Jallianwala Bagh Through My Lens

Jallianwala Bagh, a place that witnessed the worst massacre on April 13, 1919. If you’ll visit the place you will realise the agony which the masses had undergone with no escape at all.

They were shot dead by the British Indian Army on the orders of Acting Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer.

Pic 1 – The only entrance and exit the place has, which led to thousands of people entering the garden for a gathering. Who knew they would never exit the place

Pic 2 – The narrow lane of the corridor which could not allow people in such large numbers to exit and save their lives

Pic 3 – Windows of rot iron where the army men climbed to point their guns towards the unarmed Indian public

Pic 4 – Now, there’s a pyramid like stone, kept to depict the spot from where gunmen shot thousands of bullets in all directions. They horrifically killed masses which included men, women and kids

Pic 5 – The wall which has many bullet marks safeguarded till date

Pic 6 – The well which engulfed many bodies of people who jumped in it as an only option to save themselves, but unfortunately could not

Pic 7 – Granite stones mounted on a wall with history etched on them in golden ink in languages – English, Gurmukhi, Hindi

Pic 8 – Flame shaped memorial in the memory of the tragic incident and those who lost lives

Winston Churchill called the 1919 massacre of Indian protesters “monstrous.” Queen Elizabeth said it was “distressing.” Prime Minister David Cameron went with “deeply shameful.”

However, none of the Britain officially ever apologised for the grave mishap.

I’m deeply touched with the incident and whenever I think of it, the flash of incident appears before my eyes as if I was present there.

On this day, I take the opportunity to pay my tribute to thousands of families who lost their loved ones and the souls who battled till their last breath for survival. Jai Hind!!

Why I Stopped Bursting Crackers?

Noise Free Diwali-Blog-Anupriya Mishra

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I do not remember when did I last buy crackers. It was when I was in standard 5th or 6th. With this calculation, it is probably some 18 to 19 years back. Unlike others in the neighborhood, my brother and I enjoyed lighting Diyas and Candles after the pooja. My brother is two years elder to me and of course the wiser one. He was obviously the first one who deliberately gave up on crackers.

We used to buy crackers from a popular place in Lucknow called Yahiya Ganj. This place was and still is popular, especially for high quality crackers. Once my brother came back home and told me how children of almost our age and even younger are assisting the vendors of these shops. Some of these children had burnt their palms. On being asked they told that they also assist in packing of crackers and that’s when they burn their hands due to excessive contact with explosives. My brother was touched with their story and the sight. When he told me I was equally upset and understood the reason of a few number of crackers, where we used to get bags full. The question that arose in our minds was, “Are we going to enjoy at the cost of the life of these innocents? Do they even get to enjoy one fourth of what we do, despite all the labor they put in?”

That was the year when we decided to give up on crackers.

No media to propagate, no PM to encourage cracker free Diwali back then, but it was a deliberate choice and I am glad I could follow it till date. Today, when I see a lot of debate going on whether one should or one shouldn’t buy crackers, I wish I could share my thoughts too.

Some people debate in its favor affirming that it gives employment to a number of people as it’s a huge industry and trade. But, they do not realize the cost at which it does. We spend thousands on crackers every Diwali only to spread harmless gases and noise in the atmosphere for our momentary pleasure. But, Diwali isn’t about that?

Every year there are accidents that lead to damage and destruction due to unexpected explosions. These massacres are human made unlike the natural disasters that are not under our control. Let’s control what we can!

Diwali is about spreading light, joy and love. It’s about getting together and praying for prosperity and well being of your family and loved ones. Festivals are meant for this purpose. It gives us a reason to celebrate the togetherness and warmth of our family without harming anyone or anything. We cannot get happiness, if we do not care for the happiness and peace of children, families or even animals who get disturbed and devastated with such pollutants. Can we?

I wish one and all a very bright, prosperous and noise free Diwali. I wish for a change that can prove us a sensible and responsible citizen. Let me know if you are there with me in support of noise free, cracker free Diwali.

Winninginaman's world-blog-anupriyamishra

Winning in a Man’s World

Winninginaman's world-blog-anupriyamishra
It’s a common advice for daughters to return home before the sunset. But, problems do not come knocking at your door. And, one such day was a day in the mid of May, when she was walking downtown.

It was a bright day with clear blue sky, people were seen walking up and down the street, cars and two wheeler were passing by at their usual frequencies. There had been something about this Park Street. It had always been untouched by the maddening crowd and looked surreal in its own capacity. Just a few steps down the Shanti Villa, was this magnificent street that leads to the downtown market. Not too far, not too crowded yet had everything available for household like fruits, vegetables and groceries, all at one stop.

Shanti Villa was an abode of four happy members–simple, sober and an absolutely loving family. Mr. Das the head of the family was a Bank Manager, her wife being a teacher was also an excellent mother to two children; a son—Shashank, the elder one and a daughter—Smriti. They belonged to mid-level middle class and by God’s grace had everything a well-settled family would have had. Both the children were brilliant in studies. Shashank wanted to be an Air Force pilot and Smriti wanted to pursue a PhD in Sociology. Das’ were an example for the entire colony. Neighbors did not envy them, but looked up to them.

It was just another day in Shanti Villa. As it was a Sunday, daily chores were delayed than normal hours. Shashank left for his friend’s place to enjoy the India Pakistan Cricket Match, promising to be back by lunch. Mr. Das after reading the newspaper, watching the News, decided to dye his leftover grays on his head and to his mustache, which was a blend of black and gray. Then he seated on his relaxing chair right in front of the TV to follow the cricket match. Mrs. Das was busy in her kitchen cleaning the jars and preparing for lunch in parallel.

Smriti was in her room reading a book, when she heard her mom calling. Gently placing a bookmark at where she had paused, she immediately ran towards the kitchen to listen to her mother. Her mother wanted her to bring a pack of yogurt from downtown market. Smriti took her wallet and left for the market.

It was almost midday around 1.00 PM. The Park Street was silent as it was May and summers were in good form. Since the distance wasn’t much, she decided to walk down. The street had abundant trees on both sides to provide enough shade. It wasn’t too long that she’d left from home; she realized that she was being followed. She started taking longer steps to validate her doubt. Yes, it was certainly someone following her. She turned around and there was a man with plain gestures on his face, more or less expressionless walking towards her. She looked around just to realize that there was none other than both of them till the expanse her eyes could see. Her heartbeats paced up, her hands shivered when she felt her pockets and checked that she had even left her phone behind.

A minute seemed like an hour and a step equivalent to a mile. Her steps became heavier. She did not know what to do. The man who followed did neither misbehave nor gave any such hint that she could complain of. When her whole focus was on the man behind her, suddenly there was a taxi that stopped and there was someone who pulled her in.

What must have happened later, is something that’s most heard of. No, it wasn’t a case of abduction of course; it was the intent of trampling the innocence.

After, waiting for almost an hour, when Smriti did not return home, Shashank was asked to look for her on the way to downtown. The next step was to lodge a complaint in the nearby police station. The same night, a girl was found in vicinity thrown behind the bushes in a terrible inhuman state. It was a shock, a breakdown for Das family. They tore to pieces to find her daughter in such a plight and took her to hospital.

However, Das’ were not the ones to believe in social stigma. They decided to confront the society and supported Smriti in every possible way. Smriti is now a Doctor and living a normal life. However, there’s a question for lifetime that the residents and neighbors of Shanti Villa have had. And, that question is, where are our girls safe? At what time during the day can we allow our daughters and sisters to step out of their home?

This is the current scenario. No girl seems to be safe in a country where you get a daily dose of news on gang rapes and murder first thing in the newspaper. Yes, there was a time when such news were in big, bold font as they were less frequently heard, however, this has become so common nowadays that even the media has started dedicating just a single petty column to these daily dilemma until and unless it’s something as sensitive, as shameful and as unheard of the cases like the Nirbhaya case that occurred in Delhi in 2012. This rape and fatal assault took not just the country capital, but almost the entire nation to tell.

The questions that continue to ring our minds are:
• How safe are we in our own country?
• Is government framing any strict laws to bring fear to such wrongdoers?
• Why the judgment is prolonged in such cases even when the culprits are caught?

I feel stunned to realize that crime rate is booming and we are bound by shackles of helplessness. Despite several NGOs or social platforms or even media propagating the messages across people, we are still handicapped to fight such freaks who disregard womanhood having been born of a woman.

This only reminds me of a quote by Marilyn Monroe:

“I don’t mind living in a man’s world as long as I can be a woman in it.”

Smoking in Bollywood - Anti-smoking-Anupriya Mishra

Anti-Smoking Ads: Good Intentions but Any Positive Impacts?

“Use, do not abuse; neither abstinence nor excess ever renders man happy.” — Voltaire

I was always aware of the smoking hazards however; the ongoing debate on whether the anti-smoking ads should be a mandate for Indian movies did push me to investigate further. One of the Hollywood Directors was recently in news for being denied releasing a Hollywood movie in India because he was not in favor to insert anti-tobacco advertisements into smoking scenes. As per Indian law, applicable since October 2, 2008, health warning on smoking scenes is mandatory in films and televisions. But, does it really help?
If you go back in 2000 BC, you will discover that there existed a medicinal plant called Cannabis. It was then used in small amounts as a psychoactive drug for mood upliftment or augmenting the brain cells. It was also used in Ayurveda to cure psychological disorders to some extent. Who knew it then that this blessing in disguise will be a cause of concern in the decades to come.
With approximately 120 million smokers in India, it definitely is an issue that drives attention. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), India comprises of 12% of the smoker’s population across the globe out of which 30% are the adult male smokers and 3-5% are the adult female. Additionally, approximately 900,000 people die every year in India due to smoking. And these stats date back to the year 2009.

Smoking in Bollywood - Anti-smoking-Anupriya Mishra
People, especially Indians are known to follow Bollywood trivia and their favorite celebrities’ big time. The majority of janta (public) loves to follow their star blindly whether it is their style, their tone, the latest fashion in the latest movie or even the way they are portrayed in a character. When people go insane in real life, imitating the reel life actor, do they really care if a line of disclaimer in tiny fonts runs across the screen? As a responsibility, the government has taken a good and proactive measure, which is a rare occasion but, who is keeping a count if it is really helping people to keep away from cigarettes. It’s just like a cautionary message on a pack of cigarettes. The message is put straight however, the production cannot be stopped.
On the contrary, as per Reuters there was a campaign run in the U.S. for four months in 2012 in a national TV ad campaign and also featured radio, billboard and digitally. It was not for long duration, but certainly the biggest campaigns ever in the world. It did make difference as one of the post campaigns research revealed, “1.6 million smokers nationwide made an attempt to quit smoking and 220,000 were not smoking at the end of the campaign.” To read the complete report, you can visit:
Not many of us know that tobacco manufacturing companies, especially in India, maintain Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives and programs to counter negative attention regarding their noxious business. These companies are often involved in noble and charitable causes just to improve the perception of people and policy makers against their devastating trade. Then there’s also the biggest reason i.e. employment to millions and millions of people.
Now, my question is instead of investing on baseless campaigns of which no one has a record of benefits and proven results, why the Indian government cannot do something to eradicate the root cause? Instead of running disclaimers on big screens, primarily in English, why don’t we run campaigns in the local language across villages and small towns first, on a big scale? After all, the study says, it’s mostly the poor and uneducated that are heavily addicted to tobacco consumption.
The “feel good” policies and regulations can do nothing to improve the pitiful state of nation. With the elections coming up, there will be new campaigns, new promises, new “feel good” policies, but that doesn’t work for a nation like ours. We need to be pragmatic. We need an activist, not a politician. An activist–who is strong and does not succumb to handful of crooked politicians. We need someone, who invests money in the right direction than forcing laws that do not make any difference to the aam janta. Or, even if they do make a difference, who’s evaluating it and keeping us informed? Why not?
Coming back to where I started, these anti-smoking ads really don’t matter to audiences. Whoever has to smoke, will smoke irrespective of whether such lines are displayed or messages prompted on the screen of a big flick. Movies are in a way a reflection of society. More than the directors, it’s the role of the Center to improve the societal conditions. The increasing rates of crime like rapes, thefts, murders, drugs are what the media portrays as an eye-opener. Instead of stopping the media or blaming them for polluting the minds of people, we must first focus on how these things can be prevented or eliminated from the society. Probably, media will never have prevalent issues to portray and will come up with better things for its audience to relate to.