Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ocean in the eyes of seafarer

I was listening to the interview of the Sports Minister of West Bengal Government wherein he was emphasizing the need of making games and sports compulsory for students in junior colleges and secondary colleges. He was saying that parental pressure on youngsters is so much that they are not allowed even one hour of play. This is, to quite an extent, true.

If you see many present day cadets, you will find them physically weak and incapable of doing strenuous work for a reasonable period of time. STCW convention was intended to do well but, unwittingly, it has opened flood gates of corruption. Private Marine Colleges in India are taking cadets who’s parents have the capacity to pay substantially either cash or in kind. The regulatory mechanism is totally absent. It has been noticed that many cadets and junior engineers, though intelligent and good in computer proficiency, have weak constitution and get tired very soon if given cleaning and painting job.

It is absolutely necessary to initiate corrective action immediately. If I say, who should initiate corrective action, then I will be pointing finger at some authority and instantly it will not be liked. That is the misfortune of our country. If someone raises voice for eradication of corruption, he is branded as trouble maker and similarly if someone pleads for eradication of corruption in maritime education, he is not considered “Savvy”. Sit quietly, clap, smile, only say hello “ Aap kaise hain jee”, eat cake and samosa and quietly depart. Generally in shipping press meets the scenario is much more pathetic, it’s all paid news. What they want to convey is nothing but the press release. This is niche sector for news barons that are the reason looking at financial gains, shipping publications obliges the Masters. The publications have become mouth peace and display but the charm of actual news is faded. Indian shipping industry lacks unity and they don’t have any such union on top level which can voice over the issue. Addressing issues and getting them executed is not only the drawback but also a weakness of shipping industry.

I have nothing against shipping doctors but STCW has provided enormous opportunity for them to make quick money. For FPFF and AFF courses you need a medical certificate. Invariably you see the doctor coming in, collecting 50 or 100 rupees from each, sign the half pages and depart within ten minutes. Only one lady doctor in a south Mumbai college, I have seen, firmly rejecting candidates having high BP. She will not relent and advice the candidate that your life is more valuable than the course. First get treated and then you can do the course. I hope we have more such doctors. The clinics conducting Ultra sound and ECG having window Air Conditioners must get their A/C units serviced regularly. Shipping companies should enforce this on their own company doctors.

Health and Safety are very much interconnected. The Code of safe working practices is a very elaborate publication. Just yesterday I read certain portions from it. This is the least read book, together with the Training Manuals on board a ship. This is not confined to Indian Ships or with Indian nationality but with all. It is the duty of Masters and Chief Engineers to encourage juniors to read these valuable books. They should ask the boys, which portion did they read lack of interaction and stressful ambience at sea is another issue.

I remember Chief Engineer Mr. O.N.Wazir. During his rounds, he sometimes used to tell his cadets one part of a particular pipe line and then after 4-5 days he used to ask the same pipe line but at a different end. Invariably, the cadets used to trace the line and tell him. This way he made them trace all the pipe lines in the engine room. O.N.Wazir like seniors are blessing for students, he used to literally provide them vocations trainings. Once while sailing one of his cadets vomited on top of the flywheel cover and it was seen by the Wazir. He benevolently educated his junior that” rolling “is in the head and not in the stomach. He advised him to divert attention towards some work. There was a place in E/R under the blower where they were lapping the cylinder head valves. He taught him, take a round of E/R and then sit down and lap the valves and don’t think of “rolling”. Today this brave and educated cadet is part of my shipping magazine.

Irony, most of the present day Masters and Chief Engineers have ceased to be the educators. I am noticing a trend that even if you call an officer to discuss something after five O’clock, he resents. This sort of deterioration has set in. On board, they are not allowed to tell their superior what to do and what not to do beyond a certain extent but the Superintendents ashore should assume this responsibility.

Initially from the parental guidance and then the guidance from Master and Chief Engineer, Children of seafarers suffer in this regard because they miss table family (the father most of the time is on sailing). Whenever they are with their children, they must listen to them by letting them come close because they want to say a lot. In this way, they will turn out to be safer individuals.

I am a big chatter box, these sea fearers when on leave they come to our office for part time writing job. I have noticed this during interacting with them that the cadets want to talk, he has so much in his mind with lots of reservations. They are discouraged because the seniors are sacred of their weakness to be exposed. The faculty in Marine Colleges must join a ship and sail to refresh their knowledge. They should do it on their own. If not, it should be made mandatory. Unfortunately there are many such issues in deep sea but neither media nor authorities ever thought of discussing on them. May be this is reason, recruitments in shipping industry have dearth of higher level.

A Hazard is a source of potential harm or damage or a situation with potential for harm or damage. Risk has two elements, the likely hood that a hazard may occur, and the consequences of a hazardous event. Few of my shippies are back from sailing, last night I was discussing over different sea side issues with them..

From a Cadet to chief engineer, artificers, radio side sailors, apprentices, deck side staff and captions are part of my publication. I was piercing their brains by asking awkward but straight questions. My intention is to bring small revolution in this conservative sector and make difference to every shipping man’s life. Next time when they return, they should return with good memories, and when they resume back they should go with the zeal and confidence, but not as compulsion.

Not last but the least, our dumb shipping minister G K Wasan, should be compelled to seek shipping education, and sailing in deep see should be made part of his official routine. He is the most useless and inefficient shipping Minister so far in the history of shipping industry.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Singham ‘The Evil politics in policing’

Last night I watched the Hindi Film that had hit the theatres very recently ‘Singham’. It’s really been a very long time since I enjoyed watching a good film. To be honest, Singham is sure to be one of the best top-drawers of 2011. The movie actually took me to the flashback; as I have already mentioned several times that I being a crime reporter, enjoyed good rapport with the department. Sometimes, media over hyped the issues while sometime officers were favored by politicians. It was literally a rat race amongst the officers. Whatever it is, one thing which can be said for sure is that all these harry of Mumbai police were extremely dashing, handsome and courageous. They really had very good network for cracking crime cases. Those were the adventurous period in the history of Mumbai Underworld gang war.

Daya Naik, Sachin Waze , Pradeep Sharma, Late Vijay Salaskar, Sunil Mane, Late Ashok Kamte Sir, Shivanandan Sir are some of the names to mention who were very close to me. In fact, I learned to look at crime stories with very authentic angles only because of them. All these officers were and are very handsome and intelligent. Any ways as it was shown in the movie about the political atrocities on police department, and how the officers unite to sabotage the false trend, it made me remember those olden days of real life.

The history of interference in police investigations is pretty long-dated and entertaining. The importance of Home Portfolio is highlighted in Marathi epic “Simhasan” written By Arun Sadhu. Chief Minister facing challenge from his cabinet colleague manipulates support of MLAs by reminding them of criminal cases pending against them. Even the most upright character of the novel who is Assembly Speaker is not exempted and he directs his close confidant MLA to the Chief Minister Camp as he fears of charge against himself for not saving his wife from being dragged into deep waters. The lone witness is dispatched by CM to USA to obtain a favourable police report. In the same movie, we also come across a situation where in a C.I.D. inspector lays his hands onto a concrete evidence implicating CM’s brother-in-law in a smuggling case. He calls up CM stating the smuggling consignment has been seized and CM quips “Then take action; why should you call up in such matters”. On learning the reason the CM states “As per your conscience”. Needless to say the conscience of the C.I.D. inspector comes to the rescue of CM’s brother-in-law.

The “trend-setting” incident in the history of evil policing originates from northern-Indian State of Uttar Pradesh wherein Phoolan Devi; a woman dacoit who went on to become Member of Parliament, was turned down by local police when she complained of assault and rape by the Thakurs who are infamous for land-grab and atrocities upon villagers. Phoolan took to arms and unleashed a reign of terror in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Had the police acted with honesty and a sense of duty the history would have been different.
Mumbai cannot distinguish itself from Uttar Pradesh as in the very last month a police station in the plush and glamorous locality in suburban Mumbai; named Bandra west; turned down a teenager who was complaining of abduction and rape. She had to approach Bombay High Court and investigation was handed over to a lady officer attached to another police station to ensure impartiality. The senior inspector of Bandra was accused of shooting out the victim girl to protect the culprits. The same senior inspector plunged the police department into a most embarrassing scenario when he refused to register a case into an incident of land-grab; despite instructions from Mumbai Police Commissioner and Maharashtra CM. A petition was needed to be filed for getting the case registered. It would not be long when Mumbai would see an emergence of a Phoolan Devi.

A circular issued by Mumbai Police commissioner Arup Patnaik is a bible on the “evil policing”. Mr. Patnaik highlights various categories of “evil policing” ranging from orderlies of senior officers operating as parallel power centers to SRA developers “employing” serving police officers so that to ensure non-registration of complaints. He states in the circular that there is a nexus between the underworld and police to reap benefits of the SRA schemes and in this, politicians too are involved.

A female Additional Commissioner from the Bureau of Anti-Corruption of Mumbai was transferred abruptly to sabotage investigations into SRA schemes that were thriving upon defrauded records. A diary seized by her team during the investigations contained names of senior politicians and bureaucrats who had received ten percent of the total SRA turnover as kick-backs in advance. State government formed a committee to monitor the probe of the Bureau and the committee members are the same very people who figured in the diary.

The latest mind-boggling incident in the history of “evil policing” is that of Supreme Court slapping Rs. 10 lakhs penalty against Maharashtra Government for the misdeed of then CM Vilasrao Deshmukh who pressurized a police station not to register offence against a Congress MLA who was accused of recovering money from a farmer with hefty interest. In this judgment the Apex court has stated that its conscience is shaken by the manner in which Maharashtra politicians; especially the Constitutional functionaries “behave”. One of the two judges of the bench who delivered the verdict later expressed his anguish in a public speech over the fact that the judgment has not dithered the Central Government from allowing the minister to continue who has brought disgrace to the State.

The hick-defined rhinoceros shall continue to wield power via “evil policing” and new trends and newer trends shall be set in times to come. It is painful to note that out of total police force of the Mumbai city; 20 percent are “employed” as household help of the senior officers; doing jobs such as cleansing to escorting Memsaabs and kids. 20 percent are always on leave while 20 percent are into administrative and intelligence related tasks. That is to say only 40 percent cops are doing policing for the city with populace of over 1 crore 40 lakhs. And this 40 percent lot is subjected to interference in their work.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Debating over trivial issues

There are many cases of celebrities been caught at the international airport with undeclared goods. Whenever these high profile people are caught the headlines speaks volume and at length about them. While some carried branded goods like high-end purses, shoes and bags, others tried to walk through the green channel with undeclared jewellery. Last month there was news about a 50-year-old NRI woman to be intercepted by the Mumbai Customs. She was carrying banned sex toys, expensive lingerie, kinky games on CDs and over Rs. 6 lakh worth of jewellery through the green channel. The woman, identified as Bacchu Bhai, was caught when Deputy Commissioner intercepted her, as she was about to cross the green channel. She was later handed over to the Air Intelligence Unit (AIU). They recovered gold jewellery worth about Rs. 6.5 lakh and sex toys including sex game CDs (different models) and high-end lingerie worth Rs. 3.5 lakh. Later on she was released and matter got closed. In her statement, the woman mentioned that the items were for personal use and that she was unaware of the law that restricts carrying items like sex toys. She is a US resident and flew to Mumbai to attend her daughter's wedding. This is not the first time that a person has been caught with banned items at the airport. Any ways don’t you think Customs should intercept other dangerous and hazardous goods like stolen antiques and undeclared firearms instead of bothering someone for what they have brought along with them for their business? Why can't we be more civilised and work towards a better nation. Moreover such news and raids garners maximum publicity to department and the officer too.

Earlier whenever dance bar’s used to be raided in Mumbai, I used to feel sorry for those girls and atrocities towards them. But later on I realised Police is quite aware of this network, and they knew it well in advance that these dance bars never remained shut in the city. Why don’t the Police conduct raids everyday and why raids are performed once in a blue moon? All these years I worked as crime and political journalist. There are many officers being my good source helped me understand these hidden operations, when my officer friend told me on the condition of anonymity, I was shocked. He told me these raids are planned, officers and bar owners are in good coordination with each other. Whenever bar owner recruits beautiful dancers and desires to make the bar’s name popular, he invites these raids and media exposes these girls and the name of the bar remains in news for some time. Such acts are mere publicity gimmicks.

These days if you look at our society and culture we have accepted modernization in outfits as well as in living style. Six years ago when I resumed on my first job as a trainee journalist, I was shocked to see girls smoking in the office their bare minimum clothes, long enough to cover the object and short enough to solve the purpose was making me feel awkward. I used to feel shy and blush all the time without any reason.
Recently, I went to Goa to meet my newly married friend Harin and his wife; it was their honey moon trip. We were passing time at beach, so many Indian girls roaming carefree in short skirts, and shirts so low, thongs were popping out everywhere. Not just the young girls, it's everybody! I couldn't believe looking at almost topless girls in group, tanning their skin and having fun in rains. All of them were smoking, doping and boozing. I have seen one thing in Goa people are not much bothered about anything, they just drink, booze, smoke dope and live their lives to the fullest.

When I was looking at all those people somewhere I felt, am I just conservative fogey, who is unaware about fashion, or is this really in bad taste?

I don't follow trends or fashion; I just wear clothing that is beautiful and feminine. It might not be what every other girls are wearing but I would rather look like a young lady than a truck-stop babe. I don't even own a single pair of skirts or tube tops. But I don’t even have any disagreements with one who is confertable in it.

Even though, I tried but failed to adopt kind of lifestyle, but that does not mean I will ever criticise them by becoming the moral custodian of someone’s life. Come on friends, lets not be so calculative... sex toys, blue films, designer inner garments and style has become a part of our lives. The human body is a beautiful thing. But my conditioning of mind says, the social implications of showing off certain parts of said body are usually slanted towards the ideas of easy sex.

My young staff member once said that you should "flaunt it if you got it", but one also has to take into the account the social signals some clothing will send off. Personally, I don't wear short skirts and low cut shirts. I don't think women who do wear them are necessarily sluts, but they shouldn't be surprised when/if they are treated as such. Its individual’s perceptions of looking at it. But inspite of having cling over certain things, we still want to enjoy looking at what others doing . If you ask an average middle class boy, will he ever allow his sister to adopt this culture, he will promptly refuse. But he will definitely want to be with glamorous babes around. Double standards, hypocrisy and show off are the aspects that rules over an average human physic. Rational thoughts are very much aggressive in the recent past. If humans are by nature monogamous creatures, we live as a family unit; and mating partners raise their offspring cooperatively.

Therefore, considering that menopause hits for most women around 45 - 50, under optimum conditions, men would look for a partner around 25, young enough to have a multitude of children, and old enough to properly raise them. In the past this number may have been skewed slightly lower due to environmental factors. But recent studies have shown that the onset and closure of mental and physical development begin and end later than in the past.

With the growing expectations and modern society impact, women are falling prey to such inventions like sex toys, beauty, botox, surgery, skimpy cloths, grooming and competition of looking better makes them adopt certain measures. That might be the reason why old lady on airport was carrying all those stuffs while traveling for her daughter’s marriage. But we the people having enough spare time kept on gossiping over such topics as if its biggest national issue.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Desperate Over News & News Culture

Media in the recent past has been too much accused and discussed for many reasons. Its integrity has always been questioned.
However, its authenticity is a duty of thinkers, readers and buyers. We are very fortunate that in our country we are extremely interested in politics. The headline craze has brooked the credentials of a news paper. Every where we are talking just politics and nothing but politics since the Indian politics got attention from British Raj. Thus, in that sense our news papers are much more serious on the quotes, and much better comparative to other papers of the world. Second thing is that news papers or news does not mean only news; news has to have variety of segments. News does not mean only the national issues. News by itself is very rich in its nature; and anything that gives healthy entertainment and right education and inspires people to do better or asks the Government its accountability to do a better job. All these aspects constitute good journalism. My point however is that in the recent decades, the largest selling news papers actually sell news space at a price tag; the so called supplement is complete paid advertisement in the form of news. We should not follow western culture of journalism, there should be social control.

Generally news channels have a favorite quote, “If this is what people want to see, we are going to show”. Is that correct? Ethical or unethical no one knows. I think a viewer has choice, if he is not interested in what you are showing he can turn you off. We being politically hungry, there was a time when Indian youth was not at all interested in political development or politics of this country. But you look around now and you will find youth discussing politics and also has their own opinion to rise, and this is probably the impact of political coverage’s.

Today, it’s more of young media, young audience. Youth know their right to vote and they are keeping eye on good bad and ugly side of politics. If today we say media is aggressive, historic or ascertain issues, it’s because the youth is in position to say we understand the point what is one is trying to say. Earlier, we could see two people in the corner discussing politics in the in pale dim light and with bad picture quality of the national channel and no one was really bothered to look at those interviews or shows. Today, there is large participation in news based talk shows and discussions.

Now if you look at the tabloids, even they are aggressive. They are also into investigative journalism. Somewhere down the line, the tabloid is much better than hydro media nowadays. It’s not only hydro media which talks about serious issues such as poverty, fertilizations, but also widely published in other publications too. Everyone wants to know about fashion, cooking, films, party, Page three, Derby and race course activities. Nothing is farmed and limited to particular segment of news print. Sometimes you are kind, unkind, avarice and aggressive for that your magazines and news papers should reflect that plethora of interest and different registers in which we all live. Music, arts cinema gossips all that has its relevant space in the news print. What we are talking about is appetite, courage and willingness required for which we will go for money and power in its best ways.

When Anna Hazare was on agitation, none of the channels dared to show Salman Khan’s bare body or Shahrukh khan’s hyped coverage. The subject had its own relevance and consistency. Some times during dry days when there is nothing much to show, no news or scandals to expose, then the TV channels has to focus on Shahrukh Khan or Amitabh Bachchan to entertain their viewers. The news has to be relevant and worth grabbing the attention of readers or viewers. There are occasions when there is nothing happening and hence one need to find alternative by any means. News is all about analysis and paralysis; at times we see TV shows discussing all irrelevant talks which don’t create an impact on anyone. However, this happened mostly in the olden days which was old fashioned and dull without any interactivity and pep in it.

When it comes to paid news, even today the regional news papers has no courage to speak against government; there is a silent understanding between the management of the news paper and authorities that not to go against each other. If gone against government then the solution is its closure. Many such bold news papers had to shut down their shop for writing against government. Many prospered by supporting and promoting and being mouth piece of state governments or Chief Ministers. In north India, this kind of news culture is quite aggressively witnessed. There is a large section of media especially if we go in the rural areas, or to be specific local media, its journalists are acting like blackmailers. Now obviously the ethics and morality has taken a back seat there. Let us not stigmatize small media but there are blackmailers in small media as well as in the national media. It won’t be wrong to say that blackmailers are everywhere.

There are many regional papers that can be termed as the best examples for honest journalism but unfortunately they did not survive. Why? They would not have died if would have grown on at a sub regional level. You take the examples of one of the leading Hindi newspapers; they are publishing sixty three editions for this country. It has tried to reach almost every district and state. Many a time’s media has crossed its ethical boundaries. These are hypnosis views about ethical and unethical journalism. Media is introducing itself too much into people’s private like. The biggest example is Tehelka. They used prostitutes to pose as arm dealers and got into defence boundaries, but it was in the public interest. Liked by many and condemned by large. Sometimes some media feels its ok going beyond the normal parameters of ethics. If there is appetite in media I would say all is fair if it’s done in the public interest. Anyways today we have more stringent rules and regulations even on media.

Journalists has to raise their voice on unethical practices saying no to even their own bosses, managements and pay masters, by challenging all of them. Some times it’s very much interference and journalist cannot really execute their freedom to live in ethical frame. Media in India is sometimes constantly under accusations. They are related with one or other political parties, if you say good about Congress then you are connected to BJP and if you stand by BJP then you are accused of being bought by Congress. And if you stand in between, then you are accused of being paid by some third party or both the parties will attack you. The general assumption is that media and party are sold out in the country.

It other ways finance is one of the biggest aspect of media. Small town or state level media is actually controlled by political parties and it’s very direct while on national levels it’s indirect. It’s difficult for working journalists to understand how they are directly and indirectly controlled by political parties. Actually journalists must assert themselves, and today common people are scrutinizing media much more, the mouth full is mouth shut. There is no doubt media has become powerful and that’s why everyone wants to control them. The debate over ethics is rudimentary. Now a day’s ethics deals with the silences of authorities. It’s time to revolt within us, but that’s not in the hands of journalists actually.