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Geek by profession, thinker/writer/artist by passion. Part-time blogger,social media enthusiast and a tramp by nature :) A Man Of Mud


Friday, January 22, 2010

Haiti Needs You

As most of the readers would already know, a massive 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit the Western Hemisphere's poorest country, leaving behind what could perhaps go down as the one of the biggest natural disaster and humanitarian crises in recent history. But  before proceeding further, i should also mention that since i had been traveling the whole week and facing major connectivity issues, i wasn't very aware of the magnitude of the disaster until a couple of days back. However, this fact does not in any way, dilute my sentiments towards the victims or the disaster. In fact, a very few people can, IMHO, relate to the pain and suffering of the victims than those of us who have faced the super-cyclone that devastated Odisha (then Orissa) in 1999. It has been more than 10 years now, and i have still not been able to find words to express the experience. In nutshell, it was a nightmare..those of us who survived were mainly because we were relatively better off economically, socio-politically. Neither the government nor the media were able to capture the extent of damage.

Anyway, coming back to Haiti, the visuals,news reports coming in are more than just nightmarish! Haiti has has been devastated and its likely to take a lot of time and effort to get the Caribbean nation back on its feet. On the brighter side, this epic disaster has also shown how useful social media can be, in responding to major catastrophes as quickly as possible. Twitter in particular has not only been the main source of  getting the getting news and images from the ravaged country, it is also helping in coordinating rescue teams.  

If the sight of such human suffering depresses us, it is also heartening to find people all over the world extending their hands for the rehabilitation of the quake victims. Google has pledged $1 million for relief work and has also put up a special page, Google Crisis Response page with links and information on how you can do your own bit. You can Donate via Google Checkout or you can find links to donate to organizations like UNICEF , Care, Red Cross ,
Doctors Without Borders , Habitat for Humanity  and other organizations working to help the victim rebuild their lives and communities.

Mashable has put up a list of trusted organizations that you could donate to without having the nagging doubt if your money did reach the victims. However, if you wish to do more or feel you cant donate enough, there are ways you could help directly. For instance, you could Help map Haiti or help find missing people through Person Finder: Haiti Earthquake  or help identify missing people by comparing and matching photos. Let me assure you, you dont have to spend more time or resources than most of us already do in Farmville or Mafia Wars but the difference we could make is huge.

Posted By danish Ahmed 5:53 PM

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Yet Another Tharoor controversy Or Yellow Journalism

Well, my blog is not supposed to be a running commentary on Shashi Tharoor! My admiration for him doesn't go beyond the ordinary, and it is shared with contemporary politicians such as Vajpayee, Navin Patnaik and more recently N.D. Tiwari :P However, every time Mr. Tharoor runs into a controversy, i feel compelled to express my opinion too. It is a bit strange considering the fact that i have at least three posts in various stages in the drafts but this one is a spontaneous post since i couldn't find the option to add a comment on Tharoor's website. It is a bit surprising that the website of a minister who is now known as Twitter Minister for his almost-religious participation in a promiscuously interactive platform such as Twitter, doesn't have much interactivity. Hope this message reaches him, his aides or whomsoever it may concern :D

Anyway, back to the controversy and thank GOD this time Twitter has no relevance unlike in previous controversies where a few semi-literate "writers" (wateva that means!) almost presented Twitter as a sort of a shady nook whose motley crowd and radical approach to communication, "spoilt" a good orthodox Congressman like Tharoor and led him to commit heresies. For once it is obvious that people will say what they have to say and journos would represent them as they want to, irrespective of the medium of communication.

Now, to the actual controversy, the lines in question are,

“That Indian foreign policy drew from our sense of civilisation, and the extraordinary contribution by Mahatma Gandhi and Nehruji’s articulation of our civilisational heritage, both enhanced India’s standing in the world but also earned us the negative reputation of running a moralistic commentary on world affairs—that has come through very clearly in your speech.” [emphasis mine] [Source]

(Pssst.. all wannabe journalists, when you quote somebody, you mark the text explicitly,attribute to the actual source and mention changes you make. )

If you take a look at the last line, it is very obvious that Mr. Tharoor was actually summing up the points made by Lord Bhikhu Parekh's speech in the Indian Council of World Affairs seminar. Ignoring this aspect while reporting cannot be anything but malicious. If a newspaper of Times of India's stature indulges in tactics which wouldnt even qualify as yellow journalism, there is reason to worry.

However, i would like to go further and ask what was wrong with the lines as such even if we were to disregard the above fact and especially hen it was said in an academic seminar?

What is wrong with just stating the obvious ?

The movement that shaped the Indian national identity of the late 1800s and 1900s, itself has grown from our sense of civilizational heritage as percieved and articulated by our founding fathers, could the foreign policy be any different ? Further, the moralistic lines Nehru followed was not perfect but getting caught in the cross-fire of the two great Cold-War rivals , the USA and the USSR was the last thing the infant Indian state should have wanted to get caught up in. Pakistan is the perfect example of how bad things could have gone if India did not take a neutral position during the Cold War.A moralistic approach put India in the non-aligned block's leadership, and gave it a much bigger role in global affairs. But it also earned the ridicule of the Western bloc, especially the USA which has always viewed its foe as the supreme evil that other free societies should help them defeat. But the same point of view is not tenable in India.

Anyway, the term "negative influence" refered to should be taken in a lighter context, and not always as criticism, one must not remember the context in which the statements are made. In this case it clearly seems to be an adulation in the same manner as one would say "brutally honest" .

Well, to be brutally honest, i must tell Mr. Shashi Tharoor that it seems he is trapped between the two Indias. The first one seeks, transparency, openness, progressive thought and the other orthodoxy,conservatism and propriety....

Posted By danish Ahmed 8:06 PM