Friday, January 07, 2022

Forgotten letters in Devanagari: How Hindi script is losing its alphabets, consonants due to multiple reasons


Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

It is an issue that I wanted to write about, for a long time. 

How the alphabets that are part of the main Hindi script, which are present in each primer, are not only made redundant but nearly forgotten. 

I clicked this photograph due to a particular reason. It is a house that still has Shankar written in original style, not anuswar, but with ङ i.e. ṅ 'ang' or 'anga', a nearly forgotten consonant along with others.

Till 1965, devanagari script was quite different, now many letters lost or mispronounced. ङ, ॡ, ञ, the two-ऋ & ॠ, ळ, ज्ञ [Jn] I clicked this photo because I doubt, a few years later, I would ever get to see this again. 

Interestingly, we had a Sanskrit teacher who forced us to mispronounce ङ. She insisted that this was just a variation of 'D' and should be read as ड़. When I tried to explain, she got so angry that she started giving me less than 50% marks in every test and exam.

She blatantly did it. It was like, how dare a student point out something to her. For three years, she remained angry with me though I had very politely said that 'we were taught this, and it is not ड़, which is just like the set of letters D, DH, etc that take these forms when dot is below them--ढ becomes ढ़  and ड becomes ड़, and these must not be confused with ङ.

But, then it's monarchy in schools too. The only Hindi word that is written using it is now, वाङ् मय. It is interesting if you go through old Hindi texts, I have an Atlas that wrote all the Chinese cities and their names using this consonant.

There are certain words were 'ang' can't be replaced by (.), yet it happens. This is because of the people in printing business, typesetting and modern systems, also about 'ease'. It's a long discussion but here it was just a brief post. Remaining is left for 'vidwans', I am a student and rest my case, put a full stop here.

Thursday, January 06, 2022

How Hindi newspapers suppress minorities' voices: Expressing grievance is made an undesirable act through twisted headlines



Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

This post is about the systematic manner in which Hindi newspapers throttle minorities' voices and even a genuine expression of grievance is given a twist and those voicing concern are made to appear as fundamentalists.

It is a clever system and this news report published on January 6 in Dainik Bhaskar, is being cited just as an example. 

Rather than raising a question on why 'Surya Namaskar' is again and again being forced on the students in educational institutes and schools, the entire story goes about Muslim board that has given a statement on this issue.

As far as physical activity was concerned, there was always PT or physical training period and teachers for it. Then, there were sports. Also, you can offer yoga. But forcing students to something more--Surya Namaskar, is pointless.

Schools are meant for studies but instead of focus on improvement on educational standards or better facilities, it is mostly these things that we hear about. The lack of infrastructure, strength of faculty and other key issues need to be addressed, more. 

If physical activity is needed, then sports and PT are enough. Others can go for yoga depending on their choice. In fact, even if someone wants they can perform Surya Namaskar, though there is no need to enter such things into public schools where children belonging to different faiths study.

However, the headline and choice of words is such that it shows Muslim community as 'stubborn', and 'not agreeing to it', rather than questioning the motive and the decision to force 'Surya Namaskar. Interesting, other states have also pushed for 'bhojan mantra' and similar other activities in schools. 

In schools, children belonging to all religions study. And, there is no need to put one religion and its practices ahead of others. It's as simple as that--keep religion in homes. State has no business promoting just one religion and its practices, even if it may appear 'part of culture' to adherents of this faith. 

Over the last two decades, the state governments too have been making such attempts, repeatedly. In Islam, it is forbidden to bow before anyone except Almighty, and so there is no question of bowing before a celestial object. 

The simple point is that there should be focus on studies, schools and the education staff, but children are made to do things that are not about education but other aspects. Just because school has hundreds of children and any event that has students, can become a TV show because of large gathering, they are chosen as 'testing grounds' for the political and other aims. 

The role of media is questionable. The board has just issued a statement, not a firman or a fatwa that the media terms it. Each Muslim reacts individually and know well about their believes, even though the attempts are to put impressionable kids in a situation of moral conflict--faith on one side and school staff's pressure on the other hand. 

But the papers present it as if Muslims are stubborn, always opposing and react like robots to their organisations. It's all incorrect. The papers present the issue totally differently--it's their board game, they set it and then force you to play on their pitch.

Each day they inject a lot in minds, divide society through their clever insertions & twists. Politicians come much later, the crop is first sown here, then harvested. See in your own cities, it is done so subtly, so cleverly to modulate minds.

The sanest people, when they read such reports, feel that Muslims are being unreasonable. Because it doesn't hit them that the actual story is about something else. For, at least, thirty years, the vernacular papers have been doing it, as long as I remember. 

Entire generations have grown up reading these cleverly worded stories and the twisted arguments. People with the most clear minds, get confused, as news presented in a way, as if 'Muslims have problem with everything'. Can the society see this game!

Sunday, January 02, 2022

How media uses unverified information and wild 'claims' to demonise people, leading to arrests: Islamophobia in Indian Journalism


This is a textbook case for students of journalism that how unverified information leads to severe action against people and how youth get framed and arrested.

This incident happened a few months ago--in August, 2021. A video had appeared on social media, with the claim about youth raising certain slogans and without completion of any inquiry or even forensic report, it was duly believed that the 'claim' was correct.

Much before, trial and judge giving a verdict, the papers publish and pass the claims off as absolute truth, without any mention of words like 'claim' or 'allegedly' or even bothering to approach other side to take response of those who are being demonized and blamed.

Even if someone says 'Amir Khan Zindabad' or 'Amit Bhan Zindabad', and the video is played fast, and the claim can be made that the people were raising 'some other slogan', then your ears can mislead you unless you are really careful.

But, the Hindi newspapers in Madhya Pradesh, accepted the 'claim' as headline, getting judgmental and believing that what was being claimed by certain person(s) about these youths' slogans, was correct without any verification. 

Though it has occurred in the past that claims of a 'certain slogan' raised, is used to divert attention and frame people and demonise a group or event. If you read these reports, you find that the newspapers didn't quote anyone and straight gave verdict that these chants were 'anti-national'.

Due to such irresponsible reporting and splashing the claims as 'judgment' by paper, there is pressure on administration and it creates public opinion. Hence, police too promptly register cases. People are booked under harsh sections, arrested and jailed, sometimes remaining incarcerated for months and years because of the manner in which papers create scare.

The reader who have immense faith in newspaper, don't have doubt as they feel papers always write 'verified' information. But this is not the case, always. 

In fact, the organisations that are dubbed 'fringe' in media, are the ones who have such sympathisers in news rooms that any weird claim by these orgs, are immediately accepted. For decades, this 'system' is in place and such irresponsible reporting, continues to affect families. 

How even your ears play trick

In one incident, they were chanting 'Wajid Nisaar zindabad', in UP. But when a claim is made about a controversial slogan, then those listening too felt that it could be that controversial slogan. Amid rush, video voice often makes you too believe it. 'Qazi Usman' or 'Qazi sahab' said in speed, turns into something 'else'.

The line when repeated, in unison, and at a fast speed, indeed creates confusion, due to crowd and background music. Unfortunately, such is the barrage of misinformation and  propaganda, that the sanest person would not be ready to believe that it is something else. That's power of propaganda.

That has become a system. Those close friends and persons I really trusted in journalism, who were totally unbiased I know, even they got in doubt. So, anyway. See all such cases, so don't presume guilt, proper probe, voice analysis, fast probe. 

And remember, all papers, without even talking to locals,  exactly believe the 'accusers' and without giving a thought or talking to locals, people, who are named, publish the reports. Any similar name, term in this mould, can be claimed as 'that' slogan. 

Sometimes there is tampering too and words inserted, as it happened in Delhi in the past. Papers don't and can't publish 'audio', video. They don't even say, 'allegedly chanted' or 'claims of certain slogan' but just accept any such claim as truth. It's the dark, dirty world of journalism.

REPORTING AND JOURNALISM ETHICS: WHAT MEDIA HOUSES MUST DO IN SUCH CASES

1. At least, mention that this is a 'claim'

2. When you write, do mention 'allegedly', because it is someone's claim and you aren't aware

3. There is no investigation initiated, yet, let alone completion and case hasn't gone to court, remember this when you write, you can't cook up stories sitting in office, based on third person's wild claims

4. Who is making the claim must be mentioned. You can't treat orgs that are involved in moral policing to, appear as saintly. Making allegation as serious as calling someone 'anti-national' can destroy lives, so be careful

5. Be a responsible journalist, don't act irresponsibly. Because, it affects families and your own prestige too is at stake. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Bangle seller was beaten up, then booked and got bail after 107 days: Role of Hindi media in Indore case


Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

More than three months ago, the video of a man being threatened and brutally thrashed, had gone viral.

People were outraged as they saw the person was beaten just 'for selling goods in a locality'.

Soon, it was confirmed that the incident had occurred in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. There were voices in support of the bangle seller. 

But those who tried to help him get justice, also faced a lot. The attacker claimed that the bangle seller was a Muslim who posed as Hindu, and harassed a girl. 

So, the victim who got thrashed, was not just booked, but also arrested and charged with provisions under the stringent POCSA. The youths who tried to help Tasleem were seen as troublemakers and they were given notices that they would be externed from district limits. 

Shockingly, when right-wing groups staged a huge protest without any permission and raised objectionable slogans in full public view, no action was taken. The man who had attacked Tasleem was freed. However, he remained in jail.

The role of TV channels was also similar. The attacker's strange logic about a Muslim person going to Hindu locality to sell bangles, was linked to the 'Love Jihad' controversy. The regional TV channels' reports were on these lines [see screenshot].

It took months, in fact, 3-1/2 months before, he could even come out. However, those who had stood for him, still appear as they had got notice to explain their role by administration. 

In between, the local Hindi newspapers remained soft on attackers and their supporters, didn't portray the groups that had raised slogans as troublemakers. 

The newspapers and TV channels shifted the report and gave it a twist, immediately, and pushed the right-wing narrative. 

As a result, the attack on victim was no longer the story. He got booked and went to jail, remained there for such a long period and continues the case, as trial is on. However, those who created ruckus and raised slogans faced nothing at all. Is that 'journalism'? Unfortunately, that's 'mainstream journalism' and more so, Hindi journalism.

HORRIBLE AND BIASED REPORTING THAT TRIES TO PROTECT WRONGDOERS

If one reads Dainik Bhaskar and analyzes its coverage then it shows clear bias in reporting. When right-wing groups gathered in large numbers, the paper calls it 'protest by Indore'--'Indaur jutaa'.

What a spin! An attempt to legitimize the ruckus, twisting and presenting it as genuine protest over an issue while delegitimizing the other one where a small gathering that came to stand with victim, is termed 'unmaad', a very strong word. 

So in one case, paper presents a group in a totally negative way, even if very few people came up and they just wanted justice, stood without sloganeering or ruckus. But in the other instance, which is huge, they don't see 'unmaad' or even criticise the mob or ask questions as to who was behind such a huge gathering. Worse, despite video evidence, paper doesn't report slogans. 

Rather, support it, and even bring 'LJ' angle, own it up, as 'our' and 'of entire Indore'. Why no mention about inflammatory words, how such a gathering was allowed despite Covid protocol and admin was not aware! 

This is India's largest circulated daily. The way it gives 'spin' day after day. Can make any rowdy group or goons as 'your city', 'you', 'your representative' and as a result, you won't go against them. 

Paper ensures that you, the reader and more so, the majority, feels that it's your people, your protest, your issues, your demand and make you take a stand in favour of the attacker and against the victim. This is the sort of 'journalism' that so cleverly divides society, moulds the mindset of society and stops the wheel of justice from moving ahead. It has affect on everyone. All politicians, all officers. And the society. 

Friday, December 10, 2021

Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain: Leading educationist, author and champion of women's rights in undivided India


An author and educationist who opened the famous school for girls more than a century ago, Begum Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain, is one of the most inspiring women and a role model in the sub-continent. 

Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain was a multi-faceted personality who was champion of women's rights and a writer. 

In fact, she wrote extensively and left two volumes that has collections of her essays apart from a famous novel. 

She dreamt of a world where women were at the top--working as scientists, flying aircrafts, running universities and taking stand against war. 

Talking about her achievements, just remember the era she belongs to--she was born before Maulana Azad and Jawahar Lal Nehru. She presided over education conference, organised women, opened the school that runs in Kolkata till today [now run by the State government]. 

After marriage, her husband had fully backed her and she learnt English. Begum Rokeya had gone from house to house, urging women to send their daughters to school. She attended conclaves and conferences, even presided over Indian Women's Conference.

Her life is a shining example of how a woman in that era, worked hard for emancipation of women. She died in 1932, at the age of just 52. She was buried in Sodepur in North 24 Parganas in West Bengal, India. She was born in undivided India and she is a hero in Bangladesh too. BBC's poll had her listed at sixth place. 

She was born in Rangpur. Her birth and death anniversary fall on December 9, and hence it is termed as Rokeya Day. Great women leaders who led in social, educational fields, wrote & stirred people apart from literary output, pathbreaking work on the ground, must be remembered. 

Photo courtesy: Pirganj Kasimon Nessa Girls' High School, Pirganj, Rangpur [Facebook page]