The media is about communication and I suppose most of us would agree that, as human beings we need to communicate. We need to know what is going on in the world generally; we want to be entertained and to keep in touch with people. Older media, such as newspapers, radio and TV help us do this, but the newer media, particularly the internet and mobile phones go further. We have more choice in terms of what we watch or who we talk to.
I have an iPhone which allows me – just by using one device – to make phone calls, use the internet, listen to music, play games and watch videos. And it’s all immediate, and portable. It makes you feel in control, but there are disadvantages too.
People are always texting and emailing each other and if they don’t have their phone or laptop around, they feel cut off. Also, have you seen a group of teenagers in a cafe where they’re not talking to each other, but using their phones? It’s a very common sight these days, which many people feel is worrying, as we seem to prefer using technology to face-to-face communication.
We are also spoilt for choice – perhaps too much choice. There are so many TV channels, but so many of the programmes are poor quality. There’s also so much advertising all around us, trying to persuade us to buy things we don’t really need. To survive in such a society, you have to be very aware of the power the media can have over you, your actions and your opinions, and try not to let it control your life.
To my mind, there’s no doubt we live in a media-rich society, and there’s nothing we can do about that. What we can do is use the media responsibly and not let it use us.
Some young people find themselves with very little leisure time. I believe there are two main causes of this situation. The first is parental pressure and the second is competition for university places.
Every parent wants to see his or her child do well in school and go on to have a successful career. This means that they exert pressure on their children to spend hours each day studying at home. Some even arrange extra tuition for their children. In my own country, it is not uncommon for young people to spend another three hours at small private schools after their usual day at stale school is over. As a consequence, their leisure time is extremely limited and the pressure on them is considerable.
The second cause is related to the higher education system. Each year, there are many times more applicants to university than there are university places. The result of this is that only those students with very high grades manage to obtain a place. This contributes to the pressure on teenagers since they must work long hours to have any chance of success.
One solution to the problem is for parents to be made aware of the effects of the pressure they put on their children. Schools should inform parents that too much pressure can lead to anxiety, stress and depression. They should be shown ways in which they can help their children lead more balanced lives with a reasonable amount of leisure time.
Another effective measure would be for the government to invest in the creation of more university places. This could be done by expanding existing universities or by building new ones. This would have the effect of easing competition for places giving teenagers some of their precious free lime back.
Globalization means that in some ways people around the world are becoming more and more similar. We often eat the same food, watch the same TV programmes, listen to the same music and we wear the same clothes. Some of this at least can be blamed on the spread of multinational brands available all over the world.
On the surface, it may appear as if the global diversity of cultural identities is being lost. If, the argument goes, people in Tokyo and London look and dress the same, then that must mean that cultural differences are disappearing. However, I would argue that this is a very narrow definition of culture and that in fact cultural differences are as present as ever.
Cultural Identity is built on far more than just the films we watch or the jeans we wear. The foundation of cultural identity is shared values. When you look in detail at different cultures, you realize that the things that are important to one culture can be very different from the things valued by another culture.
Take my own culture, India, as an example and compare it to a very different culture, Japan. Although I have never visited Japan personally, I believe that it is a culture which places a lot of value on hard work and that people often work very long hours. The Indian people, in contrast, greatly value their leisure time and strive to spend as much time with their family as they possibly can. Even if we consume the same products, I would argue that there are still some very deep-rooted differences.
To summarize, I do not accept that total loss of cultural identity is inevitable, despite the influence of large companies and their products around the globe.
The so-called ‘brain drain’ from poor to rich countries is now robbing poorer countries of essential personnel like doctors, nurses, engineers, and the trend is set to continue, if not to get worse.
Some people say this movement of people around the world is not a new phenomenon. Migrant workers have always been attracted by the wider choice of employment and greater opportunity in major cities in their own countries and abroad. Recently, as the technological age has advanced and as richer countries find themselves with not enough workers to feed their development, they have had to run to other parts of the world to find the necessary manpower. Many richer European countries, for example, are now trying to attract skilled IT workers from my home country India by offering higher salaries than they could hope to earn at home. With the globalisation of the world economy, many people feel that the process cannot be stopped.
Others, myself included, are of the opinion that measures should be taken to address the problem, by compensating poorer countries financially for the loss of investment in the people they have trained, like doctors and nurses. Admittedly, this may be cumbersome to administer, but an attempt could be made to get it off the ground. Another step, which in part has already begun to happen, is to use the forces of globalization itself. Western countries could encourage people to stay in their own countries by direct investment in projects like computer factories or by sending patients abroad for treatment, as is already happening.
It is obviously difficult to restrict the movement of people around the world and it is probably foolish to try to stop it, but attempts should be made to redress the imbalance.
Multinational companies nowadays find it easy both to market their products all over the world and set up factories wherever they find it convenient. In my opinion this has had a harmful effect on our quality of life in three main areas.
The first area is their products. Supporters of globalization would argue that multinational companies make high-quality goods available to more people. While this may be true to some extent, it also means that we have less choice of products to buy. When powerful multinational companies invade local markets with their goods, they often force local companies with fewer resources to go out of business. In consequence, we are obliged to buy multinational products whether we like them or not.
This brings me to my second point. It is sometimes said that multinational companies and globalisation are making societies more open. This may be true. However, I would argue that as a result the human race is losing its cultural diversity. If we consumed different products, societies all over the world would be more varied. This can be seen by the fact that we all shop in similarmultinational supermarkets and buy identical products wherever we live.
Thirdly, defenders of multinational companies often point out that they provide employment. Although this is undoubtedly true, it also means that we have become more dependent on them, which in turn makes us more vulnerable to their decisions. When, for example, a multinational decides to move its production facilities to another country, this has an adverse effect on its workers who lose their jobs.
All in all, I believe that if we as voters pressured our governments to make multinational companies more responsible and to protect local producers from outside competition, we could have the benefits of globalisation without its disadvantages.
People who SAY/ARGUE that nowadays parents give less attention to their children than in the past are FREQUENTLY/OFTEN looking back to a SHORT/BRIEF period of time in the twentieth century when MOTHERS/MUMS in middle-class families REMAINED/STAYED at home to look after their children. What these people are SUGGESTING/SAYING is that women nowadays should not go out to work.
THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS THAT/ACTUALLY in MOST/THE MAJORITY OF families in the past both parents worked MUCH LONGER HOURS/MORE than they do nowadays. What has changed is that now in most countries their children ATTEND/GO TO school rather than also working themselves. In that sense they may SEE LESS OF/HAVE LESS CONTACT WITH their parents.
Nowadays, as a result of ACQUIRING AN EDUCATION/GOING TO SCHOOL, children come into contact with teachers who NATURALLY/OF COURSE have to explain why some of their students are failing. What teachers come up with are LOTS OF/FREQUENT stories of parents who are SIMPLY/JUST too busy for their CHILDREN/KIDS. And IF CHILDREN ARE NOT SUPERVISED BY THEIR PARENTS/IF PARENTS DON’T KEEP AN EYE ON THEIR CHILDREN, they will often DO BADLY/UNDERPERFORM at school. However, FAILURE AT SCHOOL/ACADEMIC FAILURE is nothing new even when one or both parents are at home. If children ARE NEGLECTED/DON’T HAVE ATTENTION GIVEN TO THEM by their parents, they will suffer.
I guess children probably had more problems in the past when they and their parents had to work non-stop just to get by. These days, the law looks after children and they can go to school, so children have lots more chances than they ever had before.
Nobody can deny that there are certain professionals like nurses, doctors and teachers who are essential to the fabric of society, and who should therefore be rewarded accordingly. However, this is seldom the case. When we look at the salaries and fees commanded by certain film stars and actresses and people who run large companies, this does not seem fair.
First of all, not all film stars earn huge sums of money. In fact, at any one time in the UK, for example, roughly 80 per cent of actors are out of work and on top of that the number who are paid so-called ‘telephone number fees’ is even smaller. One must also remember that the career of many actors is very short and that therefore the money they earn has to be spread over many years. The same applies to company bosses.
Stating a set of criteria as to how much people should be paid is not easy. The idea of performance-related pay is very much in vogue at the moment. Rewarding people according to qualifications has long been used as a yardstick for paying people, but it is not a consistently good measure. Another is years of relevant experience, but there are many cases where a younger person can perform a task better than someone with lots of experience.
Whatever criteria are used to assess salaries, an on-going cycle will develop. This will create pressure in other areas. This considered, generally I feel that certain key professionals should have their salaries assessed by independent review bodies on an on-going basis so that they do not fall behind.
Generally, people read newspapers to find out about world current affairs and they read magazines to be entertained. Therefore, one would expect to find articles that feature the private lives of famous people in magazines rather than newspapers. However, nowadays, more and more newspapers include stories like these which are neither informative nor useful.
In my opinion, this type of gossip about people’s private lives should not be in newspapers for several reasons. Firstly, for example, the fact that Princess Diana is going out with a sportsman is not important news. Secondly, if newspapers want to publish articles about famous people they should focus on their public events and achievements. In other words, if there is an article about Princess Diana it should be about her works of charity, which will increase public awareness of important problems. In addition, journalists should make sure that they write about the facts only, not rumours. One should be able to rely on newspapers for the actual truth.
Magazines, on the other hand, focus on social news. But I feel it is more acceptable for them to contain some features about famous personalities. In addition to being popular reading, these stories often benefit the stars by giving free publicity to them, thereby helping their careers. However, I also believe that magazine stories should not mention things that are too embarrassing or untrue just to attract people to buy the magazine. Sensational stories, such as these, cause great unhappiness to the people concerned.
In conclusion, I think newspapers should concentrate on real news but magazines can feature some articles on people’s private lives.
Whether women should be allowed to serve in the military has triggered spirited debate. Some assert that women should be allowed to defend their country in the same capacity as their male peers. Personally, I agree with their assertion for two reasons.
History has shown that women are fully capable of performing well in the military. Historically, there were a host of valiant women soldiers whose achievements really put their male counterparts to shame. One need only look at the classic examples of Joan of Arc and Mulan to see how exceptionally women could perform on the battlefield. In my observation, their determination, courage and dignity, to this day, are still being admired by male soldiers and civilians alike throughout the world.
Moreover, from an enlightened standpoint, female patriots should be granted the right to go to the front line when their motherland is involved in a war. Admittedly, gender inequality was a highly controversial issue in the twentieth century. However, now twelve years into the new millennium, women can learn and teach, work and supervise, vote and voted in most countries just like men. In light of this sweeping progress in gender equality, there is no sense in denying them the right to defend their home country when a war breaks out.
In sum, keeping military services out of bounds of women in the information age is unwarranted. I have been convinced that it is in the best interest of a nation if women are also granted equal rights in this particular arena.
In the last decade, there has been considerable debate over the role of free speech in a free society. Some object to absolute freedom of speech. Others advocate free speech, arguing that the freedom of speech is the single most important political right of citizens in a civilized society. Whilst I believe that there are strong arguments on both sides, I would suggest that freedom of speech should be protected in all but extreme circumstances.
The freedom of speech is important at all levels in a society. Yet it is most important for the governments. A government which does not know what the people feel and think is in a dangerous position. This is how the communist regimes of Eastern Europe were toppled in the 1980s. The same is happening again in other regions of the world today. The governments that muzzle free speech run a risk of pushing their people to behave destructively or to rebel.
Furthermore, without free speech no political action is possible and no resistance to injustice and oppression is possible. Without free speech elections would have no meaning at all. Policies of contestants become known to the public and become responsive to public opinion only by virtue of free speech. Between elections the freely expressed opinions of citizens help restrain oppressive rule. Without this freedom it is futile to expect political freedom or consequently economic freedom.
In conclusion, I believe that the importance of free speech as a basic and valuable characteristic of a free society cannot be underestimated. It may be challenging for society to allow differences of opinion out into the open; however, the consequences of restricting free speech are likely to be more damaging in the longer term.