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Amphi Adda

Every Friday afternoon the students gather at the AMPHI-ADDA. What? The Friday Forum meets at the amphi-theatre in the IIJNM campus. The students therefore voted to rename the theatre Amphi-adda. An adda is an informal space where people gather to chat on issues that they feel dearly about. In an adda each one treats the other as an equal. It is an extended sense of a community in chat/conversation.

Crimea to Kashmir: debate grips students

The issue of a referendum for Kashmir was debated among students at the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media on Friday.

Kashmir’s status and future erupted again nationally after Aam Aadmi Party leader Prashant Bhushan called for a referendum then withdrew his remarks amid wailing protests.

The current crisis in Ukraine, with Crimea opting for a referendum to re-join Russia, also sparked student interest in the topic.

Students raised pertinent points during the debate.

Anand Jain from the Print Journalism stream outlined the history of Kashmir and how it was originally included in the Indian territory. His teammate, Abhimanyu from the Broadcast Journalism stream, highlighted why Kashmir should not have a referendum as every last section of land in that region is vitally important to India.

The group against the motion was headed by Gaurav Kumar from Print. With the help of a diagram, which he drew on the spot, he explained to fellow students the geo-political importance of Kashmir.

Things got heated when Abhimanyu and Gaurav countered each other's points. Both gave passionate speeches about the right to self-determination Vs the argument that India must protect its “head” and geopolitical interests.
The arguments from the ‘for’ and ‘against’ camps did not reach a conclusion and the motion was opened for discussion to the audience.

Students raised important points including the arrest of Kashmiri students and subsequent sedition charges, as well as the issue of Kashmiri pundits.

By the end of the debate, a lot was said and a lot left unsaid. Kashmir has always been a fiery issue which, like the debate, continues to remain unresolved.

Cash transfers might work, given a chance

The policy of cash transfer that the government is planning to implement has generated a lot of debate in the country. The primary question is whether the policy would be a success or not.

Students at IIJNM debated the policy at a recent amphi adda. They had varied opinions on the topic, of which the most stated angles were of corruption, lack of proper implementation and misuse by the common man.

Some students felt the policy is only yet another way for politicians to con people of more money. It would only serve to raise the level of corruption. They argued that proper implementation of the ration card and public distribution system could also solve the problem. They also felt that cash might be misused which ration cards or food coupons was a better option.

There were others who argued that the policy could work if implemented properly and that it had its merits. They felt that giving cash to people would be of greater help and could be used for various other purposes, like, paying school fees, purchasing basics that the ration card does not allow. They argued that corruption in India is already at its peak so refusing new ideas fearing it would be a foolish move.

Media used restraint in reporting rape

One of the few times the Indian media did exercise some kind of restraint was while covering the Delhi gang rape case. However, it still has a long way to go when it comes to showing sensitivity, according to students of IIJNM.

This week’s amphi adda discussed how the media had covered the Delhi gang-rape case and questioned the role it played in whipping up sentiments.

Some students felt that the media was only reporting the ensuing protests and did not instigate them.Others added that the media was more aggressive than violent and said in its favour that the reportage encouraged people to join the protest.

Decrying the suggestions from the Information and Broadcast ministry, many students felt that a subjugation of media by the government is uncalled for. Students also felt that the reports of the protests showed the inefficiency of the government.

Bharat Ratna to Sachin Tendulkar

The topic for the Amphi Adda on Sept. 23 was quite a topical one with regards to the hoopla about awarding a Bharat Ratna to Sachin Tendulkar, especially after India’s World Cup triumph. “Should the Constitution of India be amended to include sports as a separate category under Bharat Ratna? If yes, then should Sachin Tendulkar be the first sportsman to receive the honor?” were the questions up for debate. The moderators, Abhijit Singh Bhambra, Arkodeepto Mukherjee and Rutvick Mehta threw the topic up for discussion.

Should sports be a separate category under Bharat Ratna?
The entire discussion was split into two parts. One part concentrated on the first question as to whether sports should be made a category for awarding Bharat Ratna, hence requiring a change in constitution.  The audience was divided on this, with some feeling the need to have it as a separate category as sports inspires the youth and some sportsmen in India have truly contributed immensely for the country in their respective sports. However, some thought it as unnecessary to include sports under Bharat Ratna.

“Since we already have awards specifically for sports like Khel Ratna and Arjuna Awards, what is the point in including sports as a separate category under Bharat Ratna?” asked Pratik Jain.

However, Harish Upadhya had a different view point. “Amending the constitution for including sports in Bharat Ratna is fine, but it should not be done just to give Tendulkar the Bharat Ratna. Many other people like Viswanathan Anand, Dhyan Chand or Mary Kom deserve it before Sachin Tendulkar,” he said.

Should Tendulkar be the first sportsperson to receive the honor?
Having received a split verdict on the first topic of discussion, the moderators took the debate forward and posed the second question of whether Sachin Tendulkar should indeed be the first sportsperson to receive the top honor, if the changes are made and sports becomes a category. The entire audience almost unanimously shouted in the negative.

The general feeling was that people like Viswanathan Anand and Dhyan Chand deserve the country’s highest honor before Tendulkar does.

“Dhyan Chand has won three Olympic gold medals for India. In the 1928 Olympics, he scored 13 goals and he was the turning point for India. If not for him, India would not have hockey as its national game,” said Aswin Kanumarath.
Chitra Laksman said that even if one just looks at cricket, there are players even before Tendulkar who deserve a Bharat Ratna like Kapil Dev and Don Bradman of Australia.  She reasoned that Kapil Dev made an impact on the game and the country much before cricket became popular in India by winning the 1983 World Cup.

Jvin Tootu thought that Viswanathan Anand should be the first sportsperson to receive the award. He had an interesting reason for it. “Bharat Ratna should be given to players in those sports which are widely played in the world, and not where just 10-12 countries participate, like cricket,” he said.

The final verdict
The moderators, to round the discussion off, decided to get the audience’s verdict on these two questions through a show of hands.

When asked whether the Constitution of India should be amended to include sports as a category under Bharat Ratna, about 50 percent of the people thought it should.

When asked if Sachin Tendulkar deserved to be the first sportsperson to receive the Bharat Ratna, a whopping majority of about 90 percent disagreed with it. A bit of a surprise considering Tendulkar is looked upon as God in India, and cricket a religion!

Should Indian states be allowed to secede and become stand-alone states or countries.

In the first week of July, Telangana was in the news once again, with its ministers resigning in protest of the delay in the formation of a separate state.

In relation to this, the Sept. 9 Amphi Adda was about secessionist and separatist movements in India. The discussion started off with the moderator, Desiree, asking the audience whether Indian states should be allowed to secede and become stand-alone states or countries.  

Rupsa said that splitting a state into different parts without developing them was wrong. She added that if the government took initiative to develop a state as a whole, there would be no need for separatism. Rutvick was of the opinion that smaller states such as Kerala are easier to administrate and are prosperous. To him and a few others, the splitting up of big states into smaller ones was only logical.  

The next question tackled was whether states should be separated on the basis of public sentiment or whether the government should evaluate the economic stability of the new-formed state.

Tej pointed out that due to Potti Sriramulu’s fast to death in AP after independence, Nehru was forced to divide the country on a linguistic basis. Therefore, the power of the people must be respected.

In response to the question of what alternatives can be implemented to appease secessionist movements instead of suppressing them, Rashmi offered her opinion. She said that instead of imposing laws like TADA and AFSPA, more importance should be given to addressing the problems of the states that want to secede.
Tej was in support of semi-autonomous statehood; give the secessionists administrative control over the region, under the state’s governance.

In conclusion, one viable solution could be allowing the region in question to have its own semi-autonomous governance system under the umbrella of the state. This would only be a short term solution and the government would have to address the issues that drove the public to the extent of demanding separate statehood. If the issue still persists, maybe there are deeper concerns present that must be redressed and the statehood is deserved.

Is the Right to Education (RTE) practical?

Is it correct for the government to impose 25% quota on private schools? (Before you form your opinion, please note that right to education is a fundamental right in the Indian Constitution)
Our discussion would mainly cover these three areas:

  1. Does it bridge the social divide or does it increase it?
  2. Are there any existing models that can be followed?
  3. So what is the road ahead for RTE?

A landmark law which makes education a fundamental right for children is legally enforceable for every child to demand free and elementary education between the ages of six and 14 years. Manmohan Singh said enough funds would be made available to ensure that children had access to education. An estimated eight million children aged between six and 14 do not currently attend school in India.

Article 21- A  Right to education: The state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years in such manner as the State may, by law, determine, by the constitution (eighty-sixth amendment) Act, 2002.

Article 21 A: The Fundamental Right to Education has been incorporated in our Constitution under Article 21A, on April 1, 2010. It states all the children in  the age group of 6-14 years will be provided 8 years of elementary education in an  appropriate classroom in the vicinity of his/her neighborhood. The cost of facilitating school education to a child  will be borne by the State. The government will be responsible for the enrollment and regular attendance of children. All schools will have to prescribe to norms and standards laid out in the Act and no school that does not fulfill these standards within 3 years will be allowed to function. Unrecognized private schools operating in the country will have to apply for recognition, failing which they will be penalized to the tune of Rs 1 lakh and if they still continue to function will be liable to pay Rs 10,000 per day as fine. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) would be the nodal authority to monitor the proper implementation of this historic amendment in the constitution.

Majority of the audience thought that having a 25% reservation was fair but it shouldn’t be imposed forcibly, but there were some strong voices against it, Ruthvick felt that the government is just passing on its responsibility to the private schools instead of developing government schools and they can’t impose a 25% quota. Rupsa countered this by saying that there nothing wrong in imposing the 25%quota until the government build adequate infrastructure.

Then the debate moved on to reservation and how RTE might fail and become like the reservation and goes on forever and why should the private schools suffer losses.

Rashmi made it clear to the audience that the private schools will not be giving completely free education; government will pay a certain amount of money per child that the private school takes in under RTE.
Prathik felt that imposition is not the way and the current programs like “sarva shikshana abyan” etc should be strengthened by providing more funds.

Also the audience felt that the government do something about education of these kids after class 8 and make sure they don’t stop their education after class 8.Rashmi observed that this law might be a way for the government to privatize education.

While Nitin mentioned a UNESCO survey, that showed that the government educational policy that has actually changed the ground situation in Bihar.

Then the debate moved on to the social divide that RTE might possibly create. Palavi argued that there is no way that the law should be stopped from implementing just because there might be a divide, she gave the example of US where initially in the 90’s there was strong opposition to white people studying alongside black people in public schools.

Tej felt that there will be a divide and the government has to come up with a way to deal with it. “Class differences are always there, you cannot give it as a reason for not having a law like RTE”, said Sneha.

Further we moved on to see whether there a model that can be copied in India, when we mentioned the US common education system Tej felt that even that might create a social divide. Not many people spoke on this and it was evident that the audience was not too aware of other educational systems of the world.  
Looking at the road ahead for RTE, Krithika felt that it should be implemented after taking into confidence the private school managements.

Pallavi said that the law should be given more time and then see whether it works or not. While Ruthvick felt that just RTE won’t solve everything, it’s the society that needs to change, until that time nothing can be done.
The audience on a whole felt that every system has faults and RTE is very young and it should be given a chance and some moiré time before we start judging it.

New age movies with realistic themes and their impact on the youth today.

The discussion started with the moderator, Ankita lath introducing the topic—new age movies with realistic themes and their impact on the youth today.

Movies are a reflection of society. 'They provide a perspective to the audience and compel them to think.' said some while others were of the view that movies are made purely for the purpose of entertainment.

Aishwarya Dravid pointed out that the term new age is subjective. With every generation the stereotypical notion breaks due to the inevitable changes with time. Movies do come up with issues facing the society and that makes a new age movie every time. However they tend to exaggerate it for commercial purposes.

The impact of these movies are momentary because even after “Three Idiots” that unleashed the flaws of grading system, Delhi University kept the cut off as high as 99.9% added Harish and all agreed to it.

The impact is dependent on the acceptability of the movie by the society. Movies with bold themes, bold again for that time have been made for ages but have been banned.

Pratik brought forth the issue of banning movies, “Bhopal Express and Hereafter and type are movies that are not being accepted today but might be in future.”

“Movies that carry messages and are devoid of stardom  find themselves unable to attract crowds.” said Nitindra.

Impact is subjective as it depends entirely on the personal perception of an individual.

New Age begins whenever there is a shift from the stereotypical idea. Movies reflect  society and they do impact people but the impact is momentary. There is an immeasurable gap between thought and action. The impact is restricted to the thought and is seldom executed.

New Age movies do impact the youth. They become aware of  hidden facts around them and they gain a fresh perspective but the execution that should follow seems to be a distant dream.

Old Balls versus New Ball

In the light of the Indian Cricket team’s loss of World No. 1 Test Team status after their humiliating loss to England, the topic of discussion at the Amphi Adda was whether the Indian cricket selectors rely too much on older players.

Moderators Aswin and Pratik opened the discussion by raising the issue of whether older player needed to be replaced by younger players, though inexperienced.

Rutvick Mehta pointed out that younger players like Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina were sent to the West Indies to get an idea of what Test cricket is all about, but they failed miserably.

Taking a moderate stance was Nandita K from the print stream. She said, “There has to be a right balance. A balance of experience and fresh souls.” Her view was generally met with positive reactions.

Adding to the discussion was Nitindra Nath, who said that the Indian team did not have enough players on the bench to support the experienced ones. For example, when Zaheer Khan is injured, the whole bowling attack suffers.

The moderators also questioned the audience about the selection process of the team.

Pallavi Ail stated that the selection process should be based on merit and performance of a player, rather than on just the amount of experience he has.

The discussion ended inconclusively, with the students having a mixed opinion on the topic.

Social and Religious Unrest in Karnataka

Social and religious unrest in Karnataka in the recent past has been a matter of concern. Karnataka has a varied mix of ethnicity, races and religion. It is home to many Malayalis, Tamils, Marathis, Kokanis and people of other states who have coexisted for several years.

The amphi adda discussion started with outlining the history of Karnataka. Kannada is spoken by 65 percent of population in Karnataka. Eighty percent of the population is Hindus, 12 percent are Muslims and rest belongs to other religions.

Recent incidents at Idgah Maidan in Hubli, Baba Budangiri in Chickamaglur and Mangalore, have resulted in an unrest that is spreading to the whole State. Presence of Hindu fundamentalist organizations like V.H.P and Bajrang Dal and their association with B.J.P Government has also fueled the whole issue, said a few of the debators.

Others added that the issue of conversions in coastal areas of Karnataka like Udupi and Mangalore has played a prominent role in the unrest. As Sarmistha said “New Life, a Christian missionary has published a book called Satya Darshini which has used foul language for describing Hindu god and goddess”.

A year ago, Karnataka witnessed 14 attacks on churches in one single day. Manjunath B S said,  “S L Byarappa’s comment on conversion in Mangalore provoked Christians, which is the root cause of the Mangalore pub attack.”

Citing conversion as the main reason for social and religious unrest students talked about poverty and illiteracy in Karnataka. Jessica said poverty has been manipulated by people. She added that the Government should do something about lifting these people out of poverty. 

Should prostitution be legalised?

September 12's amphi-adda had students thinking on the consequences of legalising prostitution in the country. Moushmi, the moderator started by making a clear distinction between prostitution and human trafficking and clarified that the discussion was not on the moral issue related to prostitution but on the matter of legalizing it.

She said that by legalising prostitution, sex workers would gain a few rights. Dilraz echoed that line of thought and said that legalizing would allow the profession to be regulated.

"If we legalise prostitution because we know it happens then we should also legalise drug trafficking," said Samarth in response to Moushmi's earlier remark that prostitution is visibly vivid.

Brenton said that in an ideal world legalising prostitution might work but the Indian society is still at large, traditional, conservative and not open to such changes. Deepthi countered this by saying that prostitution is an occupation in nomadic groups such as the Bedia, Nat, Sansi, Kanjar and Bachada in North, Northwestern and Central India.

"Legal or not, how many laws are effective in India?" asked Manasi, while Megha said that legalising prostitution in the Netherlands led to a direct increase in human trafficking. Meenakshi added that a women's body was not something to be sold and legalising was not a solution.

Deepika said that legalising would stem the involvement of pimps and brothels, while Sudeshna responded stating that anti-trafficking laws could be used to punish middlemen and pimps.

Moushmi summarised that the majority stood against legalising prostitution.

By Ashwin Sriram and Sonali Desai

Talks only logical solution to Kashmir

The Amarnath land issue was the topic of discussion for the amphi-adda on August 29, 2008. The moderator Krishna Merchant started the discussion by asking how we, as citizens, deal with the issue and what could be the possible solution to it.

Sudarshan pointed out that the issue started as a protest from the environmentalists, but separatists took advantage of the opportunity.

Brenton and Megha suggested logical talks as a possible solution, however Brenton pointed out that talks were not likely to satisfy both parties.

Ayanesh pointed out that if the people of Kashmir are given the power to decide the settlement of issue, the Kashmiri pandits living in refugee camps should have a say, too.

Abhishek said that the first step to solve the issue would be the removal of Article 370. Sudarshan added that that the ISI and the terror groups who want a separate Kashmir could not get a better chance to provoke the people of Kashmir.

The discussion went into why Kashmir wants to be a free country in the first place. Tasneem said that the Kashmiris do not get freedom in the true sense, demanding a free country is a way of venting out their frustrations. Sikta added that it is the common man who is at the receiving end.

The discussion ended with majority of the participants stating that logical talks between the parties will be the only solution to the Amarnath land issue, and Kashmir problem as a whole.

By Hemant Gairola and Monika Monalisa

Existing laws inadequate to control child sexual abuse

India is home to 19 per cent of the world's children and half of them have reported having faced sexual abuse, informs the 'Study on Child Abuse: India 2007', published by the Indian Ministry of Women and Child Development.

Discussing this disturbing trend and mulling over solutions to stop sexual abuse of children in India, the students of IIJNM gathered once again in the Amphi Adda on Friday, August 22.

"We need laws related to sexual abuse of children in place first," said Moushami Manek. Currently the laws for rape and women, under Section 376 and 354 of the Indian Penal Code, respectively, apply to children as well. The National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, with powers of a civil court, looks into these issues, too. Incidentally, the Law Ministry rejected the 'Offences against children' bill, in September 2007, saying that it was just a repetition of the existing laws.

Many thought that awareness needs to be created to reach any solution. "Parents are afraid to file a report if their child has been sexually abused because of the social stigma. If the parents are made to understand that this is a grave problem rampant in India, then they might come out in the open," said Hemant Gairola.

"Child abuse happens mostly between the age of 3-7, children this small might not even realize that they are being abused," said Sudeshna Choudhary.

"Even if the children do realize that something wrong has happened to them, they are afraid to report it to their parents," added Dilraz. The 13th State National Study confirms that one of the major reasons of children not complaining is that Indian children are taught to respect elders. Most students said that sensitizing parents and teachers to this issue would go a long way in curbing sexual abuse among children.

The discussion drew to a close with all unanimously agreeing that the existing laws are inadequate and sexual abuse of children is a prevalent issue that needs to be discussed.

By Manasi Phadke

The 11:30 deadline makes life difficult for Bangaloreans

Bangalore's march towards a world-famous city has hit a new roadblock. The pub capital of India now has a deadline of 11.30 p.m. to stop partying. But, does this deadline make life difficult in the city? August 16's amphi adda discussed the matter.

The moderator, Dilraz, set the discussion by giving a brief overview on the topic.

Krishna said the aim of the Licensing and Controlling of Places of Public Entertainment Act was to reduce the crime rate, but now the Act has been used indiscriminately.

The real issue, said many students, was not that people can't drink or party late, but that the ban was affecting people who work late nights. Bangalore has the maximum number of corporates and BPOs.

Moushmi said that there were other ways that the government can ensure a fall in the crime rates. She said the Mumbai Police had, successfully, taken stringent measures against drunken driving.

Some students added that one should do look at the good side of this ban because there are lot of people, especially senior citizens who are happy with it.

No specific conclusion could be reached at the end of the discussion.

By Swati Batra

Police reforms: On a slow track

A Model Police Act for the country had been drafted in 2006. The Supreme Court has sat five times since 2007 in a matter concerning reforms to the police system in the country. Yet, we continue to hear about police atrocities and inadequacies.

The police system in India was established at the time of the British by the Police Act of 1861. The Act, based on the draft prepared by the first Police Commissioner of 1860, had one aim—to enable British rule in India. Obviously it merits more than just a re-look.

The inaugural Amphi-adda session of the Class of 2009 discussed the need for police reforms.

The moderator, Hemant Gairola, set the ball rolling by giving a brief introduction about the topic. The discussion started with the students debating whether or not the recommendations made by Supreme Court (SC) regarding reforms in Indian Police would be effective.

Ayanesh cited the Nitish Katara murder case to insist that police reforms were essential. Politicians heavily influence the outcome of these high-profile investigation cases where their own interests are at stake, he said. Moushmi countered it to say that the police could anyway accept bribes from politicians. A change in the mindset of people is necessary before the police force is reformed, she said. Dilraz was of the opinion that changing people's mindsets was not a solution. Making the police force an autonomous body would actually make them more responsible, she said.

Some students said the SC directives would not be able to insulate the police force from political interference. Others said changes need to be introduced at the grass-root level, rather than at the administrative level to improve the service quality of Indian Police.

No definite conclusion could be reached at the end of the debate. There were a few who vocally advocated police reforms, while there were others who vehemently opposed it. Whether police reforms are necessary or not is a matter of debate. But then one has to question the relevance of the existing model that was created more than a century ago.

Anirban Sen and Konthoujam Sarda

OBC Reservations

The topic for the week’s Amphi Adda was OBC reservation in higher education. It started off with a discussion on whether there needs to be a reservation for OBC’s in the first place and whether it is making any difference to the society. Aditi Shah began by raising points on the need for quality education at primary levels for the upliftment of the poor, given what good 55 years of reservation and benefits for the backward community had brought them? Likewise, Charu Joneja raised arguments that OBC reservation only helped the prominent and dominant communities among them to come up in life whereas the people truly worthy of help have always been ignored. In agreement Subhasish Mohanty said that people from villages do not get equal opportunities and basic education like those living in the metros do. Likewise the pros and cons of reservation were discussed in terms of Article 15 and clause 5 of the Constitution which were presented by M Diwakar.

While Anna Isaac said states like Tamil Nadu already have 69% reservation, passing the bill would only worsen the problem of securing seats for the general category. However Debonish was of the opinion that the caste system has been prevalent in India for 3000 years and it cannot be abolished, the government should make primary education compulsory and provide more government schools with better facilities rather than try to perpetuate the quota system. Also Rajdeep Patnaik suggested that reservation should be provided on economic grounds rather than class and caste, as it is the only way to raise the educational levels and standards of the poor. Aditi added that incase reservation needs to be introduced it should be introduced in all sectors and should not be limited to education alone. The examples raised by her were reservation in the parliament, political parties and sports. Lastly, Mary Gayen summed up the issue on the thought that after 50 years of reservation, the government should now modify its policies on reservation and not repeat the same mistake over and over again.

Cola adds fizz to adda

Aug 25. - Braving the scorching sun of the afternoon, the batch of 2006-07 had their first Amphi-Adda, debating the Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola controversy in the contest of some states ordering a ban on the beverages. The discussion covered a range of topics, from the benefits of having multinational corporations (MNCs), their business practices, manufacturing processes, scientific details to ethical prefixes and suffixes.

Initiating the debate, Atul Ranjan held that the state governments themselves were to blame for attracting MNCs like the cola companies by handing over the land and setting or not setting conditions for the use of natural resources. M Diwakar espoused the cause of the common man, when he cited the case of ground water exploitation in Palakad (Kerala) by the Coca Cola company, which he said had cost the rice-growing district its name as the state’s rice bowl.

Debanish Achom threw in a new dimension to the discussion by questioning the creditability of the certificates issued by CSE and ISO. Vikas Pandey, backing that point said, that BIS set up in 1968 had yet to decide on a benchmark for acceptable pesticide level and that 60 per cent of farmers of a district in Punjab, surveyed by an NGO, had found high pesticide levels in blood despite not drinking any cola.

Mary Gayen interjected saying that the formulas and standards set by the MNCs for their products were uniform the world over, which Namita Singh countered by saying that it cannot be when colas under the same brand tasted differently in different places.

On what could be done, Monica Jha said that the water source of the cola plants can be treated by reverse osmosis to remove the pesticide content. But she added that it was not being done because the process would also remove some of essential minerals from water. Aditi Shah, who moderated the adda, said some of the crores of rupees spent on advertising could instead be spent on cleaning up the water and water sources for better water management.

Then Subhashish gave a different perspective altogether where he spoke about the true economic cost of investment by MNCs-taking into account actual employment, use of resources like water-would in reality make for negative rather than a much-touted postive gain.

Aditi summed up to bring an end to the debate which by show of hands had fewer people opposed to MNCs/cola companies and, if anything, the “undecided” probably counting a win.

‘Surrogate Mother and ethical-emotional issues involved in it’

IIJNM, March 17. ‘Surrogate Mother and ethical-emotional issues involved in it’ was the topic of discussion for the Amphi adda.

The discussion started with the legal aspects of surrogacy. Jaya Rao, moderator for the discussion clarified that there was no particular law protecting surrogacy in India. Some students were in favor of legalizing surrogacy and protecting it with laws and rules. Anusha, the new media student at the institute said, “The laws have to be reworked to adopt surrogacy.” Sobia was against the legalizing of surrogacy in India and defending herself she said, “Surrogacy shouldn’t be legalized, what if the mother (bearing mother) backs off and she may not give the child up?” Sophia said, “ If surrogacy was legalized, motherhood would become commercial.”

The discussion moved on to ethics of surrogacy as a practice. Some voices in the discussion labeled surrogacy a controversial topic and that evoked a response from Simran who said, “I think we all are presuming that these (surrogacy) are controversial issues.” Anusha said, “ I think it’s ethical, it’s generosity. It doesn’t bring down the status of women.”

The discussion moved on to the law of inheritance in India as surrogacy would have its implications on general rules of inheritance. Nimish Pratap Singh said, “Legal aspects of inheritance is another question.” The Indian Inheritance Law has limitations and many questions were raised regarding the ambiguities of the law. Kanchan Kaur, Assistant Dean said, “Does the law (inheritance law) have the space for it (surrogacy)?”

Jaya took the discussion to another level when she said, “ It (surrogacy) makes woman a weak bargainer.” This evoked many responses and Janani asked, “ Why is the feeling of maternity always associated with women?”

The discussion ended with Jaya winding up the points debated and highlighted during the dynamic debate.

Is Cloning Ethical?

The topic for the amphi-adda, on the December 2, 2005 was Is Cloning Ethical? It surely was a good exhibit of what we are taught in our 'Legal and Ethical' classes. Where on the one hand, Vaishnavi Ramakrishnan, one of the television students, felt that "cloning within limits" is acceptable, on the other, Jeanette Rodrigues felt that we should not be experimenting with all this till we have mastered it completely, since one of the cloning outcomes, Dolly the sheep, was unable to survive and died a painful death. Nishu Chaudhary, however chose to go further into the issue and categorised the concept of cloning into two, namely, ethnic cloning and biological cloning. Where the former she said was acceptable, since it dealt with replacing dead organs and parts, the latter she felt should not be tampered with. However, after the heated discussion over the matter, it was difficult to reach a consensus on what was morally right and what wasn't. Well, that is the ideal outcome to any rational debate. After all, in 'ethics' there is seldom a concrete answer.

If entertainment journalism could be considered as mainstream journalism?

The amphi adda was bustling with activity on November 4, 2005. The discussion was on 'If entertainment journalism could be considered as mainstream journalism?' The discussion opened with Ms.Kanchan Kaur raising the issue of how news has become superficial. She questioned the superiority of entertainment journalism over reports on disaster like Mumbai deluge. Further, the moderator Pavithra Ramaswamy asked the audience to take up the discussion of vernacular media giving more importance to mainstream journalism. But this point was refuted by Vaishnavi Ramakrishnan who said," Vernacular press, especially with reference to magazines like Kungumam, give more importance
to Pg 3".

The discussion also included stories that did not gain importance, though they ought to. Student Nishu Chaudhary spoke about entertainment journalism's indifference towards celebrities who had led a sad life without the entertainment industry's support. Janani Sampath substantiated this point by narrating an incident in which an actress committed suicide and how the media had not raised the issue at all.

Pavithra, who concluded that entertainment journalism, could be a part of journalism, wound up the discussion. But it would be unethical to call it mainstream journalism was the feeling of the majority.


The debate raged fierce when the topic was on single-parenting. The child’s point of view was discussed, with the formation of two antagonistic groups: one which claimed that single-parenting did not have any marked effect on the child, the other which stressed that single-parenting does indeed affect the child’s psyche.

“The child will grow up normally,” said Suhali, who evidently belonged to the former faction. However Nishant, a member of the latter, insisted that “the child will definitely feel that he lacks a parent.”

Inputs also filtered in from members of the faculty. Prof Nikhat Aslam, who heads the TV Dept., provided the students with incidents from her life. “My husband works in Mumbai,” she began, “and though he calls our kids very often, they still miss him. Special occasions are especially hard.” Ms Aslam’s assertion was backed by Vishank. “With just one parent, there will be a lack of attention towards the child,” Vishank stated.

Some students also made clear their belief that the qualities imbibed by the child through interactions with a father figure and mother figure are different. Thus, the substitution of another male/female presence in the child’s life in place of the father/mother would suffice.

Live-in-relationships (LIR)

“We are a hypocritical society,” said Pavithra Ramaswamy speaking at a debate on live -in- relationships (LIR) at the Indian Institute of Journalism’s amphi adda. Pavithra’s comment was unanimously agreed upon by a majority of students, who took part in the debate. Pavithra felt that our society lives in a ‘period’, a warped time gap. This does not allow it to understand the evolving neo-age, no-frills youngsters of today.

The topic of LIR, which seems to have become the favoured subject for most Bollywood directors, is one that is still not openly discussed, as Vishank Ahlawat, student of IIJNM stated, “Everyone has their personal liberty. To say whether live-in-relationships are good or bad is subjective.” However this did not deter the debate from questioning moralities and immoralities in life. Rahul Gosh, a student from Calcutta asked, who decides what’s moral or what’s immoral.

Professors shared their views on the subject as well. Professor Emeritus, Anand Sagar, brought to light the constitutional provisions of conjugal rights in LIR’s that can be claimed and enforced like in marriages. Herein the debate, questioned the institution of marriage with students and professors voicing their opinions.

As the debated mulled over all possible avenues to look at LIR’s, the twists and turns seemed incredible in a span of one-hour.

The outcome of the debate looked fractured from the outside, but the off-the-record skirmishes revealed the true picture. Students seemed to re-enforce Pavithra’s point of society being hypocritical point.

Should distortion of facts be permitted in period films?

This topic, discussed in the first amphi adda held by the new batch of students, raised a lot of dust and many questions, as well.

Janani Sampath set off the discussion with her statement that films like The Rising Mangal Panday exploited the fact that people didn't know much about Mangal Panday. She added that facts were distorted and diluted to commercialise the film.

The audience, comprising the students and faculty inadvertently split into two groups with one group criticising the distortion of historical facts in the films and the other justifying such distortions. Reacting to the statement by Janani, Prof Sagar retorted that The Rising Mangal Panday is a feature film and not a documentary where you restrict yourself to the facts.

Now the larger question rose as to who defines what is authentic. Prof Sagar said that history is nothing more than what historians write and no writer of history can tell the whole truth. He further added that a feature film is shaped by the director's perspective. The group that collectively criticised the film for not being true to history validated their point by saying that Mangal Panday was a rugged-looking big guy and not a good-looking small fellow like Amir Khan who plays him in the film. Panday did not visit a tawaif, as reportedly shown in the film, they said, but a married woman with whom he was madly in love! The group held that these factsought not to be distrorted.

Ravi responded that such films usually carry a disclaimer that all the persons and events depicted in it are fictional. He further said that most people watch a movie for entertainment and don't care whether the movie was factually right or wrong. Anusha reacted to this statement and asked, "if the movie is fictional then why use the name Mangal Panday?" According to her, the name hints that the movie depicts the factual story.

Rahul supported this argument with the contention that the movie based on the Shakespearean play Macbeth was called Maqbool. Prof. Kanchan Kaur countered the argument and said there is no law that says the name has to be changed for the movie. She added that sometimes the original name has to be retained for commercial reasons. "Who would be interested in a movie named Manish Panday?" she asked.

Based on the above arguments, Surabhi, the moderator of the adda helped us arrive at a conclusion that the mass audience doesn't really care whether the historical facts were tampered with or not, all they want is paisa vasool. As far as the directors are concerned they don't have anything like a Richter scale to tell them how much to deviate;the box office collections are their only measure.

A Child's World?

The amphi adda session, on the steps that lead to the most haunted place in IIJNM (read media lab) took off in the name of Antoine de Saint-Exupery's "The Little Prince." As many of them had read the book abiding by the amphi adda decision, they felt at ease. To start with here were 120 pages, replacing the usual 300- 400 count! Moreover, the book looked childish to most, but as the students read the book, they found the child in them tickling and giggling.

Bhargavi Kerur said that the book was a peep into a child's world and that the book pointed out the absurdities of life. Anand Sagar, the associate dean, added that adults tend to see the most obvious things only and that most of the characters in the book are whom we see in our real lives. The students went on to talk the creativity of the writer, who managed to keep a child's mindset and see the world through a child's eye.

Michael Moore's film Fahrenheit 9/11 was the next topic of discussion. Abhirr V.P felt that the movie was very biased, though it was successful in terms of creativity. Sriparna Chakaborthy seconded him and said that the blacked out frames with sound effects that indicated the blast, had a greater impact on the audience.

The team later went on to talk of the different movies banned in the country. The students dispersed after about an hour, returning to their adult life. Surely, however the child in them has woken up and is thinking of the little prince at some point.

Rashmi Balakrishnan

Reviving the discussions at Amphi adda

The Amphi adda came alive and resonated with heated discussions by the IIJNM students last week. The basis for the discussion were two articles: The Unchanging Face of Rural Poverty by Dr Abraham George and "Growth Reduced Poverty in India" an interview of Dr Surjeeth Bhalla, economist, in the Outlook magazine. The topics were discussed with great animation. The students participated with great enthusiasm and raised interesting questions. The highpoints of the discussion for the two topics are given below:

Who are the true beneficiaries of the relief programmes?

Students were of the opinion that the poverty alleviation programmes of the government benefit the administrators of the schemes more than the intended beneficiaries. This is one of the reasons for the perpetuation of poverty, mainly in rural India. What are the solutions? Should the government take off its hands and leave anti-poverty schemes for NGOs to administer. Are all the NGOs better than the government. These were some of the questions the IIJNM students debated in the amphi adda.

Who would you pick among the two: Efficient NGOs or accountable govt organizations?

The Government always goes by how much is allocated and spent, but what is relevant for poverty alleviation is how effectively money has been spent and how efficiently public services have been delivered. Since the latter has been ignored by the government, there has always been a mismatch between the money spent and the results on the ground. It is here that the role of NGOs becomes relevant. NGOs are a far superior alternative to government agencies in delivering services to the poor, observed Abhinav Patil. Don't NGOs tend to be corrupt too? They might. That's why there should be a proper mechanism to regulate their activities, said Dipti Jain. But, more regulation by the government means corruption again.

The debate then went on the the issue of the government's accountability to the people. Are not democratically elected agencies supposed to be more accountable to the people? If it is the government which is found to be wrong, the people have the option of voting it out. This option is not available to the people if the private agencies and NGOs are entrusted with the task of administering the welfare schemes. The government's accountability to the people is more of a theoretical concept than the reality. How many people even bother to cast their votes? questioned Smitha Sahay. That led to another question. Should the voting be made compulsory? Well, that is going to be the topic of the debate next week.

Cauvery comes to Amphi adda

The IIJNM students were in a mood for some heated discussion at the Amphi adda. The timing of the discussion on the Cauvery crisis could not have been better. As the Supreme Court heard the Contempt of Court case against the Karnataka Government, students of the IIJNM discussed the implications of the friction between the executive and the judiciary on India's federal polity and democratic governance.

State guilty of contempt of Supreme Court?

The Supreme Court held the Karnataka Government prima facie guilty of contempt of court for defying a directive to release Cauvery river water to the lower riparian state of Tamil Nadu. Karnataka pleaded inability to release the water on the ground that its reservoirs had no enough storage to save its own standing crops following the monsoon failure.

So, who is at fault? How can Karnataka release the water if there was no water or too little water in its reservoirs?

Was the Supreme Court right in giving such a directive and then hold Karnataka guilty of not implementing an "un-implementable" order. But then the Supreme Court had based its directive on the findings of an independent expert committee, which assessed the ground realities in both disputant states.

Abhinav Patil was quite emphatic. He said a democratically elected government could never defy the Supreme Court in Indian constitutional scheme. If the constitution, which is the basis for the government deriving its power and authority, itself were violated, it would lead to anarchy. It is not the question of having no water or little water, but that of sharing equitably the available water, he argued.

The possibility of a blood bath

There were dissenting voices, which supported Karnataka. How could Karnataka release water when its own standing crops were withering for want of water? Questioned Dipti Jain and Chinmayee Manjunath.

Karthik wanted to know if the nationalisation of inter-state rivers was a solution. India has been sharing water of the Indus with enemy Pakistan. The water of the Ganga is shared between India and Bangladesh. Yet, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are engaged in an unending feud over sharing the water of Cauvery river, which takes its birth in South Karnataka and joins the Bay Bengal after flowing eastward through Tamil Nadu.

Cauvery is an emotive issue in both states. Karnataka farmers have been on a violent agitation ever since the apex court gave its directive, and are threatening to intensify it if the directive is complied with. "The possibility of a blood bath" is another justification of Karnataka for not releasing the water.

"If the government cannot control the people, then it should quit," said Abhinav.

"Will resignation of the government solve problem"? Shot back Smitha, Smithi and Shreerekha.

The points and counterpoints generated a lot of heat. The debate was initiated by Aman Khanna and Hemali Chhapia.

Glimpses of life through narratives in cyber space

Under the blistering sun in late May, in the amphi adda, the students sit discussing various stories. Stories they have written so far and those that they would like to write in future. Now that the pressure of reporting and their weekly beats that took them all over the city has come to an end, they pause for a different kind of story.

A story that would hold human interest, that which would tell the struggle of every day living, a narrative that would focus on life as it is lived rather than life as it is projected in media. The focus of these stories is the use of narrative in cyber space instead of the usual emphasis on the 'news' value.

Essays, one act plays, verse and photo essay, audio clips and lots of hyperlinks is what they would be working on, they say. And they brain storm about the subject of their narrative. Characters are tossed about like salad in a bowl. Teachers, cooks, medicine men and farmers from neighboring village jostle for attention along with more urban types like models, flying officers and sports stars. There are no boundaries, the only criteria is that the tales be presented in new media.

Thus the new media project ' One Day in the Life of a …' (ODL for short) comes into existence. Deepa wants to write about a female trapped in the body of a man, Mekha has picked a wild animal caretaker for her subject. Swati portrays the life of an ex-model, Kumuda finds herself go in search of a fortune teller, Meera comes back with a talisman tied around her arm after interviewing a tantrik, Aishwarya wants to talk to the statues of Queen Mary and M.K. Gandhi.

Help, it's Imagination let loose on campus. Soon characters from real life and history will inhabit the net, connecting one more community to the World Wide Web.

The stories are edited and are in the developmental stage. As and when they are ready, we will provide the links, please visit us again.

The IIJNM Film Festival Review

October 12: This Friday, it was a discussion on journalism-based films screened at the last week's IIJNM film festival. The discussion started with a simple assessment of the films - All President's Men, Citizen Kane, The Insider, Truman Show and Blow Up - by Vinu Syriac. Taking the cue from Vinu, we tried to be at our critical best by giving our own views on what we liked and disliked about the movies.

Vinu's opinion was that in investigative journalism we may end up with no tangible results as seen in Blow Up. "It is an ongoing process, with no decisive conclusion." About Blow Up, Deepa R said we expected a narrative quality from our movies, and the events in our lives, and the mime at the end of the movie demonstrates just that. But can a journalist have his own assumptions or interpretations, asked Subhash Rai. Quoting film critic M K Raghavendra, he said that each person could interpret an idea the way he believed it right.

Vivek Gupta questioned the abuse of media power in the movie The Truman Show in which the protagonist Truman Burbank's life itself was a non-stop television show. Lakshmi Warrier said although Truman's life was controlled by the media to an extent, he was free to make a decision, which, in the end, he did.

Vijayalakxmi Hegde reacted by saying that we are "programmed" by the media, to "want" what they want us to. Many of us agreed on the point that the movies The Truman Show and Blow Up challenged our expectations and assumptions.

Blow Up was a journalistic movie because it evoked the curiosity of the audience, which is one of the things journalism must do, Tamara D'Mello said.

Vijayalaxmi spoke of the ethics involved in journalism, with regard to Blow Up. The idea of "objectivity" in journalism surfaced, but was quickly dismissed once everyone agreed that objectivity itself is subjective!

Vinu felt that a reporter is nothing without his contacts. As the movie The Insider demonstrated, in a world where the media is increasingly getting corporatised, an explosive story investigated by a reporter might go unpublished. Faced with such a situation, how would we react, Vinu asked. Deepa felt it would definitely affect a journalist's morale, while Mekha sounded philosophical by saying such compromises were part of life. Narayana tried to boost our morale by telling us how to serve the interest of both, our sources and our stories.

Kumudha H

Damn Big Dams!

Sept 28 - A dwindled weekend population could not keep the sparks from flying at today's adda session. The topic for discussion was "Big Dams- Boon or Bane?"

Moderator Aishwarya Subramanyam began the adda by explaining the topic in the present Indian context. Tamara D'Mello said large dams were wasteful. They caused "irreversible" damage, and usurped thousands of acres of land.

Swati Sengupta said that the problem lay not in the bigness of dams, but in their faulty planning and implementation. In the Narmada Valley, she said, traditional farmers had been compensated with rocky, barren land. Large, communal households had been broken up and bundled into concrete single-family units. Jacob Thotathil pointed out the resultant unemployment, rural- urban migration, and damage to biodiversity. Meera S gave the example of the Idukki dam in Kerala, which she said caused tremors in the Perriyar basin.

What if all the affected people were adequately compensated, asked Aishwarya. And didn't big dams help in the alleviation of draughts, Narayana A wanted to know.

Jacob answered them, saying that whatever the advantages, the monetary inputs that go into the making of a big dam had never been completely converted into irrigation and energy outputs. If anything, such projects helped only the politician- businessman- rich farmer nexus.

At this point, the adda veered and began to discuss the role of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA). Sugata S said he disliked the media hype surrounding the organization. Swati felt that the NBA was all talk and that it had never put forward a cheaper, traditional, and sustainable alternative plan

Narayana quickly refuted her, saying that the NBA had indeed proposed such alternatives to the government. And Jacob pointed out that had it not been for the extensive press coverage, the World Bank would probably not have backed out of investing in the project.

Vikram Gore concluded the discussion. He said that water management programs should be river and region specific and honest Cost Benefit studies needed to be carried out before commissioning expensive, big dams. Kumuda H spoke of the Lakkavalli Dam on the Tungabhadra, which she said was functioning wonderfully only because it had been planned with care.

Sugata started a side adda. He wanted to know why similar faces were leading all of India's well-known public movements, and why smaller, silent, but successful revolutions were not chronicled.

In reply to the first question, Aishwarya said that the urban people were probably too disinterested and that the rural people were possibly too busy surviving to take part in mass movements. Mekha John felt that the (foreign?) educated were more sensitized to social issues and therefore it was natural that they took a more proactive approach to such problems.

Answering the second question, Narayana blamed the press for its selective coverage.

Vivek Gupta provided the heading of the report.

Anil Kumar and Lakshmi congratulated the adda for its enthusiasm.

Swati Sengupta

Should Foreign Direct Investment be allowed in print?

Sept 7 - One of the most debatable issues of the current day is, "Should FDI be allowed in print?" Jacob Thotathil who was the moderator started the discussion by stating that FDI should be allowed in print as soon as possible.

Lincoln Roy reacted to this by raising the question as to whether it would be ethical if foreign editorials were allowed. He said "look towards USA for standards, Rupert Murdoch was asked to change citizenship. Here the issue is, should a foreign company own local media?"

Vikram Gore said, "as far as national security is concerned, there's no threat. People get more exposure and hence it is not a bad idea to allow FDI in print." Jacob agreed with Vikram.

Lincoln differed with them and asked whether we could have foreign teachers and raised the question "will it not affect the children?"

Aishwarya Subramanyam answered,"sometimes they have more knowledge and hence it is not a problem." At this point Vijayalakshmi Hegde asked whether we would have FDI in regional newspapers since they were already doing a good job as far as professionalism was concerned.

Vikram said it was not a bad idea since the regional language newspapers would get more funds. Vijayalakshmi did not agree that regional newspapers are starving of funds and stated that they pay more money to their reporters than national newspapers. Nobody agreed with Vijayalakshmi's assertion.

Lincoln supported Vijayalakshmi’s argument. He said, "Bengali newspapers pay more money than English news papers."

Subhash Rai did not agree with them and said it was not true. He also spoke about the McBride commission. He added, "We have to open up. There's no real choice. We have to go through the phase and keep our values grounded in reality. It is a tough fight."

"When foreign media entered broadcasting there was no hue and cry. But why for the print ?" asked Vijayalakshmi.

Jacob agreed, "For television we opened the doors. Now we object."

Vikram suggested that government should act like a regulatory body. Lincoln diagreed with Vikram and suggested that media could set up self-regulatory bodies. If there is a complaint it should be taken up and discussed in that body.

Subhash Rai added, "we need to ensure that as journalists we are true to our Indianess."

The adda session ended with Jacob's light-hearted remark "We want to see some foreigners around."

Meera S.

Saffronisation of Education: Good or bad?

August 31 - Lakshmi Warrier the moderator kicked off the adda session with the introduction of the new policies of the government, tilting towards saffronisation like the rewriting of history, introducing 'saraswati vandana' in the schools, introducing compulsory house keeping courses for girls, considering astrology as a science and to pursuing it as a graduation course.

Jacob Thotathil was the first to get triggered. He said it was time that we progressed spiritually and morally. "Give a new system a chance."

Prathibha Joy immediately reacting said that such new methods were hurting the religious sentiments. "How can you impose religion in a secular state?"

Jacob said, "So many Christian institutions expect students to sing 'Glory To The Father.' Even Hindu students are expected to participate."

Vinu Syriac making an important observation said that when 90% of marriages are arranged based on horoscopes then why not study astrology.

At this moment Subhash Rai made a strong statement "The issue is being trivialised. Why do you need astrology? We are trying to shift the goal post." He said that in a democracy the minority needs to be given confidence. When the majority starts imposing its will, it will lead to fascism.

The discussion took a different turn when Jacob said that Congress completely communalised vote banks.

"But the Congress is not communal but the BJP is a communal party”, said Subhash Rai.

Lakshmi, the moderator desperately tried to get reactions from the girls about making house keeping as a compulsory study for girls. But in vain.

Vijaya Lakshmi said, "If saffronisation is imposed one feels the rub. Education must not be about imposing."

"But McCauley system of education was imposed on us." Said Vikram Gore.

Jacob said, "Ayurveda is a rich system of medicine. We've denied our own roots."

Narayana said that just because a person stresses on the inherent strength of our culture one should not be construed as being with the BJP.

"When Ayodhya temple went down the whole country burned, you should not forget that", said Subhash Rai.

"No other country can touch India. Christianity is as old in India as it is in Israel. Saffronisation will prick people and they will realise that something must be done. We have a relatively free press. Let us create more spaces. Saffronisation induces somebody to question."

The adda session ended with doubts still lurking in the minds. Do we really need to saffronise education?

Deepa R

Product Placement in Movies

August 17 - Product placement in movies is not a new concept. To put it simply, it's "advertising in movies". In 1998, with the Hollywood release of You've Got Mail, Warner Bros. production came under attack for casting AOL in a supporting role. According to critics, the Internet Provider gets far too much screen time as the medium through which the two leads (Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan) meet and fall in love. Reports say that it was the largest product placement deal in silver screen history.

Bollywood has also caught up with this trend with Yaadein, a Mukta Arts Pvt. Ltd. production, which boasts of three product endorsements. The question we need to ask is: is it right for cinema to be run by advertising revenue?

Here's what our friends had to say:

"Advertisements are an intrusion in movies. The viewer is not ready for them. They are not justified," said Vijayalaxmi Hegde.

Sugata S felt that the movie was a product in itself. "How do we start critiquing a product within a product?" asked Sugata. To which Lincoln Roy replied, "the movie is a composite product . . . we cannot really complain about that . . ."

"In what way, it (advertising in movies) is different from advertising on an ordinary television program with the same star in a movie, advertising the same product?" asked Vinu Syriac.

Tamara D'Mello supported Vinu's view by saying that "advertising in movies'" was just another form of advertising.

During the course of the discussion, the focus, somewhat, shifted from the main topic. Sugata asked, "in an art movie, if you see Ganesha bidi, would you call it product placement?"

However, Swati Sengupta, reverting to the main topic, suggested that the products go with the lifestyle one aspires for. She said, "in Jerry Maguire, Cuba Gooding Jr. is shown wearing Nike shoes . . . which reflects on the lifestyle of Cuba Gooding."

Vinu again raised an important point. He said, "There was no product advertising in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (the movie), but suppose, Shahrukh Khan is wearing Nike shoes; Nike wouldn't have paid a single paisa (money) to him, but the people still wear Nike . . . does it (product advertising) work without paying a single paisa?"

"We didn't have much to agree on," said Lincoln.

Vivek Gupta

The hyped Indo-Pak Summit

August 10 - "Was the Indo-Pak Summit at Agra a failure?" was the question confronting the novice scribes at the first Amphi-adda. Initiating the debate, Vijayalaxmi Hegde as the moderator enquired: "The Lahore Summit, which was a major effort towards peace in the aftermath of Pokhran, amounted to nothing because of Kargil. The Agra Summit came after a period of stagnation in peace talks. Much was expected from it. So, in light of these expectations, do we consider the Summit a failure?"

"It was not a failure. Both countries were at loggerheads for quite some time. Agreeing to speak was a good sign. Just because one did not get the results one expected, it doesn't mean that it was a failure. They did try but did not get the results they expected. You can throw Pakistan out of the Common Wealth but you cannot throw them out of the neighbourhood! You have to talk to them", responded Deepa R. The ghost of the two-nation theory still haunts the hawks of Pakistan and the proponents of the ‘Hindu Rashtra’ in India. Dialogue and bonhomie often manifest a détente.

"But did we expect a solution there?" intervened Vijayalaxmi. Now, that was the bone of contention. Mekha Anna John tried to get real, "Everyone seemed to have high expectations from the Summit. The situation was so hypocritical that one hoped something would come out of it but one knew nothing would result. If you want to consider this Summit a success as some others seem to think then was the Lahore bus trip a success?" But Subhash Rai, tempered Mekha's assertion, "You have to realize that the BJP leadership on the Indian side and Musharraf on the Pakistani were hawkish and when they actually did talk – expectations went high."

Vikram Gore found a hidden agenda underlying the talks, "No one on both sides expected a result. Everyone knows that the Kashmir problem cannot be solved. And since India has other problems like the geopolitical situation in South Asia, India has to take care of many nations for example, Nepal. So we have to engage our main enemy Pakistan in some way. Prime Minister Vajpayee wanted to engage Pakistan economically."

However one could speculate on a parity of reasonable doubt that the talks hinged on a ploy to cover up shortcomings in internal affairs. Chitra Bonam wondered, "Was the whole idea of holding the Agra summit a ploy on the part of the two leaders to divert national attention from their own faults?"

There was the lone cynic who did not hesitate to call a spade a spade. "I think it was a failure", declared Tamara D'Mello with a tone of finality. "The objectives were not met in anyway. It was a nice public relations exercise – they talked about mangoes. But they did not have an agenda. So there was no reason for anyone to believe that anything would be solved!"


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