Sunday, April 22, 2012

Self-Righteous Shill & RTE

Here’s a profound statement from none other than Rajdeep Sardesai: “Bless social media! Power with zero responsibility! Have a good day”. (Twitter April 17, 8.41 am). I can use this particular statement for many debates. That can wait. In a ‘friendly fire’ article Firstpost, the online sidekick of CNN-IBN, dismissed Rajdeep’s silly tweet as sweeping generalisation. Alright, in another tweet (Wee hours of February 5, 12.14 am) Rajdeep says “Tonight time to say F off to those who call us ‘paid media.We are journalists, not sensationalists or elitists. Gnight”. Hmm! Just months back one of Rajdeep’s colleague, Pallavi Ghosh, tweeted: “..That’s the unfortunate part, came to know yesterday that some journos who I work with closely in Congress are on their payroll”. Pallavi’s tweet was made at 9.53am on October 14, 2011.

Now, would Rajdeep and Pallavi make those statements on their TV channel? I doubt it. But that’s how journos themselves use social media and then complain about it. In response to my post IWJ-2012 another prominent journo tweeted it was “hate”. I asked her how she categorised “lampooning” as hate. She responded stating it was contained in the mail that forwarded her my post and not her own statement. Well, if one stored up all the quotes of journos, most of them would find it hard to believe they actually said those words. Self-righteous shills usually forget what they said or did in the past. That is what brings me to the RTE Act. While much has been said and written about the SC upholding the constitutional validity of the Act it really hasn’t been debated as well in the MSM as it has been in the social media. So Rajdeep would do well not to dismiss social media as having “zero responsibility”. Many of the analysts and writers on social media are far superior to the ones in MSM. Those in the MSM have typically discussed the RTE in a literary flourish rather than with cold logic and facts. Do read on…

Otherwise, let's be honest - we had become the sort of people who were inured to the sight of a barely-clad shivering child, his tiny stomach ballooned into hugeness by the absence of nutrition, as we indifferently drove past the sight of him huddling with his mother for warmth on a tiny patch of pavement every night. At the traffic lights - where our cars came into enforced confrontation with poverty - and we saw a small hand stretched out for alms, or a disabled man trying to wave a red rose or a magazine at us, imploring us for help - we would barely look up from behind our over-sized designer sunglasses. We would, in fact, sink back into the plush leather of our seats and be extra determined that the story of India would no longer be told in picture-postcards of poverty….  Over the many years that we - the upper middle class - have lived in aggressive denial of the inequalities in our social order, we have become more and more cocooned by our elitism. … That is why the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the constitutional validity of the Right to Education law for all schools - even in unaided private schools - is such a potentially seminal moment for us as a people. And nowhere is our intuitive social snobbery more apparent than in our resistance to the idea of an economically and socially heterogeneous, inclusive classroom…. Others have cloaked their subliminal social biases in apprehensions of a so-called clash of cultures or possibilities of social maladjustment….” Do I hear applause? Thank you!

Ah well, my momentary flash of literary genius has to be exposed though. I didn’t write the paragraph above, it was another literary classic from Barkha Dutt. Extracts from her article “Writes of passage” in Hindustan Times, April 13. That is how you discuss a matter of an Act of Law: in literary flourishes devoid of much logic or cold facts. And pray who is “WE”? Add “Designer sunglasses” and “Plush” leather seats in cars. Is that “WE”? When champions of MSM like Barkha want to transfer their personal life experiences as being of a larger population you don’t need sound logic or arguments for any discussion or article. That is where social media wins and does a better job.

Being in the education domain and one who has interacted with more than 3000 schools, thousands of teachers, thousands of children and parents I do know a little bit about schools and their problems. I was associated with an organisation whose directors built one of the finest schools in India from scratch. The school has become a near pilgrimage for any education professional who visits my city. That school wasn’t built by Barkha’s ‘elites’ for the elites. It was built by a group of IIM-Ahmedabad graduates who set up new standards for schooling and even for teacher education. Even before RTE that school had a practice of enrolling a certain number of slum children along with other students from upper classes. One of the founders lived in a slum for months to understand their needs. And no, they aren’t ‘Jhollawalas’ or NGOs and they don’t wear “designer sunglasses”. Those guys started another organisation with negligible capital to improve the quality of school education in India which is helping schools and even State govts. In another case, a sinking Municipal school was taken over by a private body and turned into a well-functioning school now known as ‘Mahatma Gandhi International School’. To me, the RTE Act is more a political act rather than any real act for ensuring education for all children. And just like child-labour laws it is destined for failure. Why? Govt failures cannot be passed on to private citizens by strangling their freedoms and enterprise.

But let’s get back to Barkha Dutt. She is the Group Editor of NDTV and while writing so passionately about changing caste and other equations and our “middle-class” biases she forgets what her own organisation does for schools and people. If you go back to first few paras of this post you will be reminded how journalists often forget what they did or said in the past. Barkha forgot to remember that in recent times NDTV joined Coca-Cola in some school campaign. Now, would they have done the same campaign if Coca-Cola weren’t involved and some other body without similar financial muscle had undertaken it? I doubt it but still, it’s fine if, by the campaign, some good comes to some schools somewhere.

Barkha forgets something else too; NDTV does promote a certain set of schools – Elite, Rich, Luxurious schools. More than just promote, NDTV is the ‘media-partner’ in that campaign. Yeah, it’s called “Good Schools of India” and NDTV promotes them through the directory. The news-channel had also carried a number of advertisements promoting the directory. And what’s the directory about? It’s a directory about the best residential schools in India. Ever visited any of these schools? I can assure you most of them are luxury schools which will be the biggest opponents of the RTE Act. These are hardly the very "..economically and socially heterogeneous, inclusive classroom" in schools that Barkha talks about. However, most of them won’t even be affected because no ‘disadvantaged or poor’ parents would even remotely think of sending their children to these schools. So while the MSM, like Barkha, sheds tears over the poor and disadvantaged, they haven’t really debated the finer points of the RTE at all. Like in most other cases they failed to do their job.I wonder what Rajdeep would call that: "Zero responsibility" plus hypocrisy?

So, as my answer to Rajdeep Sardesai who claims social media has zero responsibility I would recommend that he read the following posts by different writers on  RTE and evaluate the quality of the discussion. It’s far superior to what one will find on TV channels and newspapers:

There are many frivolous and even bad laws that get enacted because the MSM does not do its job. Next time you see a child working at a tea stall or restaurant, next time you see a child buying cigarettes or tobacco products from a pan-shop, next time you see a child buying alcohol for another from a shop remember the worthlessness of the related laws. The biggest Act of ‘Rights’ that the govt should pass is irreversible one that ensures they never intrude in the lives and activities of private citizens and entities. The govt’s courage to do the opposite is partly driven by the self-righteous shill in the mainstream media who have nothing at stake and who, like Rajdeep and Barkha, look down on ordinary people as much as the govt does.


  1. MSM are proving us again and again that they are the biggest sycophants. For me they are all traitors and they can never be forgiven for not playing their part in democracy.
    Twitter has exposed them and naturally so they get angry.
    May you expose them more and soon all traitors will perish

  2. A day will come when @mediacrook Ravinar will be recognised for the great service in exposing the MLM and the MLM would be probed and their wrong doings exposed by alternate social media

  3. again a very good post! it takes courage to read all that gibber by the likes of barkha n then make us aware that yes, what we don't read on HT was really gibber!

  4. Great work. Hard hitting as usual, and exposes MSM's shallow work on analyzing the merits of RTE. MSM thrives on hyperbole & sensationalism and hence misses hight quality dissection of the RTE act, by several people in the social media. It appears MSM's responsibility is only to cover up scams & protect interest of a dynastic party, in contrast the social media despite its loose structure has become the real watch dog and conscience keeper of this nation.

  5. Another masterpiece. And thanks for that Barkha Dutt para - the way she juxtaposes a past participle right in between two adverbs and an onomatopoeia is just the type of "analysis" we need to discuss the RTE :) But seriously - the hollow and shallow journalism you often find on TV has never slipped my mind. They did the same thing during the LokPal movement. None of the journalists even made an attempt to get into the nitty-gritties of the Lokpal Bill. They were more focused on sensationalist reporting such as: Are there frictions in Team Anna? Is Anna talking to Swami Agnivesh? Digvijay attacks Anna - this was the quality of the reporting I saw. And now they have the audacity to talk about the social media, which inspite of being fragmented, offers much more quality than the average news channel in India.

  6. Very nicely Said Ranveer Jii. What I am reading here are non existent on the television. The Hindi news channels in the MSM are more pathetic. They are more of entertainment channels running absurd programs day and night. I believe they are launched just to fool general public so that the actual news never reaches out to the public which watches Hindi news. I was impressed intially before joining Twitter of Barkha's and Rajdeep's. But now I came to know the truth behind there faces. All these news channels are no lesser evils than corrupt politicians. Yes there is no editing on social media, so there are no curtains as well. Every person has to judge by his own consicence what is put up there. What responsibility news channels took during 26/11 attack when they irresponsibly telecasted all the precedings which the terrorists handlers used to their benefits. Did any news channel aired any apology. Recently the Indian express ran a false and misleading anti national news on front page. Did they apologized. So what responsibility Mr. Rajdeep is talking about.

  7. Not only that. What responsibility did they take when they aired Swami Nityananand's sex tapes or reporting the fake Gujarat porngate? Now they're acting all hoighty toighty about about respecting privacy of Abhishek Singhvi!

  8. This "Zero responsibility” talk exposes Sardesai’s hypocrisy. Did Rajdeep Sardesai ask his wife, Sagarika Ghose, how responsibly she behaved when she telecasted a fake live interview with Sri Ravishankar? Where was this Sardesai, when the media, he represents, hurling abuses at Mr. Modi and calling him mass murderer without any proof. Why suddenly Sardesai talks about “Responsibility” when a congress guy got exposed?

  9. When under attack the first resort is to somehow snub the opponent, by hook or crook and that's exactly what these barkhas and rajdeeps trying to do ... as the saying goes heavens wont be shaken by some dogs barking ... Keep up the great work Ravinar ... these articles need to reach more people ....

    dp - twitter -

  10. Dear Ravinar,

    Kudos to you. If words could kill, then your article might have perished the Evils in Journalism. Real Hard hitting Fire Power!!!

  11. Their journalism might not be the best but just because they things that do not suit the pro -right does not mean they are crooks. Biased maybe who does not have bias, they are humans and are entitled to it.

  12. I started to read the para in blue - sounded fake so I skipped it - only to find that it was written by Barkha. It is my lucky day today.

  13. Nice hard hitting article. It exposed the intellectual hollowness of such people. They don't have the substance and strong ground both factually and theoretically to analyse and comment on anything. They are actors usurping the role of well informed people. Words coming out of their mouth and pen are really craps.

    The para in blue is certainly ghost written for Bharkha Dutt.

  14. Excellent Article Sir,

    I have always said this your articles are so hard hitting that if I was any of those Sardesais or Barkhas I would have left this country silently to salvage whatever self-pride is left in me (I don't know if those guys really have any at all ! ! !),forget stopping Journalism.

    Keep it up.

  15. Well analysed. Verbiage can never substitute cold logic & facts. People like Arundathi Roy and Barkha who are incapable of analysis fill the vacuum by their verbosity !!

  16. Hi Ravi,

    I am not going to say 'excellent article' anymore, because now we expect this from you anyway. can't use same words over and over :)

    By the way, the interpretation of 'power with zero responsibility' can be different too - I wont try to defend RS anyway, but 'Responsibility' should also mean being able to face the consequences of saying the truth.

    Its true for all anonymous twitterati that no matter how abusive they are they can stay anonymous and wont have to face charges or defend themselves in any court in the world. Because of social networking, people can create fake profile and publish anything w/o being held responsible for it.

    So there is truth in 'power with zero responsibility' - but with the same interpretation none of RS or BD or such celebrity jurnos have performed their responsibility either. Never we have seen them apologizing for what wrong they have done - if RS was 'responsible' SG would have been fired right after Ravisankar episode. But what responsibility did they perform? BD should have resigned or been let go after radia gate or mumbai attack misreporting.
    but she hasn't even apologized.

    By the way, how do you remember so much about what journalist said what at what time and its amazing you are able to point that when the time comes.

  17. brilliant riposte ! the day 'msm' dies a natural death wud be a day to rejoice !

  18. BTW to learn more how idiot SG is watch her interview with Madhu Trehan.

    She says sorry to her heinous mistake in such a casual way.

  19. Just like shit attracts flies, newsmedia attracts psudo-progressive leaning/leftist/minority saviors. It is clear that NDTV/IBN serve to the Left, Congress and an "unnamed" minority community. Why don't average Indian guys tune out NDTV/IBN completely? Don't they have any moderate Right channel such as Fox in the US? (I am not a Fox fan but it is better than anything that NPR/PBS/CNN/ABC/NBC/MSNBC/CBS spew out. Also just FYI, Saudi Arabia is the largest shareholder of the News Corp/Fox). At least for international news, Indians should request Fox or any Fox like channel in India. May be this neo-Fox in India will spawn an IBN like sister channel.

    In the print media, my observation is that regional newspapers are more patriotic/neutral than their English cousins such as TI, IE and HT.

  20. Ravinarji,

    Like the RTE, the MSM has been largely silent on the Communal Violence Bill drafted by NAC. I suppose very few people know about it. It seems the bill if implemented may if anything increase communal violence and divide the country. Please do write an article on the CVB. Keep up your good work!!



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