Friday, January 27, 2012

MoronGiri From Jaipur Litfest

Here’s the latest and most courageous piece of journalism in the new century from the most courageous journalist – Barkha Dutt. This is a tweet from the champion of free speech on January 25: “The Buck stops with the government says @SalmanRushdie to me. Hid in a room & interviewed him via video link ironically”. Hid in a room? From what? Ghosts in the video link? From spies disguised as room-boys? This is after her interview with Rushdie once the video conference with him was finally cancelled on January 24 by the hosts at the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF). Nobody knows whether the interview was before or after the cancellation and it is unlikely you’ll ever find out.

The police and hosts of JLF perceived a threat over the video participation of Rushdie in the event on the last day of the public event. But such is the Morongiri of some journos that they think merely interviewing someone from a hotel room through a videolink is an act of courage. There was no law against it, no ban, no threat to privacy in the hotel room. Nothing! So what was this JLF all about? On cancellation of the Rushdie show the organisers quickly put together another show: “Freedom of speech” at 3.45 pm on January 24. This was to fill in the time slot for the Rushdie session.

I am not a literary type but I thought some literary geniuses would be on that show. And indeed they were! You had Shoma Chaudhury and Tarun Tejpal of Tehelka, the Indian version of NOTW tabloid. You had Javed Akhtar a film screen writer and lyricist. There was some Salim Engineer of a muslim group and, of course, there was Rahul Bose, he can be anything and anyone from anywhere you like and for spice they added Barkha Dutt to the group. Literary geniuses! All of them discussing freedom of speech! Nothing wrong with that but what were a bunch of people who wouldn’t be classified under ‘literary’ geniuses under any circumstance doing there? And all of them were dissing one group or the other for the fiasco that was the JLF. Fact of the matter is some muslim groups protested and these courageous folk discussed all groups of Hindus and muslims to explain what freedom of speech is and the audience finally got educated. 

Oh Wait! That’s not all. To add meaning to the stupid exercise Rahul Bose even read from the literary classic ‘Constitution of India’ thus: "Reasonable restrictions can be imposed in the interest of public order, security of state, decency, or morality." I come from a city where time and time again this rule of law is not upheld. It's a grey area and who decides what is moral and what is not”? No matter which city one comes from a moron remains a moron. The only other person who can match such morongiri is Suhel Seth. He suddenly discovered the glorious muslim culture that has contributed so much to this nation (elsewhere on TV). I probably don’t understand his context.

Farcical threats by groups and the state are not countered by protected speeches from a stage by a bunch of pretenders who have the ‘sponsored’ benefit and luxury of airing silly views. Such threats to freedom require countering by action. With his decision to abstain from the JLF Rushdie merely exposed himself and the others as stupid word-mongers at the event. Frankly, a 74-year old Anna Hazare showed greater courage against threats from the state than these verbal lint. And who are Shoma, Barkha, Javed, Tejpal and Rahul? All of them are state-sponsored and honoured propagandists of the govt. It is not freedom of speech that bothers them it is just that their party was being pooped by some idiots. I am no literature expert to comment on Rushdie’s writings but to his credit he did face and survive international death threats for a long time now. His freedom of movement has also been under constant threat. None of his protectors on the stage have ever faced such threats and usually these are the ones who pompously sermonise on freedoms.

There’s another small matter of importance. Rushdie wrote about Islam and Mohammad as he thought fit when many others wouldn’t have dared. His account is obviously fictional and he has the literary license of imagination as well. But what about reporting real events concerning muslims by the very journalists who talk about freedom? A few months back the entire Indian TV media blacked out a violent protest by muslims at Jangpura, a locality in Delhi, over an illegal mosque that was razed under a HC order. The logic was that the NBA (National Broadcasters Association) had advised a blackout. And who exactly is the poster boy for the media where all such muslim issues are concerned? A. Owaisi, the MP from Hyderabad. Now, this man wants a ban on Hindu processions on Ram Navami and has earlier suggested that all Indians must convert to Islam. The more the media suppresses the wrong doings of the muslim extremists the more they will be gobbled by this very evil. Every instance of wrong demands, not condemning terrorist acts and even falling prey to mischief mongers like Digvijay Singh are treated as small incidents by the media. These incidents keep churning the very threat of violence that confronted the JLF. And the media helps to promote the very threat that society faces frequently by either not reporting or condoning it through silence. It is only when their party at Jaipur was spoiled that they found a deep desire for freedom of speech. 

Javed Akhtar is already a Rajya Sabha member from the Congress. So is his wife Shabana Azmi. Before long, the very journalists named in this post will be queuing up for a RS seat. Can they afford to condemn the very party at whose doorstep their future careers lie? That's the problem with these political aspirants, they cannot afford to confront their paymasters and the masters of their own future. So freedom of speech in general is a very convenient topic to discuss without holding responsible anyone who does suppress it.

Barkha’s mistaken sense of having triumphed over imaginary threats by interviewing Rushdie by “hiding” in some room is the typical nonsense that idiots and her fans will be impressed with. Sure, try telling Barkha that her self-aggrandizement was nothing more than ‘morongiri’ you are likely to be held out another threat of legal action. Unfortunately for India, she isn’t just one bad apple, there are many such in the Indian media. They are mere frogs waiting to be boiled.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Loonies In The Box

I haven’t read any book by Chetan Bhagat for the simple reason that no one has gifted me any of his books. I have no intention of buying one either. Well, I’ve made my “position” on the issue clear and I doubt I would bother reading highly intellectual stuff. That should satisfy Arnab Goswami. “You are either with this absurdity that is going on or against it”. What’s your position? That is the challenge Justice Arnab throws up to panelists over the Salman Rushdie issue and many other issues. (What is really wrong with this man?) Somewhere in the middle of Arnab’s 90 minute Newshour (January 23) on TimesNow Chetan Bhagat asked the most important question on the show: “Why are lunatics on the Newshour"? Arnab quickly responded by stating there are no lunatics on the Newshour, just honourable men and women. Er.. with the exception of one. And that is Arnab himself. To call him a moderator of debates would be exceptionally charitable. He out-screams and shuts out every panellist, his arms fly all over and the number of times he asks someone to “take a position” I wonder if he wouldn’t be better off discussing the Kama Sutra instead of the Rushdie issue. It’s hard to blame Arnab alone for being the lunatic. He is one among many loonies in the media. What Arnab does not appreciate is that the Govt of India has indeed taken a position on the issue; that of “lunatics”.

Here’s what the TOI writes in an editorial called “Stop the hate” about religious zealots in Kashmir: “For the past few weeks, a Christian priest and foreign NGOs have been targeted for seeking to persuade Muslim youth to give up their faith in return for liquor, women and money. One priest, Pastor Chander Mani Khanna, had to appear before a sharia court to defend himself against charges of proselytization ……The state government has remained on the sidelines when it should have ensured protection to the victims of the hate campaign”. That’s funny! Since when has concern for victims of hate been a priority for the Govt? Mind you, the piece talks about frivolous evidence and govt inaction but it doesn’t wonder why a sharia court is in operation in the first place. Forget govt protection against religious zealots, what is currently evident is that the govt itself is the zealot. Also, entities TOI refers to as ‘victims’ in Kashmir are happily practicing the same trade in many other states in India where Hindus instead of Muslims are their prey. It is just that other states do not have sharia courts yet.

From the time the Rushdie controversy erupted the centre and the Rajasthan govt have kept muslim passions played up and electoral points are scored in UP and elsewhere. As the final instalment in their plan they even cooked up stories of paid assassins out to kill Rushdie. The Mumbai police have even denied the existence of any such plot or assassins. Even if that were to be true one has to wonder why no suspects were rounded up in the face of such strong intelligence. Interestingly, dealing with the victim is what Rushdie explained in his letter to Rajiv Gandhi on his book being banned. Firstpost has reproduced that letter (excerpts):

This really is astounding. It is as though, having identified an innocent person as a likely target for assault by muggers or rapists, you were to put that person in jail for protection. This is no way, Mr Gandhi, for a free society to behave ….. I deeply resent my book being used as a political football; what should matter to you more than my resentment is that you come out of this looking not only Philistine and anti-democratic but opportunistic.” Has anything changed since that time in 1988? Nothing! Instead, the zealots in the govt have only gotten worse in their opportunistic football.

In all of this the biggest and most evil misuse is that of the police force. It has become another football in the whole episode and will continue to be misused. Abhinav Kumar, apparently a very disturbed IPS officer, writes about the police tragedy thus in the DNA:

What then accounts for this equally remarkable and consistent display of cowardice by our police forces? Speaking from some experience, all it would have taken for Rushdie to attend the Jaipur Literature Festival was for a senior police officer in Jaipur to reassure the organisers and Rushdie of their support and issue a stern warning to all those threatening violence and take suitable preventive measures. Instead, we are told the local police leaned on the organisers to ask Rushdie to stay away and allegedly backed it up by encouraging rumours of paid assassins being dispatched from Mumbai, something the Mumbai police denied. What is beyond doubt is that the top leadership of Rajasthan police preferred to stay silent and the forces of bigotry and obscurantism had a field day. Ask any senior officer and they have a stock answer. ‘Our first priority is to maintain law and order.’ Even if it means turning a blind eye to illegal behaviour by gangs of goons paying lip service to some extreme ideology on the right or left of the political spectrum, or promoting some bigoted vision of ethnic pride or religious hatred? What is the point of maintaining such law and order? Contrast this apathy with the alacrity with which the police will respond if one tries to shout slogans or show a black flag at a rally featuring any of our political bigwigs. Regarded as a major ‘breach of security’ and a grave professional lapse, the offender will be quickly rounded up and made to feel the full force of the law, often quite literally while the police officers on duty may well face disciplinary action for this ‘dereliction’ of duty”. Sure, along with the goons in govt and on TV, the police forces have also become lunatics.

As of now not only has Salman Rushdie withdrawn from the Jaipur Litfest but also the video conferencing has been called off by the organisers as the Rajasthan police once again feared a “law and order” situation. But for the mullahs in the govt opportunity always knocks twice. This time, American comedian Jay Leno is the focus of affection. Leno cracks some poor joke about the ‘Golden Temple’ being a summer house for presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and our govt wants an apology from him. Comedians in the US lampoon every politician and every religion and the US First amendment protects their free speech. It’s nothing new. One can understand Sikhs protesting as a group but why does it need the govt to interfere? Well, in all the noise about Rushdie, Muslims and UP elections it is quite easy to forget there are elections in Punjab too and such an opportunity to stand up for Sikh sentiments is truly a gift for the govt.

As for the media, in the last stages of the Jaipur event they were mostly on stage giving political speeches. And why not? Most of their nightly debates are laced with their own political persuasions and theatre rather than any concern for real issues. Rajdeep Sardesai tweets: “Sikhs target Jay Leno, Hindus Husain, Muslims Rushdie. Guess we are 'sensitive' people after all!” Well, well Rajdeep might like to wonder which one issues regular death threats though. And here’s the thing about Rajdeep; he conveniently forgets his own community which Ashok Malik explains in an article “Playing with fire” in the TOI and I quote: “State sensitivity to street sentiment reached such ridiculous levels that when Da Vinci Code was released in 2006, Priyaranjan Das Munshi, then the information and broadcasting minister, held back the film from cinemas till he had reviewed it in the company of Catholic priests”.  That’s the bias that rules the head of lunatics in the media as well.

There are certain issues that are simply not debatable or negotiable. But you can trust the media to reduce such issues to a farce through their mindless debates. Entering India and participating in events by a PIO is neither debatable nor negotiable. The protesting lunatics were not so visible on TV screens. But the ones emboldening the govt in suppressing such freedoms are the lunatics in the media who kill issues with mindless debates.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Backdoor Sharia

Come election season and the skillfully engineered controversies surface; particularly where it concerns the minority community. It has come to such a pass that people largely do not think of Parsis, Jews, Sikhs or even Christians as minorities. Minority is now consistently understood to mean ‘muslims’. All fake arguments by politicians and media in defining minorities any other way can now be safely flushed down the drain. It practically means muslims! Period! This syndrome is not unique to India but a universal phenomenon wherever the muslim population has steadily increased over the years. Naturally, after the initial announcement of 4.5% quota to muslims in Central jobs, Salman Khurshid was emboldened to announce a 9% quota if Congress was voted to power in UP. Although not stated, it would be na├»ve to believe Khurshid’s statement doesn’t have the support of his party. Suddenly, in this climate of muslim appeasement comes a fatwa from Deoband. The mullahs want Salman Rushdie banned from entering India to attend a literary festival at Jaipur. A well-timed, well-engineered shot if you like.

So no political party wants to comment on this outrageous fatwa but instead Salman Khurshid and the Rajasthan CM, Ashok Gehlot, advise Salman Rushdie to stay from the event. Gehlot, whose cabinet included murder accused, went on to even state that Rushdie’s visit could create a law and order situation. And the media? Oh well, instead of condemning the fatwa and the govt’s inaction goes into another orgy of debates. Yes, sick and mindless debates on an issue that they should have been strongly protesting. This is neither about Satanic Verses nor about hurting religious sentiments. First and last this is an issue of a Person of Indian Origin (PIO) who was born in Bombay and has the legal right to visit India. This is an individual’s right guaranteed by our laws which our govt is obliged to protect. The govt is failing in that obligation and the media is party to the crime.

Typically, A. Owaisi, the MP from AP had to be on the TV debates. He who recommends all Indians convert to Islam stated: “we are not against criticism but will not tolerate blasphemy”. It would need Einstein to discover how criticism of the Quran will not be treated as blasphemy by a mullah in any country. Such is the nonsense peddled in the media in the garb of debate. And cleverly the queen of Telly trolls Barkha Dutt states in a tweet: “If this nonsense controversy keeps @SalmanRushdie away from Jaipur we should all be ashamed as Indians. The culture of intolerance abhorrent”. Oh really sweetheart?  Instead of directing any protest or anger at the mullahs of Deoband or other intolerant cowards in the Congress she wants ‘Indians’ to be ashamed. Think about it every time these ‘sickulars’ find their friends committing horrors they want ‘Indians’ to be ashamed. That is pretty much like Rahul Gandhi’s silly statement: “I am ashamed to be an Indian” (At Bhatta Parsaul). Of course, any issue concerning freedom of speech for the telly trolls would not be complete without raking up M.F.Hussain. The painter’s works were neither banned, nor was he forced into exile as the media constantly propagates. He was a fugitive of his own choice.

Contrast this with the United Kingdom where Rushdie lived when the fatwa on his life was issued after Satanic Verses was released. His adopted country went all out to protect him and provided him complete security from would be killers willing to act on the fatwa on his life. That was in the late 80’s. Things have changed since then in the UK too. Since then the UK has also fallen into the trap of appeasement through failed multiculturalism. Since then there are now over 85 Sharia courts in the UK. Since then, over 50 churches have been converted to mosques in the UK by real-estate purchases. Living conditions and habits of the other residents were forced to be changed due to such pandering to muslims. There are muslim ghettos where other residents do not venture often. As for home-grown Islamic terror in UK, that is another topic altogether.

Three years ago the UK denied entry to Dutch MP Geert Wilders to screen his movie FITNA in the UK. Fitna is a short documentary on the Quran made by Wilders quoting verses he claims spread hatred and violence and for which the Quran should be banned in the Netherlands. He advocated that if Mein Kampf by Hitler is banned then the Quran should be banned as well. Now, Wilders wasn’t invited to UK for a private literary festival. He was invited by members of the House of Lords to screen his documentary in the upper house of the British parliament. Yet he was denied entry and later allowed only after a court allowed him to proceed. All signs of an increasingly Sharia-compliant democratic Britain. Imagine, this is the UK with a much more liberal freedom of speech and expression which has plumbed to such depths in appeasement of muslims. That’s a far cry from the days when Rushdie’s freedom was so strongly protected by the UK.  Geert Wilders was also prosecuted in his home-country of Netherlands for hate-speech and spreading hatred against muslims but later acquitted. Ring a bell? Well, closer home there is an attempt to prosecute Dr. Subramanian Swamy for a strong article against Islamic terrorism. Swamy’s courses that he taught at Harvard were also cancelled owing to petitions by vested interests. Oh, should I say Sharia-compliant lobbies? Once again, instead of strongly standing behind Swamy’s freedom of speech the Indian media was thoroughly delighted and announced “Harvard snubs Swamy”. It is increasingly clear that the Indian media doesn’t stand for freedom of speech or expression but for the ideologies they pursue. Does Indian news media really stand for freedom of speech? Bluntly, most of them qualify to be in the harem of some Arab prince with his Persian gloves on.

Okay! Suddenly we have Vinay Rai, a new crusader for protecting religious sentiments and other mental cavities. He is a journalist with some remote Urdu publication called ‘Akbari’and covers politics. He has filed a petition in a Delhi court against Google and Facebook. Let me quote him from WSJ: “The content I have submitted to the court deeply offends several religions including Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. It involves pages and groups where users have mocked Hindu gods and goddesses, Prophet Muhammad and Jesus Christ. Such content can create communal riots across the country. These are just a few examples…My intention is to ensure that the sentiments of any religion or community are not hurt”. Well, religions of the world must be so frail and fallible that it takes the Vinay Rais of the world to protect them and people’s sensitivities. In response to his petition the Delhi court even told the ISPs: “…if immediate steps were not taken, the websites would be blocked the way it happened in China”. We're used to a lot of Chinese goods, now our courts will deliver China-style bans too. Of course, our freedom loving UPA has approved the prosecution of Google and Facebook. And yes, it calls for another round of TV debates.

This time around you have Vinod Sharma of Hindustan Times referring to some video of Pakistan PM Gilani and Sherry Rehman on Youtube which according to him is tasteless and abusive. Well, maybe tasteless to him but it’s a silly incident, maybe unintentional, but the video has been viewed by over 2.5 million people. I guess all of those people must be idiots according to our media. People, out of curiosity, watch content and move on and not crib like politicians or journalists. And the panelists recommend a concept called “Self-censorship”. Laugh if you will, but that’s true. Why self-censorship for putting up stuff on the internet? People are smart enough to know what to access on the net and that freedom to choose is also self-regulation. I have serious doubts if Vinay Rai gives a damn about Hindu or Christian sentiments and the nature of his journal suggests he might have received mostly complaints from muslims, if any at all. And in cases like these there are usually far bigger powers that seek to score a larger political goal as censorship. Why wouldn't Sibal be willing? 

Slowly but surely the govt seems bent on making everything sharia compliant. The sheer size of abuse our media hurls on Hindus and Hinduism is testimony to the fact that Hindus don’t get offended too easily. The only ones that do are muslims and appeasing them by being sharia compliant is the best way for the Congress and much of our news media. Sharia is already practiced in Kashmir but there is backdoor sharia through the Congress and media in the rest of India as well.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Rahul Gandhi - The King Of Comedy

The following lines from the movie ‘The American President’ are some of my most favourite when it comes to describing gullible people:

An aide remarks in very harsh terms:  “…Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They're so thirsty for it they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand”. To which the President responds: “We've had presidents who were beloved, who couldn't find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don't drink the sand because they're thirsty. They drink the sand because they don't know the difference”.

Justice Markandeya Katju, the PCI chief, had remarked that 90% of people in India are backward, lack education and it’s the media’s job to bring up the right issues. That is really tall expectations from a media that relishes the backwardness of people as much as politicians do, none more so than Rahul Gandhi the latest troubadour from the dynasty. P. Chidambaram, the man in a cess pool of troubles, remarked sometime back that when RG spoke “he brought back memories of a young Rajiv Gandhi”. Why not? After all, since his early promise Rajiv Gandhi had turned out to be as much a gas bag and mired in scandals except for his dreams for India. Rahul Gandhi shares his penchant for dreams – a dream Lokpal, a dream of uniting two Indias, a dream of this and a dream of that. Not everyone is lucky to have so many wet dreams. In all his utterances I have yet to see one piece of intelligence on any issue. Unless, of course, you missed his comic genius. It all began on November 14, when RG started his election campaign in UP. Let’s sample some of his utterances:

1.   At all rallies: “There is a magic elephant in Lucknow that eats up all the funds provided by Congress”.
2.   At Deoband: “I am blind to caste and religion. I see everyone as Hindustani... If one Hindustani tries to harm another, I promise I will come in between. Please remember that I am the grandson of Indira Gandhi”. Which is why he will promote reservations for minorities and ask why others didn’t do it so far!
3.   On the Babu Singh Kushwaha issue: "We refused to induct any corrupt politicians in the party". Why would he? Aren’t there enough in his own party?
4.   On Lokpal Bill: "They(BJP leaders) were smiling in the Lok Sabha and said Lokpal is not their dream but ours--Manmohan Singhji, Rahul Gandhiji and Sonia Gandhiji's. "I agree. A strong Lokpal is our dream. Just wait and watch, we will bring a Constitutional Lokpal and defeat them". Maybe he forgot he is in the ruling party, with allies!
      5. At Balia: "Mulayam Singh once said to me that 'do whatever you want, the Muslims will only vote for me.' If you have the courage put a promise of 18 percent reservation in your manifesto'.
      "Mulayam has been the CM thrice and Mayawati four times. But not once they spoke about reservation (for Muslims) when they were chief ministers, not once did they mention reservation”.
      6. Everywhere: “..But today your leaders don't come to you but fly on helicopters. . And until they understand the sufferings of the people the state cannot progress”.
7.   "They won't talk to you. They won't come amidst you. They won't shake hands with you. They won't come to your house or have food. They will not drink water from your well. They sit in AC rooms. They won't talk about farmers… And when I come to your houses, have your food, I am ridiculed. They ask what happened to Rahul Gandhi. I see strength in you, in rural villages”.
8.   "UPiites have built roads in Maharashtra, they work in Kerala, they help the farmers in Punjab...but they do not have roads, electricity or water in their villages. Who built the Delhi Metro? Who is working in Ladakh?”
9.  You sell your potatoes for Re.1 a Kg. but potato chips are sold for Rs.20/- a packet.
10. The best of them all: For how long will you beg in Maharashtra or work as labourers in Punjab? When asked if he meant it metaphorically RG went on to say that he really meant “beggars” and he also found most of the beggars in Delhi were from UP.

And I am not going to even talk about RG’s previous gems like “Politics is in your pants” or “99% terror averted”. Well, it will surely be criminal of me if I left out “Mao brought development to China”!

Not surprisingly only some in the media have just about woken up to this man with no knowledge, intelligence or any understanding of the nation whatsoever. Imagine, an intellectual like Pratap Bhanu Mehta actually wrote to RG about “Tomorrow’s responsibilities”. Bravo! Much of the real discovery of RG started only after the November 14 Phulpur rally and his “beggar” comment for the media, at least some of them. TOI reports ‘Terai shocker for Rahul Gandhi’. WSJ: ‘More Signs of Rahul Gandhi’s Populism’. M.D. Nalapat: ‘Past is Rahul future in UP’. Venky Vembu: ‘Rahul Gandhi, the gawky, poor little ‘Richie Rich’ politician’. Swapan Dasgupta: “A look at the man who would be India’s King”. The list could go on and on. But I wonder why so many in the mainstream media couldn’t see the comedian for what he is all these years.

The one pic RG wouldnt want farmers or beggars to see
So much for discovering Rahul Gandhi! One has to wonder why it took so long for some in the media to write about the comic genius of RG.  It is really hard to argue with anything he says simply because it’s all so profound. Of course, if you have a hard time understanding the sense behind what he says there’s always a battery of Congress spokespersons ready to explain what exactly he meant. They’re not the only one though. NDTV seems to be the only channel that seems to know all of RG’s travel plans. From travelling on the metro to sudden and secret visits to UP or elsewhere and even his considered views on FDI in retail. Oh, that’s another beauty. The retail-FDI plan got dumped by parliament but RG believe that policy would have been heaven-sent for farmers. So once again he managed to explain that to farmers. And today, January 11, he handed a box of chocolates to a young muslim kid as a token of the sign that Congress will deliver for the muslims. Didn’t mom tell the kid in a movie that “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’ll get”? I guess if that served Gump well, it should do the same for others too.

UP - A Muslim Labarotory
 In all the days of his campaign RG has not once been able to outline what his programmes are or what he and his party would do for the state he is campaigning in. Nothing! So in absence of any substance he falls back upon the old and trusted methods instituted by his parents, grandparents and great grandparents; subsidies, doles and, of course, quotas. And from the old school book of Indira Gandhi he even digs out the “Garibi Hatao” slogan. Not having drawn good crowds in many places he now campaigns exclusively in UP towns where muslims are a majority. His cronies desperately try to prove him right in everything he says, like the “game changer” plan but even that came a cropper in parliament. The best part of the whole show is the media which now discusses the ‘minority’ quota as an issue as against the evil of ‘quota’ itself. 

The other trick that he’s learnt from his family is ‘dressing up’, particularly with hats, skull caps with minorities and tribals, something his grandmother excelled in and yet remains a man unwilling to take up any responsibility whatsoever. I am reminded of Govinda in the movie 'Raja Babu', in which he liked taking his pictures in all kinds of costumes of dresses while being a village bumpkin. Along with Digvijay and Khurshid, RG has now turned Uttar Pradesh into a 'Muslim Laboratory'.

Thanks to the Congress policies minorities have come to mean just ‘muslims’ and their demands get more and more outrageous with time. The latest report says a group of muslims burnt an effigy of RG at Azamgarh. This is the town that RG’s mentor Digvijay visited to assure families of those killed in the Batla House encounter would be delivered justice. A professor from the localcollege of the town says:  “He (Digvijaya) had come here two years ago and promised a judicial inquiry, but changed his statement while talking to the media outside the village. The Congress talks of minority reservation, but we are not fools... We are not the only minority..” What the report doesn’t say is that the statement implies the muslims probably want to be recognised as a ‘separate minority’ and not clubbed with all minorities.

Rahul Gandhi's comedy in May 2011 with the ashes and dead bodies has been chronicled under #RahulFacts and his November 14 stupidity chronicled under #YoRahulSoDumb. (Both compiled by @KiranKS). The messages are indicators enough to establish him as the new Laloo.

Atanu Dey, a seasoned observer of Indian issues, sums up RG pretty neatly in a post: “Rahul Gandhi has the “ticket” to become the prime minister. His accomplishment can be summarized in two words: lucky sperm. Other than that, hardly anything else qualifies him — not education, not deep insight, not intelligence (an area he is noted to be particularly lacking in), not some breathtaking deed, . . . To not put too fine a point on it, his accomplishments amount to zilch, zero, shunya, nada. It’s his identity as the great grandson of Nehru, the grandson of Indira Gandhi nee Nehru, the son of Rajiv Gandhi & the Italian mama Antonia Maino aka Sonia Gandhi, that totally sums him up and explains his appeal to a significant number of Indian voters”. They drink the sand, because they cannot tell the difference.

That’s right, “lucky sperm” is the only explanation one can have for a bimbo who believes it’s prime-minister or nothing. I gave up understanding RG long ago and dedicated a song to him: “What a fool believes, wise man doesn’t bother to reason away” and now I just sit back and have a good laugh at the jokes he cracks. Stand-up comedy has become popular on TV only in the last few years with a lot of those laughter shows. You don’t need a special show when RG starts talking or rolling up his sleeves after every sentence. The King of comedy has truly arrived.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Relax, It's Just Six Losses In A Row, Not 17..

There cannot be anything bad about a sporting event. Win strongly or lose badly sporting events are always good unless tainted by drugs, fixing or outright cheating. It’s only the screaming headlines in the media that often make it out to be more than sports. Coupled with silly headlines are the endless and mindless discussions on TV channels about Cricket. For a long time all cricket matches are telecast live and yet on a daily basis there are at least 2 hours of mental masturbation on cricket on every channel. A hyper anchor with a bunch of ex-cricketers is typically bad news for any sensible discussion about a test match or a series. Recent tag lines are “India’s thunder down under” … “India’s best chance to beat Australia”  and the less said about Sachin Tendulkar’s hundredth 100 the better. 

Headlines Today, of course, out-does every other channel in preparation of Sachin’s hundredth with a half hour montage of all his centuries that is telecast about a hundred times a week. Sachin’s 100 can come when it has to but what exposes the idiots in the box is the manner in which India has gone down in the two tests to Australia in the current series. The second loss at SCG was even worse than in the first test. Well, all this is after the media had predicted this was India’s best chance to beat the Aussies. That also makes it six test losses in a row abroad. And it’s not over yet! Virat Kohli was unnecessarily fined for his gesture. I do believe his middle finger was directed clearly at the media or should have been.

If you heard the experts on the TV channels before the series started all that India should have done was to enter the field and Australia would have folded up. It’s just one more lesson that whatever the media hypes, expect the opposite to happen. That’s true not just for cricket, but for every event and entity that the media hypes up. It helps if the spurious campaign is launched by a foreigner from the opposing camp himself. Listen to Ian Chappell: "It is India's best chance to beat Australia in Australia. The Aussies have been inconsistent and there have been unbelievable number of injuries….” And the Indian parrots are thrilled!

Cricknext (December 12) headlined this report: “It's our best chance to beat Australia: Dhoni” “Even last time we had a very good chance and we did perform well. It is not like that the opposition is not doing well (but) it will be the best chance for us.." Dhoni said what he did with minor mention of the opposition but as captain of the team he is not expected to be pessimistic. But the headline of the article should explain the mindless hype from the media. The growth of cricket following had increased dramatically in India following the 1983 world cup win. Even that was a lucky escape from an extremely over-confident and arrogant West Indies.

Here’s another one from Deccan Chronicle: “India in with historic chance of beating Aussies at home”. That’s another issue with the media. Every 50, every 100, every match win, every series win is a “Historic” win! The term is abused so much that it loses meaning every day just as media analysis has proven to be history. Add to this the crazy rating game over teams. No1., No.2 blah, blah.. without realising it’s stupid to even make sense of any rating in a game played between 7 or 8 regular teams. That apart, the rating doesn’t count for anything in any tournament. Worse than seeing India lose a match is this mindless reasoning for losses. The only sensible one seems to be Kapil Dev who, in his usual down to earth style, states: “you lost because you played badly, that’s all” and that there can’t be any better reason. In the TV discussions and newspapers you are unlikely to find any new insight or intelligence on the game that you can’t find at your local corner shop discussion.

Over 3 decades ago when the Pakistan team toured India for the first time in ages Sunil Gavaskar, the captain, stated “they will smash us to pulp”.  This is after the beating India took when they toured Pakistan earlier in 1978. This blog describes the situation well. Apart from spreading pessimism in the media Gavaskar must have also lowered expectations from the public. The end result? India beat Pakistan 2-1 in that series in 1979. In 2011 the hype about India centred around the last chance for Sachin to win a world cup title and less on the team itself. India won the world cup, in contrast to 2003 and 2007 when the media almost concluded a certain victory much before the tournament began. The exit in the very first round in 2007 had provided some learning for the media only to forget it quite quickly.

Here’s the best of the whole lot from a discussion on CNN-IBN by their sports anchor Gaurav Kalra with Harsha Bhogle and Sanjay Manjrekar. Kalra sets the tone by a leading question that already under-estimates Australia:

Kalra: Is this India’s best chance to win a series in Australia?
Bhogle: It’s 20 years since I first went to Australia and I can’t think of a better time…this time there is fear in the enemy camp … Australia is not the side they were…
Manjrekar: Australia is at its most vulnerable.. I expect Indian batting to be a stronger lot..

Manjrekar, of course, added the usual ifs and buts. But every channel and almost every newspaper got the whole shit dead wrong. That’s what happens each and every time the media hypes up something – the opposite results. Anyone who is considered an expert would have to be exceptionally stupid to have not learnt anything from India’s recent tour of England. So you might wonder why all the excessive theories of an Indian series win. Well, bad news makes headlines, but good news gets a lot more sponsors I suppose.

India has been beaten six tests in a row abroad. Well, that shouldn’t dishearten us at all from a sporting angle. Chances are we might be beaten in the next test as well. So what? After all, after his first win over Jimmy Connors didn’t the great Vitas Gerulaitis say: “And let that be a lesson to you all. Nobody beats Vitas Gerulaitis 17 times in a row".

Friday, January 6, 2012

Media's Mask Of Morality

The Police chief of Andhra Pradesh makes an off the cuff remark about women’s dresses tempting rapes and that sets off a half hour discussion on CNN-IBN with none other than Sagarika Ghose (FTN January 5). That police chief received enough ridicule for his silly comments but it was enough cause for moraliser Ghose and a bunch of panelists to go on and on about Sheila, Munni, Dirty Picture, Vidya Balan, Red sarees… the whole lot. And, of course, the program is called ‘Face the nation’. There’s nothing like this to distract from every other issue of the day of any real consequence for the nation. Well nothing, unless it has something to do with an immoral deed by the BJP or an opposition party to the Congress. So, for the last two days most news channels have scavenged on the issue of Babu Singh Kushwaha being admitted to BJP after being sacked by BSP in Uttar Pradesh. Kushwaha was sacked from the BSP for alleged corruption and the very day after he joined BJP was raided by the CBI. Talk about timing! And the question three channels; NDTV, TimesNow and CNN-IBN, were asking was if BJP has lost the ‘moral ground’ on corruption. Alternately, they were also suggesting BJP had scored a ‘self-goal’.

What the media masks is the fact that the induction of Kushwaha into BJP received a lot of criticism from within the BJP itself, as also the RSS. Can you imagine that happening in the Congress or other party? Quite recently, Ajit Singh of RLD allied with the Congress for UP elections and was rewarded with a cabinet berth. The media merely glossed over this event as an ‘alliance’. Far from it! Ajit Singh is one of the most immoral power hunters. He has been with every party – Congress, BJP, BSP, SP, Janata Party and any other party you can name, just to be in power. That is within the moral standards of the media.

This is a tweet I sent out on December 20: “Nidhi Razdan:"There is nothing proved in a court of law against Chidambaram." Ooooh.. but when it comes to Modi... courts are not even needed”. Isn’t that nice? Kushwaha has been accused of corruption and the CBI has timed its raid to perfection. What about P. Chidambaram? The list of accusations against him now reads like a ‘troll of honour’. It starts with 2G Scam, then CWG scam, the vicious attack on Ramlila grounds leading to death of a woman, illegal arrest and detention of Anna Hazare, conflict of interest in covertly quashing an FIR against one of his clients. PC is also accused of having received huge amounts of bribes under the 2G scam. But no, for the media Chidambaram is an honourable man, especially for NDTV.  PC doesn’t even need lawyers. The folks at NDTV do a good job of defending him where he happens to be a darling. And yes, the comparison to Narendra Modi is inescapable. The man is guilty a thousand times over of murder, genocide, communalism, polarisation when there isn’t a single FIR against him and no court has pronounced him guilty. These very channels hosted a rogue cop, Sanjiv Bhatt, as a great hero and whistle blower and replayed his calling Narendra Modi a “common criminal” over and over again. I guess that is within the ‘moraldom’ of media! I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I were to call Nidhi Razdan a journalistic bimbo, but she just follows the editorial policies and moral pursuits of NDTV.

Expectedly, Sanjiv Bhatt is now mired in a host of cases against him and the skulls and bones from his closet are tumbling out. Top Cop! Whistle Blower! Real-life hero (according to media Mulla Mahesh Bhatt, another darling of media) and a fighter for justice. The news channels, of course, are completely and shamefully silent on the truth about Bhatt. These stunning revelations come from none other than the wily old legal fox Ram Jethmalani: (From The Sunday Guardian, quotes are in blue):

On 18 May he (Bhatt) sends a mail to Nasir Chhipa, who is supposed to be close to the Congress party, telling him, "I was told by Ms. Shabnam Hashmi (Senior Hate Engineer) that Home Minister P. Chidambaram can be influenced by pressure groups in the US. All appeals for the safety of witnesses, including myself, have not received the desired response from PC. You may have to work a little on this aspect...." (Mr Chidambaram, kindly note what the IPS officer you recently praised for insubordination thinks of you.) To state that whatever Chidambaram touches or wherever his name crops up stinks would be an understatement. Well, did I miss the report on NDTV? That would be immoral for them to report. Never mind! Jethmalani further adds:

"When Shubhranshu Chaudhary (a journalist) shows reluctance to give media hype to his affidavit, the petitioner writes to him advising use of the media, and asks whether Chaudhary is more comfortable with Arnab Goswami or Rajdeep Sardesai? When Chaudhary's reluctance still persists, Bhatt writes to him, "My feeling is that we could let the press sniff it out and contact you. It will not only make a good story for them, but, make the print media to take notice of your affidavit and finally force the hand of amicus and Supreme Court to take notice and subsequent affirmative action... "I think we should play the media card and make it difficult for the other side. If you fear that amicus and Supreme Court will not take it seriously then media trick can be tried. I will be speaking with Rajdeep Sardesai tomorrow I will drop a line to him and let him follow up the lead." On 19 May, Bhatt emails Rajdeep Sardesai of CNN-IBN, telling him that he has information that a senior journalist has "filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court on 16th May, saying that he was with me when I had to leave for CM's meeting on 27-02-2002... Kindly confirm through your sources in Supreme Court..."

Rajdeep Sardesai, the man that heads the ‘whatever it takes and most awarded’ channel seems to be the favourite conduit for sewage of this top cop. Arnab Goswami is named like a guinea pig who can be tested. Not surprisingly, both Arnab Goswami and Rajdeep Sardesai were the first ones to interview Bhatt after his bail out last October. And both unfailingly played his “common criminal” comment about Narendra Modi a million times. Very high moral standards indeed!

On the very day that these news channels were trashing the Kushwaha incident there was another news report that was buried in pages on the internet and news print. Not one mention, yes not one mention about an honourable mayor called Majid Hussain. He’s the new mayor of Hyderabad and has nothing less than seven cases against him. These seven cases include an attempt to murder, criminal assault and intimidation. Did we see that on any channel? At least I did not. Knowing the TV channels these cases are well within their moral standards. After all, since Barkha Dutt set up extraordinary moral and ethical standards in Radiagate we are now used to journalists even being involved in murder.

The recent announcement of investments by Reliance in the TV18 group is more bad news for viewers. The corporatisation of news will now be complete. If people were wondering why news channels more or less blacked out the KG Basic scam while making noises about the aviation scam a few months back, this explains. Nothing wrong in principle with the investment by Reliance except that our news channels will have more paymasters than before. Liquor and tobacco ads are banned in the media. But surrogate advertising has the liquor brands in your face all day long. Is that disturbing? Not at all, our news vendors and especially some anchors have been surrogate mothers for political causes, paid news and plants. NDTV is now famous for lobbying. Apart from the Radiagate episode many will remember NDTV campaigned for a Bharat Ratna award for M.F. Hussain which was silenced by strong protests from Hindus. Hmmm! But that didn’t stop them from lobbying for N.R. Narayanamurthy for President. NRN was earlier a director on the board of NDTV and as much a darling as Chidambaram. The Hoot is an e-magazine that often speaks the truth on media matters but also pulls pages without any reason. This piece about NDTV from The Hoot (August 2011) quoted by Techgirl makes interesting reading (Thanks to a commenter on this blog):

The same channel also was orchestrating the candidature of one of their Directors for the post of President of India some time back. The person may be iconic and of impeccable credentials, but the channel still needs to let the public know of his particular relationship with it. Incidentally, no other channel was plugging for him so hard.  One wonders how many viewers were aware of this when they were asked to vote on the campaign. While one is deeply appreciative of the commonsense of the person on the street in not falling for such campaigns, nevertheless the overall ethical issue remains. Think what would be said of Doordarshan if it ran an orchestrated campaign to promote one of the eminent directors on its board of governors! Such influence peddling would be unethical journalism by any standards”.

The Kushwaha incident is not going to pass away soon in the media. Back in 2009 the media went to town with the doctored videos of hate speeches by Varun Gandhi, a BJP member. Throughout that election season the Varun tapes were played out to cause damage to a particular political party. This time around, elections in UP and other states are great motivators for trumpeting morality in politics. The corrupt crooks behind the mask on your TV channels will be there to talk about it.