A documentary about the state of our media. Be it the elections, the Indian Premier League (IPL), stock markets, mutual funds, entertainment, or the daily news bulletin. Can we hold a mirror to the glass buildings and ivory towers?
Editorial content is decided by marketing executives. Politicians/ political parties & industrialists have become owners or major shareholders, and owners have become editors. The amount of dedication and truthfulness – basically an urge to bring about positive changes through investigative journalism has somehow disappeared. Even the reasons of getting into journalism have changed. And all of this has happened with active support from the top media houses – who now concentrate more on the business of news rather than news.
—Umesh Agarwal. National award-winning film maker
No pillar is more important in a democracy than the fourth estate. Currently, integrity standards of our news media seem appalling. However, despite the absence or decline in ethical standards across board, there are a few journalists who take their job seriously. Some in the national media while some in the regional media.
As citizens of a democracy, all we can wish for the true journalism minority is “May their tribe increase!”
William Henry Davies, a Welsh poet who lived from 1871 to 1940 and spent much of his life in the USA, wrote a poem called “Leisure”. In the poem, he poses a question, ‘What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare.’
Nearly a century later, these words still hold true. In the cut-throat world we inhabit, pressure exists in umpteen ways. Our lives revolves around the notion of acquiring more. Be it knowledge, wealth, or social status/acceptance. Our notion of real wealth – sharing and bonding with people, nurturing relationships, creating memories and observing the small wonders of nature seems to have undergone a transformation.
Sharing this poem is my way of reminding all of us caught in this “wired world” to take time and enjoy the simple joys of daily life!
- What is this life if, full of care,
- We have no time to stand and stare.
- No time to stand beneath the boughs
- And stare as long as sheep or cows.
- No time to see, when woods we pass,
- Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
- No time to see, in broad daylight,
- Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
- No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
- And watch her feet, how they can dance.
- No time to wait till her mouth can
- Enrich that smile her eyes began.
- A poor life this if, full of care,
- We have no time to stand and stare.
- ————-W.H. Davies
Kashmir is a paradise that has been lost in the clash of terrorism, and the callousness of our politicians. Kashmir’s youth have struggled to find a footing in their home state. Though educated, and resilient, the limited opportunities available in the ravaged state has not helped their cause. However, there appears to be an oasis of hope.
Take the example of Nusrat Jahan. Nusrat is from Dadoora village in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district. She graduated in computer applications in 1999. She worked as community organizer in Jammu Development Authority. Not satisfied with her job, she decided to quit and start her own business.
The cut-flower business attracted her. For Kashmiris, who suffered from militancy and resulting violence, purchasing flowers was the last thing on their minds. To start something where the returns are not assured required a lot of courage.
Nusrat’s persistence was paid off when she bagged her first contract with Jammu and Kashmir bank for their functions. As the demand for fresh flowers steadily grew, she began to grow them in her backyard. Unable to meet the growing demand, she started procuring flowers from other states, and eventually started floriculture in Budgam district of Kashmir.
After a decade of hard work and determination today, she is the president of 2000 strong J&K flower association and owns three flower farms, a retail outlet and employs around 20 on roll staff members. The struggle of achieving annual turnover of Rs.2 Crores was not an easy job. She faced the ferocity of militants, who once threatened to kill her because of the contracts with government departments.
Kashmir’s government seems to be focused solely on tourism and has been slow in tapping floriculture, fisheries, and agriculture based industries for income-generation opportunities. Success stories of entrepreneurs such as Nusrat Jehan are an inspiration in the troubled valley.
Nearly 8 million hectares of land is under vegetable cultivation in India, and about 30% of this area is covered with hybrid varieties. The market for hybrid varieties is rapidly increasing. Hybrid seed production is a highly labour-intensive activity.
A recent study has revealed that the Hybrid Seed Production Industry in
India, dominated by multinational companies employs children as labourers.
The present study is mainly based on the analysis of primary data collected through field visits to 490 sample farms in 45 villages in six districts in three states: Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat. Of the total 490 sample farms, nearly 50% (250 farms) are located in Karnataka, 160 farms in Maharashtra and 80 farms in Gujarat.
The Indian company Bejo Sheetal, joint venture partner of Bejo Seeds from The Netherlands, tolerates widespread child labour at the farmers who supply seeds to them. The farmers providing seeds to Nunhems India – part of Nunhems Netherlands – work almost without using child labourers younger than 14. This is the main conclusion from the report ‘A Tale of Two Companies – The difference between action and inaction in combating child labour”, published by the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN)
Reasons companies employ Children include
- Because children work tirelessly.
- Because children can be paid less than the minimum wage.
- Because children can be easily controlled compared to adult workers.
The report found that poverty and indebtedness are the major factors that compel families to send their children to work on the seed farms.
While child labour is banned by law, one major consequence of the invasion of the agricultural sector by corporate houses, driven by relentless search for profits based on cheap labour, is the widespread use of children in agricultural operations in sectors controlled by such companies.
It is not surprising that seed companies are relocating and expanding their production to new areas—pockets where cheap labour is readily available and where there is less public concern about child labour.
Our government on the other hand, is a mute spectator.
The reports can be accessed here.
Y.O.U You Own Urself by Sharmin Ali Image source: www. power-publishers.com
The story of “Ek Sparsh” has been featured in a book! “You Own Urself” is authored by Sharmin Ali.
YOU (“You Own Urself”) is about overcoming one’s inhibitions. It is about breaking free from physical, mental or emotional handicaps. A journey that every individual can associate with. Y.O.U talks about trespassing the status quo and taking control of your life.
I met the author last year at one of the stalls we had put up to market our eco-friendly products. We started talking about the need to follow our calling in life. She interviewed us for her book about 3 months back.
Here is an excerpt from the book.
“The desire to do something for their country led Adarsh and Udaya to take a huge ‘Leap of Faith’. On returning from the US, they took a meditation course at the Vipassana meditation centre at Nagarjuna Sagar run by SN Goenka. With 10 days of silence, came clarity on their next path in life which drew them to working with NGOs in Bangalore. Yet, there was something missing, the desire to do more. “Ek Sparsh” which Adarsh started as a blog in US was the name of their social enterprise. The goal of “Ek Sparsh” is to touch lives in a meaningful way.”
To read the rest, you have to purchase the book.
YOU is available in all leading bookstores and on Flipkart, Amazon, and Infibeam.
Kindle Edition is also available on Amazon.
During our stay in the US, we moved about 3 times. Each of the apartments we moved into had a refrigerator. In my eagerness to shop ALL I needed for the week, I would buy lot of food stuff in bulk. I am guilty of using the refrigerator as a cupboard or storage space for fruits, vegetables, and condiments. Anything and everything including, flour was kept in the fridge. I would review the contents of our fridge about once in a month (or 2 months, depending on my work) and would throw expired food away. My excuse invariably was that I did not have time.
It has been nearly 3 years since we moved to India, and we have not had a refrigerator for these years. The transition to our current life without a refrigerator was easier than anticipated. I learned how many things need not be refrigerated. The peak summer temperature in Bangalore at 36.7 degrees Centigrade (Approximately 98 degrees Fahrenheit) was never a hindrance this year. We use the natural coolness of our home in summers and the warmth of sunshine during the winters to get a majority of our work done.
When we visit villages as part of our work we notice that in some homes, they do not have a fridge. Our grandparents’ generation did just fine without the refrigerator. So much of what the average city dweller in India possesses is a result of culture and convenience. Often, we don’t have a need, but advertising and society (read media, friends, colleagues, relatives) have convinced us what we should have. Over the past fifty years or so, in our quest to become “modern”, we have lost a lot of our traditional knowledge.
It would be unfair to say that everyone can do without a fridge but the urban dweller in India definitely has an edge over his rural counterpart. In majority of urban India, vegetable markets and local stores are within walking distance of one’s home. It is surprisingly easy to live without a fridge once you realize that most foods don’t really need refrigeration. ( In fact they would last longer if not refrigerated.) We do not need to have a refrigerator just to prove that we are modern! I often hear a gasp from people when I tell them we do not have a fridge. I strongly believe that we must stop following the main stream opinions and start questioning conventional wisdom. We should pay more attention to what works for us, instead of what needs to work for us.
In the process of writing this blog, I have been fortunate to read many thought provoking articles on agricultural and ecological issues, and consumerism. It has influenced me to rethink my cavalier attitude towards the environment – be it energy and water consumption, or food wastage. Living without refrigerator has helped me examine my own relationship with food consumption, preservation, and wastage.