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Sushant Singh Rajput’s Demise Yet Again Unveils Insensitive Side Of Media

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Sushant Singh Rajput's Showed Insensitive Side of Media Houses

The recent death of 34-year-old Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput, which has left everybody in a state of shock and grief, brings to light several issues. The most important one being the need for responsible journalism while dealing with sensitive incidents like suicide.

The actor, who was suffering from depression and undergoing treatment for it, had allegedly committed suicide in his apartment complex. His family, distraught over the news, have demanded a CBI investigation, suspecting murder. According to the post mortem report, released by the Bandra Police Station on June 15, stated that the reason for his death as ‘asphyxiation due to hanging’.

However, according to a Mumbai Police official, there was no suicide note found in the apartment.

Celebrities and Fans Express Condolences on Social Media

Many celebrities and politicians took to social media platforms like Twitter to express their sorrow and condolences over Sushant’s death. The list includes Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kerala’s Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

Colleagues from the industry like Shah Rukh Khan, Karan Johar, Mahesh Bhatt, Priyanka Chopra, and sports stars M.S. Dhoni, Shoab Malik, Sania Mirza expressed their grief as well.

The actor’s sudden death sparked several discussions on the issue of depression and the lack of importance given to mental health in the country.

Actress Deepika Padukone posted a message on Instagram, urging followers to communicate and reach out for help if they were facing issues. Director Mahesh Bhatt emphasized in his tweet how the society wasn’t equipped to deal with issues concerning mental health.

The incident also reiterates the discussion of Nepotism and how difficult it is for outsiders to make it big in the entertainment industry. Actress Kangana Ranaut who has been vocal about the issue several times in the past, posted a video on Instagram where she blamed this culture and implied that it might be a reason which urged the actor to take such a drastic step. She also states that he wasn’t mentally weak, talks about his Stanford scholarship, and how his films never got any acknowledgement, while films like Gully Boy got all the awards.

Indian Media faces flak for Irresponsible Reporting:

Media houses like Aaj Tak and ABP News received much criticism for their insensitive and borderline disrespectful reporting of Sushant’s death. Aaj Tak, one of the most popular news channels of the country, went as far as to use cheap puns to announce the actor’s death like “Sushant Zindagi ki pitch par hit-wicket Kaise Ho Gaye?” (How did Sushant get a hit-wicket in the pitch of life?) while channels like Zee news went with “Filmon ka Dhoni asal Zindagi mein out Kaise” (How did the Dhoni of the Film world ‘get out’ in real life?).

A reporter from ABP news was seen harassing the relatives of the actor by continuously asking them about the reasons behind his death, while they were visibly distraught by the whole incident. The channel also kept a watch outside the house of Sushant’s father, while he was unconscious inside. Channels like News Nation completely went overboard, by showing a picture of the actor’s body lying on his bed.

English news channels weren’t any different, though they were less impressive than their Hindi counterparts, with channels like Times Now reporting a combination of fake news and rash headline: “COVID + Depression claims life”.

Print media, usually considered the most authentic of the three media vehicles, didn’t pull through either. Respected publication Gujarat Samachar published the photo of the actors’ body on his bed, despite the Maharashtra cyber police’s warning that it was against legal guidelines and refused to accept they were in the wrong when questioned by the popular news website, News Laundry.

Grossly invasive, these incidents are proof of the kind of sensationalism that is preferred by news channels over responsible journalism and how capitalism is taking precedence over credibility in the media industry.

Many celebrities took Twitter to attacked these channels for being insensitive. Vikrant Massey bashed News Nation for their crass reporting stating they made him ‘sick in the gut’. Celebrities like Anushka Sharma, Nimrat Kaur, Farah Khan, Farhan Akhtar, and several others urged the Indian media to be respectful of the actor’s family and avoid ‘spinning stories and crass voyeurism’ while reporting such issues.

Guidelines to Report Sensitive Issues

International institutions like the World Health Organization (WHO) and national bodies like the Press Council of India (PCI) have specific guidelines when it comes to reporting incidents like suicide, while the media ignored many of which in reporting Sushant Singh Rajput’s death.

This emphasizes the need to be more mindful of the regulations issued and ensure that a news item does not violate any principles (legal or otherwise) to ensure responsible journalism is followed during such sensitive circumstances.

The guidelines issued by the Press Council of India while reporting suicides are:

“Newspapers and news agencies while reporting on suicide cases shall not:
1. Publish stories about suicide prominently and unduly repeat such stories
2. Use language which sensationalizes or normalizes suicide, or presents it as a constructive solution to problems.
3. Explicitly describe the method used
4. Provide details about the site/location
5. Use sensational headlines
6. Use photographs, video footage, or social media links.”

A quick look into the WHO’s instructions for Media Professionals reporting suicide:

  1. “Take the opportunity to educate the public about suicide.
  2. Avoid language which sensationalizes or normalizes suicide, or presents it as a solution to problems
  3. Avoid prominent placement and undue repetition of stories about suicide
  4. Avoid explicit description of the method used in a completed or attempted suicide
  5. Avoid providing detailed information about the site of a completed or attempted suicide
  6. Word headlines carefully
  7. Exercise caution in using photographs or video footage
  8. Take particular care in reporting celebrity suicides
  9. Show due consideration for people bereaved by suicide
  10. Provide information about where to seek help
  11. Recognize that media professionals themselves may be affected by stories about suicide.”

From these recommendations, it is clear that Indian Media has much to learn when it comes to reporting suicides, with the botched-up spectacles they’ve created of celebrity deaths. Taking into account be it the recent case of Sushant Singh Rajput or other instances of the past like the animated depictions displayed by TV channels during veteran actress Sridevi’s death, which was equally inconsiderate and poorly handled.

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All You Need To Know About National Institute Of Food Technology Entrepreneurship And Management Bill 2021

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National Institute Of Food Technology Entrepreneurship And Management Bill 2021

On July 26, 2021, Lok Sabha passed a bill under the ministry of Food Processing Industry. The bill is titled as National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, 2021. The main motive of this bill is to address issues with the Food Processing Industry, Entrepreneurship and one Institution for National Importance. With the passing of this bill, the Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology (IIFPT) and National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management (NIFTEM) is now merged as Institutions of National Importance, and it aims at providing various research and advancement in learning about the Food Industry and its associated branches. The bill was first introduced in the house in February 2019 but was pending due to protest by the opposition.

Significance of Institutions of National Importance (INI)

With the passing of this bill, the institutions enjoy greater autonomy through which they can carry out various courses, research attracting skilled faculties and students from all over the country and overseas. Good standards in education will be adopted to improve the present and future of education in this branch and sector, overcoming the technological gap in the country. This law aims to improve and introduce new changes in food, bio-nanotechnology, cold chain technology etc. The desired efforts will be taken in terms of human resources and infrastructure developments, labs for research etc. Liberty to open centres anywhere in India is also granted to INI and include courses regarding food technology certification and improving the workforce of the country.

Some other important features of this act are the Institution has been authorized with the Board of Government, Senate and other acting Authorities. The Council of Board will include 16 members from different branches from the same field. The Head will be Chairperson, who will be a skilled person from the Food Industry, the Director, Dean and Registrar. Members appointed from Centre and State Governments, Members from FSSAI and Council of Agriculture Research, as mentioned in the bill. The 16 members of the board will carry out work of taking administrative decisions, creating annual budgets and paths for institution progress as an organization, establishing departments, their appointment terms of services, faculties etc. The Board of Council also holds power to grant Honorary Degrees and Diplomas. The Senate shall be the principal academic body of the Institute, consisting of the people such as Director as the Chairperson; Registrar; Full-time skilled level Professor; and Three academically skilled Individuals nominated by the board from the field.

The Union Minister of Food Processing Industry, Mr Pashupati Kumar Paras, expressed his gratitude to PM Modi for this landmark step in this industry from his Twitter handle, indicating new opportunities in Food Technology Industries. Therefore, this Act looks promising on paper with new opportunities and in Educational Development. Amidst the Pegasus Spyware and repeal of the farm laws, this looks positive from the Modi Government.

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Fake News: Accountability Of News Organisations

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Fake News II News Aur Chai

Fake news is false news stories or hoaxes, which are deliberately released to misinform and to create chaos in society or among readers. Fake news is one of the main reasons behind the disruption of peace in society and it becomes more dangerous in volatile places. Fake news is generally shared with propaganda to mislead the audience by hiding or twisting the truth. However fake news isn’t new to the web, it recently became an enormous problem in today’s digital world. Fake news mostly comes from sites that are bogus or have sensationalized stories.

Most of the users do not check the facts before sharing the information on their social media, which can be a reason for widespread fake news. So, it is important to differentiate between fake news and authentic news to maintain harmony in society and to avoid false news and its repercussions.

Fake News Stories

  • On 2nd April, a team of doctors, health workers, and revenue officials were attacked by the family members of a 65-year-old man who died of COVID-19 in Indore, Madhya Pradesh because of the fake video which claimed that healthy Muslims were being injected with the virus, reiterating the risks and physical manifestations of misinformation.
  • On March 22, 2020, Mr. Modi’s new term ‘Janta curfew’ has sparked a buzz on the Internet. Social media users started interpreting PM Modi’s concept of ‘Janta curfew’ in their own ways. Social media was flooded with a certain ‘scientific explanation’ behind the curfew as to how it will break the chain of transmissions of the deadly coronavirus infection. The claim was found out to be misleading. PM Modi, while announcing the curfew, didn’t mention this particular ‘scientific’ logic behind it.
  • Rumours were circulated on WhatsApp groups about a kidnapping gang operating in India’s western state of Maharashtra in 2018. The rumors eventually cause a mob lynching, that killed five migrant workers because they were suspected of being kidnappers.
  • On November 13, 2016, when the government of India has demonetized Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes and planned to replace them with new Rs 500 and Rs 2000 notes, rumors were spreading about Rs 2000 notes. Rumors claimed the new higher denomination currency comes with a Nano-GPS chip which acts as a reflector, giving precise location coordinates of the currency to permit every note to be tracked. However, the RBI officials had dismissed these as false and said the new Rs 2000 note does not have a Nano-GPS chip as is being claimed on social media, WhatsApp.
  • In the pandemic situation, where vaccination has become crucial, in a series of viral videos it was seen that people are claiming that magnet was attracted to the arms of alleged COVID-19 vaccinated recipients. This kind of fake news can create misconceptions about vaccines and people may not take their jab of vaccines. The Centre has declined the claims that Covid-19 vaccines can make people ‘magnetic’. It has also dismissed theories about microchips in coronavirus vaccines.

Need of Accountability

False information on social media can cause huge problems. It is often done to influence political processes. Need for Accountability increases in such situations because the false information provided by certain news organizations can create a ruckus in society. Before publishing the news, it is necessary to check the facts.

If the news organizations, shared misinformation unintentionally they must remove the content right away and they should apologize to the readers. If fake news is spread with propaganda to create chaos in society, then the news organization should be punished under the law. The information must be checked before sharing it with other people.

 

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Curious Case Of Pegasus: Explained

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Pegasus II News Aur Chai

Pegasus is a spyware that can hack the victims’ mobile phones and read their SMS messages and emails. The Pegasus spyware is owned by an Israeli software company named NSO Group. According to the various reports, this company has targeted more than 50,000 phone numbers at the Global level, of which 300 are in India for surveillance.

The news broke out after the 17 media partners investigated. This investigation brought into the picture information about a leaked database of mobile telephone numbers of Indian Ministers, Opposition leaders, journalists, the legal community, business people, government officials, scientists, activists and many influential personalities of the nation.

Pegasus Spyware and India

According to the report by the agency, the Israeli company which sells Pegasus around the world says that its clients are confined to ‘vetted governments”, believed to number 36. The NSO Group also says that ‘the target list in India is not ours, never was.’ Their refusal of the leaked database has created a loophole in understanding this case.

This whole case has violated the integrity of democratic institutions. According to the report by the agencies, after the mobile phones of the opposition leader Rahul Gandhi and various other leaders were hacked under the Pegasus spyware surveillance. Multiple tweets were made against the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) government in India. This whole case has become one of the major threats in the political arena and the Indian Democracy.

Though at the start, it was used for national security purposes. The explosive expansion of surveillance technology vendors has become a vast human rights and a global security issue. If such surveillance technologies increase, it might cause a lot of problems to countries around the globe. Hence, as a precaution, all these countries need to work on regulating this technology.

According to the reports by the agency, one of the targeted phones by the Pegasus spyware was of the former election commissioner of India, Ashok Lavasa. Various such people and such opposition leaders were somehow against the BJP government having their phones hacked with the NSO-owned spyware. All these instances and the names in the leaked list have pointed figures towards the Modi Government.

The Modi government’s stand on this case was put forward in Lok Sabha by two serving ministers, Ashwini Vaishnaw and Prahlad Singh Patel. These two leaders were also featured in the leaked database. The recent Information Technology Minister, Ashwini Vaishnaw defended the BJP government in the parliament by saying, “the expose was an attempt to malign Indian democracy and its well-established institutions.” She even said, ‘any form of illegal surveillance is not possible with the checks and balances in our laws and robust institutions.’

This case has adjourned the parliament proceedings due to the protests inside and outside the house of parliament by the opposition party.

Pegasus Spyware and World.

 In the statement given to the agency, Access Now, an organisation defending the digital rights of global users, said it was outraged that products sold by NSO were allegedly “used to hack and invade the private communications” of thousands of people across the globe.

At a global level, France’s Emmanuel Macron was targeted in the Pegasus spyware case. As the phone of French President Emmanuel Macron was hacked, the investigation was carried out and later on was published which was directed by the Paris-based non-profit journalism group Forbidden.  After this case came in front of the whole world, the Pegasus spyware surveillance came into the picture.

If this continues for some more time, it will ruin India’s Democratic values at a global level. As well as this might become a huge technological threat between the different nations around the globe.

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