Jism 2, A trigger for cultural fascism #moralpolicing


 

 

Monobina Gupta , TOI
04 August 2012,

 

 Not so long ago, a young woman was molested in full public a gaze in the heart of Guwahati. Barely a month later, a moral vigilante group barged into a homestay party in Mangalore and roughed up the women. The political class and the authorities responded by walling themselves up in silence. Of course, they made the ritualistic tutting noises on primetime television talk shows. But are they always so loathe to speak their minds? Apparently not. The very same people in positions of authority issue cultural fiats in the blink of an eye. This is an age of social, cultural and patriarchal backlash. There’s an entire way of life, a whole range of desires, aesthetics and attitudes that are in the process of being tabooed: bare skin, short skirts, provocative films, ‘offensive’ posters, sexual orientations, partying, drinking, smoking, holding hands, kissing. Where’s the end to this cultural gangsterism? As modernity overwhelms us, we also seem to have become more barbaric in the way we express our disapproval and negotiate cultural and social spaces.

The newly released film Jism 2, directed by Pooja Bhatt happens to be the latest in a long series of such triggers. Describing Sunny Leone’s Jism 2 posters as ‘objectionable’, NCP MLA, Vidya Chavan petitioned the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Commissioner and Shiv Sena Mayor Sunil Prabhu to take the posters off. Rushing to do the bidding of NCP-Shiv Sena leaders, the general manager of the Mumbai electric supply and transport, removed the posters from bus stops. Its hard to ignore how on every occasion of such perceived ‘moral turpitude’, the usually inert and slothful authorities act with remarkable efficiency.

Recently, the West Bengal Board of Censorship banned posters of Hate Story, as “obscene and provocative”. One of the posters showed the actor Paoli Dam‘s bare back, later ingeniously blotted out with blue ink! Rightists, Leftists and the Centrists have covertly joined hands in their disastrous mission to ‘save’ Indian culture. With their direct and indirect support, Mumbai has witnessed the summary closure of hundreds of dance bars, throwing the women out of their jobs. Subsequent research has revealed the slow pauperization of the former bar dancers; many among them forced to return to the small towns they had tried to escape so hard.

One would have expected the National Commission for Women (NCW) to take the lead in protecting women’s rights. But here’s a sample of the organisation’s beliefs and actions. Reacting to the Magalore incident, Karnataka State Women’s Commission chairperson C Manjula reportedly said, “Home stay parties mislead young girls.” Why? Because in the perception of the NCW, the parties generate ‘suspicion about what’s going on’ “I will hold discussions with the university vice-chancellor and principals of colleges in the city to find solutions to the issue of protection of young women students,” she said. No less than the NCW chairperson Mamta Sharma herself has time and again made statements offensive to women. In the aftermath of the Guwahati molestation incident, Sharma said women should be “careful” about what they wear. Earlier in the context of eve teasing she has asked girls not to mind being called “sexy”.

What on earth is going on? Ironically, the Congress has never tired of slamming Anna Hazare for his ‘my way or the highway’ politics. But what about the ‘cultural highway’ that is being imposed on us every day? How long will this go uncontested? To quote Germaine Greer from Whole Woman: “It’s time to get angry again.”

 

 

Radioactive cesium found in Japan’s fish, seawater


Published: 05 August, 2012, 13:37

 Japanese women sort through freshly caught fish at the Hirakata fish market in Kitaibaraki, Ibaraki prefecture, south of the stricken Fukushima daiichi nuclear power plant number 1 on April 6, 2011 (AFP Photo / Toru Yamanaka)

Japanese women sort through freshly caught fish at the Hirakata fish market in Kitaibaraki, Ibaraki prefecture, south of the stricken Fukushima daiichi nuclear power plant number 1 on April 6, 2011 (AFP Photo / Toru Yamanaka)

TAGS: HealthNatural disastersNuclearProtest,Japan

 

Harmless traces of radioactive cesium have been discovered in fish and seawater in several areas of Japan, as the country debates whether fish is safe to consume continues and anti-nuke protests grow in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.

Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) stated that radioactive cesium, presumably from the crippled Fukushima I nuclear plant, was found in seawater and fish in several regions of the country, Russian news agency Itar-Tass reported from Tokyo.

The aquatic radiation was detected in central Japan (Shizuoka Prefecture), the western part of central Honshu (Niigata) and the country’s northeast (Iwate).

The concentrations of radioactive particles are very small, and pose no health risks to humans, MEXT said. The ministry believes that cesium may have traveled to the area in rainfall.

Radioactive cesium is a human-made radioactive isotope produced through the nuclear fission of the element cesium. It has a half-life of 30 years, making it extremely toxic.

Earlier this year, low levels of radioactive cesium were found in fish just off Japan’s east coast, which was believed to have originated from the Fukushima plant.

The Ministry continues to closely monitor and verify traces of radiation in seawater and fish following the 2011 nuclear disaster at the Fukushima-Daiichi complex.

How safe is Japan’s fish and seafood?

Many countries restricted their food imports from Japan in the wake of the catastrophe. India suspended food imports from Japan for three months in April 2011, fearing radioactive contamination. The EU imposed tighter radiation controls on its imports of food and animal feed from Japan.

The full extent of the spread of radioactive contamination in Japan remains unclear. The discovery of radioactive Japanese fish and seawater could further damage Japan’s flagging seafood industry.

Reports of contaminated seafood are worrisome for the country, since contaminated seawater and fish move in uncontrollable and untraceable paths.

Low levels of nuclear radiation from the Fukushima disaster were detected in bluefin tuna off the California coast in May of this year, suggesting that fish are carrying the contaminants across the Pacific Ocean faster than wind or water. US researchers carried out a study showing the tuna were responsible for transporting radionuclides from the 2011 Fukushima disaster across the entire North Pacific Ocean.

Many question whether fish from the Pacific Ocean and Japan’s coastal waters are safe to eat in the wake of the Fukushima disaster. Japanese officials and many scientists say they are, but the data on radiation levels in Japan’s fish stock tells a different story.

Radiation levels are high in many species that Japan has exported to Canada in recent years, such as cod, sole, halibut, landlocked kokanee, carp, trout and eel. And radiation levels in certain species are higher this year than in 2011, Vancouver’s Straight.com reports.

The highest levels of cesium in fish were detected in March, a year after the accident, when a landlocked masu salmon caught in a Japanese river was found to have 18,700 Becquerel of cesium per kilogram, or 187 times Japan’s legal limit for radiation in seafood. (A Becquerel is a unit of radioactivity equal in which one nucleus decays per second).

Tim Takaro, an associate professor at Simon Fraser University, now avoids eating fish from Japan: “I would find another source for fish if I thought it was from that area,” he told Straight.com. “There are way too many questions and not enough answers to say everything is fine.” Takaro is a member of the Canadian anti-nuclear group Physicians for Global Survival.

The Fukushima tragedy has shattered Japanese faith in the country’s decades-long reliance on nuclear energy, withseveral large anti-nuclear demonstrations taking place in the country in recent months.

Ex-flight attendant commits suicide, abetment case against Haryana minister


Published: Sunday, Aug 5, 2012, 14:51 IST
Place: New Delhi | Agency: PTIA 23-year-old former woman employee of now defunct MDLRairline allegedly committed suicide at her residence in Delhi and police on Sunday registered a case against a Haryanaminister, who was the owner of the airline, on charges of abetting the crime.Geetika Sharma, who quit Haryana Minister Gopal Kanda’s company recently, allegedly committed suicide at her Ashok Vihar residence in north-west Delhi residence on Saturday night, apparently depressed over continuing mental harassment allegedly by the minister, police said.

Kanda is the Minister of State for Home Affairs in the Haryana government.

“We have registered a case of abetment to suicide against Kanda andAruna Chaddha, a manager with Kanda’s firm,” P Karunakaran, Deputy Commissioner of Police (North-West), said.

Police received a call this morning about the alleged suicide, he said.

In her suicide note, Geetika had claimed that Kanda was torturing her mentally after she left her job in his company and was pressurising her to join his firm again.

“She has written about the Haryana Minister in the suicide note. It was written that they have broken her trust. They have cheated her. Due to these things, she was committing suicide,” the DCP said.

Kanda could not be contacted for his comments.

After the MDLR airline became non-operational where she was working as an air-hostess, she was made director in one of the subsidiary companies owned by Kanda. She quit the job recently.

“When the airline’s operation was suspended, Kanda offered her another job. She refused that offer and joined Emirates in Dubai. He then wrote a letter to Emirates making allegations against her character which lead to her termination,” Gaurav Sharma, Geetika’s brother, alleged.

“Kanda had told her that she has to work in his company only and that she could not work anywhere else. He used to spy on her and follow her. He used to call her and say that she cannot work anywhere else other than his company,” Gaurav alleged.

Gaurav claimed that his sister, in her suicide note, wrote that her colleagueArchana Chaddha and Kanda had breached her trust.

“I have believed these people, but they are not trustworthy. She has said that whatever has happened with her, it shouldn’t happen with anyone else. To save herself from these circumstances, she took this step,” Gaurav quoted from the note.

A senior police official said they were investigating the matter and will question the minister soon.

TN shocker! Dalits lead isolated lives in enclosed fence #castesystem #discrimination


A fence seperates the Dalit colony from the rest of the village

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Ganesh Nadar in Tuticorin, Rediff.com

A Hindu caste group has built a fence around a Dalit colony to prevent them from venturing onto their fields and using sanitation facilities. The reason: The SC community protested against their employers six years ago. Ganesh Nadar brings attention to the plight of 50 families from Velayuthapuram in Tamil Nadu‘s Tuticorin district

The road to Velayuthapuram is winding and in a very bad shape. The coastal village is far from the highway and few buses ply on this route.

Ponds that dot the road leading to Velayuthapuram are dry; the landscape is rocky. Clearly, there is little scope for agriculture. Borewells are deep and yet unyielding.

This village in the Kayathar Union of Tamil Nadu’s Tuticorin district has over 1,000 houses — most of them belong to the Rettiars, a class above the Dalits, and over 50 houses belong to the Scheduled Castes.

What comes as a shocker is that these 50 houses are enclosed in a barbed fence that separates it from other parts of Velayuthapuram. Cut off from the rest of the village, those in this colony lead isolated lives.

There is no road that connects to this part of the village and the situation has been the same for the last 30 years. The other part of Velayuthapuram has concrete roads.

The affluent Rettiars, who own all the agricultural land in Velayuthapuram, do not employ the Scheduled Castes. So they have to travel to other villages to find work. Most of them have found jobs in matchbox factories in Kovilpatti, which is 22 km away.

Even, the Rettiars employ labourers from neighbouring villages.

Even basic facilities like sanitation are not provided to them — all they have is a public toilet with no water in it. While this toilet is reserved for ladies even the men use it, as they dare not venture on to land belonging to the Retttiars.

There is a freshly painted tank with no water in it. The Dalits get water only two days a week.

Only one toiltet has been constructed for 50 families in the village and that too has been reserved for women

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Image: Only one toiltet has been constructed for 50 families in the village and that too has been reserved for women
Photographs: Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com
Most Dalits are reluctant to talk to the media. Hesitatingly they said, “The last time a woman from Delhi had come with her television camera. The day after the broadcast, the police visited the village and were inquiring about who spoke to her. The deputy superintendent of police from Kalugumalaiquestioned us for 30 minutes. Now, that you have come the police will be here back again.”And as the villagers have predicted, the police did visit them.However, Dalits were not always disconnected from the village. The barbed fence came up six years back.Recalls a SC youth, who requested anonymity, “We worked in the fields belonging to the Rettiars and if we did not we were beaten up. But the last generation, to which my father belongs, did not like working for the Rettiars. They were intolerant towards us, but could not hit back as we were outnumbered. So, we turned to the police.”

The cops filed cases under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and arrested 10 men belonging to the Rettiar community. They were booked under the Goondas Act, which meant they could not get bail for a year.

The Rettiars were agitated and decided to stop employing the Dalits and prevented them from entering their fields. They simply built a fence around the SC colony.

The road leading to the Dalit colony in Velayuthapuram

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Image: The road leading to the Dalit colony in Velayuthapuram
Photographs: Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com

The Dalits turned to the then collector for help. “The collector told us, ‘You are only 50 families and they are a thousand. The MLA and ministers support them, as they are a larger vote bank. You will have to live in the fence; you can’t do much’,” recalled a Dalit man.

The protest against the Rettiars fell through.

Since then the Dalits have been leading an oppressed life on the other side of the barbed wire. And since the land belongs to the Rettiars no action can be taken against them.

“Most of this land belongs to Radhakrishnan Rettiar. He belongs to the Communist Party of India and it’s shocking that he has encouraged our seclusion,” said people from the SC community.

However, Palani Rettiar, the president of the panchayat, blames the media.

“The media has blown everything out of proportion. We are living here in peace for six years and you have come to disturb it,” he told rediff.com.

When asked about the lopsided development of the village where the Dalits did not even have access to road or water, “I am ready to consider their demand when I get the required funds.”

But he was mum on why the fence was built. “Six years back, I was working elsewhere, I really don’t know what happened here. But the barbed wires have been put up by individual farmers to protect their fields. The panchayat has got nothing to do with it,” said Palani Rettiar.

“The Dalits have voted for me and I will look after them. But I cannot do anything about the barbed wire as it is on private land.”

The coast isn’t clear- Clash of Cultures #Mangalore #Moralpolicing #VAW


 

VU George, 61, remembers the precise day he arrived in Mangalore from Kochi as a nervous teenager: June 6, 1970. “It was raining heavily,” says the publisher and editor of Mangalore Today, a 17-year-old local monthly magazine. His elder brother, an engineer working in Mangalore, didn’t turn up at the station as he’d promised.

The platform cleared out and George, who knew only Malayalam and some broken English, stood there alone. A woman in her mid-40s approached him and asked him where he wanted to go. He showed her a piece of paper with his brother’s address. Even though it was out of the way, she dropped him off. “I decided to stay in Mangalore forever,” says George. “It was like heaven.”

He emphasises the word ‘was’.

For years, Mangalore has enjoyed the reputation of being an idyllic student town, with a history of religious tolerance and a balance of Indian and European influences, the latter remnants of Portuguese colonisation between 1526 and 1640. An educational hub known for its engineering and medical institutions, it has a literacy rate of 94.03%, according to the 2011 census. The city’s colleges and IT companies, such as Infosys, attract youngsters from all over the country.

“Eight years ago, boys and girls could be seen sitting together in and around parked cars on New Year’s Eve till 3 am,” says Joy Lasrado, 27, a management graduate. “No one bothered us.” The city shuts down by 9 pm, but its thriving though small nightlife — mostly pubs playing rock and electronic music — goes on till midnight.

Over the past five years, roughly coinciding with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coming to power in Karnataka, this atmosphere has rapidly changed, say locals.

In 2009, activists of Sri Ram Sene, a right-wing Hindu group, attacked women in a pub. A week ago, activists claiming to represent a similar organisation, the Hindu Jagarana Vedike, attacked youngsters partying at a resort just outside the city.

This incident has inflamed the city, revealing a growing tension between right-wing Hindu groups and a multicultural Westernised youth. Pressured by public outrage, on Sunday, a day after the incident, the police filed an FIR against 28 people, including Naveen Soorinje, the journalist who shot the horrifying video, and have so far made 23 arrests. On Monday, the All College Students Union of Mangalore University called for a college bandh, protesting against the incident. On Wednesday, C Manjula, chairperson of the Karnataka State Commission for Women, blamed the police for inaction against illegal homestays running without proper licences, such as the one in which the incident took place. She also suggested that women obtain police permission before attending such parties.

The Vedike denies it planned the attack, but admits that some of its members were involved. “On the pretext of parties, girls are lured to homestays, where illegal activities take place,” says Satyajit Surathkal, convenor of Vedike in the south. “Eight boys and five girls, all between the ages of 18 and 22, partied with alcohol in a bungalow with three bedrooms. What do you think is going to happen? Do I need to spell it out?”

The police say they found no drugs on the premises and that all the youngsters were of the state’s legal drinking age, 18. Two of the victims, Gurudath Kamath, a 24-year-old event organiser, and Vijay Kumar, a 23-year-old DJ, have come forward and spoken about their ordeal, but the young women are unwilling to file any FI Rs.

They did not answer their mobile phones when HT called them. “We have been trying to get them to speak about the incident openly, but they’re too scared,” says Kamath. “We were doing nothing wrong or illegal. If they register complaints, we will have a stronger case.”

Clash of cultures
Since the BJP came into power in the state in 2008, Hindutva activists have been stirring up trouble in many ways, says Mangalore Today’s George.

“Mangalore is a hardcore RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) place,” he says. “Not a leaf flies in this town without its knowledge.”

Besides the attacks on youngsters, some celebrate the anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition, December 6, as Vijayotsava, on Car Street in the heart of the city by making inflammatory speeches, and the police don’t do anything, he says. “They impose a section 144 order (prohibiting public gatherings) across the city. Are these programmes not a violation of this?” he asks.

Subhas Chandra, assistant commissioner of police, denies that such events take place. “We clamp down on pujas and other events being held on December 6,” he said.

Students at St Agnes, a reputable girls’ college, say they are regularly stared at and even threatened by Hindutva activists, who regularly warn them against hanging out with boys of other faiths.

TR Jagannath, assistant commissioner of police, Mangalore (south), says extremist elements from both Hindu and Muslim communities cause problems. “This period, between Ramzan and Dussehra, tends to be very volatile,” he says.

But there appears to be a growing mistrust of the police. On Monday, when the students of St Agnes attempted to protest against Saturday’s incident, the police took videos of the girls who were protesting, said several students, who wished to remain anonymous. “A senior police official threatened to present the video in court as evidence of us flouting a curfew ,” said one student. Asked Sister Prem D’Souza, principal of St Agnes College: “Are we supposed to ask the police for protection or are we supposed to fear them?”

The police deny the students’ allegations. “The videos were being taken by the media,” said Subhas Chandra, assistant commissioner of police. “We were merely telling the students to stay within the college premises and to not come out, because we had imposed a curfew. They were within their rights to protest within the premises, not outside.”

The police had imposed a curfew in certain parts of the city on Sunday, which they lifted only on Thursday evening.

For their part, Mangalore’s youngsters are fed up with rising moral policing. After the latest incident, the youth, particularly the women, say they feel uneasy about having a social life. “I was supposed to go for a friend’s farewell party this week, but we’ve cancelled it,” says Liane Noronha, a 21-year-old college student.

Sister D’Souza says that, over the past week, she has been receiving several calls from worried parents when their daughters don’t return home within an hour of classes ending.

“It used to be a lovely place for young people,” says George. “I will continue to stay here, but I don’t blame today’s youth for wanting to leave.”

 

Athletes don’t wear heels-Women at #Olympics are shaking off pressure to be feminine


 

BY THE AMERICAN PROSPECT

Athletes don't wear heelsA beach volleyball match at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Monday in London. (AP)

This article originally appeared on The American Prospect.

Athleticism in women has generated social unease going back at least as far as the Greek myth of Atalanta, the princess who refused to marry a man who couldn’t beat her in a footrace and was finally conquered by a “hero” who beats her by cheating. Women in sports flout the feminine not only by being competitive, but by using their bodies for an end other than sex and child-bearing.
The American Prospect
Since they first started competing in 1900, female Olympians have faced pressure to relieve sexist anxieties by turning up the girliness, even if doing so hurts their performance. In the past, the need to distinguish female from male athletes—and thus preserve their femininity—has led the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to enforce silly uniform requirements like bikinis for beach volleyball and skirts for tennis.

Social ideals about femininity have also guided which female sports get the most attention: It tends to be those that highlight beauty and grace, such as gymnastics or figure skating. Note also that these sports tend to produce the pre-pubescent look, which has led to widespread eating disorders, such as the one that ended ice skater Jenny Kirk’s career. Pressure to be cute and tiny on gymnasts got so out of control that the Olympics finally set a minimum age requirement of 16.

This Olympics, however, feels like a step forward. Don’t get me wrong; there have been plenty of sexist incidents. Despite being one of the strongest women in the world, weightlifter Sarah Robles had a hard time attracting sponsors because of her size. Australian swimmer Leisel Jones was shamed by the press for weighing 150 pounds (Michael Phelps in his fighting-est form only weighed 30 pounds more). Despite these incidents, female athletes have felt free to shake off sexist expectations during this year’s games—and they’re getting surprisingly little blowback for it.

The change is apparent from the top. This year, beach volleyball players have the option of wearing more clothes than the regulation bikini required in the past (which has led to players wearing long-sleeved shirts to stave off the London chill), and the IOC struck down proposed rules that would have mandated skirts for female badminton and boxing competitors. This was also the first year that every country participating has female athletes on their teams, challenging notions of what women are capable of even in some of the most conservative countries on earth.

But the shift is most visible in the way that female athletes conduct themselves in public. Male athletics has always been a zone for bad-boy behavior; outside of requirements that athletes show good sportsmanship on the field, male athletes have plenty of room to be aggressive, party hard, and even to display a lack of humility that would be more off-putting if they weren’t as great as they say they are. From hockey players brawling to Derek Jeter’s womanizing and Muhammed Ali’s braggadocio—it’s hard to imagine what men’s sports would even look like without a hefty share of roughness, pride, and, of course, partying.

Now, more women are embracing the same bad-boy attitude; it’s become alright to be a tomboy. Hope Solo, the keeper for the U.S. women’s soccer team, has a reputation for being a loudmouth, which she’s earned with stunts like running down fellow soccer player Brandi Chastain on Twitter for criticizing the team’s defensive strategy. In a highly circulated story about all the partying that goes on in the Olympic Village, Solo openly bragged about sexual conquests, saying, “I may have snuck a celebrity back to my room without anybody knowing, and snuck him back out.” The press has for the most part reported this straightforwardly, without a hint of the hand-wringing that accompanied other incidents of female athletes acting like their male counterparts—remember the wall-to-wall tut-tutting Chastain received for stripping off her jersey at the 1999 World Cup?

Solo is in good company. Megan Rapinoe, who was one of the stand-out players during the last World Cup, officially came out as a lesbian this year. The news coverage of this has been perfunctory to the point that one might forget that coming out was unthinkable even a few years back—and still is to a large degree for male athletes. The team captain Abby Wambach identifies as straight, but she’s not particularly interested in being girly, either. After getting punched in the face by Colombia’s Lady Andrade, Wambach tweeted pictures of her shiner, complete with jokes mocking how unladylike it is: “#reverseeyesmoke #notcool.”

Women aren’t just playing rough; they’re owning their bodies, shaking off the pressure to attend to their attractiveness before their athleticism. Zoe Smith, a weightlifter from Great Britain, decided to go online and let her critics know that she didn’t “give a toss” if they think strong, muscular women are unfeminine and unattractive, adding that she preferred to be with men who were open-minded about female strength. Another weightlifter, 350-pound Holley Mangold, smacked down Conan O’Brien’s mockery of her weight and strength by tweeting, “#dontactlikeyournotimpressed.” He should be; she’s only been training since 2008 and now she’s in the Olympics.

Even if the media wanted to maintain an image of the demure, petite female Olympian, the women themselves clearly won’t be having it. For no other reason than pure competition, women from all sorts of backgrounds have been redefining what’s acceptable.


Read more of The American Prospect at http://www.prospect.org.

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer and journalist. She’s published two books and blogs regularly at Pandagon, RH Reality Check and Slate’s Double X

 

Draconian ‘Wi-Fi police’ stalk #LondonOlympicGames


 

August 3, 2012,Asher Moses,Technology Editor

All unauthorised Wi-Fi networks including smartphone hotspots are banned from Olympic venues.All unauthorised Wi-Fi networks including smartphone hotspots are banned from Olympic venues. Photo: Sadao Turner Esq

You’ve probably heard of the overzealous Olympic Games “brand police” harassing old ladies making Olympic cakes and other shop owners getting into the Olympic spirit, but how about the “Wi-Fi police”?

The Olympics brand is the second most valuable brand in the world at $US45 billion.

Sponsors pay tens of millions of pounds to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for exclusive rights to spruik their wares around London and beyond, and the IOC will stop at nothing to protect those revenue streams.

BT is the “official communications services provider” for the Olympics and has 1500 Wi-Fi hotspots at Olympic sites, with prices starting from £5.99 for 90 minutes. It’s the largest single Wi-Fi venue installation in Britain, according to BT.

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To protect this lucrative deal – and presumably minimise any potential technical interference – LOCOG, the London Olympics organising committee, has banned “personal/private wireless access points and 3G hubs” from Olympic venues.

Want to create a wireless hotspot on your smartphone so you can get online on your laptop or tablet in between matches? That’s prohibited, as are portable Wi-Fi hotspot devices.

Sadao Turner Esq, director of new media for TV personality Ryan Seacrest’s production company, tweeted a photo of the “Olympics Wi-Fi police” that are charged with seeking out unauthorised Wi-Fi hotspots with big red detectors.

The absurdities don’t end there. According to Britain’s Daily Telegraph, Fish and chip stalls have been advised they are not allowed to serve chips on their own without fish as McDonald’s is the official chip maker of the Games. The Independent reported that the ban on chips extended to 800 retailers at the 40 Olympic venues.

Hundreds of uniformed Olympics officers have been patrolling London enforcing the multimillion-dollar marketing deals signed with companies such as Visa, Proctor & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Adidas, McDonald’s and BP.

Only official sponsors who have paid a certain amount of money are permitted to use Olympic Games trademarks in their advertising.

Under laws specifically passed for the London Games, the brand army has rights to enter shops and business premises and bring courts actions and fines up to £20,000.

Words such as “Olympic”, “gold”, “silver”, “bronze”, “sponsors”, “summer” and “London” have been banned from business advertisements so as not to give the impression they are connected to the Olympics. Even pubs can’t have signs displaying brands of beer that are not official sponsors.

LOCOG has previously said that the sponsor rights were acquired by companies for millions of pounds and this helped support the staging of the games. It said people who sought the same benefits for free by “engaging in ambush marketing or producing counterfeit goods” were effectively depriving the games of revenue.

From a public relations perspective, this hasn’t played well with Londoners, who could breach the legislation simply by getting into the spirit of the games. Residents have also missed out on tickets only to see rows of empty seats in sections reserved for sponsors.

Today they are reading rumours that just 15 Games organisers spent $70,000 on lunch.

To see why Olympics organisers go to such lengths to protect sponsors you only have to follow the money. The Olympics brand is the second most valuable brand in the world at $US45 billion, according to a study by consultants Brand Finance.

Apple is the only brand ahead of it, worth $US70 billion. Both maintain this value by going after anyone they perceive to be using their trademarks.

The Olympics brand has increased in value by 87 per cent since the Beijing Games, largely off the back of a rise in broadcast rights – deals which punters complain are also preventing them from fully enjoying the Games. Ticketholders have also been told not to post photos or videos of matches to social networking sites.

Matthew Gain, digital director of public relations agency Edelman, said there was a “fine line that needs to be tread” between the commercial realities and the ability of consumers to enjoy the Games.

The Olympics are expensive to run and sponsors provide a chunk of the cash, so they expect that competitors won’t be able to get the same or similar benefits for free.

“However at the same time you don’t want to protect that investment so much that you piss off everyone,” he said.

“You’ve got to keep sensible about it and you’ve got to remember that the moment that you as a brand by protecting your own brand start inhibiting consumer choice and consumer behaviour … then that’s when you start risking impacting and affecting your brand.”

So have organisers gone too far in this instance? “Some of the protection of the stuff in the UK where you’ve seen the local cake shop being told that they need to stop displaying the Olympic rings cake that they’ve made and put in the window is perhaps a little bit too far,” said Gain.

“I think if it’s a mum and dad business that’s not really benefiting from the Olympics but getting into the Olympic spirit … that’s probably where you’ve gone a little bit too far.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/technology/technology-news/draconian-wifi-police-stalk-olympic-games-20120803-23jdc.html#ixzz22erBpcpB

 

Ringing in change – Haryana’s Olympics #LondonOlympics #Sundayreading


Haryana‘s Olympics

Siddharth Saxena and Ajay Sura | August 4, 2012

Gagan Narang‘s bronze medal – India‘s only London Olympic podium finish at the time of writing – has sent everyone back home into a tizzy. As congratulatory messages poured in, Ajay Maken, India’s proactive Sports Minister offered Narang a post in the Sports Authority of India, equivalent to an IAS-rank. The Hyderabad-based Narang also got a bonanza from an unlikely source. Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda promptly dished out Rs 1 crore from his state kitty to the shooter. The CM lost no time in staking claim on the portly Narang and his achievement once it was pointed out that Narang’s grandparents belong to a village called Shimla, Gulshan in Haryana’s Panipat district. Narang was even born there. The block – Baboli – was promptly identified. Reason enough. On that train of thought, the Hooda administration may well be focusing on the other Hyderabadi with a medal hope this Olympics.

Shuttler Saina Nehwal bowed out to world No 1 Yihan Wang of China in the fight for a place in the women’s singles final. The no-nonsense 22-year-old has always claimed she belongs to the Deccan city having grown up and learnt her craft there. But Hooda will be more interested in the fact that she was born into a Jat family to the most mild-mannered of parents in Dhindar in Haryana’s Hisar district.

Narang and Nehwal aside, our current Olympic contingent’s Haryana connection is a strong one. Nearly 20 of the 81 Indian athletes in London are from Haryana or have roots in Haryana. The tiny state has the largest representation of all Indian states at the Olympics. Nearly 60 per cent of India’s medals at the Commonwealth Games in the Capital two years ago came from Haryana’s sportsmen – or players as they are called in their local lingo. Haryana, alongside its dark and forbidding avatar as perceived by the country, is actually proving to be a wonderful nursery for Indian sports. The landlocked, primarily agricultural – and vegetarian – state is throwing up winners by the dozen.

Narang and Nehwal’s may not be obvious but there’s no ambiguity on the Haryana identity of the others. Bhiwani boy Vijender Singh squeezed out a single-point win over US boxer Terrel Gausha to be one win away from a certain medal, and more largesse from the Hooda kitty.

The handsome son of a Haryana Roadways driver, Vijender is Haryana’s poster-boy, unapologetic about his strong local twang and proud to sport it whenever he gets a public forum. Vijender effortlessly plugs Haryana in the national eye, not just in his boxing, but also by his confident and easy-going posturing.

Many accuse Hooda of trying to gain political mileage, piggybacking on Haryana sportsmen in an election year. Others, however, claim there is a genuine sports lover behind the politician and understanding the nation-building attributes of sport, he has drawn up ambitious long-reaching state-run programmes (See The State of Sports).

Haryana is an intriguing paradox. The story of the Bhiwani Boxing Club has been well-documented over the past four years. But it is the rise of strong-willed women athletes that may have the potential to create an impact in a society where the khap panchayat writ seems to hold greater sway than the law of the land. In a state with horrific female foeticide levels, successful women athletes possibly can swing perceptions where no amount of awareness, counselling or ‘development’ can.

Of course, there still are groups of elders who continue to frown upon women taking up sport (see box). But the emergence of towering personalities like Krishna Poonia, a discus thrower with a mean arm, a judoka-first in Garima Chaudhary, Geeta Phogat, the first Indian woman wrestler at the Olympics, is pushing limits: there’s hope that things could be looking up for Haryana’s women.

It’s not been easy for the fathers of these girls who fought against the odds to train their daughters. Maha Singh, Krishna’s father, recounts how he faced the wrath of his family as well as his village’s chiefs when his daughter practised on the village road in tight sports slacks. In Agroha, a nondescript village in Hisar district, Maha Singh lost his wife when Krishna was just nine, but he raised her without bothering about what people said. “Today I am being called by these khaps along with my daughter to honour us. Certainly the glory and glamour attached to sports has changed the entire perception, ” he says.
Says local woman activist Ritu Jaglan: “Earlier, a girl was thought just a matter of honour. The outside world was not for them as parents had a lot of apprehensions about their security. Now, all that is changing. “

Ritu, a pioneering 26-year-old English graduate from Kurukshetra University, who took on the task of training women to speak up at khap panchayats, feels sport can help change the mindset towards women. “Most importantly, girls are increasingly realising their own importance in society. That is the most crucial transformation. People too are realising that women can do well, ” she says.

Take the case of Gyanna Devi. The sprightly 82-year-old – Geeta Phoghat’s grandmother – today is chuffed that her granddaughter is in a foreign country competing against the best in the world. In a lighter vein, she also claims to have imparted wrestling tips to Geeta before she left for London, but it was an entirely different story a decade ago. “When Babita was born, she slapped her forehead and exclaimed, ‘Lo, ek aur aa gayee’, ” says a Phogat family insider. That Babita, like Geeta, went on to win a Commonwealth Games gold medal in Delhi two years ago scarcely hides the fact that their father, Mahaveer, first fought battles of equality with his own mother before he could muster the courage to take on the villagers.

In those two years, since the CWG medals, there has been a rise in khap-related crimes. These may be unrelated, but you cannot ignore the ironic coincidence.

“These khaps exist, these social decision-making groups have been in our society for generations now. Even I follow them. If, among a group of five men, one commits a mistake, we sit him down and explain that what he’s doing is wrong. Hum aisa koi kaam na karen ki mere khap ki badnaami ho, ya mere kaam ki badnaami ho, ” says Mahaveer.

Then he adds: “I have arranged a match for Geeta, but if our plans are to participate in the next Olympics too (Rio 2016), marriage can wait. “

GO PLAY, GET A JOB
There is another simpler reason for the greater acceptance of sports: It helps you get a job. Take the case of talented teenaged boxer Sumit Sangwan, unlucky to bow out in the first round in London, due to some dodgy refereeing. The idea to take up boxing came when the family in Sekhpura Sohna realised that they could not afford to raise two sons on the produce of their land alone. An enterprising uncle recognised a latent spark in Sumit and took him to a boxing academy in Delhi. Older brother Amit had to forgo his nascent boxing dreams. There was room and money for only one. While they still till the land, parents Surender and Anita realise there’s a better opportunity in the making.
But let’s hear it from the spunkiest daughter of Haryana. “Bhai, main poori tarah se Haryana ki hoon, ” announces Karnam Malleswari. Originally from a coastal village near Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, Malleswari married into a Jat family in 1999. In Sydney 2000, the lifter won bronze, to date India’s only woman Olympic medallist.

“The promise of jobs for sportsmen by the Haryana government is a great incentive, ” says Malleswari. “They must be lauded for inculcating a sporting culture in the state. You can see small stadiums sprouting all across the state. Coaches are being employed either in short-term capacities or a permanent basis, ” she points out.

“The idea that sports can be a source of livelihood is a great motivator. And that is also helping change mindsets towards sports in Haryana too. Parents are beginning to understand this, ” she says.
But Malleswari didn’t have to face any opposition from her parents in Andhra when she began. “We never had such a culture where our parents thought of our interest in a sport as awkward or as something which brought dishonour. “

Malleswari’s Olympic bronze medal at the turn of the century, in fact, went a long way in changing the mindset towards women in sports. “There has been a sea-change in the sports culture in the country on the whole, ” she says.

Whether the rise of sportswomen in Haryana is helping change the attitude of the state’s men towards them is still a matter of debate. “I am in no position to explain what really happens in the rural interiors of Haryana, but I feel kaafi awareness aa gayi hai, ” Malleswari says, adding “Itna bhed-bhav nahi hai. “

Earlier the main worry of parents was who would marry their daughters who wrestled or lifted barbells. Today, like Geeta Phogat’s mother proudly says, ‘ab toh ladkon ki line lag jayegi’.

(With inputs from Sukhbir Siwach)

Fizzy tizzy: Bolivia walks back talk of Coca-Cola ban #Coke


Published: 03 August, 2012, 15:27
Coca-Cola sign in downtown La Paz, Bolivia (Reuters / Claudia Daut)

Coca-Cola sign in downtown La Paz, Bolivia (Reuters / Claudia Daut)

TAGS: HealthSouth AmericaPoliticsDrugs,AgricultureEconomy

 

Bolivian officials played down a recent pledge to ban Coca-Cola, saying the words were taken out of context. Their aim was to encourage locals to switch to a homemade peach soft drink instead of the famous American soda.

Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca said that December 21, 2012 – the day the Mayan lunar calendar enters a new cycle – “has to be the end of Coca-Cola, the end of selfishness, of division.”

“The planets will line up after 26,000 years. It is the end of capitalism and the beginning of communitarianism,” he said. International media ran his words, claiming the country planned to expel one of the world largest soft drink manufacturers.

But Choquehuanca actually meant that December 21 “ought to be the end of Coca Cola, and the beginning of Mocochinci,” a local drink made from dried peaches, said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Consuelo Ponce.

US weekly magazine Forbes suggested that the alleged ban on Coca-Cola comes at time when Bolivia is pledging to legalize the consumption of coca leaves, alleged to be one of the main ingredients in the soft drink’s secret formula.

The sale of the native coca leaf is big business in Bolivia, accounting for 2% of the country’s GDP (approximately $270 million annually), and representing 14% of all agricultural sales, Forbes reported.

The UN declared the leaves illegal under the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, along with cocaine, opium and morphine. Since 2009, Bolivia has consistently called for change to the ruling. The consumption of coca leaves is a centuries-old tradition in South America, strongly rooted in the beliefs of various indigenous groups.

The Bolivian legislature recently approved a Bill of Complaint filed by President Evo Morales’ administration to withdraw Bolivia from the convention over its prohibitions against the personal use, consumption, possession and cultivation of the coca leaf.

In support of the bill, the Bolivian government cited Article 384 of the 2008 Bolivian Constitution, which obligates preserving the use of the coca leaf as part of Bolivia’s ancestral heritage, and rejects the designation of coca in its natural state as a narcotic.

President Morales defended the traditional practice of chewing coca leaves at a UN meeting on narcotics in March, and urged the body to reconsider its 1961 decision.

West Bengal school principal accused of drugging, molesting students in hostel #VAW #WTFnews


 

, TNN | Aug 5, 2012, 12.48AM IST

West Bengal school principal accused of drugging, molesting students in hostel
A Bengal school principal-cum-warden has been accused of drugging and molesting students on the pretext of giving them medicines.

MALDA: The principal-cum-warden of a residential school in Kaliachak has been accused of drugging and molesting students on the pretext of giving them medicines. Though many students have been allegedly victimized for years, it came to light when the father of a Class IX girl lodged a complaint against the principal,Najib Ali, last Friday.

Ali, who is an influential Trinamool leader, has gone into hiding. It is the latest in a string of crimes in Bengal schools, from a girl being stripped in a co-ed classroom to another being forced to lick her own urine in hostel.

SS Point Residential School of Nazirpur has been running for 10 years and around 100 girls stay in a hostel adjoining the campus. Though only three have officially complained, many more have alleged that Ali, who lived near the school, regularly misbehaved with them.

A few days back, when a Class IX student fell ill, Ali was summoned to the hostel. Instead of giving her medicines, he allegedly drugged the student to make her unconscious and then molested her, says the FIR.

On Friday evening, the girl’s father went to meet her at the hostel and found her unusually quiet. It took a lot of coaxing to get her to speak, says the father. “When my daughter told me about her experience. I was too shocked to react. I rushed to the principal’s room. But he denied the charges and said it was a conspiracy to defame him. Then the other students also narrated their ordeal,” he said.

The victim’s father went to Kaliachak police station late on Friday night and lodged a complaint against Ali. Soon other guardians and villagers joined him and demanded that Ali be arrested. “We could never imagine that the students were put through such torture. The girls kept quiet because they were scared of their future,” said another guardian.

With Ali being a Trinamool leader, the allegation caused the party much embarrassment. The party’s district president, social welfare minister Sabitri Mitra, said: “The police have to arrest the accused teacher without considering his political affiliation.” She even blamed police inaction for the rise in crime against women in the district.

Malda SP Jayanta Pal said that Kaliachak police raided Ali’s house but he was not found. Police teams are out looking for him.The victim’s father went to Kaliachak police station late on Friday night and lodged a complaint against Ali. Soon other guardians and villagers joined him and demanded that Ali be arrested. “We could never imagine that the students were put through such torture. The girls kept quiet because they were scared of their future,” said another guardian.

With Ali being a Trinamool leader, the allegation caused the party much embarrassment. The party’s district president, social welfare minister Sabitri Mitra, said: “The police have to arrest the accused teacher without considering his political affiliation.” She even blamed police inaction for the rise in crime against women in the district.

Malda SP Jayanta Pal said that Kaliachak police raided Ali’s house but he was not found. Police teams are out looking for him.