Monday, December 31, 2012

Role of media in covering Bodo-Muslim ethnic conflict in Assam

Have we forgotten that 2012 was the year which witnessed one of the worst ethnic clashes in the country that had continued for weeks and caused hundreds of thousands leaving their homes?

Now six months have elapsed since the clashes in Bodoland in Assam led to large number of deaths and lakhs getting displaced in their own country.

Those affected included both Bodo tribals and Muslims. The minorities suffered much more but overall it was a huge humanitarian tragedy.

As always, North East remains a 'faraway' place for mainstream media. Channels need 'TRP' [eyeballs or viewership], which they believe doesn't exist in NE.

For them, a Delhi or Mumbai based report is more important, because it fetches them more TRP and hence money [advertisements]. National newspapers' reports were unclear.

They didn't put in perspective the entire issue. Few media groups even though of sending their teams to cover the ethnic conflict. But Dainik Bhaskar, a leading Hindi newspaper, decided to send its journalist. The paper earned praise for publishing the series of reports.

Will displaced Bodos, Muslims able to return to their homes?

These stories from the ground not only revealed how Bodo militants were involved in killings, but also the fact that how the BTC leaders had misused their power.

Until video of Pradeep Brahma, a Bodo MLA from the region who was seen moving with AK 47 in hand, appeared and was showed by certain TV channels, the excesses in BTC administered hadn't been talked about much.

The Bodoland Peoples Front, which he represented, is actually an ally of the ruling Congress government in Assam. It should not come as a surprise.

Journalist Sharad Gupta's eyeopening report [see above] reveals the clout wielded by Hagrama Mohilary, the chairman of Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC).

Mohilary was commander of the Bodo Liberation Tigers, which was considered responsible for series of violent incidents in Assam from 1993 to 2003.

There is a revelation in the Hindi report that the journalist of a leading English newspaper worked as spokesperson for the Bodo leaders. Can one expect unbiased coverage then? The front page report clearly says that line between journalists and party activists has ended here.

This second report clearly suggests hardening attitudes. It shows how people are being termed 'outsiders' whimsically. The State government doesn't seem to have the necessary will to act. Else, it could have taken stern action.

Six months later, no serious steps for lasting peace!

Nor it does act directly in the districts under BTC. Even if the incidents of firing or burning that keep occurring irregularly are ignored and we accept that there is peace, the fact is that the humanitarian crisis continues in the relief camps in Assam.

In camps in Kokrajhar and other neighbouring districts, people are living as refugees on their own land.

They have nowhere to go and can't imagine going back to their burnt homes. Still, the issue seems to have faded and is not on the agenda of governments.

The administration in BTC areas was repeatedly accused of acting in a clear partisan manner.

This was corroborated by independent fact finding teams that visited these areas. Militants are yet to be disarmed here.

But aftermath of the violence is not a priority with the media anymore. The clashes led to deepening prejudices and feeling of mistrust among both the sides.

There is need for PEACE INITIATIVE. Will Centre and State take serious steps! See earlier report on this blog:

Congress can't escape blame for communal violence in Assam
The Myth of the Bangladeshi by Nilim Dutta

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Viqar-e-Hind: A fresh Urdu news magazine in India

Viqar-e-Hind is published from Hyderabad
When I visited the bookshop, the owner of the shop handed me Viqar-e-Hind, a news and current affairs magazine.

Though I was familiar with it, but hadn't seen it on stands yet. I bought it instantly. The contents and the quality of printing impressed me. This 68 page magazine is published from Hyderabad.

For years, Urdu speaking populace expected a magazine that would be of the standard of English magazines like Outlook and India Today.

In terms of paper quality, it not only matches them but, in fact, its printing quality seems better. The magazine clearly looks chic and smart.

Apart from politics, there are analyses, sections on women, culture, history, society, health, business & sport. What most newspapers and magazines ignore is the important segment--Children.

Viqar-e-Hind has two pages for kids that have stories and colouring activity. I congratulate them. But I would suggest that they should add at least one or two pages for children and include certain cartoons and activities.

These brain teasers or activities [as in English magazine, Magic Pot] draw the children and preteens towards the magazine. It is this young generation that will later become a dedicated reader.

After corporate groups had turned attention towards Urdu, the standard of printing also improved. In the last few years, there have been several new magazines. Readers today are aware because they get news from diverse sources including 24/7 TV channels.

What they really need is more neutrality stand and objectivity in articles. That the written word shouldn't inflame passions [or increase sense of persecution], rather, give the readers a food for thought and awaken them. The editor Mr Azim-ur-Rahman has done commendable job in bringing out such a magazine.

Already, it has carved a niche for it in the last few months. The magazine has a section on international news, as also column by famous satirist-humorist Mujtaba Husain.

We hope that Viqar-e-Hind would continue its forward march. There is no dearth of weeklies or periodicals in Urdu.

They include Nasheman to Nai Duniya and The Sunday Indian to Alami Sahara or the more political Afkar-e-Milli and Chauthi Duniya.

But this new magazine that comes twice a month looks promising and adds to the growing number of news and current affairs magazines in India.

We need media that is positive and constructive, rather than plain emotive. If you are an Urdu reader, do subscribe it, rather than getting content by reading the online edition [website].

Viqar-e-Hind is a fortnightly magazine and is priced at Rs 20. The annual subscription is Rs 480 within the country, and is not much, if one goes by the standard of the magazine.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Pronouncing 'Triple Talaq' in one sitting to end marriage: Time for Indian Muslims to say goodbye to this practice?

The Jammu & Kashmir High Court recently gave a landmark judgment on 'triple talaq', the abhorrent practice of giving divorce to woman by either uttering the word 'talaq' thrice in one sitting or through any other form of communication--letter, phone, SMS or email.

Justice Hasnain Masoodi clearly said that as per the Holy Quran and Shariat, the Muslim male doesn't have absolute power to give 'talaq' unilaterally, in one sitting.

In fact, the husband has to give a reason for it. Besides, the woman has to be given an opportunity to present her side before the qazi.

It is not that a man simply utters the dreaded word thrice and it severs the relationship. Rather, there should be attempts for reconciliation [or arbitration]. If one attempt fails and after a period of one month, the man again insists on divorce, then there should be a hiatus of one month again.

Further, just like there are witnesses during 'nikaah', where woman has the upper hand, and it is her assent after which the marriage is solemnised, the correct procedure in ending the marriage is that there should be witnesses.

In the end, when everything fails, the divorce is final. This is the process in accordance with Shariat. However, due to lack of awareness and social acceptance, the 'triple talaq' is not only practiced, it is commonly believed that verbal 'triple talaq' in one go, is right.

Strangely, there have been cases where a man, who was drunk, uttered the words and later regretted it. But the qazi gave fatwa that the relationship was over. Even though, it was in one sitting, and while drinking is prohibited in Islam, his action [in inebriated state] was considered as legal.

Clearly, there is need for reform. The voices should come from within the community. Unfortunately, there has been no such strong movement. The clergy [Ulema] are not too sympathetic towards the plight of women and kids who suffer because of this malpractice.

The learned judge cited that 'Talaq-e-Ahsan' is the only form of talaq that finds mention in Quran. The reason for duration of one month between separate sittings for pronouncing talaq is because often people utter the word without realising consequences, and later realise their mistake.

It is possible that after a period when anger subsides, the couple decides to remain united. Sadly, as soon as the verdict was known, some Ulema didn't react positively. The judge has quoted exhaustively from the religious texts and hasn't left any point untouched.

It's time that like other Muslim countries where the 'triple talaq' is not accepted, Indian Muslims also shun this  tradition. Talaq is considered one of the most despised acts in Islam and there is a provision for it, in extreme situations. However, this form of talaq has become a joke. Innumerable women suffer as a result.

Organisations working for women's rights are quite buoyed by the ruling. One hopes that the verdict in the case of Bilquis Akhtar, would help in clearing the misconceptions regarding the 'Triple talaq' as well as educating Muslim society in this regard.

Read post on this blog over the issue of Talaq in the past:

The practice of triple talaq: Is Talaq=Mazaq?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hindu wedding, Urdu card: Non-Muslim couple prints invitation card for marriage in Urdu

This is an invitation card in Urdu, which is not too uncommon in India.

The only surprise here is that it is a Hindu marriage for which the invitation has been sent in Urdu.

Not just the card has 'Bismillah' on the front cover but has the complete invitation in Urdu script.

'Noor-chashm' Dr Navneet got married to Dr Tejasvini recently. The card requests the guests to attend the 'daawat-e-ta'aam'. These days many Muslims, who claim that Urdu is their mother tongue, get invitation cards printed in English [more in Northern India, particularly, UP].

As a matter of fact, it is a rarity now to see non-Muslim marriage cards in Urdu. This particular marriage took place in Hyderabad, Deccan [Andhra Pradesh].A few years back, I had posted the card 'Ganesha on Muslim marriage card'. Read it here.

I have nothing against cards in English. But just for the sake of fashion, English invitation cards with serious spelling and grammatical mistakes, irritate me. In one of marriages, the family was affluent but not educated], yet they got cards printed in English.

There were not just grammatical errors but blunders and bloomers. They were marrying off their sons and decided not to put up names of future daughters-in-law, because of certain strange traditions in their family. So when the cards went out, it appeared that two boys were getting married. So we see such absurdities.
Have you seen such unique cards elsewhere? If you have seen, do share. Now see about the marriage invitation card of a Muslim youth, which is in Hindi and also has Hindu religious symbol. Do check this interesting post HERE

Sunday, November 18, 2012

'Killer' medicine, 'Cruel' ointment that claim to heal miraculously: Unique drugs and their advertisements on Indian streets

The 'Killer' Cure
Doesn't it seem odd that someone not only dares to name a medicine as 'Killer drug' or 'Cruel ointment' but also sells it openly and it is purchased enthusiastically.

The 'Qatil Dawa' [killer medicine] and 'Qatil Malham' [or marham] are sold as panacea. Rickshaws with loudspeaker installed on the top, are seen commonly in Uttar Pradesh.

The announcement, 'Qatil Dawa', doesn't surprise locals as they are used to it. But to an outsider it can come as an absolute shocker.


In today's marketing jargon, it can be termed as a super strategy, a bold branding move to term a product that should give people life, named as a 'murderer'.

But 'Qatil' word is sometimes used in phrases for sudden or quick action also, and also for describing a stunning beauty, as 'Qatil Husn'.

This is just one of the such medicines that claim to work wonders for you.

The advertisement medicine which is quite popular in small towns and rural areas, can be seen above. 

The second such medicine is Zalim Lotion, a strange name. Zalim (pronounced Zaalim) is also an Urdu word that means cruel.

There is no denying its popularity. It sells in glass vials and is not sold roadside but is kept at chemist shops also.You can see the advertisement in an Urdu journal.

If you are interested in reading posters and ads on the walls then you might have seen even more weird names and ads of miraculous medicines.

What about this advertisement which promises that you can get rid of 'bawasir' [piles] by a single 'teeka' [vaccination]? There are many more photographs which I have taken in the last few years.

They include pictures of 'Haddi-Jod Kenra', where a person sits on the 'takht' [cot], and the banner says that he is an expert in 'haddi baithana'.

So if your have an accident and your bone has got dislodged, and there is no relief despite getting all sort of treatment or undergoing surgery, its an option!

The quack claims that he can set the bone right with a few quick punches. Many vouch for the expertise of these self-styled orthopaedics.

Even more interesting the advertisements of Vaidyas and Hakims, who claim to get you your lost vigour back. 

They use catch-lines like 'bujha diya jalao'. I don't how far they succeeded in 'lighting the lamp' again as they promise. [It is about curing impotence]. But on these famous Gupt Rog doctors, a separate post is perhaps needed.

Enough for now. Goodbye.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Communal riots in Uttar Pradesh: Transferring officers not enough, take tough action against bureaucrats who fail to control law-and-order

The first seven months of Samajwadi Party (SP) government has seen nearly half-a-dozen communal riots. Naturally comparison with the nearly riot-free BSP regime are inevitable.

To Mayawati's credit, communal elements were reined in during the five years she was in power at Lucknow.

After Congress was shunted from UP in late eighties, the SP governments were known for being tough on communal elements.

We still remember, how when a riot had begun during an earlier SP stint, helicopter was sent to bring back officers and their replacements were sent. But the present regime has failed to control riots. One after the other, there are communal conflagrations.

In Faizabad riot, it took 12 days for government to take action and shift DM and SSP. But is this enough? Why is the government not stern enough on bureaucracy. Fact-finding commissions reports suggest that violence was pre-planned.

Similarly, you will find Rihai Manch's Mr Rajeev Yadav's observations here in The Hindu's report. Even as there were inputs about impending trouble and even when rioters gathered, police hadn't taken action and remained mute spectators.

FIRSTLY, it's clear that no riot can occur if the district administration and police are really serious about maintaining law-and-order. There can be an exception. But generally, it is not possible.

Secondly, bureaucrats must be made accountable. They should be punished if they fail in their job. Why actions are not taken on middle-level officers. Why top officers are just shifted [a euphemism for transfer] or given a new posting?

1. Accountability must be fixed immediately. Transfer is no punishment. There should be immediate suspension.

2. Don't give a posting to tainted officers or those with poor record in any department for at least six months or year. This will send a strong message to the bureaucracy.

3. Suspensions in police are a sham. They are revoked a few months later. This shouldn't happen.

4. If the IAS officers who are in-charge, have failed to take stock of situation properly and are unable to run the district efficiently, it should reflect in their ACR. Once it starts getting into Annual Confidential Report, they will learn the lessons.

After all, DMs who basically have the responsibility of district, shun law-and-order part totally to SSPs or SPs for convenience sake. Forget checking corruption or implementing schemes, if you can't keep law-and-order, you are good for nothing. Such officers must get the boot.

5.  It is common knowledge that a tough administration can't allow riot to take place. Cops know troublemakers of their area of jurisdiction and when they know the message is not to let anything happen, nothing happens. Intelligence wings at all levels also collect information and send regular inputs. Troublemakers sense the gravity of situation.

They know when its safe to do a bit of rowdy acts or when even going out would lead to action under tough acts. But if there is a loose command, then it shows through the hierarchy. Citizens also sense that rumours are floated regularly and situation is not behind handled well because the officers are lax. 

In the light of above points, UP government must take serious steps to improve law-and-order, which is important not just for citizens but also for the overall image of the SP government.

First, Kosi Kalan in Mathura, then Asthan (Pratapgarh), followed by Barelli, Masuri town in Ghaziabad, Allahabad and now the latest is Faizabad.

Clearly, there is a pattern. Someone is responsible and if there is mischief, why local intelligence, police, administration fail to anticipate.

When it is openly said by top SP leaders that there is a conspiracy, why there is no action on conspirators.

DGP had also made a comment that his sub-ordinates didn't listen. Isn't it all an indication of the lapses that are occurring repeatedly.

Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said that there are attempts to discredit the government. If it is true, then those who are responsible for these acts, should be caught. Law-and-order must be top priority.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Indians in Gulf countries: Book on problems faced by Indian expatriates in Middle East

For long, the Middle East, which is commonly termed as 'Gulf', has been considered an El Dorado for Indians. The first wave of prosperity came in many parts of India, particularly, in South India, when lakhs of Indians got jobs in Middle East in 70s and 80s.

It is a fact that despite 5-7 million Indians working in Gulf countries, there is not enough focus in India on either their contribution to our economy or their problems.

For the record, the number of Indians in West Asian countries is at least four times the number of NRIs in America. Mohammed Saifuddin's book Expat Ride sheds light on the issues pertaining to Indians in Gulf.

Contrary to the belief that every person who goes to Gulf, manages to make moolah, it tells us how large number of people fail to save adequate money.

The semi-skilled workers face pathetic conditions, work hard by spending more hours in duty but don't get as much return for their efforts. From facing extreme weather and psychological issues due to living away from families, the book tells a lot about the situation on the ground.

The book tells us about challenges faced by expatriates in getting good education to their children. That they have to pay exorbitant fees to get admission in colleges in India and the quota initiated by AB Vajpayee-led BJP government remains limited to just a few educational institutions in India.

Saifuddin also touches the issue of taxes apart from exploitation by money-lenders and depression among Indians working in the region. As many as 70% of those who commit suicide in Dubai, are Indians! This is a shocker for everybody.

The author suggests that India should conduct surveys and take more steps to redress the issues of expatriate community. Another myth is busted in the book. Muslims are not favoured in Gulf countries. In fact, in key positions non-Muslims outnumber Muslims.

Mohammed Saifuddin
The number of Muslims among powerful Indians in GCC countries is just 18%. There are other serious issues like problems faced in repatriation of dead bodies to India.

These things need to be taken up on priority. It is true that Indian newspapers and Television channels seldom pay attention to these important aspects which affect a large number of people.

But when it comes to sudden disappearance or crime against an NRI in America or Britain, our media forgets all sense of proportion and lap it up, showing it for hours.

But there is no such interest visible in Gulf. This is despite the enormous regular contribution in terms of remittances--sending money back home on regular basis, that runs millions of households in India.

Saifuddin, who hails from Hyderabad, has over the years penned articles for portal. The book comprises these articles. One hopes that the book would draw the attention of policy makers towards Indian expatriates in the GCC countries--United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabic, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Shauq Jalandhari: Spreading the fragrance of Urdu poetry in Eastern India

Renowned Urdu poet Samuel Daniel 'Shauq' Jalandhari is instrumental in keeping Urdu poetry scene alive in regions not considered traditional homelands for the language.

For decades, 'Shauq' Jalandhari was the driving force behind literary and cultural activities in Chhattisgarh, once the eastern part of Madhya Pradesh.

In the last six decades of his poetic career, Shauq Sahab has got many awards and has been termed Pasban-e-Adab, Abru-e-Ghazal and Shaharyar-e-Ghazal.

Pune-based literary journal Asbaq recently published a special issue dedicated to Shauq Sahab's life.

For a long period, he remained associated with the All India Christian Urdu Writers Association [also termed as Anjuman Masihi Musannifin-e-Urdu].

Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee also honoured him for his contribution towards literature. Poet Nazir Fatehpuri pays him tribute in his long Nazm [the first letter of each couplet adds to Shauq sahab's name], two couplets from which I am producing here:

Shaharyar-e-Ghazal, paasbaan-e-Adab
Aabruu-e-sukhan ka milaa hai laqab.....

...Ibn-e-Maryam ke shaidai tujhko salaam
Zakhm-khurda ko marham hai tera kalaam

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

From Shalimar to Dayavan: The joy of watching old Bollywood movies

Though I am not a movie-buff, there are a few times in the year when I occasionally get this urge to catch up on movies and see the films from the golden era of Indian movies.

I've also compiled a list of the most famous Bollywood films of all time, that I want to watch.

Recently, I had taken a few days off and watched half-a-dozen movies, ranging from Dilip Kumar's black-and-white Udan Khatola to Feroz Khan's Dayavan.

One of the movies which I yearned to watch for years was Dharmendra starrer Shalimar [first released in 1978].

In the pre-satellite TV era and even before the advent of VCR [video cassettes], I watched this movie when during Ganeshotsava [or perhaps Durgotsava] celebration, (I saw it perhaps in 1982-83), when screens were put in open in a nearby locality and amid great excitement, the movies were shown with projector. 

From the roof of our third floor apartment, I had seen this movie. As a child, I was totally hooked. It was a great experience. The world renowned thieves were called by 'Sir John' at an island and given a chance to show their 'talent' by stealing the Shalimaar diamond.

All sort of modern security measures apart from alarm system and guards were put up. Further, the diamond was under 24/7 surveillance through cameras. As the floor resembled chessboard, the hero--Dharmendra, devises a novel strategy. He gets a dress with similar black-white squares, and crawls towards the diamond.

'Sir John' senses that there is a movement or something fishy but it is not noticed exactly until Dharam gets close to the diamond.

Dharmendra finally enters the bulletproof glass vestibule that covers the 'heera'. Now what he will do? Surrounded by gunmen, how can he escape?

Here comes another trick. So that was a thrilling movie by Indian standards in that era.

Watched it again nearly three decades later, and just loved it. Zeenat Aman was the lead actress in this movie and added glamour to it.

So whenever I get chhuttis at a stretch, I decide on the half-a-dozen odd movies which I have to watch.

Among the recent movies that I saw included, some old ones, some of 70s-80s, and a few latest ones. They included Garam Hawa. It is again a gripping movie. As far as Dayavan is concerned, the story initially seemed too much of typical Bollywood masala. But after the first 30-45 minutes, I enjoyed it.

Dayavan has Vinod Khanna playing the lead role with Feroz Khan as his friend. The story line is similar to some of Amitabh Bachchan movies of the era. A poor boy, who takes on the system, rising as a criminal and later dispensing justice. But it is certainly enjoyable.

As far as the classical Udan Khatola [officially spelt as Uran Khatola] is concerned, it was an old wish. Had heard so much about it. The name also fascinated me. Either its the story, the dialogues or the songs like 'Ulfat ka jaam le jaa, mohabbat ka paighaam ka le jaa...', I loved the movie.

Have made a fresh list of the movies which I have to watch during my next such vacation. Which movies do you like, friends? Your wish list! Share it here so that I can also get an insight about the movies which others wish to watch. 

Monday, October 08, 2012

Media Misinformation in India: Spreading scare in society on one hand, suppressing or ignoring 'terrorism' on the other hand

First an example about contrast in coverage of the following two incidents:

1. Three persons were killed in Manipur just a few days back. They included two Assam Rifles troopers and a civilian. Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were used to trigger the blast. But the news was largely ignored in national media.

There were no 'flashes' on TV channels, no special report or follow-up. In fact, the group Revolutionary People's Frong (RPF) spokesperson said that the organisation would continue attacks on Indian army. Still, you may never hear about this 'outfit'.

In newspaper headlines, the word 'terror' was not used. Even word like 'militants' was not there in the few papers that bothered to carry this news somewhere on inside pages. It was like 'As many killed in blast, This outfit responsible'. Read the news in this English paper here

2. Now recall a similar 'attack' that had occurred in Pune sometime back. FORTUNATELY, no one was killed in it. Just ONE person was injured. Still, the moment, news came, all programmes on national news TV channels stopped. It was constant coverage of 'terror attack' for hours from then on wards.

People rushed to their homes, tried to contact their near and dear ones. Phone lines were jammed. Cell phones were out of coverage due to the massive number of calls. Channels feasted on this frenzy, and continued this 'panic' creating industry through the night.

Immediately, words were put into mouth by asking cops, 'Could X/Y be responsible'. Cops said, 'We don't rule out X/Y'. Soon there were flashes about 'Role of X/Y possible in this attack'. All so-called security experts were ready with their information about 'modules' and 'terror groups'.

No one was killed. No group had claimed anything or given any threat in this case. There were apparently no leads immediately. But the names of Muslim fugitives names were taken repeatedly. The follow up stories continued for days, causing anxiety in not just Pune but other cities also.

Channels were screaming at the top of their pitch. From secretaries to ATS chief, from Chief Ministers to  Home Minister, everybody was being contacted.

There were reports that 14 states in India are now on alert. Height of media madness. In fact, when name of one Dayanand Patil who had carried the bag containing explosive, came up, the reports suddenly begun drying up.

Even, 'clean-chit' statements were quick for him. It seems the tailor had picked up the bag by curiosity. Wonderful!

But for these two days there was panic across India, due to extensive coverage. Muslims again felt besieged.  You can't find a house on rent easily in any city. This has happened innumerable times. The cycle continues. Read the link again in DNA.


After these two examples, I just wish to point out that this has been happening for years now. The PANIC shown by these irresponsible TV channels, is causing the fear of Terrorism in society. In fact, the objective of the terrorists must be to make people feel insecure.

By giving so much coverage, section of media is not only behaving irresponsibility but is also unknowingly playing in the hands of the forces that would like to destabilise the nation. How long would this continue? There are illegal explosives seized across India.

When thousands of kilogrammes of explosives were seized from a person in Rewa, immediately he got a clean-chit. Why? Was it because the suspect or prime accused was not from a particular religion. Cops believed that he would be taking it only for 'illegal blasts for mining'.

Of Crude bombs, HuJI link

What if it fell in hands of Naxals? Crude bombs explode in various cities. There are certain cities in India, where its criminals use crude bombs to hit the enemies or create panic. These reports are never flashed. It's not just because North East is ignored.

Even when top most dignitaries were on North East visit and blasts occurred just around their arrival or departure, it didn't stir the news channels in Hindi heartland. English channels that claim to be 'restrained' are no less different in their attitudes.

Just a few years back, there was a suggestion on HuJI link by someone and a blast story from Assam was played up by terming it as Terrorist attack. Later when ULFA claimed it was responsible for the attack in which dozens had perished, suddenly the news anchors and channels' interest in the story evaporated.

Its not about big stories either. In Pune, fortunately no one was killed. But Kanpur is also a big city, when bombs exploded there, it was not considered a major story. Why? Only when there is no lead or when there is an 'unknown', media can attribute it to groups with Arabic sounding names and Muslim names.

This is not to say that there is no terrorism. It is a big challenge for India, our police, security agencies to fight militancy and terrorism. But such immature behaviour, contrasting responses and biased media reporting can't help the country.

Militant, Insurgent, Secessionist, Outlaw or T...

Till 10-15 years ago, the word 'militant' was used in context of Kashmir. Now, in North East viz. Assam, Manipur, Tripura or Nagaland, the word 'secessionist', 'insurgent' or 'outlaw' is used. But in case of Kashmir,  the dreaded T word is used even when there is no incident, and just a suspect's arrest.
I don't at all want to say that Muslims are not involved or that they are falsely implicated. But by exacerbating the situation, causing panic, immature reporting and generalizing, section of media is doing great disservice to the nation. People with no knowledge about security establishment, make wild guesses and speculations.

These things harm investigation and hamper working of the security agencies. Media has failed to evolve a code for itself. In one incident, where no one is killed, it becomes 'terror attack, while another where many are killed is just a 'blast by outlaw group'.

Isn't it time to write to Press Council of India? Or better approach courts! Whatever. The need is now to once gain define terrorism and militancy, and once defined, the term should apply on all such groups. Every such group must be seen and dealt with in the same manner by media. Is it too much to expect?

[Read 25 old posts on the subject of militancy and terror on this blog HERE]

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Secularism in India: Lessons on communal harmony, religious tolerance and humanism from the ground [Communal Harmony Project-20]

First the story about 'J' who runs a well-known coaching institute. Even though there are just one or two Muslims in every class, he ensures that the institute is closed on Muslim holidays.

I got to know about it and asked him why he did it? The man [J] said that he felt that even if there is a lone student, he would feel that he doesn't belong to this place, if we declare off on Diwali but not on Id. That's not all.

When a Muslim teacher joined, the institute owner told the newcomer, "We've a corner where we have put up idols.

You can also put an Islamic sign, a picture of your holy places [Kaaba Sharif], a calendar or whatever you want". I again asked him, 'How did you think of it?'. "It was natural. When we have Hindu gods, there must be a Muslim religious symbol also. It will also send good message to students, who will realise that their teachers set such example.

Hats off to the man. Don't you feel respect for him. J is a Hindu. But there is another person. A lady, 'T', who is a Muslim but runs a predominantly Muslim school but here Hindu kids not only read Sanskrit but also get teachings in Vedas.

The composite culture on the street

This happens because this is our culture. This comes naturally to innumerable persons in India. No one has taught us secularism. Some call it basic human values, for others it is what they learnt from elders & family and for others it is pure secularism or humanism.

From a Muslim who sells 'garlands' sitting on the premises of Bhawani Temple to a Hindu woman who cleaned the floor of a mosque for decades [no Muslim lived in the area or ventured there], we have such stories in abundance.

Living for centuries in such a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-cultural society, our social milieu has evolved over hundreds of years. Still, it hurts when suddenly there are immature questions from people in this country, who seem to have got their worldview of religions from the post-9/11 America or countries that have no such legacy for multiculturalism. 

In India, a vast majority is secular. But now there is a small number of people who hide behind anonymity offered by web, to post communal and hate-filled messages on different forums including social networking websites like Facebook & Twitter, giving the impression that it is they who are in the majority. 

Nehruvian secularism, Hindustani cinema secularism

All of us have different stories, experiences. We had Nehruvian secularism in which Muslim wearing red Turkish cap appeared in government advertisements along with Hindu, Sikh and Christian kids, we had cliched Bollywood secularism but it was also important.

In movies, the D'Souzas and Khan uncles gave the same lesson. It worked on minds. Every minority felt that they truly belonged. It all affected us. This is a lesson for everyone in all places including other countries. Minorities should feel belonged. 

Sadly, the situation has changed with a generation that is educated. In 'bastis', slums and settlements, where there is are mixed neighbourhoods, people know so much about religious practices of other faiths. But in posh colonies, where there is little interaction, people are getting insulated.

Mosque with Ganesh idol, Temple with Muslim-Christian-Sikh symbols
Growing intolerance, Hardened attitudes

Colonies are being built on caste-basis also. I felt shattered when a Hindu friend said that the sound of Azaan  [not on loud speaker] was noise for his ear.

Just 1 minute, you can't tolerate it! Similarly, when a Muslim friend said that there was lot of religiosity in a particular Hindu event and he wasn't comfortable.

Why? Why should educated people get so intolerant. They can 'manage' everywhere, do all sorts of 'compromises' but when it comes to views about each other, there is strange fundamentalism, hardened attitudes and lack of understanding. 

There is nothing great in just looking at differences and point out each others' faults or looking at the other with disdain. We've a glorious tradition of composite culture [ganja-jamuni tehzib] from times immemorial and despite many faults, it is much more inclusive. 

These days there is such level of cynicism that if you write about good deeds of a person, you are instantly told, 'Look we are like that, but will you guys ever be even half as good'. So you keep balancing all the time, then justifying, explaining [arguing] and it goes on and on. Regarding communal mindset, I'd say that its all in your eye (and mind), what you want to see you'll see.

If you believe in harmony, you will find instances of it everywhere. If you believe in 'hate-filled' ideology, you will never get convinced by innumerable such examples, because it means the defeat for your ideology which you might consider as your personal defeat and hence you won't agree to the other point of view.

I just wish that rather than scornfully rejecting our traditions, we should take pride in our unique secularism and this value system which we inherited from our elders and that evolved on the streets and in the mohallas. The stories I recounted in the post initially are spread in abundance all around us.

This post is in context of the following post:

[*I didn't name J and T because I didn't take their permission. I wish to write about them and those on the same path, in much more detail later]

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hindu temple bears Islamic, Christian, Sikh symbols: Communal Harmony Project-19

The temple that bears symbols of four religions
It was a chance discovery when I spotted this unique temple in a dense locality.

It was a small temple, just like many shrines on road sides, in India. However, it had symbols of all religions on the front as well as side walls.

As there was heavy traffic on the road and it was risky to suddenly stop the vehicle, I went ahead and then came back from the next traffic intersection, to have a close look at the 'Mandir'.

There is no need for any person who is a caretaker at a shrine to put up signs of other faiths. It doesn't lead to more collection in the 'donation box' and no community would generously laud the temple-administration for such a step.

It was purely a goodwill gesture. I met the priest. He introduced himself as Om Sai Ram, rather than his original name, which he uses only in official documents now. For him, all faiths are the same. The locality is predominantly Hindu [65%] and has around 35% Muslims, however, there is hardly any Christian or Sikh population.

The temple authorities didn't do it to please followers of other faiths. No one objected when Islamic crescent and cross were painted on the walls along with Om. There was a 'trishul' on other other side and a black stone that bore the words 'Shani Dev'. I was offered water.

The Saffron-robed pandit ji told me enthusiastically about the events held at the temple and how he is supported by everyone.

Some other people also came when they saw us talking. Unfortunately, my photographer friend was in a hurry, and we left, after exchanging our telephone numbers.

Fascinating, isn't it! But that's India. At every nook and corner, mostly in dense localities and 'bastis', if you wander, you find such amazing stories of communal harmony scattered all around. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Crowd Control: Failure of police in controlling mobs, readiness to fire at protesters, irresponsibility of media and indifference of society

Water cannons seldom called to disperse crowd
Six youths were killed in police firing in Masuri in Ghaziabad, an incident that could have been avoided, had police taken action earlier on the complaints of citizens.

Once again there was no serious attempt to tackle the protesters through the alternative methods of crowd control.

Sadly, in independent India, people are fired, straight in heads and chest, something which is unthinkable in other countries.

Every year police department in all states buy equipment and goods for controlling mob and for tackling law-and-order related situations

But none of them are used. Even when crowd surges over several hours, the 'water cannon' or similar other vehicles are not called. The death of 14-year-old Luqman who was killed by a bullet, has been reported by India Express in a sensitively written report AT THIS LINK. Heart-rending stories.

No one justifies violence but the manner in which citizens are shot, raises serious questions about the training of our policemen, as well as apathy of society, politicians and citizens. When groups broke railway lines or when political outfits attacked North Indians, did police mull firing?

How to control crowd:

1. Water cannon

2. Use of tear gas [or pepper sprays]

3. Lathi charge

4. Firing rubber bullets

5. Gushots in the air

Generally, if police use first or second method, the crowd is dispersed. In fact, when rubber bullets are used or tear gas shells exploded, it gives the impact of firing and the people feel firing has begun, thus they get dispersed.

But generally, cops never use all these steps, and leaving all these five ways, goes to the SIXTH AND FINAL DEGREE. This is shooting at people, which is inhuman. Of course, above mentioned options are used when political parties go on rampage.

Or when Anna Hazare's supporters get violent even in the most high-security zone in Delhi. But they are treated with kid gloves. Otherwise, in rest of the country, it's usual. The policemen have the licence to: Shoot and Kill.

Sadly, there is no outrage over how readily police fire on citizens. They fire quite early on certain groups while remain mute spectators in certain other cases. Apart from water cannons, the use of rubber pellets and tear gas should be done properly.

The economic condition of the protesters often plays a role in shaping the police perception. [They know it well that which kind of crowd is capable of later making their lives hell and which group won't be able to do anything].

Just like the poor continue to be hit with lathi [baton] by our police personnel. In fact, we curse General Dyer in our history books, but the brutality and contempt of our police towards the 'aam janta' hasn't changed much.

Has anything changed since then?
Coloured ink, which is bought by police headquarters, as it can help in identification of hooligans or troublemakers, remains stored and is seldom used. Lakhs are spent to buy pepper sprays and similar objects.

Many states in India have bought most sophisticated vans worth millions for crowd control. There are even electric shock batons and other equipment to check violent crowd.

In worst case, when crowd gets uncontrollable, they should fire in the air, or in the legs so as to avoid fatal injuries on our people.

Unfortunately this doesn't happen. Everytime, police doesn't take action for hours, sometimes even for days. Complaints not taken, FIRs not registered.

When anger builds up and police feel the situation is out of control because of their delayed action, the poorly trained cops who see particular sections of society as their 'enemies', fire straight on heads and chest.

The crowd can later be blamed for being unruly. Just like colonial masters termed us till 1947. Human rights organisations may shout but who bothers!


It is not tough to check inflamed passions if police use tact. In many cities, individual police officers forge excellent ties with respectable persons of all communities. In such troubled times, they call the main cleric or the head priest of a famous temple or a leading Muslim qazi or mosque Imam.

These people are asked to make appeal on loud speakers. It always works. When the respected person from a community, particularly, a Sant or Maulana, says that "administration is sensitive and would take action immediately. What happened was wrong and those responsible for not taking action would be punished", the crow immediately disperses.

Sadly, there is such poor policing that what happens in a police station area is not known to superiors. In fact, in most communally sensitive towns, police have used these social connections to tackle worst situations.

Teenagers, youths lost lives: No dismissals, just suspensions

In Ghaziabad incident, teenagers who were not part of the mob, were killed. Luqman went every weekend to meet his grandparents, and was shot. A youth, the first engineer in his family, and many others, who were killed in cold blood.

Even worse is the fact that when these things happen, the failure of police in mishandling the situation or their lack of proper action earlier, is forgotten. Just like 'macho middle-class' loves encounter cops and extra-judicial killings, as long as the poor are killed in jungles of Chhattisgarh, dubbed as Naxals, no one is bothered.

The cops get full support for the action of killing fellow Indians. They don't get rap. The 'mandatory' inquiries start and end soon. Departmental inquiries are eyewash--a fact everyone knows. So nothing changes and cops continue treating people in the way British treated us.

And why guilty policemen are merely suspended, not terminated (dismissed)? What about accountability of superior officers? Who gave orders for firing? What about magisterial and judicial inquiries? Sadly, our society remains indifferent towards our own rights and the mindset hasn't changed a bit in six decades after independence.


The worst is the role of media that should in fact educate and enlighten--both police and citizens, so that there is no violence on either side. But instead, a section of journalists are against any voice regarding human rights.

Not asking questions on why police couldn't control the situation, it goes ahead asking why the 'violent protesters' are yet to be caught. Apart from the sensitive stories and follow-ups by Indian Express journalists, most of the papers found no fault in 'police firing to control situation'.

Almost all of them who died were teenagers. Those who died were sif, 19, Wasim, 18, Wahid, 18, Amir, 16 and Luqman, 14. Hayat as 35. As per other reports, the number of persons killed was seven. Such tragedies can be avoided, if policemen and intelligence officials at local level work properly. Worse, it has happened in Muslim-friendly Samajwadi Party (SP) government's rule.

Few write about the plight of those who were killed for no fault. But see this report. Shouldn't the report also ask, why police killed our people? Or will cases of murder would be registered against these policemen? And why situation took such a violent turn?

Even the top officials who are trained better now and are supposed to be sensitive, scornfully talk about these 'human rights walas'. Can we blame them when society finds nothing wrong with such inhuman acts. So what about the discussions on police reforms, which we have been hearing for almost a decade now?

Similar post on this issue:

1. Indian Muslims must avoid street protests
2. Indian police: Force to safeguard the rich
3. What's wrong with our society: Innocent Kuldeep gets the bullet, guilty go scot-free
4. Police brutality: Truth of an 'encounter'
5. Killing Ranvir Singh in cold-blood in Uttarakhand

Thursday, September 13, 2012

From MF Husain to Aseem Trivedi: Drawing, disrespecting Bharat Mata and debate on creative freedom for an artist or cartoonist

A few years ago MF Husain painted Bharat Mata in a way, it was objected by a section of society. He apologised, yet numerous cases were filed against him in different cities by several groups.

Though a celebrity painter, Husain didn't say much about creative freedom or tradition of nude drawings in India. He was fiercely opposed by Muslims also, who opposed him in newspapers, on the streets and elsewhere too.

Was that caricature really denigrating or obscene? Anyway.
You can see photos about Muslims objecting to his caricature on my earlier post. Husain couldn't come back to India, settled outside the country and died. He must have been bitter but didn't say anything critical of the country or the government. 
Now, we have a cartoonist, Aseem Trivedi. In one of his cartoon, he shows 'Gang rape of Mother India'. These are the exact words which he mentioned in his cartoon. Mother India is shown wearing a tricolour Sari. 
Politician is telling her, 'Hurry up', while bureaucrat [spelt wrongly by him] is also holding her hand while another creature [corruption] stands ready.

He drew Parliament in such a way that it resembles a big toilet [commode] and as far as our national symbol 'Ashoka pillar' is concerned, he turned the lions into wolves.
Contrary to Husain's case. Aseem Trivedi is not apologetic. He won't say sorry. The cartoonist who was not too well known, feels that he has every right to draw it. He is quite clear about it. He has conviction, no doubt. Perhaps, good that he has taken a stand.
But the difference in this case is that political parties that right-wing Hindutva groups hounded Husain, but support him for these cartoons. They are not too engaging. But from Shiv Sena to MNS and even BJP, none of these parties feel that such cartoons, particularly, about Bharat Mata, and those tampering our national symbols are distasteful.
The law is clear about it. Yet, he has support from a wide spectrum. Is freedom of expression absolute. No! It comes with responsibility. You can't abuse your neighbour, leave alone tampering with national emblem.
However, Aseem is right in the sense that slapping a case of sedition was unjust. Yes, these colonial laws are used selectively, often misused, and they must be reviewed. He is courageous in a sense. The fact is that he did what he thought was his right.
Sorry, I don't like these cartoons & its my personal thought. They are not seditious but they do hurt my sensibilities. I won't post them on this site. If you intend to see them, search elsewhere. But this is a watershed case.
The strong support the activist-cartoonist has got, political parties standing for his right to expression and state government forced to review its decision--all these are things that would be unthinkable in the past.

I won't say double standards in the case of Maqbool Fida Housain vis-a-vis Aseem Trivedi. Press Council supports him for his right to draw the cartoon. He gets award for courageous cartoons. 
No case registered against him under cyber laws or IT Act, which any other ordinary person may be booked for, if he/she simply forwards objectionable material. 
So there is no question of patriotism test conducted on Trivedi. I am a fool yaar, I shouldn't even think of it. What a silly comparison. Why would someone ever question his 'deshbhakti'!
Or perhaps, there is a new dawn in India. Boundaries of creative freedom are getting stretched and people are imbibing the Western values as far as seeing and understanding art is concerned. Let's hope, the standards remain the same in future as well. 
It was just for the record. 

Sunday, September 09, 2012

NCPUL puts Urdu books, language learning course, encyclopaedia online: Can't blame government, institutions for 'apathy' towards Urdu anymore

Hundreds of story books for children available for free download on internet 
Positive news regarding Urdu is coming from all corners in India. The latest is the National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language ie NCPUL's step to put Urdu books online.

Firstly, what has gladdened me is that hundreds of children's books have been put up for free AT THIS LINK.

Under the category Adab-e-Atfaal or Children's Literature, there are illustrated, neatly printed books for kids of all ages. So if you are a lazy person who doesn't want to subscribe a magazine or find a bookshop to buy kids' books, you can download them, get the pages bound and gift the books to your child.

This will develop interest towards reading among the kids. You can't say that there isn't enough material for children in Urdu. The dynamic website now has complete Urdu encyclopaedia online apart from books ranging from literature to philosophy, medicines to NCERT Urdu medium school curriculum texts and history to arts in the Urdu Digital Library link, where books are being added regularly.

NCPUL expands its online operations
Secondly, they have now the online Urdu learning course AT THIS LINK. This is apart from Urdu digital learning, the complete and famous Urdu Encycopaedia.

For a long time, this website had just the monthly magazine and its literary journal available.

But now the plan is to enhance the site and put up thousands of Urdu books on the site.

Till now many of us relied on the website for reading old texts and rare manuscripts in different Indian languages. The new NCPUL project seems heading in the right direction.

Sincere thanks to NCPUL team including Council chairman, the HRD Miniser Kapil Sibal, Professor Wasim Barelvi, Director Khwaja Mohammad Ikramuddin and the many faceless people behind the scene for their dedication and sincere work.

There was a time when I wrote this post, 'No cartoons, comics for Urdu speaking children'. That was seven months back and I'd mentioned the name of NCPUL in the article then. Soon Syed Mukarram Niyaz came up with his website

Dr Khwaja Ekramuddin
This was a major step. An individual's effort which is now being recognised across the world. Now an institution, NCPUL, has taken the lead. Besides, good news is coming from different places in the country also.

Either its the issue of delayed publication of Urdu text books, which has been now rectified to an extent with NCERT putting books online or heartening news like Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) launching Urdu learning software that can teach people, particularly, elders in 40 hrs.

This is part of the drive against illiteracy. Opening of Urdu schools in MP, UP and appointment of teachers promised by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in Bihar [he has promised that Urdu will be taught in all primary schools across Bihar] are all good signs.

This shows that 'tassub' or bias towards language has come down significantly. No one opposes Urdu now. Now there are more than 15 Urdu Academies functioning from Haryana to Tamil Nadu and Gujarat to West Bengal.

There are many more good stories like the big project of publishing books on technical and engineering subjects for ITI students (Industrial Training Institutes) that is underway. One can't really put the blame on state governments or centre. Stop blaming them.

From the free lessons to learn language to browsing through the vast treasure of thousands of books, you just need to go to the sites. Now the onus is on you to make use of the facilities and engage with these organisations.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Fate of political parties floated for Upper Castes after the Mandal wave?

After the Mandal Commission recommendations were introduced, there was an emergence of Upper Caste political parties in India.

I still remember the presence of 'Manuvadi Party' and the 'Sawarna Samaj Party' during the elections in North India, though there were a few other minor players. Most of them didn't get any electoral success.

There are still offices and banners of these parties. However, a look at these offices, are enough to give you an indication about fate of the parties.

See photo of the Sawarna Samaj Party office on the left. Its common knowledge that even being figure head president of a party, one can hold an office or government accommodation in many states.

Hence it suits the smaller parties ranging from the Anti-Mandal parties to the Muslim Majlis, Parcham Party or small RPI factions, whose jeeps and banners are visible once or twice every five years. Also, some people are bitten by this bug, and despite no chances of winning, keep the outfit to appear as "Neta ji'.

The Sawarna Samaj Party, which aimed at bringing back the Upper Castes to power, and put an end to reservation in jobs, had this slogan, "Jab tak na ho pratibha samman, Nahee banega desh mahaan" ie Nation won't attain greatness unless talent is recognized.

The national president, Archana Srivastava, continues to be at the helm. In fact, Savarna parties also kept one or two Muslim Upper Caste faces, during their campaigns. In some constituencies, they got a few thousands votes but never made a mark.

I still remember the fiery speeches of these parties, who promised to bring back the old golden era, when the Brahmin-Bania-Kayastha-Kshatriya (Thakur) and even Upper Class Muslim [Ashraaf] were at the helm, not the days of Dalit-Bahujans.

The anti-reservation SSP survives for namesake
So the party is still functioning! Though a bigger banner of the beauty parlour running from the premises, suggests that it failed to achieve its ambitions.

It was during the tenure of former Prime Minister VP Singh that Mandal recommendations were accepted.

Though BJP's Mandir wave was too strong and Mandal didn't work immediately, in the longer run, it was Mandal that succeeded. However, a few pro-Manuvadis or the anti-reservation voices remain on the ground, as seen in this photograph.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Censoring Vs Sensitizing: How to deal with communal messages, hate speech and misinformation on social media

The rumours that led to panic among people of North East over the violence in Assam and sharing of photographs—both real and morphed, regarding alleged atrocities on Muslims in Myanmar, have brought the issue of monitoring online content at the centre stage.

But first see the three incidents:

1. Photograph of Indian women who were part of the contingent at London Olympics was circulated. Such was the angle of the photograph that it was not clear whether Sania Mirza was carrying flag or not.

This was used to spread false rumours and accuse her of not being ‘Indian’, particularly, because of her marriage to Pakistan’s Shoaib Malik. There were thousands of people commenting at a page specially made for Olympics on Facebook.

While Sania was being targeted rather unfairly, few bothered to see that other women in the same photo had held the tricolor upside down--a much serious issue. When it was pointed out, the number of abusive comments suddenly came down.

2. Photograph of a youth standing with his foot on the ‘shiv linga’ at a temple made rounds on internet. The name of the person whose profile carried this photograph sounded Christian and hence enormous amount of hate was directed at the community.

When the person was finally traced, it was found that he was not a Christian, but Hindu. He was upset with God because of failure in exams repeatedly. Due to malicious act, there were rallies in different cities and lot of hate speech on internet. Finally, he was arrested.

3. Of late, a photograph is being circulated on internet. It shows people wearing skullcaps [clearly Muslim] and whose ire is directed at Indian flag. It is a photo of Pakistan. But this is used to direct anger against Indian Muslims also.

In fact, in one city alone, VHP-Bajrang Dal burnt Pakistani flag twice in less than a month over different issues. Clearly, there are hate-mongers on both sides. Why use the acts of fringe elements to rouse feelings and instigate people.

Of morphed images, rumours and gullible netizens

So are the people so gullible [and fool] that they believe whatever they see on internet? To an extent, it is a fact that when you carry biases and you are presented with similar things, either inciting texts that are based on wrong facts or morphed photos, they tend [or like] to believe it.

Also, there is a large loony fringe on internet. They are just like normal people who appear sophisticated but when they are alone, make dirty graffiti on toilet walls in trains and other places. Hence, such people under false or assumed identities spread their message and get vicarious pleasure.

The above three examples are just a tip of the iceberg. There are groups on Facebook that are ideologically driven and intend to distort things, spread wrong information and create divide among religious communities through their diatribe. But are we so immature that anything can cloud or vision!

Tell youths about cyber laws, online safety

With millions getting news and information through social media, particularly, websites and internet sources like Facebook and Twitter, it is more important to think of sensitizing people. There has been no serious effort at on part of government to tell citizens or students about cyber etiquettes and online safety.

Every day we have large advertisements are published by government. Railway publishes ads about how to travel safely by not taking eating from strangers who can drug your food or Delhi police giving you information about help lines in the form of newspaper advertisements.

Educate, advertise, update school & college syllabi

We see ads on birth and death anniversaries of leaders, politicians and other prominent personalities of yore, to recall their contribution. On particular days like Anti-Child Labour Day or Polio Eradication Day, we have such ads on TV also.

But when crores are using internet and young minds can get poisoned or communalised, why there is no focus on this ever-burgeoning population. Why have we seen no initiative on part of government to tell people that they shouldn’t believe everything and that photographs can be morphed, just like in case of Myanmar violence.

Shouldn’t governments have started teaching cyber etiquettes as a subject by incorporating it in school syllabus. So many youths are getting booked, arrested and jailed, all over India, for posting inflammatory posts or even writing communal comments. This fact is also not known generally.

Creating awareness about laws can reduce hate-mongering

 Not just for objectionable SMS or obscene MMS, people who are writing or sharing controversial images or texts, are booked under IT (Information Technology) Act apart from IPC sections. People spreading rumours or falsehoods are being booked regularly across India.

They don’t get bail easily and spend time in jails. Just that one has to file a report against those spreading mis-information or using threatening or abusive language. If people come to know that there are provisions under which they can be booked, there will be a decline in such incidents.

I feel that one hazards are known, people will behave more maturely and responsibly. Those who commit offences, just like they do off line, will face law here as well. Shouldn’t the recent incidents, particularly, the panic among North East students in South Indian cities of Bangalore and Hyderabad, serve as wake up call.

Ironically, many of the URLs that were blocked were not connected to these issues. Pages that are banned resurface again, on different URLs. What is needed is to inform people about how things can be distorted on virtual world and that they should act with restraint.

There is no better option than educating citizens in this regard. Blocking websites or banning twitter handles is not a solution.