Monthly Archives: December, 2014

Compellingly watchable and listenable

While attention grabbing content is the backbone of a TV show or a movie, the presentation and the presenter(s) are of equal significance, as none of us would invest our time to watch a dispirited-looking presenter or a monotonous show that lacks innovativeness and uniqueness in the way it’s being presented. But movies and TV shows no more a daily luxury for me, given the pace at which I work each day. However, I always cherry-pick a few TV programs and make sure to watch them whenever possible. With that said, I must also admit that my checklist is devoid of any soap operas, as I strongly believe in investing time wisely, no matter whether it’s a second or an hour.

News channels and science fiction programs dominated my list of favorite TV shows until I started watching CNBC-TV18. Though this might sound like yet another cliché, I have to say that CNBC-TV18 is truly a business channel with a difference, as I have never seen them broadcasting tailored shows that are solely focused on intricate businesses and markets stories. Instead of serving an elite set of viewers who can decipher the hard to comprehend nuances of finance and markets, they have diverse sets of programs that are both entertaining and informative. Watching CNBC-TV 18 also helped me debunk yet another myth that I’ve had been carrying with me ever since my college days, when I was a devoted and curious student of Journalism. I had always believed that strong abrasiveness is a ‘must-have’ for a journalist of reputable stature. The quintessential visual media journalists whom I revered so far were always found yelling their hearts out on camera, several times, during most of the shows, for an array of reasons. But Shereen Bhan of CNBC-TV18 repeatedly gave me the strong and judicious message that a professional journalist needn’t be abrasive all the time to validate a point or a perspective.

The caustic and irksome on-screen narrators whom I hate to listen to:

From the bygone days of one news channel and a handful of shows, our visual media has grown by leaps and bounds, with the arrival of numerous channels that broadcast endless number of news programs and other related shows, right from dawn to dusk. News stories, political or non-political, always invoke a sense of unplumbed curiosity in me, the reason why I always make it a point to watch one of the news broadcasts telecasted each day. However, news programs are no more the meticulous coverage of top news stories of the day. Nowadays, they do not follow the sequential news broadcasting pattern, one after the other depending on their gravity and depth.

These days, news rooms are less about broadcasting day-to-day happenings and more about abrasive and ludicrous panel discussions that are monopolized by several groups of self-professed intellectuals who carry tremendously inflated misconceptions on their knowledge of the current world and its happenings. The intense interactions, dry wits, distasteful comments, and outlandish altercations take no time to become fiery arguments, violent war of words, and name calling, for several unworthy and unimportant reasons that we can count on. Both the invited guests and the anchors brazenly shout their heads off during the entire sessions, in front of the cameras, and leave no stones unturned to desperately prove themselves right and others wrong, often forgetting the very reason why they entered into the discussion. Thus most of the discussions on political, social, and economic reasons soon pave way for irrational outbursts and unstoppable overflow of intense narcissisms that are intolerable to the core.

A breath of fresh air:

After watching Shereen Bhan for a year, on various shows, I have come to the realization that abrasiveness doesn’t augment one’s journalistic expertise, but only intensifies and exhibits the vulnerability of a media person, who has to be technically unbiased and unaffected, even amid the most crucial situations. While many of you might contradict me with a strong argument that CNBC-TV 18 is a business channel that faces the least of tensed debates on political and social issues, I beg to differ, as I have seen her being a part of several discussions that cover such topics as well. I have also had several chances to see her facing the not-so-evident fury of several political functionaries, who have repeatedly taken digs at Shereen Bhan very openly on various programs, for some of her clear-cut questions that they would not want to answer to. Yet, she maintains her commendably calm and composed nature throughout the shows and keeps surprising me frequently. Doesn’t she get angry on being mocked frequently? I don’t know! I have continuously tried to imagine myself in her place, and have constantly thought of my possible reaction on taking such potshots. Let me tell you in no uncertain words – My emotions would have overpowered my practicality, and I would have become downright annoyed several times.

A refreshingly positive face makes every news show and every program worth watching and listening to. It makes you want to listen to the anchor and decipher what’s being talked about. On the other hand, having an abrasive and non-smiling face on the TV is a huge dissatisfaction, and I would hardly bother to listen or watch what’s being aired, no matter how crucial the news program or the show is.

Women, are we safe in our own country?

An anniversary that shudders our mind, a memory that sends chills down the spine, its two years since Nirbhaya, the Delhi brave heart and India’s brave fighter, left her mortal life after days of resilient battle against the horrific injuries that were inflicted on her. While namesake memorial meetings and candle light marches happen all around the capital city today, her tormented soul is yet to receive justice for heinous and bloodcurdling gang-rape that shook the entire nation. The huge street protests that followed the dreadful sexual assault did bring the nation to a standstill for many days, and forced authorities to initiate at least a few baby steps, hoping to making Delhi a more safer place for women. But sadly, nothing has changed since that fateful December 16th, and nor do I believe things would change until we introduce and implement stronger laws to protect women from being subjected to sexual crimes.

damini

I often notice that men who get caught in sexual assault cases are absolutely remorseless, and relish every bit of their presence in front of public, as well as print and visual media. This fearlessness results from the unwavering confidence that keeps assuring them that they can easily get away with their lives, no matter how heinous their crimes are. Irrespective of having several fast track courts that assure speedy verdicts in such sensitive cases, no swift judgement has been taken in many of the cases, and no tough sentence have been given to any of the culprits .Ravagers continue to disregard the rules of law, keep pouncing on more women each day, yet  often get off scot-free. While most of the court case take more than 10 years to deliver the verdict, surmounting the pain and sadness of the wronged, crimes again women keen multiplying each day, making women in our country feel utterly helpless and trivial.

No matter whether it’s a city or a lesser fast-paced town, women across the country face sexual ordeals of one kind or the other each day. Catcalling, name calling, leers, shouting, brushing against the body, whistling, grouping, or touching inappropriately, and I can go on about the atrocious abuses that women are subjected to, even in broad day light. As I walk towards the hostel each day, from the bus stop, I can see at least a dozen of who stare at me, pass lewd comments, or try to walk past me while aiming at brushing against my body, during the less-than 10 minutes walk. Even offices turn out equally unsafe, when that stealthily smiling colleague stares at upper part of the body while asking a doubt, or that supposedly ‘decent’ male friend of tries to cunningly brush his hands against our body while climbing down the steps.

While these humiliating incidents are happening in the peak hours of the day, I shudder to think what women are facing during the post-evening hours when our roads have lesser amount of crowd. As the patriarchal community around us keep remarking on the dresses that lure men to committing sexual harassment, let me tell you this in no uncertain words – no matter whether a woman is full clad or barely dressed, no women have the luxury to walk through our streets without being harassed even once.

While Nirbhaya was the talk of the nation, I could hear many of my friends dissecting the incident based on several ‘what if’s that they believe could have averted that barbaric act. What if she had not traveled so late, what if she had refrained from boarding a bus with hardly a few men, what if she hadn’t been accompanied by a male companion, and so on. Did her choices resulted in what happened to her on that fateful day? No, absolutely not! A woman’s commuting choices are immaterial in a country that’s filled with men who carry the worst facet of overblown sense of masculinity.

For me, leery looks and lecherous comments have turned out to become day today happenings, but like many others, I never react to the taunts or speak back to the hooligan who passes lascivious comments at me. Call me a coward for not standing up for my freedom, and I would say that my safety is obviously my prime priority, however, fearing of a possibly dangerous outcome in the form of a vengeance-filled assault or a violent acid attack prevents me from giving a ferocious reply. Thus I keep calming my mind and walk past the ruffians who comment or stare at me in utmost inappropriate ways. There were even times when I had frustratingly wished for an opportunity to leave the country for ever and move to a safer place where I am not subjected to such harassment each day.

“I will insert a rod into your stomach if you report this,” As I read this terrifying threat that the Uber cab driver told the survivor who was brutally raped, I cannot help but think about the unfathomable amount of pain that Nirbhaya had to face on that fateful day.

With the current state of chaos that prevails in most of the cities and towns, I don’t think many women would come forward to report the harassment that she is being subjected to each day. This increases the brazen confidence of men to commit worst sexual barbarities each day. Nothing but strong laws, along with the timely and rightful implementation of them can change the current scary scenario of our country where no women, young or old find it safe, even in broad day light.  While I write this post, simultaneously watching news broadcasts that telecast the horrific experiences that women journalists underwent while filming about the unsafe circumstances that prevail in some of the top metros in the country, I still hope for a day when stronger and well-framed laws with zero loop holes are implemented, making men think twice before outraging the modesty of women whom they come across.

PS – While many countries around the world take adequate steps to publicize the list of sexual offenders in each city, thus increasing public awareness, both the society and media in our country and more than keener on knowing the victim, her kith and kin and the ways in which she was victimized. Sadism? Patriarchy? I am yet to decipher the right way of depicting this strange mind-set of people around me.

Technology and Digital Media- The necessary evils

Like each and every one of you, I tool love innovative technologies and advanced tools, and have used them periodically to ease my daily tasks and get things done in timely and perfect manner. I do admit that advancements in web and mobile technologies have helped us live life in better, easier, and faster ways, when compared to our pre-technology days with time-consuming and cumbersome tasks. However, with the growing number of hacking and leaking of private messages, personal information, and other sensitive details, I do believe that we are more than addicted to currently used technological aids, and often overlook the downside of each one of them, thus leading to several complexities, including cyber bullying, online harassment, and other spine chilling dangers that we might hardly imagine in our daily lives.

privacy

Here is an example from my own live! Facebook had been my ‘wonderful friend’ for quite a long time, until we ‘parted ways’ last year. The only reason why I dragged myself out of the much fascinating world of Facebook is the increasing number of privacy breaches that left me worrying each day. Scare of being unsecure and vulnerable left me in deep dilemma every day, as I felt the unknown claws of an unseen and monstrously faced existence lurking behind my laptop screen, spreading its tentacle-like hands, to find out as many as my private information it can amass. After giving me several nightmares of being deeply violated online, I felt it’s the right time to ‘call it quits’. I logged in and deleted my account forever, irrespective of the fact that most of my classmates from school and college were the part of my Friends List. As you read this, a few of you might think that I am tad bit over conscious about my online security, but considering the increasing number of harassments and shaming that have left most of the women in the world insecure and deeply worried about their online presences, I felt it inevitable to have the least online presence as possible, simply because I AM TOO SCARED TO THE CORE.

While websites and social media platforms go awry with their updates each day, mobile apps are no different. As we all know, not many of us are keen to read the message that pop-up before downloading our favorite mobile applications. While we blindly grand permissions by clicking the accept button on the message, we unknowingly open the easiest pathway for the mobile app companies to sneak into our private world and get the deepest insight about our personal information through our phones. This is one among the many examples of how several of those gross privacy violations are being overlooked or unnoticed. Yet, we leave no stones unturned to amass as many mobile apps as possible and save them all on the phone, simply because we are addicted to having electronic hands to do most of our daily activities. Simply put, we are slaves of the technologies that we have discovered over the years, and are irrefutably addicted to them. The mirage of online world and the enigma of digital quick fixes have surpassed the safer real world, thus making us vulnerable to more and more dangers, harassments, and abuses each day, and still, we are shamelessly glued to changing technologies.

As today’s digital age continues to remain bustling with an array of information sharing on various platforms, there has been a huge rise in the phenomenon of data mining which is now posing a serious threats to our online privacy. The rate of accessibility of information and their subsequent manipulation thereof are posing serious threats in the current digital world; especially in the wake of the fact that no websites or mobile apps guarantee 100 percent transparency in their privacy policies. This results in a clear disruption of the balance in privacy and security on such turnkey mobile and web platforms that have become part and parcel of our daily lives.

Data privacy has become more than relevant these days, particularly when private chats and pictures are leaked online within the blink of an eye. But, many countries around the world are yet to seriously look into this visible invasion of privacy. Have a close look at most of the mobile apps that are being used these days, and we would soon understand that more than 90 percent of them arrive with advanced tracking technologies that raise serious privacy concerns. An alarming fact that we often ignore!

Yet we overuse these potentially unsafe technological aids and foolishly keep welcoming the dangers that lurk around. Let me quote a simple example here. Selfies have become the buzzword these days, and clicking selfies is no more a sign of narcissism. However, posting them on privacy-compromised-sites or mobile platforms, and later regretting for having them hacked by some crook sitting on a remote part of the world is nothing but sheer negligence. Online shopping and cab booking apps have been plentifully made and used these days, thus leaving away a lion’s share of our privacy at stake.

While most of the currently used browsers claim to have the Do Not Track option that is supposedly the safest way of preventing our browsing activities from tracked, analyzing a stream of our own browsing activities each day would help us know that several websites as well as big daddies of Organic Search can track us easily, irrespective of the much-talked-about ‘Do Not Track’ option. While most of these tech-giants keep assuring that us the whole activity of watching is primarily for advertising purposes, most of us know that this statement is nothing but sheer eyewash.

As we continue to strive ferociously and save our own privacy from being disrupted by wacky crooks who can easily sneak into our browsers, mobile apps, and social media accounts, why don’t we lessen our technology addiction a little, and save ourselves from being victimized? I am not advocating on a complete ban on technological aids, but suggest lessened and more careful daily use to keep our privacy safer.

Rather than finding a picture of yours being morphed, sighting a private chat of yours getting displayed on a public platform, or a back account of yours getting hacked, isn’t it better to choose optimal level of technology usage, while getting fair share of understanding about the diverse privacy attributes of the sites and applications that we use each day?

A fascinating learning experience

Finance & market news or Unexciting world of lackluster information; yes I did believe so until I started watching CNBC TV 18. Here is how it happened: At the outset, I have a confession to make. I absolutely hated the super-sized, super pompous worlds of finance, markets, stocks, and so on, as they always involved complex calculations, larger-than-life figures, and several intense jargons that were extremely difficult to understand. With hardly any intriguing information to offer, they never enticed my brain with promising content of any sort. Hence, in spite of carrying an unquenchable thirst for information of all sorts, I had zero inclination towards subjects like finance and stock market, as I always found them dry, interesting, and unimpressive.

While the market aficionados around me kept going gaga over inflation, GDP, stock markets, mind-numbing statistical data, and monotonous calculations, I decisively stayed away from such intense conversations, as I knew I would hardly have anything substantiate to contribute. Moreover, the scare of getting mocked for blurting out blunders turned out to be the biggest fear that sealed my lips and closed my mind. I hardly knew anything, and the fear of revealing my humongous ignorance kept perturbing me from seeking any aid to gain awareness on markets and finance.

The business news pages of our newspaper often became the wrappers of my lunch box, as I never read them, and always found the content as strange as Greek or Latin. Blame my lack of interest or an undecipherable abhorrence, my willingness to learn basics of markets and finance always took to the wrong deviations and never found the destination even once. In the relentless efforts to save myself from becoming the butt of jokes, I did try to learn the anomalous world of finance, but never succeeded in grasping the diverse intricacies of the subject. Irrespective of trying hard to deduce the complexities in the world of markets and investments, I couldn’t easily comprehend the high-flown language and intense jargons used by print or visual media. Simply put, I hardly had any options to improve my knowledge without the aid of business dictionaries that helped me get palatable market data in bite-sized morsels.

CNBC TV 18 – My one-stop-learning-center for all things finance & business

cnbc

Sb

It was yet another languid weekend, and I was flipping through the channels to find my way out of uninteresting movies and annoying saas-bahu sagas. Unexpectedly, a smiling and refreshingly positive face flashed on my TV screen. I stopped by to watch her, almost at a lightning speed. Much to my surprise, I saw a young and dynamic woman presenting a highly interesting and though-provoking show that featured some of the best young entrepreneurs in the country.

Leaving away a plate of scrumptious snacks that my mother had brought for me, I sat on the floor of my room with my eyes firmly glued to the television. Thirty something minutes went by like a flash, but I watched the entire show without even blinking my eye once. Curtains soon rung down, and Young Turks, currently one of my favorite shows on CNBC-TV 18, bid adieu for the day by flashing the name of the anchor towards the end of show – Shereen Bhan. Having seen several men and women journalists who are sheer aggressiveness personified, Shereen came in like a breath of fresh air. Equally refreshing was the show that spoke about Indian businesses, and yet conveyed things in the utmost compelling ways. While it did debunk my misconception that business journalism is a male-dominated niche, it also added one more name to my list of favorite anchors – Shereen Bhan, one of the most vibrant and utmost professional journalists I’ve ever seen.

I was quick to search and find out more about the channel and their shows, and found a whole array of information on some really spectacular shows that I can watch to gain profound knowledge on finance and markets. Excitement grew manifolds and I had to thank my lucky stars for the fortuitous opportunity that helped me watch YoungTurks, the flagship show of CNBC TV 18, for the first time.

A whole new world of knowledge and learning opportunities!

With a series of information-filled, innovative, engaging, and refreshing programs, including, OverDrive, The Appointment, India Business Hour, Accelerate India, and Forbes India Show, CNBC-TV 18 soon became the part and parcel of my day-to-day life, and severed me with unfathomable amount of genuine and updated information on markets, finance, business, and stocks; the topics that I once believed were monotonous, jargon-filled, and needless.

Instead of simply restating the happenings, the shows and news broadcasts on CNBC-TV 18 always showcase newer and impactful perspectives with truly global brilliance, while giving many fruits for thought. No consternating political discussions that lead to fierce arguments & no disreputable juicy gossips on celebrities, instead, you are free to cherry-pick some of the best shows on market, finance, and economy. Equally commendable is their efforts to incorporate active involvement from the audience, with the help of effective social media interactions. Simply put, in spite of offering hard-core business and market news stories, they make people pay attention, think, and understand them without difficulty. A team of exceptionally brilliant journalists, unbiased and intelligent coverage of news, outstanding efforts to present them in exceptionally interesting and remarkable ways, are their hallmark, and the reasons that make them stand apart.

It took hardly any time for me to become an ardent viewer of CNBC-TV 18, as I never wanted to miss any of the shows that helped me learn more on the intriguing worlds of business and finance. While most of my friends excitingly watch evening soap operas each day, I wait for Shereen Bhan and Nayanthara Rai to arrive on Indian Business Hour and serve me generous portions of interesting news stories on the exciting happenings from the world of business and market. As the television in our hostel has always been the undisputed privilege and monopoly of the sizeable team of daily soap viewers, moneycontrol.com Live TV, is the only platform where I can uninterruptedly watch CNBC-TV 18, though I must admit that it is eating into my data allowance each month, thus giving me insanely high internet bills. However, given the amount of valuable information that I get to know each day, I regret little about the humongous internet bills.

It’s been more than a year since I have started watching CNBC-TV 18, and let me admit frankly, I’ve improved way far from the hardly ignorant to becoming the reasonably informed. Ask me about bulls, bears, inflation, growth rate, bank rates, or anything that pertains to market or finances, and I can confidently deliver the reply in no time. Gone are the days when I never had to think twice to admit that finance and market news were the most un-fascinating and incomprehensible of all, depicted in utmost boring forms that one can ever find. CNBC-TV 18 and their knowledge packed shows transformed me to become immensely confident and well-informed on topics that I would never have learned in my entire lifetime.

Let me end this with by sharing an unanticipated surprise that I received last week. Quite unexpectedly, I was chosen as one among the lucky ones to represent the viewers and share feedback on a live show that was aired as a part of the 15th anniversary of CNBC-TV 18. As I my favourite host happily appreciated my opinions and interactions, my excitement knew no bounds, and I was literally on cloud nine.