Newsbytheway's Blog

January 30, 2010

Talibanisation of Goa

Filed under: Musings — Rabea Khan @ 3:59 pm
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Goa is marred by yet another rape. After Scarlett Keeling, it is a 9-year-old Russian girl.  But this rape has instigated a different  debate altogether. Are women to be blamed for being the victim?

Copyright Rabea Khan 2009

“You can’t blame the locals; they have never seen such women. Foreign tourists must maintain a certain degree of modesty in their clothing. Walking on the beaches half-naked is bound to titillate the senses.”

This statement is not by a Taliban but the Goa’s deputy director of tourism, Pamela Mascarhenas, (Mail Today newspaper, New Delhi).

Appalling, more so, since it comes from a woman. How can I woman think the way one dresses leads to rape? Should women be asked to wear burqas?

It is a classic case of passing the buck. And what she probably forgot to consider that the girl was merely nine years old. It is insane even to think that she could have ‘titillated’ the wrong doer in any way.

And saying that ‘locals have not seen such women’ is implausible.  Goa is the ultimate beach destination not just for Indians but the foreigners; more so for the latter. Goans are used to foreign women roaming on the beach and on the streets in bikini. It has become part of Goa’s backdrop now.

Ban on govt ads with bikini

Copyright Rabea Khan 2009

The goa government was quick to spring in action and announced scrapping of all ads displaying bikini babes. Times of India quoted the state tourism minister saying ‘Goa is a family holiday destination and not a sex tourism destination. We will make sure that bikini babes do not symbolize Goa tourism”.

Accepted, but how on earth will this superficial move do to dissuade rapists? Shouldn’t security the top agenda. Whether goa government accept it or not, Goa is a beach destination not a family holiday spot. There are families who go for holidays in Goa, but the numbers of youngsters, college, 20s and early 30s crowd outnumbers them.

Goa government should look to make the beaches safer without letting it lose its identity. And something should be done without more ado lest the paradise is lost.


January 2, 2010

Sex, lies, videotapes and media

A head of state, 86-year-old politician, served as chief minister of two states, at one time he was a serious contender for being the Prime Minister. And he is caught on camera having a foursome.

Times of India Frontpage

The perfect reason for media in any country to go berserk.And why not? The story has all the right ingredients. He is so old that he can barely walk but was in bed with three women, one of them who is 7 months pregnant! He can’t even deny it since it’s all on tape.

Expect sensation. Expect controversy. Expect dirt from the past. Expect some more skeletons tumbling out of the closets. Expect confessions.

Wait a minute, I almost forgot, it happened in India. He is N D Tiwari, an Indian politician. Zip. All Indian public figures are saints.  Even if they get naughty at times, the media act as a tolerant parent, hit a stick or two on the knuckles and moves on.  Hence the top-selling Indian english dailies came out with the blandest headlines possible-

Times of India: N D Tiwari denies role in sex tape. (Obviously he is going to deny it)

Hindustan Times: Andhra guv battles sex taint (Makes him  sounds like a hero almost)

Only Indian Express showed some courage by having a sarcastic headline “His sexellency?”

But imagine if something like this would have had happened in UK or US.  Actually you don’t need to imagine. Think Bill Clinton or Tiger Woods more recently.

I bet Tiger wished he was an Indian.  If he were, the entire incident would have only appeared as an accident in the papers.  Bribe the policemen and they will say what you want them to say to the media.  And the media will accept it wholeheartedly. Say ‘no comments’, and they won’t bother you.  No interview from past girlfriends. No smses or voice mails to worry about. Public apology on the website? Are you crazy ?? God doesn’t apologies.

Media-celebrity nexus in India

Celebrities are untouchable in India.  They are literally stars. Be it actors, cricketers, politician or industrialist.  You can admire them from a distance never knowing what happens when they not acting, playing or doing they respective jobs. There is no concept of paparazzi. I am sure many came to know the term ‘paparazzi’ in India only when Lady Diana’s death hit the headlines worldwide.

But then we don’t want paparazzi in India.  What we want is a courageous journalism where spade is called a spade without any fear. Not in the name of sensationalism but truth.

December 22, 2009

Goa: Whose paradise is it anyway?

Filed under: Travelogue — Rabea Khan @ 6:52 pm
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Goa, the Miami of India, defines cosmopolitan in its true sense. It’s so cosmopolitan that an Indian can end up feeling like a tourist in his/her own country.

Copyright Rabea Khan 2009

It was my second trip to Goa. Nothing has changed. It still welcomes you with a breezy embrace on its sunny beaches.  The smallest state of India, Goa, has the biggest heart. Just a stroll on its beaches and lanes will make you realize why.

Here you’ll find more foreigners than Indians. And more importantly more foreigners who have made this beautiful place their home. Most of them living here are on long vacations with their families. They live in nice little cottages on the beach living their dream. Goa is the Bahamas of the not so affluent. It’s cheap, beautiful and feels like home.

Paradise for newlyweds

The other category of people who one will come across in Goa are the Indian honeymoon couples.  They stand out on the beaches walking hand in hand coyly unlike the foreigners who just blend in. Infact non-Indians are an indispensable part of the backdrop of Goa, swimming and sun bathing on its beaches.

You may find few odd Indian honeymooners venturing into the waters. But they are an exception rather than the rule. And sighting an Indian couple in swimsuits is like spotting a rare species while bird watching.  Usually you will find the husband in his shorts enjoying a quick dip while the wife gives him the company from the shore, jeans rolled up till knees.

It’s true that though Goa has opened its heart, Indians are still too conservative to embrace it. While the foreigners have not only accepted the city, they have made it into their home.

No wonder then that for most Indians going to Goa feels like going out of the country.While for those who come from abroad, it feels like coming home.

November 11, 2009

Radio journalism in India

Filed under: Media — Rabea Khan @ 10:54 pm
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India is the biggest democracy in the world, with a population of over one billion. And yet it has deprived the majority of its people the basic right to information.

Private radio channels in India are banned from broadcasting news. The ban stems out from the archaic broadcasting law, The Telegraph Act of 1885, which gives full control to the government to grant or revoke license to private broadcasters.

The rationale lies in evolvement of broadcast in India. Till 1990s, the government had a monopoly over television and radio broadcasts. With the advent of cable television, private news channels came into the picture and eventually grew into a big industry overtaking Doordarshan, the public service broadcaster.

Radio had to wait till 2001, to get private ownership after a landmark ruling by Supreme Court in the Union of India Vs Cricket Association of Bengal case in1995. The Supreme Court was of the view that airwaves are public property and hence citizens are the owners by virtue of right conferred upon them by Article 19 of the constitution (right to freedom) with the exceptions noted in Article 19(2) relating to public safety.

The first radio channel, Radio City, was launched in Bangalore but with a license to broadcast entertainment shows only. Since then, 100 more radio channels have entered the Indian airwaves but as mere instruments of amusement.

The law has drastic implications that ripple down to the very core of democracy in India. If one goes by National Family Health Survey figures, only 44.2% of the households in India own a television. The condition is worse in the poor states of Bihar and Jharkhand where the percentage goes below 28%. So for the majority, the only option and source for getting news is by listening to radio. And what they get to hear is the mouthpiece of the ruling government, All India Radio (AIR).

All India Radio

If you want to know where the PM is headed for his next foreign visit or which head of state is visiting India, AIR is the channel for you.  But do not expect to hear anything remotely critical of the government in power. There is no written guideline to that effect, but an unspoken law does exist. Never in the history of broadcasting in independent India, AIR has said anything damning about the government.

For people who have access to cable television, it’s a different story. Private television news channels have in a way satiated the demand for news in towns and big cities. They can always get the other side of the story by watching a private news channel. But someone who has just got a radio is still only seeing one side of the coin.

The situation becomes more serious during election campaigns as radio plays a vital role in formulating opinions that can translate into votes. The possibility of AIR broadcasting anything that criticises the government is ridiculous.

Hence to protect the democratic rights of the citizens, it becomes highly essential that they are well aware of the choices to make an informed decision. This is only possible if there are private radio news channels in the market.

Government argues that the Indian audience is yet to mature to be able to handle unobstructed news. In reality, it is wary of the fact that radio waves will be bombarded with the news channels, making it hard for them to censor anything.

No Doubt, India been a sensitive society needs certain laws and rules as to what can be broadcast. Radio commanding a far greater reach, if allowed to run amok like TV, will become Goliath. Hence change is imperative but with certain degree of restrain.

October 12, 2009

Of MPs and their expenses…

Filed under: Politics — Rabea Khan @ 1:28 pm
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If you happen to be a MP in UK, this might not be the best time for you… or how a brit will put it.. you are in trouble, mate! The Prime Minister is  not spared, then you can imagine, what will happen to the rest.

And it is the gardening and the cleaning expenses thats drawing Sir Thomas’ attention the most. Besides, Gordon Brown, it’s Ken Clarke, the shadow business secretary, who is in love with his garden. He is been asked to cough up £4133. Economy may not be blooming, but democracy is certainly at its best.

Such a contrast to what happened in the biggest democracy in the world last month. Indian MPs went on an austerity drive, following the flak recieved by two MPs for living in a 5-star hotel for 3 months.  To silence the blazing media and the opposition, many Congress leaders including Sonia Gandhi, flew economy class!

Something that maybe British MPs can learn from. But one thing Indian MPs must learn from their English counterparts, is the queen’s language. See this and you would know what i mean…

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