Friday, 28 November 2014

Blackmail on the Ropes

As part of my media studies, I had to go out into the city with my crew and shoot a documentary on any subject whatsoever. Like any good student of the Indian education system, I like clich├ęs, so I decided to shoot a day in the life those who walk on ropes for a living; a subject so worn out that nobody else even considered doing it. But one must admit, it makes for great cinematography any day and is a bit less boring than having a number of interviews that our subjects require.

So we found a family of performers who specialized in this field and made arrangements to shoot them (with cameras) and document their day for an amount of money that was downright obscene even after an hour of haggling and trying to make them understand that we were students and not professional movie-makers. They had got so used to people coming and filming them that they had actually fixed rates to have themselves star in documentaries. Talk about being professional! Thank God they had not yet made an association for this kind of thing or we would have been ripped off big time just for ten marks worth of credits.

Anyway, so we came about to a sum that everyone reluctantly agreed upon. They still thought it was less and we still thought it was too much. Nevertheless, we decided when to shoot and were glad that the negotiations were done.

Photo Credit: Google Images.

Now, the bread-earner in the family was a 9 year old girl whose father did nothing while his family went out to work. The family collected the earnings of the child for the four months that they were in the city and spent the other eight months on these savings in the state from where they migrated.
Skipping ahead to the shoot and its end, we came about to the point where they packed up after their performance and waited for us to pay up. And unlike the times where we usually looked at each other’s faces to see who had money, we all came up with the cash in a flash and went to pay them.
Surprise, surprise! They refused to take the money! Like flat out refused to touch it. On asking about their reluctance to take it, they said that the agreement was for four times the amount we were giving them. What?!! Yeah, that was our reaction.

We reminded them of our agreement but they still stuck to their argument that we had not agreed to the apparently paltry amount we were handing them. We were worried now. We tried to reason with them but then they began bemoaning their poverty and how we were kicking the poor in their stomachs.

Aah! We now realized that they had resorted to emotional blackmail but they didn't realize that we too were hardened negotiators! We tried reasoning despite the fact that we were now angry at their blatant lies but they refused to budge. In the end when they still refused to take the money we were offering we just walked away with the money feeling a little bad but still…


Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The Battle for all Mankind

Months have passed since this blog saw a post on its virtual wall and still readers are hoping to see something worthwhile here. I am honoured. With this post, I’m hoping to be back on the Blogosphere with the same zeal that I entered into it with.

The world is going through a rough phase, a very rough one. Humanity as a whole today has the curse of battling two adversaries, both capable enough to wipe them out or corrupt them to a degree beyond which it would be virtually impossible to go back to life as it knows it. Both are also incapable of shaking the human spirit and will if world chooses to come together and fight the pincer attack that Mother Nature and human nature have encircled us with.

The two-pronged attack brought about by the pride of man and his greed is a test of human commitment and co-operation at the highest level. This test can either force us to withdraw into ourselves even more or come together to fight an enemy of the entire race.

The Ebola virus. Credit: Google Images.

On one hand is the dreaded virus that has affected more than 10,000 people and threatens to overrun the human race if not contained and decimated. On the other hand is the radical religious group that threaten to plunge the world into the third World War in order to establish its caliphate in the Middle-East. Between the both of them, they are capable enough to make sure that we are either decimated or at the very least, set back by decades in terms of advancement. And, if one were to use the other in propagating its means to achieve its ends, it’s going to be even more dangerous because if the virus has killed so many people in its natural form, it is unimaginable to think what havoc its weaponized form could cause.

And at this time, when international co-operation is in the best interests of the world, India, or rather its government has decided not to be part of any coalition battling these killers. Neither has it sent forces to battle the terrorist threat, nor has it sent medical personnel to battle the Ebola virus.

Proposed Islamic State Caliphate. Credit: Google Images.

The Islamic State’s influence has already reached India and it is just a matter of time before Ebola does and nobody who is Indian needs to be reminded of the fact that we are not in a position to contain an epidemic of such proportions, and we will not be in such a position for a very long time. Help begets help. If not out of compassion, the Indian government needs to send help to fight on both these fronts to make sure that they never reach our doorstep.

We are non-aligned in war, but need we be non-aligned in every international coalition? Can we not recognize the need to take active prevention measures before an action by the enemy forces a reaction that may be too late to prevent the loss of life that is inevitable in a nation such as ours?

For long we have remained the Switzerland of Asia but perhaps it is now time to recognize that if we want to be recognized as the South-Asian powerhouse we claim to be, we need to step up and do something to prove it. This is not a battle for the USA or Africa; this is the battle for mankind.