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This is indeed the times of technology, but as we find out from this incident, and not only this, but in many other times and forms, before and after this event, we see the abusive tendency that we humans have... we learn from history that we do not learn from history...

The 24-hour news cycle is rapidly morphing into the 24-second news cycle.

It took less than half time for the Dow Jones Industrial Average to drop 150 points and erase $136 billion in market value after a Twitter hoax on April 23 claimed United States President Obama was injured in an explosion at the White House.

“It was nine, 10, 11 seconds and it was fast and then the question was ‘Why?’” Andrew Frankel, co-president of the brokerage firm Stuart Frankel & Company, told the Times.

He said traders realized the news alert – made after an account at the news cooperative The Associated Press was taken over by Syrian hackers – was false since the television screens showing other business programs had nothing about an explosion.

“You look at how quickly that happened and now everyone wants to release corporate earnings on Twitter,” Mr. Frankel said. “The concerns is ‘How do you know what’s right and what’s not? How do you know what’s hacked and what isn’t?’”

The pitfalls of social media’s news reporting are not just limited to the perceived unreliability of Twitter, with its strict 140-character limit. Reddit, the hugely popular news and entertainment site, found its foray into the chaos surrounding the Boston Marathon bombing to be a humbling experience.

Redditors, as site members are known, turned into amateur sleuths and ended up wrongly identifying several people as possible suspects, The Times reported. Reddit slipped from a reliable place for crowd sourced information to a purveyor of false accusations and found itself at the center of the debate about the responsibilities of digital media, according to the Times.

Erik Martin, the site’s general manager, posted an apology on April 22, saying, “Activity on Reddit fueled online witch hunts and dangerous speculation which spiraled into very negative consequences for innocent parties. The Reddit staff and the millions of people on Reddit around the world deeply regret that this happened.”

The urge to break news and be first on a big story is an occupational hazard that has long plagued media outlets of every variety.

In the Boston bombing case, Reddit was joined by the venerable television news network CNN in making false reports, most noticeably when a CNN reported declared on the air that an arrest had been made, when in fact the Chechen brothers who were the suspects were still at large. Others outlets, including The New York Post, Fox News, The Boston Globe, and the Associated Press, quickly repeated the claim.

When the surviving brother was in custody after a two-day manhunt, President Obama went on live television to address the nation, and reminded news organizations what their jobs were.

“In this age of instant reporting and tweets and blogs, there’s a temptation to latch on to any bit of information,” the president said. “But when a tragedy like this happens, with public safety at risk and the stakes so high, it’s important that we do this right. That’s why we have investigations. That’s why we relentlessly gather the facts.”


Taken from My Paper, Saturday, May 4, 2013

English: Watercolor Illustrations of different...
English: Watercolor Illustrations of different styles of Sari & clothing worn by women in South Asia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This is a very sensitive issue, and I am sure that many will not agree with the writer. There will be some who would even hate me for posting this article - but if we only get past the baser side of our humanity and treat women as equally important, and therefore, as equally respected and heard in the society - well, they won't just be objects that would have to be forced into moulds in our culture. 

Makes we again think why there are those who'd call themselves liberated women, and while the extreme side of that is one that we also don't desire, perhaps there is a sense to being free, being liberated, if just for the sense of it.

Read on...

By Divya Nair

A couple of weeks ago, a disturbing incident occurred at one of New Delhi’s busiest metro stations.

Two Nigerian nationals who allegedly misbehaved with women were subjected to Indian ire, mob-style. A shocking video captured on a phone showed the two perpetrators attempting to take shelter in a police booth in the station, but being mercilessly beaten by male commuters to chants of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai!” and “Vande Mataram!”, which roughly translate to “Salutations to Mother India!”

Clearly, the Indian crowd at the station that day believed the Nigerians had no right to tease Indian women – something they perhaps believe is entirely their prerogative.

No more than a few days later, well-known Indian singer K. J. Yesudas went on record to say women should not wear jeans as it goes against Indian culture.

According to news website NDTV, the respected national award-winning singer said: “Women shouldn’t wear jeans and display themselves before people. What is meant to be covered should be covered.

“Wearing jeans and roaming around attracts unnecessary attention. We must respect religious doctrines. Women’s beauty is in their soberness; they should not become like men.”

He was speaking at a function in Thiruvananthapuram early this month on Gandhi Jayanti (a national holiday to mark the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi).

While both incidents have very little in common, they are also bound by something very strong –women. And the crux of the problem seems to be culture itself.

If wearing jeans is against Indian culture, then shaming, humiliating and even attacking people who don’t fit into the Indian mould is also seen as Indian culture, it seems.

Hurting the two Nigerians while chanting Vande Mataram was apparently a show of Indian bravado – a way of keeping the Indian flame of culture burning bright.

The ever-changing notion of what Indian culture is and the unending quest to fit women into predefined roles seem to present a dichotomy that Indian women are struggling to keep up with.

They constantly negotiate with those within their homes and outside to find a place that allows for personal freedom. How do you live in a country that is trying to accommodate a global culture, yet retain traditional values that don’t exactly work in favour of individual liberty?

To outsiders who constantly read news reports on rape in Indian, the solution seems simple: Enforce stronger laws that ensure safety for women and spell out dire consequences to offenders.

Executing this, however, is easier said than done because addressing the issue of safety also means addressing a mindset.

Women are sexually harassed across socio-economic sections of society, and this is perhaps the clearest indication that there is no singular way to remedy the situation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s bid to bring toilets into millions of homes could be a major step in rural India where, even recently, women were raped when they stepped out to use toilets.

But rapes are rampant even in cities, as women make their way to cinemas, school, colleges or work.

For women in India to feel free, safe and liberated, it requires changing the way they are viewed.

But as long as Indian men – even those like Yesudas, who are in positions of power and influence –believe women need to step into a constructed cultural identity, it will be impossible to eliminate this deep-rooted malaise from the country.

The Business Times

The writer is a BT journalist who previously lived and worked in India.

Taken from My Paper, Thursday, October 23, 2014