Monday, August 8, 2011

Raman Rage

There is a ‘I-hate- Sonia-Gandhi’ page on facebook. Actually, there might be more than one such page. In case you didn’t know there is also a funny ‘IhateObama’ website. There is a ‘I-hate-Amitabh-Bachchan’ page on facebook. There is a facebook group page ‘Take Barkha off the air’ and even one called ‘Barkha for worst senior journalist on planet’. There is a page that refers to an article by Sagarika Ghose as ‘Porn article’ Somebody wants to police them all and send them to jail. These are usually the people who shout themselves hoarse against moral-policing and yet fail to see they indulge in the same activity. 

Okay, if you hunt for these pages and don’t find some, don’t blame me. Pages on the net have a strange habit of disappearing suddenly. As you can see, many public figures have hate pages somewhere and some of the content/comments on those pages are funny or even weird. Some hate pages also become redundant and just hang around until something new comes up about the person concerned.

So why exactly should these silly things rattle someone like B. Raman? (Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India )Especially when he calls this lot a minority? And of all the people who have been decorated with hate on the web why does he pick out Sonia Gandhi, Barkha Dutt and Sagarika Ghose? Well, if you go through Raman’s blogs it’s no secret he is a big admirer of Barkha Dutt. I guess making it all about Barkha would have been silly, so throw in a Sagarika and a Sonia for keeping it sane.

This is what he wrote in an article titled ‘A venomous glee over the Internet’ at He first posted this on his own blog and rediff then decorated it with some pics. He rattles of a rage against certain people in the same hateful manner that he accuses them of. Some excerpts (in blue) are being reproduced here for the extraordinarily silly logic and arguments that Raman employs:

One has reasons to be concerned over the ill-concealed irrationality of a small number of people, who have been exploiting the advantages of anonymity and wide dissemination for irrational and venomous thoughts provided by the Internet, to indulge in a vicious campaign against those with whom they are in disagreement….…which is seeking to distort and venomise the political debate by using language, arguments and tactics, which are not dissimilar from those used in the past by irrational elements such as the Nazis and  the Fascists.

Actually, what you won’t find now on the rediff article site are two pics of tweets that were originally featured and then removed to be replaced with pics of Barkha Dutt and Sagarika Ghose. If one were to go by some of those tweets, you will find nothing hateful. Which is why it was so conveniently removed, I guess. Mind you, the pics and their removal is Rediff’s own doing and may not have anything to do with Raman. Among the names were Sandeepweb, Calamur, TweetingSourav, IndianUlu, Desh2014, Ssudhirkumar and Talmukund. Sudhir has responded to the mischief on his blog Serious-fun. You can also read the tweets from others. There sure is some ridicule but nothing that would qualify as ‘hate’. And ridicule, Raman should understand, is not such a bad way of dealing with those who concoct and colour news and discussions on television. That is true for politicians too.

You can see screen shots of the two original pics at the serious-fun blog I’ve mentioned above. There you go, Raman, people keep screen shots knowing well how media can manipulate reports within hours. That should tell you something.

Their language, arguments and tactics are also not dissimilar from those used by some of the contemporary irrationals such as the jihadi extremists and the right-wing extremists and the Neo-Nazis of Europe.

Jihadis, Right-wing extremists and Neo-Nazis? Raman is also an ex-Intelligence guy. It is one thing to defend Barkha or Sagarika or Sonia but to trash others as Nazis as an argument can only come from sick minds. In the entire article he does not provide a single example of such hate-writing. It is a tradition with those who cannot combat in a debate with others to trash them as Nazis and fascists. Repeat that lie over and over again and it might even gain currency.  

….The worrisome depth to which their campaign has sunk has become evident from the vicious comments and wishes being disseminated by these elements through the Internet following reports that Sonia has been taken by her family to the US for medical treatment. They do not conceal a certain venomous glee over the indisposition of Sonia.Their obnoxious campaign is directed not only against Sonia, but also against Barkha Dutt for favouring the right to privacy of Sonia Gandhi and her family in the matter of her indisposition.

Some might rationally disagree with Barkha on this point, but what one has been seeing is not a rational disagreement, but an irrational wave of attacks on her, including expression of wishes or curses that Barkha herself should develop the same illness as Sonia for defending the latter's right to privacy

I am yet to see any viciousness in the tweets that Rediff had originally used as examples. I didn’t find any curse on Barkha either. In reality, it was the Congress itself who managed to ridicule a serious issue. First they mentioned viral fever as the reason for Sonia’s absence from parliament. Then she had cervical cancer, then surgery in the US, then no surgery, then skin cancer. Naturally, the illness of the Congress president who is also seen as the default head of the government cannot be a matter of privacy. Her treatment and recovery can surely be in privacy but not the news about her illness and progress of her recovery. No one has even remotely ridiculed Sonia’s situation.

If there are people who ridicule Barkha or Sagarika it’s because they have come to represent the worst of Indian news media. Barkha has not reached this stage of ridicule overnight. She was once very popular. But repeated drama in reporting events, terrorist attacks, Radiagate have all exposed her to be hollow. People are not going to forget the ‘shoddy journalism’ episode in a hurry and nor are they going to forget Radiagate. It is when tainted journalists continue their sermons on morals and ethics that they invite severe ridicule and rightly so. Any self-respecting news outlet would have fired Barkha Dutt long back. Defend her if you like but don’t become an extremist yourself by trashing people as Nazis.

As I had argued on many occasions in my past articles, history is replete with instances when irrational minorities prevailed over rational or moderate majorities because of the failure of the majority to confront the irrationals with determination and solidarity. We saw such instances in Germany, Italy, Russia, Japan and Mao's China.

The antidote to this lies not in imposing curbs on the use of the Internet in order to prevent these elements from misusing the Internet, but in exposing the activities of these elements, in standing in solidarity with their targeted victims and in finding ways of using existing laws against hate-mongering through the conventional media against those indulging in hate-mongering through the new media of the Internet.

Yeah, you’re right! Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and Mao’s China. There’s only person in the article with an Italian connection and not strangely the very party that usually parties with communists is the one to keep India a stable democracy? The Internet people are not the ones who famously got India the name ‘banana republic’. If a majority of our institutions have eroded and are in trouble it is not the making of internet people. Radiagate would have been buried by the entire media if not for the internet people. In the US a majority of people now rely on Jon Stewart’s comedy show (The Daily Show) for reliable news. In India the MSM has reached a point where reliability for facts and truth is at an all-time low. Guess who are the famous ones responsible for burying the credibility of the news media Mr. Raman?

It is usually the loser who runs out of sane and fair arguments who wants to prosecute people for imaginary hate-mongering. And in case Raman fails to see or understand, it’s the people he defends who hold more powerful public positions which they can and do misuse and not the people on the internet. By that token we would have to believe everything that is written on the internet, which fortunately most people don’t because they possess good judgement. If there is real hate-mongering that goes on secretly it is surely not on the internet but on some of our news channels.

The bias, the colour, the spin, the suppression of facts and truth that go on in news channels is what has spawned a host of writers on the net. If Raman were driving we would have called it ‘road-rage’! On the net it’s simply Raman-rage! If that is not enough, the comments in response to his article at his own blog site are a fair indication of what people think.


  1. Cant do anything but laugh at 'Strategic analysis of B RAMAN' :P.That too the way he narrates it in his blog with bullet numbering ,one would mistake it to be evidences leading to a secret treasure.He is a funny guy.

  2. the internet is as yet truly free and provides the space for people to express their opinion may at times be turned off by some comment but yet the worst that one can do is to seek to deny the right of people to comment as raman seeks to do.barkha tried to do this in kunte's case. perhaps raman has not done his research on barkha or else he is plain dazzled by her ,in which case his well being needs to be checked.

  3. If the internal security and threat analysis of our dear country is in the hands of people with such IQ. No wonder terrorist are having a ball here.

    i am worried.

  4. Saw a Times Now report on the suspension of Sanjiv Bhatt. NOT ONCE did they mention that the reason for the suspension was because the man has been AWOL for 10 months. Teesta and Bhatt's lawyer were allowed to do all the talking and that was the "news" piece. Disgusting beyond words!

  5. Since Sonia's health has been mentioned here I am posting this comment. Media did a 24*7 coverage of Yedyurappa when he was hospitalised and asked probing questions. Why no status report, why did you cover the blanket et al to the authorities (Police/Doctors)? Now Yedyurappa is just a sitting MLA and is being accused of weilding power on the state government. So the same yardstick should be used for Sonia who weild's enormous power over UPA and her illness should be discussed in public or would Burkha say we were wrong in covering Yedyurappa's health which is his privacy

  6. Came here after seeing your twitter feed. A year on, sadly, this article is still relevant.

  7. this is an excellent corollary to atanu dey's stinging rebuke of the spook!!


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