Message from Japan Spokesperson, World Food Programme

shekhar –

I grew up in Japan. I m accustomed to earthquakes. But nothing could have prepared me for this one. It was the first time I saw buildings in Tokyo actually sway back and forth.

I watched live TV coverage as the tsunami swept away entire communities. It was like a horror film, but these are real people  thousands are dead, thousands more are missing. In one city, nearly half of the population is still missing.

And now we’re gripped with the fear of radiation from nuclear power plants. It’s a real-life nightmare.

In the past, Japan has helped the World Food Programme respond to some of the worst disasters around the world. Now, when my country is coping with its own tragedy, I feel proud to stand united with Japan to help people in need.

I m deeply grateful for the outpouring of support from all over the world. Thanks to the generosity of friends like you, in just 36 hours we raised all the funds we require for our operation in Japan. Thank you.

Amid the devastation left behind by the earthquake and tsunami, transporting goods is an enormous challenge, but families remain in desperate need of emergency supplies and WFP is providing its expertise to make sure those supplies are delivered quickly.

As the lead logistics agency for the United Nations in emergency operations, WFP has decades of experience in delivering food and other relief items in the most difficult environments.

It will take a long time to recover from this disaster. But, between the heroic rescue efforts coordinated by the Japanese government and the incredible support of the international community, I know well get there.

Thank you for the role that you are playing.

Sincerely,

Yuko Yasuda

Japan Spokesperson
World Food Programme

The World Food Programme (WFP) fights hunger worldwide, saving lives during emergencies while building a better future for the next generation. WFP is funded solely by voluntary donations.World Food Programme

http://www.wfp.org/?utm_source=emergency_appeal&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=wfp-japanappeal2-others

Via C.G.Viola 68
Parco dei Medici
Rome, 00148
Italy

Dangerous developments in the Middle east

As the popular rebellion of the Libyan people is being crushed by Qaddafi, and the world discusses the possibility of a ‘no fly zone’ or any other support to the rebellion by the people, a dangerous development took place yesterday as Saudi forces (with support from the UAE) went into Bahrain to quell another uprising there.

Is it the fear of a rebellion in their own nations driving this ? Or is the uprising in Bahrain not a popular one ? It seems more likely that the first is true, though I am getting mixed messages on my twitter a/c from both sides. If the first is true there are lines being drawn within the Middle East with Monarchy supporting each other to stop this uprising for a more democratic form of government. That’s dangerous.

But the most dangerous issue is if the democratic uprisings in the Arab world are subverted into a Sunni/ Shia conflict.? Colonial powers over the last couple of centuries have thrived on such divisions to protect their own military and commercial interests.

What is also very noticeable is that the reaction from Western powers has been surprisingly muted. Is it because of the the US bases in Bahrain and Oil interests in Saudi ? I cannot believe that Saudi army would have gone into Bahrain without extensive consultation with the US. That and a fear of Iran would drive the Western Powers to take sides in a potential conflict between Shia and Sunni. That would lead to a world wide disaster.

And as the the US, UK and European governments move to freeze the personal assets of the Monarch’s/Dictators, we must ask the question why people Hosni Mubarak and Qaddafi were encouraged in the first place to park such disproportionate assets in these countries ? There is no sense in suddenly finding high moral ground and freezing assets when for decades these very countries have been encouraging the dictators.

Dubious and double morals I am afraid.

Sensationalizing the internet: a tool of individualism or robotic behaviour ?

Are we as Individuals becoming Pavlov’s Dogs to the marketing and media industry that works on behalf of Corporations/Governments , but who in turn are themselves ultimately controlled by other institutions that are all interconnected with each other. So the individuals forming a collective to create an illusion of distanced reason and power that says ” we want THEM, whoever the THEM are, to respond like Pavlov’s Dogs to OUR stimuli for OUR advantage. But without realizing that they themselves are also individuals like us, and are being conditioned within themselves to  respond to THEIR own stimuli in a Pavlovian way.

Though there is a different and a conditioned Pavlovian Response by the collective.  Of groups formed for specific intentions of control, that takes them out of the general consumerist behaviour pattern for the period they are in that group. But hey, watch all the modern economic models of the world, and you realize that a Pavlovian response is what drives them on a psychological level. Is that what I do when I make a film. Try and step out of being Pavlov’s dog in one level, and then step into another conditioned response on another level. Am I a free thinker any more ? Is free thinking possible at any level of a world conditioned to be driven by sensationalism ?

In an increasingly hyped competitive environment , created by these collectives themselves, these collectives/corporations/ governments too are becoming Pavlovian in the their decision making and the actions against each other.

As the world goes more sensational is anybody safe ? As we lose the idea of stillness. As we run scared  always, that a moment of non action is defeatist, we are driven to constant reaction (the psychology of what happens when the sales of branded goods open – often like a mass hysteria). As we consume news, information and media at highly sensational levels, provoking us towards sensational reactions, consuming as we are more out of ‘fear of not consuming’ than a real innate need to satisfy beyond sensationalism. The picture that is fast emerging is of us as Pavlovian Dogs , tail constantly wagging, tongues hanging out in hyper expectation of the next sensation, aching to respond in a more robotic way. We are becoming reactive creatures rather than active one. Isn’t that how we define Robots ?

Robotic , did I say ? Extreme sensationalism and a constant Pavlovian response to that leads to more and more robotic behaviour. Defined as common mass response. And as I argued even within the collectives/corporations/sates there is clear Pavlovian behaviour patterns. So the question for debate is :

Is mass media including social media leading to more Individuality, or more Robotic behaviour ? Are we closer to George Orwell’s 1984 than ever before ? Isaac Asimov wrote some the best science fiction novels ever on this premise in his Foundation series. Does his book ‘I Robot’ take on a different meaning than potrayed in the film with that name ?

Phew – what a scramble of thoughts trying to find coherence – trying to steer away from the political overtones of the ‘corporation vs us’ argument – and finding whether the whole system and way of life now has become so sensationalistic that at every level we exhibit robotic behaviour.

the mind

the mind asks
and the mind answers
the mind dreams
and the mind doubts

we wait for the dawn
so the battle can begin
once again, thrown
into action

Are Oscars a true representation of world Cinema ?

Of course every one loves the Oscars. And would love an Oscar too. So would I. It celebrates film as no other event does. It gives you international exposure as the whole world tunes into what is becoming a huge TV event. It increases both the profile and box office potential of the film, and of course your personal profile too.

But is it a true representation of the best in Cinema in the world ? I would argue that they are becoming less and less as the world markets look more towards their own home grown Cinema, and as International film makers explode into a new creativity that largely goes unnoticed . 85% of the world cinema in any case gets clubbed into one category. Best Foreign Language Film. Unless the film has got huge box office attention in the US market.

I have been on the Jury at the Cannes Film Festival and also the London Film festival last year and have just come back from Berlin. Some of the films that I saw were absolutely explosive. Not just in the stories they tell, the use of cinema in telling these stories, but also in the performances that left you gasping. They represent a state of being that is so real that it gets into your skin without you realizing it. You do not get up applauding a performance. You just walk away with a complete understanding of the emotional psyche of the person and environment. As if it was yourself there in the film. Not through very snazzy editing techniques or the se of technology. But through the sheer simplicity of the performance, the story telling and the use of Cinema.

There are three films I would like to mention here that you absolutely should not miss if you get a chance to see them just for the sheer power of the performances :

‘Nadir and Simin, a Separation’ from Iran. which just won the Golden Bear at Berlin. Directed by Asghar Farhadi.

‘Poetry’ from Korea, directed by Lee Chang-Dong. Was in competition at Cannes

‘Screaming Man’ a film based in Chad, directed by Mahamat Saleh Haroun. Who is from Chad but lives in France. Was also in Competition at Cannes.

‘How I spent my Summer’ from Russia by Alexei Popogrebsky, which got the top prize at the London Film Festival.

Will write about the films in time,

Shekhar

i said

i said
you said
we all said

the same thing
we said

and then
i said
you said
we all said

and then again..

we just said
what we just said

whispered into the wind

whispered into the wind
every unspoken word
of love
that my own ears
yearn to catch

every moment
that floats
unseen
unnoticed
unheard
untouched
that i yearn to hold
to memorize
to imprint
so I do not forget
ever

can i not hold
even one fleeting moment
inside ?
so that when sleep escapes
into the storm of night
i don’t have to yearn
to search
in sheer panic

for that
which I cannot see
cannot hear
cannot touch

but that
which surrounds me

The Arab Renaissance :There is no partial freedom of the mind

As Libyan dictatorship falls, and the people of Yemen, Morocco, Bahrain and Jordan gather together in a quest to free themselves from dictators or dictatorial Monarchy, this article I had published before becomes more important. Especially because the West had earlier aligned themselves to so many of these Monarchies or Dictatorships that are now (hopefully) falling. What would the US do if the Saud family who rule Saudi Arabia fall ? We should view these freedom movements as potentially beneficial to all of us, as I see this as an Arab Renaissance. So I am republishing it.

“You cannot free a mind just to contain it with in boundaries. And when the collective mind gets free it multiplies the surge of new thinking, new art, new industry and new systems. It represents a surge in optimism and also therefore a surge in tolerance and secularism.

But it also entails a surge in the vulnerability as people explore a new found freedom.? As they pursue a dream that have dreamt in private and often in fear for many years. It represents a yearning and an almost impossible optimism often.? There lies the danger and vulnerability.? Any suggestion of controls of that freedom, a perceived violation of the newly discovered joys and optimism, can turn into a surge of anger and disappointment. At that time the vultures of fundamentalism, of terrorism, of extremist thought are waiting to feed quickly on the corpses of those dreams.

What the intense renaissance that is happening all over the Arab word needs therefore are new? leaders that can channel this new energy to take the once great civilizations back to the glory they knew. For if they do not, the vultures are waiting on the sidelines.? What happened in Egypt was so mature that it needs now very very mature leadership and systems to protect that maturity.

And I am afraid it needs far more maturity from the West.? There is nothing called ‘partial freedom of the mind’.? It is either free or it is not. The Tunisians are coming in their hundreds illegally to Italy. Once they came as unwelcome refugees.? Now the whole Western world has supported their fight to democracy. Encouraged their new found courage.? Now they come to Europe with same courage and expect to be treated as friends.? Did the whole world not encourage and applaud the Tunisians and hail them for their great revolutionary courage?? Now you cannot just hrow them into prisons.

As the people of Bahrain rebel against their rulers, the US must be worried about where their Third Fleet will go if the people decide NOT to have US naval bases in Bahrain.? You cannot encourage people to ask for democracy and then not bend to the will of those very people.? The West cannot then try and protect the Shia rulera against Sunni majorities, or vice versa.? The rulers of Saudi Arabia are of course now vulnerable.? Iranian people are potentially the best friends of the Egyptians and Bahraini people.? These are the new realities.

The West needs to re asses it role in the whole of the Arab world and can no longer be double sided. The Arab people are changing their destinies and are looking to shake of colonial shackles – it’s time that they did.? They were once the greatest sources of Culture, Astronomy , Mathematics , Medicine etc.? We should look forward to their re emergence and not view them any longer form one point of view-.

Oil ..”

Shekhar

The Alien and Me

Suddenly my view of myself and the universe, would , in that instant be changed, re -evaluated, all the questions I asked from that moment on would be different. Context would be different,

If I came across an Alien today.

What would I say if there were words. Would I shake hands if there were hands ? Or indeed if there was form ? Or would I ignore the Alien as a mere figment of my imagination. And what is wrong with a mere figment of my imagination ? What did I impose upon myself that a figment of of my imagination could never be a figment, perhaps the most significant figment of my existence.

Why have I allowed that being without form, that being that dreams, that being that imagines, that being that continually sees life as play. Why have I allowed that being to turn into an Alien living in a cage of suppression. Knocking on my door from inside my mind.

As the knocking gets louder, pushing against the mundanity of habittuality that takes over as existence, it’s time to let the Alien out. For there is always an alien sitting inside us that is knocking at the doors of our mind with figments of imagination – but over the years we start ignoring those figments as impractical madness.

What is practical anyway ?

Kids and Commercials

AJ has brought up a point that I wonder about often and am concerned at the emotional pressure on children to consume food stuffs that are really bad for them. Not only that, what about selling Chocolate as ‘the gift mothers will give you if they really love you” or ” as the gift you should get if you pass your exams”. Consider that 90 % of children (in India anyway) watching TV come from families that cannot afford to buy those chocolates. Now what are we putting into these young minds ? That a hug and love can be replaced by Chocolate that ‘Mom’ will never be able to afford. In tht child’s mind we then create a great sense of deprivation aimed at the parents, which then associates with guilt

“what did I do wrong that my mother will not buy me a particular brand of chocolates ?”

Commercials aimed at kids can be psychologically devastating, and the problem is that advertisers know this too. They create them so.

This what AJ said, that provoked this :

TV and videos: not for my baby

Think outside the box.

Babies tend to learn best through interactive activities that engage as many senses as possible. Whether you’re playing peek-a-boo or just chatting with your baby, you’re teaching skills that help develop your baby’s brain.

So how does watching TV contribute to baby’s development? The truth is, no one knows. No TV show, video, or DVD has ever been proven to help babies develop. But there is some evidence that watching – or even listening to – TV could disrupt your baby’s ability to concentrate and possibly slow her language development.

Commercials aimed at young children are remarkably effective. And half of all ad time on children’s shows is for food; mostly candy, snacks, cereal and fast food. It might not surprise you to hear there is a strong association between the amount of time spent watching TV and childhood obesity.

When it comes down to it, time spent watching TV is time that could have been spent on other, more valuable relationship building and exploration activities with your child.