Archive for October 2006

I think… Therefore I blog!

October 27, 2006

Cogito ergo blog. Rene Descartes wouldn’t have imagined that his most famous tenet could be bastardised that far. For, blogging is not just the rage in cyberspace today, but the narcissistic recluse of many a cyber-junkie.

So, first of all, who are bloggers? Bloggers are independent writers, who, with their blogs, comment upon or write about anything and everything under the sun.
And a ‘blog’ could be closely defined as a daily dairy, which is online for the world to read, and to comment upon. And don’t forget the miracles of hyperlinking.

Blogging started off as a uber-geek practise of posting messages on internet forums. Those were the days when connectivity was the domain of a privileged few. The term ‘weblog’, long for ‘blog’, wasn’t even coined then.

The personalisation of online forums followed. Writers began recording their own thoughts in a private space. "Weblogging" had begun. The term ‘blogging’ however was coined only in 1999 by Peter Merholz. The Oxford Dictionary recognised it as a noun and a verb, only in 2003.

Now, back to "blogs as a narcissistic recluse". Basic blogging decorum requires you to write with a pseudonym. The pseudonym often allows you the freedom to speak out about something without the hassles of being recognised.

The Internet is anyhow a domain free of general censorship. This allows a blogger to sketch a description of the world, coloured by his own bias and prejudice. Like TeenQueen’s blog, "Confessions of The Teenaged Mind". The 18 year old blogs her angry rants against the world and its people.

"Or you can call it the absolute masturbation of thought", adds a blogger who goes by the name of ‘Alfredo’. "It brings intellectual and creative self-gratification. It’s for people who feel the compulsion to blurt out their deepest thoughts onto a paper and yet want people to read it", says Alfredo.

The uber-geeks started off by recording their arcane musings on HTML, PERL, CGI etc on their blogs. As the blogging rage caught on, more humanisation of content followed.

Poetry, philosophies, essays, viewpoints, all found an easy way to be communicated to the masses. Now blogging is a medium in its own. And its scary how it cuts down on broadcast and publishing costs.

Closer home, blogs are being publised in Hindi, Bengali, Malyalam, Tamil, Telegu and other local languages. The Hindi Blogging Ring, christened Hindi Chittha Jaalmudrika, is a fast growing community. A good directory of language websites would be indiebloggies.blogspot.com, which hands out awards in various categories to Indian bloggers.

Hardcore bloggers now have their own communities and meetings too. Delhi too has such a forum, Delhi Bloggers Meet, where the Delhi bloggerati hobnob. Visit delhiblogmeet.rediffblogs.com for more information.

And if you aren’t blogging already, hop on to the bandwagon soon. See you there… in the blogosphere!

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Does Gandhi really need any peace prize, whether it is Nobel Prize or anything else?

October 25, 2006

Nobel Committee Regrets to Miss Gandhi

‘The greatest blunder done in the 106 years of Nobel foundation that Mahatma Gandhi did not receive Nobel Peace Prize’ this is statement made by Geir Lundestad, secretary, Norwegian Nobel Committee.

Mahatma Gandhi was shortlisted for the Nobel Peace prize as many as five times in 1946, 1947, 1948 and two times before World War II.

Today the Nobel committee are regretting on its past decisions.

The Euro-centric perception could have blamed for the decision not to award Nobel Peace Prize to Gandhi.

Does Gandhi really need any peace prize, whether it is Nobel Prize or anything else? They did not recognize Gandhi as the man who fought for peace and non-violence, this is there fault. They are regretting for that. I rate Mahatma Gandhi above these awards.

Related Article: Nobel peace prize: Well deserved, but…

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New Window version in telangana by Microsoft

October 16, 2006

Bill Gates announced that Microsoft plans to release a windows version in telangana. Here are some Windows related terms that are proposed to be used in the telangana version of "kitkeel rendvel" (Windows2000):

Keywords
==================
Microsoft windows 2000=ginta anta metha kitkeel rendvel
search = devulaadu
Save = bachainchu
Save as = gitla bachainchu
Save All = anni bachainch
Help=Nannu bachainchu
Find=ethku
Find Again=malla ethku
Move=sarkainch
Zoom=peddagachei
Zoom Out=shinnagachei
Open=tervu
Close=mooi
New=kothadi
Old=pathadi
Replace=maarcheyi
Insert= Nadimitla vettu
space=jaaga
Backspace=enka jaaga
Run=vurku
Copy=gatlane
Cut=koi
Paste=atki
Paste Special=peshal atki
Delete=teesipadey
View=soodu
Tools=mutlu
Toolbar=mutla gottam
Exit=igavori
Compress=gunju
mouse=elka
Forward=idkelli aadki
Scrollbar=thippudu gottam
Errors=nee notla mannu vada

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Citizen Journalism Movement

October 13, 2006

OhmyNewsis much like any other news site you’d run across online, but with one distinct difference: all of the 200-plus articles that OhmyNews publishes each day are written by citizens, not professional journalists.

Launched in 2000, on a template that was only slightly more advanced than an electronic bulletin board, OhmyNews began as South Korean citizens’ answer to the three conservative newspapers that dominate the country’s mainstream media. Its goal? To return power to the people.

"They [the mainstream South Korean media] often don’t represent public opinion," said Eun Taek Hong, Editor in Chief of OhmyNews’s English-language site, OhmyNews International. "Instead, they commercialize news or focus on their own agenda. OhmyNews has been trying to give back voices to citizens."

And the citizens have proven to be as articulate and credible as professional journalists, according to Hong. Moreover, other citizens are listening. A 2004 survey by the South Korean magazine Sisa Journal found that OhmyNews was the sixth most influential media outlet in the country.

As such, OhmyNews is the leading force in the rising "citizen journalism" movement, in which everyday folks are collecting and disseminating the news, opinions, and information that matter to them most. Underlying the movement is the proliferation of Web-based publishing technologies, like blogs and wikis, that give almost anyone — or any organization — the power to launch a media outlet.

"Media tools that were once exclusively held by big companies have evolved over the Web and are now part of what the public owns," said New York University Journalism Professor Jay Rosen. "That’s new and different. It’s a very democratic development."

Citizen Journalism’s Many Forms

Though the definition of citizen journalism varies depending on who you talk to, the act of citizen journalism can be as simple as an involved community member posting entries on a public wiki or uploading photos and videos to a media-sharing site.

For instance, at Wikipedia, contributors from around the world are helping build the world’s largest online encyclopedia. The whole community polices the wiki and adds entries — the result of which is a free, international, community-owned body of knowledge. This ever-changing encyclopedia is constantly being updated and houses entries about everything from architecture to human rights to citizen journalism.

Blogging is another tool that has proven useful to the citizen journalism movement. Organizations like Community United Against Violence(CUAV), which fights to end the oppression of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQQ) community, are using blogs to tell the stories that the mainstream media are missing. During the 2004 trial of three men accused of killing a transgender teen, CUAV started a blog to offer a view inside the proceedings from a trusted source, pass along transcripts of the trial, and create a platform for the larger community to discuss the trial.

Another nonprofit, Witness, is undertaking its own form of citizen journalism by helping other nonprofits create advocacy videos. The United States–based organization assists human-rights groups around the world in planning, filming, and distributing advocacy videos, which are featured on Witness’ site for the world to see, serve as evidence in court hearings, or are used as an educational tool.

But Is It Journalism?

The question of whether citizen journalism is considered real journalism is still up for debate. Some may argue that only paid journalists working for traditional news outlets like newspapers and magazines are legitimate. But most bloggers contend they aren’t interested in replacing the professionals, and don’t even consider themselves journalists.

"If I have one hundred conversations about whether bloggers are going to replace journalists, no blogger predicts themselves replacing news media," said NYU Journalism Professor Rosen. "Journalists invented [the problem of bloggers replacing journalists], and are forever discovering that this isn’t true. It’s their conversation they’re having with themselves." What needs to happen, Rosen argues, is less arguing and more discussions about how journalism can evolve.

NewAssignment.net is an example of how journalists are reacting to the movement. Slated to launch on April 1, 2007, the site will encourage citizen journalists and professional reporters to "do journalism without the media," free of the commercial pressures that plague many news agencies. Rather than reporters and editors discussing articles in the closed confines of a newsroom, NewAssignment.net’s stories would be fleshed out on the site "in the open," with a sort of open-source approach.

This, according to NewAssignment’s founders, means that the site’s users will be the ones creating story ideas and assignments "that the regular news media doesn’t do, can’t do, wouldn’t do, or already screwed up." The articles would be paid for through donations, which NewAssignment.net’s founders believe will help encourage quality reporting.

Taking Steps to Start Your Own Citizen Journalism Movement

Though the form of citizen journalism continues to evolve, it’s clear that nonprofits seeking social change or directly serving underrepresented populations may benefit from adopting some of its tenets and technologies. This could mean adding tools like blogs and wikis to their Web sites in order to give their constituents a stronger voice.

JD Lasica, Cofounder of Ourmedia.org, a community of individuals dedicated to spreading grassroots creativity with videos, audio, photos, text, and other works of personal media, says that starting your own citizen journalism movement is as easy as starting a conversation.

"Invite interested members of the community to your offices and find out what they’re passionate about," he said. "Experiment by letting them submit photos and videos of events they attend, which is easier to do than writing a news story. Don’t be afraid to fail. See what other news organizations with similar resources have done by reaching out to talented amateurs."

Most importantly, says Lasica, remember that citizen journalism is about engaging your constituents and enabling them to participate.

"The digital generation wants to engage media, not just watch it or view it," said Lasica.

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To be or not to be

October 9, 2006

To hang him or not is the the question. Well again I will consider both sides of the coin and present my argument. Abhay Singh has argued for the capital punishment to be upheld. His arguments is that a heinous crime like the attack on the symbol of Indian democracy should be curbed with iron hands, hang Afzal!

Afzal’s crime goes beyond that line and calls for a highest deterrent punishment, which as per the Indian law, is death sentence. Don’t forget Afzal hasn’t committed an act of an individual’s murder, but that of conspiring to trespass and spill blood in the country’s supreme institution — the people’s Parliament. This is unpardonable.

Letting off Afzal will embolden those who have been misguided and supported by Islamic jehadis from across the border to wage a relentless war against India to force it to accede to their ultimate design. Granting clemency would be tantamount to giving in to the forces that have bludgeoned the nation and pushed the Valley into an endless vortex of terror and bloodletting.

I don’t endorse his views. He should be punished but not capital punishment for being a part of conspiracy. I advocate sternest of punishment for his involvement but not death. An eye for an eye and he didn’t take anyone’s eye. I do feel for the families who lost their dear ones. Many of them, mostly poor, lost their bread earners and it will not be fair on their part if Afzal is not subjected to sternest of punishment.

Fine now the other side of the coin. Is he really guilty? Inam ul Rehman has something interesting to say.

In fact, Afzal denied every aspect of his involvement in the conspiracy to which he had allegedly confessed earlier. “I had not identified any terrorist. The police told me the names of terrorists and forced me to identify.” Needless to say, Afzal also stated that the police made him sign a pre-written disclosure and confession; he also gave graphic details of the illegal procedure under which these were obtained

The defence of Mohammad Afzal, the key figure in the state-sponsored story of conspiracy, suffered the most. With great difficulty, Geelani’s defence managed to produce some witnesses; Afzal had none. He had no legal defence in the period between his arrest on December 15, 2001 and the filing of the charge sheet on May 14, 2005; in other words, no counsel had studied the complex case.

Grave, unanswered questions surround the Parliament attack case even after four judicial pronouncements. Who attacked the Parliament and what was the conspiracy? On what basis did the NDA government take the country close to a nuclear war? What was the role of the State Task Force (J&K) on surrendered militants? What was the role of the special cell of Delhi police in conducting the case?

It will be a travesty of justice to hang Mohammad Afzal without ascertaining answers to these questions. On October 20, they are not going to hang Afzal alone but with it they will also hang whatever little trust the Kashmiri people had in this judiciary; all to be hanged till death.

Lets imagine a court scene in which there is the advocate representing the state (A), the judge( J), Mohammed Afzal (M)and his so called defense lawyer (D).

J: Lets begin the proceedings (and please for God’s sake keep it short as I have already received the fax from the PM office regarding the final judgement and plus my today is my wedding anniversary…ah I even forgot the wedding gift)

As the judge was lost in thoughts A starts presenting his arguments.

A: I request the court to award death penalty to Afzal as his crime cannot be pardoned. The lives of august members of the Parliament were in danger and as he has confessed his crime,this leaves no doubt what so ever in anyone’s mind.

M: I object to this! I was forced to…..

The judge interrupts

J: Speak when you are allowed to. A, carry on.

A: I have nothing more to say. I think the court had enough of M’s plea of being guilty.

Meanwhile D brooding

D: Kaha phans gaya mai. Koi Gandhi thodi na hoo mai. Mat maare gayee thi jo zayada human rights ka josh aa gaya aur yeh case accept kar liya. I don’t even have proofs to at least save him from death penalty.

Meanwhile J also lost in thougths

J: The last time I gave pendant to my wife she didn’t like it. Damn the packing was not good so I had to buy her a new original gold necklace. Yeah but I gave that pendant to Tina……ah, Tina.

A: I am done my lord.

J: Tina..ah..my darling…Oh he is done. Has the defence anything to say ?

D: Le aa gaya number. I have nothing to add my lord. Phew…they are going to ditch me now…

M: What! Why did you take my case then? I could have argued for myself.

D: I need to find someother NGO now..Tina was telling me of some organization associated with Medha Patekar. At least I will get to interact with stars and not bearded terrorists.

(Tina is D’s wife)

J: Afzal you can speak now.

M: I am not guilty damn it! I have been intentionally dragged into this. In 1990 I was attracted to the movement led by the JKLF, like thousands of other youth. I went to Pakistan for training and stayed there for a little while. However, I was disillusioned by the differences between different groups and I did not support pro-Pakistani groups. I stayed there only three months without getting any training. I returned to Kashmir and then went to Delhi to pursue my studies. I always wanted to study and before I joined the movement I was doing my MBBS. I wanted to return to normal life and with that intention I surrendered to the BSF. The BSF Commandant refused to give me my certificate till I had motivated two others to surrender. And I motivated two other militants to surrender. I was given a certificate stating that I am a surrendered militant. You will not perhaps realise that it is very difficult to live as a surrendered militant in Kashmir but I decided to live with his family in Kashmir. In 1997 I started a small business of medicines and surgical instruments in Kashmir. And then I got married.

J: Speak to the point. No one is interested in your life history. Perhaps you can write your autobiography in jail.

M: I am coming to the point. Throughout the period that we lived in Kashmir the Indian security forces continuously harassed me and told me to spy on people they suspected of being militants. One Major Ram Mohan Roy of 22 Rashtriya Rifles tortured Afzal and gave me electric shocks in my private parts. I was humiliated and abused.

J: Eeesshhh..these general at army !! how can they be so unhuman..but they have hawt wives..they really need them

M: The Indian security forces used to regularly take me to their camps and torture him. They wanted to extract information from me. One night the Indian security forces came to our home and abused all of us and took away me to their camp; another time I was taken to the STF (State Task Force) camp Palhalan Pattan.Some days later they took me to the Humhama STF camp. In that camp the officers, DSP Vinay Gupta and DSP Darinder Singh demanded Rs one lakh. We are not a rich family and we had to sell everything, including the little gold I gave to my wife. I was kept in freezing water and petrol was put into my anus. One officer Shanti Singh hanged me upside down for hours naked and in the cold. They gave electric shocks in my penis and I had to have treatment for days.

A: Is he true? I know that the army is a butcher when it comes to handling terrorist but such an extreme torture!!

D: And the say human rights violation…damn! what more do they want? I am going to medha patekar….can’t stand all these.

D then messages Tina to stay at home tonight as he has something important to talk to her.

J: I don’t know how true these stories are Afzal but how are the relevant the case?

M: I just want to prove my innocence and how I was deliberately thrown into this chaos. I left to Delhi after all these but STF again brought me back to Kashmir. The STF told me to bring one man Mohammad to Delhi from Kashmir. I met Mohammad and one other man Tariq there at the STF camp. I did not know anything about the men and had no idea why i was being asked to do the job. And after that I was caught on charges of consipiring against the state. I was in close touch with the security agencies throughout the period starting from 1993 to at least 2000. Second, three of the people (Tariq, me, Mohammad: the mastermind, the link, the attacker), allegedly involved in the attack, originated from the STF camp itself. If Tariq was, in fact, spotted in the STF camp, how was he allowed to go un-investigated? If I had to report regularly to the STF, how could they not have known anything about the conspiracy? Would militants repose trust in someone who was in regular contact with the STF?

J: The judgement is final and binding. Hang till death!! (ah for the first time in my life I had the opportunity to break nip of the pen….as they used to do it in movies..will tell Tina tonight..she loves movies)

M: As if I care.

Next time J and D were together in courtroom was as fighting parties. Tina had applied for divorce from D.
This is based on Mohammed Afzal’s wife public appeal

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Data theft: the bloggers’ view

October 7, 2006

Dispatches blew the lid on data theft in India. Here’s what the blogosphere made of the scandal.

Some bloggers reacted to Channel 4’s Dispatches documentary with surprise. Newageold is amazed at the price of personal data: "Sometimes, the amount of money can be as small as £5 ($9.45). Your banking info is so cheap!"
Others, meanwhile, responded with fear. Desigirl says the programme: "brought to the fore what we all fear deep down – some faceless person getting their grubby hands on our personal and financial data and using it to their own means."

She says: "Here in the UK, there’s going to be a great deal of panic amongst the public and this would undoubedly be fanned by the media and others disgruntled by the shifting of operations to countries like India and China."

Buckleupnow is even more suspicious, throwing the book at Indian call centres: "The film just goes on to show how unsafe is personnel data in the hands of call center employees… In a country with such a huge population and where money is a tempting factor, it cannot be totally ruled out that these kind of data leaks may never happen in the future."

But Ekawaaz is worried about these sorts of reactions. He says "It hard now a days to make people believe that a problem is with people (employees), not offshore/onshore. This sort of fraud and identity theft can happen anywhere and in fact it has happened more in US and UK, than in Indian call centre.

"Just because some greedy people we can’t afford to lose our BPO industry reputation. We got many talented and honest people; we just need a proper standard recruitment procedure for this industry."

The day before the programme was aired, Razib Ahmed wrote on South Asia Biz: "This is surely the biggest blow to outsourcing industry of India. This documentary has already done a lot of damage (even before it is aired) to the image of India."

The next day, on Indian Raj, Ahmed braced himself for the worst: "Naturally, we can expect a bad reaction from the British people and the British media about outsourcing to India. Particularly, trade union leaders will have now something substantial to argue their case against outsourcing."

But, he says: "British companies went for outsourcing in the first place to cut back on their cost. As long as India can provide cheaper workforce, British companies cannot afford to stop outsourcing of their jobs. The only thing they can do is to change the place. If they are unhappy with India then they can go to Philippines, Pakistan or may be east Europe."

Ahmed criticises what he perceives to be Nasscom’s attempt to downplay the documentary. He quotes Nasscom chief Kiran Karnik, as saying: "Such stories go to prove the lengths to which some vested interests will go to threaten this global industry with its reputation for customer value and security,"

Ahmed says of the ‘conspiracy theory’: "I respect Mr. Karnik a lot but I think that going on the offensive is not the right thing to do at this moment… India should identify these few bad guys who are destroying the image of the country."

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A Terrorist Story: Md. Afzal Guru

October 6, 2006

Mohammad Afzal’s wife wrote in defence of her convicted husband a letter in 2004 that alleges torture and humiliation that he and her family underwent while the apex court adjudicated on his crime against the nation. Afzal: Letter for life