Archive for the ‘social issues’ Category

A study released earlier this week has suggested that teachers in the U.K. see Facebook and other social networking platforms as posing a “devastating” threat to schools, worse even than the dreaded visit from Ofsted, the official body for inspecting British schools.

“Facebook is becoming a bigger fear for schools than Ofsted,” said the agreeably-named Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers. “Increasingly, social media are [sic] being used to fuel campaigns against schools and teachers. Twenty per cent of our members have received threats or abuse online — parents or ex-pupils being the most common source. The results can be devastating.”

I would imagine so. Victims unveiled in the study include a headmistress who faced a year of online abuse from a parent via social media, triggering a breakdown and leaving her suicidal. Another teacher had to be treated for depression and suicidal thoughts after allegations led to her being questioned by the police.

Mr. Hobby’s main concerns regarding campaigns of abuse through platforms such as Facebook is that there is no legislation in place to handle good, old-fashioned lies, and that hate campaigns are often “based on false allegations or innuendo.”

“We’ve seen how social media and the mob mentality can be combined in the recent riots in British cities,” he added.

Quite. Certainly it’s true that some of these examples are very unpleasant and the perpetrators of online hate campaigns (towards anyone, not just teachers) should and must be brought to justice.

However, there’s a much bigger, and far more well-established reason why teachers are scared of Facebook, and always have been.


Namely, photos of them staggering out of nightclubs. Or into police cars. Or, more commonly, brazenly exposing themselves in a series of scantily-clad photographs — which happens more than you might like to believe.

You see, despite appearances, teachers would like you to believe that they are just regular, normal people — like you and me. They see everyone else doing silly things on Facebook, and want to join in. That would seem absolutely fine on paper, but in the cold, hard world of finger-pointing, it doesn’t really work.

I have many teacher acquaintances, and I’m always amazed by how many of them befriend their students on Facebook. In part I admire the enthusiasm they are showing for their chosen profession, but the rest of me is like: “What? Are you completely mad?”

You see, teachers aren’t normal people. Neither are police officers, politicians, soldiers and anyone else that society holds to a higher standard. We expect them to behave in a certain way, and when they step outside of our preconceived ideals we don’t like it, and we usually want — even demand — some accountability.

Social media has allowed many of us to be far more open about the ways that we each choose to live our lives. It’s entirely opt-in — that is, you don’t have to get involved — and the privacy controls are in place on networks such as Facebook to let you decide how much of yourself you want to make public. And how much you don’t.

And if you’re a teacher, it’s my advice that you take full advantage of those privacy options and make as little of your Facebook profile public as possible. Set it so that your name and nothing else shows up in a search on the network.

Use Facebook just to stay in touch with friends and family (and definitely not students), block and report any and everyone who crosses a line, and if somebody starts tagging photos of you on the network, ask them politely but firmly to take them down.

Social media is still in its infancy, and the educational curve is steep. Teachers and schools are right to be concerned, but this isn’t a problem that only affects them. It’s simply one that they’ve only recently become aware of.

Bottom line? Each of us has had to learn the hard way. Welcome to the Internet.


By Chetan Bhagat

“Alright, this is not cool at all. A recent survey by Nielsen has revealed that Indian women are the most stressed out in the world: 87% of our women feel stressed out most of the time. This statistic alone has caused me to stress out. Even in workaholic America, only 53% women feel stressed.

What are we doing to our women? I’m biased, but Indian women are the most beautiful in the world. As mothers, sisters, daughters, colleagues, wives and girlfriends – we love them. Can you imagine life without the ladies?

For now, i want to give Indian women five suggestions to reduce their stress levels.

One, don’t ever think you are without power. Give it back to that mother-in-law. Be who you are, not someone she wished you would be. She doesn’t like you? That’s her problem.

Two, if you are doing a good job at work and your boss doesn’t value you – tell him that, or quit. Talented, hard-working people are much in demand.

Three, educate yourself, learn skills, network – figure out ways to be economically independent. So next time your husband tells you that you are not a good enough wife, mother or daughter-in-law, you can tell him to take a hike.

Four, do not ever feel stressed about having a dual responsibility of family and work. It is difficult, but not impossible. The trick is not to expect an A+ in every aspect of your life. You are not taking an exam, and you frankly can’t score cent per cent (unless you are in SRCC, of course). It is okay if you don’t make four dishes for lunch, one can fill their stomach with one. It is okay if you don’t work until midnight and don’t get a promotion. Nobody remembers their job designation on their dying day.

Five, most important, don’t get competitive with other women. Someone will make a better scrapbook for her school project than you. Another will lose more weight with a better diet. Your neighbour may make a six-dabba tiffin for her husband, you don’t – big deal. Do your best, but don’t keep looking out for the report card, and definitely don’t expect to top the class. There is no ideal woman in this world, and if you strive to become one, there will be only one thing you will achieve for certain – stress.

So breathe, chill, relax. Tell yourself you are beautiful, do your best and deserve a peaceful life. Anybody trying to take that away from you is making a mistake, not you. Your purpose of coming to this earth is not to please everyone. Your purpose is to offer what you have to the world, and have a good life in return. The next time this survey comes, i don’t want to see Indian women on top of the list. I want them to be the happiest women in the world. Now smile, before your mother-in-law shouts at you for wasting your time reading the newspaper.

Cherish Womanhood.”

(Source: The Times of India)

NEW YORK – If you’ve ever used a fake cellphone conversation to avoid real-life interactions, you’re not alone.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project says that 13 percent of adult mobile phone owners in the United States have used the old “I’m on the phone’’ tactic. Thirty percent among those aged 18 to 29 did that at least once in the previous 30 days.

Just don’t forget to silence your ringer first.

In all, 83 percent of Americans reported owning some type of a mobile phone. Of these, more than half said they have used their phones at least once to get information they needed right away. Mobile phones are also becoming tools for handling emergencies. Forty percent of owners said their phones helped in an emergency.

Phones also proved useful when staving off boredom, as 42 percent of respondents said they used their phones for entertainment when they were bored.

It’s not that phones are all fun and games, though. Twenty percent of cellphone owners said they experienced frustration because their phone was taking too long to download something, and 16 percent said they had problems reading small print on the phone screen.

In a sign that we are getting increasingly dependent on our mobile gadgets, 42 percent of young adults aged 18 to 29 said they had trouble doing something because they didn’t have their phone with them.

(Source: AP)

It’s a tried-and-true marketing method: Slap a famous cartoon on food boxes and odds are children will be more likely to seek the food out at the store. But research now suggests that silly cartoons appearing on food boxes may also determine whether children will pester their mothers to buy the food and also the level of nagging parents are likely to experience.

Researchers analyzed surveys and interviews from 64 mothers who had children between the ages of 3 and 5. The mothers were asked questions about family eating and shopping habits, their use of media and how they dealt with their children’s nagging.

The study, published in the Journal of Children and Media, found that packaging, characters and commercials all contributed to whether children pestered their mothers. The children who watched more television commercials were more likely to nag for foods that included cartoons on the packaging, even if they didn’t like the food, researchers said.

“She picks up the characters by osmosis,” one mother who took part in the study said of her 4-year-old daughter.

The bind that many parents face is that many of the foods that advertise popular characters are oftentimes not healthy, said Dina Borzekowski, associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and co-author of the study.

“We know marketing works, so the trick is to make it work for healthier products,” said Borzekowski.

Another mother of a 4-year-old boy said, “It really became clear to me how much TV impacts his preferences when he asked me to go to Burger King and I said, ‘Why Burger King?’ and he replied he had seen it on TV.”

While researchers did not cite specific packages, mothers who were interviewed said the characters or commercials that drew the most attention were Dora the Explorer, Elmo, Spongebob and Scooby Doo.

But the so-called “nag factor” didn’t stop there. The children who watched the most commercial TV also engaged almost equally in different types of nagging — juvenile nagging, nagging to test boundaries and manipulative nagging.

Juvenile nagging consists of repeatedly asking for items, whining and even flailing arms and stomping feet. Children nagged to test boundaries by throwing a public tantrum and putting items in the cart even as their mother said no. Manipulative nagging consists of sweet talking the mother, or even saying that other children possessed the item.

“Our study indicates that manipulative nagging and overall nagging increased with age,” Holly Henry, a co-author of the study and a doctoral candidate at Johns Hopkins said in a statement. Mothers of 5-year-olds recalled more negative nagging experiences, researchers said.

“It’s been a battle with my child,” said one mother. “No reward in whining.” “Giving in was consistently cited as one of the least-effective strategies,” said Henry.

Thirty-six percent of the mothers studied dealt with the nagging by limiting their child’s exposure to commercials. And researchers said that may be one of the most effective ways to limit a child’s nagging and consumption of potentially unhealthy foods.

Researchers also suggested not going to the store with a child, or trying to explain to a child before heading out why they would be tempted to buy certain types of foods and avoid buying others.

“I don’t’ think marketing is going away anytime soon, said Borzekowski. “We need to help parents deal with the current situation.”

(Source: ABC News)

A man out of northeast England has been sentenced to 15 months in prison after he hacked his neighbors’ bank accounts using information they posted on Facebook and Friends Reunited, a U.K.-based social networking site.

According to The Telegraph, Iain Wood spent up to 18 hours per day using the personal information his acquaintances posted online to work out passwords for their bank accounts.

He used the personal details to get past security checks and steal more than 35,000 British pounds ($57,000) over two years, which he blew on gambling.

Wood typed the usernames of his Facebook friends on bank websites. After using the option that he couldn’t remember the password, he was asked security questions about date of births, mother’s maiden names, and other personal information and was able to answer them correctly in some cases. If he got into the bank account, he changed the address details and took out cash.

Most of the accounts he targeted were dormant, but he was able to exploit the overdraft limit before anyone noticed. He was caught when he changed his operation and directly transferred money out of one neighbor’s account into his own. The victim was contacted on a withdrawal of 1,500 British pounds, realized it was fraud and the police were called.

Police suspected this was Wood’s only victim until he blurted out, “Have you been on to me for a while?” A search of his place found bank account pin numbers, someone else’s passport, bills and other paperwork, much of which he took from his neighbors’ mailboxes, according to The Telegraph.

Wood pleaded guilty to seven counts of false representation and fraud.

Though Wood was a dedicated scammer, he didn’t use fake Facebook apps or malware-infested websites. Be careful what you click, whom you friend and what you share on Facebook — make good use of the privacy settings. If you’re sharing personal details, don’t use the same information for important online services like banking.

Readers, are you surprised that one man with no software could do such damage?



New Delhi : St. Andrews Scots Senior Secondary School, a posh school in east Delhi, boasts of “providing value-based education” to its students but is under the scanner of a child rights panel – for tagging poor students.

The school admits poor students under the legally bound 10 per cent freeship quota – fee waiver – for economically disadvantaged children.

But the students, their parents and child rights activists allege that the school discriminates against poor kids, profiles them on the basis of their socio-economic status and makes them wear tags showing they have been admitted under the quota.

The children are made to wear an ink mark “F/S” , denoting freeship, on their shirt collars to distinguish them from the rest of the children.

Parents of some of the poor students approached NGO Pardarshita that helped in filing a complaint with the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR). As soon as the rights panel started probing the matter in May and issued notice to the school, the tagging system was immediately done away with.

“We issued notice to the school after we received a complaint that the EWS (economically weaker section) students were discriminated by teachers. The school has given its explanations which were unconvincing,” DCPCR chairman Amod Kanth told IANS.

“The matter is under probe. The categorizing of students is illegal,” said Kanth.

Officials of Pardarshita allege that some of the students were even segregated and kept in a separate room during school hours.

Ritu Mehra of Pardarshita said her organization came to know about the discriminatory treatment after three of the children and their parents came forward and sought help.

The three children stay in the Indira Camp in east Delhi.

She said all the children from Class 1 to 5 admitted under the quota were forced to sit on the floor and not even allowed to use the school toilets.

Suman, a resident of Indira Camp in east Delhi, has her daughter in preparatory class of the school. She has a more shocking story to share.

“My daughter was not allowed to interact with other kids for around one and a half months because they thought she stinks. The school tagged her ‘F/S’ on her uniform,” Suman told IANS.

She said that her daughter was even bribed by school authorities to lie before the rights panel if its officials come for inspection. “They gave chocolates to kids to lure them and promised a picnic if they don’t complain and lie before the investigating officers,” said Suman.

And it didn’t stop with bribing. What followed, according to parents, were threats if the charges were not taken back.

“On May 28, a teacher from the school came to my house and threatened of dire consequences to my kids if we don’t take back the complaint,” said Savita Verma, whose daughter is also in preparatory class.

Anita Mishra said her son in Class I and daughter in preparatory were not allowed to attend prayer meetings because they “lacked proper etiquettes and manners”.

But the school authorities deny the allegations. They said keeping these students away and teaching them in separate rooms was an acclimatization process to familiarize them with the school culture.

“The school has taken a very positive step to make the students feel comfortable in their classes by organising these remedial classes. We teach manners and etiquette to these kids. However, when the parents started complaining about it, we stopped,” Principal P.L. Rana told IANS.

Asked about the tagging, Rana said: “We never tagged any students. The F/S was written on the collar of their shirts for security reasons so that they don’t get lost and after school they can be handed over to their parents. We write route numbers on the newly admitted nursery and primary classes students.”

The school charges around Rs.2,500 a month from its normal students as tuition fees.

(Source: IANS)

He was a young promising techie, all 24-year-old, coming from the land known for sugarcane growers, Mandya. He had passed his Mechanical engineering in distinction. It was not difficult for him to land in a good position in any company, but all he wanted was a job in Tata Consultancy Services. Reason was simple: the girl with whom he was in love was working in TCS. A girl who was also from the same place was selected to the company through campus interview.

Why am I telling all this? There’s a reason and you all should know it. Let me just go to the flashback before coming to the main point. Deepak Marigowda was very intelligent and passed in distinction throughout his studies. It was his percentage in Class 12 which made his parents to enroll him for Mechanical Engineering. He was a promising student, but away from home, life in the hostel and you can imagine the rest…

In his second year of his course, he met Pallavi from Nagamangala, also from his own district. She was an IT student there. It didn’t take much time for their friendship to end in love. Everything looks fine when there are no responsibilities and life looks colourful during college days. Their love went stronger and stronger by each passing year and she was selected for TCS in the campus interview. He was very smart in his studies and his friends knew how he even helped his girl in her studies too.

After their studies, the girl joined TCS and he too soon followed her, because she meant everything to him and he didn’t want to lose her at any cost. After a month’s training in Bangalore both were posted to the Chennai branch. Their love continued without any hindrance until the girl’s parents came up with wedding proposals. Everything was normal and sweet till then and suddenly, the girl changed her mind. She was ready to give up her love and guy for the sake of her parents. Coming from a Brahmin family, she feared that her parents might face problems in the future if she gets married to a guy who was a Gowda. She even started avoiding him telling that if she marries a Gowda guy, it would be a problem for her younger sister to get married in future.

Things began to worsen very soon. The love of five plus years started taking a backseat and honour of her family became an issue. The guy told about his affair to his family members. Though they initially resisted his wish, they agreed to visit the girl’s parents to seek her hand for their son. Father of the girl insulted the parents of the guy and didn’t allow them to enter the house as they belonged to a different caste. The girl kept silent and the guy’s family was humiliated.

The pain of rejection and humiliation to his family was little too much for the guy, he even thought of ending his life, but his friends’ timely intervention just saved his life and he was immediately shifted to a hospital, where he was admitted for three days. After his discharge, he continuously called the girl, her father, her uncle and other family members telling how much she mattered for him. He cried and begged for her hand, he told them if he doesn’t marry her he would end his life, but no, no words made the girl or her parents to change their mind.

He often wondered if it was his mistake not to go ahead with a registered marriage when the girl had told him once in Chennai, as they were from different castes. He wanted the nod from both the families and had refused her idea. But god alone knows why things change and all are puppets in his hands!

He had saved all her letters, SMSes, cards and had recorded some of their conversations on his cellphone. He might have not imagined that they would come in public later… On May 22, 2011 he decided to put an end to all this… How? By committing suicide and leaving behind a series of questions in his death note… Sample a few of them:

  1. Why two laws — one for girls and another for boys??!!
  2. If a guy cheats a girl, the whole media gangs up against him, NGOs sit dharna in front of the guy’s house, they book cheating case against him, and make sure that somehow he marries her and gets justice.
  3. If a girl cheats a boy, why bury the issue?
  4. Didn’t she know that I was a Gowda when she fell in love?
  5. Who will give justice to me and my family?

He also told that he couldn’t imagine his life without her. He was not ready to marry someone else in the future as he couldn’t imagine anybody else in her place. All he could say was he was cheated by her and she was responsible for his death.

Now, what next? Will media fight to get him justice? Will NGOs get time to sit dharna in front of the girl’s house? Will police book cheating case against her and make sure that Deepak’s soul and his family gets justice? Will this also be buried like other cases? Who will answer Deepak’s questions??!!

Deepak Marigowda, a young techie from Mandya, ended his life as he was betrayed by Pallavi, a girl from Nagamangala, who was in love with him for the past five years.

Was stirred watching the programme on the incident. If a guy cheats a girl, the whole media gangs up against him, NGOs sit dharna in front of the guy’s house, they book cheating case against him, and make sure that somehow he marries her and gets justice(!)

The same thing has happened now, but with a small twist in the tale… Who will give justice to the soul of Deepak and his family members?

Anybody who had heard the conversations, his pleadings and cries with the girl’s family members, his death note would also ask the same question: Why two laws — one for girls and another for boys??!!

PARIS — Sex selection of foetuses in India has led to 7.1 million fewer girls than boys up to age six, a gender gap that has widened by more than a million in a decade, according to a study released Tuesday.

In Indian families in which the first child has been a girl, more and more parents with access to prenatal ultrasound testing are aborting a second female in the hope that a subsequent pregnancy will yield a boy, said the study, published in The Lancet.

The increasingly lopsided ratio of girls to boys is larger in wealthy households than poorer ones, the researchers reported.

Between 1980 and 2010, they estimate, four to 12 million girls were aborted because of their sex.

“Selective abortion of female foetuses, usually after a firstborn girl, has increased in India over the past few decades, and has contributed to a widening imbalance in the child sex ratio,” they conclude.

The female shortfall for the zero-to-six age bracket was 6.0 million in 2001, and 4.2 million in 1991.

“Increases in selective abortion of girls are probably because of persistent son preference combined with decreases in fertility,” the authors say.

The mean number of children per Indian woman fell from 3.8 in 1990 to 2.6 in 2008.

Selective abortion of female foetuses accounts for two to four percent of female pregnancies in India, roughly 300,000 to 600,000 per year out of 13.3 to 13.7 million carrying a girl in 2010, the study found.

From 2001 to 2011, the practice increased at a rate of 170 percent, slowing from 260 percent over the previous decade.

In the study, researchers led by Prabhat Jha of the Centre for Global Health at the University of Toronto, analysed census data from 2011 and earlier.

The also examined over 250,000 births from national surveys to calculate the difference in the girl-boy ratio for second births in families in which the first-born child had been a girl.

They found that this ratio fell from 906 girls per 1,000 boys in 1990 to 836 girls per 1,000 boys in 2005, an annual decline of a half of a percent.

Declines were much greater in mothers who had gone to school for at least ten years than in mothers with no education at all. The same trend held true for wealthier households compared to poorer ones.

If the first child was a boy, however, there was no drop in the girl-boy ratio for the second child, showing that families — especially those better off and more educated — are far more likely to abort girls if the firstborn is also female.

By contrast, “we did not yet see any clear evidence of selective abortion of firstborn female foetuses,” the researchers said.

Unlike Beijing, New Delhi does not enforce the kind of “one-child policy” that led to the selective abortion of firstborn females in China.

The practice has left the country with 32 million more boys than girls, creating an imbalance that will endure for decades. In China, 94 percent of unmarried people aged 28 to 49 are male.

But first-pregnancy female abortions might increase in India too if fertility continues to drop, particularly in urban areas, the study warned.

A 1996 government regulation designed to prevent the use of ultrasound for prenatal sex determination is widely flouted, the researchers say, pointing out that few health providers have been charged or convicted.

“The financial incentive for physicians to undertake this illegal activity seems to be far greater than the penalties associated with breaking the law,” S. V. Subramanian of the Harvard School of Public Health said in a commentary, also in The Lancet.

(Source: AFP)

DOHA: A MAJORITY of representatives from human resources departments of local companies on Tuesday alleged that the discrimination in salaries between European and Asian expatriates was leading to discontentment among Asian workforce in Qatar.

Participating in an interactive session organised by, a premier job surveying agency of the region, one of the representatives said, “We have lost some good workers just because of this discrimination.

There cannot be any justification for giving two persons the same position but different salary.” Supporting him, another Qatari HR personnel said, “The public sector can afford to pay more money and can hire people of different nationalities with varying pay structures.

But a private company cannot.

At the end of the day what matters for us is profit.

We cannot hire a European accountant for a monthly salary of QR20,000 when we can get an Asian accountant for QR5,000.” Another representative of a local company said that while there was enough justification for having two salary structures, one for Qatari workers and the other for non-Qataris, there was no justification whatsoever for discrimination among non-Qataris in terms of salary packages.

However, a couple of HR personnel tried to justify different salary structures for different nationalities.

A representative said, “We have to understand that the cost of living is higher in Europe than in Asia and, therefore, a European expatriate’s expectation in terms of salary is higher than that of an Asian expatriate.

Hence, we cannot have the same salary structure for both.” Sales vice-president of Amer Zureikat quoted a recent survey on salary and said, “Sixty-eight percent of employees in the GCC care only about their salaries rather than work environment or job satisfaction.

Eighty-five percent of the working population was ready to switch their career because of the rising cost of living.”

(Source: Qatar Tribune)