Saturday, July 28, 2012

Sagarika's 'Miss India' Solutions To Illegal Migrants

On April 20, 1968 British Conservative party member Enoch Powell made the fieriest of speeches against mass immigration. The media titled it the “Rivers of blood” speech. He had then warned of immigrants swamping Britain and marginalising its original population. Mind you, it wasn’t even a great deal of “illegal” migrants he talked about. He started with the line: “The supreme function of statesmanship is to provide against preventable evils. In seeking to do so, it encounters obstacles which are deeply rooted in human nature”. For two decades now Britain is coming to grip with reality and paying the price of failing to heed Powell’s warning. Rivers of blood haven’t flown in Britain but they certainly have in India, especially in Assam this month.

Lately, some in India have been talking about illegal migrants and how to deal with them. The problems India is facing on account of illegal migrants are outcomes of seeds sown and nurtured by the left-liberal-votebank mafia and their sympathisers in the “communist” media. Many also make the terrible mistake of tagging a predominantly communist Indian media as “liberal”. Typically, it’s the bimbos in this very media who tend to make absurdly loose statements about illegal migrants in the wake of the Assam communal violence; the Bodo-Muslim riots. Cleverly, the media and the Congress won’t even call them Illegal Bangladeshis but Bengali-Muslims.

Many may be aware, many not but Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady, campaigned in 1979 to bring in immigration reforms. Till the early 80s Indians visiting UK didn’t need Visas. We could go to any port of entry in UK and get an entry permit. Same applied for Britons visiting India. All that changed in 1984 when Thatcher introduced Visas for even short visits to UK. Till then, many Indians went on a visit to UK, got married or contracted a marriage and got settlement rights. All that changed when Thatcher introduced the British Citizenship Act in 1981. New rules meant that your ‘Visitor visa’ for UK couldn’t be converted to a residential permit. Also, UK now has a Border Control Agency, US has a Homeland Security along with Border & Customs Protection agency. All these were measures to check illegal immigration and other illegal activities at their borders. However, the eminent Social Genius (SG) in our media will tout some liberal nonsense without the slightest thought or reflection on what changes have been brought about by many democracies to curb illegal immigration. She is like that famous MissTeen SouthCarolina who explained why Americans weren’t good at reading maps. Doesn’t ring a bell? Never mind! We will get to that soon. Our eminent SG likes to cook ‘2 Minute Noodles’ with the most serious of problems with absurd comments.
Don’t look at me! I didn’t think of that 2-minute noodles thing. I’m not that original. This is none other than Barkha Dutt admitting with unusual candour that media folks tend to cook 2-minute judgements. I like the honesty in that tweet. The only problem is that these cooks don’t seem to show any intention of learning. If you read articles by Barkha Dutt, Sagarika Ghose or Rajdeep Sardesai you will hardly find much research, no depth, no painstaking digging for facts. Lately, you will only find such serious work in the Social Media. Take this article on Right To Education by @ssudhirkumar or this one on Kingfisher by @TheKaipullai. Both have depth, filled with details and meticulously compiled. And these are just two of them. There are hundreds of such writers who aren’t regular journalists or media celebs. These aren’t 2-minute noodles! But the media celebs have found something even better to cook their 2-minute journalism with – Twitter!

Again, I’m not the one saying it but just rephrasing the eminent SG: “When it comes to understanding and judging Twitter, Rajdeep Sardesai is “Numero Uno”! And true to his enormous reputation Rajdeep concludes, after being nagged by tweets over Assam, that he will now see Twitter as just ‘amusement’. Yeah! He wants to get back to some ‘real work’ like concocting some amusement like ‘TheGreatestIndian’! I guess Mr. Yogendra Yadav must be on vacation or else Rajdeep could have conducted another national poll to reach the same conclusion: ‘Twitter is amusement’ and then conducted a panel discussion on the amusing topic. Alas, we missed some amusement ourselves! But only for a while! For before too long his deputy, Sagarika Ghose (SG), the eminent Social Genius backs up Rajdeep’s conclusion with some mind-numbing and amusing tweets. 

Damn! I was almost starting to forget what I started with: Illegal Immigration. But I trust SG to bring my focus back with her tweets. So in the midst of all the violence and discussions on illegal immigration SG quotes someone and concludes migration from the rest of the country that has led to ‘ethnic multiplicity’. So now all the ethnic migrants in Mumbai should shut up and live to together. Raj Thackeray should learn from SG. Oh wait! She wasn’t talking about Mumbai but Assam is it? It’s always such a thrill to misunderstand SG! After Jerusalem, Assam, particularly Bodoland, has to be the best ‘promised land’ around the country. Not surprisingly migrants from places like Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Gujarat and other states have been rushing to Assam for many years. Then these people learn Assamese or Bengali, convert to Muslims or Christians or to Bodo Tribals and create havoc in the area. We would have heard such reasoning and answers from many past Miss India winners. And yet this nation of 1.2 billion (minus 1) can’t see it as clearly as SG does. And here’s a warning for those who rant about illegal immigration (I’m already heeding..):
Stupid USA! They should have shut their borders in the 18th century itself. For a country that was built by immigrants they should have listened to SG long back. The tough measures that USA frequently takes against illegal immigrants, especially in their southern border with Mexico and with their legal framework have to be researched by some social media writer. Such silly tasks are not for our 2-minute cooks you see. And even Rajdeep will find it amusing that SG says ‘whites attacking browns’ without mentioning what kind of attack that is. Well, let’s just assume its racist more out of colour and ancestry rather than stupid illegal immigration. What SG forgot to tell you though is that India, Bangladesh, Pakistan are all ‘whole wheat bread’. They are all brown! There may be some differences in physical features but comparing an illegal immigrant or migrant issue to a racist issue is what an absolute moron can manage, without any assistance. I am no expert to firmly conclude the Assam tragedy is only of illegal immigration. But SG, given her 10 years of journalistic work in the Bodoland area, can most certainly conclude it’s not.

So you see, it’s quite hard to understand or interpret the amusing tweets of SG. Maybe we need expert comedians like Raju Shrivastava, Johny Lever or that guy (Pehchan Kaun) to really understand the genius of SG. I say that because late night comedian, Jimmy Kimmel, a few years ago, did a splendid job of interpreting a Miss Teen USA contestant’s answer to the question: “A 5th of Americans can’t locate USA on the map, why is that?” (Do watch the video of 3.53 mins):

So you get it now, don’t you? The similarity between MissTeenUSA and Sagarika Ghose when it comes to offering solutions to issues is striking. Isn’t it? Fortunately MissTeenUSA is not grappling with some nuclear-bomb issue. I can't say the same for our Social Genius! But hey, they are both still very young and will learn as they go.

On a serious note, illegal migrants from Bangladesh have been a problem for decades. And yes, as I said in the beginning they find support in our Vote-bank mafia who will sacrifice national interests to remain in power. The communist media too will do all they can to support this mafia. Assam may have a strong contingent of these illegals but they aren’t all permanent residents of Assam alone. They are in Bengal too. Many have melted into smaller towns in India. Many have melted into the vast ghettos of Mumbai and other suburbs.

I quote from the post: ‘MakeMumbai a separate state’ (And also recommend you read it if you haven’t already) - (Rediff): “In terms of illegal immigrants in Mumbai, Bangladeshis alone account for between 3.5 lakhs according to a minister and 16.0 lakhs according to Kirit Somaya, a former MP.  What would you say about a government that can’t even get its numbers right on such matters? This is in no way to suggest that any of this population is involved in crimes but the possibilities that some may be cannot be discounted. But it sure is a matter of serious concern”.

Illegal immigration from Bangladesh and also Pakistan is a truly serious problem. When have you even heard the current govt talk about any population control measures? It is not just a social problem but a serious national threat as well. The threat of ‘Rivers of blood’ is far more pertinent for India than Britain. The tragedy, apart from the terrible votebank mafia, is that bimbos from the media seem to think this is a simple “Miss India” contest question and answer it that way. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Excuses For Assam

For a change conflict-heroes like Barkha Dutt and Rajdeep Sardesai weren’t reporting from the ground on the Assam situation. Hardly any great incentive there for anyone, not even one of bringing down a govt or tarring a Chief Minister. As the violence in Assam flared, even on July 25, all our channels were running programmes on Pranab Mukherjee as president right through the day. Sure, they had to repeatedly show Pranab taking the oath, given it’s the first time ever an oath was administered to a president-elect. When they managed to remember Assam they had to hunt for titles for the violence. Communal violence, ethnic violence, Bodo-Bengal Muslim clashes and so on! They didn’t seem to be sure what to call it but soon every one settled for “Ethnic violence”. Ethnic sounds a lot more moderate and fashionable than ‘communal’. Doesn’t it? Much has since been written and aired about Assam but very few seemed to deal with proper facts and sequence of events. It’s also not what they didn’t or couldn’t report but the reasons or excuses they brought up that should make interesting reading.

And what could be a better reflection of journalistic ethics than that practiced by Rajdeep as his tweet shows. More died in Gujarat than Assam he says as reason for media coverage. Well, you can’t fault RS for vision and foresight. When he landed in Ahmedabad to report the 2002 riots he was pretty sure the toll would cross 1000. Just a minute! When did he come to this lousy figure of 1000 though? For years NDTV and CNN-IBN, both homes for Rajdeep, had thrown up any number for Gujarat; from over 2000 killed to over 3000 killed. They also made you believe it was ‘genocide’ or it was a ‘pogrom’ in which Muslims alone were butchered. At the time here’s a bit of what Rajdeep wrote on Gujarat

“…And now in Gujarat, the accusation is of (media) ‘inflaming communal passions’ when the fact is that the flames of communal hatred have been stoked by a mob, a section of which at least has been patronised by the ruling establishment in Gandhinagar”. The numbers Rajdeep reported and even concocting without any solid evidence that the mob was patronised by the govt could have very well come from Digvijay Singh or any Congress member. Umm.. it must be hard to find such intelligence on clashes in Assam. Later, on the same day of July 24 Rajdeep tweeted an apology for his insensitive tweet. (He says tweet of previous night although it was on the same morning of July 24.) Typically, after his apology RS asked if other tweeters would apologise for questioning his integrity. Integrity? That’s laughable. The lies through Rajdeep’s tweets and reports and of his channel are all too many to qualify him a liar, integrity is too far a bridge.

If Rajdeep’s apology was a lightning bolt of conscience the deputy editor of CNN-IBN couldn’t be left behind. In her true bumbling style Sagarika Ghose tweeted about the violence and a majority of those in relief camps being Muslims. Here we go! So I read both the pieces by Samudra Gupta from the relevant dates, here and here. Nowhere do his articles corroborate her statement. 

The first article of his (July 25) even contradicts her statement as does The Hindu, a clip of which someone has pasted with her tweet. That Sagarika feels motivated enough to take on Internet Hindus is one thing but the content of her tweet, like many before, is the kind of integrity that viewers are questioning. Rajdeep doesn’t seem to get it. Does she or Rajdeep ever wonder if they only report to Internet Hindus or to a larger audience who deserve the facts? After all that and after tagging Assam incidents as “Ethnic violence”, accusing IHs as wanting a religions narrative and describing the state as a complex cauldron what does SG’s channel run as headline? “Clashes between Bodos & Muslims have killed 44 people dead so far”. That is since 8am on July 27. Religious narrative? That’s integrity of these characters who parade as journalists.

It is one thing for the Indian TV channels not to have been quick enough to be on the scene to report but to make excuses, compare degree or deaths in riots all indicate the degradation of journalistic thought and ethics. Capturing images of violence or damage is not merely for airing those for vicarious pleasure of anyone. Videos and images have also often helped in rendering justice to the victims and during times of trouble get help faster. Most channels do not even have regular reporters in the NE states. Not even in the state capitals. Each time there is an incident someone rushes from Kolkatta or from Delhi, after much heartburn I suppose. Instead of admitting that the NE is off their radar, not politically or financially very attractive some media celebs indulge in a slanging match on twitter.

Ironically, the best report I have read so far in MSM on the Assam situation, clearly sequencing the various incidents that led to the larger flame, is on a foreign journal. Samrat, the Asian Age editor and from NE himself, wrote the report on NewYork Times’ India Ink page. (Violence in Assam has deep roots). His report, sans drama or literary flair, narrates the story of events since May 29 which is hard to find in an Indian news report.

Oh well! If you wanted drama and thrills in a report about Assam, the best place has to be NDTV. As the Congress organised a 10-member panel for Assam NDTV came up with their usual “TOP10” on Assam. The hits just keep on coming. I am surprised they don’t do a countdown of the top 10. The only recent occasion NDTV itself found a good deal of time for Assam and sent some reporter to the state was for their entertainment programme “Will Travel for Food”. As for Rajdeep Sardesai and Sagarika Ghose, what can one say anymore? They couldn’t even find their usual best reporters in Assam – the Citizen journalists. Whether for riots or for other issues will the TV channels at least now alter their approach to NE states and care? One has to remain sceptical or wait for more creative excuses next time instead of scale and degree of riots and deaths.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

BSNL - Illegal Blockade of MediaCrooks

Connecting India’! That’s the tag-line of the government telecommunication company called Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL). Lately, it seems to do a lot more than connecting India. It also seems to secretly and illegally disconnect India. From the evening of July 17 I have been receiving messages, even complaints, from regular readers of this blog that they haven’t been able to access MediaCrooks. It was initially surprising since I was able to access it and I had posted a fresh article early the next day on July 19. I thought it must be some temporary problems with the connection or the service providers of those readers. 
Then the messages kept growing and on checking I found that all of these readers were using internet services provided by BSNL. On the evening of July 18 I put out the following message through a tweet stating options readers could use to access the MediaCrooks articles: (Please click and open tweet images on a separate tab and enlarge to read)

I chose not to assume BSNL had blocked MediaCrooks or that there was a Central govt order of any kind to ban this site since it was accessible to users through other Internet service providers in India. I have been able to access the site, review comments and post articles (including this one) without any problems. But it does appear that BSNL has blocked access to the site. I wish to state in no uncertain terms to BSNL or any govt authority that this site does not contain any content that breaks any law of the land, does not contain any pornographic material, it’s not a commentary on religion that can disturb peace and harmony or result in riots, it is not even political in nature.

The objective of the site is to critique and expose the Indian mainstream media. In that, it surely does include politics, politicians and other people and entities in the context of media and their reporting and coverage of issues. Does this site offend certain sections of people and entities? Yes, it probably does and delights in the consequence of its articles! It delights in criticising the media when they act in an indiscriminate manner, when they lie, when they distort facts. It offends media personalities for their glaring blunders and deliberate manipulation of facts. MediaCrooks delights in criticising politicians when they utter nonsense or appear to support injustice. This will continue and it will not stop.

I have not received any notification or information of any kind on whether BSNL has blocked the site and, if so, for what reason. Now that BSNL users have not been able to access the site for over 3 days it would be fair to assume that some govt official must have passed on a clandestine, unwritten and illegal order to BSNL to block the site. If the govt has done so and if BSNL has obliged them then both are in serious violation of the law and my rights to publish my views. I also presume there has been no advice to Google, which hosts this site, on any objections to the content on this site else I am sure I would have heard from them. Thus it seems quite obvious and fair to assume the illegal blockage by BSNL has been instigated by some govt quarters. They were probably unhappy over criticism of some official, minister or politician precious to the govt.

On July 20 I wrote the following email ( to BSNL requesting an explanation of this blockage. I await a response:

I publish a site titled Since the evening of July 18, 2012 I have been receiving complaints from readers through Twitter and by Email that those who were accessing the site through the Internet services of BSNL have not been able to access my site. I would request you to note the following points:

1. The complaints from readers through various sources have raised suspicion that BSNL has BLOCKED access to my site as a Censorship act and measure.
2. Please confirm if the blocking of my site is true and correct. In case access to my site has been blocked I have to state that I have no intimation from any government sources or your own organisation for the same. I wish to add that blocking access to my site is illegal and breaches the fundamental right of free speech and access to such content.
3. My site is essentially a critique of issues in the Mainstream Media and does not in any way break any law whatsoever.

I would request you to restore access to my website for users of BSNL's Internet service. In case you still continue to block access to the site as suspected by many readers please let me know on what grounds and for what reasons such access is blocked. A screenshot of complaints that were noticed on Twitter is also attached for your reference. This is being written without any prejudice to my legal rights.

While I wait for a response from BSNL I wish to assure readers that they can access content of MediaCrooks through other options in my tweet mentioned earlier. I also wish to state that if BSNL has indeed carried out the blockage then we must estimate what a dangerous tool it is in the hands of the govt and politicians. This is a good reason why govt must not be in control of any business, especially not a communication organisation. It is clearly a grave danger in a democracy. This is not an issue relating to a single blog site. This does bear a serious threat to every blogger and writer. Am I going to stop writing? Fat chance! I must mention though, that if I do not receive a satisfactory response from BSNL to my mail the issue won’t rest. As govt officials, politicians, media and ministers are so fond of quoting, I will use the same line that they do: “The issue will reach its logical conclusion and the law will take its own course”. In the meantime, I have a modest suggestion for BSNL. “Change your tag line, Change it to Dis-Connecting India”! 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Raging Women & Guwahati

Images of the Guwahati molestation have shocked every television viewer. Fury erupted on the safety of women, the role of the police and the role of journalists. Then the National Commission of Women (NCW) woke up. An NCW representative, the glamorous Congress member Alka Lamba, arrived in Guwahati with superbly blow-dried hair. She swept into a press conference. She posed for the cameras. She then announced the name of the victim. Ahem! “Glamorous, blow-dried hair”! That’s not me. That is eminent Telly-scientist Sagarika Ghose in Firstpost in her opening shot on the incident and aftermath. Nothing wrong with the rest of her article though.

Imagine, if I had said ‘fashionable, westernised, journalistic-bimbo, heavy lipstick and jet-black haired’ Telly-Scientist Sagarika writes on Guwahati. That would be considered uncharitable. But oops, I just said it. So while writing on women, trash her first for her glamour and her hair (as if Sagarika is any different) and then try to fit in some logic and outrage. Alka Lamba may be stupid and may have bungled terribly but what’s it got to do with her glamour or hair? Well, that’s how we approach journalism these days. That partly explains the mindless statements from some women on the Guwahati incident. I am not going into the incident itself or any legal aspects of it. Let’s just read what the very women who were foaming with rage had to say themselves.

Let’s start with Sagarika herself. A nice place to start! By now most people on the net and elsewhere have already read her tweet on the left. From “sickening, disgusting video” in just over 24 hours she went to “Courageous of cameramen to shoot the horror”. The guy who popularised the statement “measure twice, cut once” (Stephen Covey) died a few days ago but he must have had exactly SG in mind when he wrote about it in ‘7 Habits’. So what’s the count? We have dealt with two women, Alka Lamba and Sagarika. I never critique writes by bloggers or tweeters but here’s a list of interesting statements from some more women storified by @BarbarIndian: “Girl stripped, then the cover-up began”.

Then there’s this NCW chief, Mamta Sharma, who summed it up neatly by suggesting women should dress carefully. Oh! That is surely a veiled warning to the Poonam Pandeys and Sherlyn Chopras. Well, maybe even a warning to all the item girls and the bikini actors in movies. All of them, including Sunny Leone, better heed Sharma, else they are tempting fate. Then Sharma goes on to recommend special police at pubs and spots haunted by women. What? Only yesterday I heard a group of policemen raped a woman they had actually rescued from somewhere. Alright, maybe she meant police-women. From all the videos of the Guwahati incident I can’t really conclude the victim was dressed badly or temptingly in anyway as Sharma means. But once the molesters did their job, some channels (I did see Headlines Today) managed to expose her cleavage and tits, her shirt having been ripped off. So next time Ms.Sharma I suggest you recommend women wear armoured vests under their clothes. That should fool those criminals at least, if not teach them any lessons! Am I finished? No, not yet! Patience, the beast is yet to come… I mean the best!

You can’t possibly understand atrocities on women or girls without Barkha Dutt trying to get in her last word. So on July 17, on her program on Bucks, she ran the headline “A thousand cuts” which then turned to “sensitivities” and became a “million cuts”. If time had permitted it could have been a ‘billion cuts’. But before that, on July 13, she tweeted about the incident and how not to lock up daughters but teach sons better. There’s nothing wrong in principle with that tweet considering that she’s the mother of a 16-year old daughter. No? She’s not? Okay, I thought that could only come from a very courageous mother. She’s not alone though. Other celebs to publish the same quote are Rahul Bose, Bipasha Basu. Ah well, I guess parenthood is easy when you’re not a parent. (Google that quote and you’ll find more celebs who tweeted that without ever parenting a girl). Motherly advice! The first cut is the deepest and the victim must have felt that. Trust a raging Barkha to accuse others of adding a million more while she herself does no different.

So during the exciting discussion Barkha was a bit amused to find a couple of panellists not generalising but specifically pointing fingers at Youth Congress goons. What is wrong with these people? Don’t they know they can’t accuse Congress members on NDTV? Don’t they read the script before they come on the panel? In the end Barkha, as always, pontificates on whether journalists should get involved in such incidents or step back and shoot and report. In case you forgot, the discussion was on “media ethics”. And what does she pull out? She pulls out pics from war-zones and conflict zones.

Take the pic of the Vietnam Napalm girl she pulls out. Should the journalist have helped her? Incidentally, she’s not the only one fleeing. There are many others. The journalist in this case has to step back simply because it’s a major war-zone. He doesn’t have options. Who does he call? The police or Halle Berry? True for other pics she put up from conflict zones. Supposedly a journalist with a great sense of understanding of situations it is one more example of outright stupidity that Barkha pulls out these war-zone pics in a story of violent molestation of a woman by a criminal mob. Guwahati is not a warzone or a conflict zone. Guwahati wasn’t under siege by a dictator. Yet, reports clearly indicate that the journo who filmed the incident was actually encouraging the mob and instead of helping or calling for help, he actually called for more cameras from his news channel. And then, to complete her agenda, Barkha pulls out the pic of Ansari from Gujarat riots. Regardless of the merits or truth behind that pic a riot still remains a conflict zone. That photo has been disputed for authenticity but that is hardly the point in this whole discussion.

The worst part is hearing Barkha Dutt sermonising on ‘media ethics’. That is surely a laugh. So what really riles these so called journalists? I have no problems with their raging and venting over Guwahati. Most of it is genuine too. I believe what also riles these media celebs is that it’s one of their own who’s done immense damage. One from their own ‘Hammam’! Those who shout vociferously about ethics in journalism are usually the ones breaking the code all too often. Let’s see, there is this Society of Professional Journalists. Membership is voluntary and they have some codes on ethics. Take a look and decide how many of our news channels and newspapers would pass the test on ethics.

Here’s the real tragedy: A bunch of goons engineered and executed the shameful incident at Guwahati. But the ones who made it worse with their writings or utterances are women. Mamata Sharma, Alka Lamba, Sagarika Ghose, Barkha Dutt… the list can go on. Raging Women

Monday, July 16, 2012

Satyameva Jayate: Shock, Aww & Applause

Considered one of the greatest actors of all-time, Robert DeNiro has this to say about acting: “One of the things about acting is, it allows you to live other people's lives without having to pay the price (for it)”.

Five years ago I was invited to be on a panel of judges for the annual function of a school. You know the ones where they celebrate their foundation day with songs, drama, dances and comedy skits. It’s a good opportunity for students to demonstrate their skills beyond the academic courses. Almost all parents attend too. Why not, especially parents of the participants would like to see their kids win some praise and prizes. I remember the girl who won the prize for best drama. She did a 15-minute solo act. She was from Class-4 so I presume around 9 years of age then. Her script was forceful and so was her acting and dialogue delivery. I must admit I was stunned to see a kid emoting in a manner that turned many faces in the audience grim and some men and women even had tears in their eyes. What was she playing? Well, she was playing the role of a female foetus in the womb. She was pleading from the womb with her father and mother not to kill her. This was in Junagadh in Gujarat. It was creative, impactful and dramatic to say the least.

There has been a campaign going on for long in Gujarat against female foeticide. At the end of her performance the audience spontaneously gave her a standing ovation that lasted nearly 3 minutes. The only question in my mind was whether a child of 9 can really understand female foeticide, its implications for society and all that. Hard to tell but maybe she was explained very well while being coached for her act. What is important is that the message of the social evil of female foeticide had reached even the primary levels of schools. But wait! The country doesn’t know! Umm.. Not unless Aamir Khan says so.

First, a confession: I have not watched a single episode of Satyameva Jayate (SMJ) and I don’t intend to. I have also not watched any of those Saas-Bahu soaps or any of that stuff either. I have watched Oprah Winfrey when there were fewer channels and hardly any private news channels. In principle, this blog does not ever comment on any entertainment shows. And it is not about to either. I’m not a movie or drama critic. And, therefore, I do not intend to pass any comment on SMJ, being that it’s an entertainment show, even if in the ‘Glycerine’ category. I would imagine it’s the modern day TV version of Meena Kumari. The only difference between Oprah and Aamir that I could think of is that Oprah claimed to have gone through many of the problems she discussed on her show during her childhood and part of her adulthood. Aamir, on the other hand, has been an actor since he was 7 years old and has lived a largely luxurious or at least comfortable life. The comparison ends there. What did get my attention was an article in Outlook magazine by S. Anand titled ‘Silence Eva Jayate’ (July 23 edition). So let’s quickly look at a few excerpts (in blue) from Anand’s story:

I had spotted Bezwada Wilson in the audience…. He too was asked to narrate his early life, and he too shed tears. As did Khan with practised ease. The next day I called Wilson and told him I was annoyed that even he did not bother to mention Ambedkar and Reservation. Wilson clarified that he indeed had. It had been edited out, as was his rant against the SC and Parliament—since both institutions had been dragging their feet on the issue of manual scavenging. Then he revealed something that shocked me. He said he had not been in the audience when Kaushal Panwar was being interviewed by Khan. I countered saying I had seen him ‘reacting’ to what Kaushal said on stage. “Even I saw myself in the audience and hence was shocked,” said Wilson. He said Kaushal had been interviewed in total isolation, in an empty studio. And yet on Sunday we saw, every once in a while, close-ups of fretful, anxious, pained and agonised faces of members of the studio audience as Kaushal was narrating her story. They even clapped on cue, like when Khan asked Kaushal her heroic father’s name. Clearly, all this had been manipulated and faked—with clever editing and splicing of shots.

I give all credit to Anand for so meticulously narrating what he researched. But this is television – and SMJ is not ‘Live’. It’s not even like Sagarika’s LookLive. Studio audiences are coached for responses, unlike the audience responding to that little girl acting in her school function. In the old days a man would shuffle signs written on cardboard to prompt audience response in the studio. (Doordarshan used such placards for program and credit-titles, you can see those in their archives). With audiences, the man with a placard will prompt the audience to ‘Clap’ or go ‘Awwwwww’ to respond to a transaction. (See pic).This is done even when the main performers and actors aren't present and recorded only with the audience present. This can also be done with 'doubles' as in regular movies.

Since then studios have evolved to use digital prompters as can be seen for ‘Applause’. So when it says applause, people clap. When it says “Shock” people turn their faces to a grim expression which the camera will honestly capture. When the prompter says “Aww” the audience will let out a loud “Awwwwwww” either in sympathy or empathy or in happiness at a couple kissing. The prompter in SMJ might even say “Cry” and some might force a few tears. Now, that is not so hard to fathom really, is it?

In fact, when Chandra Bhan Prasad, mentor to DICCI and an exponent of ‘dalit capitalism’, watched the show with Kamble in Pune, they could not believe their eyes. Kamble’s interview with Khan had been shot with Dharmadhikari and Kamble seated next to each other on the studio couch; but Kamble had been weeded out. Prasad wondered if some ‘dirty trick editing’ made this possible. More likely, Dharmadhikari took a leaf out of Khan’s book and did not mind giving a ‘fresh take’ minus the unsuitable presence of Kamble. I also discovered that every participant on the show is forced to sign a ‘confidentiality agreement’ saying they will not speak about their participation—recorded many months ahead—in any social media.

Okay, there is no trickery involved here. This is normal editing out of what is inconvenient to a show that is supposed to deal with ‘facts and truth’. The confidentiality agreement is also a normal practice in such shows. The question Anand didn’t ask is: Did the people who appeared for interviews get paid an appearance fee? In all probability they did. People are also chosen for views that “suit” a program’s agenda and not randomly or purely on their expertise. You see, confidentiality agreements aren’t signed unless there is a ‘consideration’ of some nature. Now, if the interviewees were paid in cash or kind then they have no option but to abide by the confidentiality clause because it probably includes a clause that says the footage may or may not be used. So while Anand genuinely talks about it from a moral point of view, given the show is treated as ‘social conscience’ program, the mistake he makes is that he doesn't see it’s just another ‘entertainment’ show. It is just another Bollywood movie. The viewers expecting something larger is their own fault. But this is how TV fools people which Anand explains clinically.

Khan and his team not only deviously censored any discussion of Ambedkar and Reservation, they seemed content to use the 1920s language of high-caste reformers. A friend chided me saying I shouldn’t expect Khan to be an activist. But surely my friend did not know how Khan manipulates and fools his audience—in the studio and outside—to nod and cry at moments he chooses. Wilson said, “In fact, during the shoot it was not I who actually began crying. Aamir Khan started to cry, so I was forced to cry along.” Khan obviously thinks we can flush away middle class shit with tears.

Lately, in the incident relating to the Guwahati molestation there has been discussion on whether it is ‘politicized or not’ or whether it should be ‘politicized’. Shows such as SMJ cannot afford to be politically incorrect. Thus, any references to Ambedkar, facts, truths or accuracies are false expectations that viewers should not nurture.  Anand’s friend is right. Like Anand many viewers too expect or believe Aamir Khan is some kind of activist. He is not. He is an actor, first and last. Period! Still, one must applaud S. Anand for his effort to reveal certain truths about SMJ.

Like Robert DeNiro said, actors can live other people’s lives without having to pay the price for it. Aamir can wax eloquent about any problem and any social evil but he doesn’t have to pay a price for it or for the lives of those who suffer. His job in SMJ is to act out a part scripted for the show. Does he act well? Does he act badly? That should be the assessment viewers should be making. As with movies, so too in a program that isn’t live, Aamir can get 17 shots, 17 retakes, 17 camera angles, thousand expressions and a few tears. To help his acting there is also glycerine and prompters that will tell the audience to Shock, Aww and Applaud. Enjoy the show! 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Ward Boys Can't Be Doctors

It’s been sometime since I visited Rajdeep Sardesai’s Friday Blogbusters. The latest one is called “Don’t play it safe”. I am quite impressed how he describes Salman Khurshid. I call SK a smooth double talker, Rajdeep describes him thus: “Salman Khurshid is easily among the brightest politicians in the country: a former Oxford don, he became a union minister at 38. When he speaks, it is with a certain elegance and intellect that is all too rare in public life today”. NO! You don’t get any prizes for guessing – it’s about SK’s comment about Rahul Gandhi’s cameo. Remember Sarah Palin? On November 1, 2008 just three days before the presidential election she got a call from French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Here are excerpts from that phone conversation:

PALIN: Oh, it's so good to hear you. Thank you for calling us.
SARKOZY: Oh, it's a pleasure.
SARKOZY: You see, I got elected in France because I'm real and you seem to be someone who's real, as well.
PALIN: Yes, yeah. Nico, we so appreciate this opportunity.
SARKOZY: You know I see you as a president one day, too.
PALIN: Maybe in eight years.
SARKOZY: Exactly, we could try go hunting by helicopter like you did. I never did that. Like we say in French, on pourrait tuer des bebe phoque s, aussi .
PALIN: Well, I think we could have a lot of fun together while we're getting work done. We can kill two birds with one stone that way.
SARKOZY: I just love killing those animals. Mmm, mmm, take away life, that is so fun. I'd really love to go, so long as we don't bring along Vice-President Cheney.
PALIN: No, I'll be a careful shot, yes.
SARKOZY: Yes, you know we have a lot in common also, because except from my house I can see Belgium. That's kind of less interesting than you.
SARKOZY: Thank you very much. You know my wife Carla would love to meet you, even though you know she was a bit jealous that I was supposed to speak to you today.
PALIN: Well, give her a big hug for me.
SARKOZY: You know my wife is a popular singer and a former top model and she's so hot in bed. She even wrote a song for you.
PALIN: Oh my goodness, I didn't know that.
SARKOZY: I just want to be sure. That phenomenon Joe the Plumber. That's not your husband, right?
PALIN: That's not my husband but he's a normal American who just works hard and doesn't want government to take his money.
SARKOZY: Yes, yes, I understand we have the equivalent of Joe the Plumber in France. It's called Marcel, the guy with bread under his armpit.
SARKOZY: Gov. Palin, I love the documentary they made on your life. You know Hustler's Nailin' Paylin?
PALIN: Well, good.
SARKOZY: I really loved you and I must say something also, governor, you've been pranked by the Masked Avengers. We are two comedians from Montreal.

Even when the comedians refer to Hustler’s Nailin Palin she doesn’t remotely get an inkling she’s being pranked. That happens to be a porn video by Hustler with a Palin look-alike. Listen to the full prank-call on YouTube and read the transcripts HERE. Fortunately for RG comedians and ordinary people don’t have such access to him, else he would have been pranked many times over. Even otherwise the number of jokes based on his silly utterances so far would have exceeded those made about any other politician so far in Indian political history. The Twitter hashtags #RahulFacts #YoRahulSoDumb far outnumber the jokes about Palin. Look them up and enjoy.

This is the reason I find it extremely stupid that media celebs, many of whom have studied in Oxford or Cambridge, cannot see RG for what he is and still expect he will take up great challenges. Listen to Rajdeep again: “That leaves, frankly, Rahul Gandhi as the only mascot available to a party in crisis. Unfortunately, rather than see opportunity in adversity, Rahul has chosen to play it safe  …. As a start, how about becoming the party leader in the Lok Sabha, a post lying vacant with Pranabda’s exit”? Now tell me, how is this very observant and Numero Uno political analyst (Certified as Numero Uno by India’s leading Scientist Sagarika Ghose) seeing anything different than the cronies and sycophants in the Congress? Leader of the Congress in Loksabha? Haha! RG’s record in the LS is perhaps the Koran for Rajdeep. What else can explain the foolish suggestion to make him the Congress party’s LS leader? One hand Rajdeep talks about young leaders in Congress and like the sycophants his best option is a bimbo. And for all his lament, he and his channel were the one who awarded RG the sham “Indian of the year” award in 2009. If you were the CEO would you hire Rajdeep as a talent-spotter in your organisation?

The only type of people Congress breeds is sycophants, not leaders. Unfortunately, this doesn’t stop at the party level. This extends to the media and includes Rajdeep, Vinod ‘Smirk’ Sharma, Shekhar Gupta and who can forget Barkha Darwin herself. Every time elections are around I expect one more instalment of her effort to “evolve” RG. Admire her perseverance. So if RG hasn’t still fully got the message that he’s India’s Sarah Palin it’s not his party or Digvijay Singh or Khurshid to blame. It is the media crooks who hope against hope that he will somehow evolve into the Great White hope. Rajdeep talks about Rajiv Gandhi as PM at 40 and other younger presidents in the US. For all the history that the media celebs study in Oxford and Cambridge they don’t seem to remember that the youngest PM ever was William Pitt at age 24, who went on to lead Britain as PM for 17 years. Leadership qualities aren’t acquired at 40. They are acquired at a much earlier age and demonstrated beyond doubt.

It is not these media celebs alone who want RG to take up a ‘Larger’ role (to quote another nosey starlet) there are even those ‘intellectuals’ who write open letters to him to take up “Tomorrows Battles”. How else do you explain a Think-Tanker like Pratap Bhanu Mehta writing that open letter almost exhorting Rahul to lead his generation? Rajdeep also complains RG doesn't talk to the media. Is that so? I guess he's already forgotten the wonderful breakfast he had with RG, even tweeting that he had to suddenly rush to that secret breakfast press-meet of his. Any editor worth his salt would have declined such a rendezvous but our editors rushed to that silly meet. Then, some of them dropped tidbits from that meet to the public like crumbs from the table. So much for media's integrity. That's not RG's fault, it's mere coincidence that he also happens to live on 'Tughlak' street.

The biggest problem with people like Rajdeep Sardesai and others is that they cannot even assess the Congress party without a reference to other parties. Invariably, the mess in the Congress has to be measured against the mess in BJP, NDA etc. Why should a party supposedly called the GOP be measured against others who have come in many years later? Isn’t there good enough cause to measure the sycophancy and dynastic nonsense on sound principles of organised political parties? All this talk when none of the media crooks wouldn’t even dare to write about Sonia Gandhi, her illness, her secrecy or question her leadership. Fact is backseat driving does not work in political leadership or any kind of leadership. To talk about RG accepting greater responsibilities or role is to talk about another puppet instead of Manmohan Singh. If the media really wants to assess the real issues with the Congress it has to start with the top and that top is only one person; Sonia Gandhi. The scared chickens instead of nailing Sonia Gandhi’s failures juggle with words instead of balls to find something to lament. Salman Khurshid is not an intelligent or courageous man. If he had guts he should have said about Sonia Gandhi what he said about RG.

Rajdeep and other cronies of Congress in the media can stop washing fake issues. Unlike these celebs, cartoonists say it a lot better with a simple picture. No matter how much they plead, exhort, holler and have wet dreams about Rahul Gandhi, he has repeatedly proved only one thing that Satish Acharya demonstrates in his cartoon – It’s hard to imagine a Ward Boy playing doctor. RG might have played the doctor-doctor games as a kid probably but something has to be mentally wrong to be playing games at 42. That mental part is equally true for Rajdeep & Co.

PS: Sarah Palin is not running for President in 2012. And Sarkozy isn’t President of France anymore either. Sad!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Al Jazeera & Internet Hindus

So the newest entrant in the English TV news media in India is Al Jazeera the famous Arabic channel. One imagines they would mostly be covering international news with an Indian flavour. To break into the minds of viewers some special event was in order. What better than a discussion on some contentious topic! And so it was about ‘Internet Hindus’ (IH). On the night of July 9 through the LiveStream (@AJStream) on the internet they had a discussion with a panel that included Dr.Subramanian Swamy(SS), Sagarika Ghose (SG) and Sadanand Dhume (SD). (Youtube)We all know about Dr.Swamy. Who in the world doesn’t know Sagarika? About Sadanand Dhume I have heard little. Other than reading a stray column of his I knew nothing about his stance. I didn’t know if he took an Off-stump or Leg-Stump guard, but from the debate it is fair to assume he prefers Middle-stump. More of all this minor discussion later! Let’s start at the beginning with the one who takes immense pride in coining the term ‘Internet Hindus’, Sagarika Ghose, of course.

IH is just one of many inventions and concepts that Sagarika has introduced into our lives. The list is too long to run here. Let me make it absolutely clear that she didn’t coin the IH term in frustration or anger. And it’s wrong to suggest that Sagarika bears any hatred towards or is against the IH. That is as far from the truth as Earth is from the planet Moronus. Sagarika is just against logic, reason, accountability and science. Umm.. maybe even against civilisation itself. Her latest piece of brilliance was seen in her tweet on the day the Higgs-Boson (God Particle) was announced. Have you educated yourself? Did you read The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins? (Read the whole lot at Sudhir Kumar’s Blog). Now, since she is so enamoured by Dawkins, and so passionately calls herself and her media gang ‘liberals’, I thought it best to quote a post from The Richard Dawkins Foundation itself. The birth of IH can be partially explained by this (Emphasis mine):

Most people are aware of Karl Popper as the father of the modern scientific method, and especially as the creator of the logic known as 'Popper falsifiability'. Somewhat less known is just how well Popper applied his prodigious logical powers to issues of society. In particular, to an issue much in the news these days...that of 'tolerance'. And in that respect, Popper made what to me is the defining statement on the matter:-

"Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them… We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.”

This should be framed and mounted on the wall of every liberal's house. Especially those liberals...and there are all too many of them....who are so enamoured with tolerant thinking that they demand tolerance even of the intolerant. To my mind, that level of unthinking and unlimited tolerance is akin to those Trojans who rather stupidly thought the nice wooden horse outside the city was a gift.

Fatwas, open call for murder of cartoonists, chopping off arms of professors! Tolerance! Well, now that we have set a few things in place we can get back to the AJStream discussion. A lot of questions, particularly by Sagarika, were sprinkled into the discussion on Hindu tolerance. Lisa Fletcher, the host, started off with this question:

Who are the Internet Hindus? Why do they oppose a secular India?

Did I hear you say WHAT? Okay, I have to assume this is her first foray into any Hindu related topic, so I’ll choose to forgive the stupidity in her innocent question. I don’t want to recall history of the Mughals or the British but if at all anybody in India is secular it has to be the Hindus. I am tempted to rephrase John Bradford and suggest: “But for the grace of Hindus, India would have been a Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran or even Bangladesh”. And though Lisa works for an Arabic channel she doesn’t seem to have looked deep into Arabian society to be asking such a question.

And in her first draw Sagarika states there are many online ‘organised’ communities on FB, Twitter etc. who follow the ideology of Hindu Nationalism. They attack you if you differ with them. And lo and behold the best of Sagarika: “Hindutva becomes a message for violence on the ground”. Then she gets upset when the so called fake liberals are called “paid media, servants of the Congress or the govt” and oozes emotions suggesting Javed Akhtar and Shabana Azmi, the well-known Bollywood couple, can’t find a house in Mumbai. Really? So Javed and Shabana are struggling to find a flat? Where did that one come from? If Al Jazeera or Lisa Fletcher ever wanted stories from the crypt about the Indian MSM’s misdeeds and crimes then I hope they visit this site. They can close their eyes and click on any post here and they would be alarmed at what they find. And this is not the only one, there are many other sites which have repeatedly exposed the MSM’s lies, manipulations and extreme bias against Hindus. This is all the more evident when the media handles the issue of terrorism.

Naturally, Atirath Aich, formerly associated with AJStream himself, tweets this question during the discussions. Even an average eye can clearly see that the Indian media has mostly been covering up Islamic fanaticism and terrorism and trigger-happy with the so-called saffron terrorism. It’s another story that some of the saffron terror-accused are not convicted, not tried and some have proven to be spurious cases. And Sagarika claimed they have done many exposes on Islamic fanaticism. Oh yeah? I would like to challenge her to prove this silly point she makes. Subramanian Swamy made some telling points, that India is secular because Hindus are still in majority. He points to the state of Kashmir where Hindus are a minority and speaks the truth when he says a Hindu in Kashmir suffers more discrimination than Muslims do in the rest of India where they are minorities.

SS also pointed out the incident in Kerala where a quack Sharia court ordered the arms of a professor chopped because he inadvertently wrote something negative about Islam. The order was carried out and his arms were chopped off. This is the danger that Islamic fanaticism has brought to every society where it has lived with other communities. No sane Hindu would suggest discrimination against Muslims. But Muslims are certainly responsible for their own backward condition. If Hindus had continued to practice many of the social evils of their own society they would have been just as backward too. Muslims refuse to reform and have a notorious intolerance for other communities. It is this intolerance that has grown to a point, supported by indiscriminate appeasement by the Congress and other Socialist and Leftist parties that has brought about the IH. And some of the IH are belligerent and abusive as well. By Sagarika’s measure most of her own tweets would fall under the belligerent, intolerant and abusive category. Some could even be called racist.

As far as Sadanand Dhume is concerned he mostly played the balancing act. That is a splendid achievement considering the two wings of panellists he had. But he did make an important point: “Name a country in Asia that is more tolerant of its minority” than India. The current churning against the media, the Congress+Socialists+Leftists and even intolerant Muslims did not happen overnight. This was waiting to happen. Distortion of their history, abuse of their rights, discrimination through constitution and appeasement of minorities have made many Hindus say “Enough is Enough”! The Internet blogs and social media have helped bring out the truth about the distorted history and the lies the media and historians have peddled for years. Sagarika must learn to accept that fact.

If Lisa Fletcher and AlJazeera look deeper into Hindu society they will realise the undeniable fact that Hindus are not bound together as a community by their religion. They are bound together by their traditions, social customs and practices. In her opening statements Lisa mentions “Hindutva is a core principle of the RSS”. Now, RSS doesn’t influence all Hindus nor is it a concept similar to the ‘universal brotherhood’ that applies to Muslims. And the great scientist that Sagarika is, she suggests “Hindus don’t need to fear anything”. No, they don’t need to fear anything but they are also not willing to welcome any more Trojan horses. If some IH are belligerent and abusive they would have been so even without the internet. Trust me the Muslims don’t even need the internet for that. As someone tweeted jokingly, their equivalent of IH, the IM, is already a terrorist organisation.

Here’s the last word dear Cacofonix! You may have coined the IH term to ridicule Hindus but given that you’re very scientific, you didn’t foresee the response. The panellists even debated it as an offensive term. That’s seriously a laugh. THEY ARE WRONG! Far from seeing it as ridicule or offensive, many Hindus on the net have worn it proudly as their identity. The aggressive Hindus who would have otherwise have gone by their own names or other funny names have exploded into a huge mass with different variants of the term IH. That’s called Hindu tolerance, even embracing an intended ridicule as a badge of honour. That’s the true Hindu Liberal. Go figure!