Window Seat | Mrinal Chatterjee

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Vernacular Language Journalism

Vernacular language journalism, which began 38 years after the first English language newspaper was launched in India in 1780, has done this country a world of good. It has educated the masses on issues and concerns of the society. It has fought against the superstitions and evil social practices prevailing in the society. It has motivated common people to join freedom movement. It has improved the concerned language, brought the written-language closer to the common people. In some states like in Assam, Bengal and Odisha it has contributed to the growth and popularity of literature.  And it has, to a large extent improved the political stock of the concerned language speaking people. It has played an important  role in demanding separate state on linguistic basis like in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.
However, with changing times, socio-political ethos, and growing competition in the media world in India, language journalism is facing certain grave existential challenges.
For several regions (social, political and economic), language Journalism is gradually veering towards regionalism. Competitive regionalism has the tendency to gravitate towards parochialism and ethnocentrism.
Ethnocentrism (William G. Sumner, famously known as America’s first sociology professor coined the term) is the tendency to consider one’s own culture or race to be superior over all others. Though it is present in little forms in every culture, history has shown us how it can have tragic consequences if not controlled. Ethnocentrism might seem similar to ethnic pride, which is having pride for your culture and values, but there is a very fine line separating the two. Unchecked ethnocentrism in neighbouring states and conflict of interest in sharing common resources (river water for example) might lead to skirmishes. If the vernacular language journalism looks only at the interest of the state in which it is published, overlooking the facts or the interest of the other state- then the situation will worsen that can seriously damage national integrity.

Nomophobia

A phobia is defined as an abnormal, irrational and extreme fear or something or a situation, despite knowing the fact that it is actually not dangerous or harmful.

But then a phobia is a phobia. No matter how much someone reassures you that the said thing isn’t going to harm you, you still run miles away from it. For example, people, mostly ladies  often have phobias of cockroaches, flies, mice or lizards. I mean, what can a teeny-weeny cockroach do to you? Alternatively, some people have a phobia of height, flying, water or even bubbles (ebulliophobia) or butterflies (lepidopterophobia).

The latest phobia to join the growing number is called nomophobia (shortened from no mobile phobia) – the fear of the feelings of anxiety or distress that some people experience when not having their mobile phone with them  or battery running out or even not getting wi-fi connection.

Researchers at Iowa State University, USA did a study to map the reasons of nomophobila through carefully constructed questionnaire. Analysis of these data led researchers to identify four components of nomophobia: (1) not being able to communicate with people, (2) losing connectedness in general, (3) not being able to access information, and (4) giving up on convenience. These represented reliably distinct concerns that all contributed to participants’ general distress over not having their mobile devices. (For details of the study, see https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/scientists-study-nomophobia-mdash-fear-of-being-without-a-mobile-phone/)

See how a device, which was invented less than 40 years ago, has begun to impact our lives.

Ayaram, Gayaram, Asharam

There used to a time when people used to give names to their children after Gods and Goddesses primarily for two reasons. One: they used to think that the kids would imbibe some qualities of the God or Goddess after whom he/she was named. Two: they would by default call out names of the God/Goddess and that would accord them some punya, which would help them take to heaven after the mortal life ended.

But the way persons named after Gods and Goddesses are conducting themselves, the first reason seemed to have ceased to exist. In recent past two self-declared gurus- Ram Rahim and Asharam have been put behind bars on henious charges.

I remember a line of a Hindi song which appeals to the audience Ram ke nam badnam na karo (Don’t sully the name of Ram).

Tailpiece: Age

Officer: Madam I need to complete this form… . What is your husband’s age, and what is your age?

Lady: When we got married my husband was 25 and I was only 18. Now he is 50 years old that is double. So… accordingly I am 36.

The officer is still calculating.

(Courtesy: Social Media)

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