Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Democracy Is A Dangerous Idea

Democracy is a dangerous idea. Well, famous words as you will see a bit later. Four twitter accounts, of the 28 recommended for blockade, got notices from the GOI to present their cases or defence against the charge of ‘spreading hate’ or inciting communal tensions. That’s a news report. Nobody is really clear what the charge is though. When Ambika Soni, I&B Minister, says the govt is not indulging in or encouraging censorship it’s a bit hard to believe. It was easy to handle the MSM so far but the Social Media (SM) has become a thorn in the govt’s flesh. This is the rise of ordinary people which must be crushed at any cost.

Corruption and dictatorial regimes cannot flourish unless they destroy the press or co-opt them in their scheme of operations. Over the years the Congress and its Communist allies managed to co-opt much of the MSM to the system but are struggling for clues on how to deal with this menace called SM. The internet and SM somehow seem beyond their control unlike media houses. It keeps exposing their misdeeds that the MSM doesn’t and govt doesn’t even know which Twitter accounts can be co-opted with a coal block. Seriously, if  Kanchan Gupta or Shiv Aroor could be co-opted, they would probably be operating a coal mine or running a steel plant as a luxurious hobby. I don’t follow either of them but from various reports and RTs haven’t found anything objectionable in their statements. Would be true for other journalists and social media accounts critical of this govt. (Everyone on SM should hone their coal-mining skills, just in case!) So you have media houses like the Lokmat group or the Dainik Bhaskar group operating coal blocks. Perhaps even more! And what’s their experience in coal? Umm… I guess many in the media are comfortable with ‘black’ deeds.

Day after day, night after night the MSM brings on TV those accused of corruption to defend themselves and explain the charges. Far from doing that what we get is flinging mindless allegations against others by them. Any decent moderator of a debate would have said “Stop! Don’t fling allegations but explain the charges against you”. A minister’s guards thrash a traffic cop in Srinagar. Justice Arnab calls the minister to defend himself in a debate. Does this pathetic incident really need a debate? What deserves plain condemnation and a demand for sacking of the minister is being “debated” on TV. And the minister denies seeing the incident and explains he was about 30ft away from the scene and so on. This is the mindless nonsense that is delivered in a news channel. And if the worst happens the govt will set up a committee. Make sure you leave notes for your great grandchildren to check up on the report of that committee. You may not be around.

R. Jagannathan (TheJaggi), editor of Firstpost, in an article titled “Rise of crony journalism and tainted money in media” writes about the media-politico nexus and explains this dangerous association. He exposes the mafia pretty neatly. At the end of his article he runs a disclaimer: “Firstpost is owned by media house Network18 that has presence across print, television and new media”. Er.. he forgot something. The right disclaimer should have included the name “Reliance”. Now, that would make a big difference to the disclosure. Wouldn’t it? That is not to fault TheJaggi, he does a great job with his writings. The point is that while we generally scream and shout about how great our democracy is or how free and independent our people are we usually miss some tricks. We have been fooled repeatedly into believing that our MSM stands for democracy, free speech blah blah. By TheJaggi’s account they hardly want any of that. They’re happy being cronies of the govt, making money and keeping that system going. What they want and practice could be called “the convenient democracy”.

You see, no matter how much they scream about it, govts and corporations usually don’t like the idea of democracy; at least not for all. It's a very irritating and inconvenient hurdle. So when a good part of the news media becomes a crony, corporations dictate the policies and politicians indulge in massive loot of the nation it leaves the ordinary people nowhere. And they’ll keep telling you; voting is a sacred responsibility. Take Ramalinga Raju. Do you seriously believe the guy could have swindled 7000 crores all on his own? Do you think Jagan Reddy, son of YSR, raised an empire of over 40000 crores just like that? And he owns a media circus too. Far from representing the people and creating systems that work for them a corrupt govt attempts to “manage” people and fit them into the system they want to create for themselves. This is not possible unless a huge part of the media is corrupted and bought to support this grand plan. And it’s working.

Considering the term ‘socialist’ was framed into our constitution let’s hear another socialist. Tony Benn, former British MP for over 50 years is one such socialist. In his own words, he retired from parliament to spend more time on politics. He championed the poor and the coal miners. He has been awarded many Oscars by the miners. Their Mining Lamp is the Oscar equivalent for them and Tony Benn has been awarded many of those. This edited video is of an extended interview by documentary film maker Michael Moore with him during the making of ‘Sicko’. Transcripts of a few key statements Benn makes are given below the video. Watch (1:57 minutes):

....The task of representation is to change the system to meet the needs of the people. But with the power of global capital now, instead of being represented, people are being ‘managed’. People are being changed to fit them into the system instead of the systems being changed to meet people’s needs. And that’s a huge transformation.... The world is now run not by the American President or the British Prime Minister... The IMF, the WTO, the MNCs… they have far greater power than political leaders. And people sense this. And they become cynical... turnout and voting is low. But actually this is an attempt to reverse the power of the vote. If the power is taken away from you and handed over to corporations or international organisations...they're are not elected then you realise you have lost something of fundamental importance. I think democracy is a very very radical idea. It’s not accepted by the Communists, Stalin didn't accept it... I don’t think the Capitalists like it because it takes power from them and gives it to the people who haven’t got money. And that is a very dangerous idea indeed.

Yes indeed, democracy is a dangerous idea for the corrupt and crony capitalists. A professor can be arrested for criticising a CM as can be a farmer. Imaginary ‘hate speech’ cases will be filed against prominent critics of govt. IT rules will be framed in a manner which allows an accused no defence or hearing. Pages on the web can be taken down merely on suspicion and allegation. A cartoonist can be arrested for “sedition” for abusing national symbols. Oh! Think about it, the ones who abuse national symbols in posters are the ones who love democracy. The pic misusing the three lions is worse because it looks like a political campaign poster and is a real offence. The union of media crooks conspires to cover up and hide the truth. It was easy to manage the MSM with threats, ad doles, investment by corporate giants, flashy awards and so on. It’s when the power of free speech passes on to ordinary people that creates a nuisance for the corrupt and that’s what makes democracy a dangerous idea for them


  1. Ravi. You have said it well. I agree with each word, each sentence of your's. Personally, I feel we are still living in a feudal system, and really not suited to Westminister type democracy. The people who wrote our constitution, with due apologies, were idealist not pragmatists. That is why we are in s$$t. Time has come to review/change the whole system starting from constitution.

    I could work out Rahul and PC in the poster, who are the other two guys?

    1. The third LION is Karthi Chidambaram - son of PC and the man below is a local congress leader

    2. He's not "just" son of PC....he is an accused of Aircel-Maxis deal scam and NRHM scam in Rajasthan, none of which were covered by MSM. (surprisingly the UP's NRHM scam seems to be away from headlines after Rahul Gandhi came back from the battlefield)

  2. Spot on Ravi Spot on.

    Let's see how far will this govt go, how much more will it subvert. Media is beyond redemption. Needs a complete overhaul.

  3. I agree with Tavleen Singh when she says that an Information & Broadcasting minister has no place in a democracy. I think it is just another term for Minister of Propaganda, a term which you hear and straight away think of Goebbels.

    Not that you need a faux Goebbels to manage the media. The congress has perfected the art using the Enforcement Directorate, the Income-tax dept. and the CBI just as effectively. So the Finance and Home Ministries do just as well, thank you. The laws are so incredibly complicated that business houses just can't help cutting corners here and there. And that is just what a corrupt govt wants. Imagine a media owner gets a phone call: "This is the PA to the honourable Finance Minister. This is to convey to you that Mantriji/Madamji/Rahulji is unhappy with an article your paper carried today..." The guy will reach for a glass of water before he grabs the phone, I can bet you that.

    As for freedom of speech, it has to be unequivocal, like the US First Amendment. The mark of a true democracy is, "You have the freedom of expression. Period." When it is, "You have the freedom of expression, BUT... blah blah blah" then it is no democracy, it's a banana republic. What I mean to say is, when they add a rider "...BUT there should be reasonable restrictions/ the media should be careful what they write etc" it is no right, it is just a sufferance.

  4. we will at this rate end up in an 'alice in wonderland 'world where the queen or her minions ( sonia or soni's) will start saying 'off with their heads '. emergency 2012 is on ...

  5. Ravi - Nice one, agree with it completely.

    What else can be expected from a Party which imposed Emergency in this country.

    Media is hand in glove with them big time

  6. You need to get your writings translated into a couple of our languages. Could be critical.

  7. An extremely insightful writing. Keep up the good work!


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