Lewd MMS Row: Banzee CEO arrested
The advent of new media technologies such as the Internet has shrunk our world considerably, with a click of the mouse, information can be disseminated almost instantaneously. Indeed, such laudable advancement in technology has made information easily accessible to all. However, much as useful information can be disseminated, so do sensational scenes and videos.
In India, a Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) depicting sex scenes of two students from Delhi Public School (DPS) was posted on an auction website Banzee.com in 2004, causing much furore among the public. The lewd scenes were shot on a mobile phone enabled with MMS. It was later copied into a VCD and sold in Delhi, purchased by Ravi Raj - a Kharagpur student then 23, and posted on Banzee.com.
Despite being informed of the MMS sexual content, the portal operators failed to take action and the content remains posted on the website. On December 17, CEO of auction website Baazee.com, Avnish Bajaj, was arrested by the police under Section 67 of the Information Technology Act along with other relevant Indian Penal Code sections for not taking due diligence on the matter. Police also arrested Ravi Raj for allegedly circulating the MMS.
The above example underscores how moral limits can be undefined in the world of the Internet, where anyone can ‘contaminate’ the Cyberspace with offensive content. Should such a selfish behaviour be tolerated in the virtual world, the consequences could be dire, as it might result in an uproar among unsatisfied netizens who are morally upright and conservative.
India’s Tech Renaissance
Globalization has made the world more interconnected than ever, as the saying goes, “No man is an island”. The advent of the Internet has been a key driving force to this interconnectedness and anyone or in fact any country unable to keep up with the technological advancements would be placed at a disadvantage.
In lieu of this, a little-known company called Novatium plans to offer a stripped-down home computer for about $70 or $75. Adding a monitor doubles the price to $150, but the company will offer used displays to keep the cost down. Novatium founder and board member Rajesh Jain, a local entrepreneur who sold the IndiaWorld portal for $115 million in cash in 2000, has started a host of companies since.
It is this kind of entrepreneurial thinking that has made Jain the latest visionary to seek out today's Holy Grail of home computing: a desktop that will start to bring the Internet to more than 5 billion people around the world who are not on it yet.
The first $100 computer is a fitting icon for a country undergoing major changes in the development of its technology, economy and society. As Indian companies increasingly break away from the limitations of handling outsourced services for Western corporations, innovations are likely to multiply and inspire the rising number of independently minded engineers and executives who are leading the country's technology industry to new frontiers.
Because of thriving exports and low PC penetration, India has become the epicenter for projects on the cutting edge of computing hardware. Advanced Micro Devices has started to sell its Personal Internet Communicator for $235, including monitor, through a broadband partner here. It says a fully equipped $100 personal computer in three years isn't out of the question.
The innovative spirit that pervades the industry is producing a variety of new approaches toward affordable computing. The technology renaissance in India would bring computers and internet accessibility to the poor in the years to come, allowing the digital gap between the have and the have-nots to be bridged.
E-Learning in India
E-learning or electronic learning in India is gaining prominence slowly, but indeed steadily. This is due to the fact that more than half the population of India today is below 25 years of age and the number of Internet users is growing continuously. The tremendous growth of the economy in the recent past has also helped in the growth of online education in India. E-learning in India is especially popular with the young professionals who have joined the work force quite early but still would like to continue their education that may help them move up their career ladder quickly and safely.
They find online education in India very convenient, as the nature of the course work does not require them to attend regular classes. Moreover reputed institutes like Indian Institute of Management, Indian Institute of Technology, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade are today offering E-learning courses.
Thus E-learning in India makes it possible for the learners to pursue their education
from reputed institutes without much hassle.
The scope of online education in India is actually much wider. Apart from proper course works, some E-learning portals in India are also conducting mock tests for various competitive examinations like engineering, medical, and management. For example, the India Times group has introduced the Mindscape test centre where one can appear for mock IIT-JEE exams online for making self-assessment.
The Gurukul online Solutions, apart from providing various courses, set up a Jobs and Careers Centre (JCC), which, not only provides job-oriented vocational education in a variety of domains, but also provides career enriching courses via E-learning. They also offer Live Virtual Classroom connectivity to over 175 cities across India. Some E-learning portals in India are also providing tutorials for school students.
Thus the reach of E-learning in India has expanded from adults to teenagers.
The future of E-learning industry seems to be very bright in India as number of Internet users is growing in the country at quite a satisfactory pace and more and more reputed players are showing their interest in the E-learning business. In fact, if prices of computers become affordable and Internet speed becomes tolerable, E- learning can work wonders for the country.
Videogame Addiction in India
The realm of fantasy made possible by video-gaming technologies never fails to attract children. The thrill from video-gaming provides a form of entertainment that toys, dolls, plushies and televisions can never provide. To some extent, video-gaming can help to relief stress and bring joy to the lives of the children. But let us not forget the saying “excess of anything is bad”, for video-games addiction is becoming increasingly common among our youths.
In urban cities of India, children are facing an insidious threat in the midst of their enjoyment. Commonly known as videogame addiction, such seeming harmless threats could sometimes result in serious behavioural disorders. Violent games often popular among male gamers can have disturbing images and may include profanities. A notorious game of this category would be Grand Theft Auto, which has seen a connection with the rising number of the cases of violence in youths.
The symptoms of videogame addiction includes persistent thoughts of the game, urge to spend more time playing and even the inability to control oneself from stopping. If left unchecked, such behavioural disorders could escalate into isolation of oneself, a psychological problem that requires immediate action.
Psychologist and doctors in India claim that the only way out is by keeping a tab and moderating the use of videogames. Parents are responsible for this and they must keep an eye on the type of games played by their child. With the advent of video-gaming technologies and the increasing number of violent games, video-gaming is no longer just a simple tool to keep children entertained, if left unchecked, it could easy change impressionable and unsuspecting kids to violent, uncouth bullies.
Divorce and Remarriage — Indian-Style
In India, divorce is rare due to the fact that failed marriages remain a cause for shame in much of the country and that divorced people, especially women, continue to face fierce social stigmatization and often find it hard to remarry. Only about one in 100 marriages ends in divorce compared with much higher percentages in the U.S. and in western European countries such as France and Germany.
However the divorce rate is now rising in this country. In urban India it has doubled over the past five years. The main reason behind the rise is that educated Indian women now have the option and are financially independent and thus aren't prepared to put up with a husband who harasses them.
While urban women may be taking charge and sometimes just as likely to leave their husbands as their husbands are to leave them, in India's rural villages, it's still the men who initiate most divorces — often leaving women and children with no financial and little family support.
Thus, Vivek Pahwa, CEO of the website company Pahwa KBS, launched a matrimonial site that targets divorced Indians. Millions of Indians already use matchmaking websites to search for prospective mates. But existing sites tend to concentrate on giving a cyber hand to parents looking for suitable matches for their eligible sons and daughters. Yet Secondshaadi.com gets around this problem by targeting the very people other sites find unpopular, the divorcees, encouraging them to remarry. Since launching two weeks ago more than 1,000 people have created profiles on the site.
This shows the importance of new media influence in allowing people a second chance differing from the norms, giving them the opportunity to search for their happiness without the burden of sterotypes.
Tea and technology mix in Calcutta
In India, their capital lies on tea. The way the tea is auctioned has changed little in over 100 years. The tea buyers sit in a circular tiered room rather like a lecture theatre. In the centre of the room an auctioneer rattles through the list of teas. Printed catalogues give a brief summary of the lots, everything from fine leaves of Darjeeling to tea dust. However, Amit Chowdhuri, the current managing director of J Thomas is charged with seeing a technological revolution.
Laptops in the auction room now allow up to date monitoring of tea prices and instant comparisons with previous rates. Yet many don't like the idea of technology coming along, taking away the eye contact, the adrenalin rush, the cut and thrust. Kieran Desai sees technology as killing off all the fun of the auction.
However, Internet auctions are very much part of the big business in India. Metal Junction, a subsidiary of the giant Tata conglomerate, is the country's largest e-commerce company. They too are involved in online auctions, selling mainly to businesses, dealing in steel, coal and recently cars.
The managing director Viresh Oberoi says Indian technological advance is moving on a pace, missing out all the intermediate stages such as mail order that the industrialised world has gone through.
This article shows how e-auction is slowly influencing the lives of the Indians, reducing human induced errors and cutting down the time needed for the auctions.
Twitter, Citizen Journalism, and the Mumbai Attacks
Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read messages known as tweets. The usefulness of Twitter as an information dissemination tool cannot be denied. This can be seen in Mumbai in India last year, that Twitter became the most useful source of real-time information about the terror attacks. The number of posts jumped to as many as 1,000 in an hour on the day of the attacks. In addition to learning about the attacks, the public also learned about the power that individuals can have to communicate information to a large audience. While most of the Indians were getting their information about the attacks through Indian television networks, the world was getting the information from the Twitter posts.
Although Twitter has shown to be a very useful tool to communicate short busts of information in real-time, there are also drawbacks. During the terror attacks last year, media around the world were relying on messages sent via Twitter to learn more about the unfolding situation. Unfortunately, the immediacy of such lightning fast communication in a chaotic, stressful situation also resulted in confusion when contradictory or incorrect information was tweeted.
In a crisis, individuals and organizations often need to rely on the most expedient method of communicating important information and obtaining help. Increasingly, that means the use of social media tools. Because these tools are relatively new and evolving, the rules for using them are changing daily, with organizations trying to balance the need to provide accurate and timely information against the need to keep up with technology. Thus, it is important that corporate and government organizations (including first-responders), along with mainstream news organizations, continue to update their codes of conduct and operating procedures to incorporate Twitter-use policies, and for organizations to use and produce information judiciously.
Are bloggers parked?
A blog is a type of website, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. As we can see from this tech savvy era, bloggers are filling some voids in mainstream journalism, and connecting to net-savvy citizens in an exciting fashion.
“Blogs are not about to destroy conventional media, but they are making an impact,” as said by Darryl D’Monte, former Resident Editor of The Times of India in Mumbai, Chairperson of the Forum of Environmental Journalists of India and founder President of the International Federation of Environmental Journalists.
One such example can be seen from Dina Mehta, an inveterate blogger, who created news when working from her home in suburban Mumbai. She was able to put those who wanted to provide aid in the Asian tsunami last December in touch with those who needed it. As she puts it, "Nature's force, while tragic, stimulated an almost immediate response and outpouring of help on the Internet." Someone called Peter contacted her through her blog and they started off the communication initiative, which grew exponentially. She has never met Peter face to face till date, though she is in regular cyber-contact with him! Blogging was the only way of running such an operation since in the immediate aftermath, land lines were down in the tsunami-hit districts in all the Asian countries. It is certainly true that these cyber-activists made a huge difference, not only in shrinking the world into a global village, where many millions shared people’s grief, but also helping people connect.
Online Journalism India: Moblogging is citizen journalism in India
To put it bluntly, India is mobile mad. Indian citizen journalism may thrive across a range blog networks, photo and video sites but what singles it out and makes it unique is the proliferation of micro and mobile blogging sites.
So, sites like smsgupshup.com and Vakow.com that allow users to send 160 character group SMS messages are unbelievably popular ways of disseminating information. They are the proxy ’social’ news services, similar in many ways to Twitter. But where traditional news providers have got in on the act quickly with Twitter, in India keen amateurs are happy to pump out news across microblogging sites and set themselves up as news providers.
Some journalists are in on the act too. A reporter in North East India is offering breaking news from his small town on smsgupshup.com. A news site in the eastern State of Orissa is also offering breaking news via the same site and is one of the largest being followed with over 26,000 subscribers.
Citizen journalism has created such a great impact that a TV channel, Amrita TV, in South India has launched a 90-episode reality show focused on nurturing citizen journalists.