Friday, October 31, 2008

Kolkata is unfavourable for studying mass communication

For aspiring journalists who dream of working in reputed newspaper houses and T.V channels or for copywriters/media planers/visualisers in big advertising agencies getting admission in a good media school or college is a first step to success. Apart from the newspaper houses and T.V channels there are also public relation agencies and event management companies that are part of the large media industry. With the healthy rise in Indian economy supported by the growing awareness about media among the mass of the society there has been a substantial rise in the media industry particularly in the news sector all across India.

Leaving aside rest of India if just Kolkata is considered as a case study then it will be fascinating to see at the number of regional 24 hours news channel, newspaper (monthly, fortnightly, weekly) that has entered the media market in the past 4 years. This rapid development has simultaneously increased the demand for educated and skilled professionals in the field. The skilled professionals mainly come from the media schools and colleges such as Calcutta University, Jadavpur University, St. Xavier’s College, Bhavan's Asutosh College of Communication and Management, Netaji Subhas University and several others based in Kolkata.

The glitz and glamour of media is so alluring that every year huge number of students try to get admission into the reputed colleges of Kolkata that offer M.A. or P.G. Diploma in Mass Communication and Journalism to add a new dimension to their career. But very few students do a basic reality check of these institutions before taking admission. After the end of higher secondary or ISC exam most of the students are mainly focussed on getting admission into a reputed college to add value in their resume in future.

In such mad rush the students actually overlook that mass communication is not that usual kind of subject that can be acquired just by taking notes inside a class. There is an immense need for practical classes in order to grasp the subject as well the market properly. But very few mass communication institutions in Kolkata leaving aside only St. Xavier’s College have the practice of practical classes that is essential to this subject. A student who has not done field work or internship while studying mass comm. is not practically fit for the industry that what is believed by the experts in the industry.

The P.G. Diploma in mass communication course in Jadavpur University is an instance that attracts nearly 3,000 applications every year out of which only 145 get through after admission test and a viva. Recognitions such as 'University with Potential for Excellence' by University Grants Commission (UGC), 'Five Star' status by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), First Indian University to earn SYLFF (Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund) status from the Nippon Foundation, Japan are the only reasons behind the rush among the studenst to get into J.U. mass comm. department.

Students realise the futility of the course when classes commence after puja vacation (november). There are only two to three full time professors and the rest are media professionals acting as guest lecturer. Most of the guest lecturers during the course remain busy with their respective job so they don’t find enough time and urge to visit the classes in J.U. As a result most of the time the classes are declared free. Rest of the time the classes mainly concentrate on theory and notes. Before the exam the same professors provide the students with pre-drafted notes that the students distribute among themselves and fetch the pass mark. Some students who do a little library work manage to get a first class. Very few media companies come for campus recruitment. Even the officials in the department are reluctant to invite potential recruiters. Compared to all these the department has kept the course fee to 15,000 at par with the course fee of P.G. Diploma in mass communication of Indian Institute of Mass Communication.

So students do some reality check before you want to study mass communication in Kolkata. Best of Luck...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

State Bank of India's (SBI) faulty ATM's

State Bank of India (SBI) one of India’s largest private banks has around 450 ATM’s alone in its West Bengal circle. The bank with repute for excellent customer service and trouble-free banking system has opened these numbers of ATMs vigorously as part of their expansion drive. SBI has the largest number of ATMs in Kolkata compared to the other nationalised and private banks operating in the city. These ATMs can be found in almost every nook and corner of the metropolitan city. You name a popular joint or street in the city of Kolkata and definitely you will locate a Green-Blue trademark SBI ATM staring at you.

There is no doubt that the SBI ATM card holders are the luckiest one in the city when it comes to getting money during odd hours of the day and urgent circumstances. ATM or Automated Teller Machine is also popularly known as ALL TIME MONEY by the customers. But as they saying go – money is alluring, it is 100% true in case of SBI ATMs. During odd hours of the day and during urgent requirement, when you need some money instantly, you will find a SBI ATM within your reach but to you money will be still like an illusion. Either the ATM will be completely out of order or after lots of hard work and putting all the information correctly you will be informed that money cannot be dispensed at the moment. You will feel like smashing the ATM with any hard object available at that moment.

Realising how agonising the moment can be for a customer most of the SBI ATMs have very powerful air conditioners (ACs) to keep cool the angry customer. Now the only thing a customer can do is to step out of the ATM and start looking for another SBI ATM with an anticipation will he be getting money.

If so many SBI ATMs stand idle, just to prove the might of SBI to other banks, then it will be of no use to its customers. What is the use of keeping so many ATMs at every turn in the city if it is not properly maintained by the SBI authority? They can rather reduce the number of ATMs and concentrate more on better customer service, which is more important for a customer.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Kolkata metro rail staff shock passengers

Once the pride of Kolkata, Kolkata Metro Railway is running into huge loss is a news that often comes in local newspapers and TV channels. At the end of each financial year the metro rail authority comes out with this startling fact, which is hard to believe watching each train plying from Tollygunge to DumDum station packed house every time.

But this is for sure that the metro rail staffs have earned a very bad reputation among the Kolkatans due to their reluctant, callous, raucous and unapologetic attitude. Unfortunately they have forgotten (deliberately) that they are not earning bad name for themselves but for the metro organization as a whole. The metro railway staffs treat the passengers as herds of animal who board the train on a daily basis. They don’t even show the slightest courtesy while listening to the passengers query when brought in front of them. Instead they are always demonstrating a damn care attitude towards the passengers.

When any passenger takes a question to a metro staff, they start playing with the passenger by sending him from one person to another. Till the person is tired and gets irritated and vacates the place without receiving his answer this sort of game continues. Even if the staffs don’t have a proper answer to the question they won’t let that person know, instead they will continue to harass the passenger who may be hurrying to office, school, hospital or home. Interestingly, when the passenger leaves cursing these staffs, the staffs undeterred about the incident laughs at the passenger’s plight.

The automatic entry/exit machines installed at every metro station have become faulty due to extensive use. As a result, these machines often malfunction during peek hours creating a chaotic situation among the passengers. These machines either show faulty ticket counts or simply damage the ticket with its sharp edges. Sometimes the tickets also get stuck in these machines. During office hours when every minutes count for an office going person this type of negligence is intolerable and amusing when the metro rail itself talks so much about punctuality.

When any passenger caught in this situation asks for the staffs help then his ordeal increases for worse. The passenger is first send to the station master’s office (SMO) where the station master asks the passenger innumerable question only to prove that it was the passengers fault. Then the station master takes out a pencil/pen and starts pressing it over the retrieved/crushed ticket to make it straight. Astonishingly this is a unique technique the metro staff of all the stations has acquired to treat a damaged ticket. Then the station master takes out a heavy, peculiar looking portable machine and inserts the ticket in its flap to see if the ticket is okay. Even this machine is so outdated that he is unable to take a proper reading at one go. So he carries on this process for at least an infinite time till he is satisfied with the result.

Now if any passenger during this long process doesn’t bear all this patiently and asks the respective station master to make it fast. Then he will be abused by the station master and soon all other staff will gather around to abuse the passenger leaving behind their official work. They will unitedly fight the case till the passenger succumbs to the pressure and leaves the place or board a train only to find that he is alone, defeated, terribly late and verbally abused.

The moral of the story according to the malevolent metro rail staff is “don’t mess with the metro staff they are perfect and united for their own cause”.

Hope someday a member of the Kolkata metro railway will read this post and put a justified comment on it to prove it wrong.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Large Kali Idols of Naihati

Zade black in colour, naked, fiery red eyes, blood smeared all over body, long dark hair, tongue licking out, awe-inspiring eyes, wearing skulls of slain demons. This is the familiar face of Goddess Kali who is prayed all over India for strength and power. Goddess Kali symbolises the end of evil and the start of good. When Kali Puja is celebrated in Bengal it outsets Diwali or Deepavali the festival of lights in other parts of India.

Ma Kali has a special significance in Bengal and particularly in Kolkata due to the presence of the famous Kalighat Temple, which is located in Kalighat, South Kolkata on the banks of River Ganga. Around 25,000 big and small Kali Pujas take place in the city of Kolkata alone every year. Although such a large number of Kali Pujas take place in the city of Kolkata, still this puja does not attract that attention from pandal hoppers who throng all pandals during Durga Puja.

But if someone wants to take the real kick of Kali Puja then should head towards Naihati. Naihati is a very important industrial town and an important railway junction station on the Indian Railways network, in the district of North 24 Parganas, West Bengal, India. It is very easy to reach Naihati as it takes only one hour by train from the Sealdah station by train. Then just by taking an auto or rickshaw one can enjoy the charm and revelry that surrounds Kali Puja in Naihati.

The unique thing about Kali Puja in Naihati is its large idols, some measuring around 32 feet. It has also been recorded that the Deul Para Adhibashi Brinda Puja committee of Naihati once made a Kali idol of hoping 31 feet. It was the tallest Kali idols of the country, as well as of Asia that was ever made in Naihati. In 1965 an idol was made of a recorded height of 31 feet. But the civic authority reduced it to 29 feet from 1968.

The whole town gears up for the mood during this time with light and people thronging the magnificent pandals. The pandals are huge to fit the large idols measuring on an average of 25 feet. Truly speaking the Kali idols are not that artistic to look at, but definitely inspire imagination because of its sheer magnitude. Interestingly some idols are so big that four average size person sits on the bulging belly of sleeping Siva and play cards. The Puja committees like Amra Kajan, New Star, No 7 Adhibashi Brinda, United Club and Dishari Club cannot be given a miss at any cost. Amusing it may be, but the fact is these idols are made adjacent to the water bodies like ponds and small lakes in the locality. The reason behind this is that the idols are so huge it is practically impossible to carry them to the River Ganga for immersion. Instead the puja organisers call the fire department, who come and wash the large idols with their hose pipe, spraying water from the adjacent water body.

A forwarded mail with a meaning - A Letter to Every Indian from President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

Everyday our mail inbox is flooded with irritating, meaningless spams and forwarded mails, some are fresh and some are stale as smelling cheese. Some are over preachy while some are blatantly sadistic. But this is one forwarded mail that has a strong meaning and purpose and deserves to be forwarded for the betterment of India. The more this message gets spread; it is good for India in the long run, provided fellow Indians take a little notice of it.

Following is the speech of President of India DR. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam:

Why is the media here so negative?
Why are we in India so embarrassed to recognize our own strengths, our achievements?
We are such a great nation. We have so many amazing success stories but we refuse to acknowledge them. Why?
We are the first in milk production.
We are number one in Remote sensing satellites.
We are the second largest producer of wheat.
We are the second largest producer of rice.

Look at Dr. Sudarshan, he has transferred the tribal village into a self-sustaining, self-driving unit. There are millions of such achievements but our media is only obsessed in the bad news and failures and disasters.

I was in Tel Aviv once and I was reading the Israeli newspaper. It was the day after a lot of attacks and bombardments and deaths had taken place. The Hamas had struck.. But the front page of the newspaper had the picture of a Jewish gentleman who in five years had transformed his desert into an orchid and a granary. It was this inspiring picture that everyone woke up to. The gory details of killings, bombardments, deaths, were inside in the newspaper, buried among other news.

In India we only read about death, sickness, terrorism, crime. Why are we so NEGATIVE? Another question: Why are we, as a nation so obsessed with foreign things? We want foreign T.Vs, we want foreign shirts. We want foreign technology.

Why this obsession with everything imported. Do we not realize that self-respect comes with self-reliance? I was in Hyderabad giving this lecture, when a 14 year old girl asked me for my autograph. I asked her what her goal in life is. She replied: I want to live in a developed India. For her, you and I will have to build this developed India. You must proclaim. India is not an under-developed nation; it is a highly developed nation.

Do you have 10 minutes? Allow me to come back with a vengeance.

Got 10 minutes for your country? If yes, then read; otherwise, choice is yours.
YOU say that our government is inefficient.
YOU say that our laws are too old.
YOU say that the municipality does not pick up the garbage.
YOU say that the phones don't work, the railways are a joke. The airline is the worst in the world, mails never reach their destination.
YOU say that our country has been fed to the dogs and is the absolute pits.

YOU say, say and say. What do YOU do about it?

Take a person on his way to Singapore. Give him a name - 'YOURS'. Give him a face - 'YOURS'. YOU walk out of the airport and you are at your International best. In Singapore you don't throw cigarette butts on the roads or eat in the stores. YOU are as proud of their Underground links as they are. You pay $5 (approx. Rs. 60) to drive through Orchard Road (equivalent of Mahim Causeway or Pedder Road) between 5 PM and 8 PM. YOU come back to the parking lot to punch your parking ticket if you have over stayed in a restaurant or a shopping mall irrespective of your status identity… In Singapore you don't say anything, DO YOU? YOU wouldn't dare to eat in public during Ramadan, in Dubai. YOU would not dare to go out without your head covered in Jeddah.

YOU would not dare to buy an employee of the telephone exchange in London at 10 pounds (Rs.650) a month to, 'see to it that my STD and ISD calls are billed to someone else.'YOU would not dare to speed beyond 55 mph (88 km/h) in Washington and then tell the traffic cop, 'Jaanta hai main kaun hoon (Do you know who I am?). I am so and so's son. Take your two bucks and get lost.' YOU wouldn't chuck an empty coconut shell anywhere other than the garbage pail on the beaches in Australia and New Zealand.

Why don't YOU spit Paan on the streets of Tokyo? Why don't YOU use examination jockeys or buy fake certificates in Boston??? We are still talking of the same YOU. YOU who can respect and conform to a foreign system in other countries but cannot in your own. You who will throw papers and cigarettes on the road the moment you touch Indian ground. If you can be an involved and appreciative citizen in an alien country, why cannot you be the same here in India?

In America every dog owner has to clean up after his pet has done the job. Same in Japan.

Will the Indian citizen do that here?' He's right. We go to the polls to choose a government and after that forfeit all responsibility.

We sit back wanting to be pampered and expect the government to do everything for us whilst our contribution is totally negative. We expect the government to clean up but we are not going to stop chucking garbage all over the place nor are we going to stop to pick a up a stray piece of paper and throw it in the bin. We expect the railways to provide clean bathrooms but we are not going to learn the proper use of bathrooms.

We want Indian Airlines and Air India to provide the best of food and toiletries but we are not going to stop pilfering at the least opportunity. This applies even to the staff who is known not to pass on the service to the public.

When it comes to burning social issues like those related to women, dowry, girl child! and others, we make loud drawing room protestations and continue to do the reverse at home. Our excuse? 'It's the whole system which has to change, how will it matter if I alone forego my sons' rights to a dowry.' So who's going to change the system?

What does a system consist of? Very conveniently for us it consists of our neighbours, other households, other cities, other communities and the government. But definitely not me and YOU. When it comes to us actually making a positive contribution to the system we lock ourselves along with our families into a safe cocoon and look into the distance at countries far away and wait for a Mr.Clean to come along & work miracles for us with a majestic sweep of his hand or we leave the country and run away.

Like lazy cowards hounded by our fears we run to America to bask in their glory and praise their system. When New York becomes insecure we run to England. When England experiences unemployment, we take the next flight out to the Gulf. When the Gulf is war struck, we demand to be rescued and brought home by the Indian government. Everybody is out to abuse and rape the country. Nobody thinks of feeding the system. Our conscience is mortgaged to money.

Dear Indians, The article is highly thought inductive, calls for a great deal of introspection and pricks one's conscience too…. I am echoing J. F. Kennedy's words to his fellow Americans to relate to Indians…..


Thank you,

Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

Let’s do what India needs from us.

Forward this mail to each Indian for a change instead of sending Jokes or junk mails.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Nawab Wajid Ali Shah is an unknown person in today’s Metiabruz

Metiabruz of today would have been an unknown place if Nawab Wajid Ali Shah wasn’t exiled here. Metiabruz at present in Garden Reach, once used to be an isolated piece of land adjacent to the Hoogly River. It was mainly used by the traders of East India Company as their relaxation spot between their trade ventures by sea route. Wild dogs and fox in large numbers inhabited the place at that time. Humans mostly include the robbers who were known as thangare (those who robbed innocent people after killing them by beating with large bamboo sticks).

It was only after 1856, when Nawab Wajid Ali Shah the then Nawab of Oudh, Lucknow was exiled in Metiabruz by the British Government, this place transformed dramatically. Just like the other contemporary Nawabs, Nawab Wajid Ali Shah was also a very sophisticated person fond of traditional poetry, music, singing, dance and painting. His daily chore in Kaisarbagh Baradari, Oudh was filled with extravagance, pomp and show. The nawab with heavy heart bore the pain of parting from his royal haveli in Kaisarbagh.

But a true nawab at heart, for him it was impossible to stay away even one day from dance and music. So he brought along with him Hindustani classical musicians and baijis (court dancers) to Metiabruz. It should be mentioned here that the name Metiabruz meant fort made from mud (in Urdu matia mean mud and bruz mean fort). Soon his royal house in Metiabruz started to bustle with activity, Awadhi language, art, music, dance, singing, poetry, smell of atar (fragrance made from flowers) and opulent style of living. He invited the best singers and dancers from other parts of India to Metiabruz to entertain his guests that also include the East India Company officials who banished him from Oudh.

With an intention to create a similar Lucknow in Metiabruz where his people would live happily along with him he
went ahead to create a zoo in Metiabruz, the first of its kind in Eastern India. This zoo spread across acres of land had different species of animals besides expensive and exotic birds brought from various parts of India, Thailand, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, England etc. With the passage of time this vast area of zoo has been totally engulfed by the Hoogly River.

His another major contribution to today’s Metiabruz is the introduction of Hindustani darjees or tailors. At that period of time there were very few tailors in Bengal who had the artistic skill and concept to match the talent of these Hindustani darjees from Lucknow. Gradually, these darjees became so famous in Bengal that they started getting orders from Bengali zamindars, babus and even British officers. As time passed on holding the hands of these skilful darjees, Metiabruj became one of the prominent centres of fashionable garment making in Eastern India. Now around 56% of the total youth in Metabruz is into the business of garment manufacturing. Bulk shipment of garment produced from Metiabruz is now sent to neighboring countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka every month.

Nawab Wajid Ali Shah’s love for kite and pigeons also made a contribution to Metiabruz’s economy. His love for large and unique kite was immense. So he encouraged innovative kite makers in his time. Following this tradition, at present
kite making is a profitable business here, in which large number of youth is involved. Interestingly, kite is now exported to various parts of the world from Metibruz now.
Historically also Metiabruz got its due importance holding the hands of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah when the legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray created Shatranj Ke Khilari (The Chess Players) in 1977.

But unfortunately, the manner in which the charm and splendour of the old Metiabruz has melted, in a similar manner the people of Metiabruz has also easily forgot the
name of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah. All that remains of the 31 years that the nawab had spent at Metiabruz is a sprawling Imambara and a private mosque (the Shah Masjid) that he built ten years after arriving here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Touched the Moon

Never thought, will be able to touch the bright, silver colour moon peeping every night outside the window.

They said we can’t. Showed us the reason of poverty, illiteracy and backwardness. But they overlooked our grit to excel.

Today we have touched the moon. Yes almost.

A breed of super humans called scientists has made that possible for the millions of Indian children for whom a bread is a moon.

A salute to the Indian scientists who have made possible the maiden lunar mission Chandrayaan-I.

You people didn’t made us proud but invincible. Thank You...

Going black, Blackle saves energy is generating lots of news these days, when saving energy for a better future and environment is the buzzword., developed by Heap Media Australia is a website powered by Google Custom Search. It has come up with an unique idea to save energy, by transforming itself into black.

The idea behind this concept is to reduce climate change by saving energy. The creators of Blackle believe that ample amount of energy can be saved by the use of monitors by providing search with a black background. The scientific theory backing Blackle is that the display of different colours consumes different amounts of energy on computer monitors. A study conducted in 2002 by Roberson on a variety of CRT and LCD monitors found that an all black screen consumes less energy than an all white screen.

Heap Media’s fundamental intention in launching Blackle was to spread the awareness of “save energy” among the 500 million (approx.) computer users all over the world. In January 2007, a blog post titled ‘Black Google Would Save 750 Megawatt-hours a Year’, triggered the idea, which finally took its shape into

As an environmental friendly initiative, Blackle encourages every user to set Blackle as their home page. By doing this every time a user loads Internet browser they will start saving a little bit of energy. Search Engine major, Google supported this project because their expand and reach will not only spread the idea of energy conservation but more importantly save energy to a great extent.

The entry of Balika Vadhu, exit of Saas Bahu

The tele producers (Ekta Kapoor & Balaji Telefilms) has finally decided to pull the plug on the 8 year long Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi. According to the producers this move was pre-planned as the script demanded so. But if TRPs are something to be believed, then it is the new serial Balika Vadhu currently being aired on Colors has eaten a big pie from the Kunki Saas’s drooping Television Rating Point (TRP).

Forget the ancient, typical, over hyped Saas - Bahu’s who were only fond of glycerine, and welcome the sweet Balika Vadhu who fills the TV screen with liveliness during the prime time slot from 8 to 8.30 p.m. Feeling the pulse of the large TV viewing audience who were already bored with the over acting of Smriti Irani as the archetypal Bahu in Kyunki Saas…and with the ongoing, never ending drama of reality shows, the producers in Colors channel thought it as the right time to launch Balika Vadhu. And they were absolutely right with their research and planning.

The result is evident from the latest TRPs of the Balika Vadhu show released by TAM. The show has managed to receive a rating of 4.60 for channel Colors, which is worth appreciating. The show has become so popular in such a short span that the channel has decided to do two repeat telecasts a day - at 11 p.m. the same day and at 2 p.m. the next.

The storyline of Balika Vadhu deals with a sweet and bubbly child bride called Anandi, who is married off to a young boy called Jagdish. Although set in an arid, rural Rajasthan, the serial is a relief for the TV audience whose eyes were dazzled by the extravagant set, loud make-up and ravishing sarees and jewellery, part of the nautankis from Ekta Kapoor stable.

Apart from the real life and controlled acting from the all the stars of Balika Vadhu that include Surekha Sikri, Anoop Soni, Smita Bansal and Bhairavi Raichura, the cinematography is worth mentioning. Special mention must be made about the 10-year-old girl Avika Gor, who plays the role of Anandi. She is a perfect casting for the role of Anandi done by Purnendu Shekhar, the writer and director of the serial. Interestingly, Purnendu Shekhar wrote the script of Balika Vadhu for a film in 1992.

The serial has created such popularity and awareness among the general TV viewing audience that the media (equally newspaper and TV) has already started to compare it with the masterpieces like Tamas and Godan that was once aired on Doordarshan (DD).

Monday, October 20, 2008

Save the park, conserve energy at one go

Today when pollution is taking a serious toll on our health, parks and playgrounds are increasingly looked upon as the lungs of a locality in Kolkata. Everyday, inch by inch of our city is being encroached by the real estate mafias commonly called the promoters. Nowadays it is hard to see the clear blue skies from the tall buildings that has mushroomed every in nook and corner of the city. It is also hard to inhale fresh air from any given locality as large amount of trees are felled for construction purpose.

But, unfortunately even the parks and playgrounds that are looked upon as small land of bliss are also attracting the attention of local hooligans, miscreants and gundas for their unethical and illegal works. These parks and playgrounds generally attract young and old, men and women, mostly during the early hours of morning and evening. These people visit such places either for playing, meeting each other or for physical exercise. But these places become deserted soon after darkness fall and this gives the notorious elements the chance to carry out their illegal works.

Now to safeguard these parks and playgrounds and also to protect the locality from any possible threat from such elements, the local authorities and the KMC has jointly come up with a plan to illuminate these parks and playgrounds during night.

This is undoubtedly a very good initiative from the civic authorities, and in fact this step has encouraged the local people to venture out in the parks and playgrounds even after dark. But in this process the authorities has overlooked that they also have the responsibility of conserving energy. Normally, to illuminate such big parks there is need of big mercury or halogen lights that consume huge amount of electrical energy. Now there are some authorities who would prefer to use more such powerful lights than needed just to beautify the place extraordinarily. Thus in this process they fail to remember the fact that lots of energy is going into waste.

If they had used these lights with little sense then they could have saved lot of energy and in turn could have addressed the larger issue of power shortage in Kolkata. Other than just planting huge halogen lights in the parks whimsically, the civic authorities can consider such lights that save energy and at the same time produce sufficient light enough to illuminate a park or a playground. They can also make use of solar power lights, which are not only environmental friendly but are also effective in illumination.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Reality of Reality Shows

14 year old Neera was waiting anxiously, exhausted and hungry outside an audition centre in a metropolitan city. She had come with her mother to take part in an audition for a popular T.V reality show that is to be aired on a national entertainment channel. She was holding her mother’s hand tightly anticipating the final result of her performance.

This result can become the first step towards the glamorous stardom. Everyone is throwing their best to reach that stardom, but very few can actually reach that place. The lucky one who reaches that point is hailed as the best and is idolised by all and also by those who could not achieve that coveted place. And the one who cannot reach that place, although staying just one step behind is termed as potentially weak. A term that has the potential to wreck a youngster’s aspiration, and morale.

Unable to bear the pressure of a reality show, Neera gives up and suddenly collapses on the ground. Her mother who was earlier trying to calm Neera’s nerve now herself becomes nervous and shouts for help. But no one comes to her rescue as all the participants and their parents are waiting for the result. She cries for help several times, when one of the volunteers for the show turns up and assist Neera with water.

This is a very common sight in most of the reality show venues at this moment. Reality show is buzzing in the entertainment industry. Whether it is a dance show such as Jhum tara na, Dhoom Machale le or Nach Baliye, singing show such as Indian Idol, Sa Re Ga Ma, Star Voice of India Chhote Ustad or Star Voice of India or other adult reality show like MTV roadies or Big Boss all attract huge (Television Rating Points) TRPs for the entertainment channels like Sony, Star Plus, Etv, Zee Bangla, Zee TV etc. The basic fact is, in an era where TRPs and SMSes rule the game, well planned reality shows are spinning money for the producers, which is a factor that motivates many others to join the race.

Hate it or like it reality shows are ruling the prime time of TV viewing. Such shows has even pushed back political quarrel that are often staged in the news channels between political leaders. Moreover major events in a popular reality show are aired as BREAKING NEWS in all national English and Hindi news channels.

Now in this situation how can parents only sit back and enjoy such shows in their comfy atmosphere at home and do not push their children into the fire of reality shows. How can they miss the opportunity of proudly announcing in front of the T.V reporters that their son or daughter is the winner and how much sacrifice they have done to achieve this?

In this allure of a reality show many young participants like Neera becomes the victims and they are the only one who truly realise the reality of such shows.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Inside the police system

Unfortunately the police department is always shrouded with controversies. Whether it is the infamous Rizwanur case or the brutal firing in Nandigram that killed many people in recent past, the police department is unable to wash its hands of sin. The daily newspapers or the T.V channels are always churning out new stories that glaringly points out at the notorious acts of the police. Taking bribes and hafta from the market is a common business skill of the police, which is well known, thanks to the hindi film industry or Bollywood. It can often be seen in the daylight that some over greedy and irresponsible member of the police family tarnishing the image of Khaki uniform by accepting ten rupees notes from the truck drivers in important street crossings. Sadly there were several incidents where many such police personals were caught raid handed by the public and beaten up in the road before being handed over to the police again.

Here is another instance of a heinous crime (I don’t know whether it should be an appropriate term to describe the situation) that is executed by the police. This was revealed by a police personal on a candid interaction.

Hope, every one has noticed a blackboard in a police station where types of crime and its rate of happening in a particular area are recorded (in Hindi/Bengali films and even in popular T.V serials and soaps this can be often seen). This is maintained by every police station on a daily basis at the end of the day. Now the system is that the head or the Officer in Charge (OC) of a particular police station has to give a summary of the crime record at the end of the day to the head (Boss) of the particular zone, who generally sits in the police headquarter. Although it is a part of the routine, but providing a summary reflects how effective the particular station is in maintaining law and order in the area. The number of arrest or raid in a day indicates the level of efficiency of the staff of a particular police station. The head of police issue number of cases to the OC everyday, and the later has to adhere to the issue diligently.

Naturally, every OC share the pressure with other staffs of the station to show a colourful crime record at the end of the day to impress his/her boss. Now if he/she is unable to show such colourful record then it justifies that he/she is inefficient in shouldering the responsibility.

Interestingly, it is well known that the police maintain a strong liaison with the criminals in order to extract vital information from them. Apart from this the criminals also help the police in another way. If the OC finds that the number of case filed by the station is insufficient in comparison to the number issued by the boss, he shifts to Plan B.

Now what is Plan B?

According to this plan the OC calls up at the criminal bases or the chief of a criminal gang popularly known as bhai or mastan to supply few petty criminals. Following the discussion they both negotiate a deal in this plan where the bhai sends the desired number of criminals from his gang to the police station and the OC in turn assures him of some information about his rival group.

In another plan to fill the magic number the staffs goes out to patrol at night and picks up innocent sleeping vagrants from the streets and put them inside the lock up and file petty criminal cases.

One shocking revelation by the police man during the interaction was that they often pick up young innocent workers from construction sites and file theft and robbery cases against them. These workers, mostly illiterate comes from rural areas found themselves trap in a conspiracy. Next day when these people are presented before the Court of Magistrate as per the law, they are either charged with criminal cases or had to shell out heavy amount to receive bail.

The police station earns praise from the department due to their efficiency and the system runs effectively. Don’t ask about the innocent people who are left behind the bars or who get bail but are left with scars being termed as criminal. The Bollywood filmmakers are there to create blockbusters on them and the nation will get one more hero to worship.

Ustiwalas: The vanishing profession in Kolkata

With the passage of time everything that we see around us vanishes in the darkness of past. We love to stay in present and dream of a sweet future. Past haunts us, so we prefer to run away from it, ignoring the fact that lot is lost in the process.

Kolkata, or the colonial Calcutta has come a long way from the time it was bought by Job Charnock from the then Zamindars of Bengal and has now transformed into one of the fascinating cities in the world. Once a remote village, then Calcutta slowly became the capital of India holding the hands of British Empire. The Britishers changed it into one of the most important centres of medical, education, cultural and financial hub in India. Every day large number of people from different sections of the society entered Calcutta through the Calcutta Port. It started bustling with lots of activities. Traders from other parts of India and the rest of the World visited Calcutta to explore a new market. Gradually, the city started expanding manifold. New buildings, offices, schools, universities, medical institution and recreational centres were created to keep up with the growing demand.

New professions were also created to keep the city administration run successfully. One such profession was the Kerani babu or Clerk in modern day who were assigned to keep records and look into the accounts of the administration. This is one profession that has survived till now escaping the wrath of time victoriously. The British has left India long ago but the Kerani babus are still dominating the Government offices such Writers Building, New Secretariat and several other key govt. departments.

But there is one profession, which is almost standing on the verge of extinction. They are the Ustiwalas. This is one unique profession about which very few had any idea. At present there are very few Ustiwalas to be found in the whole city. Basically they earn their living by carrying water. They had derived their unique name from the usti or a hand made leather bag that is made from the skin of goat or cow. The leak proof bag look like a long neck pitcher. The bag has a leather handle for carrying on shoulder. The Ustiwalas fill their usti from any street side source of water, preferably hand pump. They then tie the mouth of the usti and carry the water to their customer. These Ustiwalas earn very little, around forty to fifty rupees a day and finds it hard to survive with their family.

But in the colonial Calcutta, these Ustiwalas had a different role to play. They were not appointed to carry drinking water as their usti was made from animal skin. Instead they used to carry water from the Ganga and nearby ponds to clean the roads early in the morning. Large numbers of Ustiwalas were appointed for this job. Generally these people are Muslims who belong from the same family and had a separate community of their own. They mainly lived in the then old Chitpur and in the adjacent localities.

The Ustiwalas should not be mistaken with the typical Bharis (mainly Odiya) of today who carry fresh drinking water from tube well and supply it to household. Nowadays these Ustiwalas can be found in limited areas of Kolkata fighting everyday to feed their family.

In near future there will be an attempt to post an interview along with a relevant picture of an Ustiwala who work in the Mirza Galib Street of Kolkata. Readers will get to know about their lifestyle, their inclination towards their profession and their trembling future from their own mouth.

The writer came to know about this particular profession from a book on old Kolkata written by Srijato who presently works with Anandabazar Patrika, ABP Pvt. Ltd.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Unplanned Durga immerson

After five days of joyous festivity, Goddess Uma or Durga returns to her abode in heaven leaving behind her paternal home on earth. Durga’s coming home ushers in the grand festival of Durga Puja in Bengal and also in other parts of India. Also known as Sharadiya Utsav, this festival starts from Saptami with a holy ritual called Bodhon and ends with Bijoya Dasami when the idol of Ma Durga along with the other idols of her son (Ganesh and Kartik) and daughters (Saraswati and Lakkhi) are immersed in the holy river Ganga as part of the age old Vedic ritual and custom.

Ten to twelve years back there was no issue with the immersion of the clay idol in the river Ganga. But in the recent past, with the voice of the environmentalist gaining ground there has been a huge cry about the pollution of Ganga due to such practice. The environmentalist in this case has a strong reason, which is also scientifically proven. The fact is there are many hazardous chemicals present in the paints that are used in the clay models to enhance their beauty and lustre. These chemicals are very strong and reactive to water. When the clay models are immersed in the water within few minutes the chemicals start mixing with the water and pollute the water.

Ganga being the oldest and one of the most perennial rivers in India has a special significance. Ganga water is daily used by millions of Indians in different ways. Ganga also support large amount of aquatic life. Therefore the pollutions of this river make all these life vulnerable to various kind of disease that can also prove fatal. After lots of debate and argument, the KMC finally stepped in to take few measures to prevent such crisis. According to Fayaz Ahemed Khan, Counselor, Kolkata Municipal Corporation, KMC has arranged for cages on both sides of these ghats. They also have volunteers who will approach those coming for immersion of idols not to throw flowers or other articles or belongings of idols in the water of Ganga.

These measures are showing some results but lot is yet to be done. The KMC and the Durga puja organisers need to sit and chalk out a comprehensive plan how to solve the problem. Most of the responsibility lies with the puja organisers as they need to be more careful with their job. Often the idol makers complain that they are ready to use eco-friendly colours to paint the idols, but that increases the cost of the idol to a great extent, which even the big puja organisers are not ready to pay. This is an unfortunate and callous behaviour on part of the organisers who spend lakhs of rupees on pandal decoration, lighting and cultural program, but is not ready to pay the extra money to save Ganga. KMC on its part also have to be more stringent with their laws and penalties.

Even then this problem will persist. As not all Durga idols are immersed in Ganga and in the Babu, Princep, Bichali ghat etc., instead they are immersed in the several big ponds and lakes to be found across Kolkata and its surrounding suburbs. Many puja organisers reluctantly immerse the idols in such water bodies, which also run the risk of water pollution due to the same hazardous chemicals. Amazingly no one talks about this. It is true that the importance of Ganga in comparison to these small water bodies is immense, but at the same time that fact that these water bodies are also used by many people for bathing, washing clothes, cleaning utensils and even drinking (especially by the section below poverty level) also cannot be ignored.

KMC and the puja organisers also take some pain to think about this issue. This may not concern mass section of the society but definitely the human beings who live and breathe around us.

Monday, October 13, 2008

South City mall attracting visitors and traffic jam

On 16th Jan. 2008 Eastern India got its largest shopping mall, the South City Mall. This one million sq. ft. swanky mall is located on Prince Anwar Shah Road, just opposite Jodhpur Park. Situated in one of the prime and posh locations of south Kolkata, it was obvious that right from the first day it will be successful in attracting huge number of enthusiasts that include genuine shoppers, food lovers, window shoppers, couples and school and college bunking students. The ambience and centrally air conditioning system inside the mall is perfectly equipped to provide comfort to its visitors. But the road opposite the mall is not at all equipped or sufficient to take the heavy traffic jam, which is an immediate outcome of the mall. The Prince Anwar Shah Road that starts from the Prince Anwar Shah masjid and continues till the Jadavpur Police station was wide enough to handle normal traffic situation even in the busiest hours of the day. But the coming of the South City mall has posed a serious problem to the traffic condition on this road. During the peak hours of the day the road remains block for long time causing ample sound and air pollution in the area. The snarls and black smoke resulting out of the vehicles caught in the jam makes the environment like a war zone. Especially during the weekends, holidays and before any festive season the situation gets worse. Amazingly at this time one can witness a mad rush among the visitors to enter the mall. Large number of visitors throngs the mall like any other popular tourist spot in Kolkata. So many visitors also attract vendors, balloonwala, jhalmuriwala, phuchkawala, ice creamwala, panwala etc. near the mall. As a result everything comes to a halt opposite the mall. Even the traffic surgent who tries hard to manage the situation, fails miserably most of the time. One can often see school children looking anxiously out of their school bus and family members of serious patients sitting tensed inside an ambulance while caught in the jam. This particular road serve as a major connector with EM Bypass, Ruby General Hospital, Jadavpur University, South City College, Dhakuria, Golpark and Gariahat.

There is no doubt that the creators of this fabulous mall have been successful to draw large number of visitor everyday, but at the same time they have created lots of pain for this area. At the same time the traffic authority of Kolkata also needs to be blamed for their callous planning. However, till now it seems that everyone is happy with this mall, so not a single article or news can be witnessed regarding this issue in the local newspapers and T.V. channels.
But this happiness will only stay for a short time.
There was an error in this gadget


Google+ Badge