The Modern Age Of Activism

With the advancement of technology and the passage of time, the field of “Social Media” and its influence has expanded and flourished. What began as a place for people to express themselves, share their experiences, and meet new people from all over the world has evolved into an increasingly important forum for addressing socially and politically relevant issues that affect the lives of people all over the world. The claws of social media are so powerful that it is now thought that, because of its inherent strength, it has helped bring the world closer to us, right at our fingertips. Contrary to common opinion, and in light of current events, we must increasingly doubt the influence of social media.

The growth of social media has been measured not only in terms of the number of users worldwide, but also in terms of the number of channels and features available. It has also become a forum through which millions of people can access and obtain information about social and political issues and movements as a result of its development. As a result, the form of contemporary political movements and demonstrations has been formed. The #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo movements are archetypal examples of how modern-day protests are organized on social media, demonstrating the amount of political participation and interest that can be generated on the platform. Given that thousands of people post their social and political views every day, such a knowledge overload creates a great deal of uncertainty, which in turn influences the perceptions of millions of people who read these posts. Hence, a query arises, ‘Can you blindly accept any news that is shared on social media? ‘Because what we think of as facts or news could just be a piece of someone else’s opinion on a given topic.’

The terms “momentarily” and “fad” can be used interchangeably to describe modern-day social media movements. While it is simple to raise awareness about a significant social issue, both of these movements follow the ‘bell curve.’ When the ‘Black Lives Matter’ (BLM) campaign erupted on social media, for example, it caused an instant uproar and drew everyone’s attention. People were not only vocal about their views on racism, but they were also supportive of the campaign. But, after #BlackoutTuesday, what happened? People resumed posting memes and other standard material. Within a few days, the movement that had gotten so much coverage overnight had faded from users’ feeds. When Black Lives Matter became popular, people began using it as a motif for photoshoots, makeup inspiration, and creating ‘Tiktoks.’ The movement’s objective was totally changed, and it was relegated to being a “feature of the month.” When these factors are considered, the feasibility and viability of using social media to raise political and social problems is called into question. Although it empowers millions of citizens and highlights sensitive issues, we now see that it often disempowers people and reduces the sensitivity of the issues it represents.

When it comes to demographics, ‘Millennials’ and ‘Generation-Z’ are the most active users of social media. It has become a hotspot for them to express themselves without filters. The only issue with this culture’s promotion is that it has started to incite a lot of hatred among people. Previously, we had incidents where social media saved the lives of people who needed saving, and now we have incidents where it takes the lives of people due to the amount of hatred it can generate in a split second. While there is no mention of a second chance on social media, there are plenty of unsolicited opinions. Let’s take the case of someone who hasn’t been exposed to bigotry and has an uninformed view about it. On a social media website, the person posts something about his personal opinion. After receiving criticism from others, the same person chooses to reflect and reconsider his position. The individual recognizes their lack of sensitivity and re-posts. People on social media will call it hypocrisy outright, and there would be no space for a normalized response to a shift of perception that may occur as a result of new facts and realizations. This same scenario plays out on different social media sites on a daily basis, and it can have a significant impact on an individual’s mental health.

While social media has many advantages, such as bringing the world closer together in multiple ways, we cannot overlook the differences it has generated among communities and people. The term “socializing” has taken on a new meaning in today’s world, and the days of people meeting up and interacting are long gone. Social media has rapidly transformed activism into ‘slacktivism,’ and this fact makes us doubt its viability as a forum for discussing social or political movements, because, while we may think we are making a difference, we are ultimately supporting the ‘clickbait’ mentality, in which anything is viewed as a passing fad.

#BlackLivesMatter: A Wake-Up Call for India’s Closeted Racism

 

 

‘Racism and prejudices are the exhaust fumes of damaged egos.’

 

As protests erupt in America, over the injustices inflicted on black lives after the institutional murder of George Floyd, we are finally forced to look closer into out own country for similar patterns of systematic and institutional racism that exists in our own country. At a time like this, it’s essential to introspect and heck our privilege in the everyday. When we start looking for their stories, it comes barely as a surprise that their voices are muffled amongst the clamour of noises. This begs the question- ‘Is there racism in India?’ Yes, there’s racism in India, but not just to other races, we are also racist towards our own race. It is almost like we hate ourselves, so much that we’d trade in our hide to be a white without batting an eyelash.

There exists racism on the basis of place a person belongs to which is nothing but an ugly truth of this nation. The hatred is such that people have died in thousands. People from north east are considered as aliens and those who belong to states like Bihar, Jharkhand are considered to be illiterate , mannerless, untouchable in metro cities like Delhi, Mumbai, etc. Just an example, that happens everywhere in this country. Not only metro cities but every state have their own reasons to hate one from other state. There’s racism on the basis of language we use. We are blessed to have hundreds of languages all with their own unique identity and importance and yet we have failed as a nation to give every language its due respect which includes one of the oldest languages of human civilization. There’s also racism on the basis of culture and colour. India is blessed with a rich variety of cultures, yet we leave no stone turned to mock each other’s culture, well, that’s how we show admiration to some of the oldest cultures in the world. And as of racism based on someones skin colour, all that can be said is that it’s extremely disheartening. Lastly, there also exists racism on basis of religion. As unfortunate as it is, this is probably the time when it’s most prominent.

People from Bihar have been subjected to racism from several decades. Everything about them from their looks, language, culture, accent is ridiculed pretty much all over the country. The term ‘Bihari’ itself is being increasingly used as a curse word in the northern parts of the country If there is ever a rape somewhere in India, the convict is automatically assumed to be a Bihari . If someone speaks Bhojpuri, he is assumed to be a ‘gavaar’ (illiterate). But this issue is never shown in the media, neither it is ever taken seriously, because according to some folks in our society these people are meant to be bullied. Whether someone is from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka or Andhra Pradesh, he is no more than a “Madrasi” to a North Indian. Abusive comments on their skin colour, food habits, culture are quite prevalent among the North Indians.

People are so ignorant about their own culture that they even forget that their is an integral part of India called the “seven sisters” or the “North East”. Recently in an interview, the child actor of the movie “Tubelight”, who hailed from Arunachal Pradesh was asked by a reporter, “How do you feel after coming to India for the first time ?”.

It’s worth mentioning that with the outbreak of the pandemic, the situation of racism became more vivid and more clear as the people of North-eastern region were told to vacate their apartments or other accommodations. Some were beaten up, some were prevented to enter the grocery stores to buy their basic necessities and some were even abused on grounds of internalised racist assumptions around the virus. Well, they can’t really change how they look, can they? Can anybody suggest a ‘guru’ who can teach them what ‘Indian-ness‘ means without having to lose their identity?

To top it all off, there’s the whole conundrum of white skin versus dark skin, with underlying tones of colourism and casual racism. Being a dark-skinned Indian woman is significantly harder. The sexism endemic in Indian society is such that the beauty standards for women are stricter and less fluid compared to men. You do occasionally find the odd dark-skinned south Indian hero, but they are largely relegated to the roles of comedians or villains; dark-skinned Indian women are lucky to be cast as extras or auxiliary dancers. It is even more prominent during matchmaking. In Indian culture, aesthetics and beauty are said to be the jurisdiction of women, whereas work and wages tend to define men-or as the adage goes “udyōgam puruśa lakśańam”. My mother remembers when she had to stand up for one of my aunts during matchmaking negotiations when the groom’s parents demanded more dowry to compensate for my aunt’s dark skin. Even today when brides are in demand from decades of a skewed sex ratio, dark-skinned women fare poorly in the Indian marriage market; a cursory glance at any matrimonial ad using the search term ‘fair’ can substantiate this.

Essentially, every non-Hindustani Indian has a difficult time in India. They can find themselves obligated to learn more languages than their Hindustani counterparts, unable to take exams in their mother tongue or face difficulties accessing state services. None more so than the Northeast Indians. Lacklustre investment in their states has meant that youngsters move seeking greener pastures elsewhere in India. It is incredibly heart-breaking to hear the harrowing tales of men and women being treated so harshly, often disproportionately subject to molestation and harassment and called racist slurs within their own country. Government funding towards languages and other infrastructure is skewed in favour of Hindi, and even Sanskrit. This has resulted in several languages and tribal identities in India facing extinction, especially in the South and the Northeast. Northeast Indians, compared to their South Indian counterparts, have poorer representation in Indian media.

We have a long way to go to become a country where we learn to accept all cultures, religions and habits. after all, the first step in solving a problem is realizing that there is one. If Indians do not collectively admit that we have a problem with racism, we’re going to be in serious trouble. We have several ethnicities in India. This simple fact seems to be lost in the hullabaloo about religion in the mainstream. Media is not a passive entertainment industry. It is a projection of culture and aspiration for many. It directly affects our choices, preferences, tastes, fashion, trends and even politics. Young Indians, especially girls, consuming this diet of cultural crap from media and society will mean that a generation of Indians will emerge with serious physical and mental issues. An unregulated industry of face whitening products often containing dangerous carcinogens like hydroquinone makes medical risks very real. What makes this even more remarkable is the warm reception that dark-skinned people of South Asian heritage have received elsewhere in the world- Kunal Nair, Romesh Ranganathan, George Alagiah, Naga Muchetty, Aziz Ansari and the list goes on. Thus, the Black Lives Matter Movement should be wake up call for India.

‘Let us make it our purpose to listen deeply to those who suffer racism so that we may better comprehend what it is, how they feel and how we can build the society they need. It is wrong to become defensive, and right to open our hearts all the wider, to love and acknowledge that all are fully sacred. We are called to love, and the more we love each other the better our world will become.’

#BlackLivesMatter Vs. #AllLivesMatter

Saying that black lives matter doesn’t mean that other lives do not.

The tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police has sparked intense debate over the question of racism in USA and triggered the Black Lives Matter movement. The protests have also sparked wide-ranging conversations about the responsibility industries and organizations — including the media — have to address institutional racism. To be clear, for much of its seven-year existence, the Black Lives Matter movement has been seen by many Americans as a divisive, even radical force. It’s very name enraged it’s foes, who countered with the slogans “Blue Lives Matter” and “White Lives Matter.” The tragedy, however, dramatically sparked a wave of protests sparked and enabled the Black Lives Matter movement to go has gone mainstream. The struggle is no longer confined to the national borders of the United States. However, soon enough, #AllLivesMatter became a slogan that has come to be associated with criticism of the Black Lives Matter movement. However, saying #AllLivesMatter completely missed the point of the Black Lives Matter.

Imagine that you’re sitting down to dinner with your family, and while everyone else gets a serving of the meal, you don’t get any. So you say “I should get my fair share.” And as a direct response to this, your dad corrects you, saying, “everyone should get their fair share.” Now, that’s a wonderful sentiment – indeed, everyone should, and that was kind of your point in the first place: that you should be a part of everyone, and you should get your fair share also. However, dad’s smart-ass comment just dismissed you and didn’t solve the problem that you still haven’t gotten any! The problem is that the statement “I should get my fair share” had an implicit “too” at the end: “I should get my fair share, too, just like everyone else.” But your dad’s response treated your statement as though you meant “only I should get my fair share”, which clearly was not your intention. As a result, his statement that “everyone should get their fair share,” while true, only served to ignore the problem you were trying to point out. That’s the situation of the “black lives matter” movement. Culture, laws, the arts, religion, and everyone else repeatedly suggest that all lives should matter. Clearly, that message already abounds in our society.

Just like asking dad for your fair share, the phrase “black lives matter” also has an implicit “too” at the end: it’s saying that black lives should also matter. But responding to this by saying “all lives matter” is willfully going back to ignoring the problem. It’s a way of dismissing the statement by falsely suggesting that it means “only black lives matter,” when that is obviously not the case. And so saying “all lives matter” as a direct response to “black lives matter” is essentially saying that we should just go back to ignoring the problem. The phrase “Black lives matter” carries an implicit “too” at the end; it’s saying that black lives should also matter. Saying “all lives matter” is dismissing the very problems that the phrase is trying to draw attention to.
Needless to say, dialogue matters and the George Floyd uprising has brought us hope for change. Now we must turn protest to policy.

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All lives can’t matter until Black Lives Matter.

Tears for Gaseous Terror……

Tear gas, known as a lachrymal agent (from the Latin lacrima, meaning “tear”), sometimes known as mace, is a chemical weapon that causes severe eye and respiratory pain, skin irritation, bleeding, and blindness. In the eye, it stimulates the nerves of the lacrimal gland to produce tears. Tear “gas” generally consists of aerosolized solid or liquid compounds (Bromo Acetone or Xylyl Bromide), not gas. Tear gas works by irritating mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, mouth and lungs. It causes crying, sneezing, coughing, difficulty breathing, pain in the eyes, and temporary blindness. With CS gas, symptoms of irritation typically appear after 20 to 60 seconds of exposure and commonly resolve within 30 minutes of leaving (or being removed from) the area. In case of a survey it was found that severe symptoms requiring medical evaluation were found in 6.8% of people. The most severe injuries were to the eyes (54%), respiratory system (32%) and skin (18%). The most severe injuries occurred in law enforcement training, intentionally incapacitating people, and law enforcement (whether of individuals or crowd control).

As with all non-lethal or less-lethal weapons, there is some risk of serious permanent injury or death when tear gas is used. This includes risks from being hit by tear gas cartridges that may cause severe bruising, loss of eyesight, or skull fracture, resulting in immediate death. A case of serious vascular injury from tear gas shells has also been reported from Iran, with high rates of associated nerve injury (44%) and amputation (17%), as well as instances of head injuries in young people.While the medical consequences of the gases themselves are typically limited to minor skin inflammation, delayed complications are also possible. People with pre existing respiratory conditions such as asthma are particularly at risk. They are likely to need medical attention and may sometimes require hospitalization or even ventilation support.Skin exposure to CS may cause chemical burns or induce allergic contact dermatitis. When people are hit at close range or are severely exposed, eye injuries involving scarring of the cornea can lead to a permanent loss in visual acuity. Frequent or high levels of exposure carry increased risks of respiratory illness.

There is no specific antidote to common tear gases. Getting clear of gas and into fresh air is the first line of action. Removing contaminated clothing and avoiding shared use of contaminated towels could help reduce skin reactions. Immediate removal of contact lenses has also been recommended, as they can retain particles. Once a person has been exposed, there are a variety of methods to remove as much chemical as possible and relieve symptoms. The standard first aid for burning solutions in the eye is irrigation (spraying or flushing out) with water. There are reports that water may increase pain from CS gas, but the balance of limited evidence currently suggests water or saline are the best options. Some evidence suggests that Diphoterine, a hypertonic amphoteric salt solution, a first aid product for chemical splashes, may help with ocular burns or chemicals in the eye.Bathing and washing the body vigorously with soap and water can remove particles that adhere to the skin. Clothes, shoes and accessories that come into contact with vapors must be washed well since all untreated particles can remain active for up to a week.Some advocate using fans or hair dryers to evaporate the spray, but this has not been shown to be better than washing out the eyes and it may spread contamination.Anticholinergics can work like some antihistamines as they reduce lacrymation and decrease salivation, acting as an antisialagogue, and for overall nose discomfort as they are used to treat allergic reactions in the nose (e.g., itching, runny nose, and sneezing).Oral analgesics may help relieve eye pain.Vinegar, petroleum jelly, milk and lemon juice solutions have also been used by activists. It is unclear how effective these remedies are. In particular, vinegar itself can burn the eyes and prolonged inhalation can also irritate the airways. Though vegetable oil and vinegar have also been reported as helping relieve burning caused by pepper spray, usage of baking soda or toothpaste, stating that they trap the particles emanating from the gas near the airways that are more feasible to inhale. A small trial of baby shampoo for washing out the eyes did not show any benefit. So it’s better to visit a medical professional rather than to try home remedies if you are exposed to tear gas.

Bickering Bollywood….

So we all know that Indian film industry aka Bollywood is the second highest movie producing industry in the whole world after Hollywood per annum. Well to be honest yeah i agree that Bollywood is a gold mine of vibrant,diverse and really amazing movies. But the question remains at the point as why such an old,powerful movie industry with actors like Shahrukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan who come in the list of top ten richest actors in the world, and with directors like Satyajit Ray are never producing movies which at least can be the bread and butter of the whole world. French and the German movie industry even the movie industry of Chile and the Korea is producing movies which garners massive popularity worldwide. In french we have ‘Belle de Jour(1967)’ and ‘blue is the warmest color (2013)’, German’s having ‘The Marriage of Maria Braun(1978)’ and ‘Freier fall (2013)’, chile’s ‘A fantstic woman (2017), the ripple maker Parasite(2019) and many more from many other countries as well. And then the question prevails why not Bollywood?

Movies like Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali (1955) and Mira Nair’s Salam Bombay (1988) in a manner defined Indian movie industry’s potential. But current scenario Bollywood is all about nepotism and love stories nowadays. As if we see that famous movie Slumdog Millionaire(2008) which bagged eight Oscars is not what india is?But the entire movie industry of the world is running after one thing that if India is represented it either poverty or god forbid it’s about curry, thanks to everywhere you see starting from movies like critically acclaimed Lion(2016) or Love Sonoa(2018) everything is about how indians are suffering,human trafficking, lack of sanitation and blah blah blah!!! If we talk about that’s what we see i the world. But people need to realize something that India the world’s second most populous country,sixth largest economy and seventh largest country is not all about trash and poverty. This scenario as explained above is what shows the failure of bollywood. but not everythings bad as we can’t say that Bollywood has gone down totally in these recent years as we made so many good movies too like Raazi(2018), Neerja(2016), Uri(2019), Barfi(2012) , Lust stories(2018) , Mary Kom(2014), three idiots(2009), Bajirao Mastani (2015), Jodha Akbar(2008), Dangal(2016), Devdas(2002), My name is Khan(2010), Swades(2004), English Vinglish(2012), Tumbaad(2018), lagaan(2001), Tare zameen par(2007), PK(2014) and many more which show case the value of the Indian movie industry and it’s potentials.

Now if we talk about problem which is wrecking us all starts with the lack of originality and the rejection of new talent in Indian film industry and how can we forget the grandad of all fiasco the one and only Nepotism. Nepotism is whats actually responsible for killing the Indian film industry in a really gruesome manner as due to this the new talents in indian film industry is getting choked as we speak. Another big problem is the lack of experimentation and really comical and absurd action movies as I’m literally starving for a good science fiction movie or a bone chilling horror fiction at least. But all we get is boring love stories with a lot of songs which are not even sung by the actors but they are just LIP SYNCING to it. No diversity at all as white washing of the whole cast is the forte of bollywood. Not even a single dusky or black actor or actress in a lead role you will find here(leaving the very few exceptions). That’s what i meant when i wrote bickering bollywood as if bollywood won’t up it’s ante there will soon be what we call a hot white mess left in the indian subcontinent for people to watch. Toodles!

Black it up…or in our case maybe brown or Rainbow?

So as we all know what is happening around us nowadays starting from Corona virus and ending with riots. But the thing which caught everybody’s attention was the riot which started in USA and is now making ripples through out the world as the coveted movement of black lives matter. The words which came out of George Floyd’s mouth still haunt me in my dreams as he said “I can’t breathe officer, I can’t breathe, I wanna see my mama”. Nobody deserves to die like that I don’t know if he is guilty or not guilty but it’s wrong to take the precious and the most valuable right a being on this planet Earth has that is the right to breathe,as if you call yourself a human and if in your whole life you have seen in someone else’s eye and you have realized that this being loves me as a mother, brother,wife,husband,daughter,son, family, pet or a stranger as they love me because my heart’s still beating and my brain’s still functional so that I can share this love with someone else to make a world with the harmony of heaven. I know it’s a little bit of an utopia but still then reality starts and ends with belief and hope.

Through out the world there are millions and millions of people facing racism ever single day of their life starting from Breonna Taylor to Freddie Gray to Alton Sterling and many more whose name still remains in that veil of oblivion and the complications of corruption to hide this cruelty. Statistics also speaks for racism as such the increasing number of hate crimes,atrocities upon minorities are like the so called all time trending subject of world’s total information and news scenario. Homophobia, Trans phobia and racism are really concerned and perilous issues for this great civilization which we call humanity. It was really a great moment to see India to tear away that orthodox article 377 of Indian Constitution which made homosexuality illegal so in a manner it was a massive point of elation for those millions and millions of Indians who use to live in the shadows of fear and pain as unapprehended felon due to that cruel article which made the dance of horrors for so many years in this great country we call home. Well if you ask me it was a bright moment for India but still then homophobia goes deep in Indian soil starting from those atrocities with trans people on train rides to any person coming out in a so called traditional Indian orthodox family so it all has to change and we all know that it’s gonna take some time but we can hope can’t we. As at the end that’s all we have.

But what about India after all why is the world’s largest democracy is silent in this one a bit weird right! well I don’t think we are not doing anything because we are really conscious about the lock down or we are really obedient and stuff like that because we all know that protesting is in our blood so how come is this blood not working in this massive scenario of ignited souls through out the world but not in case of Indians. Well I guess we all know the answer that racism is something which goes quite casual and is rooted deep in India starting from Bollywood to commercials to cosmetics and to every house hold we all are quite aware of the value of being fair and white. I think everybody as growing up in India have heard the term gora(fair),saonla(brown) and kala(black) but trust me nobody cares or gives an importance towards the later two the only color we see is gora. Let me ask you something have you seen a single actor or actress in Bollwood who is lets say not super famous but is considered in bollywood being brown or black on purpose for a lead role well I haven’t maybe maximum in a tiny side role or worse a villain maybe and maybe shown in one movie and also that movie is a super hit and after that her/his/their era fades away in a very clean crystal manner so if we are going to debate my question then i guess we all can agree on the fact that we have a few but is that few participation of black and brown justified till 2020. Now if we come to house hold then we all know Indian neighbor are really deserving for the label of gossip girls or mean girls sometimes and the same for guys. So in a manner I’m disgusted by this whitewashing of every single thing which we have in public or which may come in public in this great subcontinent, I mean why can’t we see that color of the skin is nothing but just a reflection of what our genes are speaking for us what our ancestry has made for us and that is it, it is nothing I mean literally nothing more than that. We should realize and we should help others to realize this too that live your life in the way that you won’t have any regrets the moment you will be leaving this world. Accept who you truly are and let others do the same even if it’s really exciting to make fun of others but think about yourself in that person’s shoe before you do that then you will know how bad it is to do that to anyone. So live your life in a manner which makes you happy and other’s happy too because we don’t know that is there another life after this or not we only know this one so use it to be happy,sad,angry,passionate and everything by which you can be humane.