When a senior editor of Deccan Chronicle reached out to me to express my thoughts on the recent spurt of violence against women, it got me thinking. What if that girl had been my own sister? How would I then react? I locked myself in my room and started to jot down my thoughts.
I had a stiff deadline to meet as well. I had to send this 600 word article within an hour to make the deadline for printing. In a way it was a blessing in disguise as it really helped me focus.
Here is the photo of the article that appeared in today’s (Thursday, 20th December 2012) edition of Deccan Chronicle. Below the photo is the text of the article.
A WORLD BEYOND MEN-WOMEN DICHOTOMY
The entire nation is enraged with the news of the gang-rape of the 23 year old medical student in Delhi. For days in a row, it has been the focus of every major TV channel and newspaper. Facebook timeline and Twitter streams are seening outpouring of anger against the rapists with fervent calls for them to be severely punished. Now that most of the accused have been caught, I’m sure they will be dealt with.
However, my fear is that we as a society and the law making authorities are known for our knee-jerk reactions. The incident happened in a tinted bus? OK. Lets ban tinted glasses. Rumors were spread via SMS. OK, let’s ban SMS services!! Was there an objectionable Facebook update? Quick, arrest her! Some of these are understandable because the authorities may be under pressure to show action. But in this case, I really hope there are long term and stricter measures taken other than just imprisoning the culprits.
In my opinion, stringent laws with severe repercussions are the least that should happen. It should give the shudders to the men who even think of committing such an act. I would like to draw a parallel to incidents of ragging that went uncontrolled a couple of decades ago. It was nasty. Some of the acts that the junior students were subjected to do were unprintable. The more the victims kept quiet, the more atrocious the acts became. It took a series of suicides to wake up the nation and for stricter laws to be imposed. Fear of expulsion, imprisonment and a life of doom drove fear into the hearts of possible perpetrators. This cleaned up the system majorly.
I really hope tougher acts are enacted against violence against women. For every woman who gets raped, there are thousands that go unreported. Women wail in solitude fearing repercussions from the society. To change this, we should remove the fear and the stigma of walking to the police station and lodging a complaint. Keeping quiet will only encourage the culprits to continue with their dastardly acts.
Maybe now is a good time for us to dig deeper and look into our entire childhood upbringing. I have seen a stark difference in attitude of boys who study in a co-educational school versus a boys-only school. As a student, I have had the chance to study in both types of schools. While at co-educational schools, both boys and girls get to interact at a very young age and they learn to move with one other. Boys who study in boys-only school go through a bit of culture shock when they enter college. Not only are they less confident but tend to always see girls with coitus thoughts. I feel strongly that more co-educational institutions and early education to treat each other as equals and with respect may be one of the possible answers.
As a father of two daughters, I really want them to grow in a society that respects women and gives them a place to be their own. I would like to paraphrase my friend Vijay Anand who elucidates clearly, “I am ashamed that even in this century we draw such dividing lines, between a man and a woman – and somehow a man has to acknowledge that women are equals. Women are equal whether men admit it or not.” I would go one step further in hoping that there comes a time soon when we stop looking at us as men and women and start respecting each other as human beings.
Meeting D.Murali, Deputy Editor of The Hindu BusinessLine newspaper has been one of the interesting experiences I’ve had. Murali is one of the very few traditional journalists who have whole heartedly embraced social media.
He invited me to his office to conduct a video podcast interview. After the interview was done and we had lunch, he gave me a printed sheet of paper and asked me to fill for a column called ’60 Seconds Chief’. It was a questionnaire. It had 20 questions and was meant to be filled quickly which explains the 60 seconds. Oh boy, it took a much longer time than that. I remember spending over 20 minutes to fill it. I had fun doing it.
Most of the questions deals with aspects of leadership and I thought it was a very innovative concept of authoring a column for the paper.
Here is the original scan of the paper that I had filled.
Murali has an able support staff to back him up. A person called Ramesh then draws a portrait, on the lines of Wall Street Journal. Padmaja, who works at Hindu’s office then helps compile everything together. It then finally gets printed in the paper. My interview appeared in yesterday’s edition. Here’s the scan from the paper.
This evening, the NDTV-Hindu crew came home to do a shoot for their tech show titled ‘Byte it’. It’s the soon-to-be-launched TV channel in which NDTV has a 51% stake and The Hindu holds the rest 49%. It was originally named Metronation Chennai but I think its new name ‘NDTV Hindu’ is far better as it draws upon the strength of two well entrenched brand names. I’m told it will be a Chennai centric channel with content being on the lines of NDTV GoodTimes, Profit & News combined.
We fixed the interview time at 4PM but I came in 45 minutes late, making the crew wait. Got stuck in the previous training and as luck would have it, traffic had to get real bad. After profuse apologies and locking away my pesky kids inside the room, we began the shoot.
One of the episodes was on writing for the web with an intention of making money and the other one was on the browser shoot-out with focus on Google Chrome. We nailed it after a few retakes.
Few interesting observations. Those focus lights were absolutely blinding. The first few seconds were actually painful and my eyes began to well up. It took a while before I could get used to the sheer brightness. If that wasn’t enough, the lights were producing a lot of heat and worse, the fans had to be switched off to cut down on ambient noise. I began to sweat almost instantly and had to wipe the sweat every few minutes.
TU Dinesh is the host and the producer of the show and it was heartening to see him again. Just a few years ago, I first met him as a student when I went to guest lecture at the Madras Christian College. He stood out from the crowd then with his enthusiasm. From a student to a trainee at Indian Interacts to his current role at NDTV-Hindu, that’s quite an appreciable climb.
I’m told that the new Channel is aiming for a pre-Diwali release. Will get to know the date and time of this episode’s telecast as we get closer towards the launch.
And oh, the next time, I should clean up my book shelf. Didn’t realize it was this messy.
Two weeks ago, CNN IBN covered the cycling movement in Bangalore and Chennai as part of its Citizen Journalist program. The team came over to Chennai for a day long shoot. The first part of the program has already been aired. Rohini Mohan, the brain behind this series, sent us the web version of the video.
In Chennai, me and a group of folks are on to a ‘Cycle to Work Day’ program where we encourage corporate companies to encourage some of their employees to cycle at least once a month to office. In Bangalore, there’s a team that encourages cycling in general called ‘Cycling Maadi’ (meaning Let’s Cycle).
CNN IBN wants to track these small citizen driven movements over four weeks. This would require us to document our efforts and the progress on handycams by us. Yup, no professional videographers. It’s us and our cameras.
I already played truant. I was supposed to send in my second piece tonight but missed the deadline thanks to a week long trip away from home. Now that I’m back, I hope to quickly catchup. Will let you know how it turns up.
Meanwhile, here’s the first episode of the video.