Chhat Puja’s Environmental Connection

Chhat Puja, the festival honouring worshipping the Sun, and Chhati Maiya, is one of the biggest festivals of Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Nepal and Chhattisgarh. Chhat Puja involves offering flowers, whole fruits, incense, and ghee to Lord Surya. The offerings are usually, and traditionally left untouched in water bodies until they rot and decompose. Many environmentalists have claimed that such rituals do more good for maintaining the ecosystem in rivers, lakes and ponds than harm. However, some environmentalists do contradict this view as well.

Other than the states where Chhat puja is widely celebrated, Chhat puja is discouraged by local authorities, citing environmental issues. Kolkata, which has sizable Bihari and UP communities, see conflicts related to rituals involving water bodies. Some alleged that the rituals hamper water quality in the short term for bathing, washing, drinking and other purposes. But the biggest obstruction is made by several environmentalist groups, which sprang up with or without authorization, who are not opposed to idol immersion but raise serious concern over Chhat rituals.

Chhat Puja at Hooghly River in Kolkata

Let us for the time being focus on Kolkata, where Chhat is widely celebrated by a sizeable minority. For a long time, only the river Hooghly was used for Chhat rituals, while local ponds, lakes and other places were avoided. But as the Bihari and UP communities grew with time, there was the need of using ponds and lakes for Chhat puja in places far away from the river. That only caused minor local conflicts, most of which got resolved as soon as they started. However, as the State Government intervened, and provided the worshippers with additional ghats along the river, as well as designated ponds and lakes, the celebrations not only became peaceful but also spread among the locals, creating a sense of unity. This is when some environmentalists crept in and cited environmental issues to stop the festival and hence the unity in diversity.

Let us now look into why many environmentalists claim Chhat Puja is eco-friendly. Chhat puja is performed mostly on the banks of rivers and other water bodies, involving peace, tranquillity, and nature. Chhat puja rituals do not require temple or enclosed space, overcrowding, harmful colours, paints and water-soluble materials. Flowers, fruits, ghee decompose in water, providing nutrition for aquatic life. All the products used in this puja are biodegradable, thus making this puja so eco-friendly.

Rabindra Sarovar, Kolkata, where Chhat Puja is banned since 2018

However, several small factors concern environmentalists. Firstly, though the festival is supposed to be peaceful and quiet, many non-ritual elements have been added to it in recent times. Beating drums and bursting loud crackers are increasingly becoming popular among worshippers. Some protected areas surrounding water bodies, like Rabindra Sarovar Lake and Subhash Lake in Kolkata are home to a large number of migratory birds that arrive from Siberia during the onset of winter. Loud noise hampers their movement and even local birds have started avoiding their habitat in Rabindra Sarovar and Subhash Sarovar. Also, since the Bihari community has grown considerably in recent years, too many flowers, fruits, and ghee will block the sunlight and destroy the rich aquatic plants in these two places. The stagnant nature of such large lakes means that the products thrown into the lakes are likely to persist for a very long time. All these forced the National Green Tribunal to ban the Chhat puja celebration in these two lakes in Kolkata. To compensate for the above two places, worshippers have been allocated more ghats for performing the puja. Still, some miscreants try to create shortcuts and enter the lakes for rituals even though there are many other nearby places.

All these caused a section of the Bengali society to turn against Chhat puja. There are some genuine issues, which most worshippers can bring a change to celebrate the festival together. Voices must be raised against those who are not following law and order in environmental protection. Also, we need to raise our awareness against false allegations and petitions given by some environmentalists, without any justification for their cause. Social media is their best platform for spreading hatred. The number of hate posts, claiming rampant environmental pollution should be cross-checked and verified with reason before any action is taken. Otherwise, the peace and bond that this festival brings will remain a distant reality.

Written by – Himadri Paul

India’s New Social Media Rules

The Government of India has launched new guidelines or rules for social media platforms. The new rules call for identifying the ‘first originator’. The new rules apply to all social media platforms, including WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube.

Personal messaging apps like WhatsApp, Telegram, or Signal need to track the origin of messages that contain wrong information, misleading, or against law and order of the country. Previously the messages were encrypted to provide privacy to the users. Now to track the origin of these messages, these apps need to break the end-to-end encryption. The social media platforms now will have a tough time maintaining the privacy and tracking the origin of the messages, which is a near-impossible task with the available technology. Personal messaging apps do not want to end the users’ privacy, which, otherwise, may result in many users leaving the apps.

The Government of India has no interest in seeing the contents and maintains that privacy is a fundamental right. “We don’t want the content because the content is already out there in the form of tweets or messages. But, who began the mischief? This, they (social media platforms) will have to disclose,” said the Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad, while announcing India’s new IT rules on February 26.

The new rules also extend to over-the-top (OTT) platforms like Youtube, Netflix, etc. OTT platforms now need to follow a 3-tier regulation mechanism. The new rules also asked the OTT platforms to self-classify their content according to five groups based on age suitability.

Other social media like Facebook and Twitter should allow users to post what is allowable as per norms. Users can now file a complaint within 24 hours of receiving ‘objectionable’ content. Social media companies should appoint a Grievance Officer to resolve any issue quickly to deal with online complaints.

Information Technology Rules 2021 is undoubtedly a boon for most users who have previously been the victim of fake news or blackmailing content. However, it has become a severe headache for the IT social media giants to follow some issues. It may result in doing away with the privacy of contents, thus interfering with the users’ rights. Let’s see what plans the social media platforms and OTT platforms come up with.

To know more about the new Information Technology Rules click here.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Social Media – A Good Thing or a Bad Thing?

Social media a good thing or a bad thing? That is the most frequently asked question today. Well, there are always two sides of everything; it depends on your perspective on how you perceive it. The same goes for social media, most people admire it as a revolutionary invention and some seem to take it as a negative impact on society.

Positive Effects:

Friends and Relations Social networks started as a place to connect with your friends in an easy and convenient way. Truly, many of you might have found your old pals from school or college who were out of touch because of one reason or other, well I would say I have and I thank social networks for this. 

Reducing Communication Barriers With social networks we can communicate our thoughts and perceptions over different topics with many audiences, and raise our voice. The sharing feature available on the social networks makes your opinion about any topic reach a huge number of people (even to those who are not on your friends list)

Opportunities for Businesses Social networks have become a crucial part of many of us. We don’t even notice this, but as soon as we open our desktops or laptops to access the web, we subconsciously open our favorite social network just to see about the updates received. 

Negative Effects:

Leads to Addiction Many studies have shown that the extensive use of social media can actually cause addiction to the users. 

Lead to Isolation Extreme usage of social media has reduced the level of human interaction. Because of social networks, the interaction with other people has become effortless and people have isolated their lives behind their online identities.

Affecting Productivity Mostly businesses use social media to find and communicate with clients. But it is a great distraction to employees, who may show more interest in what their friends are posting than in their work tasks. 

Ultimately, whether social media is “good” or “bad”/ “healthy” or “unhealthy” for a person’s mental health and well-being is directly related to how they are used (or abused), by whom, and by who is passing judgment. Key to enjoying the benefits while avoiding the problems is to use these powerful tools sensibly, constructively, and in moderation. Like food, which we truly can’t live without, the right choices in the right amounts keep people healthy and satisfied, while poor choices and excess consumption can lead to significant, potentially life-threatening health conditions.

THE NEW 5G SCHEME TO PROMOTE DIGITAL TRENDS

In the era of intelligent connectivity, powered by 5G, new business models, based on billions of devices consuming and generating unprecedented amounts of data, will flourish like never before.

time lapse photography of blue lights

The promise of lower latency, higher bandwidth, faster speeds, and greater capacity is spearheading a new foundational architecture, not just for telecom businesses, but also for enterprises across industries. The fifth generation of cellular wireless–5G–is projected to contribute $2.2 trillion to the global economy over the next 15 years, according to a recent GSMA study.

After being pulled up by the parliamentary committee on lack of preparedness for 5G, the department of telecommunications (DoT) is likely to announce the schedule for 5G trials in the coming few days. The DoT has already undertaken a meeting with telecom operators and equipment makers regarding the trials. After hearing from the industry, telecom secretary Anshu Prakash, held a meeting with officials in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on February 16, to give an update.

asian woman in earphones with notebook using smartphone in park

The DoT has assured the telecom operators that it will soon announce the 5G trial schedule. The standing committee on information technology, chaired by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, has pulled up DoT for not doing sufficient preparatory work for launching of 5G services in India. The committee said when many countries are swiftly moving towards 5G technology, India is likely to witness its deployment only by the end of 2021 or early part of 2022, that too partially.

The trials will give an opportunity to Reliance Jio to test its locally developed 5G

Solution. The company had earlier sought approval from DoT for lab testing of its solution.

Globally, there are 118 operators in 59 countries that have deployed 5G networks. Currently, the 5G network covers around 7% of the world population and it is expected that by 2025, 20% of the world population will be covered by 5G. Countries where 5G has been launched include USA, Canada, UK, European Union nations, China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain.

ANJALI PRIYA

Cyber World- A boon or a bane?

We all are well aware about today’s generation’s attraction towards the cyber world from adults to the children everyone enjoys the benefits they are getting from the internet. It is a way of receiving information and sharing it to the world. The whole world becomes a global village due to the cyber world. It links the people staying far away from each other and making communication easier through social media.

Students use the internet for learning purposes for entertainment and for innovation whereas adults use it for their official works hence the internet is a boon for everyone but it affects on both ends, good or bad especially for the teenagers who are among the heaviest users of social media. When they indulge themselves in immoral activities on social media gateway and share futile and obscene information on the internet. The negative use of internet affects many lives resulting in cases like threatening, murder and suicide not only this but also according to the research it is found that forty-five per cent of the population access the cyber world above two hours per day which harms their studies and other activities on the other hand. Hence the cyber world has its own positive and negative effects which totally depends upon the users whether they will treat it as a boon or a bane.

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Written by Sukanya Chanda