Reinvention of Rejuvenation
Radha Prathi, Dec 14, 2015:

The best school that one can ever attend happens to be the school of life. We start learning right from the moment we are conceived in our mother’s womb. We learn from the environment, family and friends around us.

Then we are introduced to conventional learning in educational institutions. It is strange but true; most of us think that we are done with learning once we attain certain levels in structured education.

Only a negligible numberof people are open to learning the valuable lessons that life has to offer us. Among the few, there are only a handful of people who are ready
to face the facts of life and accept a sea change to takelife forward in a meaningful way.

The story of the original author of the Ramayana is one such interesting tale. It is said that Valmiki, who was known as Ratnakar or Prachetas, was a hunter with wayward ways. He did not hesitate to steal or kill from wayfarers in the forest.

One day when he accosted the illustrious seven sages known as the “Sapta Rishis,” they asked him the purpose of his atrocities. Ratnakar replied that he did it all for his family. The Rishis gave him a smug smile and asked him to verify his belief and also find out whether the latter’s family would share the responsibility for his misdeeds.

Ratnakar was confident about his kith and kin, nevertheless, he wanted to prove
to the Rishis that he enjoyed the love and support of his family.
He went along and met his people and asked them whether they would partake in the fruits of the sins perpetrated by him to sustain the family.

He was thunderstruck when his parents, wife and children told him that since they were not active participants in his crime, they would like to stay clear of the negative energy that emanated from his misdeeds. This unanticipated reaction set him thinking. He returned to the Rishis shamefacedly and confessed the day’s happenings. The pious men could sense his helplessness. They realised that the time was ripe to wreak a palpable change in his attitude and very character.

Accordingly, they instructed him the path of atonement. His involvement in the penance was so hard that an anthill grew around him.

In Sanskrit the term “Valmik” means termites, since he emerged from the termite hill, he came to be known as Valmiki and went on to write one of the greatest epics.

Man should refresh himself continuously and consciously by involving in the process of reinventing himself, lest he falls into the rut of life and carries on like a mindless zombie.

Greater Role for Visual Media?

S Radha Prathi Dec 16, 2015,

Have you noticed? Surely you must have noticed that pan India, the visual media organisations are all the same? This time it happens to be the Chennai floods! However, the scenario is uniform across all kinds of natural and manmade disasters.

Channel after channel prompt their camera persons to get a 360 degree view of the unfortunate incident. When the viewer flips channels, he or she is likely to find the same news story worded differently, in different languages, or different accents of the same language.

After all, how long can we expect a spokesperson to be creatively interesting in a scene of obvious tragedy? The comments on the visuals which begin with great gusto become redundant. The desperate attempt to rope in local opinions sometimes land flat on the face and at other times, technical lapses make up for the shortcomings of substance.

The army, navy and air force is roped in to help us out of dire straits during hopeless times.  Interestingly, most times no names are put on these benevolent faces or no accolades are heaped on their sincere efforts. They arrive like angels, sort out matters for the civilians and vanish into oblivion noiselessly, till such time they are wanted again.

The good works of the rescue operators ranging from the local Samaritan to self help groups, NGOs to government officials are captured frame after frame and recorded for posterity as history.

The scenes unfolded are also not very different. The political parties, their dominant leaders and the wannabe politicians jostle to hog limelight. They do not miss an opportunity to slander their mortal rivals. At such times one is disposed to think perhaps the visuals would roll out better if the blokes resorted to donkey’s praise. Perhaps, the ugly smog that veils their wily veneer can melt, if only for a while. It might also capture the attention and imagination of a juvenile viewer who may actually see a neta’s contribution during times of crisis.

The next patented feature of these news clippings happens to be the faces in the crowd who make it a point to crowd around the person facing the camera. Despite being deeply despondent about the disaster that has recently descended on them, they cannot hide their excitement about being on television. They eagerly watch the person speaking, mentally formulating their lines, just in case the microphone is stretched out to them. Then there are those a little far behind in the crowd who manage to stand on their toes and wave their placards or their hands, just to show that they also happen to be on the spot.

The news reel is played again and again as exclusive news, part of news and props for the debates and discussions that are based on them. Then of course, they are uploaded on every social network that is worth its salt. The remarks from thereon are sometimes used as launch pads for fresh debates. This process continues with waning tempo till another or greater new story begins to hit the headlines.

Stemming crisis
The idea of laying out these well known facts is to sound off the reader and the media about the validity of this vicious cycle. Don’t you think that the visual media has a greater role? Is it not enough if one or two or may be 10, considering that there are hundreds of channels across India to cover the news and share it with their brethren?

If the team sent by each channel extends a helping hand instead of wielding cameras or microphones or driving vehicles, would they have not contributed to stemming the crisis a wee bit?

If each channel wants to prove its distinctiveness, they could all come together and chart out diverse angles to the storyline and highlight the contributions of real life heroes. Such images can prove to be inspiring and educative and can have a lasting impact on the viewer.

Channels could do follow up stories on the measures taken and the changes wrought in the area of catastrophe to reassure the public that their taxes have been spent well.

Debaters could list out the root cause of the calamity and hand them over to the government. Then the channels can have a jolly good time nagging the local powers that be by flashing the arc lights on their in/actions. The bouquets and brickbats that come their way can prove to be entertaining and enlightening coverage.