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Updates on the 18th SAARC Summit On Social Media

The ongoing summit of the The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was covered by international media with different perspectives. However non-official initiatives such as 18th SAARC Summit blog, Facebook account, Twitter and Google+ account are aggregating updates on the summit for easy archiving.

Here are some examples:

Mumbai School Children Have Big Ideas About Technology and Innovation

A screen grab of the video (click the photo to watch)

A screen grab of the video (click the photo to watch)

The author @sutarcv works as a communications co-ordinator with Atma.

Children from a local municipal school in Mumbai voice their opinions on inventions, technology, environment and money in a recent video from Atma, an education non-profit organization whose mission is to support initiatives that help underprivileged children in India. 

This video gives insight into what's going on in the minds of children studying at local municipal schools, many of who face challenging circumstances like living in a bad neighborhood or having to deal with an alcoholic parent, for instance.

One girl wants to invent technology that can help a man to fly at his will. Another wants to invent a wallet in which the money never ends. As far as technology goes, it seems these children at this municipal school are enthusiastic about it. They know about messaging service WhatsApp, email and Google, but it also appears from the conversations of children that their access to Internet is limited.  

Inish Merchant commented on the Atma Facebook post with the video saying:

I wish govt. schools start giving IT lessons as a part of their syllabus.

The most fascinating responses is on an hypothetical question — what would they do if they had lots of money? Some said they will save it for their parents, while others said they will donate it or help people with a disability. There are also a few who said they will build something for themselves first and then make something for others.  

Prateek U Keshari,  a communications specialist with Make A Difference, a non-profit organization that works with street children and orphans, wrote:

This is beautiful! Only if more adults looked for the possibility of ideas through the eyes of a kid! 

In new iOS, Apple Introduces Five Indic Language Input Methods

A comparison of some Indic scripts vs. Latin. Image via wikipedia . CC BY-SA 3.0

A comparison of some Indic scripts vs. Latin. Image via wikipedia . CC BY-SA 3.0

In September 2014, Apple has launched the newest version of iOS 8, an operating system for its iPod Touch, iPad and iPhone. Apart from other major additions for better usability, iOS 8 has a very important feature for non-Latin script based languages, native input. This was missing since long and will be a great advantage for the languages – lot many people will easily be able to type in their own languages. Be it microblogging, social media, email or contributing to any platform like Wikipedia, there was a lack of native inputs for a long time after the first iOS was launched. iOS 8 has support for 5 Indic scripts: Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Tamil and Urdu for the first time since the launch of the Apple gadgets in the Indian subcontinent. Apart from language inputs, iOS also allows a user to change the interface language partially/fully to the user's native language which will better usability among many Asian users.

Facebook user Jayanta Nath is excited abut this addition:

After update (of) iOS 8, it has added bengali default keyboards.

A Terrifying Experience at A Mumbai Train Station

Blogger Antarik Anwesan recalls an alarming experience at Goregaon train Station in Mumbai, India. A local train started from the platform without notice and the crowd hurried to get on board. As the train gathered speed quickly, some people fell from the door and two persons were miraculously saved from death. This was not reported in any media. The blogger highlights that although the casualties in the local trains are much higher each year, the government is not making provisions for safety for the ever-increasing demand on the local trains.

Indians Say Goodbye To Orkut, Reluctantly

Indian users are reacting to the impending demise of Google's Orkut social networking platform. Orkut is the oldest citizen media site Indians used and around 20% of Orkut’s users today are from India.

Vinaya Naidu at Lighthouse Insights compiles some of the users’ comments on the end of Orkut:

Priya Mittal was able to find her first childhood classmate via Orkut, which “felt like a miracle then.”

Avid biker Vishal Kataria: “It took me a while to leave Orkut and switch to Facebook because I got attached to it. Somehow, that feeling has never occurred for Facebook.”

Srinagar-Leh Highway: An Adventurous Road Trip

The 434-kilometer-long Srinagar-Leh Highway is a spectacular and often scary highway in the Kashmir Valley. This road, which is open for traffic from June to November, is generally muddy, gravely and non-existent at best. The Zoji La mountain pass at 3,528 meters is particularly dangerous with only enough clearance for one-way traffic risking 1,000 meter drops. Minor Sights, a travel blog, posts details about the Srinagar-Leh road trip including the above video report.

Farewell Hindustan Ambassador

A yellow Hindustan  ambassador taxi at Kolkata Road. Image by D Chakraborty. Copyright Demotix (27/5/2014)

A yellow Hindustan ambassador taxi at Kolkata Road. Image by D Chakraborty. Copyright Demotix (27/5/2014)

Hindustan Motors has recently suspended production of India's iconic Hindustan Ambassador car which was first rolled out in 1958. Soumyadip Choudhury at Cutting The Chai posts a tribute to the classic car creating an unofficial (and animated) Google doodle. The car still remains popular with taxi drivers, some politicians and tourists.

Live blogging The Indian Lok Sabha Election 2014 Results

Youth Ki Awaaz is curating a live blog highlighting the Indian 2014 general election results including analysis and debates.

The Challenge Of Keeping The Indian Electoral List Updated

The world's largest elections are underway in India and blogger Anuradha Shankar at “A Wandering Mind” blog points to the practical challenges of keeping the huge electoral list of the country updated for ready use.

The State Of Women In The Present Indian Society

Transhuman Collective (THC), a brainchild of Soham Sarcar & Snehali Shah, is a multidisciplinary collaborative project based on the philosophy of Transhumanism. In this moving video created and uploded to YouTube by Transhumanism.in it is revealed that there is lack of basic respect for women in Indian patriarchal society. To add to this media plays a pivotal role in shaping the mindset and attitude of the Indian Society.

Too Many Under Trial Detainees in India's Jails

Overflowing water from a septic tank has poured into a Rail Police (G.R.P.) Lockup at Burdwan Rail Station.  People kept in the lockup are finding it very difficult to stay there. Image by Sanjoy Carmaker. Copyright Demotix (18/10/2013)

Overflowing water from a septic tank has poured into a Rail Police (G.R.P.) Lockup at Burdwan Rail Station. People kept in the lockup are finding it very difficult to stay there. Image by Sanjoy Carmaker. Copyright Demotix (18/10/2013)

Indian alternative news portal Beyond Headlines sheds light on the darker side of India's judiciary. In India, of all people detained in lockups and state prisons there are more people under trial than convicts.

Because of the slow process of the judiciary process, thousands of people suspected or accused of a crime end up waiting for trial for years in cramped prison cells which lack electricity, food and other necessities. About 250,000 men and women in India are currently in jail without having been proven guilty. Their fate or innocence is bound by the course of their trials.

And who and where are all these detainees? These tweets explain:

Freeing the detainees awaiting trial is also not a good option, as Sudhir Krishnaswamy and Shishir Bail write in the Hindu: “Without substantive reforms to the investigation and trial process, early release of undertrials may further aggravate the pathologically low rates of conviction and incarceration in the Indian criminal justice system.”

An Indian Photoblogger's Lone Fight Against Plagiarism

Term of copyright in photographs:- Length of copyright -50 years. Graphics by Anirban Saha. Used with Permission.

Term of copyright in photographs:- Length of copyright -50 years. Graphics by Anirban Saha. Used with Permission.

Indian photoblogger Anirban Saha points to a growing problem in India — plagiarism of intellectual property online. A number of his photos were used in a poster for a theatre festival, on a cover of a book, in an advertisement by the state government, in political banners, in magazines in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, and a school publication without his consent.

He writes that Indian copyright laws protect intellectual property, but there is not much awareness:

We can spread the awareness of intellectual property rights, share contact details of lawyers who have already fought similar cases. We should be more aware of safeguarding our creations and spreading the awareness to create a better world. Read about Indian Copyright Act 1957. More than the artists who still now are a minority, it is you readers who can make a difference. You need to be aware and spread the awareness.

Anirban Saha also publishes a number of graphics to make the Indian copyright laws easier to understand.

The Curious Case Of Marrying Out Of Caste in India

Protest March in UK demanding to eradicate the centuries-old caste system that exists on the Indian sub continent and amongst expatriate communities. Image by Paul Davey. Copyright Demotix (19/10/2013)

Protest March in UK demanding to eradicate the centuries-old caste system that exists on the Indian sub continent and amongst expatriate communities. Image by Paul Davey. Copyright Demotix (19/10/2013)

Karthik Shashidhar, a freelance management consultant and data scientist, shares interesting statistics from the National Family Health Survey. Shashidhar discusses the percentage of women in India who are married to someone of their own caste. The caste system in India is based on an order of (predominantly) endogamous groups rendering marriage out of caste deplored by the society. Most of the marriage out of caste is out of love and defying the socio-cultural norms.

The survey, which was carried out in all states in India, asked “ever-married” women whether they were married to someone from the same caste, or to someone from a higher caste, or to someone from a lower caste. The result shows that the national average for the percentage of women who are married to someone of their own caste is 89%.

This Video Parodies What a Government-Approved Sex Education Class in India Would Look Like

Stand-up comedian Sourav Pant‘s comedy company East Indian Comedy has uploaded a YouTube video lampooning what a government-approved sex education class in India would look like. The video has gone viral, with more than 1 million hits in three days.

The video mocks a suggestion made by Health Minister Harsh Vardhan a few weeks ago that sex education should be banned in Indian schools (he later claimed his comments were taken out of context) as well as parodies how teachers shy away from discussing the issue in the class.

“Sex Education in India” created a buzz on social media. Santosh Kumar wrote on the East Indian Comedy's Facebook page: “The same thing happened with me when i was in school!”

Some like Sravan Kumar did not like the video: “Dont forget India is the country which gave Kaama sutra to the world.”

Yes, I Wear a Bra, and It's Visible. So?

Nivedita N Kumar, a journalist, posts an emotional Facebook note which has gone viral. Here is an excerpt from the powerful essay that lashes at the notion of the Indian patriarchal society that clothes provoke rapists:

Why? Why do you do that? Stare at my breasts like they are cute babies calling out to be cuddled. Strip me naked, slowly, every time I enter the bus? Try to glimpse into my cleavage when I am sitting and reading in the metro.

Who gives you the right? To grope me in the crowded bus? To fall on me “innocently” when I buy popcorn in the theater. When I sit cross legged in the auto and you stop your bike and look hungrily at my legs.

A piece of meat, am I?

How do you think I feel? When I have to continuously watch over my shoulder, because it is 10 pm and there is nobody at the bus stop, except you. Staring at my neck.

The post itself got more than 35000 shares and after it was shared by the Logical Indian, it has so far received more than 260000 likes and more than 64000 shares.

Jonbeel, a Barter Market in the 21st Century

 People from the Tiwa community catching fish during the “Community Fishing” and Tiwa women exchanging their commodities by barter system, as part of the ‘Jonbeel Mela’ at Jonbeel lake. Image by Abdul Sajid. Copyright Demotix. (22/10/2010)

Tiwa women exchange their commodities by barter system, as part of the ‘Jonbeel Mela’ at Jonbeel lake. Image by Abdul Sajid. Copyright Demotix. (22/10/2010)

The centuries old Jonbeel Mela, a community fair in the northeast Indian state of Assam, has a unique ritual. Around 10,000 indigenous people from tribes like the Karbi, Khasi, Tiwa, and Jayantia of the northeast come down from the hills to the Jonbeel wetlands with their produce or catch and interchange with the local people in a barter system. Usha Dewani at the India Water Portal reports that the annual three-day festival has been celebrated since the 15th century. Around 100,000 people visit the market each year.

Internet Policy In India – Which Way?

The newly elected Bharatya Janata Party headed by Narendra Modi is expected to implement policies and regulatory reforms that will augment economic growth in India. Avantika Banerjee at India Law and Technology blog opines that there is a strong correlation between economic growth and internet access/internet freedom and the expected growth will depend on the policy/regulatory direction set by the BJP with regard to internet policies.

Online Tools And Resources For Learning Bangla Language

Kolkata based British expat blog My Bangla Diary posts an interview with Steve Capell, the creator of Bangla Tangla. This resourceful website by Capell contains useful tools and contents for learning Bangla (Bengali) language online.

Menstruation Is Not a Shameful Secret. Let's Talk Periods.

“Why do women hush themselves when it comes to discussing menstruation?”

asks Sourav Kumar Panda at Youth Ki Awaaz and goes on to discuss that in this day and age, keeping periods a ‘hush-hush’ issue is unnecessary – the time has come for us to break the silence and shame that our social mores have clamped around menstruation.

The Role Of Media In The Indian General Elections 2014

Vidyut at AamJanata, the common man's blog, writes an open letter to the Indian media criticizing its role in reporting about the ongoing Indian Lok Sabha elections.

Media has failed to report adequately on the implications of perception engineering through doctored poll surveys. Media has failed to draw attention to the problems being reported with ballot boxes. Media has failed to provide adequate disclosure of broadcasts of event feeds provided by political parties – which essentially amounts to free advertising time.

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