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Women in India Aren’t Safe on Twitter Either #Vaw #socialmedia

The sexual humiliation of the streets has moved online

By Sonia Faleiro


Every morning Nilanjana Roy, the Indian novelist, goes through the same routine in her New Delhi apartment: a few minutes of yoga and meditation, before turning on some Hindustani classical music to drown out the sounds of the traffic, flipping open her laptop, and refreshing Twitter. Roy has 100,000 followers; today there are 300 replies. The first one sets the tone: “You hole who should be raped by a bamboo lathi.”

Roy, who shares strong, widely read opinions on politics and gender, is used to the barrage. In the past, the web was a safe space for women—or at least safer than the unpoliced, unpredictable wildness of India’s streets. These days, though, nowhere is protected: some Indian men are determined to use the web to target women whose opinions they hate or fear. And, just like street hoodlums, they employ a mob mentality, work in packs, and deploy sexual language to terrorize and humiliate women.

It’s clear from their online behavior that these men are largely privileged Hindus, many of whom live outside India and enjoy well-paying jobs. Prominent political journalist Sagarika Ghose, who has 361,000 followers on Twitter, calls them “communal techies.” She also coined the now-ubiquitous term “Internet Hindu” in a reference to their infatuation with the Hindu right wing nationalist ideology of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which won an overwhelming majority in the general elections that were held in April. The Hindu far right is famously patriarchal, and blind to the humanity and individuality of women.

In addition to harassing women simply because they are women with opinions that differ to their own, some of these men have also imported India’s fault lines of caste and communalism onto social media. They attack women who belong to marginalized communities, tarnishing the modern world with their hateful old prejudices.

Prominent women on Twitter whose names or work reveal their caste inspire the sort of venom that confirms what is widely known as a result of well-documented cases—that some upper caste men consider lower caste womenfair game for everything, including rape.

Take poet and novelist Meena Kandasamy. She writes about sexuality with a rare frankness, has over 25,000 followers on Twitter, and is a regular target of abuse. Speaking to me from Chennai, she said that the particular vulgarity of the tweets she is subjected to is influenced by the fact that she belongs to a low caste.

“They want to frighten me off Twitter,” she told me. “They want me in a subjugated role.”

The fact that a low caste woman could be seen as successful, not just by the standards of her community, but by the intellectual mainstream, is galling to caste-obsessed right-wing Hindu men.

Their obsession has also led them to target women who belong to minority religions. Sabbah Haji runs a public school in the northern state of Jammu & Kashmir, and has over 18,000 followers on Twitter. Like Kandasamy, she expresses her politically liberal views without a filter. She is a Muslim, and can’t count the number of times she has been called a jihadi, she told me on the phone from Doda district. She is asked whether her Muslim “terrorist” “brothers” are enjoying their virgins in heaven.

Like those who hound Roy and Kandasamy, Haji’s attackers seem to feel empowered because they know that women on Twitter—just like women on the streets of India—are unlikely to fight back. Through experience, they’ve learned that responding brings pleasure to the attackers who, above all, crave attention and affirmation. They are also unconvinced that their complaints, like a woman’s calls for help on the street, will draw support. They suspect that it’s just as likely that they will induce judgment, mockery, or even further harassment.

Indian Twitter wasn’t always such an inhospitable place for women. Roy recalls that when she joined it was a space that was conducive to a range of opinions, generally expressed in a civil manner.

It was still a masculine domain, where opinionated women would often hear phrases like “who asked you?“ “shut up!” and “tum nahi samjhogi” (“you won’t understand”). Women who had grown up being shushed and shooed away from participating in critical decisions at home and work; who had been made to feel, even by those closest to them, that their opinions did not matter, immediately recognized—and flinched from—the entrenched patriarchy behind such tweets. But they didn’t fear for their safety, as many do now.

Things changed in the run-up to this year’s general elections. The online cell of the BJP galvanized thousands of volunteers in India and abroad to flood Twitter and Facebook with right-wing rhetoric. These volunteers sought out tweets, hashtags, and even the handles of prominent liberal intellectuals and responded to expressions of mistrust in the BJP, or disagreement with the views of its leader Narendra Modi—and not in ones or twos, but in the hundreds. Their responses— “Bitch,” “Bimbo,” “Hate monger”—were uniformly crude.

If the handle belonged to a person who was clearly a religious minority, the tweets were also bigoted. If the handle was a woman’s, the tweets were loaded with threats that conjured images of women being sexually assaulted during India’s infamous and not infrequent riots.

Every time writer Natasha Badhwar, who has 20,000 followers and publishes a fortnightly newspaper column on the seemingly “safe” subject of family and relationships, mentioned her Muslim husband, she was deluged with abuse. “The tweets,” she told me over email, were terrifyingly graphic. “They threatened to rape, kill and dump the bodies of my daughters,” she said. All three of them are under the age of ten.

The threat of rape as part of the spoils of political victory is familiar to Sagarika Ghose, despite the fact that she has a TV show and a newspaper column where she can publicly call out abusers if she chooses to. “I regularly receive rape threats,” she told me. “I’m regularly called a whore and a slut who sleeps with “Congi” (Congress) politicians and every day my timeline is filled with abuses like ‘ass licker,’ ‘slave,’ and ‘Congress sepoy’ [foot soldier].”

Ghose shrugs off the abuse. “They’re playing out some perverse patriarchal fantasies of dominating strong women.”

Though right-wing Hindu men seem to be the majority of abusers on Twitter, just as they are the majority of people on the ground in India, their tweets suggest a profound sense of victimization. They portray themselves as a sort of endangered species whose survival depends on extinguishing, if only verbally, the people who are different from them.

Their vicious othering of women, and minorities, threatens to reduce Indian Twitter to mud-wrestling, where the winner is simply the person with the most time and the least self-respect.

Not all women have suffered the onslaught. Right-wing women are protected from the abuse, earning relative freedom by prodding liberal women—even those who don’t follow them or even know who they are—in growling packs, attacking them like some children strike animals with sticks and stones. Supporters of other political parties or ideologies are hardly without fault—but they have neither the numbers nor, it seems, the pathological compulsion to mob those who disagree with them.

“Do they ever experience joy,” Roy asked me. “Can you experience joy when your entire life is ideology?”

And since Mr Modi was sworn in as Prime Minister in May, things have not got any better.

The new array of startlingly similar tweets are a mirror to the simmering culture wars that have reignited since it became clear that the BJP, which hasa tradition of stifling critical thought, was likely to come to power. Words like secular, tolerant, liberal, and intellectual—which most modern, forward-thinking societies consider badges of praise—have been reduced to mere slurs in the already slur-filled lexicon of India’s online Hindu right.

And again, women are bearing the brunt.

“A hatred and envy of achievement has manifested itself in a move to strip successful liberals of their presumed privileges,” Roy explained to me over Skype. “It’s all-virtual,” she said, “But you can’t help feeling that the violence will tip over into real life.”

It’s not an exaggerated fear. Recent events in India have shown that women who are perceived as modern, or successful—at both ends of the social spectrum—inspire anger in men who have failed to keep up.

Take the example of a young woman who was gang raped by thirteen men on the orders of a village headman in West Bengal earlier this year. After the attack, it was revealed that she had been the subject of much bitterness for having migrated in search of a job, and then for returning with envy-inducing items such as a small TV and a tinny music system.

“For the (all-male) elders,” said one villager, “These were a source of anguish.”

The gang rape, said another, was a “punishment” for her “way of life.”

 

Read more here – https://medium.com/matter/no-safe-places-d59af0c3ba58

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The CIA’s cute first tweet can’t cover its bloody tracks

As the agency strives to craft a cuddly new image, we mustn’t allow it to whitewash its history of torture and murder
CIA HEADQUARTERS IN LANGLEY, VIRGINIA

‘The world is still dealing with the consequences of the CIA’s disastrous postwar interventions.’ Photograph: Sipa Press/Rex Features

In the latest CIA coup, America’s leading spooks have sent the Twittersphere into a frenzy with their chucklesome debut on social media:“We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet.” How droll! More than a quarter of a million people have retweeted what has been described as “the best first tweet possible”. No wonder: it’s one of the world’s most secretive organisations being self-deprecating, light-hearted, even – dare I say it? – cute.

Here’s a story that isn’t quite so cute. My parents were among many South Yorkshire families who took in refugees fleeing Augusto Pinochet‘s Chile in the 1970s. Sylvia was a Chilean woman with two kids. Her husband had been murdered, she had been tortured and – traumatised – she would end her life by jumping from a Sheffield tower block.

Here was just one victim of a junta installed on 11 September 1973 with CIA support after Henry Kissinger declared: “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people.” Dissidents had electrodes attached to their genitals. Thousands were killed, including those crammed into Santiago’s National Stadium; among then was Victor Jara – Latin America’s answer to Bob Dylan. This was the other 9/11, and the CIA’s fingerprints were all over it.

But, judging from the reaction to the new-look CIA, the punters are taking a different view. “A good example of how even the most serious of organisations can use a light touch successfully on social media,”applauded the Liberal Democrat activist Mark Pack. “The CIA have managed, with one tweet, to do what millions of PR dollars could not,” suggested another Twitter user.

Of course, the CIA is far from alone in trying to lighten up its image: PR offensives are all the rage among tyrants, too. Are you a bloodstained despot who wants to polish your sullied reputation? Your first port of call is surely Bell Pottinger, run by Thatcher’s publicity guru, Lord Bell. The dictatorships of Bahrain and Belarus, the Syrian dictator’s wife, Pinochet himself – all have had their reputations spruced up by the firm. Its services include cleaning up those embarrassing Wikipedia articles and Google search results. Kazakhstan’s pro-western dictator, Nursultan Nazarbayev – who locks up dissidents and massacres striking oil workers – is a pro at PR campaigns, hiring Tony Blair at vast expense. The Burmese junta hasn’t hired Blair, but its “new Burma” rebrand is very New Labour. Equatorial Guinea’s dictator ropes in Hollywood stars, pop stars and other celebs to distract from torture, arbitrary detention and execution.

The CIA might try and LOL away its record, but given the world is still dealing with the consequences of its many disastrous postwar interventions, it shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it. “Terrorism” is normally used when referring to acts of violence committed by non-white people hostile to the west. But if we’re understanding the term to mean acts of terror committed for political ends, then the CIA is surely the greatest terrorist organisation on earth.

Last year, days after the Assad regime’s heinous gas attacks had killed hundreds, it was revealed that the CIA had helped Saddam Hussein with his own chemical weapons slaughter in 1988. Fearful of an imminent military breakthrough by Iran, the agency passed on Iranian troop positions to the Iraqi tyrant, “fully aware that Hussein’s military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin“. As a former US military attache to Baghdad put it: “The Iraqis never told us that they intended to use nerve gas. They didn’t have to. We already knew.”

The CIA’s catastrophic involvement in Iraq goes back much further. In 1963 Saddam’s Ba’ath party violently deposed the leftist administration of Abd al-Karim Qasim, slaughtering thousands of communists with the help of lists provided courtesy of the CIA. “We came to power on a CIA train,” boasted Al Saleh Sa’adi, the new regime’s interior minister. Today, Iraq lies shattered and bloodied.

Handing out lists of dissidents to tyrants was a CIA speciality. In 1965, Indonesia was home to the world’s largest non-ruling communist party. Fearful that the country was slipping into the communist axis, the CIA supplied the coup leader General Suharto and his goons with names of leftists. Up to a million were slaughtered with guns and machetes; the countryside was littered with rotting corpses, and rivers were tinged red with blood. It was “one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century”, according to an internal CIA report.

Iran is possibly the definitive example of CIA operations blowing up in the face of the US. In 1953 the agency – along with Britain’s MI6 –orchestrated the overthrow of the democratically elected social reformer Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq after he attempted to nationalise the country’s oil industry. The coup “was carried out under CIA direction as an act of US foreign policy”, as the CIA put it recently. Mossadeq was replaced by the repressive shah: no wonder, then, that after the overthrow of this CIA stooge the new regime was so virulently anti-western. The entire region still lives with the aftermath.

And Afghanistan still suffers the consequences of the CIA’s lavish support for mujahideen fighters engaged in armed struggle with the Soviets in the 1980s.

The charge sheet is frighteningly long. The CIA’s Phoenix programme in Vietnam killed tens of thousands between 1965 and 1972. CIA-backed coups in Brazil, the Dominican Republic and Bolivia; CIA-backed death squads in Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador; the murder of Patrice Lumumba, Congo’s first democratically elected leader, in 1961 – the tragic preamble to decades of war and dictatorship that has killed millions. Neither can all this be dismissed as the unfortunate acts of a bygone era. The CIA has questions to answer about its involvement in the abortive 2002 coup against Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez.

The agency’s first tweet provoked the New York Review of Books to launch a Twitter war, exposing the CIA’s recent record. The CIA had interfered with a recent Senate investigation into torture, the magazine pointed out, in CIA secret prisons established by President Bush. CIA operatives were given clearance to deprive suspects of sleep, slam them against walls, and use waterboarding and other forms of torture.

It’s in the CIA’s interests to craft a cuddly new image: as a team of glamorous, James Bond-style spooks who can take a joke. Given the abject failure of much of the western media to scrutinise its actions – at least until it’s too late – it may believe it can get away with it. But its record of torture, murder and subverting democratic governments speaks for itself. However savvy its Twitter campaign, that must not be forgotten.

 

Read mor ehere – http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jun/08/cia-first-tweet-torture

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Right to Privacy – Social Media Offensive on Amrita Rai-Digvijay Singh

Prof Chaman Lal

 

Since 30th April 2014, there is a flood of activities on social media-intimate intimidating photographs of Amrita Rai-Digvijay Singh Congress leader have gone virile on twitter, face book, blogs and other social sites. I saw three tweets and one face book post. Amrita Rai, Rajya Sabha anchor, earlier NDTV reporter posting tweets that her mail account has been hacked and that she has filed divorce suit with her husband and plan to marry Digvijay Singh. Digvijay also tweeted that he plans to formalize relations with Amrita ji after her divorce and he is making it open and not hiding like Narender Modi. By the evening, Anand Pradhan, husband of Amrita posted a small explanatory note on face book in Hindi about their living separately since long and having filed suit for divorce by mutual consent. I tweeted to both Amrita and Digvijay and also wrote on Anand’s post. I personally know Anand Pradhan and Amrita Rai, but not Digvijay Singh. Amrita Rai had interviewed me once in my office in JNU, as NDTV reporter, when I was JNU Teachers Association (JNUTA) President in 2007. She is courteous person. Anand Pradhan is a friend and ideologically we are close. In 2013, after leaving JNU, I stayed in IIMC guest house for one night, getting room booked through Anand Pradhan. I had a desire to go to their house too and say hello to Amrita as well, but as Anand did not invite, so did not express my wish. Now it seems they were not staying together, about which I had no idea.

Incidentally I support what Anand Pradhan said in his face book post that man-woman relations are extremely complex and one should not try to peep into personal relations of two individuals till the time they themselves wish to make it open and to the extent they think it proper. Incidentally there are no angles in private life and most of the couples do fight, quarrel in private domain. But I was surprised to see Anand’s post getting virile, receiving 2500+ likes and nearly one thousand comments and continuing, hardly anyone gets so much attention. But it was not pleasant, it was ugly. Out of 1000, 10-20% may have written rationally and with some degree of concern, 70-80% comments were vile, vicious, abusive and misogynist mostly by Moditvaites towards Anand , Amrita and Digvijay Singh. Releasing personal intimate photographs of two individuals must be a cyber-crime, but it was committed by none else than Nitin Gadkari, BJP big leader, as re[orted is some paper, as a revenge for Digvijay’s questioning of Modi hiding his marriage. In the process, Anand and Amrita became target of their vileness. Comments on Anand Pradhan’s face book also indicates towards it to be BJP-Moditvaites’s concerted campaign to indulge in such scandalous, misogynist attacks against women and leftists in general and to seek revenge from their political rival Digvijay Singh. Even on Anand’s post, lot many Moditavites posted Amrita-Digvijay intimate photos to provoke or insult Anand, many went on the extent of posting male nudes with recommendations for potency medicines, thus touching lowest levels of dirty minds. This whole ugly episode raises many questions:

 

Elections for 16th Lok Sabha and Narender Modi’s indecent hurry to become Prime Minister of India is the immediate reason for this ugly dehumanized campaign by Modi followers, which has been conducted with typical RSS style of personal mudslinging with targeting women and leftists. One can remember that even during emergency RSS used to throw lot of mud at Indira Gandhi, attacking her relations with Dhirender Brahmchari or saying things like-‘Sanjay Gandhi in inebriated condition slaps her’ etc. Same Sanjay Gandhi later became the darling of Sangh parivar by getting his widow and son to Sangh umbrella.   Yet there are other social factors also involved in such tendencies to become so frequent in society:

(A)   Twenty first century has brought the internet to social life, whose potential is revealing day by day. Despite its positive aspects, it has immense capacity of misuse as well. Thus Porn sites are one of its biggest product, which has shaken the life everywhere, but more in sexually oppressive societies. Maximum porn sites are watched in Arab and such geographical areas, which are known for sexual exclusiveness, male chauvinism and where women are treated as dungeon, as man’s slave, sought to be bound to certain areas like home only and forced to follow regressive dress code. Most of the religious fundamentalist groups, which oppress women more, are taking recourse to use the scandalous devastating aspects of internet in these matters. Making public personal intimate pictures of some public personalities is their way of revenge and imposing their obscurantist values on society.

 

(B)   Digital explosion in the form of mobile and other easy kind of cameras available all the time at hand, selfies kind of trends etc. have made people lose their balance and they are not able to keep certain level of self-discipline over their lives. Almost imperialist kind of control of social sites like Google or others, where the privacy of your data is at best an illusion, people are always at risk of their private life becoming public at any point of time and causing great destabilization. So many cases of crimes, murders, suicides world over due to such happenings on face book, twitter, or just photos in mobile cameras have created altogether new kind of value less violent society, where blackmailing through new gadgets has been introduced.

 

(C)   Not that social site have just negative devastating features only, there are positive features as well. In socially oppressive societies like India, it has helped remove the facade of hypocrisy prevalent in social life in the name of moral values, religion etc. Thus when people are joining these sites, they are freely expressing their preferences like-women recording for ‘Looking for Men’ and men recording ‘looking for women’ or sometime hiding their identities and doing all those things, which they still not dare to do in their real identity, which provides psychological relief to their suppressed emotions. That so many conservative men and women on these sites have made male or female friends, which they would have never even imagined in their life, if there has been no technological revolution of this kind. It has given women some more freedom in India like feudal mindset societies.

 

(D)   That it has also smashed some myths like purity of marriage, only one man-one woman loyalty, nothing can affect the ‘rock like marriage system and its eternal value’ etc. One can see from face book data, even in Indian context how many men and women have made both sexes as their friends and have freely conversed with each other without bothering about the alien or just virtual/screen and not real status of the ‘other’. This is democratizing aspect of this social media.

 

(E)    That it has brought to the center focus that man –woman relations are not as simple as some religious scriptures want to make us believe. They prove the scientific researches of Freud like psychologists of these relations’ immense complexity, which sometimes is brought out in literature or creative forms of art, which is socially accepted as relief from real social or personal problems. That these researches can definitely help understand these complexities better and deal with them too, but which demands rational and scientific attitude towards life and not just blind faith attitude of some ‘universal human values’ like clichés.

 

(F)    Age is considered as a moral factor in most of such scandals, as is being scandalized by 67 years Digvijay Singh and 43 years old Amrita Rao’s ‘immoral’ relations on age gap ground! And we easily overlook that whether it was Pablo Picasso, Pablo Neruda or Charlie Chaplin-just three iconic illustrations, who according to their own memoirs had relations with women of 20 to 30 years at the age of 80 years or more. From rightist side recent illustration of Italian ex-Prime Minister Berlusconi, who at nearly 80 was found to be buying sex of 15 year old girls. It could be other way round as well, as writer Taslima Nasreen tweeted-it is fine to have 67 yrs. male and 43 yrs. female to have relations, but when 67 yrs female will have relations with 43 yrs male and someone referred to Sophia Loren! That since they are big names, we tend to accept these, even romanticize it, but in real life situation, we get shocked. The two Hindi films in recent years have brought the reality of these facts to center focus. In fact Pablo Neruda, as Ambassador in Sri Lanka at one time had narrated his sexual encounter even with his maid of much younger age, would have made him dubbed as ‘rapist’ and demanded his arrest by post Delhi rape case situation, as the atmosphere has been created. It is rather risky to say, with fear even from leftists friends that the recent campaigns for ‘stringent and strict laws’ against sexual offenders have in fact strengthened the fascist laws more, rather than ensuring women’s security or enhancing their rightful participation in social life. Perhaps they have been made to realize to confine their movements to ‘safe time’ ‘safe areas’ and the ‘need to have a male companion’ for safety at odd hours! In the hands of fascist Modi coming into power, one can imagine how these laws will be misused against maximum number of leftists/Dalits and minorities. The harsh fact is that socio-cultural education and social reformist movement for man-woman equality and changing the mindset through prolonged cultural reorientation is a crying necessity, particularly when such sexual offenders are coming from ‘lumpen proletariat’. The rich classes have all the glamour at their command, including multiple sexual encounters, including one night stands for both males and females and who have never to face strict and stringent laws against women harassment. Incidents of wife-swaps etc. among higher officials of military/bureaucracy etc. can indicate to the ‘sexual’ divide at class level. The recent complaint of one victim wife of an army officer, who resisted this activity and complained to defense minister Antony, shows the contrast of two classes! Those who are denied sex life in normal manner-‘the scum of the earth’, indulge in criminal acts, with porn sites, releasing their inhibitions, for committing these crimes. Hang hundreds of them, still these crimes will not stop. These crimes are result of socio-political-economic system, where healthy life conditions, including healthy male-female relations, are denied to large number of people, resulting in social crimes and unless social conditions do not change for the better, no amount of stringent laws will be able to control such crimes.

 

(G)  One has to accept the fact that there are different cultural modes prevalent world over and in multi-cultural country like India itself has diverse practices of man-woman relations in different sections of Indian people. Among Muslims, cousin marriages are almost rule, whereas in same geographical areas, Hindu families consider cousin relations to be brother-sister relations. I remember one incident of a respectable Doctor family of Punjab, getting killed a doctor couple in eighties, who were cousins at family level and after marriage, had gone far away to Sikkim to escape the wrath of relatives. Among Hindus themselves maternal uncle-niece marriage is almost rule in some parts of South India, whereas in North India, these relations are forbidden as of father-daughter like. Then with porn sites affecting lives of people, the suppression of desires is getting burst up and society has to come to terms with different kind of sexual preferences of people and not just male-female straight relationship. Thus lesbianism, homosexuality, multi sexual encounters are all becoming part of society, even in conservative societies, at least in virtual world, which is affecting real world as well.

 

(H)   In the changing mores, marriage as institution getting badly affected, large numbers of people in many countries prefer not to marry. In USA, New Zealand, Europe, Latin America, marriage institution is losing the moral status as it enjoyed earlier, Indian urban life is also having its impact felt. In such circumstances, society has to learn to be more tolerant of different kinds of man woman relationship. Sex relations must be taken out of ‘moral codification’ of certain kind and accepted as they are. Only moral code in such relations is mutuality and absence of violence and exploitation. One may dislike much such kind of relationships, but despite one dislikes, the other people’s choice has to be recognized as his or her ‘democratic’ right. Justice Leila Seth is good example of showing such tolerance.

 

(I)     If marriage as an institution does not remain ‘sacrosanct’ and is accepted in its early true substance of a ‘social contract’ or even in some radical thinking ‘license for establishing sexual relationship’ (rather property relationship), then any such relationship will not attract attention or get scandalized as its gets today, considering ‘marriage’ to be something like religious rigorous code, which cannot be violated in any condition. Marriage like any other social institution has come up as a social necessity of its time and may stay or go as the time changes, at least it cannot sustain in its rigour. This is also a myth that west is affecting India like societies for sexual deviations. Longevity of marriage in west and east-both, depends upon mutual love, understanding, care& concern of each other. There are couples in Europe and America, who never split in life, whereas in India like societies, the reality of marriage as institution is-as the Punjabi phrase goes-Jodian jagg thodiyan, narad Bathere’-‘true couples are few, tied with ropes are maximum.’ Financial constraints or the dependence of women on men is big reason for keeping marriage going in India like countries, even if the couple has no binding factor of love or mutual respect for each other. If in initial phase of marriage love or sexual urge is more important, in the later stage, understanding is much more important. More marriages break because of incompatibility of ideas, life style and understanding, than just of sexual incompatibility, particularly when both man and woman are working and are conscious of their own personality traits and needs. In a society, where there is financial and social security for women, there even difference in day to day habits of people can cause breakdown of marriage. It is not a joke that many marriages break because of snoring habits of one of the couple! It is dependency of women on men in large cases in India, that invariably whenever a public personality or ordinary man has been accused of sexual offences, his wife has stood by him almost in 99% cases, even if she might have remained victim of domestic violence herself in her married life.

 

(J)     Another fact of the matter is men and women, now even same sex people; get attracted to each other at various levels. When couples are living separately for years or months together and when people work or study at different places, there is likelihood of friendship getting developed, which may or may not develop into physical intimacies. But in case such intimacies do develop but with mutual attraction and consent, these must not be treated as ‘guilt’, crime or even looked down upon, whether the people involved in such relations are ‘married’ or ‘unmarried’. Remember recent film-Lunchbox for such attractions.

 

(K)   Once the hypocrisy goes out of man-woman relationships, then one can look at these relationships in a rational manner and accept that if people can marry, they can split too and no moral high or low ground is involved for ‘married’ ,‘divorced’  , ‘unmarried single’ ‘live in relation’  kinds of people. Yes children born out of any such kind of relationship are the joint responsibility of two people and in case of split; their interests have to be taken care of in best possible manner.

 

(L)    Incidentally those Sanghi/Moditva mentality people, who are enjoying throwing mud at Amrita Rai and Digvijay Singh, and by proxy at Anand Pradhan too, should also remember that their icon Atal Behari Vajpayee lived with his lady love, who was somebody else’s ‘wife’, openly in his Prime Ministerial Bungalow, and her son in law, an unconstitunal authority, was referred to as Vajpayee’s son in law only!

 

The real issue remains the cybercrime and encroachment of privacy of citizens, some website has posted three years mobile sms exchange between Amrita Rai and Digvijay Singh. Which mobile company has allowed leakage of this private data? The private photographs of Digvijay and Amrita, released through illegal hacking of private mails of one of these persons is also a big crime. Anand Pradhan and Amrita are free to live together or split, it is their personal life, so is with any other two or more people, till the time they are not violating any law or hurting any other person by their act. But releasing personal pictures and messages is definitely a crime that must be condemned and checked through legal procedures. If some stringency is required in law, it is here in such cases, where people’s lives can be blackmailed.

In this face booked world, where more than one billion, almost 1/6th of people of the world have come on single connecting platform, one cannot live in archaic times. Man woman relations are most free in Latin America, where being step sons/daughters, step sisters/brothers, step father/mother has no relevance at all and children from same mother, even from many men are treated at equal level without any social stigma. Women there too, suffer a bit more, as men generally avoid care of children and it is woman who takes care of children, even from many men; but she is not looked down upon and enjoys full respect and dignity in society. Indian society also has to come to terms with different kind of man-woman relations without ascribing so called moral codes to the relations. Only moral code is to be-domestic violence, including sexual violence must be fought with, by law and by education, cultural reorientation.

This is a tall task, not going to be achieved in short time. With education and social reform, it will take less toll of life; otherwise changing world scenario will force the society to come to terms with it, but with paying more price in terms of human life, agony and social energy!

 Chaman Lal,
Professor-Coordinator, Centre for Comparative Literature/Centre for Punjabi Language, Literature&Culture/Professor-Incharge, CUP, Library
Central University of Punjab, Bathinda.
Professor(Retired), JNU, New Delhi
Former President JNU Teachers Association(JNUTA)

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BJP asks Paksitani to vote – @BJP4India Twitter Spamming

BJP campaign amuses some Tweeple, but annoys others

 

Follow me on Twitter! @woofer_kyyiv

Follow me on Twitter! @woofer_kyyiv (Photo credit: Slava Murava Kiss)

 

,TNN | Apr 18, 2014, 05.48 AM IST

 

NEW DELHI: BJP IT cell’s latest digital campaign has left many on Twitter equal parts amused and annoyed with some users alleging it to be a form of spamming. Through Wednesday and Thursday, the official verified handle of the party, @BJP4India sent out automated replies to tweets containing keywords such as “Modi”, “NaMo” and “BJP” with the message: “5 phases still to go. No need to be complacent. Make sure you vote. #ModiNeedsEveryVote”, along with a Vine video of BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. The account posted this tweet close to 43,000 times by Thursday 11 am.Quite unintentionally, one presumes, the automated replies also went to @narendramodi, Modi’s own official Twitter account and also to Congress leader @ShashiTharoor. With a code scanning the tweets for keywords, it did not discriminate between political leanings, caste, colour, or indeed, nationalities. “Surprised. M a #Pakistani, why @BJP4India wants my vote& murderer Modi asking me to vote? #ZulmKiPukaarModiSarkar,” tweeted Pakistani activist Farah Lodhi. Strangely enough, one tweet Russian script also received a reply encouraging the user behind the handle to vote.

Many saw the exercise as spam. “spamming the twitterverse will backfire,” tweeted @queerindia, responding to the automated reply. @chekhovan tweeted, “Let’s see if @BJP4India tweets me their auto spam after I mention NaMo Narendra Modi, and #BJP. @ajayendar said, “Hey @BJP4India one more spam tweet and I’m blocking you.”

Twitter’s own community guidelines do not permit such mass replies. “The @reply and Mention functions are intended to make communication between users easier, and automating these processes in order to reach many users is considered an abuse of the feature. If you are automatically sending @reply messages or Mentions to many users, the recipients must request or approve this action in advance,” says the message on the Twitter support center web page.

Phone calls and messages to EC for comments on the subject went unanswered.

BJP IT cell national head Arvind Gupta, however, sees it as a “good convergence” with their TV and radio campaigns, and “innovative use” of Vine videos. “It is an extension of the functions that Twitter supports. These are not marketing messages being sent out from non-verified handles. Nitpickers say it is spamming,” says Gupta, claiming to have got a “mostly positive” feedback for this exercise. At around 12:24 on Thursday morning, one could see around 20 new tweets by the minute on the @BJP4India account.

Gupta also points out that when the BJP manifesto was released, those tweeting with the hashtag #BJPManifesto received an automated reply with a link to the document on the party’s website. “Our basic message is that every vote counts. An individual user does not get more than two replies,” says Gupta.

Twitter responded to a detailed questionnaire saying, “We do not comment about individual accounts. The Twitter Rules provide guidelines about permitted use of the service. Those rules make clear that spamming is not allowed. We take action when content is reported to us that breaks our rules.

Read mor ehere —  http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Home/Lok-Sabha-Elections-2014/News/BJP-campaign-amuses-some-Tweeple-but-annoys-others/articleshow/33879794.cms

 

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Expose – Modi’s Fakeness Quotient Increases by 3 – 27185 fake twitter followers

 

Back in the first week of December 2013, we exposed 10000 “made-to-order” fake twitter followers of Narendra Modi who follow ONLY Narendra Modi. These fake followers have never sent out a tweet, have no followers themselves, have not changed the default twitter profile picture (egg) and follow exactly one person i.e. Narendra Modi.

A fake Modi Bhakt who surely won't vote for him
A fake Modi Bhakt who surely won’t vote for him

Whether Gujarat has made progress or not, Narendra Modi in the last 2 and a half months has made substantial progress in adding fake twitter followers like the one shown in the above image. The list of these fake Modi Bhakts has increased almost by a factor of 3. Click on any one of the links to 27185 twitter profiles which have been ‘manufactured’ specially for Modi.

The accounts listed above, which exclusively follow Modi, are just a small fraction of fake accounts that have been created to swell Modi’s followers. There’s an army of twitter bots who tweet pro-Modi tweets 24/7. We exposed some of these twitter bots which were unsuccessfully employed to make Narendra Modi Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year”.

We have heard of political parties creating vote banks, but to create a completely fake vote bank, you have to learn from Modi.

Raed morehere — http://www.truthofgujarat.com/modis-fakeness-quotient-increases-3-27185-fake-twitter-followers-follow-exclusively-narendra-modi/

  • #999; padding: 2px; display: block; border-radius: 2px; text-decoration: none;" href="http://www.kractivist.org/india-narendra-modi-faking-support-twitter-socialmedia-feku-namo-mustread/" target="_blank"> #India – Narendra Modi Faking Support – #Twitter #socialmedia #feku #NaMo #mustread

 

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Sunanda Pushkar-Shashi Tharoor: A new age romance that ended in tragedy

Mail Today Bureau   |   Mail Today  |   New Delhi, January 18, 2014 |
 
File photo: Shahsi Tharoor and Sunanda Pushkar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunanda Tharoor, the wife of junior HRD minister Shashi Tharoor, was found dead in a seven-star hotel in New Delhi’s Chanakya Puri on Friday evening, a day after the couple seemed to have ended a bitter Twitter battle – that became a cross- border triangle involving a Pakistani journalist – with a joint statement that they were ‘ happily married’. Sunanda was 52 and has a teenage son.
Police recovered Sunanda’s body at about 9.30 pm from room No. 345 in the Leela Palace Hotel, where she was staying since Thursday. They refused to say what caused her death, only terming it ” mysterious”. Top police sources, however, said it could be a case of suicide. No external injuries were found on her body.

Tharoor was also staying in the same hotel, the minister’s personal secretary Abhinav Kumar told media outside the Leela. Another room, 342, was also booked by the minister, apparently for his staff.

Sunanda, who divided her time between Dubai, where she runs a business, and Delhi, was undergoing medical treatment, and both husband and wife had tweeted about this as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Probe

After Sunanda’s body was recovered, top police officials of Delhi reached the location to investigate the case and Tharoor was also questioned by the police late on Friday night for information. Kumar said Tharoor returned to the hotel at 8.30 pm after the AICC session and another function that he attended, and had to have the door opened by hotel authorities only to discover her lying dead on the bed. He had initially thought that Sunanda was asleep in the bedroom of the suite. But he went to check on her, he found that she was dead.

 

 

Who was Sunanda Pushkar and how they met? 

Police sources, however, said it was only the bedroom which was locked from inside and was opened by the minister with his key. Sources though said the hotel staff called Tharoor after Sunanda failed to open the door following several attempts were made to service the room, as is normal practice.

Kumar, a police officer himself, said he informed local police about the death between 8.45 and 9.00 pm. Sources say that Sunanda was last seen alive at around 3.30 pm. Probe officers suspect she committed suicide, but area police said the body had been taken to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences for a post- mortem. Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat said that a case under section 176 of the Criminal Procedure Code has been registered, which entails an inquiry by the local sub- divisional magistrate, since the couple had been married for less than seven years. They had married in 2010.

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Don’t Ignore the Trolls. Feed Them Until They Explode.

Don't Ignore the Trolls. Feed Them Until They Explode.

It’s been a bad week for women on the internet—but also a clarifying and validating one. British MP Stella Creasy began receiving rape threats on Twitter (in other news: fish are bonkers about water!) after expressing support for feminist activist Caroline Criado-Perez, who was also being deluged with misogynist online abuse. Criado-Perez’s crime? Advocating (successfully) for Jane Austen to appear on a £10 banknote. That, obviously, cannot be borne. Doesn’t she know that money is man-paper!? HAS CRIADO-PEREZ NO COMPASSION FOR THE INTERNET’S POOR NERVES!?

After a Change.org petition and widespread outcry from prominent feminist voices including Caitlin MoranTwitter has announced that they’re working on a “report abuse” button for rape threats and hate speech. (Also, one of Creasy’s online tormentors was actually arrested—a scene so cathartic I might have it drawn on top of a cake and then have sex with it.)

Via the Guardian:

Creasy used Twitter to inform the police of the threats, warn her abusers that she was logging their threats and taking screen grabs as evidence.

“You send me a rape threat you morons I will report you to the police & ensure action taken,” she wrote.

…A [Twitter] spokesman said: “The ability to report individual tweets for abuse is currently available on Twitter for iPhone, and we plan to bring this functionality to other platforms, including Android and the web.

“We don’t comment on individual accounts. However, we have rules which people agree to abide by when they sign up to Twitter.

“We will suspend accounts that, once reported to us, are found to be in breach of our rules. We encourage users to report an account for violation of the Twitter rules by using one of our report forms.”

Right. Well, we’ll see. Unfortunately, the reality of attempting to moderate Twitter isn’t quite so simple:

The danger is that “report abuse” button could easily be used against the people it’s intended to protect. When trolls* created a fake Facebook profile for me during theGreat Rape Joke Kerfuffle of 2013 (mostly to express how much I hate rape and love donuts, because comedy), and I attempted to have it shut down, my genuine account wound up getting reported and suspended in retaliation. At most a minor inconvenience, but needless and irritating nonetheless. The thought of having my Twitter account potentially suspended by abusers in retaliation for fighting back against my own abuse is profoundlyenraging. On the other hand, though, this week someone created a parody account of my dead father to harass me because of my stance on rape jokes (still going on, because COOOMEDYYYYY). And you better fucking believe I wanted a “report abuse” button for that. I can see both sides—though mostly what I see right now is how hard the entire system is rigged to fuck women over.

I used personal examples there, because I happen to have those on hand (so, so many of those), but this isn’t actually about how I, Lindy West, am treated on the internet. This is about how people—particularly women—are treated on the internet when we challenge entrenched power structures.

We are treated like subhuman garbage, and that’s because internet trolling is not random—it is a sentient, directed, strong-armed goon of the status quo. And the more we can hammer that truth through the public consciousness, the sooner we can affect the widespread cultural change we need to begin tamping down online hate speech.

One of the pillars of conventional wisdom about internet trolling is that internet trolling just happens. You hear this all the time, from even the most progressive allies: Oh, well, it’s the internet. There are trolls. Trolls troll the internet. Rape threats are like oxygen. Whatareyagonnadooooo. So, I’m just supposed to accept that psychological abuse is built into my job and I’m some thin-skinned rube if I complain about it? Easy for you to say, Señor Rando. Not only is that framework supremely unsatisfying for me personally, I’d go so far as to say that it’s a dangerous and patently false myth. Internet trolling does not “just happen.” It is not some mysterious, ambient inevitability that affects all internet users indiscriminately.

Internet trolling is a force with a political agenda.

Broadly speaking, the type of violent, choreographed, overwhelming hate speech currently battering Creasy and Criado-Perez is directly aligned with our male-supremacist power structure (race is a deeply salient factor too, and unpacking that deserves its own article). I’m trying to think of an instance when anonymous women descended, spewing violent rape or castration threats, upon a man for expressing an opinion as innocuous as Criado-Perez’s. I can think of instances of funny, political, retaliatory trolling—like when Twitter feminists co-opted the #INeedMasculismBecause hashtag, or when Rick Perry’s Facebook page was deluged with questions about menses. But those are not examples of aggression, they are self-defense. They are not analogous to “I will rape you in an alley” or “Don’t leave your phone at home, sweetie.” They are reactions to misogyny—the same brand of misogyny that fuels internet trolling. They are women speaking to power—the same power structure that empowers and perpetuates anonymous trolls.

Read more here– http://jezebel.com/dont-ignore-the-trolls-feed-them-until-they-explode-977453815

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#India – #Feku vs #Pappu: 2013 -The year we subverted social media

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

We said bye-bye to a medium of happy anarchy. Increasingly popular social media faced the same threat as traditional media

The National Front government of V.P. Singh is remembered for a set of caste-based reforms that set fire to the nation, but one of its great parliamentary successes was the Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Act, 1990. Enacted seven years later, it granted, at long last, both Doordarshan and All India Radio a degree of autonomy from the government. You might well ask—why would V.P. Singh’s quickly-cobbled union of (Ram Manohar) Lohia socialists prioritize control over television content as an avenue of legislation? The answer lies in the great power media has, especially a pervasive visual medium like television.
In the 1980s, the Congress had television programming in strict shackles. To watch Doordarshan (DD) was to be presented with a strange admixture: nation-building, pedagogy, manipulated news, some scant offerings of entertainment—a cocktail that aspired vaguely to Nehruvian ideals but never quite got there. It presented a certain vision of India, and, consequently, a certain vision of what it meant to be an Indian.
But while the implementation of the Prasar Bharati Act brought some relief, putting distance between direct political interest and programming, it was with the entrance of private television that the floodgates really opened. Its hunger for programming of all kinds meant we had, for the first time on our screens, competing visions of India, from saas-bahu to Chhota Bheem to MTV Roadies. If DD once ordered us to sing in tune (Mile sur mera tumhara), private television has us competing to be heard, teaching us to draw consonance from cacophony.
Things have improved unsteadily in the decades since. The state has tried to exercise control over a proliferating media, with varying success. The costs and difficulty of putting together a newspaper or television channel make this easier—control is easier in an oligarchic system, where there are fewer parties in a position to influence proceedings. And big media in India has been an oligarchy, with a collusive tendency towards whoever is in power, for as long as the nation has been independent.
This is why when blogs, Twitter and social media came along, when the Internet turned from a network of static pages to an organic entity you could interact with, mould and contribute to, it arrived not so much as a breath of fresh air as a great swinging gale, promising to blow down every carefully constructed fence in its path. One may not agree with all the contentions of the first wave of bloggers and Twitter accounts that attacked the media for being fed by the ruling party, or the vituperative way they made their point, but there is no doubt they were pointing to a political reality that has had serious consequences on our democratic progress.
When I joined Twitter, in 2010, I was surprised by a few things: the quality of debate; the freedom to make fun of anyone, whether Sachin or Sonia or Sri Sri Ravi Shankar; the wonderful, collaborative pinging of thoughts and ideas by concerned Indians from all over the globe; the wilful disdain of all those things traditional media had so long told us were sacred. There was an element of happy anarchy to it, unfettered and unbowed, as tweet after tweet whittled away at the pedestals of those in power. And it had a feedback effect: The raw derision of social media has in turn elevated political commentary in our country, moving us past an era where obfuscation and a pretence towards temperance were used to disguise the compact between big media, big corporate and big politics.
Human cognition seems to need a narrative in order to process a set of events. The media’s role in society is to construct narrative after narrative about everything that takes place around us. It is the first interpreter of our world; trust what it feeds you or not, journalism has a decisive say in how we believe events are connected, and which people and institutions are related to those events. Sometime in the past three years, driven by its immediacy and accessibility, social media, especially Facebook and Twitter, became the first interpreter of the events of the world for a great number of people. And because many of the journalists shaping the debate in television and print were honing their ideas, even getting them, from places like Twitter, social media started to have a spillover effect, beginning to influence how even those Indians who were not on social media saw events.
Much of the enhanced debate that has surrounded the major political events in India in the last few years—think of Jan Lokpal; sexual violence; the National Food Security Bill, 2013; the khap panchayats—was first constructed in social media, on blogs and social networks, and only then transported to the talking heads of television and comment pages of print. In fact, increasingly, the talking heads you see on television are found on Twitter.
Perhaps it was inevitable that it could not last. Not with an election year impending. Perhaps anything that wields this degree of influence, this promise to direct the national consensus, will never remain uncompromized. The edifice upon which traditional media was built was slowly undermined by such disparate routes as backhand loans and munificent government advertorials and quiet threats and silent partnering. Now social media faces the same threat, though it comes in different clothing.
The great strength of social media was its genuine independence: You might have preference, even affiliation, but you did not have an agenda. You came to debate not dictate, and you were there because you wanted to engage with others, to understand differing viewpoints, to refine your own thinking on an issue via someone else’s expertise. But that kind of engagement is much too congenial for our political leaders to accept. And the method they’ve chosen to subvert it—a subversion that stands as one of the grievous aspects of 2013—is through paid shills.
Now it is impossible to tell who is being paid to tweet what. There are people that spend all day, every day, reacting to any bit of news that emerges about the political party and leader they love. This is not a little crush either, as some of them seem to do it for free. This is all-consuming, Fatal Attraction-esque love, love that has them monitoring a Twitter feed every waking hour, waiting to pounce on any slight against their candidate, waiting to retweet any tired, mindless jibe as long as it makes fun of the other guy.
This effort stems from a surging belief that social media will be crucial in the 2014 general election, a canard that only the polls can test. It started with an unusually high number of people attacking you every time you critiqued Narendra Modi. Trolls, we were told—the work of his huge social media team. The Congress, always one to miss a trick, responded in the worst manner possible: They rounded up their own band of sycophants, who now do the same thing, but for Rahul Gandhi and against Modi. If this was a private squabble it would still be tolerable, but it’s the kind of thing anyone with an interest in politics cannot keep off their timelines. Before our eyes, social media turned from a place where you could find substantive debates over policy to a zone of pejoratives and hashtags. #Feku (Modi is a liar!) vs #Pappu (Rahul is a naïf!) is the discourse we deserve, apparently.
Late in November, Cobrapost, an investigative journalism website, released the findings of a “sting” operation concerning social media. It confirmed what many regular users have known for some time, that most of the sad little jokes, unimaginative cartoons and ardent declarations of love or loathing towards politicians that do the rounds are controlled by social media companies. These social media outfits can either be tinpot operations, such as the ones Cobrapost associates with some very serious misdemeanours (up to, even, disenfranchisement of minority communities and spreading disinformation before an election), or much larger companies like Webchutney, which reportedly has the Delhi Congress contract, and runs the “Friends of Delhi” Facebook page, a thinly-disguised Sheila Dikshit fan page which has accrued around 203,000 “likes”.
There is of course something singularly stupid about political parties creating fake accounts to post insults and praise—they’re lying to themselves about a metric only they are interested in, i.e. which one of them is “trending” that day, or how many “likes” a page has. More evidence of one of the few perennials in politics: Politicians like to lie to everyone, even themselves, about how many supporters they have.
I first saw the potential of social media during the Jan Lokpal debate. Activists Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan released the document they hoped would give a council-by-appointment authority over our highest legislative and bureaucratic bodies. Television biggies and opinion writers seemed caught up in the heady political moment, portraying this as the saviour of our heinously corrupt democracy. No one, it seemed, had actually read the document itself. Then we started seeing retweets of separate blog posts written by two lawyers, Gautam Patel and Amba Salelkar, who had made the effort to parse it, finding time to do it outside of their day jobs, one presumes.
They pointed out the serious inadequacies in the Bill, and promoted a substantive debate about the clauses “Team Anna” had inserted and what it would mean for democracy in India. It was only after this had already taken place in the social media sphere that the first serious critiques of the movement started being written by our commentariat.
If such a thing were to happen today, would we have seen those blog posts? Would those journalists who took the issue forward have had access to that expertise? Most likely the lawyers’ blog posts would be submerged in a sea of paid tweets in favour of and against the Lokpal, sent by shills in other clothing.
Those who desire control will fight for it in many an insidious way. Unless we do something about it, this free and fearsome space will go, just as the others have.

Prayaag Akbar is a journalist with The Sunday Guardian .

Read more here0 http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/nSeJUZhaBXZ6hqqRCcNxHN/New-Media–Feku-vs-Pappu-The-year-we-subverted-social-me.html?facet=print_

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Private Tech Companies Collecting Data on You and Selling Them to the Feds #social media #privacy #WTFnews

With a lot of help from the surveillance industry, Big Bro has already won the fight to watch all of us all the time — unless we decide to do something about it.
October 8, 2013  |
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Big Bro is watching you. Inside your mobile phone and hidden behind your web browser are little known software products marketed by contractors to the government that can follow you around anywhere. No longer the wide-eyed fantasies of conspiracy theorists, these technologies are routinely installed in all of our data devices by companies that sell them to Washington for a profit.

That’s not how they’re marketing them to us, of course. No, the message is much more seductive: Data, Silicon Valley is fond of  saying, is the new oil. And the Valley’s message is clear enough: we can turn your digital information into fuel for pleasure and profits — if you just give us access to your location, your correspondence, your history, and the entertainment that you like.

Ever played Farmville? Checked into Foursquare? Listened to music on Pandora? These new social apps come with an obvious price tag: the annoying advertisements that we believe to be the fee we have to pay for our pleasure. But there’s a second, more hidden price tag — the reams of data about ourselves that we give away.  Just like raw petroleum, it can be refined into many things — the high-octane jet fuel for our social media and the asphalt and tar of our past that we would rather hide or forget.

We willingly hand over all of this information to the big data companies and in return they facilitate our communications and provide us with diversions. Take Google, which offers free email, data storage, and phone calls to many of us, or Verizon, which charges for smartphones and home phones. We can withdraw from them anytime, just as we believe that we can delete our day-to-day social activities from Facebook or Twitter.

But there is a second kind of data company of which most people are unaware: high-tech outfits that simply help themselves to our information in order to allow U.S. government agencies to dig into our past and present. Some of this is legal, since most of us have signed away the rights to our own information on digital forms that few ever bother to read, but much of it is, to put the matter politely, questionable.

This second category is made up of  professional surveillance companies. They generally work for or sell their products to the government — in other words, they are paid with our tax dollars — but we have no control over them.  Harris Corporation provides technology to the FBI to track, via our mobile phones, where we go;  Glimmerglass builds tools that the U.S. intelligence community can use to intercept our overseas calls; and companies like  James Bimen Associates design software to hack into our computers.

There is also a third category: data brokers like Arkansas-based  Acxiom. These companies monitor our Google searches and sell the information to advertisers. They make it possible for Target to  offer baby clothes to pregnant teenagers, but also can keep track of your reading habits and the questions you pose to Google on just about anything from pornography to terrorism, presumably to sell you Viagra and assault rifles.

Locating You

Edward Snowden has done the world a great service by  telling us what the National Security Agency does and how it has sweet-talked, threatened, and bullied the first category of companies into handing over our data. As a result, perhaps you’ve considered switching providers from AT&T to T-Mobile or Dropbox to the more secure SpiderOak. After all, who wants some anonymous government bureaucrat listening in on or monitoring your online and phone life?

Read more here-  http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/how-private-tech-companies-are-collecting-data-you-and-selling-them-feds-hug

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Mohandas Gandhi as #MoGa and Jawaharlal Nehru as #JaNe #twitter #mustread

A lexical sampler — The shape of words to come

Mukul Kesavan, The Telegraph

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If we were to apply the new bisyllabic rule of political nick-naming (pioneered by NaMo and unpersuasively mimicked by RaGa) to modern Indian history, Twitter timelines would know Mohandas Gandhi as MoGa and Jawaharlal Nehru as JaNe. Apart from bad jokes about TarZan, this would have added little to our understanding of these men.

I disapprove of name-shortening that looks to turn netas into hipster brands. It subverts the sonority of desi naming systems besides encouraging a presumptuous familiarity with our leaders which erodes the necessary distance between them and us, a distance crucial to good governance.

This habit of abbreviation is pernicious for another reason: it makes harmless words and names pregnant with political meaning. It makes language a minefield. This is particularly problematic for the politically correct, who, unlike rugged majoritarians, are still plagued by sensibility.

A charter member of this beleaguered community confided the other day that she was traumatized by a telephone commercial because a trigger word put her in mind of dour communal monsters. An old college friend from my days in Delhi University spoke of a sense of foreboding every time he ate a momo. This was a cruel cut because his undergraduate memories, so bound up with momos at Tib Mon (the Tibetan Monastery near the campus) had been permanently overwritten by MoMos at TibMon. ‘Something’, as Walter de la Mare once wrote, ‘has gone and ink and print will never bring it back.’

So momos lost their innocence as did Perry Como and that harassed Red Indian chief, now graven in Indian minds as GeRoNiMo. Pluralist parachutists, I’m told, might stop shouting ‘Geronimo!’ while leaping off their planes (as parachutists customarily do), because they’re no longer sure who they are invoking. You know that politics has turned poisonous when it infects everyday words. Like sumo. Or majordomo. Where will it end?

But, as Naipaul stoically said, the world is what it is, and we have to deal with it as we find it. One service that every generation should render the one that follows it is to document the way in which language evolved in its time. This is a responsibility every demographic cohort ought to discharge, but its burden lies more heavily on anglophone Indian shoulders.

English speaking nations like Britain and the United States have great dictionary traditions that track linguistic usage over time. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language have sought, over the centuries, to map the meanings of words and the way these meanings have changed through use.

Indian speakers of English, though, have no dictionary of Indian usage to fall back on. But we are lucky in that the internet is, metaphorically, one vast searchable dictionary and we can (individually if need be), upload into this ether, words and neologisms and their contemporary meanings. Why? So that posterity doesn’t have to puzzle out usage that will, in time, change or become obsolete.

What follows is a lexical sampler, a handful of words that are looking for traction, for purchase, in desi usage and sometimes finding it.

modi~fy: to shift the blame for violence on to its victims. Thus, ‘Amit began to modify the history of the Gujarat pogrom in 2002.’ This transference can be helped along by the use of the dangling modi~fier and its uncanny knack of recasting victims as passive-aggressors: ‘Eyes bloodshot, hoarse with vengeful shouting, the ghetto was burnt to the ground by the mob.’ Bloodshot, vengeful ghettoes aren’t likely to attract much sympathy even if they are burnt to the ground.

modi~fication: the parent process, the projected transformation of India into Pakistan. modi~fication can also be used as a generic term for majoritarian transition, the conversion of a country into a state owned by its religious majority. Thus, Sri Lanka under the Rajapakse government becomes a nation where modification is complete.

modi~cum: an infinitesimally small, therefore negligible, quantity of anything good. Thus ‘a modicum of tolerance’; ‘a modicum of kindness’; ‘a modicum of humanity’ etc.

modi~sh: a sense of style centred on half-sleeved orange kurtas with Chinese collars. ‘Six modish men with furry arms sat round a small table at the Centre, speaking of Turks and Trojan horses.’ This is a narrow definition but the sartorial evolution of homo Hinducus is in its infancy and variations on modishness are a likely contingent on electoral victory.

dé~modé: ideologically out of fashion. ‘Faced by row after row of modish men, Lal Krishna felt the pain of being de trop and démodé.’

modi~ste: a fashionista committed to modish couture; sometimes used metaphorically to describe majoritarian grande dames. ‘Two mature modistes slaved to make the schooling of minorities seem exciting and reasonable.’ Modistes are particularly valuable members of the majoritarian vanguard because they help deflect charges of patriarchy, misogyny and (given that modistes are mostly anglophone) provincialness.

modi~um: the odium that attaches to bigotry. This is an ugly neologism likely to become obsolete should the NDA become a durable governing coalition.

im~modi~um: an emergency remedy for the queasiness and bowel-shifting unease occasionally experienced by the newly modified.

Modi~glani: medieval Sindhi artist whose principal themes are shame, guilt and their expiation.

modi~Luft: 1. a flying modi (defunct) 2. Kal-El (re-costumed in saffron suit, swastika decal and contrasting shorts).

cap~itulate: to attend a BJP rally in a skull cap.

re~cap~itulate: to attend a BJP rally in a skull cap having previously attended an SP rally in a skull cap.

Modi~nagar: sangh parivar slang for Delhi (esp. Gujarat).

com~modi~ties: items associated with the schooling of minorities: trishuls, clubs etc.

com~modi~ous: a spaciousness at once expansive and oppressive, viz., gladiatorial arenas, colosseums etc. The Nuremberg rallies, for example, can be reasonably described as ‘commodious’, i.e., both massive and odious. ‘As it filled with the half-pant cadres of the Family, the Ram Lila Maidan felt more and more commodious.’

com~modi~fied: to become communal for a consideration. ‘Some are born communal, some become communal, but most are just commodified’.

The insularity of the OED and its constraining sense of itself as the gate-keeper of the English language will keep it from recognizing these words and meanings, but in time, if the great half-pant horizon of a 2nd Republic, majoritarian in both letter and spirit, is achieved, they might achieve the dignity of permanent entries in that great lexicon.

On the other hand, should that political project not come to pass, these words will have had their memorial: a yellow newspaper lining a shelf or an orphaned page, online, but unread.

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