Proud and Prejudiced

source: barrierbreakers.com
Did you catch Proud and Prejudiced on Channel 4 last night? There aren’t many programmes that touch a nerve, but this sure as hell did! So, I’m putting “Prejudice” in the spotlight.

The programme aimed to show the two extremes of prejudice in Britain – the far-right versus Islamic radicalism. The far-right was represented by the English Defence League’s leader, Tommy Robinson who claimed (to the camera!) that he was proud of multicultural Britain but wouldn’t accept radical Muslims who attacked the country. Meanwhile, Islamic radicalism was represented by Sayful Islam who leads the (now) banned group Muslims Against Crusades. He wants Islam to dominate the world starting with Shariah law in Britain.

If he wants a Muslim state, go live in one! There are dozens of Muslim countries to choose from. I’m proud to live in Britain where I, as a Sikh, share equal privileges with Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims (amongst numerous other faiths) to practice my faith. My sister lives in the UAE – a tolerant, multicultural and thriving Muslim country. They don’t impose Shariah on my sister yet she lives in a Muslim nation.

It would be foolish to believe what both men (Tommy and Sayful) were saying to the camera. Behind closed doors, God knows how (further) extremely racist and bigoted they are. I couldn’t see any differences between them or their followers. They both appeared uneducated, hungry for power and attention. I don’t want to live in a society where one particular community is hated nor do I want to live in a society where Shariah law is imposed on me. I’m pretty happy with Britain the way it is if only these fools would shut the hell up and do something more productive with their time than fuel hate!

I appreciate part of what Tommy Robinson was saying about terrorists targeting innocent people. On the contrary, I appreciate Sayful Islam’s conviction about the thousands of innocent killed in the so-called War on Terror. But why must the average Brit who is so caught up in his/her own life with family, kids, bills, financial worries (to name a few!) have to face the brunt of a couple of men who fancy their own voice!

Shut up! If you want to exercise political freedom, which you’re damn lucky to have in a democracy, exert your efforts on action that ends hate and prejudice, not amplify it!

Luton politicians have complained that the programme didn’t truly reflect Luton (where both men are based) but it showed them travelling across the country with their supporters so it’s not just about what happens in Luton. This ignorant, uneducated narrow-mindedness exists across Britain and beyond.

Go to any community, in any city anywhere in the world. They are prejudiced against another community that is somehow different to them. These differences reach far beyond race, faith and caste. Women are unfairly treated, some ethnic groups ridicule darker skin to fair, there are even subdivisions within nationalities or faiths who are against each other. Where do you draw the line?

There is evidence of prejudice in the Neanderthals. The evidence of it amongst us Homosapiens is needless to say. Even some animal species prejudice against others in their race! My point is; there is no start or end to this. But there can be an end to hate mongering, fighting and killing. Live and let live!

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The Other Side of Journalism

In recent years, journalism has undergone slander and ridicule following the hacking scandal. The stupidity of (some) tabloid reporters has tarnished an entire profession. Thus, the notable work of inspiring journalists often goes unnoticed or underplayed. A prime example is Marie Colvin, who sacrificed her life in the pursuit of news. So, I’m putting “the other side of journalism” in the spotlight.

Journalism is traditionally amongst the top hated professions because of the stereotype of reporters acting like news hounds looking to sell a sexy story. The hacking scandal is testament to how low some will stoop to sell a scandalous story, because whether you, the consumer, admit it or not – scandal sells.

News is a business and without sales, no business can run. Sadly, some tabloids have taken this to the extreme and sensationalised a story when there is nothing sexy about it. To attract audiences; “scandal”, “exclusives”, “controversies” are all recipes for success. Ironically, it’s the audiences who are first to vilify journalists.

One woman whose passion it was to gain the truth, no matter what the cost, was the American Sunday Times war journalist, Marie Colvin. She lost vision in one eye whilst reporting the Civil War in Sri Lanka, and died yesterday whilst covering the uprising in Syria. She was the epitome of good journalism – impartial, resilient and enthusiastic. She was quoted in the Independent today, when discussing the Leveson Inquiry (hacking scandal):

Marie Colvin
“You hear all this talk about the meaning of the media, the need for integrity, etc…But isn’t it quite simple? You just find out the truth of what’s going on and report it the best way you can.”

And that’s just how simple journalism should be!

So often we hear about the fearless courage of soldiers who put their life on the line for the people of their country. But how often do you hear about the journalists who are on the same battlefield risking their lives just to inform the rest of the world on what is actually happening?

So often celebrities and sports personalities are awarded with knighthoods and accolades for various achievements. How often are journalists celebrated over their achievements to uncover groundbreaking stories, such as the MP’s expenses?

Marie Colvin demonstrated the strength of a democracy. She inquired, questioned both sides of the argument and offered us, the audience, with impartial news to make an informed decision. She makes me proud of joining a profession that has the power to change laws, to change ideologies, to transform communities and empower people.

This is the other side of journalism, the not-so-sexy side, the honest side, the largely ignored side.

Valentine’s Day – What’s Love Got to do With it?

It’s the most romantic day of the year – or at least that’s what the retail sector wants to drum into us. But is a day of romance enough to prove a lifetime of love? Or is it just a commercial hoax to get us spending? I’m putting “Valentine’s Day” under the spotlight.

Every woman – whether she admits it or denies her romantic side – wants to be spoilt. From childhood; cartoons, the media and even toys have reinforced the notion of girls being swept off their feet by their knight in shining armour who showers her with love (usually in the form of gifts!) But times have changed. We aspire to an equal opportunities society so such patriarchal thinking is so last century…right?

Valentine’s Day is meant to be a celebration of love. It’s meant to be the day you confess your secret crush or make a romantic gesture to your partner to show your eternal love. But why do this on just one day? Is it just a marketing hype for the retail sector to cash in on us? Many (usually men) believe it’s just hype over nothing. What’s love got to do with Valentine’s Day?

But if you think like that then isn’t virtually everything overly publicised? Why do we celebrate Christmas – the birth of Christ – just once a year? Shouldn’t we always rejoice the coming of God’s son and all that he preached? Why should we fast over Ramadan or sacrifice something for Lent to remember the needy and be grateful for what we have? Shouldn’t we be charitable and thankful all year round? Why do we celebrate birthdays, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, anniversaries, the list goes on. If it is just a marketing ploy then why don’t we celebrate these occasions, or at least acknowledge their significance, every day?

Maybe having these days helps us to stop and think about what we should be grateful for, how much we value our loved ones and how appreciative we are. It’s not the day that we should focus on but what it represents. Commercialisation may put pressure on people. It may arouse expectations of what the day should involve. Instead, what if either of you treat the other with a bunch of roses on any random day? What if you treat the other to dinner just because it feels right? What if you buy a gift for your loved one spontaneously to make them smile? Gestures of love don’t have to be limited to Valentine’s Day, birthdays or anniversaries. But its a day you can dedicate to each other. It’s up to you whether you get sucked in to the stereotypical routine associated with it.

I think doing something personal to just you two is more romantic than any lavish dinner or expensive gift. Smaller, meaningful gestures have a bigger impact. So don’t be such a pessimist on Valentine’s. But don’t limit your love to just one day. Love can be all, or nothing to do with Valentine’s Day. It simply depends on how you show it.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Banks, Bankers and Bonuses

Our country is set to hit a double-dip recession. This is in spite of bailing out banks with billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money. Regardless of this, bankers are awarding themselves 6-figure bonuses for a job badly done! So, I’m putting “bankers’ bonuses” under the spotlight.

 

Do bankers deserve millions of pounds in bonuses on top of their 6-figure salaries? Bonuses are based on performance. They caused the banking system to crash so how could they be rewarded for failure?

 

Understandably, we need competition to maintain business but banks act solely in their own interest. They’ve been bailed out and still earn top-end salaries with hefty bonuses – how is this encouraging ethical business and fair practice?

 

For the average Brit struggling to make ends meet during the recession, juggling more than one job, being laid off from a collapsing company or getting their belongings repossessed; not only would they react in anger but also lose faith in work ethics. They’ll give-up trying to make ends meet or think positively. They’ll give-up looking for another job if they’ve been made redundant. If the bailiffs come knocking, they’ll give-up caring. It’s this kind of mentality, caused by frustration and lack of faith that strains the welfare system because people turn to state benefits.

 

This spiralling decline of morale is precisely what the Chancellor, George Osborne, fears will happen. Ironically, his fellow millionaire frontbenchers have little to fear during difficult economic times. Instead, the Tories encourage free markets as a hoax to keep the rich richer and the poor poorer.

 

Lack of financial security impacts your state of mind and thinking dramatically. The worry could lead to depression, which I have firsthand experience of how challenging this mental illness could be. Frustration could lead to finding release from destructive avenues – drinking, drugs, gambling or even crime for quick gains. These emotions could also lead to apathy – not bothering to look for work, not bothering to respect the law, not bothering to maintain order in your life. This is when the state intervenes – usually in the form of offering monetary benefits. I don’t mean to say that all those who claim state benefits don’t deserve it. Far from it! If you’ve previously paid taxes, no one is more eligible than you to receive this support during a time of need. But this support was aimed at being a temporary measure. Nowadays, its commonplace for households to run on welfare support alone.

 

Obviously this is a very simplified understanding of what our current economic climate can cause but I’m confident that most, if not all, of you could relate to some aspect of the above. And the underlying cause? Politicians who fail to understand the needs of the common man and fat cats cashing in during times of prosperity and expecting bailouts during times of collapse. When do they take responsibility for their actions and realise how they impact workers, their families, their community and the nation as a whole.

 

RBS’s boss, Stephen Hester “gave up” his near £1million bonus and considered resigning over the uproar of bankers bonuses. Will this spark a domino-effect of bankers rejecting their bonuses to keep the media and masses hush? Will they gain a martyr-like status as if we should be grateful that they made such a sacrifice in the name of the country? Rather than reject the bonus – which will eventually do the rounds and only benefit the bank – why not donate this money to causes, projects or small businesses that are struggling during the recession? Why not reward these bonuses to people or groups who are trying their utmost to better their communities? Surely they deserve some sort of recognition and would put much better use to the money than a fat cat. Maybe this would boost morale and make struggling communities feel valued. Maybe it will prove that hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. Maybe it could encourage work ethics.

 

If only the government’s frontbenchers comprised of MP’s who could relate to the British public rather than Oxbridge millionaires who have never rubbed shoulders with the working class on whom this country depends.