Enthusiasm is excitement with inspiration, motivation, and a pinch of creativity. The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails. Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.

If you don't create change, change will create you. Change starts when someone sees the next step and the first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance. Many fine things can be done in a day if you don't always make that day tomorrow. You see, in life, lots of people know what to do, but few people actually do what they know. Knowing is not enough! You must take action.

Sometimes it's the smallest decisions with larger aims that can change the lives of many. If our attempts can at least become a spark. We are really grateful and the TEAM can proudly proclaim ‘MISSION ACCOMPLISHED’.

If you can LEND A HELPING HAND for the advancement of our country and its people be part of our ENDEAVOR.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Wer art thou Mr. Footpath?

This time we are bringing something Straight from the HEART of cities. Exclusive writings related to various aspects of a city are analysed in multidimensional angles. This is a new attempt by us to bring some of the very important, dazzling or least bothered problem of city to the fore. Change Editor X of your BLOG- Jithin Raghavan has gone round the cities and the writing is an account from the heart and reflects the Pulse and vibrancy of the cities. This time it’s straight from the historic city of KOZHIKODE or Calicut.

By:  Jithin Raghavan

It’s been a while since I wanted to do this write-up. The people here in Calicut collectively ask, “Where are the footpaths?”. This is a journey in search of them. Footpaths here mean the drainages that have been topped with slabs. Shopkeepers have taken over the footpaths and these have vanished into thin air having merged with the shops. At certain other places, the footpath vendors rule the roost. The pedestrians seldom get the chance to access the footpaths and are forced to take the busier roads. Even though it has been the case for quite some time now, no action has been taken in this regard whatsoever apart from the roads around Mananchira1, where the corporation has built them with perfection. 

We need footpaths. Footpaths that work! Footpaths which make it possible for pedestrians to walk. Quite simply a path for people going on foot! The term is often for paths within an urban area that offer shorter quieter routes for pedestrians. But this term will soon be forgotten. We do have footpaths but certainly not for safe pedestrian walking! There have been those footpaths where one can walk safely with head held high without fear of tripping on a loose stone. Then there were those where one had to tread very carefully head bowed down to ensure that one didn’t trip and land face down on the pavement! There have also been those with yawning holes wide enough to accommodate a foot and leave the walker shocked and very disturbed. With all the construction activity in many areas it isn’t uncommon to see building materials strewn all over the footpath. But here in the city of Calicut the biggest headache are those diligent footpath vendors who liberally decorate the footpath with footwear, fruits, food stalls etc!

The narrow footpaths on either side of the roads at Valyangadi1.1 have luckily not yet been taken over. But, different is the case with the roads at the market where vehicle parts are sold. The road connecting Aurobindo Gosh road and the Cherooty road passing right through the middle of the market is in a terrible situation. Such is the amount of vendors and goods that one tends to wonder if there is any road at all. The footpaths are loaded with the leftovers of the sold vehicles and have absolutely no role at all.

Footpath is just a figment of one’s imagination at the court road. And just in case you are thinking of going to the S.M.Street2 from the fourth gate along the footpaths, you might as well think again. There is every chance that you end up somewhere else. The shops have beautifully merged the footpaths to themselves. Elsewhere, the pedestrians are troubled by the goods and almirahs being kept on the footpath by the owners of the shops. It’s like a few segments separated by equally long spaces, simply cancelling out their very use. Things are no different in the Sweet Meat Street. Footpaths are totally under the control of the vendors. One can seldom see them let alone walk on them. Similar is the scene at the P.M.Taj road.

The footpaths at the entrance to the Palayam market have been beautifully modified by the corporation. These end at the subways. But the ill factor is that these are not user friendly. The pedestrians get themselves into a tangle if they try coming out of the footpaths as it is a parking hub for two wheelers and four wheelers alike. As far the market is concerned, the fruit sellers use up most of the space. Even the slightest disturbance at the footpaths turns out to be a bigger problem in the busiest of roads in the city. The vendors are maximum in number during the evening. And the pedestrians being more in number during this time as well, makes it even more cumbersome. 
Even though the vehicles are less in number at the Moideen Pally road, it still is difficult to travel on foot due to the street vendors prevalent at the place.
Takeover of the footpaths are at its most beautiful form at the Malaparamba3 junction. Some vendors have taken the footpaths as their private property here. The police had once taken the initiative to stop the sales here. But due to interception from the senior officials, they failed to carry out the “operation”. This being one of the busier places in the city, it becomes even more troublesome to travel.

These are just a few of the sample scenes at the city. At certain other places like Pottamal junction, Nadakkavu, English church road et al, takeovers have been made though in a smaller magnitude. And both the police and the corporation are still finding it hard to come up with a solution.
All requests, politely or otherwise have fallen into deaf ears and they have become permanent landmarks in the area. Most of the footpaths on the main roads have been narrowed. The authorities need broader roads to accommodate a burgeoning city replete with many hundred vehicles added on a daily basis.

Let me mention those footpaths which have been generously concreted by builders who felt that it was their God given right to present such an entrance to their many apartment owners. Never mind if there are rain water drains and chambers as old as the last century beneath them! Are the powers that be listening?  Will road widening also mean decent footpaths in this city? Beware people! You simply cannot be footloose on the footpath anymore!

NOTES:  1- Mananchira Square is a park in the heart of Kozhikode town, Kerala state, south India. The historic maithan, adjacent to Manachira has been converted into an arcadia with beautiful trees and plants, artificial hill, shrubs, sculpture, an open air theatre and above all, a musical fountain. 

1.1          -- Valiyangadi
Valiyangadi alias Big Bazaar, one of the major shopping centers located near the railway station is known for its wholesale of Kerala spices. Big Bazaar road and Court road are good places to purchase spices. Handicrafts items can be purchased from the supermarkets on Mavoor road and CSI Mananchira. Valiyangadi is also known for its wholesale trade of fresh, salted and preserved fish.

2. S.M.Street
The Sweat Meat Street is one of the busiest and crowded areas of the Kozhikode city. The Kozhikode Halwa and Chips are popular throughout Kerala. The other local culinary delight in SM Street is the 'Biriyani'. S.M. Street is just across the Mananchira Square. Walking through S.M. Street and further through the Big Bazaar Road gives one, a glimpse of activity in the market. The roads on both sides are lined with quaint old stores selling all kinds of goods. The Big Bazaar Road leads to the beach.

Malaparamba is located in the suburbs of Kozhikode city, Kerala, South India. Kozhikode on the Malabar coast, was the capital of the Zamorins and also a prominent center of trade and commerce. It was on the Kappad beach near Kozhikode that the Portuguese navigator Vasco Da Gama landed in 1498 in his search for a sea route to India. A monument to commemorate this historical landing can be seen on the beach

Friday, May 20, 2011

Start camera, ACTION!!! ----UNREAL things in the REAL frame...

What is the ‘REALITY’ in reality shows? 

By: Arjun.R.Shankar

Gone are the days of soap operas and saas bahu serials. The people of this country irrespective of their living backgrounds, cultural cachets, status watched them zealously and appreciated them, so were the actors whom the Indian households exhilaratingly accepted and associated them with their family and treated them as kin. Very often they were exalted and inebriated for their phenomenal acting prowess. The channels were engaged in usual rat races and scurrying for increasing their ratings and the level of profits. In all sense the programmes were ruling the roost. And it was actor’s right time.

But with the passage of time the western programmes had greatly influenced the channels to start a similar wave in the country at least on a trial basis. The channels understood that only a change could break the slots and rolls of serials and they were absolutely right in thinking that way. The new branded programme ‘REALITY SHOW’ was the new product to be sold and was the right choice and it really outdid the soap operas. The euphoria created was inexplicable and unfathomable. Within a small gap the shows had taken a front seat. People became mad about the performances as the whole concept was fresh and scintillating. And the organizers pompously termed the whole endeavor as a branded platform to express ones hidden talent and potential.  These shows from the front angle have innumerable success stories and acclaims. But has anyone thought about the pulse of backstage happenings?

The reality shows have produced many worthy stars, but the people very often forget the unnoticed victims of such shows. There is no discrimination to avail the ‘Victim badge’ the victor and the vanquished of the show both can claim that. There are many examples of winning victims of reality shows. We should understand and acknowledge the fact that there are numerous families in the country who are now in a strong debt trap due to these reality shows. This is the same country that has witnessed innumerable farmers and workers stuck in the cobweb of money lenders. But in the modern time, history repeats for different reasons.  The victims of the show have pooled their money for success and we know that there is only one winner. The looser looses all his morale and is pushed into the state of perpetual dejection. A close friend of the author lost a sum of Rs.4 lakhs in a Dance reality show. He was shown the EXIT Door at the 6th round. The ardent participants of the shows include small children to even grandmothers.

The only thing, rather an advantageous line of argument put forward is regarding the ‘Grand Opportunity and instant fame’ which they claim to give to the participants something in return for humiliation, mockery and even assassinating their character in the name of ‘TRANSFORMATION OF ETHOS’ by many of them who itself are a contradiction to Civilized Beings. There is an ethical and moral Line of Control to every actions, talks and deliberations. But many of the judges and related persons actions fail to justify the acts in the name of fun and character moulding and cross the Line of Control. There is a limit to fun. There are exceptions to all this. There are good and really qualified judges whose acts are directed for the well being of the participants. Many of these stupid notions are passed on to the people.

 In many shows the people grossly humiliate the participants with their hasty and perfunctory comments and slanderous remarks. Anything cannot be tolerated in the name of fun. As television is an important medium, such vulgar comments, harassment will go down the lowest ebb of the society inspiring a lot of children and others, who in turn will think that this is the best and ultimate thing, and that will create a thirst in many of them to take many of these stupid things for stardom and fame. Children and others should be guided always by good examples and illustrations. Many forget that all the instant fame, reputation, celebrity status, autograph seeking fans which they give is the different avatar of ‘Bubble Reputation.’
People of this country loves such shows, so anything worth entertainment should not be denied to the people and taking a hasty step against such shows would be ‘Tughlaq Move’. What about the plight of the small children paraded in the shows? They face mad competition at a very tender age and they hear nasty comments. At a larger level it has become a battle between the parents. There is certainly a limit to torturing children in the name of fame and money.

The biggest thing to be kept in mind is regarding the extent of profit these channels extract. The amount is humongous and staggering and as company tagline says “it’s beyond imagination”. The money which the channel gets after 4 or 5 episodes is more than enough to give the entire prize money of the show. The rest of the episode year round is profit. The question we should ask is “who is the real and ultimate winner”? The answer is never a contestant. The real champions are the channel, producers, advertisers, and the mobile companies who work meticulously with precision.  Should the participants pay a heavy price for such Bubble fame?

In many of the programmes, a large chunk of the participants come from the low income categories or poor backgrounds. Many of their talent enthrall and captivate everyone and we see the channels celebrating their problems and bugaboos with crocodile tears. In spite of the farce, are the contestant’s really benefitting?
Many of the shows get wide coverage and unparalleled success and acclaim only because the channels are flooding the charts with such reality shows. For them its huge business and super profits, abnormal profit whatever we can call them. The people often forget this thing. They watch it because of the limited choice. You don’t have anything else other than this.

There are many things happening behind the curtain which people are not at all aware of. Start camera, ACTION is preceded by various sufferings and hardships borne by the participant and their family which no channel, producer or the spectator acknowledges because it does not have entertainment value because it’s real not show. They are only happy with the melodrama after the ACTION!!!!  
It’s amazing, even the poorest farmer or casual labourer sends an SMS to their favourite participant. (The penetration of mobile technology) an act which will disturb the equilibrium of his budget. The monthly roll gets an additional commodity—‘RECHARGE OFFER CARD.’ The allocation slightly shifts towards from rice and wheat to cards when the show gets nearer to the final rounds.  Most of the winners in the show are decided by SMS, the guiding beacon of victory, prestige and the symbol of strength and fortitude. It’s not the best that often wins, but the popular that wins.

The biggest reason of the debt trap of the contestants is because of the large amount of money spent on the paraphernalia’s of the show. For a single performance, the candidate has to dole out large amount of money for the set, costumes, choreography, property, theme, hiring co stars etc. the channel conveniently frames new round and the contestant has to do things to survive. That means doling out more money. At the end, just imagine the total money spent by a participant.
So these channels who select the contestant are bound to take care of these charges rather than leading them to debt traps or else please don’t conduct shows. It only needs a miniscule amount from their total profit to address these issues. And there should be strict monitoring of the conduct of the show. No one should be allowed to do anything in television. Morality should not be compromised at any cost. There should be stern action against the offenders.

If possible end the SMS loot. What guarantee do all of us have that they are all recorded properly and it’s the votes that ultimately determine the winner. What credibility does this format have?
Channels should also think something useful for the people. Gone are the days of T.V quizzes for children and others, which had encouraged innumerable children to read newspapers and magazines voraciously. Now the channel says that people don’t want serious stuffs or they simply need soap operas and unreal shows undermining the aspirations of the people.

People should definitely understand the sufferings of the parents. Especially the parents of children who are shown the exit doors saying “sorry dear you are OUT”.  What about the depression of the children and people, their family? Who is going to heal that? The people who support all these shows owes answer to them
Remember, these channels gurus and reality shows are not the ultimate verdicts for your children friends.