Saturday, May 19, 2012

Students and Social Work: 5 Ways Towards a Better India

Our nation is the home of multimillionaire Mukesh Ambani, but it is also the home of millions of people who survive on Rs 32 per day. I always wonder why this country with so many energetic youths is considered a backward nation, even though we are good economically, culturally, politically and have one of the best defense systems. The reason lies within. We have the energy, we have the will, but we do not know how to channelize it for developing a better nation. So here I present you 5 things which every Indian student/youth can do to see a better India.

1. Make use of the reservation system: We know India has a strange and unique caste based reservation system which was implemented 60 years ago to avoid the social differences. But, after 60 years we are still in the same position. Those who could make use of the reservation system have already done it and are doing well in the society, but still many Scheduled caste/Scheduled tribe/Other backward caste students don’t even get to go to school in many parts of the country.

Many people opt for a revised system of reservation on the basis of per capita income; well it is not possible considering the political conditions of India. But, it is inevitable that a well-to-do dalit student will really feel the conditions faced by another dalit person. So, why not make use of that boon which government has already provided us??

What I propose is a ‘Stipend Foundation’ for the reserved class. Those who are listed in the SC/ST/OBC lists can work for their brothers and sisters. We are provided with stipends from the government, so why not donate the same for those less privileged students?? We are good enough to make our own living, so why wasting the governments’ funds on parties?

2. Donate clothes: We all like to shop every now and then, do we even keep track on where our used clothes go?? Sometimes in a dustbin, or sometimes used as a napkin to clean out after party stuffs. So, why not donate one cloth to a poor child every time we buy a new one?? It’s as good as the aforestation campaign. And, we can easily afford it too.

3. Donate books: After every semester, we just wait for the new book, what happens to the ones we had been using in the previous semester?? Most of them are not needed in the future isn’t it?? So we can easily donate them to someone who needs them but cannot afford to buy one or even issue one from a library.

4. Start free tuition: Knowledge increases when it is shared. Instead of spending our extra minutes on the Facebook page, we can teach at least one poor child. Teaching a middle school guy is not a big job for us, but it is a huge task for his construction worker parents. Think over it!

5. Concert for a new audience: If you are a musician and you are fed up of the boos and less encouraging comments from your friends, find a new audience. Go to a slum and pick some random kids and play for them. You will get at least one interested child whom you can mentor. Who knows you might get a full band out of them.

This article is featured in Youth ki Awaaz : The Mouth Piece for the Youth
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Monday, May 14, 2012

INTER-national NET-work : A New Social Nation

I always wondered what is the most unique thing that has happened to our generation until I came across two terms, the ‘timeline’ on Facebook and ‘hangout’ on Google+. It is not a matter of doubt that our generation has seen a revolution which is as good as the one for which Galileo died. Just imagine sitting in your room and exchanging real-time videos (through Skype) to a friend in America, in the year 1900, that too for free!! Unimaginable, ain't it??

Well, we saw the coming of the internet; we all have contributed to this new concept of a global village. In the early 2000s also, the internet was just a place to visit for fun and get random information. We would spend spare times on Rediffbol or Yahoo! messenger. The idea was fast communication, and that’s what has been internet’s role during its puberty.

As time slipped on, we upgraded to free emails and started sharing attachments including pictures, but still, it was not enough. The fun started when various interest sharing sites or as they call formally, ‘social networks’ like Orkut and Myspace hit the market. We realized that we can communicate, share, make contacts, watch videos all in one platform. And, thus the first generation of social networks came.

Until then only the internet crazy teenagers were the comrades of the internet revolution. Then came the famous Facebook and Twitter, with a simple idea, connect to the world and share your life. They made excellent development in their site by integrating every other site with their social experience.

What actually let to this revolution??

With the introduction of Web 2.0, the face of the internet changed forever. The word open-source is a household name these days. The basic difference between the 80’s television media and today’s internet media is the openness of content. Today web publishers create platform rather than content. Let me explain this.

In the 90s Ramayana was a huge hit in the Doordarshan, the DD producers created the show, financed everything from hiring actors to filming the show. While Youtube today just created a platform for sharing videos, the users create the content (videos) and the same users' vote and view them, so the publishers just sit and watch their site grow on its own. This is such a brilliant idea. You just need to think about maintaining the heavy traffic coming to your website, the content is secondary. This is the magic of web 2.0. This is the movement that led Time magazine to declare “You” as the Person of the Year, explaining, “In 2006, the World Wide Web became a tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people and making them matter.” The new media is based on the concept of ‘many-to-many’ rather than ‘one-to-many’.

For information you have Wikipedia, for pictures you have Flickr, for entertainment, you have Youtube, for shopping you have eBay. These sites, better than most, illustrate the power of Web 2.0, especially for ordinary Web users. By designing Web software that uses community input and interaction as its content, sites such as Wikipedia, MySpace, YouTube, and Flickr created sophisticated warehouses of content — without creating any content at all. It is still a creation, of course, but an upside-down model for creation, when compared to the traditional methods anyone over 30, has grown up with.

How does this change our lives?? Let me tell you some stories,

A girl loved to sing with her guitar, but never got an audience to appreciate her. So, she recorded a video on her laptop for an imaginary audience and uploaded it on Youtube. Her video became an instant hit with comments and likes flowing every minute. Encouraged, she uploaded some more and was accepted by one and all. She now is a pop star and makes good money from different concerts. She is Shraddha Sharma.

Abhijit Deb is a friend of mine who liked to click pictures and occasionally edit them. But he had no money to host a photo-exhibition. Then he got an idea, he created a Facebook page for showing his pictures to his friends. He uploaded his best work and they were shared by his friends who liked them. Today he has 600+ fans on his page.

Finally, it’s my own story. I landed in Guwahati city. All alone for the 1st time. I knew there was a Tripura Bhavan somewhere in the heart of the city which was going to give me shelter but I had no idea how to reach there or which route to take. At that moment two things came to my mind, Facebook and Google Maps. I searched for Tripura Bhavan on the Google Maps and located it but still, I was unsure if I could reach there. The next moment I saw a status updated by one of my college seniors on my Facebook news feed, it read “just reached Guwahati airport”. I instantly searched his phone number on his info page. Luckily he had given his personal contact there, I called him. This is no extraordinary story but when I told my dad about this incident, I realized the importance of the internet. My dad was amazed that I could manage the whole journey without even calling him once.

We live in a new nation today, and in the coming generations, INTERnational NETwork will surely change the face of nationalism, governments, and economy.

This is an official entry for Indiblogger's blogging contest Vodafone Internet is Fun (

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tattoos : An Alternative Culture

Last night my girlfriend sent me some pictures of her Mehendi colored hands. I was a bit amazed how body modification has been a priority in her life. This led to googling some pages on body art and I came across a form of art that has been there for centuries.

Tattoos, the first thing that comes to my mind about this word is a Big Babool sticker. These days tattoos have become a new form of a style statement as well as social expression. The word tattoo comes from the Tahitian "tatu" which means "to mark something."  Basically, it is all about making a social statement. Tattoo makers are termed as ‘artists’, it is a form of art.

Well, tattoos have been there for a long time now. It is arguably claimed that tattooing has existed since 12,000 years BC. It has been practiced as social & cultural symbols among many tribal populations as well as caste based Hindu population of India. Until recently, it had been confined only to the tribal life across the world. Indigenous people have used it as a social norm for centuries.

Tattoos may be of two types, the permanent tattoos in which the ink is inserted into the dermis layer of the skin to change the color pigment, and the temporary one which we generally see in the form of mehndi or stickers.

It is generally made to express one’s views about a certain philosophy or person. But, recently youths have also resorted to tattoos to express their sexuality, shyness, and other dark emotions.  Many younger people today either have aspirations to have a tattoo somewhere on their body or already have one or more. Most popular ones are the butterfly, the dragon, flowers, and other tribal symbols.

Though most governments recognized tattoo shops have sterilization machines, but still some tattoo recipients have been reported of blood poisoning, hepatitis, and the most deadly AIDS. While tattoos are patronized by the youths, still, this extreme form of body decoration has not been well accepted in the professional forums. Many jobs holders need to hide their tattoos at work.

In religion too, the Jewish, Muslim and Christian laws forbid any form of body or flesh alteration. Even though it is an art, it has been stereotyped to be against the society due to its connection with heavy metal musicians and Satanists.  

Sunday, May 6, 2012

India After Gandhi : Why the country Sustains

A few days back I read a book named India After Gandhi: The History of the Largest Democracy by Ramchandra Guha. The book pointed out something which I could not overlook. In Indian education system, the sub-continental history ends with the British Empire or for some Gandhian biographers till Mahatma Gandhi’s death in January 1948. The rest is documented either in the political science books or in popular culture viz films, novels, etc.

This led me to think how such a huge country sustains and what India’s present position in the world scene is. India is a unique subcontinent in the whole world; its geographical location is also unique. Positioned just above the Indian Ocean, it is being surrounded by China, Pakistan, Russia, and the South Eastern countries. Being so diverse in culture, language, food habits, is very much vulnerable to be disintegrated. A huge population of a billion people in a developing country makes it more vulnerable. But still, it sustains and is making itself compatible to answer back the world powers.

This is because; India is a huge producer of talented human resource on cheap rates. This makes its economic position a dynamic one. If your economy depends on your population, then it’s a strength rather than having an export like gold or oil. Their demand doesn’t vary on the quality, but well trained human resource can’t be judged on quality. Indian economy sustains because of its population only.

The country is compiled with more than 21 major language groups; culturally the north India is totally different from the south, the north-east totally different from the west. Often incidents like the Richard Loitam death and Gujarat riots make the country bleed, but still, the whole nation again cheers for the Indian cricket team.

Actually, India is such a country where a person has multiple identities. A person living in Delhi can be a Hindu, Bengali, Scheduled Caste, Graduate, Middle class, a Delhite, and above all an Indian. While a person living in New York is an American. He speaks English, follows Christianity, and all eat similar dishes. This thing is common for all developed nations. India is so diverse also has maintained her dignity and is developing itself from nuclear sector to sports sector.

The country’s main backbone is the national feeling induced by the British during their rule. The Indians, however conflict they had, fought for freedom as one unit under the Mahatma. And, even today even if the Hindus and Muslims are fighting over the Ajodhya issue, they stand like brothers in an international forum. The day this brotherhood dies, will be the last day for a united India.

This Article is featured in Youth Ki Awaaz: Mouthpiece for the Youth