Category Archives: Opinion

Wars

I get the smell of gun powder in my house,
the miasma smothering me.
Blasting bombs and terrified screams,
I hear them all.

Stifled by guns, held at close proximity.
There is a war in my closet and I cannot pretend to be blind.
For battles begin in the mind.
And mortal souls merely bear the consequences of lost ideologies.
Too strong, too bold for the weak and the feeble.
Yet we are blinded and defeated by the shine of their sigil.

How long more do we keep mum and look on with faux ignorance?
Has the violence and terror debauched our very conscience?

-Sarah Thomas

Picture credits: @iotaimagery

Role of media in transnational communication

Something I had written long ago. Chanced upon it and thought I must share 🙂
Read on.

Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains.
~Jean Jacques Rousseau

In today’s modern world, media plays the biggest role in communication. It is a sole medium that connects one part to another and bridges the gaps, be it between two countries internationally or between the government and the people on a national and local level. This however is just an overview or a superficial explanation of the role of media. It goes much beyond being a mediator. To understand the role of media in international communication, one must understand what international communication means.

International communication more commonly known as Global or transnational communication deals with communication across global borders. More specifically dealing with, as mentioned by several sources “government-to-government”, “business-to-business”, and “people-to-people” interactions at a global level.” With the advent of globalization and inter border relationships, it becomes highly essential that one country is aware of the situations and the happenings of another country they are associated with either politically or financially. And it becomes all the more essential that this information passes on to the grass root levels, that is the people. This article particularly deals with consumerism and the illusion of choice that the media has projected to the masses and how this has affected the mindset of the people, while simultaneously pointing out its role in other areas as well.

In a transnational, digital media landscape, governments can share information through traditional diplomatic means, but nations’ news systems are universal and can reach both governments and citizens. News can shape local and foreign opinions and therefore become part of the dynamics that affect the conduct of international relations. Small media houses are generally owned by bigger media houses who are owned by a huge company who would have vested interests and so their interests will be highlighted in the broadcast of media messages that are given out. This phenomenon that has taken place where media is owned by a few powerful companies has led to lesser authenticity in the news that is received. As no matter how much variety of channels one sees and he is made to think that he has a choice to choose what he wants. The truth of the matter is that they are all owned by one company who controls them, hence controls what you see. Media sector is characterized by global monopoly capitalism.

In the book ‘Manufacturing Consent’ by Chowmsky, it is clearly mentioned, “Since 1990, a wave of massive deals and rapid globalization have left the media industries further centralized in nine transnational conglomerates- Disney, AOL Time Warner, Viacom (owner of CBS), News Corporation, Bertelsmann, General Electric (owner of NBC), Sony, AT&T-Liberty Media, and Vivendi Universal. These giants own all the world’s major film studios, TV networks, and music companies, and a sizable fraction of the most important cable channels, cable systems, magazines, major-market TV stations, and book publishers. The largest, the recently merged AOL Time Warner, has integrated the leading Internet portal into the traditional media system. Another fifteen firms round out the system, meaning that two dozen firms control nearly the entirety of media experienced by most U.S. citizens.”

The most striking trend is the growing market power of a small number of firms. Research states that between 1983 and 1994 the number of global media companies fell from 50 to 20. This is not scary, what truly one must be scared of is a large percentage of media content is imported in the visual sector, hence how can one be sure of what is given to him. We are sold not just news but ‘cultures’, ‘trends’, ‘ideologies’, ‘lifestyles’. We are just given what they want us to receive; while we are made to think again by them that we have the freedom of choice. There is however no choice and definitely no freedom. Our minds have been colonized. Even in international politics the west has a greater hold in controlling the media. The top down flow of information the Naom Chowmsky specified can be used to understand the scenario.

The west sell the idea of being thin to women, and they themselves sell fastfood that contributes to obesity. Nobody reads between the lines, we take what they want us to. Now that the point of media being hypocritic in nature and being servile to a few in the corporate world and leaders of the current political set up, is made clear. It becomes extremely important to know what the role of media should be in global communication. Media must be a watch dog and provide credible authentic information that is unbiased and free of all pressures and controls. Media must help in empowerment and peace building. Instead of encouraging racism, communal disharmony, it must act wisely and do what will benefit the masses. The public must be told what truly exists and not what the super powers want them to know. The situation however looks bleak, when we talk about the media learning to follow its roles and responsibilities.

Freedom of choice may never exist, and no one will be able to curb what is happening but one must be aware of this anarchy in the global media. Only when you are aware of the things around will you be able to act wisely.

 

WHY THE MIRROR HURT HER

 

She looked at herself in the mirror,
Cursing her flaws, the freckles on her face,
“I should have been lighter,” she thinks,
Only imagining the cover girl, she idealises within.

She touches her plump, curvaceous body,
Sucks in her perfect little tummy,
runs her hands down her hips,
tries to pose sexy, with a pout on her lips.

Her stretch marks showing,
Her hair is all curly, messed up in a bun
She looks no less than a super model
But just not the girl she dreams of, not that one.

“More carrot juice,” she says out loud.
Yoga and exercise will do the trick.
I will fit in my skinny jeans, short skirts and fancy dress
And oh gosh! my hair! I hate this mess!

45 minutes have passed
She comments on all the ordinary,
the cellulite, the love handles, dark circles, pointy nose
She smiles one last time and is disappointed at the way her gum shows.

Trying to love the little she can,
examining her bare body, unable to understand.
She picks up the magazine,
The perfect image of her on that cover page
Yet not one single aspect with which she can relate.

What is real, she thinks to herself,
The blush, the long lashes or the fair skin,
The image the world has built for her
Or what she really feels within?

Is she the beauty on that cover page,
The work of make up artists, photographers and talented photoshop skills,
Or is she the woman in the mirror
Trying hard to love herself, love herself, just a little!

Why doesn’t she see the truth,
perfect is perfect only when it’s you!
The wrongs, the rights, the fat and the freckles,
The unique smile, it’s all you, and that’s all that’s true!

The way you dance without a care in the world,
The way you smile at those in need,
Screaming out loud
You need no approval,
For loving all, all that is real.

Being fair, being tall, being thin
It’s not what beauty is made of
Beauty is, what lies within.

This poem is dedicated to every person who at some point has felt insecure, felt not being good enough, or has felt ugly. The media, the beauty industry is selling us a standard of beauty that does not exist, there is no perfect! The epitome of beauty that is shown to us, is only so that we learn to hate ourselves, to find faults so that we resort to their products to reach that standard. In the mad rush to gain more consumers they are selling a fantasy world to us, a world that never existed and will never exist. What exists is you, flesh and bones, happiness and sorrow, love and hate, a package of emotions and expressions, this is what  beauty is made of and nothing else!

Everyday I see women doing so much just to lose weight, to look good. I mean there is no harm in wanting to be fit but there is a huge problem if you wish to get there by comparing yourself with something that does not exist and criticise your body. It also makes a person judgemental about another person’s body. It’s a vicious cycle and now someone else has become prey to this flawed standard of beauty. Learn to love yourself and live with it. Only when you accept it and have the courage to live your life loud and clear, wear the clothes you want to wear irrespective of your size, feel free about your body, many others will too. Each day several people we come in contact with, draw inspiration from us and ape our behaviour unknowingly. Lets make them copy something worthwhile!

Its a chain reaction, when someone sees you so comfortable in your skin, wearing whatever the hell you want and living life free, they’re going to want to do the same. Freedom is within and so is beauty!

 

Who is responsible for her plight?

The increasing number of rapes, molestations, acid attacks and various other crimes on women, has instilled fear and a strong sense of insecurity among most people. Women don’t feel safe in their own cities. While some of them take precautions, so as to stop any untoward incidents, the others have started raising their voices in hope that it would bring about some change in the system. The law no doubt, has been made more stringent, the society has become more aware, but the situation remains the same and so does the question, “Who is responsible for these crimes? When will they stop?”

“A woman like any other individual, has the right to dress as she wishes and to do what she wants. This is her birth right and no one can take that away from her. Asking a woman to change or to take precaution is like asking a man not to step out of his house, because there’s a mad dog on the loose,” says Vichitra Johnson, engineering student at Vemana Institute of Technology. We have seen the exploitation of the female gender since centuries. Crimes against women are committed every minute, some of them so heinous that they have left scars in the consciousness of every individual, a black mark on the society at large.

It is said that a woman’s dressing provokes a man to commit the crime, which was a sin in thought itself. However there are arguments that speak better, children are being molested too, and it certainly isn’t their dressing that is provoking these perverted men. When petty matters like dressing and reaching home before dark takes the limelight, the actual issue becomes secondary. The ‘cause’ for which the nation must stand up for, is lost in darkness.

Our culture speaks of respect and reverence to women, no other culture has so many female deities like we do. But does all this begin and end with words alone? Today, we hear of our great cultural heritage in the advices given to women and at times when we need to back our country up when topics of degrading moral values surface. On the one hand we call ourselves a developing nation, a transforming society. We are a ‘god fearing’ country, we worship female deities. And on the other hand women are treated as the weaker sex, who have to safeguard themselves from all the scot free criminals and the potential ones.

Sankesh Ranka, BBM student expressed his sadness at the fact that people still tell their daughters to dress right, to come back early, to stay safe and they let their sons do as they please because they are men. Parents are of course concerned for their children, but doesn’t discrimination begin at home, he questions.

Is it a woman’s silence that has been taken for granted over the ages, or is it the subordinate role that women have taken in the past that the society wants them to uphold even now, or is it sheer dominance that men want to exert on women. In all these arguments, the question still remains unanswered.

“I believe it is not the system that has to change. A change in the system may infuse fear in the people but men who want to be sexists, people who want to disrespect women will still do so. So I believe if there is a change to come about, it must be a change in the attitude, perception and mindset of the people. It is a thought that leads to an action,” says Mahesh Karunakaren, former State Level Wrestler.

Girls must be taught their rights, parents must treat their daughters as equals to their sons and sons must be taught to respect their sisters and the women around. That is where empowerment of women begins. It is there that a girl will learn that she has the right to raise her voice, silence is an option and she can opt to ‘speak’. Eve teasers are definitely someone’s son, someone’s brother, someone’s husband. When they decide to look at women differently, to change their mindset, only then will a woman be able to walk out of her house without the fear of being teased or harassed on the streets.

When a man realises that a woman has the right to choose her partner, she has the freedom to reject proposals that come to her, she is a human being with her own set of beliefs, acid attacks will stop. When women start connecting to other women and look at the other with sympathy and understanding, female infanticide and dowry cases will stop. Its not just a man but a society as a whole that bears the shame of the exploitation women face.

People around must realise that if there were no women to manage a home, the society would go haywire. Working or non working, women deserve respect for their very existence because they are no less than any man on earth, said Suraj Cyril, Visual Communication student and basket ball player.

We have Indira Gandhi, Kalpana Chawla, Ashwini Nachappa, PT Usha, Mary Kom, Kiran Bedi and then we have ‘Nirbhaya’. Let our nation be recognised by our achievements and not by our ruthlessness. It is silly that in the end we blame the woman after she all that she has gone through, after she has borne the brunt of a man’s deeds.

Do not blame her for being the victim, it is you and I who have given way for her to be the victim. It is not her silence, but ours that is responsible for her plight.

Every individual must change their attitude and begin respecting women, not because they have withstood the tests of time or because they are the source of life or because they have fought for generations and have come to a stage where they can live independently. Respect her because they are individuals like anybody else, with equal opportunities and equal rights. A woman deserves better and it is only ‘You’ and ‘I’ who can bring this change. It begins with you, in your mind!

Originally published in the Tabor Kirana, All India Catholic magazine

INDIA’S DAUGHTER: OPEN LETTER TO THE GOVERNMENT

Dear Government,

India’s Daughter, I considered myself one too and so did half the nation living under one government, hoping for the same damn thing since ages- our rights and our freedom! My freedom! Come to think of it, it’s strange that in our world we ask for our freedom, ask for our rights to be given to us, for justice to be done. Why ask? Why beg? Is this what it all is? The modern, independent woman must bow down and succumb to the pressures of the male dominated society and beg that justice be done to her? Does that give you a sense of power?
 
I am a woman and I live in India. And yes I am afraid, afraid all the time that I am a woman, afraid that I live in a land that through actions, time and again have proved being a woman gives you no right, no freedom. Up until now, I like many others believed that someday there will be better security, better hope, better future and if nothing more at least equality of man and woman. But I was foolish and so are you if you think better of the future.
 
I’m sure now that I have accepted that and am willing to close my eyes to you, the fascist government, infringing on my right and upholding the very thought that man and woman of the modern world have tried to fight, the mindset of a woman being the lowly one, the less deserving one, the world is going to be a better place. Isn’t that all you want, the men in power who are sitting on your high chairs (surprisingly with the votes of man and woman alike)? You want us to turn a blind eye to all that threatens us, turn a blind eye to the hurt and the wounds on our body and walk away from it all, like nothing happened. But dear government, we have been quiet too long and you can ban all that you want, but you will never be able to ban and stop the fire that is ignited within.
 
India’s Daughter reflects the mentality of not just the rapists or the so called ‘educated’ lawyer, it reflects the mentality of the society that we live in. The men that we women may be brushing shoulders against in buses and trains and it shows just how unsafe we are! Ban it, to give us a false notion of security but trust me dear ones, on those high chairs we did not need a documentary to tell us this society is full of misogynistic ideas and men who are equal to stray dogs running on the roads. We did not need a lawyer to point out the fucked up state of our nation. We knew it all along, it’s just reality hitting the entire nation at once.  
 
It sickens me to see what this great country has come to and I feel ashamed that I live under this sort of a government that had a bad past, no doubt but shows us a bleak future as well. It saddens me that Nirbhaya could be anybody, even me. What are you afraid of? Being questioned? Are you afraid that may be now a woman will come to her full power and say No! Is that what I see? Fear of the masses coming together for a woman? Is that against this country’s values and principles? The blind folded Lady of Justice in your courts has taken an all new meaning. You have tarnished the belief that I had in you.
 
You can ban the film for fear of your power be shaken, but if these atrocities require a nude protest to stop, if you require a protest with women all over to come together with their honour and chastity unhidden to send out a message that it never is in our clothes or our moves and that consent belongs to us, then that sort of a protest is not too far away.
 
In all glory I would like to say, do not proscribe the film, proscribe me! I am the fault, I am a woman! And I am a happy fault, a strong one, a powerful one, and I don’t need your permission to speak, to question, to exist!
 
Yours Faithfully,
India’s Daughter