Irom Sharmila- a forgotten tale

Irom Chanu Sharmila, the iconic activist who is called the Iron Lady of Manipur has been fasting from the past 12 years against Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Manipur. The fact that such an iconic struggle of a woman ends up as a mere routine story like any other in India is itself a pathetic fact hard to gulp. She is on a Gandhian protest against an Act by the Central Government which gives undue advantage to the army over the public, but the government turns a blind eye. On top of that, our honorable PM Manmohan Singh (with all due respect) “appeals” to her to quit the fast despite an amicable solution. Her fast is unscrupulously being compared to that of Lokpal activist Anna Hazare whose fast lasted for 12 odd days (not even closely comparable to 12 years) and ended vaguely on a political note with his team member (Arvind Kejriwal, IAC member and ex-IRS officer) launching a party and Anna openly supporting it. She deserves atleast an iota of importance of what Anna Hazare has got for his fast. But before all that let’s get into what AFSPA is.

AFSPA- Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958
Passed by the union government in 1958 to curb the violence incurred by anti-social elements in disturbed areas (read North-Eastern India). This Act was later extended to Jammu and Kashmir.
Now, what is the significance of this Act?

Briefly saying, it gives undue advantage to the Indian Army to:
1) Fire upon any person in the disturbed area for maintenance of public order. This may even lead to death of the person.
2) Arrest any person without a warrant who has committed an offence or is suspected to have committed one.
3) Raid any house/area if felt suspicious of presence of arms/activists.
The Act gives army officers legal immunity against their actions. The Government has no say on the claims of the officers on either the area found to be disturbed or the person held responsible for anti-social activity. It is like a monarch ruling the area with no legal boundaries or strings attached.

Currently the so called disturbed areas in India are the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. Later this tag was given to Jammu and Kashmir.

In 2004 with intense agitation against the Act, the Government of India has appointed a committee under Justice Jeevan Reddy which in its report advised to either revise/repeal the Act with some human concerns. Even some of the army officers themselves recommended amendments to the Act like delegation of power etc.

Now getting back to Sharmila`s fast, she kept herself voluntarily denied of food and water for the past 12 years to protest against this draconian Act in Manipur. A vicious circle continues every year with the police detaining her under charges of “attemptive suicide”-releasing her-fasting again-getting arrested. This has been her routine from the past 12 years. Her case reached the doorsteps of court for 200 times by now. Where this culminates into is a million dollar question. When the government has the plenipotentiary to revoke the Act, I don’t see any reason why it is still hesitating to do so. The ulterior motives of it are hard to predict.

Her humble request to the outside world is, “treat me like ANNA”. That’s all she has got to say. Is it some kind of “misogyny” prevailing in the Indian society that overshadows Sharmila`s fast but enlightens Anna`s? Why are her vociferous demands unheard off when they are tantamount to those of Anna? Her 12 year old struggle deserves commemoration, but ultimately she is left with sympathies and no solutions. People supporting Sharmila say AFSPA is “dark” on Indian democracy. A truly democratic country is not driven by Acts like these, they say. But the counter-offense of the people who support AFSPA (basically those from the government) goes like this: anti-AFSPA means pro-insurgency. So the people opposing AFSPA are supporting violence and don’t want issues to be resolved, they say. Army doesn’t want the Act removed which says it will embolden militant groups.

Manipuris literally feel abandoned with both center and state not even remotely bothered about the state of affairs in their territory. This happening when Congress is in power both at the center and state. They say, “if not now, it never will” with such feasible conditions for it to be repealed. Violence is drastically down. Manipur featured less on national media in the past couple of years compared to Jammu and Kashmir, where the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah strongly pressed the then Union Home Minister Mr.P.Chidambaram to initiate the process of revoking AFSPA. People are far more matured compared to those age old times. Perfect time for the Act to be revoked. This seconded by many commissions and politicians.

Though Sharmila was conferred with many awards internationally from South Korea and other organizations including Gwangju Prize for Human Rights, which is given to “an outstanding person or group, active in the promotion and advocacy of Peace, Democracy and Human Rights”, she politely refused them and fettered to her campaign unwavered. She says she won`t accept any award till AFSPA is repealed. Such high is her dedication to the cause.
A tale which truly deserves Nation`s bow. Hats off to her.

Photography made easy-beginner`s tips

For all those photography enthusiasts out there.. this one is exclusively for u.. here is a proud owner of Nikon D5100 sharing his experiences of dealing with the key things of photography..

Firstly let me make few things clear to you guys.. photography is truly about perceptions, passion and zeal..  A click which I like, u may not.. and strictly stick to your own areas of photography (different areas being wildlife, birding, portraits, sports etc etc).. Ultimately focus on your own satisfaction not somebody else’s..  once you start trying to impress someone else, that’s where your entire show is ruined.. yes opinions and reviews do count and add to your passion to boast you up but don’t let them take over you.. by that u will lose yourself and allow somebody else back of your mind to tune your photography.. DON’T ALLOW THAT..

So lets get into the learning part.. remember even I was a beginner (infact I still feel I am one) some time ago and I understand what you actually expect from a photography related article.. I will not bore you with too lengthy stuff on each thing.. but I assure, you will have better understanding of various basic settings compared to what you had before.. so lets begin!! J

The photographers clan keep experimenting with these three things- aperture, shutter speed and ISO.. these are together called the “Golden Triangle of Photography”.. lets get into each thing independently and the correlation among them..

1)    Aperture:  in true terms, it is the size of the lens hole which opens for the amount to be focused in a frame. This is called “depth of field”.. shallow the depth of field, fewer things are in focus.. this is specially used in portrait, wildlife, birding and most other photography..  shallow depth of field gives a blurred background which dominates the subject in focus.. (more domination of the subject can be made by manual focusing).. aperture settings can be comfortably accessed through “aperture priority” mode where only aperture(hole) size can be varied..ISO is any way independent in both Aperture Priority mode and Shutter Priority mode (discussed next)..

For beginners, I would advice to get well acquainted with individual aperture and shutter priority modes and then move to the full fledged manual mode.. this enhances your chances of better photography than directly jumping to the manual mode and scratching your head.. 😛

Now when to go for aperture priority mode??

Blindly go for it when the subject you are focusing isn’t moving.. best mode for still photography.. you can make the subject dominant in the frame and blur the background to a great extent..

How to vary aperture?

Aperture size is varied using f-stop numbers.. don’t worry it is simple.. blindly remember  that smaller the number (f-stop number) on your screen, shallow is the depth of field.. f-stop numbers look something like these- f/1.2, f/3.4, f/5.6, f/8 and so on depending on the range of your lens.. now the blind rule says f/1.2 gives shallow depth of field.. don’t confuse yourself by anything.. blindly go with this assumption..

You might have seen portraits where the background is all blurred out and the person is so dominant in the picture.. for this you need shallow depth of field and this is achieved by small number after “f”.. don’t bother about the “/” symbol after f.. this got the shit out of me for quite long and I am making it easy for you.

ISO doesn’t have any direct interaction with aperture.. I will get into what it is and how it impacts further..

So this is all about aperture and how to use it.. (manual usage of aperture will be explained later).

2)    Shutter speed: as the name itself says, it is the speed at which the image is captured.. yes you can control the speed of your camera also.. this has a wide range depending on the camera..  my camera (Nikon d5100) offers shutter speeds of 1/4000 to 30 sec..

How to vary shutter speed and when to use it?

As I already told you, first get acquainted to the individual priority modes. So lets talk about “shutter priority” mode..

Adjust your camera`s dial to shutter priority mode.. now you can access the wide range of shutter speed.. but how does it matter on the quality of your image? Let me tell you..

Blindly use this mode for considerably fast moving objects (like birds, animals, sports etc).. let me take an example of a fast moving bike.. if you want to capture it as a still bike without including its motion into the picture, go for high shutter speed.. the fastest your camera can go.. now remember bigger the denominator of your shutter speed, the faster your camera`s capturing ability is.. (I know this sounds dumb to most of you but yeah specifying these minute things are very essential :P).. now if you want to add some motion into the picture, try reducing your shutter speed and allow it to take some time to capture the image.. the more time you allow your camera to capture, the more motion is captured.. but remember here that if the shutter speed crosses the barrier of human stability level, blurring of the image takes place.. here comes the use of a tripod..  fix it to a tripod and leave it to have a blur free image.. slower shutter speeds yield much clear images because the camera takes enough time   to analyse the entire situation at hand and takes the snap..

So, faster moving objects-set to shutter priority mode-set fastest possible shutter speed-click.. J

Now let me tell you what happens when these priority modes are used.. when you use aperture priority mode, the camera analyses the situation at hand and sets the ideal shutter speed for that aperture level set by you to have a stunning image.. same is the case with shutter priority mode.. once you set the speed, the camera sets the aperture size ideal to that shutter speed..

3)    ISO:  unable to recollect its full form but its fine if we know what it does than know the full form.. right??!! 😛 So let me get into what it means and does..

It is the sensitivity of your camera to light.. and again blind rule here is more light in your frame, low ISO used.. getting to darker sides, ISO increases light sensitivity and grabs even the slightest of light available in your shot and at much higher levels enlightens it with the internal mechanism of the camera.. but only lack with this is lot of noise in the picture when used at high ISO.. (noise is the dots in an image when taken at high ISO).. ISO ranges from 100 to 6400 (in my camera) and can go upto bigger ranges depending on the camera.

So as-far-as possible, get to the lowest ISO possible.. keep taking photos at different ISO ranges and keep it.. you never know what u may like on a big screen when viewed later..

photography

Now, since we are done with the three main settings of photography, lets get into their correlation..

1)    Aperture and ISO are truly independent.. sure of it.. blindly remember..

2)    Aperture and shutter speed are related..  catch the logic here.. when you want shallow depth of field (small number after f) you allow the camera to take less time to snap the shot.. hence, high shutter speed.. so low f-number, high shutter speed.. and when you want more depth of field, you allow the camera to take more time to analyse the situation at hand perfectly and then take a shot.. got the catch?? (now these are mutually changed only in “manual mode” and cannot be done in individual priority modes.. remember what happens in individual priority modes right?? The camera takes its own decision of the other setting).

3)    ISO and shutter speed are also linked.. if the shutter speed is high, bump up your ISO also.. the logic behind is since the camera has less time to gulp all the light, ISO plays the role to compensate for it and gets natural look to the photo.. if you use shutter priority mode and set the speed to the highest possible without bumping up the ISO, you will dark images with very low light.. and vice-versa.. slow shutter speed-low ISO since shutter speed grabs all the light available..

My personal suggestion would be keep experimenting on all the settings and get a grip on each of them… and this is not all.. there are so many other additional settings and post processing which makes a stunning image.. these are just the basic requirements for beginners..

So all the best.. go for it.. post some good images of yours.. comment if u r stuck with something.. cheers \m/