Having entered the 3rd year of our BMM course as Journalism students, we've opened ourselves to a whole new world. There are so many things that we want to write about... This is our blog, where we will try and bring to light,some of our first journalistic attempts.here's us, the budding reporters and news people of tomorrow (hopefully!)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

It may be easy for us to forget them..Lets make it a bit harder

On 22 October 1947, Pakistan launched invasion of Jammu & Kashmir. The intention was to grab the Kashmir valley by force. As the State became a part of the Union on October 26, her protection became the responsibility of India. To save the State from an invasion, which was approaching the valley at a very fast pace, India dispatched troops to Srinagar. The first batch of Indian troops reached just in time on October 27 morning to stop the enemy on the outskirts of Srinagar. On 3 November 1947, Major Somnath Sharma's company (D Company of 4 Kumaon) was ordered on a fighting patrol to Badgam Village in the Kashmir Valley. He was soon surrounded by the enemy from three sides and his company sustained heavy casualties from the ensuing artillery bombardment. He realized the importance of holding onto his position as both the city of Srinagar and the airport would be vulnerable if it were lost. He urged his company to fight bravely, often exposing himself to danger as he ran from post to post.
Major Sharma, with his right hand in plaster, took upon himself the task of filling the magazines and issuing them to men, operating light machine guns. While he was busy fighting the enemy, a mortar shell exploded on the ammunition near him. His last message to Brigade HQ received a few moments before he was killed was: "The enemies are only 50 yards from us. We are heavily outnumbered. We are under devastating fire. I shall not withdraw an inch but will fight to our last man and our last round.”
The army foiled the attempts of Pakistan raiders to capture the airport. One army man’s courage scripted the history of India and particularly Jammu and Kashmir in 1947. Major Somnath Sharma was one of the many people who held the Tricolours high with his bleeding body and became the torch of free India. .
Its often that we see people praying and performing rituals for India’s victory in cricket or a cricketer or an actor's idol being washed with milk or people cry even when he is hospitalised with just some minor injuries. But how often do we weep for a soldier who died with a blood stained picture of his loved ones in his hand or when do we even feel sorry of a Shaheed’s wife who gets only Rs.650 a month from the government and has two children to educate. We are aware of the fact Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are adopting a one more kid but are we aware that many men have died without having a look at their 12 month old kid who just learned to say “PAPA”.
Sitting in a cozy place we will never know how it feels to be up there in the cold, cold mountains, carrying a heavy backpack with a fear that you will never see your eight year old daughter. That sweet thing with a ponytail and a smile that lights up your world. You may not hear her giggles, see her climb your shoulder, run around, throw her dolls in anger, call you dad………You will not be there for her. You will not be there for your friends, your family and for the ones for whom you really cared and who really cared for you. You know what fear is. That is fear. Not being there. Death is not what matters. What matters is that you will not matter anymore. They died with pride now its our time to provide with the honour they deserve. Remember them always cause they have earned their respect with blood. Lets not their death go waste, unacknowledged.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Article 377 and all the possible mixed opinions

articles 377, yes even the psychedelic pen is gonna talk about it, but i promise there is some thing in this article which a lot of you readers wouldn't be aware of. one post on it and we'll end the discussion once and for all.
if you go to look at it with one perspective, all the newspapers, news channels and most of the blogs are talking about how the repealing of this article was essential for a truly liberal India and how we should ensure that every human, every citizen irrespective of his sexual orientation should be given the basic liberty to indulge in a physical act. also the newspapers were happy that since the western countries have legalised gays, we shouldn't get late in doing the same. and then there were the citizens wondering why the media was going all gaga about it. yes, this celebration is limited to the media alone.
there are, as we know the opposition parties, who are bound by their religious identities which directly affect their vote banks. and a religion does not permit any act against the 'law of the nature'. what law of the nature are we talking about over here? its the physical union of 2 (or more) people of the same sex. its not much about the oral sex, which is what the article prohibits. this law was initially crafted for avoiding marital rapes, keeping a track on paedophiles and for making sex with animals illegal. however, it mentioned anal sex and that made gay union also illegal.
now talking about 'strait' Indians, alot of them are uncomfortable what has happened in the last 3 to 4 weeks. A lot of guys are scared of getting 'checked out' by gays in public places. a lot of hostel girls also complain about similar incidents and now, every one fears that these things will happen more directly and in the open. apart from this stupid threat, Indians have never been comfortable with certain things. gays were always supposed to be a concept existing in the west. marriage, one of the most important institutions of ones life in India also needs to be revised for them. the couple can practically not bear a child and take the family legacy ahead. it was, 'they say' not accepted in the religious texts, and it is ,thus a SHAME to be gay....
thats the normal perception of all the people who are not accepting the gays and hence, they can come up with a 100 more arguments about the same. and this perception is shared by most of the orthodox (orthodox in the mind...age no bars!) people, even the people who govern and protect the system.
we are talking about the Matunga Racket which happened some where in the year 2007 and involved article 377 related crimes. this is what happened.
a gay is sitting in the cyber cafe, looking at gay porn on the net. an undercover cop tracks him and asks him if he wants to get hold of some more gay porn. the guy obviously agrees to it, and the cop calls him to a secluded place in matunga near the king circle police station. the undercover cops hands over the porn to him, and while the porn is still on him, a police van comes and arrests him on charges of possession of porn CDs. now the police know that he is gay and hence they threaten to arrest him under article 377. they also slap him a few times and make a lot of fun by calling him names. the guy obviously doesnt want to get arrested since his family might come to know about his sexual orientation and problems might just follow. so is there any way out?..yes ofcourse MONEY!. the police take all the money he has, take his ATM card and empty that too before leaving the guy. this racket however was busted in the year 2008 before which alot of people were troubled- illegally- by the police. this was mostly in Matunga. however, similar atrocities by the police on the gays were recoded at quite a few places in the city.
reason?..well orthodox mind set which leads to an absurd chauvinistic behavior and then support of their uniform and in the long run support of the religiously guarded political parties. alot of things together. so what if this leads to an increase in STD(sexually transmitted diseases) so what if it leads to a rise in human development issues. have you ever wondered what happens to the rights of the homosexual prostitutes?..is there a law to protect their rights?..or should i ask if they have any rights in the first place. not because he is a prostitute, but because he is indulging in sex against the article 377, a self proclaimed law of the nature.
i am happy the act has been repealed and now life will be a little more accommodating for the homosexuals. the point is, they form a considerable chunk of population (educated and young that too) and if given the status of a normal Indian citizen, they too will make the country proud. if ethnicity is not issue in development, then sexual orientation also should not be one.
personally, i dont feel comfortable around them. May be in sometime i will. but if we go to look at the larger picture its almost ok. i hope it doesnt give rise to sexual crimes (which is one of my biggest fears in the midst of all this)
if its about the rights and humanity, all for it but if its about crime, then since we have made the law flexible for homosexuals, we need to give strict punishments under the law for sex and violence related crimes.

posted by Isha.
please comment and give a feedback on the post.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Can Irom's voice be heard?

I wrote about the same thing in the feature class but i some how cant seem to get enough on this issue. what i feel is disgust.

The armed forces special power act was passed by the parliament in 1958, for the north eastern regions of india.
According to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), in an area that is proclaimed as "disturbed", an officer of the armed forces has the powers to:
-Fire upon or use other kinds of force even if it causes death
-Arrest without a warrant and with the use of "necessary" force anyone who has committed certain offences or is suspected of having done so
-enter and search any premise in order to make such arrests.
Army officers also have legal immunity for their actions. There can be no prosecution, suit or any other legal proceeding against anyone acting under that law. Nor is the government's judgment on why an area is found to be disturbed subject to judicial review.
This law was passed as a response to the naxalism, Maoism and the increasing violence and tension some of the North Eastern territories, this classifying them as 'disturbed region and was Thus, according to the government, one of the possible solutions to deal with the problems there.
However, taking advantage of the powers vested to the Army by this act, the Assam Rifles a paramilitary force in Assam allegedly killed 10 young, innocent, Meitei* men in Manipur. This was not the only incident when the powers vested upon the military forces were allegedly misused. Right from the time the Act was passed, there were several instances due to which the masses of North Eastern Regions of India had been pushing for the abolition of the Act. However, the killings in Manipur triggered off a major response by the masses and by Irom Sharmila, a Meitei Manipuri human rights activist who declared a fast until death till the act was withdrawn.

Here we are talking about Irom Sharmila; Age 39 yrs

Often referred to as the modern day female version of Gandhi and the Iron Lady of India, Irom has been on a fast until death since November 2000. The Reason- her campaign against the Armed Forces Powers Act.
Not many of us in this part of the country know about her, but hers is a story which needs to be told. She doesn't drink a drop of water and doesn't let a particle of food touch her tongue. More so, she cleans her teeth with cotton to avoid even a single drop of water to pass through her teeth, touch her tongue and roll down her throat. Ever since she went on this fast, innumerable attempts have been made to force feed her.

During these 9 yrs, various human rights organisations have visited her and innumerable promises have been made. In the year 2006, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assured that the Centre would consider their demand sympathetically. The Centre then set up a five-member committee under the chairmanship of Justice BP Jeevan Reddy, former judge of the Supreme Court. The BP Jeevan Reddy committee submitted its recommendations on June 6, 2005. The 147-page report recommends that "the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, should be repealed". However, the government failed to act on the recommendations.

Ever Since she declared the fast, she has been arrested on the Charges of Attempted Suicide and has been taken under judicial custody. She was taken to the AlMS in delhi and since then, a plastic and pipe was inserted through her nose to force feed her a cocktail of vitamins, minerals, laxatives, protein supplements and lentil soup which is force fed to her 5 times a day.

Since 2000, every time she declares the fast, she is arrested, force fed and then released. once released she again declares the fast and gets arrested and this practice of arrest, release and re-arrest has been going on since then.
The people from Manipur, human rights organisations and otherwise just a lot of citizens have been demanding justice and the withdrawal of the act since 2000 and hence demanding justice for Irom Sharmila. Various Ministers, from time to time have made various promises to her. however, for reasons untold, no action is being taken against the AFSPA.

This is not just a violation of ones civil rights, but its the violation of ones existence.

Its also strange how a funny 5 hour fast by Karunanidhi attracts so much attention and Irom Sharmila's fast just goes un noticed by the center, and till an extent my the media too. Its not about the loss of the life of an individual, its about the impotency of the entire government to come up with a solution for a problem, address the grievances and thus give a better life to the people in one of the world's greatest democracies.
They call it a government for the people.

*Meitei is a major ethnic group in manipur.
Posted by Isha,
please comment and give a feedback on the post.

Not Smart Enough

18th June, 2009,



Despite  the introduction of the Automatic Ticket Vending Machines (ATVM's) all over the city in the October of 2007, the local railway stations along both, the Central as well as the Western Railway lines of the city still bear witness to long queues outside the ticket issuing windows during rush hours. 

            The idea behind the introduction of the Smart Cards and the ATVM's  was to reduce the pressure on the ticket issuing clerks and avoid the fights breaking out as frustrated commuters stood in long lines in the sun. However, the machines can be seen idle most of the time where as there are still long queues outside most major stations.  

However, the ticket issuing officers at the desks have another thing to say. "The situation has changed a lot since the cards have been introduced." Says the officer at the window at Andheri station, requesting anonymity. "Earlier, almost everyday there used to be fist fights and brawls in the lines. Even women used to fight. However, a lot of people have opted for the cards and the lines may look long now, but they are not endless like they used to be before" He smiles.         On being asked, Prabhu Nair (19) a college student from Ville Parle too showed his Smart Card. "We get railway concession on passes from our college but when you need to travel beyond the limits of the pass, these come handy. We don't need to stand in those lines and wait."       

            On being asked why no one is seen using the machines, Ticket Collector John D'sa said,  "Why would anyone stand idle in front of the thing? It is a fast process and once you get your ticket, you go. If you stop at the station for a while then you'll see a lot of people using the machines."

            On a little questioning around, one may also be able to figure out why the touch screen technology fails to attract the people to the facility. A lot of the people who buy the tickets are incapable of spending more than a 10/- on travel at a time.  So they cannot spare the required money. Vijay Kamle (47) a resident of Malad and a daily wager at a site at Andheri says, "Ek saath mein itna kharch nahi kar sakte. 5-10 ka ticket le sakte hai par 50 aur 100 nahi bhar sakte." ("We can not afford to spend so much at a time. We can buy a 5 or 10 rupee ticket at a time, but cannot spare a 50 or 100 rupees.) 

            It looks like the Railways have given the best they can, but it is also a fact that some part of the problem still persists.


--Maithili Desai


Wilson College