistaken him to be one? No!

A classic example for this is the Jasleen Kaur case that took place in August. The young girl had alleged a man named Sarvjeet Singh to have eve-teased her at a traffic signal in Delhi and immediately the social media was brimming with posts criticizing the young man and shouting insults for him. Not for a single moment did anyone consider him to be innocent or find out the truth. Even people who did not know Jasleen and Sarvjeet in person made an opinion about them based on what the media showed them. The media accused Sarvjeet of eve-teasing and so did the entire country. Only later was it found out that Sarvjeet was innocent and Jasleen had created the entire fuss to gain popularity.

As our opinions are influenced to a great extent by the media, we now have this subject called ‘Journalism and Public Opinion’ introduced in the academic curriculum for media students. And, to my surprise, I discovered facts that made me lose my faith in media. The media, whether print, electronic or digital, does not give you complete facts in reality! And, when we are living in an era of sensationalism where topics such as crime, violence and sex sell, the media ultimately focuses on making money by publishing news that can get them more readers and viewers. Moral journalism has become far from being a myth and ethics have taken a secondary position.

I had written an article on media earlier (Read: Dear Media, What’s With You?) focusing on how sensational the media of today is! However, let me tell you a fact here, apart from reporting sensational news, the media, in reality, only lets people know half the information. Of course, there are reasons, some good and some bad. Sometimes, the media conceals information such as facts and figures in order to prevent the spread of panic among people. However, sometimes, or many a times I can say, the media conceals information, facts and figures because they are related to the rich and dominant class of people who have a huge role to play in their development and growth.

To quote an example, Akash Ambani, the son of the famous business tycoon Mukesh Ambani, had killed two people with his Aston Martin car about two years ago. But, did any news channel or newspaper report it? No! In fact, the case was covered as much as possible by the media. Most of the time, media covers unpleasant information and facts pertaining to people such as business tycoons and politicians who fund these organizations and help them grow. When Tarun Tejpal was accused of sexually assaulting a female journalist working at his own office, the case was reported by rival media agencies so as to bring Tehelka down. However, what happened to the case later? No one knows! Only when I searched for information on Google did I understand that Tarun Tejpal had been granted bail by the Supreme Court in 2014.

It is a matter of fact that the rich businessmen, media tycoons and politicians in India have been providing funds to the media and, in return, concealing important facts and information about themselves or their own organizations that can spoil their image in the society. So, the news that we see on TV or read in magazines and newspapers today is highly influenced and scrutinized; where there are facts that can destruct the images of these rich barons, the news is altered so that people know only what they are supposed to know. And, we then make an opinion based on this half information that the media gives us.

Of course, the only source of information for a common man is media. But, before making an opinion about someone of judging them, know that the media alters news and does not reveal the complete truth. Think rationally before you make an opinion!

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Amir Khan Isn't Anti-National... He Is Being Portrayed As One!

Lately, the internet has been going viral with posts about the Amir Khan controversy. Amir Khan, one of the most popular and adored actors of the B-Town has been receiving enormous opposition from the people for comments he did not make! People have literally resorted to calling him a traitor and bashing him online for calling India intolerant and unsafe. My question here is, why is Amir Khan being criticized for a statement that he did not make in the first place? And why are people responding to a statement made by Kiran Rao?

Okay, so I feel everyone has got the freedom of expression in our country that is conferred upon every citizen alike by the Constitution. So, as far as it does not cause loss to anybody, we, the citizens of India, can express ourselves freely and convey our opinions and views in public, just like I am writing this post to express my views on the controversy. Kiran Rao simply made a statement that she feels unsafe in India due to the growing violence and religious discrimination among people. She feels it will cause a bad impact on her children’s mind if such an atmosphere prevails in the country. What’s wrong with that?

As soon as the media reported this issue, trolls and posts started making a buzz on social media and Whatsapp. I have even received posts that suggest Amir Khan to leave India and shift to Pakistan, Afghanistan or Syria if he thinks India is intolerant. Personally, I feel India doesn’t need to be compared with these nations in any way. Of course, the situation is much better in India than these countries when it comes to violence and killing of innocents. Kiran Rao never said that these nations are better than India. She only said she wishes to shift in another country where she and her family could lead safe and sound lives, where her children would be raised in a peaceful environment and grow up to be non-violent, responsible citizens. Do you know there are so many such people in India, or mothers, in particular, who think of this in order to give their children a better life?

Every year, so many people from India move abroad for studies and job and settle there. Many of them, even after completing their education, do not return to India. In fact, following the reservation system in India and many other evils, we have lost so many genius brains to other countries who are now serving companies such as Apple, Google, etc. But nobody blames them or calls them traitors! Why? Even they had the same thoughts in their mind while they moved to these foreign countries to serve huge companies abroad, isn’t it? They did not see enough scope to grow and prosper in India which made them move out and serve other nations. Then why is such as big fuss created when Amir Khan’s wife mentioned about moving out of the country? Is it something new?

Other than the funny ones, Whatsapp and Facebook also witnessed posts stating that Col. Mahadik’s wife who recently had to bid farewell to her braveheart husband forever when he lost his life fighting the terrorists, wants both her sons to join the army and serve the nation. On the contrary, Kiran Rao wants to flee the nation because of her insecurity. Now, this is a case of perspective according to me. Not everyone is brave or has the guts to sacrifice their lives. In fact, most people who criticised Amir Khan and Kiran Rao for their statement themselves won’t be willing to lay their lives for the nation. Col. Mahadik was indeed a brave soldier and has a brave family. But that doesn’t mean someone who is not as brave must be criticised.

Another irrelevant thing that people did was to sort of boycott Snapdeal, uninstall its app from their phones, just because they have Amir Khan as their brand ambassador. Dear people, Amir Khan and Snapdeal are different entities altogether. None of them have any connection with each other’s personal views. So please start thinking rationally before you act!

And, by the way, those who declared Amir Khan a traitor by making an opinion based on posts on Whatsapp and social media, let me tell you that Amir Khan clearly said that the statement that his wife made was disastrous and big. He is clearly not happy with the statement that his wife made, nor does he plan to leave the nation. This is clearly a case on media hype because the media perhaps has no other important issues to report currently.

Please think rationally before you make any opinion!


Tuesday, 17 November 2015

A Surprising Encounter With A Stranger #madeofgreat

We meet a lot of people in our lifetime. Sure, all of them leave some or the other impact on our lives. Personally, I believe that every person enters our life for a specific reason, to give us lessons, both good and the bitter ones! If I were to list down a few that had a huge positive impact on my life and inspired me in innumerable ways, of course, I would write the names of my parents and grandparents on the top. But, apart from these vital people in my life, I happened to meet someone in my life who laid a huge impact on me and inspired me in many strong ways.

So there was this usual Saturday, about five years ago, when I was seated in my class, attending the long Saturday lectures. I was in the 12th grade at the time. As I was waiting for the lecture to end and head home, my phone beeped and it was my sister. An engineering student then, she had her assignment submissions on that day. When I opened the text, she sounded quite panicked since she had forgotten back an assignment at home. Of course, it was a serious matter since the non-submission would mean she would fail the internals for the particular subject. And now, after my lectures, I was expected to rush home, collect the assignment and travel all the way to Bandra, as quick as I can, to hand it to her by 4.15pm.

So here I was rushing through the crowd once I had reached Bandra station, tired and extremely hungry. In order to reach the college, I had to take a bus from the station since I did not have enough money to pay for the auto. I waited in the bus queue. The bus that otherwise arrives in a gap of about 15-20 minutes was taking too long today. It is indeed so true that you will never get it on time when you need it and, when you don’t need it, it will be there right in front of you! So I was waiting, constantly checking my watch since it was about to be 4pm in a few minutes. And I was bound to reach the college within not more than 15 minutes now or my sister would lose out on her internal marks.

Another girl, roughly of the same age group as mine, was standing right ahead of me in the queue. I asked her if she knew the bus timings just to be sure when my bus would arrive. “It should have come by now. Maybe it will be here in the other 5 minutes”, she said. With a weary smile, I began waiting again. In the other 5 minutes, she was joined by a male friend. Just as I was getting impatient and worried, my phone rang. My sister was really tensed and sounded like she was in tears. I was explaining to her on the phone that the bus was late and that I was helpless.

Just as I disconnected the phone, I heard the other girl’s male friend murmur something to her and, with his expression, I could make out he was talking about me. However, I ignored. The other moment, he turned to me, smiled and asked me where I wanted to go. I was unsure whether I needed to talk to him or even give a reply but he had recognized my worried and anxious face and offered me to go with them in a share auto. I only had 10 minutes in hand and no time to think over the offer. I agreed and got into one of the autos with the two of them. The auto sped.

Within 10 minutes, I was near the college gate. As I motioned the auto driver to stop and began searching my purse for money, the guy murmured something that took me by surprise. “Let it be, I’ll pay for it. You are late and you should rush”. Just as I stared at him in surprise and was about to say anything, he said, “Just take it as a Rakshabandhan gift from me.” Then he smiled and before I could even deny letting him pay, he motioned the auto driver to leave and the auto sped. I met my sister who then rushed into the college for the submission.

Just as I stood at the college gate, I remembered the guy, his kindness and generosity and how he had helped me in my time of need. It may not be a great help for him, the share auto costed only about Rs.10 per head and that surely wouldn’t have mattered for him. But, for me, it was a great help, not the amount but the feeling and emotion behind it of helping people when they need it the most. This was the first time I had travelled in train and outside my city of Dombivli all alone. And, while parents teach us that stepping out of the house and heading to unknown places alone can be dangerous, this was one guy who made me realise that the world is still filled by good, kind and generous people who lend a helping hand even to strangers.

That day, I learnt a very important lesson of life. No matter what, help people in need all the time. By help I don’t mean doing great things, but our smallest gestures can sometimes put a smile on someone’s face. I don’t remember the guy’s face anymore and even if he passes by me some day, I wouldn’t recognise him. But, even after 5 years, although the incident was a petty one, I still wish good for him and pray that he gets everything he dreams and desires in his life. Because, he was my Angel in my time of need, after all!

Disclaimer: This post comes as a blog written for Tata Motors #madeofgreat contest. You can check the details of this contest at

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Monday, 16 November 2015

After Every Attack, Only DPs Change, Terrorism Doesn't!

Okay so all of us active on Facebook might have noticed this trend that seems to have charmed the youngsters of today quite too much. After every terrorist attack or even a natural calamity that hits any country of the world, DPs or Display Pictures are changed by applying themes to them. The main idea behind this, they say, is showing support to the affected country and praying for them. But is it really so?

First and foremost, a major chunk of people change their Display Pictures just because they are trending and, many of them, actually do not even know the meaning or reason behind it. Simply because their news feeds are brimming with newly changed Display Pictures of friends and colleagues, many people have been applying these themes too and putting up the DPs merely as a trend and style.

And, my main question is, what happens when you change your DP? Is that the only way to show support and offer a prayer for the people fighting the difficult situations in their country? Personally, I don’t think so! If one simply wants to offer a prayer, we can sit in silence for two minutes, think about the innocent victims and pray for their safety and rehabilitation. What is a DP change going to do? Instead, why can’t all of us collectively think of the ways in which we can curb terrorism and fight it to bring it to an end? That would be more productive, isn’t it?

I am not in opposition to any country or people. Neither am I in favour of the ISIS or terrorism in general. Of course, all of us simply want terrorism to come to an end so that people all over the world can lead happy and peaceful lives! But, I don’t think changing one’s Display Picture is going to help in any manner to bring the situation in control. Instead, we can try helping the victims in some ways or the other so that it can benefit them in the real way instead of simply adding a few colours to our Facebook account.

And, by the way, how many of us had changed our pictures back in 2008 when terrorists had struck Mumbai? Or how many of us change our Display Pictures to show love and support to our soldiers who die every day on the borders guarding and protecting us? Why is this so? We can show our support and prayers to France but not for our own country, is it? Has anyone ever thought of applying our tricolour theme to their Facebook DP every time a soldier becomes a martyr on the LoC? Well, we need to ask these questions to ourselves!

Monday, 9 November 2015

Wishing You All A Very Happy And Prosperous Diwali!

The beloved and most awaited festival of lights, Diwali, is already here! Every time I peek out of my window, I see colorful lanterns and dazzling lights sparkling on numerous windows, adding colors and happiness to life! Truly, this is a treat to the eyes!

Diwali has always been one of the most widely loved and enormously celebrated festivals across India. In fact, this is a festival that brings all of us together, irrespective of language, caste and religious barriers. It is a festival when people come together and celebrate by presenting gifts to their loved ones and enjoying the awesome Diwali-special sweets and delicacies. Unique in its own way, Diwali is one festival that perfectly reflects the rich culture of our country.

This Diwali, while we celebrate with crackers, sweets and lights, let’s not forget to spread happiness with the world. Let us help as many people as we can to forget their grief and problems and enjoy the festival of lights just like we do. And, of course, let us all pray that this Diwali bring prosperity and happiness in the lives of our farmers and light up their houses. May the auspicious festival also end the rift between Hindus and Muslims and people of different religions and aid everyone to come together as Indians and celebrate the joy.

Wishing you all a very happy and prosperous Diwali!

And, lastly, be careful with the crackers you use. Be safe, be happy!

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Writers Are Returning Their Awards And The Religious Fuss Is Just Getting Worse!

The last one month has been crucial for the art industry in India. Of course, you know what I am talking about! The writer fraternity in India has been actively returning their awards one by one to demonstrate their protest against the killing of a renowned writer last month and religious intolerance on the whole. Initially, it was only a dozen of writers who had chosen to demonstrate their protest in this way. But the issue has become deeper and more serious with time and seems to have assumed the character of a non-violent movement. And here’s why it is serious and has forced me to come with this article!

The entire fuss began when Maleshappa Kalburgi, an academic from Karnataka, was shot dead at his home last month, i.e., September. The writer had previously gotten threat calls for his criticism on the practice of idol worship among Hindus. It is this killing that has forced all the writers across the country to come together and show their protest. Of course, these are the literate class of people in the society and hence the protest has remained non-violent so far. But, religious intolerance has been rising more phenomenally than we think and know, and, if it grows at this rate, India would soon witness a riot like that which Mumbai experienced in 1992.

First and foremost, what is religion? And why so much of fuss over it? Religion is something that we people have created to bring like-minded people closer to each other and connect with divinity. No religion, absolutely no religion in this world, preaches people to be violent, to kill the people of other religion or disapprove of them and their ideologies. Every person has a unique way of thinking, a unique of worship and connecting with God. This is what religion is all about! And yes, no individual comes with a religious tag on him. A newly born child doesn’t know which religion he belongs to; it is the parents and the society who teach them to behave in a certain way, act and react in a certain way and practice certain things, irrespective of whether the person approves of it or believes in the ideologies. When children are first admitted to school and get exposed and connected to their numerous classmates, no one asks one another what religion they belong to! Relationships and friendships are irrespective of any barriers such as caste, creed, religion, sex and race.

Something that was created by people to get close to God and divinity and connect with like-minded people has however now taken the structure of violence and intolerance. The writers’ movement is undoubtedly non-violent but what about what is happening across the country? Innocent people are being dragged and killed in what has become the issue of beef ban, bans are imposed by the government on the way people live and eat and people are killing each other over petty issues. Is this what our freedom fighters had fought for? Is this what our soldiers are battling on the borders for? All of these great Indians have a simple belief and desire – to bring Indians together so that they can fight evils together. ‘Unity in Diversity’ is what we are taught at schools! Imagine what those kids must be feeling when they see this violence on their TV sets that results from a thing such as religion!

Why are we Hindus and Muslims and not Indians? Why are we teaching our innocent younger generation to fight with one another on the grounds of religion? Why is violence taking over India? What do people want? Do we want the government to exercise control over the way we live now? Would we be happy if the government now tells us what to eat and what not? If people want beef to be banned in India, why is chicken, mutton and fish not banned? Just because cows are sacred for a particular religion? And what about the chickens who lay their lives daily to fill the stomachs of numerous people in the country? Aren’t they living beings? My only point here is, let people eat what they want. No one has got the right to tell anyone what to eat and what not and, if people are so concerned about the killing of cows, impose a ban on animal killing on the whole! But, do this to save the animals and not in the name of religion!

My entire point of writing this is to suggest people,
Enough of the religious fuss, please, let’s be Indians now!

Disclaimer: This, again, is a topic suggested by my dear friend Sheetal Maurya. Thanks Sheetal. J