Friday, October 28, 2011

Mallika Sarabhai's Toilet Musings

On September 17, 2011 when Narendra Modi began his fast under the Sadbhavna mission there were some who protested, some who said he was flexing his PM ambitions and some called it a 5-star fast. There was one 5-star human rights activist though who was busy doing something to prove a point. Yes! Mallika Sarabhai, the 5-star activist decided that she would feed poor slum children on that day to protest against Modi’s ‘5-star’ fast. I am wondering if that was the first time Mallika ever saw slum children from close ‘quarters’. You can usually tell human rights activists by their 'truck' – usually a very large blood-guzzling SUV.  A day later on September 18 Mallika was busy again hurling accusations against Modi of bribing her lawyers. Of course, her lawyers denied that. And then she got busy in leading a group of protestors to petition Modi about justice awaited in the 2002 riots. Then the fast was over! Modi went back to work and Mallika .. Oh I don’t know where or what she went back to.

A few days later that ‘whistler’ cop, Sanjiv Bhatt, is arrested and Mallika was back on the scene. This time she went a step further stating “even judges in Gujarat are influenced by Modi”. There are the usual SUV types like Shabnam Hashmi, Teesta Setalvad and others with Mallika with candles and balloons to support Sanjiv Bhatt. After a court battle for about 18 days Bhatt finally got bail and his family celebrated. So everyone went back and Sanjiv Bhatt went back to his family. And Mallika .. Aha! This time I know where she went and what she did. Yeah! Just like any other 5-star activist she went abroad. She dashed off to wonderful South Korea. Wonderful place to forget Modi, Bhatt and slum children. Well, didn’t quite turn out like that it seems. She had to confront the horrors of South Korean toilets. And that was enough to bring back strong toilet memories for her.

So Mallika writes the ‘Last word’ in that magazine called ‘The Week’ and it’s quite appropriately titled ‘Flushed with confusion’. For all that money I could have told Mallika that her head was flushed with confusion right here in India. Anyway, let’s understand her toilet travels… I mean toilet travails… (quotes in blue).

We were at a roadside stop, somewhere in the south of South Korea, in a very clean public toilet. I looked around the toilet stall. Behind the commode, around it, under it. No, there was no sign of a flush. By this time several other voices had joined in this chorus, each with an explanation, but no solution. At last a triumphant voice, “There is a button on the right of the door as you exit.” Phew. I hadn’t fancied leaving a clean toilet dirty for want of reading Korean”. Hmmm! Somewhere? Somewhere in South Korea? That rush to toilet must have been so bad she even forgot the name of the place. I think usually when we go into a toilet in a foreign country we carry some basic info. And discovering a flush button really can’t be part of the tour plan. But 5 star activists aren’t used to it and some poor soul had to shout ‘eureka’ there’s the flush button. Oh and I’m still wondering.. if finding a flush button would have been easier if one knew Korean I wonder how they decided the place was a toilet if it was probably written in Korean. Must be some intuition! 

Toilet House, The Museum, South Korea
Oh by the way, the Koreans (And I mean South every time I mention Korea here) absolutely love their toilets. Don’t believe me? Okay, you see this little house once belonged to someone. They had shaped it like a toilet and now it is some kind of toilet museum. I am not kidding, this toilet house is in a town called Suwon in South Korea. As a tourist Mallika should have cared to know this.. LOL!

A few days later, in the even cleaner toilets of the offices of the Korea Foundation, the Korean counterpart of Indian Council of Cultural Relations, I sat on the toilet contemplating a series of graphics. One had wavy lines, horizontally placed. The next one had dotted lines, like upward moving waves. The third one had the same but moving downwards. Knowing a couple of my colleagues were in next door stalls I mused aloud about what they meant. Pat came a reply, “Whatever you try, try it while still seated, otherwise you will get a shower.” More cautious than is my wont, I refrained”. What a pity! The Indian Council of Cultural Relations must be pulled up for sending people to places without a guide on the graphic indicators in toilets. Wavy lines, dotted lines.. now thanks to Mallika, if I ever go to South Korea I will now try them while I’m seated. But wait a minute.. those were toilets in ‘offices’ so it does surprise me why they’d have showers in there to be warned by Mallika’s toilet neighbours. I, for one, haven’t seen showers in office toilets. Alright, maybe the Koreans thought there might be special Indian guests who might even consider taking a shower while being in the toilet in their offices. Quite possible hahahha!

Japanese Toilet signs
She mentions a diplomat who had problems with a Japanese toilet. A what? Yes, a Japanese toilet. So for her benefit and that of the diplomat I’ve put up what is a Japanese toilet guide that is pretty common. Then she goes on to narrate some more experiences, some of which I prefer to censor but I couldn’t help picking on this particular experience of hers: “Then there are the automatic sensor devices. At Paris airport, this meant getting up and sitting down on the pot several times till the sensor kicked in. I tried getting up and down straight, sideways, by jumping out of the sensor’s eye.... Finally it worked, but I still haven’t figured it out”. Up, down, straight, sideways? I have imagined Mallika is a dancer and also the daughter of a famous danseuse but I certainly can’t imagine her dancing in a toilet just to get the flush going. And she says she still hasn’t figured it out. Well, there are a lot of things, like the lies, that is hard to figure about Mallika too. Of course, I don’t think the toilets of the world are in a conspiracy against her though.

And finally she says: “If my readers are surprised at the topic of this week’s column, let me tell you why these thoughts come to mind. A five-star deluxe hotel I have just checked out of, had nothing at all—no bum shower, no mug, not even the possibility of reaching the tooth glass and the water at the basin without twisting your back. Was this a plug for the (toilet) paper industry, I wondered. Or just one more way we stupidly ape the west?” No Mallika, no one is surprised at all. And not everyone stupidly apes the west. Some of us have even lived in the west without aping them. Look at the bright side Mallika, the 5-star hotel you visited could well be the equivalent of the no-star slum that goes through such things every day. You face such toilets some exciting days in your life… they do that all the time.

Okay, so next time I travel abroad I won’t ask for a travel map or guide but will first seek out Mallika and get toilet tips from her. Well, so much for our 5-star activists! Their hearts bleed for justice, for slum children, they want to see Narendra Modi hanged and what not. But they can’t even flush their own bullshit down without dancing in the toilet!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rahul Gandhi - Withdrawal Symptoms

He has leadership and it is evolving. Rahul does not need to grab power." Digvijaya, in an interview to Headlines Today Executive Editor Rahul Kanwal. Kanwal didn’t ask Digvijay an important question about his comment on RG. A few months ago, on Rahul Gandhi’s birthday in June, Digvijay Singh had declared “I think it is time Rahul becomes the Prime Minister”. Secondly, no one has accused RG of trying to grab power. So why the defence by Digvijay? Even if his cronies, like Digvijay don’t tell him, I am quite certain RG is aware of the many nicknames he has earned. Here are a few: Pappu, Babloo, Amul Baby, Buddhu, RahulRetard, OwlGandhi, ClownPrince and the list could go on. I doubt any ‘evolving leader’ has earned so many titles in a short time. Sure, simply dismiss those people as ones who just hate RG. The carefully crafted media plan and that of the Congress slaves of the dynasty is slowly coming undone. Ever since the mounds of ash and dead bodies of Bhatta Parsaul Rahul Gandhi is, in reality, running from his own shadow. And if Rahul Gandhi does have his ‘own mind’ why does someone like Digvijay have to speak for him so often? Far from ‘Rahul evolving’ there is evidence of withdrawal symptoms

The SpiceGirls, a girl-band of the UK, churned out hit after hit during 1996-97 and had become a rage. Britain, devoid of any great accomplishments in recent history, used marketing as a tool to promote personalities. Even David Beckham the footballer fumbled at major events prompting some commentators to bestow him the title “Anna Kournikova of football”. But Beckham did have talent and great performances to back him. What about the SpiceGirls? Well, the first time they went on stage live the crowds discovered the girls couldn’t really sing all that well. They came crashing. They were just studio-creations and not real singers. The media marketing blitz came crashing too. I would liken Rahul Gandhi to the case of SpiceGirls or AnnaKournikova, too much hype by the media and his supporters but lacking in real substance. Rahul Gandhi is, very much, the Anna Kournikova of Indian politics.
Ever since his dramatic Bhatta Parsaul discoveries of mounds of ash and dead bodies RG went into hiding for a while, only to resurface during Anna Hazare’s fast in August 2011. (Lately, Congress channel NDTV is desperate to prove he was right.)While the Anna agitation was proving to be a thorn our evolving leader rushes off to meet victims of police firing near Pune. Not a bad idea but the only response he has to Anna’s agitation is a written speech during zero hour in the parliament. He sought constitutional status for the Lokpal. That’s not all, he patted himself by calling it a “game-changer”. That was humility! Hahaha! Having seen the goof up the Congress ministers, like Salman Khurshid, somehow now want to shore up the ‘great vision' of RG in turning the Lokpal into a constitutional authority.

If at 41 RG is still evolving then I have to wonder when he will mature. There have been at least six or seven people who have been prime ministers or presidents around RG’s age, including his own father. For the record, William Pitt (The younger) was the youngest PM of the UK at age 24. Not just that, Pitt went on to be PM for 17 years. What does it say about a man about whom someone like Renuka Chaudhary, Congress spokesperson, had to say that “he is not a parrot”! He runs around schools and colleges and talks to students where cameras and media are banned. He suddenly dashes off to trouble spots like Bharatpur to sympathise with riot victims, sometimes wearing a skull cap.And the only channel that seems to be allowed to cover him is NDTV. His Bharatpur visit was shown on NDTV in grainy mobile videos. Later his stunt on a Delhi metro train and taxi ride was also reported on NDTV. So he even gets to pick the media he likes and is friendly to him. Evolving connectivity, I suppose!

Someone mentioned RG had a drug addiction problem and Tehelka even defended it. Yes, people do make mistakes. But it’s how they handle responsibility that counts. And what exactly is RG’s responsibility. Failed in Bihar, failed in Tamil Nadu, did he own up to any responsibility? Bihar is all the more shocking where his campaign leadership not only resulted in a severe loss but more or less wiped out his party. And reading written down speeches (God knows who writes those) without having to do a Q&A after it is a reflection of a person who does not have the slightest conviction in what he’s talking about.

Following the Anna agitation and Team Anna’s promised campaign against Congress in the Hisar bypoll one would have expected a leader to stand up and fight. What does RG do? He rushes off to Jhansi, for heaven knows why, and meets up with a Dalit family for dinner. You have an election battle that is being rated as a decisive bypoll and RG is nowhere to be seen. It’s not a shame to lose an election battle. It’s a shame to not even put up a fight by the so called evolving leader. And Hisar isn’t very far from Delhi either.The fear of failure is a serious withdrawal symptom in any supposed leader, even 'evolving' ones.

TOI in an article states (Oct 24): “It has now emerged that Rahul was at least partly responsible for the PM's insistence that Union ministers' spouses and children should also disclose their assets”. That is nice, it’s not as if RG does not have good intentions, it is just that he doesn’t have the talent or the courage to take issues head on. And whenever he speaks impromptu he betrays a severe lack of knowledge and intelligence. The more his gaffes are exposed the more he shrinks into a shell. The letter about family disclosing assets should have been extended further to include his own – Robert Vadra. The phenomenal rise in the reported wealth of Vadra surely does not seem to be mere business acumen.

If the Bhatta Parsaul comedy wasn’t enough, RG had to face some more sordid moments in front of cameras. His visit to the RML hospital after the Delhi HC blast on September 7 gave him a taste of something he had never experienced before – heckling and booing. Even though he might have been genuinely concerned for victims of the blast he has been so cocooned that he doesn’t learn how angry people are at his party. His own silly statements of RSS=SIMI etc., tutored by his mentor, reflect his thoughtlessness on issues of terrorism and suffering. Prior to the Delhi blast his "99% terror attacks averted" statement after the Mumbai blast was another instance of stupidity and bad timing, if not ill-intentioned.

Last week RG also gave a speech on globalisation. This was at an event at ‘Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Contemporary Studies’. The speech sounds like a cross between Arundhati Roy and Aruna Roy. “There was only one India 60 years ago and it was poor. That India was completely unconnected, both internally and externally. But India today has changed and is changing as we speak” said Gandhi. This reflects very poor understanding of history itself. There were rich people, very rich people, even 60 years ago as there were poor. There were zamindars, nizams, businessmen. The thought and longing from freedom from the British connected many Indians. If there is one party to be held responsible for damaging the aspirations of a free India it has to be the Congress. Why? Because for most part it was Congress that was dividing the nation at every single opportunity. The two Indias, which is RG’s pet theory, is a creation of his own party. What does it say about a two bit man-child who runs off to some European location to celebrate his birthday? If anyone has to introspect it has to be the Congress and not the people. In July 2011 RG is reported to have stated that “UP is being run by Dalals”. Hmm! Who’s running the Congress?

One of the funny reports about RG’s speech last week comes from SunetraChoudhury. “To find out this somewhat inane fact (Blackberry addiction), I, along with journalists representing all major news organisations, had to pass through an obstacle course that included arriving more than an hour before the event, being separated from all our own communication devices, and then sitting through long, academic lectures. Yes, us foolish hacks did all this to hear the elusive Gandhi express his views on some of the urgent issues facing the nation, but all we got was a balcony view of Gandhi toying with his phone and sneaking glances at it while others were speaking……The argument that his supporters and Congressmen make is that it is real India that matters and its voters are the ones that the UPA government needs to engage with. So does that mean the people who came from Ralegan Siddhi weren’t from the real India? Is that why the villagers, who announced their intention to meet Gandhi days before, were humiliated till the last minute? Gandhi’s office simply said that no appointment had been granted to them so there was no question of an audience. But don’t they get the ridiculousness of asking villagers to get an appointment?” Withdrawal!

The ridiculous incident with the Sarpanch and villagers of Ralegan Siddhi says it all about his connection with rural India. As far as I can see the behavioral patterns of RG are not of one who has evolved as a leader or whose understanding of issues has evolved into a direction or vision. He only seems to have developed serious withdrawal symptoms from real issues and is happy to read out speeches written by others. Maybe his mother’s illness has some influence on that. But clearly this is a man who cannot face any challenges and is unfit for any leadership role. If there was a title I would bestow upon him it would probably be MissHit and Run’. A man who cannot honestly reform his own corrupt party can hardly be expected to handle a nation or international issues. He was heckled and faced protests in own constituency of Amethi during a recent visit. That done, he can now withdraw to a Dalit dinner in some corner of one of the Indias.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Team Anna - Goodwill Blunting

From the time you learned to read you were probably brought up in the belief that journalism is a noble profession. You were taught about ethical journalism through which facts are brought to you and journalists are obliged to speak the truth. As you acquire wisdom you would have also learned that all that is just as much a myth as the Aryan invasion. Journalism and news media are as much a business as Shoe-making and selling or running a Barber shop. All of it is meant to ‘serve your interests’ as you’d often hear. To put it differently ‘viewer or reader interest’. Believe it or not, ethics and journalism go together as much politics and ethics go together in current times.

Celebs like Rajdeep Sardesai, Barkha Dutt, Arnab Goswami or Sagarika Ghose, Vinod Mehta, Vinod Sharma, Shekhar Gupta and many more are not journalists. They are ‘editorialists’ whose job is to swing public opinion one way or another, which they attempt diligently. Subramanian Swamy even stated that Shekhar Gupta has properties worth over 20 times of his known income and so has to ‘behave’ for Sonia Gandhi. Would any man with any ethics tolerate such a comment? You decide! NDTV even had a prominent tagline: “Experience Truth First”. I haven’t seen that tagline in a long time. Wonder if it went into the garbage can. CNN-IBN tagline says “Whatever it takes”! IBN didn’t stop to think that in normal parlance that can also mean by ‘hook or crook’. Effectively, news media business is only as ethical as a shoe business or a barber shop. Frankly, they don’t give a damn about the viewer or public but only about their paymasters. This is what Team Anna managed well in the first phase and later fell prey to the evil designs of the media.

So what exactly is the media agenda? BRING DOWN any person or group that goes against their paymasters, as simple as that. I am surprised Team Anna doesn’t know this.

During the two-week fast by Anna Hazare in August 2011 there was a ground swell of support for his movement all across India. Crowds waited outside Tihar jail where Anna was held for a few days. Team Anna, as his assistants have come to be known had become symbols of the crusade against corruption. By the time the fast ended they were all more or less heroes in a scam-tired nation. Among the more prominent ones were Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi, Prashant Bhushan, Medha Patkar and Shazia Ilmi. The media didn’t ‘make’ them (to use a mafia term) but were forced to pay attention due to the overwhelming support of people. It was truly their peak and ever since, it has been downhill.

Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start! When you seethe you begin with Ag-Ni-Vesh! Hmmm! During the first round of fasts at Jantar Mantar in April this is what I wrote on April 10: “First, corruption is a sore wound that hurts all citizens. Anna got it right. Then, it was important to get some honest and credible people into his campaign. So there was Anil Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi (I am not sure I want to put Swami Agnivesh in that league)”. Later events proved beyond any doubt that Agnivesh, a morally corrupt moron, didn’t deserve to be anywhere near the anti-corruption movement. Did Team Anna learn any lessons? Doesn’t look like it. That’s where the problem starts.

A few days ago I watched an interview of Arvind Kejriwal (AK) with Barkha Dutt on NDTV. The chat was so warm I could even call it love and affection. Well, on hindsight I can now say that AK was informed that he was NDTV’s ‘Indian of the year’ award winner. He must have already known and so the interview. Two days later AK does receive that award. That’s the icing on the cake of silly acts by Team Anna. If you are campaigning for a public cause, the last thing you should be doing is accepting an award from a dubious media shop. But that is not where it began.

Kiran Bedi did an impromptu ‘ghoongat’ dance about politicians with a mask during the fast in August. MPs even wanted to prosecute her. People supported her and she was lucky to get away with that silly act. Now, if the entire movement is against corruption and cleanliness in public life why do these people go about giving sound bites about unrelated issues? Starting with Prashant Bhushan’s comments on Kashmir which earned him a thrashing to comments about Sanjiv Bhatt Team Anna simply failed to understand that being in the media spotlight beyond a point can be damaging.

Last month Rajdeep, Barkha  and Rahul Kanwal went on a picnic to Ralegan Siddhi, hometown of Anna Hazare and each did an ‘exclusive’ interview with almost similar questions. Each tried to somehow trap Anna into the questions of RSS, Digvijay comments and so on. Anna bites! The objective of media celebs to support the Congress theory that RSS is evil and any association with it has to be demonised is an agenda set by their paymasters. Anna fell into that trap.

Hmmm! A few days later Sanjiv Bhatt is arrested in Gujarat for some offence and instantly Anna Hazare condemns the arrest of the so called ‘whistle-blower’. So does Kiran Bedi. Who the hell asked you people? Without touching upon the merits of the case to simply support Sanjiv Bhatt because it is anti-Modi is another trap Team Anna has fallen into. Kiran Bedi was so foolish that she failed to grasp the kind of support Modi has. After tweeting and condemning Modi all day long she had to tone down her nonsense on the same day and speak glowingly of Gujarat and her Gujarati friends and so on. Did her tweets delight the media? You bet! And if that wasn’t enough there is always gutter-mouth Digvijay Singh to throw more fuel at Anna. Pretty soon Digvijay V Anna was a street fight that became a joy for the media. Somewhere else AK’s statement of people and Anna being above parliament was widely publicised as “Anna is above parliament”. AK doesn’t seem to have learnt how the media likes to twist mild statements. Each time Anna or his team members opened their mouths the public couldn’t believe these people had become such a dysfunctional group like the govt.

If corruption was the main issue for the group where was the need to talk about Kashmir, Sanjiv Bhatt and more? Did the people give Team Anna a blanket license to talk crap on every issue like politicians? They did not! But that is how some fame in the media leads people to believe they have that license. Each time a member opened his or her mouth the team was eroding the support they worked so hard to earn. Two of the team members who aren’t so prominent have withdrawn because of the manner of AK’s working. Prashant Bhushan’s continuance with the team will bring more damage so he is more or less out. And Kiran Bedi and Kejriwal don't know when to shut up. That’s the problem being in the media. The media simply loves to destroy reputations and groups. Like scavengers they would love to feast on the disintegration of Team Anna. This is something Anna, Kejriwal and Bedi do not understand. The media works for its paymasters who happen to be the target for Team Anna. As on date Kiran Bedi’s flight details, her usage of her gallantry award for discounts is being splashed around by Shekhar Gupta’s Indian Express and NDTV. Maybe she will now understand that the media will do a hit job on her to please their paymasters.

Arvind Kejriwal increasingly comes across as an arrogant, bashful kid. This is what NDTV needed to play on. If the fight against corruption was an award winning effort then an award should have been given to Team Anna. Instead, NDTV picks the gullible AK and bestows him the sham award of ‘Indian of the year’ (jointly with Anna Hazare, of course). Even the Roman spy in Asterix comics couldn’t have done better than NDTV. Job well done! And Kejriwal gleefully falls into that trap. To top it all AK goes all out to campaign against the Congress in the Hisar by-poll. That is another act uncalled for. The three most vocal persons in Team Anna have slowly managed to erode all the goodwill that they have earned. Media is full of reports of cracks within Team Anna. Next time Anna and his team are on the streets they will find how much support has vanished.

Currently, people are sick of the excessive promotion that SRK has undertaken for his movie Ra-One. Seeing his face on every channel 24X7 is a repulsive experience for many viewers. Even SRK’s die-hard fans will admit the excess. Team Anna needs to learn from that. Being in the media too much is self-destructive by itself. And helping the media with controversies that help the adversary is a blunder that novices make. It will take some introspection for Team Anna to analyse what they have lost. It’s called goodwill blunting!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Barkha Dutt - Queen Of Telly Trolls

A fired journalist creates a fictitious letter from John Doe, as her last column, who threatens to commit suicide for society’s ills. The letter enjoys wide public curiosity and the journalist is hired back. Also hired is a character to play the fictitious John Doe. Before the journalist and her employer know it, John Doe’s movement becomes a real political movement and he really attempts suicide. That’s the story of Frank Capra’s 1941 movie ‘Meet John Doe. Closer home, Bollywood remade that movie as ‘Main Azaad Hoon’ featuring Amitabh Bachchan and Shabana Azmi. In the Bollywood version Bachchan does actually commit suicide. These are works of fiction but good examples of how far journalists can go for sensational stories and lucrative careers. However, there is every reason to believe that even in real life many stories are manufactured, especially in the new dreamland of Indian media. Fame, wealth can lure the best to fake stories and slanted reporting and planted stories.

Not convinced? Okay! In an article titled "Jimmy's World", which appeared in the Washington Post on September 28, 1980, Janet Cooke wrote a gripping profile of the life of an 8-year-old heroin addict. She described the "needle marks freckling the baby-smooth skin of his thin, brown arms." The story engendered much sympathy among readers, including Marion Barry, then mayor of Washington, D.C. He and other city officials organized an all-out police search for the boy, which was unsuccessful and led to claims that the story was fraudulent. Barry, responding to public pressure, lied and claimed that Jimmy was known to the city and receiving treatment. Well, despite suspicions, the Post’s Assistant Managing Editor, Bob Woodward of the Watergate fame, stood by the story. Janet Cooke went on to win the Pulitzer prize for her story. It was finally established that the story was a fraud and Cooke returned the prize and was fired from the WaPo.

TV news media is not all that old in India but has acquired all the bad symptoms of shoddy journalism very quickly. Imagine the luck of TimesNow that the thrashing of Prashant Bhushan happened right in front of their cameras. And they went on to film the whole scene without pausing to think. Soon the scenes were on all the channels. The reason for beating up Bhushan was a statement he made supporting plebiscite in Kashmir. The incident was enough to set up discussions on all news channels with the usual suspects turning up as panellists. And the usual rant was about freedom of speech and intolerance. But this one is about a particular telly troll who considers herself the champion of free speech. Barkha Dutt. Except for some hot heads I don’t even believe anyone would remotely condone the thrashing of Prashant Bhushan. But BD would like the world to believe that there is a huge population of hot heads are spreading hate and encouraging violence.

Now personally, I support ABSOLUTE freedom of speech with no limits and no restrictions. If in that exercise someone defames, libels, incites violence or overthrow of the state or causes real damage to any person or group the courts can make him pay the price. Those who call themselves liberal and tolerant will never support that kind of absolute free speech. Why? Because it would then open the door to speech against the very things they hold dear – their fears, their biases and their hidden agendas. Barkha is fond of calling people who vehemently criticise or ridicule her ‘trolls’. Barkha was even silly enough to threaten a blogger for an article criticising her. That is the level of tolerance she has for opinions and criticism. After peddling all possible biased opinions and analysis on her channel, she then finds solace in sermonising in print. Therefore she writes another article “Argue your case” in Hindustan Times. That this media outlet is a mouthpiece of the Congress is not exactly a big secret, but that’s a different issue.

Her opening shot: “One would have imagined that increased communication opportunities would have led to a greater civility in public discourse. After all, the internet and social media have democratised debate and eliminated the arrogance of a hierarchical talking-down style. Yet, lurking online - usually behind anonymity or names that suggest an evangelical religiosity - are many propagators of hate and violence”. Maybe in her dreamworld Barkha doesn’t understand that the Internet didn’t bring about hate or violence. They have existed for eons. The social network just provides a vent where every other forum has failed. Would NDTV publish all the feedback it gets (if it does have a feedback system) including hateful, negative ones? People in public life need to get used to ridicule, sarcasm, satire and even hate messages. Someone saying “I feel like killing so and so” is not exactly a violent threat. It’s an expression that the literary types like Barkha fail to understand even as they invoke Shakespeare and Lewis Carroll so frequently.

 “What lessons can we learn from our own experience? Is it that as our country travels through a phase of restless flux - the sense of being betrayed by the political leadership - all kinds of subterranean faultlines are being exposed? My instinct is that disillusionments notwithstanding, the majority of Indians are uncomfortable with extremes of any kind - opinion, ideology, politics or religion. Yet, our public discourse has been slotted into black and white boxes in a manner that can only be called anti-intellectual”. The main reason for the hate and ridicule Barkha experiences seems completely lost on her. That biased reporting and opinionated TV shows anger people. As in the case of Cooke’s fraudulent story that won the Pulitzer prize, there is a former Admiral who has mentioned that a lady journalist was the cause of some deaths in the Kargil war. The lessons that Barkha hasn’t learned yet is that terms like Paidmedia, Chormedia, Dalalmedia didn’t come about because people simply wanted to sit in a corner and spread hate or coin new terms.

That many had suspicions of Barkha’s reporting and her doctored panel discussions was finally established when the Radia tapes broke. Amazingly, unlike Janet Cooke, Barkha continues to retain her job. Why? It is something nobody knows but it’s quite possible that she holds many secrets about NDTV and therefore sacking her may not have been a good idea. And she also forgets that much of the anger against her is generated by the kind of people she hosts. She proudly claims that she cut off and never had that Imam Bukhari on her shows after he had called Shabana Azmi a ‘naachnewali, gaanewali’ on her show. There was Taslima Nasreen who was attacked in Hyderabad by the group belonging to A. Owaisi. So why does she host this Owaisi so frequently? The man is foul mouthed, vulgar and has also stated on NDTV that he wants all Indians to convert to Islam. I guess those are ‘liberal’ views that Indians should tolerate and get past.

There is an old case of the publisher of a book called “Rangeela Rasool” about Mohammad. He was murdered. I wonder what Barkha would ever have to say about that. To not acknowledge that much of the intolerance that has invaded this country comes from religious sentiments is to ignore reality. The Kashmir issue also has its roots in religion. Some hotheads thrashing up someone does not mean society as a whole has become intolerant. If anything, it is the so called liberals in the media and in the establishment who have become intolerant of any opposing views. That’s the reason Barkha finds so many trolls on the net and has to use the block button so often.

Anna's Team clearly struck a chord and tapped into a deep public anger. So, it was not surprising at all when its members were heralded as new-age heroes. Yet, the moment, any member of the team deviated from a certain kind of online consensus, they were heaped with abuses and vitriol. Whether it was Kiran Bedi's criticism of the arbitrary arrest of IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt or Prashant Bhushan's comments on Kashmir and Maoist violence - suddenly the same individuals who had been feted were now being roundly condemned. When I argued on Twitter that serious disagreement with his comments could not in any way justify the sickening assault on Prashant Bhushan, I was immediately targeted by some of these 'trolls' for supporting traitors”. That’s a strange twist of facts. That Anna or his team were feted by people doesn’t mean a permanent fan-base. Barkha must finally realise that such support is for causes and not a blanket sanction. Kiran Bedi tweeted a lot of rubbish about Gujarat and Modi in the case of Sanjiv Bhatt’s arrest. By the end of the day she had changed her stance about Gujaratis. She did not differentiate between Gujarat and Sanjiv Bhatt. The second lie that Barkha peddles is that she makes it appear that online people approved of the thrashing of Bhushan. On the contrary a very huge majority of people online condemned the attack while also stating that his comment was bad. Even Sachin Tendulkar, God of cricket, would have received severe condemnation had he made the same statement as Bhushan. And yes, no one would approve of beating up Sachin either had such an incident were to happen.

How can anyone explain Mallika Sarabhai as a panellist in the case of tolerance? She lies profusely and her own lawyers have exposed her lies. Yet the media insults the public’s intelligence by hosting her frequently. That, dear Barkha, does anger people. NDTV frequently hosts Teesta Setalvad who has been exposed for fake affidavits. That, dear Barkha, does anger people. When Radiagate broke the first response of Barkha Dutt was not “argue your case”… it was a threat, probably of legal action. Barkha also forgets, that it’s the social networks that brought pressure on the MSM to discuss her Radiagate episode when her Hammam friend and others tried desperately to bury it. The media has gone overboard with the case of Bhushan. The same media didn’t find time to discuss the death of a woman called Rajbala who was a peaceful protester and following police atrocity was paralysed and later died. I suppose Rajbala’s death falls within liberal tolerance for the likes of Barkha Dutt.

While Barkha complains about online ghosts and calls them trolls she forgets that like Vicky (Bachchan in the movie Sharabi who has chamchas “wah-wahing” his stupid Shayari) she too has her followers who wah-wah everything she does. Be grateful for that and stop sermonising the trolls. Some of her fans even cite the awards she has won. Well, I did point out the case of Janet Cooke who was awarded a Pulitzer for a fake story. Media awards in India are more of scratching backs than anything else. As far as I am concerned Barkha Dutt is just a Telly troll… who trolls a lot more than any of those online ones she constantly complains of. She is, on TV, the queen of trolls!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sanjiv Bhatt Needs A Bonfire, Candles Not Enough

On Tuesday night (Oct 11) it seems gas balloons burst on being singed by candle flames outside Sanjeev Bhatt’s house. It scared the small crowd there, Bhatt’s father-in-law fell down and rumours of a blast had a short life. Hard to fathom what the candle light activists were doing with balloons. I suppose gas balloons are symbolic of the gas bags that have pronounced Bhatt completely innocent of any crime and a victim of a witch-hunt.  Never mind. All the candles in the world are unlikely to end Sanjiv Bhatt’s troubles soon.

So who are these gas bags? All the usual suspects, of course! There is Teesta Setalvad, Shabnam Hashmi, Mallika Sarabhai, the leaders of the pack. All three are established and exposed liars. One can sympathise with Mrs.Shweta Bhatt (Sanjiv’s wife) and understand her dismay on these events. But instead of taking saner counsels to work for her legally she has allowed gas bags to holler and shriek mindlessly in defence of her husband. The three angels on her side have acquired so much disrepute that anything they now utter is suspect.

Shweta stated that her husband was not a criminal and does not have a history of offences. That Bhatt was being treated like a ‘terrorist’ in custody. That his life is in danger. She writes to P. Chidambaram and complains about the threats. None of these seem a natural response but more a tutored act that has all the ingredients of a drama that the media so loves. The story of Sanjiv Bhatt is not that of a ‘whistle-blower’ as the media so dearly likes to call him. It is an extraordinary case of how and why an IPS officer chose to reveal information and file affidavits against Narendra Modi, nine years after the Gujarat riots of 2002.

The one lesson that is lost on many activists is that whatever the media crooks hype usually turns out to be a huge propaganda of untruths. The SC order on September 12 sending the Zakia Jaffrey case to the lower court stunned many of these media mullas who had hoped the SC would rap Modi. It didn’t happen. Latest information also suggests that neither the SC nor the SIT had considered Sanjiv Bhatt’s affidavit in the SC. This only means that his affidavit does not contain reliable evidence against Modi. The motive of Sanjiv Bhatt to come out of the blue and file that affidavit incriminating Modi in the riots must remain under serious question. It doesn’t help that some Congress politicians have been revealed to have lent him support in his misadventure.

This document here chronicles the extraordinary history of offences by Sanjiv Bhatt. He is not the whistle blower or the angel that media has tried to portray him as. But he suits the huge anti-Modi industry propelled by the three stooges (Teesta, Shabnam, Mallika) and comedy channels like NDTV, CNN-IBN and TimesNow. It would also appear that much prior to his affidavit in the SC, Bhatt would probably have been extensively communicating with these activists. Since the exposure of fake affidavits of Teesta Setalvad the media didn’t really have much to shout about against Modi. The Bhatt affidavit gave the campaign a new lease of life for the anti-Modi propaganda.

It is not just Sanjiv Bhatt but the law will sooner or later catch up with Teesta Setalvad. Here’s more from DeshGujarat: Public prosecutor S.V.Raju says “.. Bhatt’s allegation against Modi was simply to divert the attention from the main offense he had committed. Raju also said that adding involving the names of Modi and late Haren Pandya in affidavits was to attract media attention….Bhatt had suppressed the fact that he had approached the Supreme Court for bail on the very next day of his arrest on October 1. The bail plea was later withdrawn from the SC registry on the same day and Bhatt’s lawyer Syed placed the fact on record only after filing bail application in local court here on October 3”.

And if that is not enough a case of murder has been registered against Sanjiv Bhatt for a custodial death in 1990 in Jamnagar (Guj).  The Jamnagar court will soon file a charge-sheet against Bhatt and other accused policemen in the case. Still, the defence for Bhatt continues to pour from none other than Team Anna. This Team Anna is slowly turning out to be a political tool for unknown elements. Suddenly, its member Shanti Bhushan announces Modi is the most communal person and he is willing to defend Sanjiv Bhatt as a lawyer. Bhushan goes on to add “Bhatt was being persecuted only because he had filed an affidavit against Modi”. No sir, he is not being persecuted, he is ACTUALLY being prosecuted. And as a lawyer, this moron should let the law prevail instead of  making political statements about the Congress or the BJP or Modi.

As for the media the best comment yet comes from Rajeev Srinivasan in an article at Firstpost. He describes how this cottage industry of hate and manufacturing consent operates: “Then there are the various characters who keep popping up like jack-in-the-boxes. The Fiction-Writers Posing As Journalists. The Activist Accused By Witnesses Of Tutoring Them To File False Affidavits. The Angry Dancer. The Police Officer 1.0. The Police Officer 2.0. That Police Officer 1.0, who was once the media’s favourite, has trashed Police Officer 2.0, its current favourite, does not seem to bother the media at all”.

Sanjiv Bhatt has spent 12 days in jail and is still fighting for bail. Whether he gets bail or not a long legal battle awaits him. Candles will not be enough, he may well need a bonfire.