Cyber bullying: Nip it in the bud

Don’t over-share, don’t get into an altercation, collect evidence—a few ways to stop online bullies from browbeating you
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On 8 May, when Salman Khan was granted bail by the Bombay high court in a 2002 hit-and-run case, New Delhi-based author Sreemoyee Piu Kundu wrote an angry post on her Facebook timeline, coming down heavily on the actor and the judiciary. The outburst went viral, was shared, liked, commented upon and carried by a website as an open letter and then published as a post on various websites. All without her permission. By the next morning, Kundu had over 6,000 abusive messages in her “Others” folder on Facebook, threatening her with rape, and abusing her parents and family. “I was taken aback. After a while, I stopped blocking and stopped reading the messages,” says Kundu on phone. On 11 May, Facebook blocked her account. “A thousand of these mob reported to Facebook that my post was violating community standards or that my account was fake,” says Kundu. She didn’t want to complain to the Cyber Crime Cell of the police as “most of these accounts were fake and would be deleted”. Ignoring the messages, she approached Facebook, proved that her account is not fake and got it reopened. The faceless mob of bullies continues to send her messages.
Not many people talk about it, but most have faced online bullying or seen it happen. “Cyber bullying is a serious issue with 50% of the Indian youth having experienced it in one form or another,” says Venkat Krishnapur, vice-president of engineering—consumer and mobile at computer security company McAfee, part of Intel Security. According to a 2014 study by McAfee, which examined the online behaviour and social networking habits of 1,422 Indians in the 8-17 age group, 66% of youngsters had either been cyber-bullied or had witnessed others being bullied online. The report defines cyber bullying as any act of teasing, insulting, harassing, stalking, intimidating or abusing someone over the Internet with the help of technology (personal devices) or digital platforms such as social media.
“Fake profiles, impersonation, misuse of compromising photographs and information are the most common ways a bully can harass you,” says Rakshit Tandon, security consultant at not-for-profit Internet and Mobile Association of India. “Other ways include identity hacking, writing obscene content on anonymous public or confession pages about you, or writing defamatory statements for individuals.” If someone is sharing your personal information, or spreading lies about you on community pages, or morphing your photographs, etc., to hit out at you, you’re being bullied.
Repeated online bullying can result in psychiatric or psychological problems like depression and suicidal tendencies. “Cyber bullying can cause mood swings, self-esteem issues, appetite and sleep loss, stress, affect family life, even disrupt relationships,” says Manju Mehta, professor, clinical psychology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi.
A 2012 survey of 25 countries, released by technology company Microsoft, placed India at No.3 in instances of cyber bullying. “We don’t take cyber bullying seriously enough as a nation,” says Debarati Halder, managing director of Centre for Cyber Victim Counselling, Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu. Halder, who sees about 90 cases related to cyber bullying in a month, says the number of complaints are so low that we think it’s not happening. “But it’s happening everywhere and to everyone.”
One of the reasons might be that it’s hard to convict anyone under our current laws, says Vakul Sharma, a New Delhi-based advocate in Supreme Court who specializes in cyber laws. He says there is no exact definition of cyber bullying under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) or the Information Technology (IT) Act. Earlier, these cases were booked under Section 66A of the IT Act but that was revoked in March. Sharma says there should be a provision related to cyber bullying in the IT Act.
If you want to avoid being bullied online, here are some things you can do.

Report and block

Immediately report an offensive post to the administrator of the website, social networking site or video-sharing site and get the photograph, video or post blocked. Once you’ve done that, block the person immediately too. “Don’t counter argue, abuse or get into a shouting match,” says Halder. “Just shut off the person from your social networks.”

Don’t share everything

The 2014 McAfee report found that 92% of Indian youngsters indulged in risky online behaviour, including over-sharing or posting details like email, phone or home address.
Learn to control the information you post on social media, says Ponnurangam Kumaraguru, assistant professor and founding head of Cybersecurity Education and Research Centre at the Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology in New Delhi. “Avoid posting any personal information or compromising photographs on public forums.”

Continue reading Cyber bullying: Nip it in the bud

Anantya makes it to Top Ten at various places!

I know I’ve been putting in too many of the Update posts recently and not enough stories, those lovely little things that readers (including me) love to read. But indulge me for a moment, peeps. For: Cult of Chaos has made it to Top Ten! Like with all-caps!

Yes. Anantya’s managed it. Not just at one place but four different places across the country! This was shared by the kind sales head at HarperCollins. At the end in Top Ten list of Asian Age. Whaat??

The Asian Age - April 2015

Before I could begin rubbing my eyes, a friend send this. In top ten at WS Smith, those stores that are our lone friends at the airport. Cult shares spot with Amish‘s trilogy in the Book of the Month section. WH Smith, Book of the month April

 

 

Then in April, my book was in the top ten at Bahrisons, a well respected bookstore in Delhi.

Bahrisons - April 2015

 

 

Sainath, the enthusiastic sales head in HarperCollins in Bangalore had told me that the book was first in Top Ten at Oxford Bookstore Bangalore last month, which I’d duly posted with a yay.

 That was last month and last weekend, Aswin (@aswinsam), a pal of mine over Twitter, sent me this. Yup, Cult has been there since more than a month! Woot.

So you see, complete Woot-ness has become. While I turn into an owl with sheer happiness (there are so many other reasons which I’ll let you all know in due time), you go on to read something serious here or if you crave for an interesting story, here.

 

How to fortify your lungs

There may be no escape from air pollution in most metros but you could at least try to boost your immunity levels. 

The link between air quality and health is direct and immediate. Last year, the World Health Organization declared Delhi to be the world’s most polluted city.

A study published in the Atmospheric Pollution Research journal in February 2014, which looked at the number of cases of cardiovascular mortality, respiratory mortality and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease cases in Delhi hospitals, found that from 1991-2010, the mortality rate attributed to air pollution had increased by 100% in the Capital. “Fifteen per cent of total deaths in the NCR (National Capital Region) are air pollution-related mortalities,” says Ajay Singh Nagpure of the University of Minnesota, US, the main author of this study, on email. “You need to check pollution levels in the area before doing any outdoor activity, including exercise.” Continue reading How to fortify your lungs

Tantric Tales: A documentary, real life stories and an occult quiz

The occult quiz is back by popular demand! This time, it’s the kind people at The Beehive who’ve owned up everything tantrism and will be hosting it at The Humming Tree, probably the coolest place in the city to hang out at. We will talk about Cult of Chaos, do an occult quiz (with prizes), a documentary on witch hunting in India and finally, the thing I’m most looking forward to: Everyone who comes there, the audience, the barman, the friends and family, will all sit in a circle and tell a real life story they’ve heard about paranormal, supernatural and tantrism.

VENUE: The Humming Tree, Indiranagar, Bangalore
DATE: 26 April, 2015
TIME: 4-8pm

So come, listen to occult stories! It’s going to be fun. Here’s the fabulous invite made by Aakanksha.

Chillli lemon Beehive final

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THE BEEHIVE
presents
TANTRIC TALES
Exploring the supernatural with Shweta Taneja
author of ‘Cult of Chaos’
In this session of The Beehive, we will explore some secrets of dark magic, tantrism and cults that exist at the fringes of our society with a documentary on witch hunting, a quiz and trivia session and a discussion on tantrism with author Shweta Taneja whose new book, Cult of Chaos has been published by Harper Collins India.
4.00 pm – Documentary
5.00 pm – Trivia and Quiz
6.00 pm – Discussion on Tantrism and Cult of Chaos by Shweta Taneja
6.30 pm – Book Reading by Shweta Taneja
7.00 pm – Story Sharing Circle
We invite all of you to be a part of this and share with us your own personal experiences or stories that you’ve heard from your mother about what happened to your aunt’s daughter’s brother-in law when he was travelling through the Western Ghats on a full moon night.. or the one about the neighbour who took a swim in the village pond and was possessed by the spirits living in the old peepal tree, where she hung her clothes. The best story will get a signed copy by the author!
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VENUE : THE HUMMING TREE
———————————————The Humming Tree is a concept Live Music and Arts Venue (operating as a bar/café as well) opened in June, 2013 and located in Bangalore, India.

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ORGANISERS : THE BEEHIVE
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The Beehive is a participatory gathering of all the wonderful pool of talents, dreams, hopes, skills and innovations. We all share, we all learn, we all love. Every month, ‘The Beehive’, at The Humming Tree brings something new.

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See you all there this Sunday!

Anantya goes in Femina

Ten years ago, I was working full time in Femina. Ten years later, someone from Femina did an interview about me. It’s a moment of a kind. Femina has shaped the earlier me. I worked three years there, three years full of travel and meeting the most fabulous people I could imagine. So, I’m a bit stumped. And wowed. Here’s a okay photo that someone sent me of the interview.

Femina April 2015

Isn’t this simply the most jiggle-worthy thing? Here’s the original interview, in case you’re the reading type.

Continue reading Anantya goes in Femina

Six kinds of people you meet at book clubs in Delhi

‘You’re everywhere,’ cried a guy who came to three of my Meetups in Delhi over the same weekend. Yes, I was. Two weeks in Delhi and I wanted to meet, chat and listen in to what the crowd in the capital city was reading. What kind of book was it buying and what kind of writing was it pondering on. And I wanted to tell them about my book, my writing experiences and the crazies I’d learnt.

So I met four different book clubs, did a lecture at Jesus and Mary College and at National Institute of Fashion Technology and mostly met all ages of people and had a ball. Plus discovered that I’m sticking to running for fitness on my own. (Thanks Kay, for that!) But it was fun, to meet all kinds of people in Delhi. The kinds who read books, the kinds who write them, the ones who sell them or publish or market them and the ones who love to talk about books without really sitting cozily with one. Here are the kind of people I met in Delhi’s book clubs.

The curious kinds

They are the ones that come to meetings/gatherings to listen in. They’re usually open to ideas, exchanging information, helpful, impressionable and actually hear things you might be saying (reason you have to stop saying vague things you’ve been saying all your life). They want to know you, your book, as well as how you wrote it. They have a lot of questions and are open to ideas.

The gifting types

The whole reason they’re there at the meeting or gathering or panel or even your own book launch is to come up to you and give you their own work. A signed copy of their work or an excerpt. That’s it. They’re not there to listen or even to talk or to read, but to promote their own written work. Well, I appreciate gifts in any form, especially books!

The selfie hogs

Oh yeah, they’ve attacked the book clubs too. They won’t buy your book (probably don’t buy any books really), but would want to get a photo of themselves with you to post online and boast and who knows what else?

The excuse types

They feel slightly guilty at coming at a do without picking up the author’s book. (Perfectly okay, since you might not actually like the said book) But the excuse-breed, gives you reasons why they’re not picking up your book. Reasons like ‘I don’t have money today. I will order it online.’ or ‘It’s cheaper online. I’ll order it there.’ Or they’ll just smile, and sneak out without saying bye. Even though they had the most questions in the session.

The smugs

They are the kings and queens of the world. They already know everything, even though they’re attending a writers’ session. They come loaded with preconceived notions about the writing, publishing and marketing process (having not gone through it). Their questions are usually hidden assumptions, pandering to a need to be proven right. ‘You put the ‘Mature readers’ cover to sell the book, right?’ ‘You have a connection in the industry right?’ ‘It must be easier to sell a book if you’re a girl/boy/drag queen/naked.’ Oh, and they never buy the book.

The naysayers

The ones who feel nothing is right in the industry of writing and publishing. No one buys books, no one publishes the right kind of books. No one is sensible out there. Someone should buy Indian author books, someone should publish amazing books, someone should. And no, they don’t buy the book either.


Oh, well. It’s Delhi after all. :) Here are a few photos of the various thingummies I did.

Know of any other Delhi book-reading kinds? Type away below.

 

 

 

 

Debut happened with Radio One and Radio City

Super duper excitement happened while I was in Delhi. First of all, I saw spring come into the city after six years. It’s fabulous, by the way, that end of winters before they crash into the searing hot summers of the city. The city was blushing and blooming with colours all over, Fall tussling with Spring. And I can vouch for it, for was driving from one end of the city to the other, meeting people, signing books, talking about the art and craft of writing books (knowledgeably at that!).

RJ Ginnie who is the superstar host of the show Suno Na Dilli over at Radio City 91.1 has this to-die-for-voice. In real life, she’s chilled out, friendly and an efficient producer who rocks her studio without any assistant. This was the first time I’d entered a studio and I was so excited. It’s been a secret dream for me, to be an RJ since AGES. So secret that I didn’t even remember it, till I entered the space. We tested and then crashed onto a single take of the whole show. And here’s what happened. (Disclaimer: Keep volume low for the rather screechy voice. No choice there!)

Post the recording, Ginnie was fascinated by my rather non-authorly behaviour (jumping around, gleefully) when I asked her to click a few pictures of me. But they’re worth it, aren’t they? And she didn’t mind too much, else she wouldn’t have agreed to come to my book launch later in Delhi, where we had an energetic discussion on everything tantrism and Anantya Tantrist. Before the launch, she’d completed the book and loved it too! (Thanks girl, you rock!)

The second radio interview happened at Radio One, 94.3FM with RJ Chris. She’s a darling, soft spoken, genuine and we spoke at length about death. There has been a recent death in the family and we wondered together why we as kids are taught how to dress up, how to cope with homework but not something at nuts as death, which lingers all around us always. But the interview itself is not so dark. It’s about Makaibari tea, my favouritest in the world (I stole a little of it from my friend Kay, after my stash got over) and about why I’m so fascinated by tantrism. Check it out below.

Fab launch for Cult of Chaos in Delhi

#Delhi #Booklaunch #Rocked

Super duper excitement happened while I was in Delhi. First of all, I saw spring come alive in the city after six years. It’s fabulous, by the way, that end of winters before they crash into the searing hot summers. The city was blushing and blooming with colours all over, Fall tussling with Spring. And I can vouch for it, for was driving from one end of the city to the other, meeting people, making new friends, signing books, talking about the art and craft of writing books (knowledgeably at that!).

The end of my Delhi trip was with a formal launch of Cult of Chaos, which HarperCollins organised in association with Oxford Bookstore and QuizCraft Global. The idea was the same as the launch in Bangalore a month before: a quiz on everything paranormal and supernatural and then a discussion about Cult of Chaos. About 70 people turned up. The house was full, more were standing in the aisles, including me and it was a young bustling, energetic crowd, with a few kids. Manasi, an editor from HarperCollins introduced the book beautifully. Sidhartha, the handsome bloke from QuizCraft offered a rocking quiz to attendees. RJ Ginnie, who kindly accepted my request to do a discussion and ask me probing questions, made the talk about the book so much fun. Most of them who attended had a good time (and told me it wasn’t a boring book launch. Including a few peeps from HarperCollins). So see, heaven had been achieved.

Except it wasn’t just that. A lot of the people who turned up were from my school, college, post grad, ex-office pals and family. For me, more than a launch, it turned out to be a series of reunions with old friends, swapping notes, hugging, crying a bit. They were all there for me, proud, excited, supportive. Wow. Am touched, out of words, giddy and rather exhausted. So here’s all the madness. In photos and comments as usual.

Since I don’t really remember much of the event myself, here’s what two literature students who were there at the quiz and stayed till the end, thought about it. They interviewed me post the event and wrote for a really nice website called ReadersClubDelhi.Com. They were well prepared with a tight questionnaire, so check out the video below if you want to see me fumble and skirt difficult questions.


Oxford Bookstore CP and Harper Collins India in association with Quizcraft Global organized a quiz – Witches and Vamps : a quiz on paranormal crime on 28th March to celebrate the launch of the novel Cult of Chaos, a tantrik thriller by Shweta Taneja. 

The event began at 3:20pm with an introduction by Mansi, editor at Harper Collins and was taken over by Siddharta Gopati, the quizmaster for the day. There were sixteen teams and three rounds – written, audio-visual and still image.

The questions were thrilling and the atmosphere electric.
Written round included a few questions from Cult of Chaos among the other questions. Audio-visual round was an out of the world experience with short video clips of movies like The Conjuring and The Exorcism of Emily Rose being played to be identified by the teams.

IMG-20150330-WA0006The quiz ended at a thrilling note and left the participants awestruck and yearning for more.

Manjulika’s angel, The Reluctant Quizers and SFF were the round winners. Sawalon Se Darne Walewon the overall quiz. All of them were awarded the prizes by none other than Shweta Taneja.

After the distribution of prizes, the author was in conversation with Ginny about her book The Cult of ChaosHere is a small excerpt from the conversation –

Ginny: As we know The Cult of Chaos is a fantasy, what was your research and preparation for the book?

Shweta: I did my best research and tried to keep the book as indigenous as possible. I read sixty books on tantrism, asked people about their experiences and folk stories. The blood of my book is Indian, unlike the western magic world fantasies.

After the conversation, the floor was open to questions and an interesting assortment of questions was thrown at the author to which Taneja answered with smiles and incredulity. More serious questions regarding her novel and protagonist were also asked.

A stunning quiz, interesting discussions and a few laughs and smiles, the evening came to an end. Check out an interview with the author.


Would you like the supernatural quiz in your city? Contact me!

Fantasy writer. Author. Daydreamer