Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Gujarat Riots - Game Over For Media

And so the Godhra 10th anniversary came and passed. I had predicted a “Hang-Modi” weekend in the media. I am pleasantly surprised the extended weekend wasn’t as bad as I expected. While the cacophony over the 10th anniversary of Godhra and the Gujarat riots was all over the media, the anti-Modi, anti-Gujarat hate engineers clearly appear to have lost momentum. This is not so much because they have had a change of heart but somewhere there seems to be a realisation that people on the ground in Gujarat are fighting for a different cause. Rajdeep Sardesai was first off the block with a Ground Zero special on Godhra and after on CNN-IBN, next was Barkha Dutt on NDTV and, of course, Arnab Goswami followed up late on Monday, February 27. As Howard Beale would tell you: “TV is not the truth, it’s an amusement park....We lie like hell”. The Oscar awards show happened the same day taking away a lot of precious time from the Gujarat campaign and that should have upset some of the media crooks.

First, has Gujarat moved on? Have the victims of violence moved on? Yes, Gujarat has certainly moved on but it will take much longer for the victims to move on. For anyone who has lost family members and friends to violence life doesn’t stop but it does take a long time to move on. It took a long time for families to move on from the tragedies of Partition. Some may still have bad memories. In much the same way a decade is too short a period to get over deaths and tragedies from mass violence. The Sikhs of the 1984 genocide are still seeking closure. The victims of Gujarat riots too are seeking closure. Maybe it will take another generation to completely move on from individual tragedies.

There are killers from every tragedy who are still roaming free. Be it the 1984 Sikh massacre, be it the Kashmir ethnic cleansing, be it many other communal riots or be it Gujarat. I believe if one could talk to some of these killers they would probably wonder if they would indulge in such wanton killing as a normal individual. Ask them when sober if they would now do again what they did then, they will probably regret their act. But mob killings are just that. It is like a drunk who isn’t totally aware of his acts. The media and certain NGOs made an industry of the justice campaign. Most of this campaign was based on lies. The only objective of this gang was to get Narendra Modi to resign, be sentenced to death or prison and if all that didn’t work out to somehow apologise. The lies have slowly but surely come undone and most of the hate engineers stand exposed.

Rajdeep Sardesai’s poor display of raw emotion and tears to make an emotionally appealing documentary is a good indicator of muddling facts and reason. His programme wasn’t live and could have been edited to take out the emotional bursts. But hey, who wants to delete good theatre? To his credit Rajdeep consciously avoided even mentioning Modi too often in his show or demonising him as he has done in the past. As an after-thought, CNN-IBN later carried stories about a famous restaurant, Chandra Vilas on the riot-prone Gandhi Road (where Gandhi and Sardar have dined) which was destroyed during the riots and is now back to normal. To balance that there was a muslim shopkeeper who stated he has moved on and 2002 is well buried. And for the first time Rajdeep also featured families of the Godhra train victims.

The worst programme on the anniversary was quite definitely Arnab Goswami’s Newshour. With time, Arnab appears to more ill-behaved, more foul-mouthed and more incoherent than any of the panelists that appear on his show. I dare say he is starting to be India’s own Howard Beale, the deranged TV anchor of ‘Network. To make matters worse he hosted two discredited liars on his show - Sanjiv Bhatt and Shabnam Hashmi. The motives of these two individuals have long been established and chronicled. In contrast Barkha Dutt was far more subdued. One panelist on her show let out that she had agreed she would not make it a political discussion. That should tell us something about her past programmes on Gujarat. Even so, she had Javed Anand (husband of Teesta Setalvad) who drew parallels with Hitler’s Jewish massacre and so on. Barkha’s question was: Is reconciliation possible without justice? We will come to that later.

In the meantime the usual suspects, including Javed Anand, like Ashutosh of IBN7, Nikhil Wagle of Lokmat were there to rank Modi as Hitler and equate the Gujarat riots to the holocaust. Not that this needs any rebuttal but it reflects the vile campaign that these gentlemen have carried on for years. It is too much to expect of these motivated activists and so called journalists to understand that Hitler’s campaign was one of racial superiority. The systematic killing of Jews, because they were more successful economically and racially inferior, was Hitler’s main cause. And the Jews weren’t exactly burning train-loads of Christian Germans. Was Hitler the only one to persecute Jews? For 2000 years Jews were slaughtered by Christians and Muslims. Surprisingly, none of these hacks would want to talk of the Islamic killing of Jews. It doesn’t fit their agenda. Even today there are Islamic leaders who have sworn to wipe Israel off the world map. Nikhil Wagle and Ashutosh are some of the scumbags who thrive on lies. Ashutosh and Wagle do not possess the polish of a Barkha or Rajdeep but they do not lag in anyway in the skills of lie-mongering. Like Rajdeep and Barkha they too need wardrobe managers to dress up their lies.

And so to that question – Is reconciliation possible without justice? Let’s take murder cases. There are many murder cases that are yet to be solved. These cases have leads, there are possible suspects, even forensic evidence but they remain unsolved. And the victim or the family doesn’t get justice. In mass violence by mobs mostly made up of many unknown faces it is impossible that every offender is brought to justice. Hitler’s killers lived all over the world escaping justice. Simon Wiesenthal fought till the end to bring each of Hitler’s men to justice. Some are dead, others unknown. H.K.L. Bhagat, the man many hold responsible for the Sikh killings of 1984 died. Would he have been brought to justice if he were alive? Nobody knows. There are others like Jagdish Tytler, Sajjan Kumar who are accused by victims but are still free. What about the ethnic cleansing of Kashmir? Hardly any investigation was even made into the killings of the Pandits. And I have doubts anyone will ever be brought to justice for those killings. Where mob violence and civil wars are concerned it is nearly impossible to bring justice to every incident. However, there can be reconciliation.

Reconciliation, of course, needs truth to be established and expressed. That is where the media and the NGOs have worked to make it impossible. They have removed Truth so far from the Gujarat riots story that it makes reconciliation that much more difficult. But reconciliation will happen. The clamour for justice for victims of Gujarat riots would have been fair. But that wasn’t what the media celebs and activists wanted. Their single point agenda was Modi and Modi alone. They are guilty of turning the riots into a political battle. The victims of the riots, as with a terror attack or an unsolved murder case, have no option but to move on with or without justice. Justice might reinforce faith in the system but does not help moving on easily. That takes decades or generations to bury the wounds. Moving on needs finding life and happiness in the present and the future and the opportunities it brings. The jews haven’t forgotten and never will but they have moved on.

There is a very disturbing trend in this media madness though. For the first time they did manage to get some victims of the Sabarmati Express in their programmes. However, there are two events in the Gujarat case – One is Godhra and the other is post-Godhra. If one watched all the programmes over the last decade they would lead you to believe that not a single Hindu died post-Godhra. 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus died in the post Godhra riots. Yet, anyone watching the media and the activists would believe only muslims were killed. Not one, I repeat not one, family of the 254 Hindu victims were ever covered by the media. They probably don't even know where these families are. Which is the reason media and the activists failed in their political agenda. Their entire focus was to somehow implicate and nail Modi. 

Sanjiv Bhatt even mentions somewhere that he might even join politics. I wonder what he means by that. He IS already in politics, just like Teesta, Shabnam, Mallika, Rajdeep, Barkha, Arnab and the others in the ‘Anti-Modi cottage industry’ are. Most of these people have enriched themselves in their quest for justice for Modi over the past decade while the victims struggle. But that miserable enemy of media called truth sooner or later turned up somewhere. There will be a few noises that will still continue but for a large part their game is well and truly over.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The 'Hang-Modi' Weekend

Yes, it’s that time of the year. This year it’s even more special because it’s the 10th Anniversary of Godhra and the Gujarat riots. Throughout Monday, February 27, you can expect newspapers with specials and TV news channels to carry on endless debates on Gujarat and Narendra Modi. Expect to see sepia toned images of violence, deaths, burnt train compartments. Expect to see special documentaries on the plight, anger and anxiety in certain pockets of Gujarat. Expect to see how muslims from adults to school kids to new-born are systematically being discriminated against in Gujarat. Mind you, some of these stories aren’t unique to Gujarat but exist in pockets of many states in India. But once again, you will be reminded that it’s only in Gujarat alone that sufferings are magnified and state-sponsored. For the record, some of the lies about the Gujarat riots spread through the last decade have been exposed enough for the propaganda to change course. This is particularly the number of people killed, fake rape and torture cases and fake affidavits.

Let’s go back to September 12, 2011 when the Supreme Court returned the Zakia Jafri case to the lower court. Here’s how one politician still holding Modi criminally responsible for the riots responded: Sitaram Yechury of CPM stated that it does not absolve Modi of the “communal ri…” and then he paused, thought for a second and said “communal pogrom”. That is one of the major lies that was being spread. 790 muslims and 254 hindus were killed in the riots; far from features you would associate with a pogrom. The communal riots were terrible but creating a political agenda out of them is just as bad. The second big lie were the numbers themselves. All the reporters and political activists like Barkha Dutt, Rajdeep Sardesai, Vir Sanghvi, Teesta Setalvad, Shabnam Hashmi, Sanjiv Bhatt, Arundhati Roy, Harsh Mandar and many more have consistently fabricated the numbers killed between 2000-3000. Some still and will continue to do so.

What to expect? Well, one of the reporters who was instrumental in spreading untruths about the riots, Rajdeep Sardesai, is already off the block with a blogpost “Modi's 'Sadbhavana' and the horror of 2002” on February 24 and he wonders if there’s closure and if Gujarat has moved on. Rajdeep continues the same refrain from the past of how muslims have become second class citizens in Gujarat. There is a major change though. In his post he doesn’t use the word “Guilty” for Modi and he doesn’t use the term “mass murderer” which he had frequently borrowed from his HT colleague Vir Sanghvi. But well, old habits die hard so Rajdeep does start his post with a lie: “Has Gujarat really moved on ten years after the terrible violence of 2002? The answer depends on who the question is asked to. Chief minister Narendra Modi, for example, claims to have moved on to the point where he refuses to take questions on the past”. Well, during the Sadbhavna mission in September 2011 Modi did speak to a lot of reporters including on the topic of the riots. T.M. Veeraraghav of Rajdeep’s CNN-IBN also got an interview with Modi. So you can expect Rajdeep to use newer, different lies to promote his sentimental clap-trap.

Fast off the block from Hindustan Times (whose former editor could have been in jail for slandering Modi as a “mass-murderer”) is another opinion from Shiv Vishwanathan. Like Rajdeep, he too, starts off with a bang and it’s pretty easy to miss his gentle twist. He states: “In recent times, we had a Special Investigation Team report into the Gujarat riots that claimed that Narendra Modi was not guilty of the riots. If the media were to be believed, the way is now clear for the BJP to anoint him unofficially as prime minister”. This when the SIT report is not even officially released. But that is not the point. The wording of Shiv’s line is “SIT CLAIMED”. Haha! SIT claimed? One should remember that the SIT is an investigative body appointed by the SC and they don’t make claims. They just submit reports on whether they have found evidence to prosecute someone. Claims are usually made by opinionated columnists or TV panelists. For them, unless some legal body or court finds Modi guilty everything is just a “claim”. And then Shiv goes on to wonder whether Modi will fit the bill as PM or not.

Isn’t it amazing? From calling him a criminal, mass-murderer, pogrom manager, Hitler, Nazi, fascist almost everyone in the media is now discussing whether Modi will make it as PM or not. Haha! During the last state elections in Gujarat these very people were wondering if he should even continue as CM. Now they don’t even have the remotest doubt if he will win another state election this year. The fake opinion polls for Gujarat election won’t be published anymore. They would be horrified if they looked in the mirror and noticed that Modi has silently led them up a path where they would be discussing his PM candidature.

Hindustan Times also published the transcripts of Modi’s deposition with the SIT in March 2010. That document contains all the responses of Modi to the questions raised by the SIT. None of the MSM appears to want to discuss or debate that. TV channels have been quiet on that front. The reason is pretty obvious. The answers contain many facts which were so far conveniently hidden from the public. That Modi had appointed Congress leaders to watchdog committees after the riots must come as revelation to the public. The number of times he had appealed for peace and called for the army in time is all facts that were twisted by the media. Having failed to politically or legally hang Modi the media crooks started a weird campaign seeking an apology.

What to expect? Well, I think one can also expect a special bout of ‘We the poodles’ by Barkha Dutt with the usual peddlers of the drug called ‘untruth’ on Sunday, February 26 or a special programme of some kind. After all, she and Rajdeep were the ones who fuelled the spectacular anti-Modi campaign which provided refuge for all kinds of liars. Arundhati Roy has more or less disappeared from her campaign of lies. Teesta and Sanjiv Bhatt are struggling to keep untruths alive. Vir Sanghvi has been mass-murdered by Radia. Barkha has been tainted by Radiagate, Barkhagate, Barkhabarks, shoddy 26/11. Barkha has now been reduced to a sorry mouthpiece of the Congress party and the Hurriyat (As Swapan Dasgupta jokes). To her credit she did manage to improve her wardrobe during this time though. Rajdeep, apart from Cash4Votes also got trashed for the fraudulent telecast of Sri Sri debate by his wife. Rajdeep has already announced a programme ‘Revisiting Gujarat and If Gujarat has moved on’ on CNN-IBN for the weekend. Expect another round of selective story-telling by him. And yes, Rajdeep will actually CRY!

They say truth is the first casualty of the war. Our media claimed Gujarat was different because it was the first time riots were on camera and on TV. That is only half the truth. The other half is that this is the first time a great campaign of lies and untruths was carried out by the media for political ends and sustained for the better part of a decade. Now the lies and the liars are falling apart. But brace yourselves – the ‘Hang-Modi’ weekend has just started and expect some new concoction to be served.

Friday, February 17, 2012

NDTV - Evolving The Gandhi

It is not as if it’s a big secret that NDTV has been the mouthpiece of Congress for a long time. Still, with the brazen manipulation of debates and excessive media coverage of one family they have now out-done even the erstwhile Russian mouthpiece Pravda. In modern days NDTV could even come close to the national media of North Korea. Of course, in all this all their journalistic principles have been ground to dust long back. The latest attempt to promote Rahul Gandhi comes in the form of a discussion moderated by Barkha Dutt (who else could it have been?) in a programme titled “The Evolution of Rahul Gandhi”. Hmmm! If the number of times the coming of age and evolution of RG has been talked about he would have far exceeded Darwin’s theories and expectations. Barkha herself could claim to be a Rahul-specific Darwin!

The participants in the debate by Barkha were R.P.N. Singh (Congress), Sudheendra Kulkarni (BJP), Neeraj Chaudary (SP) and Meghnad Desai, the floating alien who seems to be more on Indian TV  than back home in UK.

First let us state a fact. After the thrashing the Congress received in many other states, especially Bihar, Rahul Gandhi took the Mamata route to agitate at farmer hotspots and land related fights in UP. He has spent a good deal of time campaigning in UP right from November 14, 2011. Has he put in strong efforts? Sure, in terms of rallies, road-shows and meetings RG has committed himself to the campaign whole-heartedly. What about Priyanka? She has done her hit and run appearances. But did RG say anything substantial or outline any real singular plan of any consequence? Other than muslim reservations (which was dramatized more by Salman Khurshid rather than RG) and elephants eating money RG’s utterances, as in the past, have been simply nonsensical and not one statement or act of his have suggested that he has indeed come of age or evolved. He has only provided more evidence in all the media coverage that Congress still considers UP voters to be idiots. He’s not alone, he finds company in Barkha Dutt who equally hopes TV viewers to be idiots who can be dazzled with BS. So the agenda of NDTV is to somehow make RG look like the “Great white hope” for UP and the nation. So let’s analyse the debate on some mere statistics which will make interesting reading:

1.   The Barkha show is for 51.16 minutes. Okay! Now, it starts with a tribute to RG and the Gandhis and a monologue from her which lasts all of 16.40 minutes. Yes 16.40 minutes of monologue by the supposed moderator in a programme of 51.16 minutes (and includes about a minute of sound-bites from Akhilesh Yadav, Digvijay Singh and Swapan Dasgupta). Prelude to a great debate, isn’t it?

2.    Now what about timeshare to others in the discussion? Here’s what each one got in total:
       R.P.N.Singh (Congress) –          9.40 Mins.
       Sudheendra Kulkarni (BJP) –   5.20 Mins.
       Neeraj Chaudhary (SP) –           2.30 Mins.
       Meghnad Desai (Nobody) –       3.00 Mins.
       Audience (Questions) –              3.30 Mins.

3.   So the panelists and the audience put together got  24 minutes out of a total of 51.16 minutes (with interruptions from Barkha). So who got the remaining 27.16 minutes? Yeah, the supposed moderator herself! That’s how you manipulate a debate when the moderator hogs 53% of timeshare for discussions.

Never mind the discussion itself. It was a regular RG promo. Consider this: Kulkarni makes a minor point of RG tearing up a piece of paper and that being poor behaviour and who responds? It is not the Congressman or another panelist but Barkha herself who springs to RG’s defence. She counters it with all the chairs and mics thrown in assemblies or porn being watched by MLAs. Haha! So why does she need panelists at all? She doubles up as both the moderator and Congress spokesperson that even gets the most time in the supposed debate.

Anyway, the most important question in the programme came from Neeraj Chaudhury of SP. To the nonsense of Singh, and the Congress in general, who kept claiming they will do substantially better in UP, Chaudhury asked what exactly is “substantial”. To that Singh claimed they will get 200 seats and once again Barkha interrupts that even 70 could be substantial. Really? So the moderator here gives us an idea of what the Congress mind is more than the Congress spokesman himself. Once again, why does NDTV need a Congress spokesperson at all? The awful truth of the matter is that the party currently has 22 seats (5%) in a 403-member assembly. Can any party of a national standing really sink any further?  Even without the evolution or coming of age of RG or his entire family a party has to be absolutely pathetic to be doing worse than 22 seats. (RG did manage to do that in Bihar earlier though). However, the sheer number of seats being much higher than Bihar and given the unhappiness over the current UP govt it wouldn’t take much to get past 22 or even get past 50.

The final question the likes of Barkha never ask is: if not Gandhi, who? In a party that has become the private estate of the Gandhi family who else can really campaign for them? Digvijay? Chidambaram? Pranab? Manmohan? Pilot? Scindia? Bansal? Ambika? Manu Singhvi? Manish Tiwari?  Anyone else? At best, all of them put together can only be sidekicks to Rahul Gandhi. Even RG himself without the Gandhi name would be a sidekick to himself. All this talk of coming of age or evolution of RG is merely clever propaganda by Barkha Dutt, NDTV and some more media channels. Unfortunately for NDTV it’s not a hot-shot channel among a huge majority of UP voters. Their manipulation of evolution may just please those that have a mini-bar in their drawing room.

Update - February 19: Although the statistics in the post make the skullduggery of Barkha's show pretty obvious an Anonymous commenter (Feb 18) enlarges upon it. I quote the comment:

1. Even after the initial lecture by Barkha the Congress guy gets the highest individual time 9.40 mins.
2. The opponents of RahulG, the BJP and SP, collectively get only 7.50 mins which is almost 2 mins less than RPN.
3. The nobody, Meghnad, with no stake in the campaign gets even more time than a serious contender like SP.
4. Apart from 16.40 mins in the beginning, even during open discussions Barkha still gets over 10mins, higher than anyone else.
I think in future all debates on TV should have an indicator showing time consumed by each panellist that would show if the debate is fair.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Hasta La Teesta... Baby!

In the famous action movie ‘DieHard’ John Mclane’s wife isn’t sure if he’s dead or alive after another round of battle with the terrorists. Karl, one of the terrorists, then walks into the hostage-holding area raving mad, screaming and smashing everything in sight. She then whispers to a colleague “he’s still alive”. To the puzzled colleague she whispers her reasoning “Only John can drive somebody that crazy”. That is true for many villains. Sooner or later they lose their cool when their best laid plans go wrong. Something like that happened on TimesNow on the night of February 9 with Teesta Setalvad. The discussion was on the closure report of the SIT probing Gujarat riots which has reportedly given a clean chit to Narendra Modi on allegations of his involvement in the 2002 riots. Naturally, this is something Teesta has been unable to stomach.

It took someone like Meenakshi Lekhi, a lawyer from BJP who frequently appears on TV panels, and is an equally feisty lady to drive Teesta crazy and up the wall when she said: “..She (Teesta) has been repeatedly been committing perjury before the courts…will send you those 340 petitions”. Teesta’s response? She rants “That’s a lie, no court has held me guilty of perjury..” and then she walks out of the show. Wait a minute! No court has held her guilty? That is surprising because all along she has held Modi guilty of murder, guilty for women raped and tortured, called him names along with others. If one were to go by the number of times Teesta has declared Modi guilty you would believe a thousand courts have held him guilty. Yet, it’s only Teesta who’s not guilty of perjury because no court has said so. The clip below shows her moment when Lekhi drives her crazy like Mclane did the terrorist in DieHard:

The whole idea that Modi is guilty even when there’s no FIR against him, even when no court has pronounced him guilty is a rule that is concocted by Teesta and others. In contrast the SIT has indicted Teesta on her fake affidavits and even her own colleagues have filed cases against her on her lies and coercive methods.  One hopes Obnoxious Arnab and other TV mullahs learn a lesson: Teesta is unfit to be on any panel discussing justice for anyone. Her washing machine for justice, also known as Citizens for Justice, is more like a Ponzi scheme that thrives on lies, lies and more lies. Needless to say, her campaign has been funded in the past by political parties like the Congress and the CPM according to the page about her on Wikipedia.

Teesta wasn’t alone though. The campaign of calumny was carried out by Barkha Dutt, Rajdeep Sardesai, their TV channels, Shabnam Hashmi, Harsh Mandar, Vir Sanghvi, Sanjiv Bhatt, Mallika Sarabhai and many more. Some of them are fortunate Modi hasn't prosecuted them for defamation in calling him a 'mass murderer' or 'common criminal'. In Indian media history this has to be the biggest campaign of lies ever carried out by a bunch of people. Some of them have already protested the SIT closure report and that Modi shouldn’t be given a clean chit. It is worth remembering that the SIT itself was an outcome of Teesta and others petitioning the Supreme Court. As someone pointed out; it is a travesty and mockery of justice when it doesn’t go their way.

Just in case we forget this same Teesta in a way justified the Godhra burning of 59 Hindus with this comment on the day of the incident:  "While I condemn today's gruesome attack, you cannot pick up an incident in isolation. Let us not forget the provocation. These people were not going for a benign assembly. They were indulging in blatant and unlawful mobilization to build a temple and deliberately provoke the Muslims in India." So because they Hindus were assembling for the temple the muslims were provoked and were justified in the burning of people. It is such sick logic that results in the kind of backlash that Godhra brought about.

In their enthusiasm to please their political masters some of these activists and media celebs had led the Jafri family up a garden path. They led the family to believe the only justice is the hanging of Modi. Everything the lie-mongers claimed has been negated by the SIT. The frivolous affidavits by Sanjiv Bhatt have also been reduced to toilet paper, to put it mildly. It might be worth noting that the complainants withdrew the name of Rahul Sharma from their petition. He is supposedly an anti-Modi cop. For long the conniving media have treated Teesta Setalvad as some super expert on the Gujarat riots. Where justice for the victims is concerned she has probably done the greatest disservice by making destroy-Modi her sole and personal ambition. The undeniable fact remains that the SIT didn’t find anything against Narendra Modi and some others to implicate them in the killing of Ehsan Jafri or other cases.

The media has lost the moral, political and legal battle against Modi on the Gujarat riots. What new campaign they may come up with next is left to their conscience. But one thing they must learn is bringing in spurious panelists with ulterior motives frequently to tarnish someone doesn’t pay. Teesta Setalvad is supposedly a lawyer. Imagine her walking out of a court of law when proceedings don’t suit her. Justice Arnab runs his TV channel like a mock court but walking out on a show because of intolerance of others' criticism is the final sign of a loser. The TV channels will do well not to bring her back on again ever. Her fame and game are up in flames! And in all probability Teesta, with all the cases against her, might see jail far before Modi, if he ever does at all. In this case, if not the real Arnie the Terminator, our own Obnoxious Arnie can well afford to say “Hasta la vista” to her or should the media be telling her “Hasta la Teesta… Baby!”

Friday, February 10, 2012

General V.K.Singh - With Honours

The Supreme Court today disposed of a petition filed by Army Chief V.K.Singh on the matter concerning his age. The govt had decided to go by records which had his year of birth as 1950 while other records had it as 1951. This meant that he would have to retire in May 2012 while 1951 would have meant retiring in 2013. Why the case landed up in the SC is a sorry story which is consistent with the poor handling of various issues the central govt is by now reputed for. On December 30 the govt rejected a second appeal by Gen. Singh to recognise his DOB as 1951 seeking the advice of the Attorney General. It was the second time the govt had sought the advice of the AG on the same issue. This rejection led to the General taking the matter to the SC. Now, that’s the drama that the media couldn’t resist at all. What should have been reported as case of serious nature was turned into a WWE wrestling match of sorts by the media.

Dignity V Ambition was the constant topic of debates in the media. Shameful! General Singh is in the final year of his career, he is over 60, has earned laurels throughout his career. So to even remotely suggest that there was some ingredient of ambition in his stand is an offensive mud-slinging exercise that the media revels in. And, of course, there were those media crooks who even suggested he should resign as soon as the petition was filed. The General acted out of a call of his conscience and the belief that the govt doubted his integrity by rejecting his appeal. So what do the SC observations hold in this case?

First, last week the SC observed that the govt procedure was faulty in rejecting the General’s appeal since it used the same advice (of the AG) that it had already used in a previous appeal. This therefore vitiated the principles of natural justice according to the SC. In the second hearing of the case today the SC recommended the General withdraw his plea since the govt had already agreed and decided to withdraw its controversial order of December 30. The SC also observed that basic documents such as his school leaving certificate used in UPSC records and other records showed his DOB as 1951. SC also observed that it was an issue of service records where the records showing 1950 were proper and that neither his honour nor integrity was in question and that he should have taken steps to rectify the anomaly long back instead of this late state in his career.

The SC maintained it didn’t want to intervene in an issue of service records and did not want dirty linen washed in public. That, in short, summarises the SC approach to the whole case. So it is neither a loss to the General nor a victory for the govt. In a case such as this it is obvious that the people were with the General because they definitely have far more respect for the Army than for the govt. Secondly, General V K Singh is reputed to be an upright officer who has fought corruption in the army. In contrast, the UPA is now seen as a natural friend of corruption. Effectively the SC just said: Your DOB is 1951 but let the service records stay as they are and not reverse what was accepted for over 30 years. That is all!

The implications of the SC observations clearly point to the following:
  1. The govt. simply failed to resolve the issue amicably and let matters get out of hand.
  2. That the grievance and dispute redress systems in the army procedures need to be looked into closely and revamped where necessary.
  3. That in the future even the Army may resort to normal legal processes in the face of govt intransigence.
During the time when the dispute was being negotiated with Gen. Singh the govt could have come out openly and stated in no uncertain circumstances that they hold him in high esteem, respect his integrity, his honour and the 1951 date, but would stand by the records. Instead, the govt was constantly giving the image of a conflict. If the govt has to learn any lessons then these are the ones. The govt was saved by a slim lifeline today. What if the SC had ruled against the govt? That would have completely eroded the govt’s right to even continue with any credibility. The last thing a civilian govt would want is a conflict over such issues with the Army Chief.

The case was turned into a circus by the media as usual. From the time the SC observations were being relayed from the court the usual rants came out: Blow to Army Chief, Setback to Army Chief! Some TV channels even reported Singh's petition was "Dismissed" when technically that was inaccurate since he had withdrawn his petition. It is indeed shameful that such headlines are being used to indicate a loss for the general. It was not a loss. There are those in the media who are now suggesting that General Singh should now resign early. This is a faulty suggestion. It is up to Singh to decide on that. An unresolved disagreement was referred by him to the SC. That’s all. It is not a defeat or loss even in the slightest sense. This was not some property dispute. Finally, the fact is that a huge majority of India does believe Gen. Singh and that his DOB, as claimed by him, is indeed 1951. That’s a victory unavailable to the govt. which has been losing trust every minute. As the saying goes – the law is an Ass, though not all the time. General Singh came through with his reputation intact and with honours.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Messiah's Transmitters

Sometimes a writer comes up with a brilliant line and wants to squeeze it somewhere in his article or story. Sometimes a film-maker likes to make an ‘Item-number’ the high-point of a movie. Yes, that sells! Then there might be a very thought provoking line like “Ask not…” by JFK which becomes immortal. And sometimes there might be the analogy that doesn’t fit anywhere but has to be used because the speaker was thrilled with the invention by the script writer. That’s what explains Rahul Gandhi’s statement on Monday, February 6 at Varanasi: “We politicians are just transmitters. Our job is to listen and transmit.  Our job is to understand and transmit”. Given that RG has been parading Sam Pitroda, the telecom specialist, here and there as a symbol of OBC progress I have a feeling the transmitter analogy might have come from Pitroda. There’s only one problem – Transmit to whom? The guy upstairs? Occupants of some inter-planetary craft? Well, whatever RG meant there are other ‘transmitters’ who do a lot of transmitting for him and about him. They are the wise, insightful ones who understand RG far better than lesser mortals like us. Some of them are in the print media and the others on TV. The 12 apostles. Collectively, they faithfully interpret and transmit the pearls of wisdom that RG frequently delivers us.

The transmitters are like a cricket team, 11 plus the extra man. You could call them the twelve apostles of the messiah. TimeGroup, Indian Express, Hindustan Times, IndiaToday group, NDTV, CNN-IBN, TimesNow, HeadlinesToday, StarNews, Tehelka, NewsX with a revolving 12th man. This time let’s start with the 12th man, former spook B. Raman.

It is one from the ‘intelligence’ gang who can analyse RG better than anyone else. Here’s a transmission from B.Raman: “If Rahul can avert a humiliation of the party in the forthcoming polls, that could be an achievement indeed keeping alive the political hopes and aspirations of the Party”. Aha! So the think tanks are constantly defining and re-defining what victory represents. If RG and Congress survive “humiliation” it would be an “achievement”! Mind you, not a majority, not a good chunk of seats but avoiding humiliation would be a victory. Surely, Mr. Raman sets the performance bar for the messiah really high. And we too should concede that if Congress is NOT humiliated then it’s a victory for them.

It is not disputed anymore that a huge majority of newspapers and TV channels are mere mouthpieces of the Congress party. NDTV and CNN-IBN lead the pack and have shed all pretenses of being independent news channels. This is good because they can now freely air their propaganda without being accused of being news channels. On February 6 a CNN-IBN beat reporter cooed a question “Why doesn’t Priyanka enter politics, she is such a natural?” Yes, everyone from the Gandhi dynasty is a “natural”. Lately, even Robert Vadra, Priyanka’s husband, has been campaigning and had some exciting sound bites to offer. He decided that it was currently Rahul’s turn, Priyanka’s would come in time and then he might join politics if people want him to. Of course, people want him to, so tonight at 10pm on NDTV Barkha Dutt will do an exclusive interview with Vadra and plead with him to join politics. And you’re dumb if you didn’t know that “She’s the people”!

Ya’ll are not born smart enough to understand RG. So here’s one more transmitter, Rajdeep Sardesai, the Feditor of CNN-IBN: “At the age of 41, Rahul Gandhi cannot be the eternal Peter Pan. It is time that we discover who the real Rahul Gandhi is. The odd combative press conference is clearly not enough to uncover the real Rahul. He has promised that he is in UP for the long run and has run a strong election campaign. We have just one simple question: would Rahul be tempted to become the UP chief minister if the Congress was in a position to form a government?” Damn! I thought ‘sad sack’ had already uncovered RG two years ago with an “Indian politician of the year award” when he explained Rahul’s great “vision” for India and how despite his young age he towered over senior politicians. And now he wants to discover the real Rahul, he wonders if RG would be tempted to be CM of UP. Funny, isn’t it? One transmitter thinks surviving humiliation is victory and another transmitter wonders if he would take up CMship.

And where transmitters are concerned nobody does it better than NDTV, the eyes, nose and ears of Rahul Gandhi. Quite faithfully they have transmitted 21 gospels by the messiah without fear or favour. These are listed here. What surprises me yet is that despite all the devotion and dedication neither Rahul nor Priyanka have given an ‘exclusive’ interview to Barkha Dutt yet. I expect Robert Vadra will compensate for that tonight. But don’t be disappointed! If you needed a comprehensive transmission of the life work and gospels of Rahul Gandhi you just got lucky. Only last month a complete biography of Rahul was released and it’s now available everywhere. This is just in time for election season.

Rahul’s biography has been transmitted by Veenu Sandhu and Jatin Gandhi. No no, Jatin Gandhi is not the great grandson of Nehru! The book will help you understand: “Who is Rahul Gandhi—the real man—beneath the hype and the hatchet jobs? What are the ideas and influences that propel him? Who are his advisers? And how will he tackle his new responsibilities as his mother, Sonia Gandhi, makes way for him?” Never mind that. It’s the lineage of the authors that should give you some idea of what the transmission would contain. Take a look:

Jatin Gandhi - Has reported from different parts of India for the last fifteen years for both print and electronic media, including the Hindustan Times, the Indian Express, Times Now, Star News and wahindia.com
Veenu Sandhu - Has reported on a range of subjects in a career that spans fifteen years and which includes stints at the Indian Express, the Hindustan Times and NDTV 24x7. She is currently Features Editor with Business Standard in Delhi.

So it’s not just Rahul The Messiah, but sister Priyanka, her husband Robert Vadra, their little daughter who are all out to send “messages” to us. Well, if they had cats and dogs they would be out there too. There is just one little problem. After stating “We politicians are just transmitters. Our job is to listen and transmit.  Our job is to understand and transmit”, In the list of 21 gospels that NDTV faithfully reproduced you will not find this fantastic piece of transmission from Rahul Gandhi: “I don’t care about election results”. So much for listening, understanding and transmitting!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

122 Reasons To Cheer

I had read somewhere that every afternoon about 7 members of the Congress media department meet to discuss the day’s issues and plan a media response. That would normally be a healthy practice in any political party. On February 1 the same group would have had an extended meeting discussing their response to the much-awaited SC verdict on 2G that was slated for February 2. What if P.Chidambaram was indicted? What if an SIT was set up to monitor investigations into the scam? And maybe a few more questions. But not in their worst nightmare would they have expected that the SC would quash the 122 licenses issued by the govt. Now that was something they hadn’t planned for probably. So once the verdict came out at around 10.30am the Congress spinners went into a huddle and not until 3pm did they come out with a response. That’s Okay! It takes time to come out with the worst spin; especially when most of them claimed they hadn’t read the full judgement.

So it was left to Zero specialist Kapil Sibal to break the good news to the media. And true to his established tradition of stupid utterances Sibal stated the SC endorsed the govt policies, blamed the previous NDA govt, led by BJP, for the whole mess. Why? It’s because the UPA followed the same ‘first come, first serve’ (FCFS) policy established by the BJP. So according to Sibal, the indictment of his govt was basically an indictment of the NDA which should apologise to the nation. Oh well! Let’s just say the BJP invented the Hammer and the UPA used that Hammer to commit murder so the BJP is culpable. True, the SC had faulted the FCFS policy but the clever spin by Sibal takes away from the real issue: That the cause for the reported 1.76 lakh crores was because 2001 prices were used for issuing licenses in 2008. The UPA had not just abused the FCFS policy but also used the wrong pricing. But that is all that the faithful poodles in the media needed to brighten their day, a spin from Sibal.

The second aspect of Sibal’s nonsense is that only A. Raja was responsible for the 2G scam and neither the PM nor P.Chidambaram were responsible. Imagine, the sales manager of a company concludes an extra-ordinarily huge transaction and neither the Finance manager nor the MD is aware of such a transaction. Normally, even a Chairman who doesn’t involve himself in day to day operations would know of such a transaction. But to expect our PM, then FM or UPA head Sonia Gandhi to be aware of the 2G skulduggery is supposedly far-fetched.

So, from 3pm onward the MSM on TV, online media and elsewhere kept playing the allegation of Sibal against the NDA and happily buried the issue of the loss of 1.76 lakh crores somewhere in their dustbins. Where the question of responsibility came up, the discussions focused on Raja. And the usual suspects who defend the govt even on the indefensible were on the panels all evening. Here are some interesting observations:

On the question why PM, PC or Sonia (or High Command) were unaware of what Raja was up to Vinod Sharma of Hindustan Times had this to offer (on NDTV): Raja’s High Command is in Chennai and not in Delhi. That’s a reference to DMK bosses and inference is that Raja, as a minister, did not have any accountability to the PM or the Cabinet. That’s how stupid media morons like Vinod Sharma can get.

Okay, the next one is from K.Tulsi, a lawyer with Congress sympathies, who suggested (again on NDTV) the PM and FM cannot be aware of everything. Everything? Haha! This is not some small-change we are talking about, this is a Himalayan transaction. To this nonsense Arun Shourie responded by asking Tulsi if the PM and FM don’t even read newspapers. That’s true, since 2009 the 2G scam has been in the news and some newspapers, particularly The Pioneer, were reporting it and yet PM and FM were unaware? Any idiot who reads newspapers would be aware of something brewing as a scam in the 2G licenses, yet the head of the Indian govt. was ignorant. Brilliant! This, when every man’s wife, children, relatives and dogs and cats knew about the scam.

Now, the best spin and deflection comes from none other than Rajdeep Sardesai, the devil on TV and preacher by night kind of journalist. He cleverly asks a panelist: So the NDA is not to blame and Raja has to be blamed for the whole scam? Journalism? Nope, Latinos might call this 'Whorenalism'! This little question would normally be missed by a viewer but if you read carefully he gives you a choice in deciding who’s guilty, its either NDA or Raja. The Congress, UPA, PM, Chidambaram are all exonerated in one single stroke. This is the same Rajdeep whose channel tried to tar and poke holes in the CAG report and claimed internal squabbles. That the loss in 2G was a mere 2645 Cr. and not the CAG figure of 1.76 lakh Cr. Motivation for the “Whatever it takes” channel!

Alright, notwithstanding all of that there is one important question that nobody is asking. What could be the motive for such a scam? Surely, behind every crime there has to be a motive. If Sibal feels the SC verdict finds fault with the NDA policy why is it that the govt chose to go for an auction of 3G licenses instead of continuing the FCFS route? Obviously, by early 2010 the govt was aware that the FCFS was misused and could have taken remedial action. It did not. Quite simply, the govt, as in many other scams, believed they could get away with it. They did not expect such a severe dressing down from the SC. The words the court used would shame any govt: “Illegal, arbitrary, unconstitutional and capricious”, but not the Congress. Which is why Sibal brazenly accuses NDA and defends PC, PM and by implication Sonia Gandhi too. And the media parrots that line.

Subramanian Swamy who fought the 2G case all along has stated many times over that there were kickbacks to the tune of 60000 crores and some of it has gone to Sonia Gandhi and family and some to DMK. But it is hard to believe that people who already have huge wealth would want to amass such further draconian amounts for personal gains. And there seems to be only one probable answer: Elections! The 2G licenses were given out in early 2008 with the general elections just over a year away. This was also a time when the Congress was in constant conflict with the Communists over the nuclear deal. Hanging on to alliances and allowing crimes to stay in power is not new in India. Elections are an expensive affair. Come general elections in May 2009 and both, the Congress and the DMK, return with a good number of seats. The Congress even manages to score higher than in the previous election. That is amazing considering the elections came in the backdrop of the worst terrorist attack on India in November 2008. Swamy’s allegations about the kickbacks have been around for quite some time yet not one single media outlet has talked about it, much less willing to investigate and report on it. Given the turn of events Swamy naturally commands a higher trust than any media house.

Narendra Modi during his Sadbhavna mission in September 2011 made an important statement: That some political parties come to power and their main agenda is not governance or development but has always been how to win the next election. In the last parliament session Ram Jethmalani quoted the improvised version of “Power corrupts..” as “Power corrupts, but the prospect of losing power corrupts even more”. That should explain the whole 2G scam. While political parties can battle over the value of 1.76 lakh crores of loss there cannot be any doubt that some of that would have been bribes and kickbacks to political outfits from the ruling coalition. Does the media have a stake in it? Maybe not directly but the Radiatapes exposed the media-politician-2G nexus so dirty secrets still abound. Also elections are a big bonanza for the media and consider all the Nehru, Indira, Rajiv, anniversaries and all the ‘Gandhi-Nehru’ schemes that get advertised. No other govt formation would benefit the media in such huge amounts. So why investigate a scam of this proportion and where the kickbacks went and bite the hands that feed them? The media’s sympathies for PM or Chidambaram apart, their motivation for trying to cover up the misdeeds of Congress is not very hard to see.

Any govt that takes a decision leading to the cancellation of 122 licenses by a court in a major policy issue should resign. The Congress and UPA have been brutally exposed over and over again for abuse of power and major scams and yet go around pretending they are fighting corruption. This is also a welcome blow to the corrupt corporate-political nexus which is slowly poisoning the nation. This is not an issue for mindless debates which the media indulges in. This is time for honest journalists to tell the UPA that it’s not about 122 licenses, these are 122 reasons why the UPA must die. For the nation these are 122 reasons to cheer.