Isn’t easy to be a journalist

I work as a freelance journalist when I am in Leh. this break I was doing a story on rock climbing. While working on this story I was put in a position where I had to interview this guy and the only time both of us were free before he left for Delhi was on the evening of Eid. So, after working the whole day I started for the market where we were going to meet. I didn’t have a car, so I hopped on to the back of this pick-up truck. Got to the market walked a little more and met the guy in this small shady room where a bunch of people were watching the FIFA world cup 2018, drinking beer, while the guy beside me was rolling a joint.

Desperate to get out of the situation I asked the guy I was interviewing if we can go outside and do it.

He asked if I was in a hurry. I said “yes!” gotta get back home on time.

He asked me to come the next day, but I wasn’t free.

“Just mail me the questions and I will send you the answers,” he said

So, I had made my way all the up to the market at 8 pm in the cold night just to get turned down and walk back home in the dark.

Not easy being a journalist!

 

Advertisements

Impact of climate change on insect distribution and population in Mussoorie: Evidence from a qualitative study of Bibio Proximus Brunetti and Culex mosquito.

On 3rd October 2017, I along with most of the other high Schoolers were going out towards the flagpole area for our snacks; but instead of cakes and cocoa drink saw were welcomed a swarm of scary black bugs with long suspended legs at the front. going out in the open was unthinkable as they were so many of them around that they could easily get into your mouth. I was later told that these bugs recently have been showing up at this time of the year. however, they were never seen 5-6 years ago. My initial response to this was that it was a sign of climate change.  

The world is waking up to the reality of global warming. Due to decades of relentless burning of fossil fuels, the atmosphere today chokes with greenhouses gases which trap heat from the sun and make the planet warmer(Global). While a warming planet according to some people is good as people like John Stossel believe “cold kills more people than heat” (Stossel), in reality, impacts of a warming planet are much broader. Some of the impacts of climate change are more destructive hurricanes, melting of polar ice, “severe drought in some areas” etc(Global). Impacts of climate change are not just confined to natural disasters as with the changing climate a lot of system set in nature are also changing. One such impact is the change in distribution and population of insects.

In the Greater Himalayan region in India studies by Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment have found that temperature has risen by 0.87ºC while as in the Karakoram Himalayan region temperature rise over the last 25 years has been measured to be 0.56ºC(Negi). These are not very big numbers but its impact on the climate of the Himalayan region are not very subtle. Studied impacts of temperature increase in the Himalayas are increase in rainfall and decrease in snowfall(Negi).

Since there is not much data on temperature trend for Mussoorie it can be extrapolated from the above data on Himalayan regions that temperature is increasing in Mussoorie as Mussoorie is a part of the Himalayan region. An evidence to support this would be, change in precipitation patterns in Barkot, Uttarakhand; approximately 41 km away from Mussoorie. The study attributed this change to temperature increase(Ahmad). Also, a study done by CEDAR showed 78% residents think climate of Mussoorie has changed in the last 20 years and 100% of the permanent resident of Mussoorie said that they have felt that “winters and summers have become warmer in last 20 years”.

Picture1.png

Continue reading “Impact of climate change on insect distribution and population in Mussoorie: Evidence from a qualitative study of Bibio Proximus Brunetti and Culex mosquito.”

Analysis of “This is America”

I was left clueless when I first watched Childish Gambino’s “this is America” I was left clueless by all the weird things going on in the video and the lyrics that I couldn’t understand. But I was sure that it had very deep meanings hidden in the video which I had heard about. So I decided to watch the video three more times. First time only looking at Gambino, second time looking at the background and third time looking at the subtitles. It was amazing to see how much these different layers of the same video contained and how they all complimented each other.

First of all Gambino’s expressions and unusual moves are a novelty in pop culture and kind of fun to watch. If you think the same then he has been successful in achieving what he wanted. The reason why they have Gambino doing these moves in the foreground is to distract the viewer from what’s happening in the background. This shows how people have been blinded by pop culture. One more thing we see in the foreground is that Gambino changes his expressions a lot; from happily dancing to coming to a stop, to shooting a choir of black people and moving on. Gambino moves from being childish and playful to putting a blank face and then being serious after shooting the choir. Gambino also performs moves from popular songs to signify pop culture.

While the things happening in the foreground are pleasing, the background is full of chaos. With people running after each other, Police chasing people and face- covered horsemen. This chaos signifies all that is happening in America which the people ignore due to the pop culture.

The lyrics are one of the most important parts of “this is America”, though while I couldn’t really figure out the meaning of most of the things said in the songs. Some of the things that I found really interesting was Gambino’s use of parallelism. Throughout the song, he uses the lines like: “look what I’m whippin’ up”, “look how I am geekin’ out” etc. While the meaning of the lines have a little connection to Gambino’s moves in the video the bigger purpose these serve is to act as an audio cue to keep the viewer looking at Gambino ignoring what’s happening in the background. The song also has a lot of lyrics casually thrown around here and there which have much deeper meaning. For example, in the song, there is a part where Gambino says “this is a celly, it’s a tool” during which in the video he makes a gesture of holding a phone while the camera pans to a group of children in school uniform staring into their phones. One interpretation of this part is that he is trying to say that cellphone is a “tool” used to keep the people distracted. Another interpretation could be made using his choice of using the word celly for smartphone. The word “celly” also creates an image of cell or prison and from what’s happening in the video it could be interpreted that he is trying to say that smartphone is a tool to captivate people.

180508-childish-gambino-this-is-america-dance-2-ew-613p_cc7acabe6dbf3ebf2853dec80d8c9984.focal-1000x500

Photo credits: NBC News

Why I am not a bad writer V 2.0

 

One meaning of art for me is that it is a form of expression and any medium I can use to purely express myself I an art for me. One such medium that for me is writing. Now writing is a very broad skill, even a life skill and the form of writing I am talking about is just writing in the form of creative expression; where you’re not bounded by rules of grammar, structure and expectations for quality.

I started writing in middle school. Writing for me at that time was writing speeches for morning assemblies. It was a really big thing for me and I used to put a lot of effort into the speeches I wrote. I later also went on to writing and giving speeches in big events and also in front of the whole school sometimes. This is where writing for me was almost an academic thing where it had to have good grammar, structural constraints and it had to sound good. Where I discovered the creative form of writing was outside school.

While in Ladakh I came across this creative writing workshop organised by an arts and media organisation. I didn’t know what creative writing was, I didn’t where this organisation was I just jumped in. it was a completely new experience for me. I was overwhelmed by the idea that I could write an essay about the view outside the window have the narration takes hundreds twists and turns and still be appreciated by people. The workshop coordinators saw this excitement and to further encourage me offered a space for an article in their magazine. That article was the first in numerous other articles that I wrote for that magazine. This gave me the confidence to call myself a writer.

Having written a lot of articles for that magazine most of which got me a lot of appreciation from readers made me feel proud of myself. I would introduce myself as a writer boast about my articles and readily take up any offer for writing. I thought I could take up any kind of writing. The Dunning Kruger effect hit me.

However, things changed after I joined Woodstock. I joined Woodstock calling myself a writer as a result of which I took the hardest English course and was immediately struck by the fact that I was a “bad writer”. I couldn’t do well in my essays, my grades plummeted and I was left utterly confused about what had happened. It took me sometime to realise the reason for this downfall. All this time I was writing extemporaneously I would think of no structure or organisation of ideas and dive straight into it. Here I was taught by the teacher to write down my ideas structure and then start writing. This is what hindered my writing as now I was confining my ideas into these small boxes of topic sentences I created which I was strictly following sub consciously.

 

 

 

Bad effects of the internet on education

In today’s world, where so many media are being replaced by the internet, education has not been left behind as schools around the world are replacing whiteboards and chalks in class by projectors and notebooks and textbooks by laptops and Ipads, to aid usage of the internet in teaching. This is helpful to students and educators as it increases the accessibility to education and also makes it easier to teach and understand complex concepts. However, this has a bad effect on the students because of the inherited bad effects to the brain by the internet.

The world has surely benefitted from the internet in the sense that the internet has increased the accessibility of education. In today’s world a computer connected to the internet is all one needs to obtain an education. Another benefit of the internet, in general, is that the internet has made it easier for teachers to explain difficult concepts as it provides the tools to visualize what is being taught. For example, to help students understand the working of a motor, the teacher now can present an audio-visual representation of the working of a motor to his class by just tapping a few buttons on their device. Internet was integrated into education with the goal of making better students.

Standardized tests are one of the criterion to measure student performance in academics. Introduction of the internet in the past decade was a revolutionary change and it was expected to bring a big change in student performance in standardized tests. Sadly, standardized results over the years say otherwise. For example, PSAT scores in US from 1999 to 2008 didn’t increase at all, despite the fact that this was the time when net use in homes and schools were increasing dramatically. Rather, scores dropped in different sections of the tests by points ranging from points of 0.4 to 3.4 (Carr). This is evidence that the introduction of digital education is not bearing the results we expected. However, the internet cannot be exclusively blamed for these results as there are a number of different factors involved too. Other ways in which the internet is indirectly affecting our learning can be pointed out by exploring what the internet usage does to our brain. Continue reading “Bad effects of the internet on education”

Why I am not a bad writer!

I started writing a long time ago when I used to write speeches from my assembly. These speeches were not always the best and my writing too wasn’t too good. But one day while I was in Moravian mission school my teacher Ms Barbara asked me who reads books and I raised my hand and then she asked if I write and considering my speeches as writing I said yes I do. So she reluctantly asked me to go with to LAMO for a writing workshop. I didn’t know what LAMO was at that time, for me it was some colony or something. Anyways LAMO turned out to be this old building on the way to the Leh Palace. The building itself was very beautiful and as the workshop started the people also seemed to be very good. I instantly fell in love with the place. In the hour or two long workshop, the coordinators really helped me explore writing and my creativity. I also had the opportunity of sharing who I was and what I do. I felt appreciated at this place as these people showed interest in what I do, they appreciated my ideas.

One idea that I had right there after the editor of the Stawa magazine told me about the possibility of us writing for his magazine was that I could write an article about the difference in studying in Srinagar vs studying in Leh. Editor, Sunetro received the idea very well and further gave me guidance for working on it while people at LAMO offered me their space to come and write at peace. I really liked the idea and I was very excited so I went to LAMO the very next day with a friend of mine whom I later had a huge crush on for a long time. I planned out what I was going to write and started writing. But after two-three days it got really boring and I gave up. During those times I had really good conversations with Isaac and I started loving to go to the library at LAMO often. One day I met Sunetro at LAMO and he asked me about the article. I told him that I gave up. He was cool about it and instead of giving me a lecture as I expected he told me he didn’t want a very refined piece he said all he wanted me to do was to put all my ideas on paper and we could later work on refining it. this really encouraged me and the same day I went back home, sat down for 5 hours and completed the article-much to my surprise.

I called him after completing the article and the very next day we met at LAMO, discussed the article, made some changes and we were good to go. after going back and forth on the article 9 times, the article was published in the Stawa magazine. I was so immensely happy to see it. Having my name on the pages of a magazine was a very big thing for me. My family and friends all congratulated me and encouraged me to write more and I did start writing more as I wrote another article for Stawa on sports, two short stories and piece on stray dogs. I started calling myself a writer.

Few years down the line I had made my name as a writer in my hometown Leh. apart from articles that I wrote voluntarily I even started to get commissioned by Stawa and other publications in Leh to write for them. I was even doing photo essays for Stawa.

Thinking of myself as an accomplished writer I once did a workshop with for Lamdon school-one of the biggest schools of Leh- on creative writing. This went very well I got an amazing response from the students who were actually older than me and senior to me in terms of grade. I didn’t tell them that until the workshop was over and they were shocked to know that.

Not just that I later on even did a proper writing and photography workshop to engage people of Ladakh in something new. Organising the workshop was harder than I expected but I still somehow got it done. In the workshop, I was supposed to be one doing some of the teachings and mentoring but I learned much more than I taught and I really had a really good enriching experience.

So above is the reason why I thought I was a good writer before I came to Woodstock. Woodstock kind of squeezed all my confidence in writing. I don’t know how but it did. I just can’t write anymore. The act of writing makes me feel ….something because of which I end of wasting all my time procrastinating. This sounds ironic as I just wrote a very long piece–872 words and counting. but the reality is that I am myself surprised I wrote this much.

Analysis of media bias in coverage of climate related natural disasters

 

On August 20, 2010, I had a good night’s sleep while the other 17 members of my family were wide awake scared to their core, running here and there with anxiety. I woke up in the morning and was told that it had rained heavily the whole night and there was a massive flash flood in my hometown. I straight up refused to believe at first. How could I? My hometown, Leh, is a cold desert, the annual rainfall is 4.02 inches, which means it hardly ever rains in Leh and a calamity like a flood is unheard of. That night, rainfall peaked 150mm/h (2010 Ladakh floods, Wikipedia) which is double the annual rainfall of Ladakh in one hour.

This is our world with climate change/global warming caused by the collective actions of mankind, we are seeing its effects in the changing pattern of natural disasters. Natural disasters are occurring in areas least expected, while the usual natural disasters are getting more intense. To better prepare for these changes, we need to make changes in our customs, lifestyle and most importantly our attitude towards climate change. Media is a very important tool that can drive this change, however, what we see in today’s media industry is that the media coverage of climate-related is distorted due media companies’ bias for and against climate change which leaves the public in a confusion about the reality of climate change.

Some media companies in the industry keep high the banner of climate change denial. Such media is called conservative media. Some prominent conservative media companies are Breitbart, Fox News and Wall street journal. Their stories often misinterpret scientific data, use unreliable sources and shower baseless arguments against climate change. Natural disasters in today’s time act as a harbinger of disasters we are going to see if climate change is not contained. However, its effects on people’s consensus about climate change are muffled by biased stories from conservative media. For example, Breitbart journalist James Delingpole in response to the hurricane Harvey activity writes, “This has nothing whatsoever to do with ‘climate change.’ Hurricane activity has been decreasing NOT increasing in recent years” (Delingpole), even when the fact can’t be denied that it is the second largest natural disaster striking the US in the last 5 years (Bragg). Baseless argument in conservative media stories read like “cold kills more people than heat” (Stossel) which is a baseless argument as the author is talking about the issue in the earlier context of global warming which now has become a much broader issue of climate change which is not just about the climate warming up but a change in the world’s climate as whole. Conservative media companies use unreliable sources to in to try prove their climate change denial for example Delingpole in his article “Hurricane Harvey Had Nothing Whatsoever to Do with ‘Climate Change” he shows a lot of trust in a person called ‘Paul Homewood’ saying “Here, with the evidence, is the trusty Paul Homewood” (Delingpole, 2017). Paul Homewood is a blogger on WordPress ‘not a lot of people know that’. The Great white con recently ran an article “Not A Lot of People Know How Paul Homewood Propagates Fake News” (Hunt). Their biased stories might not be appealing to a huge audience as readership of conservative media companies like Wall Street Journal is heavily comprised of wealthy and powerful men. Yet, it does have a negative impact on the public consensus on climate change.

The flipside of the natural disaster coverage is heavy towards climate change as except for a few media companies like Fox News, Breitbart and Wall Street Journal, most of the other media companies accept climate change. In these cases, natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey are considered as signs of worsening climate change. These media companies are often called the liberal media. For example, in an article in CNN with the title “Yes, climate change made Harvey and Irma worse” Wayne Drash starts with “The right time to talk climate change is now” (Drash). The article goes on to talk about how climate change can be attributed to increasing the intensity of recent hurricanes like Harvey and Irma. The arguments made in the article are backed with scientific evidence from organisations like Climate central and NASA. It is observable that the media companies advocating for climate change are influenced by science as a research conducted by IOP Science says that 97% of the scientist accept that climate change is real (Cook). In case of Hurricane Harvey Drash in his article relating Harvey to climate change says:

But the science is this: Hurricanes thrive over warm water and strengthen in intensity; oceans have warmed on an average 1 to 3 degrees Fahrenheit over the past century, and sea levels have risen about 7 inches during that time. Throw in compound flooding — the combination of rising sea levels from global warming, storm surge and extreme rainfall — and you have the perfect mix for record flooding. (Drash)

The difference in coverage of the two major sides of the media company leaves the public in a state of confusion a largely affects public consensus on climate change which is very important given the severity of the issue. According to a survey conducted by Pew research centre, only 42 % of Americans believe that climate change is responsible in increasing the severity of climate change (Funk) while as scientists from credible institutions like Oxford accept it as a fact (McGrath). this is a decline in American public can be because of public’s loss of trust in media as 47 % US adults say that the media does a bad job at global climate change issues (Funk)

Climate change is the biggest problem of our century. Unlike other problems that humanity has faced the effects of climate change are slow and not very visible to the most of the population. In that case, ab normal natural disasters act as an alarm urging people to wake up to this truth that threatens our existence. Here the support of media is very crucial in order to tackle this situation as this climate change can’t be solved by a bunch of individuals but by the whole humanity as a whole.

Continue reading “Analysis of media bias in coverage of climate related natural disasters”

Analysis of Boukreev’s response to “Into Thin Air”

Boukreev is a veteran Himalayan climber with 20 years of high altitude climbing experience. Boukreev was a guide on the Fischer’s expedition team and having a climber of such calibre on the mountain on the summit day would have been a huge stress reliever for the clients and fellow guides alike. Contrary to that we see is that on 10 May, summit day for Rob Hall and Scott Fischer’s Anatoli makes a series of decision which raises questions to his role as a guide and his expertise as a veteran climber. Jon Krakauer points out these points in his book ‘Into thin air” in response to which Anatoli Boukreev writes an article trying to justify his actions on the mountain.  

Boukreev maintains a respectful tone throughout his response. He starts his responses with “Mr. Krakauer raised a question” which shows Boukreev’s business here is to clear his name of the allegations Krakauer puts on him and to not get into any further conflicts with Krakauer. Boukreev responds to every single point Krakauer raises against him. He even writes about Krakauer raising questions about him not dressing up adequately on the summit day. This point is never raised in the book. This shows his desperateness to defend himself from the accusations Krakauer puts on him.  

The arguments Anatoli Boukreev makes in his response are very weak a scarcely backed by evidence. The reason he gives for not wearing an oxygen mask during the climb raises questions about his expertise let alone give a sufficient evidence for his decision. For example, his reason for not using oxygen at the height Boukreev says that it is “safer” to do so. This shows his ignorance to the fact that “The harmful effects of hypoxia are cumulative; the longer you go without oxygen, the more deleterious the outcome” (Krakauer, 1996). This raises question against his “expertise” in high altitude climbing. Krakauer is not the most credible source because of his conflict with Boukreev but the book “into thin air” is considered as a fairly accurate book as Weinberg says in a clarification about his critique about “into thin air” “Though a small portion of the book has been challenged, none of the critics has proved factual errors” (Krakauer).  

Anatoli Boukreev’s desperate attempt to clear his name of the claims Krakauer makes is later responded by Krakauer. His arguments against Boukreev’s response is met with good evidence and strong argument. One very important thing he points out is that Toli never accepts to make a bad decision as if his experience was completely unmistakable.  

Bbliography: 

(Krakauer, 1996) Krakauer, Jon. “ Krakauer’s Response to Anatoli Boukreev.” Guides from the 1996 Everest Tragedy Exchange Their Views of the Deadly Climb in an Open Forum on The Mountain Zone, 24 Aug. 1996, http://www.mountainzone.com/climbing/fischer/letters.html. 

 

(Weinberg) Krakauer, Jon. Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Everest Disaster (Kindle Locations 3844-3845). Pan Macmillan. Kindle Edition. 

 

Is there happiness in the Dystopian World

Everyone wants to happy, we are all in a pursuit of happiness. It won’t be wrong to say that you surely need freedom to pursue happiness. The definition of happiness is different for different people-one size does not fit all-therefore it is necessary to have freedom in order to achieve happiness.

In the case of 1984, it is questionable if the people have freedom or not. According to party “freedom is slavery”. This from our perspective may seem very paradoxical but the people living in the dystopian world believe in this slogan and if we analyse this line. It says that being a slave to someone is real freedom. In that sense, people would consider themselves as free, all though they are not free in the real sense. Here It is important to analyse the meaning of freedom. Freedom is the absence of fear. In the case of 1984, there is no freedom of the people as they are constantly under surveillance and the consequence to the minutes of the crime here or there are very severe. All tough if we look at the case of Syme and Mr parson-a few people from the party written about in detail in the book- we see they are very happy even in the presence of these factors. In their case, they are very attached to the party and celebrate its glory, for them, there is nothing else to look forward to but the party. For example, Mr Parson when her own daughter got him arrested, for no fault of his, he still was happy that at least his daughter is on her way to become a good party member.

Again, if we look back at this case from our perspective we don’t see any scope of happiness for them while in the real sense they are really happy as for them the party is their life and they don’t have anything else to look forward to.

Food is peace

“Start with your food” Mr Satish Kumar answered to Khushi’s question to what role food played in building peace. This answer I thought was very abstract and idealistic I thought but as it started making more sense as he continued. Good nutritious and locally grown food is actually very important as first of all, you are what you eat, the food is related to your mood and finally where the food comes from is a very important question too.

“You are what you eat” Lindlahr published in 1942. This idea when it comes up seems very vague but when you think about it more you realise that it actually makes a lot of sense. Our bodies grow and the cells in our bodies keep replacing throughout our life and the building blocks for this comes from food. All the nutrients, vitamins and essential compounds your body needs to make these new cells all come from food. So the layer of skin over a pimple that formed on your face and the bad juice that is inside a pimple might have come from a snack of burger that you enjoyed some days ago. You see all you eat becomes a part of your body and the healthier you eat, the healthier your body is.

Food is related to the temperament of a population. It is observed that regions with spicy dishes as their staple food are more aggressive and violent than regions with milder spice content in their staple food. Take the example of north India and south India. The people living in northern Indian plains are more aggressive than south Indian people. An evidence of this hypothesis is that national media is always full of news about northern India while as south India is like Tibet of India where nothing bad happens. The lack of spice in their food prevents them from violence so effectively that they have to let out this urge in their movies.

In today’s day and age, the whole world wants to eat the same food. A 12-year-old child living in high up in Ladakh in the lap of Himalayas eats the same kind of pizza as an American halfway across the world. Here in Woodstock take the burden to import apples grown halfway across the world in the US neglecting our own varieties. The connection of this to peace in a community is that people when one family in a community starts to import food from abroad then all the other people in the society have to follow suit, it becomes a standard which is not always easy for everyone. When one family in that community is unable to match that standard the ties between the communities start to strain.

So, in the end, my point is that food surely is related to peace but I lack the wisdom and time to gain the wisdom to prove my point. So, I will ask you to please try to make sense out of all this.