Why this seasonal patriotism?


By Dr Suman Kumar Kasturi | THE HANS INDIA |    Jan 24,2019 , 11:54 PM IST      


Why this seasonal patriotism?

Why this seasonal patriotism?
On the eve of Republic Day celebrations, persistently, the only inquiry that has been disconcerting me is — why do most Indians become patriots during selected few occasions? The crux of patriotism is fully recognising and wilfully participating in that network of affinity, paying very close attention and constantly responding to a range of issues such as Swachh Bharat, corruption free India, and green India — the needs of the hour!
Patriotism is very rich in meaning. On the whole, it means enlightening attachment to one’s native soil that ultimately leads for devotion to one’s nation. It is not restricted just only to some extrinsic values but also to many intrinsic values — of course, such values should be gripped by each and every citizen. However, do we Indians actually have such a feeling within us? India proudly claims to be the nation with the plurality as her nature. Unity in diversity has been the slogan which we often find making circles in all nooks and corners of the world. Do we really maintain such a spirit at all times? Or is it seasonal?
Indubitably, every Indian exhibits patriotism on two occasions — on August 15 and January 26, each year. Songs like “Mere Desh Ki Dharti” reverberates almost every street in town, symbolically spilling seasonal patriotism. At this point, a few questions that arise in my mind are: whether patriotism has any peripheral limits? Does patriotism is a trait with a narrow role?
Truthfully, patriotism should come from ‘within’ and not ‘without’. Patriotism ensures the stability of the entirety in any given nation. I for myself consider patriotism as doing one’s duties in a manner of true letter and spirit. It is a matter of great concern that even after more than seven decades of independence, India is still categorised as a third world country — a nation that is still developing! 
Bestowing to John F. Kennedy’s thought on patriotism, one should ask only “what you can do for your country” — as if “country” were the master, and “you” and I and all of us merely servants. Most of the influential personalities of developed countries realise the importance of patriotism. Just for that matter, the former US President Barack Obama once said that loving one’s country means accepting one’s responsibility to do his part to change it. Therefore, patriotism is nothing but the grand inherent apostle that prompts a person to serve his nation — at any given time. 
Out of the numerous connotations arise ideals and institutions. Nevertheless, these ideals and institutions are valuable only insofar as they support the fulfilment of each and everything. The nation’s ideals and institutions exist merely to serve people. So, ideologically in any given nation, true patriots do not serve some imagined unchallengeable unit called nation or country; rather, they serve the needs and aspirations of every person. There is a need to self-examine whether we can be called factual patriots! 
Every year the Republic Day is celebrated most spectacularly in New Delhi, the capital of India. The main attraction of the Republic Day is an impressive and magnificent parade that puts forward the military powers and cultural affluence of the country apart from the patriotic vehemence of the Indians. An amazing fly-past by the Indian Army, Indian Air Force, and Indian Navy, rounds off this majestic celebration. A similar thing happens every year on August 15 too.
It is a matter of fact that soldiers, the unsung heroes, are praised only in times of dire straits, in times of need, and in times of natural calamities like the most recent calamity of floods in Kerala. We all enjoy watching the spectacular parades of Indian Armed Forces; tableaus of various states and departments; cultural programs on these occasions. But, we never realise the pain behind those spectacular shows. The message conveyed through all these programmes is rather short-lived. Just peep into these shows with an intention to know what do they really convey. They all deliver just one message, “Patriotism”.
Had we been really patriotic, India could have accomplished laurels. It is superfluous to question who is responsible for such trounce. But, how should we overcome this trounce should be the question of the hour. The ultimate answer is — the true spirit of patriotism — doing one’s duty perfectly towards the nation! The true spirit of democracy lies in patriotism alone. It should be everyone’s responsibility to make Mahatma Gandhiji’s dream — after attaining Swaraj (independence), now it’s time to attain Suraj (good governance) — a reality. Let’s not forget the words of Elmer Davis, according to whom a nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave. Jai Hind!! 

The enduring relevance of retail politics


By Dr Suman Kumar Kasturi | THE HANS INDIA |    Jan 17,2019 , 10:57 PM IST      


The enduring relevance of retail politics

The enduring relevance of retail politics
Even in this era of unregulated campaign sorties and mass media ad campaigns worth million dollars, it is worth noticing that some of the candidates are still making the struggle to convey their message to all fragments of their constituencies, in person. Of course, it is worth noting the value of first-hand meetings with voters.
Yes, indubitably, politics is the decisive game of sales — selling an idea to the public while the politician makes an attempt to sell oneself. In this process, there arises a need for what is called retail politics. It is a style of political campaigning in which the candidate attends local events in order to target voters on a small-scale or individual basis.
According to Judith Trent and Robert Friedenberg, the two political communication scholars of America in Political Campaign Communication, retail politics is all about direct contact — meeting and talking to electorates to request their part for the candidature support.
Such an acquiescent method of retail politics has two major compensations. Firstly, upon meeting a political candidate who could convince them more through a face-to-face conversation, the electorates would definitely feel more affianced and they are more likely to be expected to support the candidate. Besides, as the retail politics sanctions more interaction, there would be a chance to the voters to get their doubts cleared up. It results in mutual engagement — as a result, the voters are made to feel that their concerns do matter.
The present-day politics demands careful targeting of voters in marginal seats. The rise of the mass media and the integrated, proficient election campaigns are now vibrant as they are appealing to the majority of the electorate. In this scenario, retail politics may seem like an element of a golden age of political campaigning, which could be kept off the record as antediluvian. 
However, the impact of retail politics cannot be just shelved. At its heart, retail politics is all about visibility and availability. In actual fact, most voters will never have a chance to meet their local MLA or MP candidates. When they meet, the voters get a chance to form an opinion about the candidates. All such estimations about the personality and values of candidates would grow into the carrots of their electoral choice.
Additionally, the personal engagement privileged by retail politics has continuously worked for a two-fold drive. There is always a secondary onlooker while connecting the candidate with a distinct voter. Those bystanders could be other voters who are present in the scene, those who hear about the meeting through word of mouth, and, more and more, the wide-ranging media audience.
The unwitting disclosure of retail politics is that contender politicians speak directly to voters. They also retort the questions posed by the masses in ways that make sense to them. This has an advantage. The success mantra for any politicians is — he should know how to sell himself up on the doorstep of each and every voter. There is no doubt that the results obtained through retail politics are immense. The best example for this is of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s current Hard Choices book tour.  Another example for retail politics in the local set-up is — YS Jagan Mohan Reddy’s 341-day walkathon called Praja Sankalpa Yatra. It could be seen as a long-drawn-out retail political campaign.
Retail politics, the art of selling oneself, customarily takes many forms — rapid campaigns through road shows, speeches at local community centres and political pitches at religious places, universities, etc. This also includes door-to-door campaigning. John F Kennedy is known as the King of Retail Politics. According to the Times-Tribune, Kennedy visited Pennsylvania as many as five times for campaigning when he was trying to win the state in the 1960 presidential elections. Besides, he made manifold stops in 25 distinct counties — many of those stops were at local shopping malls.
By motive, a political campaign is a systematised exertion that attempts to power the decision-making process inside a definite crowd. The political campaigns every so often symbolise electoral campaigns in democracies. Perceptibly, the representatives are chosen or plebiscites are decided in this process. 
It is the message that motivates the voter. Customarily, the message of the campaign contains the ideas that the contender wants to deliver to the voters. The inkling behind this is to get the support of those who agree with these ideas, thereby, getting sustenance to run for a political position. The message being conveyed often consists of several talking points about their future plans — the policy issues. Besides, the points abridge the main ideas of the campaign. For this entire process, retail politics could also become an ideal platform. 

Understanding Nomophobia


By Dr Suman Kumar Kasturi | THE HANS INDIA |    Jan 11,2019 , 10:49 PM IST      


Understanding Nomophobia

Understanding Nomophobia
The advent of smartphones has not only strewn the social media but also popularised relative new blend of words. Nomophobia is one such new word made up of syllables “no mobile phone phobia”. The term was coined in 2010 in the course of a study by the UK Post Office, which appointed YouGov, a research organisation. The study was envisioned to look at the anxieties haunted by mobile phone users. 
There is an alarming rate of increase in people suffering from nomophobia — especially the youth. The people are not even aware of the fact that they are the victims of such an obsession. In simple words, nomophobia is nothing but a growing irrational fear among the people — the fear of being without a mobile phone, or beyond mobile phone interaction. 
Nomophobia exposes two essential features — first: the feelings of anxiety or distress that people experience when they do not have mobile phones; second: the degree of dependence on smartphones to complete even simple tasks and needs such as staying connected with people to get informed. 
Without a doubt, nomophobia is far afield in both developed and third-world nations for the reason that smartphones have increasingly become the tool being used to steer and systematise our daily lives. For each and everything i.e. from scheduling tasks to getting directions while driving; and from communicating with people to getting assistance that we need, we have become pure dependents of the smartphone. 
This dependence has important psychological concerns. The captioned study by the UK Post Office found that about 58 per cent of men and 47 per cent of women suffer from nomophobia.  Furthermore, 9 per cent of people feel stressed when their mobile phones are off. This fact has been reiterated by the Psychology Today magazine.
In the recent times, on September 14, 2018, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshall B.S. Dhanoa, has berated that everybody appears to be spending long hours on social media, late in the nights. According to him most flight briefings, sometimes, are held as early as 6 am and pilots who attend the briefings haven’t had enough sleep. In this background, he said that spending long hours in the night on social media is leading to IAF pilots being sleep deprived.
The impact of smartphones on sleep patterns is a topic of great attention, given the adverse effects of sleep deprivation on health that adds to many workplace calamities. If certain calamities are limited to self, many others would affect others. The smartphone effect resulting in sleep deprivation is not only limited to professionals but also teenagers. The youngsters are losing sleep because of the long hours of spending on a smartphone during the nights.

In a sense, nomophobia and sleep disorders are interrelated. The recent development of smartphone applications seems to unavoidably increase the users’ attachment. It has become so — because — the technology and related services have become progressively customised and made to order. Both, nomophobia and the resulting sleep disorders, suggests the very fact that users should be mindful — not to become excessively dependent on smartphones while benefiting from the elegance of the technology.
According to a senior author Dr Jean-Philippe Chaput of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, sleep is an essential component of healthy development and an important contributor to physical and mental health. Even so, insufficient sleep has become prevalent among adolescents over the last few decades. 
While there have been many reasons for insufficient sleep among young people, the recent observation reveals the fact that smartphone use was associated with greater odds of short sleep duration in a dose-response manner. Importantly, significant associations were found when smartphone use exceeded the approved duration of usage, suggesting that even this level of smartphone use may be deleteriously associated with sleep duration. 
They say, “Too much of anything is good for nothing!” For this, smartphone access for longer hours is not an exception. The contemporary world situation is changing the way smartphones are being used. A recent study exposes the fact that 65 per cent of people sleep with their handsets next to them on the bed. Furthermore, more than 50 per cent of people admitted that they never switch off their phones. These results clearly indicate that people are ready to skip a meal but cannot stay without a smartphone in their hands, even for a while.
A range of studies has explored links between high mobile phone dependency and diminished sleep quality, depression, lower rates of socialisation in teenagers. Besides, there is an irrational fear, within the people, of being without a mobile phone — nomophobia! This problem, of course, has self-discipline as the only remedy!

The trailblazer of communication for visually-impaired


By Dr Suman Kumar Kasturi | THE HANS INDIA |    Jan 03,2019 , 11:41 PM IST      



“Access to communication in the widest sense is access to knowledge.” —Louis Braille

The Greek philosopher Aristotle said, “Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual.” The phrase social animal justly conveys the very meaning that human beings cannot live in isolation. For being social, human beings need to enter into some or other kind of relationship with their fellow beings. It is the ability of humans to communicate with each other that makes humans different from other creatures of the earth. 
Communication is the act of passing on information from one individual or group to another through the use of conjointly agreed signs, symbols, and semiotic rules. There is no second thought that without the ability to communicate, a person drops access to the information across-the-board. The five sense organs — eyes, ear, nose, tongue, and skin — play a crucial role in the entire process of human communication, of which eyes are most vital. The situation of the loss of Sense of Sight amounts to the nearly complete beating of access to non-verbal communication.
While the printing press was invented by Johannes Gutenberg in the mid of 15th century, the visually impaired people had no access to the printed form of communication for almost four decades. As a 12-year-old boy, Louis Braille, who was born on January 4, 1809, has changed the world of reading and writing for the sightless. Of course, he too was visionless. For being the architect of Braille system and as an aide-mémoire of the prominence of accessibility and liberation for those who are unsighted, every year January 4th is celebrated as World Braille Day.
Louis Braille was not visionless by birth. However, he became blind after a childhood accident. Unlike many people, he got to grips with his own way of living. Based on a system of writing developed by Charles Barbier, Braille created the system which is popularly known as Braille system, when he was barely 15 years old. Thus, by developing a system for the blind, Braille became the pioneer of communication for the visually-impaired. He had drawn inspiration from an unsuccessful military night writing code developed by Charles Barbier. The Braille system enabled blind people to read independently for the first time, and it was extensively adopted. 
As a very long phase over and done, as a whole, over the years Braille was tweaked to make it serene to read — now it is used all over the world. In a similar vein, the media through which communication takes place has transformed in many ways. Accordingly, the communication channels for the visually-impaired have also been transforming. Right now, the Braille system has been adopted in many ways. For example, on June 06, 2018, easing of challenges faced by the visually challenged in using Indian Banknotes, the Reserve Bank of India has opened up new panoramas for making Indian banknotes more perceptible for the visually challenged.  
In this technology-driven world, with the help of a Braille keypad, computer keying in Braille is also made possible. Alternatively, the same thing can be done using the regular computer keyboard where specific keys are defined for Braille use — this is known as direct entry of Braille. A different way of achieving Braille on a computer is to input text into the computer using the regular computer keyboard. The text is then translated into Braille through the use of translation software. In order to assist the unsighted users to read the text on the computer screen with a speech synthesiser or Braille display, there are a few software programs called screen readers — the interface between the operating system of a computer and the user. 
All the above-mentioned communication advances have Braille system as their base. It is widely believed that Braille literateness is an important factor for achieving equal opportunities for the visually-impaired. Despite the fact that the sightless people can read and write, provisions are not made at many of the everyday establishments like railway stations, banks, hospitals, etc — they aren’t equipped with any signboards for the assistance of visually challenged. 
It evidently indicates that the visionless are not offered equal prospects. The precise objective of World Braille Day is to spread awareness about Braille and other accessible forms of communication. On World Braille Day, let’s hope all the everyday establishments would strive and make things accessible for everyone — including the visually-impaired. 

The stifling effect of alternate banking on bank strikes


By Dr Suman Kumar Kasturi | THE HANS INDIA |    Dec 28,2018 , 11:43 PM IST      


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In an attempt to gain a concession or two from their employer, in general, as a matter of course, the employees protest in the form of a strike — a refusal to work organised by a body of employees. As far as India is concerned, unlike the U.S., the right to strike is not recognised principally by the law. Just by legalising certain activities of a registered trade union in the continuance of a trade dispute which otherwise a breach of common economic law, the Trade Union Act 1926, for the first time, delivered limited right to strike. 
It entails — in line with the Constitution of the Republic of India — the right to strike is not an absolute right. Still, it streams from the fundamental right to form a union. Just like all other fundamental rights are subject to some reasonable restrictions, the case of trade unions giving a call to the workers to go on strike is also subjected to some sensible restrictions.
Bowing to all such utilitarian precincts, usually, the bank unions give a call of the strike, well in advance. A million Indian bank employees have been going on strike to get their legitimate rights achieved, at regular intervals of time. Nonetheless, the effectuality of these strikes has been a question of concern in the framework of the availability of alternate banking channels to the customers of the demonstrating banks. 
Analysing the customer base of Indian Banks, in accordance with the Avaya Banking Survey of 2017 that covered 5,004 panellists in some countries including India, it becomes evident that 51 per cent of Indians use online banking channels while 26 per cent of Indian customers prefer to access services through their bank’s website. These figures denote that reasonably a good number of customers prefer to use online banking channels.
Likewise, as revealed by a study on alternative services in promoting cashless economy after demonetisation in India, a majority of the people agree that e-wallet service offered by many agencies has an inflated potential space in India. Indubitably, many e-wallet service providers have turned the worse demonetisation situation to their advantage — it is evident all the way through. For example: in Hyderabad, almost all wayside tea vending stalls have a display board stating, “Paytm Accepted Here”.  
The promotion of digital banking channels like UPI, which has been undertaken by the Indian Banks, has also been proven successful in India. To the degree that the NCPI statistics on UPI in November 2018 are taken into account, there are 128 banks that were live on UPI with a volume of 524.94 million users, who have done business transactions worth Rs 82,232.21cr during the month. 
Apart from the net banking, e-wallet services, and other digital banking services, the customers have plentiful other options like Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), Bunch Note Acceptors (BNAs), Passbook Printers, Credit/Debit Cards, etc. All these facilities would nearly serve the bank customers during the strike period.
Then again, if we examine the behaviour of the customers of the Indian Banks, excluding the business class, most of the customers visit the banks hardly once in a fortnight. A timely call given for the strike by the unions would definitely alert the customers to get their impending jobs done well before the strike day. 
Beyond doubt, together, all these alternative banking channels have been making the strike undertaken by the bank employees, ineffectual to a convinced extent. Categorically, this issue turns out to be a major concern for the banks in achieving their demands.
It is a matter of point that the bankers go on strike while sacrificing their wages for the period of the strike, without engendering a greater impact due to the availability of alternate banking channels. Just by considering a mediocre forego of one day’s salary by all the one million Indian bank employees @ Rs 2000 (a rough average salary of a bank employee) per day, it is implicit that the bank employees have been fighting for their genuine demands by sacrificing Rs 20 crore per each day of the strike. 
In conclusion, it should be agreed that the banks support all financial welfare schemes undertaken by the government. Of course, the banks play a crucial role in monetary missions like demonetisation too. The role played by the banks in achieving targets set by the government is ever commendable. However, the bankers are becoming squashed in both by the customers and the competent authorities. In such a situation, there is no doubt that the bankers go on strike to achieve their genuine demands.  

The ameliorators of political opinion


By Dr Suman Kumar Kasturi | THE HANS INDIA |    Dec 20,2018 , 11:37 PM IST      


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In the extant media enriched world, people get information from many sources. At large, people do not seek information from only one source or medium. The individuals have access to an array of information sources — from mainstream media like newspapers, radio and television to a wide range of social media websites. 
The advent of social media has led to the opening out of the enormous volume of accessible political information, which has both merits and demerits. On the one end, it may create a more pluralistic form of public debate. On the flip side, greater access to such massive information may lead to selective exposure to ideologically supportive channels. This may result in an echo chamber effect.
In the social media environment, the echo chamber effect occurs due to a mass of a homogeneous group of people amalgamating and intensifying the tunnel vision. Often, the partakers in social media discussions find their opinions persistently echoed back to them. Such an act reinforces the confidence of contributors. Using the social media platform, one source of information in an extreme echo chamber will make an assertion. This will be repeated by many individuals — the people with the same wave length. The reverberation continues until most people accept that some extreme variation of the information is factual. Often, the repetition takes place in an exaggerated or if not distorted form. In this framework, it is imperative to differentiate the two terms — echo chambers and filter bubbles. 
A filter bubble is a state of intellectual isolation — an obvious result of a person’s customised searches. In this process, a website algorithm selectively guesstimates the information a user would like to see. It is purely based on the personal profile information of the user as well as that individual’s past search history. In this process, users become disconnected from information that strikes down with their frame of reference. Thus, it effectively isolates them in their own traditional or philosophical bubbles. One important point about the filter bubbles is — the choices made by these algorithms are not transparent.
Both these concepts — echo chambers and filter bubbles — relate to the ways the masses are exposed to content devoid of jarring opinions. Even though colloquially these terms might be used interchangeably, there is a fundamental difference between these two concepts. While filter bubbles are a result of personalised algorithms, echo chamber refers to the general phenomenon by which individuals are exposed only to information from concurring individuals.
There is no doubt that the social media echo chambers and filter bubbles turn out to be the effective ameliorators of political opinion. If we deeply analyse the contemporary worldwide politics, without a second thought, everyone would agree that there has been a strong social media influence on it. 
For example, the recent assembly elections held in Telangana has triggered a stream of discourse about the echo chamber and filter bubbles in social media. Above all, the voters of Telangana state were more likely to fascinate information about topics such as welfare schemes being offered to various sects of people, and 24-hour uninterrupted power supply that aligned with their pre-existing beliefs — the Netizens were more likely to receive information that they already agreed with. 
Twitter and Facebook were more likely to suggest posts that are compatible with the individual’s standpoints. Therefore there was mainly repetition of already unwavering views instead of a diversity of opinions. Of the many reasons that resulted in the victory of TRS Party in Telangana, undeniably, the social media echo chambers and filter bubbles have also played a significant role.
Selective exposure, in mass media terminology, refers to the systematic bias in audience structure. Such preferences are referred to as congeniality bias. In the case of congenial political information, it is called partisan selective exposure. There has been an argument from the media fraternity that diversity of opinion is necessary for true democracy as it streamlines information. They are of the opinion that echo chambers and filter bubbles, like those occurring in social media, inhibited this.
People who have more than one source of political information are far more likely to act to avoid echo chambers and filter bubbles for the reason that they encounter different perspectives. Consequently, they verify information and occasionally change their opinion. The new media technologies such as social media let us blow up with like-minded people, without a need to blend, share and understand other points of view. Nonetheless, it has turned out to be more of a problem than we would have expected.
 (Dr Suman Kumar Kasturi – An Air Veteran &  a mass communicator & an author of more than 10 mass media books)

Arthur C Clarke: The satellite man


By Dr Suman Kumar Kasturi | THE HANS INDIA |    Dec 16,2018 , 11:29 PM IST      


Arthur C Clarke: The satellite man

Arthur C Clarke: The satellite man
I don’t pretend we have all the answers. 
But the questions are certainly 
worth thinking about – Arthur C Clarke
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has been very successful in almost all of its space missions. Most recently, the heaviest and most-advanced high throughput communication satellite GSAT-11, developed by ISRO, was successfully launched from the Spaceport in French Guiana at 02:07 am (IST) on December 05, 2018. During the last one month, ISRO has successfully completed three satellite and two launch vehicle missions.
Going back in time, India’s first endeavour into the interplanetary space, Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), has been exploring and observing Mars surface features, morphology, mineralogy and the Martian atmosphere. After completing an interplanetary journey of more than 10 months, covering a distance of 780 million km, the Mars Orbiter Mission — more aptly known as Mangalyaan — has entered orbit around Mars on September 24, 2014, at 8.15 am (IST).
Well, so much has been talked about the accomplishment of space missions. Nonetheless, hardly ever there has been a confab about the visionaries behind the satellite technology.
Let it be the success of Mars Orbiter Mission or the most recent success of the launch of GSAT-11 or for that matter successful launch of any other artificial satellite — there was a visionary behind the entire satellite technology, whose contribution should be disentombed by the entire world. He was none other than Sir Arthur Charles Clarke. He was born on December 16, 1917. Evidently, he was the man far ahead of his era.
In the year 1945, an article about the notion of artificial satellites was published in Wireless World Magazine. The article titled, “Extra Terrestrial Relays: Can Rockets Give Worldwide Radio Coverage?”, written by Arthur C Clarke, an ordinary man who at that time was employed with the British Royal Air Force became the basis of the entire satellite technology.
In his own words: “Every revolutionary idea seems to evoke three stages of the reaction. They may be summed up by the phrases: (1) It is completely impossible. (2) It is possible, but it is not worth doing. (3) I said it was a good idea all along.” Strictly going by his view, most of the people who read the article, in the beginning, horrified the possibility of his idea as purely an imaginary or fictitious one.
Nonetheless, he was the first person, who talked about the geostationary orbit — an imaginary orbit that has an orbital period equal to Earth’s rotational period i.e. 23 hours, 56 minutes, 4 seconds. He was also the first one to calculate the distance of geostationary orbit as 35,786 km above the Earth’s equator and following the same direction of Earth’s rotation. 
Amidst so much of criticism, a few visionaries took Clarke’s concept earnestly and started working on it. Bowing to many experiments, the journey of the world’s artificial satellites has begun sixty-one years before, on October 4, 1957. On that date, the Soviet Union had launched the earth’s first artificial satellite Sputnik-I, whose actual name was Sputnik Zelmi. In a string of technological successes, the Soviet launch of the world’s first artificial satellite was one triumph. 
The successful and progressive launch of Sputnik has safeguarded the Soviets to become closer in economic and political relations with third world nations across the world. Very soon, both the superpowers — the United States and the Soviet Union — were occupied with the development of new technology, in the course of the 1950s. 
From then on, the world never looked back.  So many advancements have, soon after, taken place in the satellite systems, making the world almost wireless. The first true communication satellites — Telstar I and Telstar II — were launched in July 1962 and May 1963, respectively. The modern-day mass media applications like satellite television and the Internet have the satellite technology as their basis. Yes, it is the communication satellites that made Satmass Media, a possibility! 
Sir Arthur Charles Clarke had a diverse career as a writer, underwater explorer, space promoter and science populariser. Beyond question, Arthur C Clarke’s heirloom bridges the gaps prevalent in the domains of the arts and the sciences. His works vacillated from scientific discovery to science fiction, and from technical applications to entertainment. 
Clarke, as an engineer, as a futurist, and as a humanist, has influenced most of the scientists and engineers working in our day. Of course, through his comprehensive range of works, he continues to motivate forthcoming generations around the world. Let this great creative thinker receive the world’s approbation on his birth anniversary on December 16!  (The writer is an Air veteran, a mass communicator and author of more than 10 mass media books)

Re-examining Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the #MeToo Era


By Dr Suman Kumar Kasturi | THE HANS INDIA |    Dec 10,2018 , 02:59 AM IST      


Re-examining Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the #MeToo Era

Re-examining Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the #MeToo Era
Human rights are the rights inherent to all human beings, notwithstanding any kind of partisanship — without discrimination, everybody is equally ratified to human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), comprising of 30 articles, drawing the basic rights and freedoms is the founding document for the contemporary human rights movement. On December 10, 1948, UDHR was adopted by the UN General Assembly. On this date, Human Rights Day is observed every year. 
Anniversaries are meant to reveal on the past and to look forward. This year, Human Rights Day marks the 70th anniversary of the UDHR, which emphases attention on the origins and position of one of the most important documents for the human lives around the world. 
The principles enshrined in the UDHR, definitely, are as relevant today as they were ever before. As a matter of fact, rights and duties go hand in hand. So, there is a need to stand up for one’s own rights and those of others. For this, the action can be taken is — to endorse the rights that protect us all and thereby uphold the kinship of people around the world. 
Going back in period, India took an active part in the drafting of the UDHR. The Indian delegation made significant contributions in the drafting of the declaration — particularly underlining the need for gender equality. Nonetheless, India is one of the few countries where gender equality has been a substantial social issue since times immemorial. 
As India faces weighing up and rolling of #MeToo movement, often there has been the voice questioning of the pervasiveness of human rights in India. Eleanor Roosevelt, who chaired the UDHR drafting committee said, “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home — so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world.” This statement holds good in the locale of #MeToo movement — an inferno outset in India by Mahima Kukreja’s twitter post dated October 4, 2018.
The #MeToo movement can be considered nothing beneath the state of affairs of crime against women, which semantically means direct or indirect; physical or mental cruelty to women. To a large extent, the alarming rate in the crimes against women can be attributed to the failure of the effective execution of human rights. 
Going by the latest available statistics, the crimes committed against women in India have increased by 30.16 percent between 2011 and 2015. In the present-day setting, just like the nature of human rights, which do not endure any kind of discrimination, the issue of crimes against women also has transcended geography, class, culture, age, race, and religion. This issue needs to be addressed urgently!
For a long time, only civil and political rights were focused upon. Nevertheless, there are various other dimensions of human rights. The situation, now, seems to be changed as the economic, social and cultural rights are also given due importance. Movements such as #MeToo have made it obligatory to revisit the UDHR. As such, human rights in the broader sense have resulted in new laws, charters, and covenants. 
Perceptibly, circumstances like #MeToo or any other forms of crime against women are sheer resultants of lack of human rights education. One of the ways by which this intimidation could be talked is by bringing human rights education at all levels. Through the learning of human rights as a way of life, fundamental change can be brought about to eliminate all sorts of discrimination. 
Human rights education cannot be limited to the mere introduction of the concept. For the reason that human rights education serves as a means of understanding and embracing principles of human equality, dignity, and commitment to respect and protect the rights of all, there is fairly a need to go deep into the subject.
Also, there is a need to make far more cognisant effort through human rights education to alter the world, considering the recent changes in the global scenario, including situations like #MeToo. It is imperative to make the young children appreciate the value of the UDHR, for it is the collection of the power of ideas to change the world.
Conceivably, the most reverberating and lovely words of any international agreement are of UDHR — all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. The UDHR, to a great extent, has slurred the despotism, discrimination, and contempt for humans. In these 70 years, the commitments made by all nations in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are in themselves an enormous achievement. 
(The writer is an Air veteran & a mass communicator — author of more than 10 mass media books. He can be contacted at  suman@sumankasturi.com)

Why can’t women be frontline combatants?


Why can’t women be frontline combatants?

By Dr Suman Kumar Kasturi | THE HANS INDIA |    Nov 29,2018 , 11:13 PM IST      


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Gender inequality has been a social issue in India from the timeworn period. Patriarchal imposts have depicted women in India as inferior to men, by which the births of girl children have been snubbed to a great extent. It is high time that every child is treated equally and given equal opportunity to grow to their full potential.
It is in the cards that the women will be inducted as sailors in the Indian Navy in non-officer cadre, while India observes Navy Day on December 4. At a naval conference held on November 2, this convivial suggestion was made by Nirmala Sitharaman, the Defence Minister of India. The Chief of the Naval Staff, Sunil Lanba, has apparently accepted the proposal of inducting women in non-officer cadre.
The navy, however, is not the only service scouting the likelihood of inducting women in the non-officer cadre. The army has also been working on a similar plan. Nevertheless, the IAF is yet to consider recruiting women below the officer rank, though, in its first, the IAF has inducted the women as fighter pilots in 2015 only. There has been a long-debated question — whether women can be frontline combatants? Truly, a profession within the armed forces is encircled by so many difficulties. 
Likewise, like any armed forces wings have distinct roles, the full range of operations undertaken by naval forces are immense. They range from high-intensity warfighting to disaster relief operations. But the women have proven that they can face any naval challenge. 
For example, the Indian Naval Sailing Vessel (INSV) Tarini entered Goa harbour on completion of a historic global circumnavigation voyage on May 21. It was a poignant moment for the Navika Sagar Parikrama team comprising of an all-women crew, who began their voyage on September 10, 2017. 
This voyage, unquestionably, has spotlighted the dynamic planning and execution capabilities of the women officers of Indian Navy. The women team members of INSV Tarini, during their voyage, had to face strong winds of more than 60 knots and very high waves of up to 7 metres. The success of this challenging voyage stretches an answer to what the women could do if deployed in combat roles.
By the same token, contrariwise, there are opinions that support a denial of combat roles to women. In her 1995 book Tailspin: Women at War in the Wake of Tailhook, Jean Zimmerman stated that there was a perception in the navy that women sailors use pregnancy to escape or avoid deployed ship duty. According to her, in 1993 the USS Cape Cod prepared to start out on a deployment cruise. Nevertheless, shortly before the scheduled departure, 25 female sailors informed being pregnant. 
Also, a 1997 study by the Navy Personnel Research and Development Center (NPRDC) found that female sailors assigned to ships experienced higher pregnancy and abortion rates than shore-based female sailors. This turns out to be another reason why there is a tiny proportion of disapproval for the deployment of women sailors. Around the world, most of the women strongly believe that the military job should be considered like any other job, despite the fact that critics have voiced concerns about women being able to do the military job. 
In India, the IAF in 2015 has taken an audacious step and inducted women as fighter pilots, which has been a successful mission. Also, the women sailors through Navika Sagar Parikrama have proven the power of women. Moreso, in modern electronic warfare, there is no traditional vanguard as such. In such a state, conceivably it is obligatory to allow women to have successful careers within the military for maintaining gender equality. Albeit surrounded by so many difficulties in the military jobs, many women still find that they thoroughly enjoy their jobs in the military while they serve the nation with zeal and dedication.  
At this juncture, enrolling women in the non-officer cadre is definitely a warm move. Gradually, the armed forces are moving in the right direction —the triforces are utilising every possible opportunity to empower women. All those relevant policy changes undertaken by the armed forces affect the women who are dedicated enough to serve  our nation. Every year, India observes Navy Day on December 4, to celebrate the achievements and contribution of the naval force to the country. This year, irrefutably, the raison d’ etre of celebrations will have the achievements of women as its focal point — not about gender; it is about their leadership, involvement, and revelation.

Why does fake news seem factual on social media?


By Dr Suman Kumar Kasturi | THE HANS INDIA |    Nov 22,2018 , 11:28 PM IST      


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Social media embraced the common man with the advent of smartphones. India is the second largest market for smartphones with China being the first. In the past few years, India has seen a rapid upswing in the Internet users.
For any media to be interactive, it needs to co-exist with some sort of communication techniques. In order to make communication into an interactive dialogue, the social media turns to be one of the most successful applications of Satmass Media. Social media has become very significant because of its two precise characteristics — ubiquity and interactivity. These characteristics make the social media better-off. 
However, there is a major problem associated with it. Checking the veracity of facts on social media is not tailor-made. In traditional media, the editors have a level of control over what appears in it. However, there is no such provision in social media. 
Mark Twain once said, “A lie will fly around the whole world while the truth is getting its boots on.” This is most valid for social media. As false news is more novel than factual news, it travels more widely and faster. It is a proven fact that humans are more likely than mechanised processes to be liable for the spread of fake news. Due to this tendency of people believing the whole thing that makes rounds on social media, an underpinning of a new group of people called WebQoofs has emerged out. 
As defined, a WebQoof is a person who believes every word or information on the Internet and social media. In actual fact, it is the excessive social media agog among the netizens that make the leeway for the fraudsters to make fiction, a fact. In this background, there is a need to answer why at all fake news circulates on social media? 
Palpably, the very fact that there is no regulatory authority to verify the veracity of facts has become an advantage to the offenders. The people are lured to click on a fake message. Thus, they unknowingly give access to their private information, which is misutilised in many ways. Most of the cyber crimes have the same modus operandi. 
Online fraudsters often use celebrity rumours to target people with malicious software designed to steal their personal data. For example, in recent times, there was a fake news that made rounds on the social media, concerning the apocryphal death of Rowan Atkinson, the actor who is popularly known as Mr.Bean. This viral hoax offered itself as a video homage. 
The video link, when followed, would redirect the users to a made-up security page and allegedly prompt them to dial a specific phone number. The person who dials the number will be asked to provide his credit card information in order to purchase a so-called software fix, which will truly pierce the targeted computer with viruses.
Besides, in order to generate more revenue from online ads, many of the websites try to keep catchy and sensational headlines to latch onto the attention. Also, they do not take a step back to promote fake news. Of course, all such attempts are made very smartly so that they can retain the visitors even while misleading them.
Political propaganda is another significant issue that makes an attempt to turn the fake news into real news. Irrespective of every Tom, Dick, and Harry, almost all every politician has been a victim on the social media. At a time when political propaganda is in ready supply, and in demand, social media functions as a mechanism of dissemination. 
In a country like India, where everything that is circulated on social media becomes a gospel, things can often go out of control. Just by mere sharing of a post, the communication process is ended up. However, there is a need to follow scepticism. In many occasions, scepticism of online news serves as a microfilter. Still, our inborn prejudices allow it only to be circumvented.
At this crucial juncture, truly there is a need for more openness by the social media giants. In order to tackle the problem of fake news, greater association by them with suitably qualified associates is essential. Evidently, traditional media organisations could become major backers. No sooner they find that some fake news is circulating on the social media than they can alert the masses. They can act as the agents to assess veracity and maintain trust among the masses with their contributions, which can lead to their peaceful and democratic life.