Saturday, September 27, 2008

missing girls/women in television advertising

There it is. Just infornt on the TV set. Boys running. For the promotional ad of Airtel Half Marathon. I see a boy leading a few, and another and one more and one more and yet another. And then a long shot of a huge group of runners in the narrow streets of India. The catchline of the ad says...'bachpan me khushi thi har baat pe daurne daurein'...

The call seems to be for a good cause...whatever it be, but what is disturbing is the missing girl who is seen just as a part of the crowd and in the background. As if bachpan or childhood is all about boys. When will this mindset change?

Not that this is the only ad with such a lopsided representation...but I think I must react atleast on this blog so hoping that it finds its way to the admakers and the promoters of the halfmarathon. Not sure if it will.

But what is important is to react. And so this post.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Life in Singapore

Hi ,
I had recently shared a glimpse of Life in Singapore with Laxmi through email on 12th May. Laxmi suggested that I post it here on the blog. Do read it and leave your comments. Also, please share your own experiences of the surroundings your are in.

I am back in Delhi tomo after almost 4 months of stay in Singapore. Life had been quite hectic as was managing both kids with an ever busy husband occupied with studies. It is a relief to think of being back in Delhi. I shall be joining work at Apeejay from 12th. Had been missing work for some time as kids kept me indoors majorly.About Singapore, yes you are right. It is pretty regimented and disciplined. It is a 'managed democracy' which has its own virtues generally unseen in our part of the world. It is a developed country and very efficient in delivery of services. There is virtually no dishonesty or corruption in day to day civic life. Imagine taking a taxi without worrying about getting over charged. In fact the drivers return even 5 cents if its due. I had put my daughter in a school nearby and I must admit she gained quite a lot in this limited time. Unlike India, even an average school here delivers for what you pay. But I find that 4 months is too long a period in this tiny state which is smaller than Delhi. Life is a bit monotonous and mechanical. Mornings begin with people rushing to offices with all kinds of gadgets hanging around their body. Mobile phones, ipods, video games and et al. The same kinds of malls sell the same kinds of things. All branded. In fact I used to think that Gurgaon is maddening because of malls. Singapore is worse. The malls here are much bigger and hence more maddening.What I like about Singapore is ease in commuting. It is also gender sensitive. Roads are smooth so strollers don't bump, hence one can take even an one year old child for shopping. When I get in the buses, the drivers get up to help . They will not start the bus unless I am properly seated. If there is rush, co-passengers leave seats for those more needy. This is so amazing. Metros here are very similar to those in Delhi. On alighting, their would always be an alternative to stairs for wheelchairs and strollers. The toilets are neat and clean and within reach. One does not pay for using them.There are additional diaper changing rooms.
But I still think India is more alive and vibrant. And hence a better place to live. So am back tomo :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Notes from the Neighbourhood

On the eight day of the Tarai Bandh, wanted to share some vignettes of Kathmandu. The long, long, long queues for petrol and diesel, waiting all night long for about 3-5 litres of fuel, are ubiquitous in all parts of the city. In any other city, it would have been mayhem and a near-riot situation at the mismanagement of the situation. But here, people are patient, taking inconvenience in their stride, shaming the impatient and edgy into thinking of larger processes at play. Instead, they soak in the sun, or play cards during the long wait. The elections to the Constituent Assembly, now scheduled for April 10th, have been postponed twice – from June and November last year. This time round too, the hold of the Seven Party Alliance government is tenuous. The Madhesi movement in the Tarai has gained momentum, and the bandh has paralysed life in the Tarai, and also choked the Kathmandu Valley, the seat of power, dominated by the pahadiya, or hill people. The grievances of the Madhesis (people of plains origin) are real – in terms of under-representation in governance, discrimination in language, among others.

While the turmoil, near-crisis, on-the-brink situation of Nepal is sporadically reported in the Indian media, what is under-reported, or completely ignored, is the resilience, the hope in the future, the optimism of the woman and man on the street. The highly politicised public, well-up on news – mostly through the radio, and the several Nepali newspapers – are positive in the face of extreme personal inconvenience. Where else would people be willing to walk long distances to get to work and school, endure eight hours of power-cuts, cooking-gas scarcity, and sundry other shortages? Where else would all this be viewed as merely a small hurdle on the path to democracy? It is the mood of a young nation-in-the-making, a mood that the media in the neighbourhood fails to capture. The Indian media is also unquestioning in the dominant attitude to Nepal, treated almost like a province of India. For instance, in the recent “kidney racket”, the infamous Dr Amit Kumar was arrested by Nepali police, and “handed over” to the Indian authorities. I wonder if any sections of the Indian media questioned (like the Nepali media did), what legal process was followed, since he was not legally extradited, and whether he should not be prosecuted in Nepal for violations of certain laws in Nepal itself. It’s high time the Indian media shed some of it’s patronising attitude to the country’s neighbours.

Saffron-hued Akbar

Why all the fuss about Jodha Akbar? Why are Rajputs protesting a against a film that presents Hinduism/Rajputism, rather, as conquering a Mughal emperor? The historical inaccuracies apart (Ashutosh Gowarikar doesn’t claim to be making an episode for the History channel, after all), even what has been hyped as “just a love story”, is disturbing in its blatant Hindu promotion. Throughout, Aishwarya-Jodha-Rai-Bachchan is decked up like a mannequin from Rajasthan Emporium (and as lacking in expression), complete with bindi, red ghagras and backless cholis. She is minus kajal apparently to convey an ethereal look – but ends up looking even more vapid and blank. But what is more unreal, and troubling, is the Hindu propaganda – she makes the setting up of a puja room in Fatehpur Sikri (or wherever that set is supposed to be) a condition precedent to marrying Akbar, and does Krishna puja everyday, getting Akbar to eat prashad and do aarti. As a “special” gesture, she cooks Rajasthani vegetarian food (without onions and garlic) in the Agra Fort kitchens, and Akbar is so overcome with appreciation for dal-bati-churma and besan ki sabzi, that he orders she cooks it for him at regular intervals. When she is sulking in her maika, she agrees to return only after she is charmed by Akbar’s decision to abolish the tax on Hindu teerth-yatras/pilgrimages. This last – a result of Akbar’s forays into Agra’s bazaar disguised as a commoner, when he tries to understand the people’s problems. Apparently, the rising price of onions or dal apart, the major grievance seems to be the teerth yatra tax!

Throughout, Jodha spouts clisht Sanskritised Hindi, while Akbar talks in Hindostani. The one and only concession to mughal/Muslim culture the stubborn Jodha makes, is to learn Persian calligraphy. And there too she is one up on Akbar, who, according to the film, was not literate. Jodha is shown as a strong woman – literally too, since she is equal to Akbar in fencing – who does not compromise. But all her “conditions” and demands, revolve around religion – Hinduism. Surely, to portray Akbar’s legendary tolerance, Gowarikar could have done without having to make him submit to everything Hindu. The only reason I could endure this three and a half hour long overdose of religion, colour and sound, was to wait out the eight-hour daily power-cut in Kathmandu. If the film does well in Nepal, that will be the secret behind its “success”.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Report on N-E girls sparks anger

I am just posting a story I did about the North Eastern girls who have been wrongly portrayed in a report. Thought it might not have been read by all so I put it on the blog.

Report on N-E girls sparks anger
New Delhi, Feb. 12: People of the Northeast are angry and agitated that a media report labelled north-eastern girls as "drug peddlers" and also "sex workers".
This was also reinforced by the Delhi police, which had even earlier issued guidelines to north-eastern people on "how to behave in Delhi" which also created resentment among them.
The matter caused so much of anguish that it was taken up in the Manipur Assembly by MLA O. Joy who moved a calling attention motion on the issue last week.
The MLA was angered by the appearance of a report that made sweeping slurs on north-eastern girls, expressed his extreme concern over the biased and predatory attitude towards women from the Northeast that appears to be prevailing in the national capital.
Mr Joy reportedly pointed out that only recently, there had been a case of sexual abuse and harassment of two girls from Manipur at Gandhi Vihar in Delhi by over two dozen people.
Many north-eastern groups and organisations both in Delhi and in the Northeast have taken up the matter and have asked for an apology both from the police and the media. Northeast Indians and others have posted their views on several blog sites angered by the very poor depiction of the north-eastern girls in the report, which said that now north-eastern girls are "peddling drugs" and they also "throw in sex as a bonus for a few thousand rupees more". It also depicted Africans as "drug peddlers".
The Northeast Support Centre and Helpline has, in its statement, asked for an apology to all Indians, Indian women in particular, and to African people for depicting them poorly.
Opposing the way north-eastern girls were depicted, the sixth conference of the just-concluded National Conference of Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI), expressed deep concern over the portrayal of north-eastern girls as "drug peddlers" and "prostitutes" by a media report.
The statement said, "The report has not only shocked the people of Northeast India, but also raised serious questions about media ethics. Such irresponsible reportage will not only reinforce the already existing gap between the people of the Northeast and the rest of the country, but it will also divide the country further on the lines of ethnicity, community and sex."

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Azera Rahman gets Anupama Jayraman Memorial Award

This is to inform you all that Delhi-based journalist, Azera Rahman has been declared the winner of the Anupama Jayraman Memorial Award for Promising Young Woman Journalist for this year.
Azera, 23, employed with the Delhi branch of Indo-Asian News Service, has had an opportunity to write on human rights issues, particularly those concerned with children and women within a year of joining the global news service wire.
Mr R Shankar, Former Editor of the New Indian Express, Bangalore, who headed the jury that looked through the nominations, said Azera's stories and the topics she has chosen for being highlighted, show promise, especially the one on the plight of children in the carpet industry.
Azera will receive the award and citation on the 8th of February, at a special function at Pune to mark the annual meet of the Network of Women in Media, India.


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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Shame: Woman journalist molested by Doctor:

After several cases of women being molested and foreigners being raped, its now a woman journalist who has been molested by a doctor in Mumbai. And this has happened in one of our most liberal cities. What did the doc think that women journos are easy to prey on or can be kissed without much ado.
What a stupid doctor who was also being really shameless. Just goes to show that even an educated man cannot be expected to behave properly and we need to have stringent laws to protect our women.
I ask women journos, infact all journalists and people from the civil society groups to take this up and really see to it that this doctor is not allowed to get away with what he did. A man who does such an act should be put to shame.... maybe dhrana outside his clinic would be a good idea....
What say?