Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Gandhi Septology

A few nights ago a couple of friends and I were having dinner at a restaurant. One of them is a top professional from the Pharma industry and the other is an economy expert. One was a visitor to Gujarat, so the chat inevitably veered around to Narendra Modi at some point. It was the usual set of questions visitors to Gujarat have about Modi, the “Will he, won’t he?” types. No, not if he will win Gujarat but if he will pitch for Delhi in 2014 or anytime general elections are held, as a PM candidate. And whether he will able to tame or win over the Delhi Establishment. Since there were news channels on with their usual debates on TV at the restaurant, the other question was how certain channels that were doing badly financially were still around. Answer to the second question is simpler; if the channels are part of the “establishment” in a ‘Banana republic’ it’s not a problem.

So what about the “establishment”? “… It includes leading politicians, senior civil servants, the most important financiers and industrialists, governors of the BBC, and the Royal Court…  The term in this sense was coined by the British journalist Henry Fairlie, who in September 1955 in the London magazine The Spectator defined that network of prominent, well-connected people as "the Establishment", explaining: "By the 'Establishment', I do not only mean the centres of official power—though they are certainly part of it—but rather the whole matrix of official and social relations within which power is exercised”. That sums it up quite neatly, doesn’t it? But do replace the BBC with India’s Doordarshan and most of the private TV channels and the Royal Court with the Indian ‘Royal Court’ and the picture is complete. Now does it explain how loss-making TV channels survive? If most political funding is from “anonymous donors” and if so much black money goes into electioneering is it any different in the media? Corrupt crooks in the Politico-Media complex are not about to produce receipts for “paid news”.

Then, creating this Establishment requires years of brand building. There are many tiny corners in this vast country of ours where people, young and old, still believe Indira Gandhi was the daughter of Mahatma Gandhi. Who’s gonna complain about that, eh? That guy who said “What’s in a name..” would have stabbed himself in the back, twice, and then run his own truck over himself, again twice. Ever observed the credits of a modern-day, hi-tech Hollywood movie? It takes anywhere between 500 and 1000 people to make one of those plus a dozen odd companies that provide the effects, marketing, distribution. Then it’s released in over 3000 screens at a time. The same goes for creating the “establishment”. In fact it takes lakhs of people. One of the key features of building the establishment is in using the magic name and like the movie ‘Terminator’ protect and propagate the brand. Find success and create a trilogy. The credits for an “establishment” movie might run like this (2:24 mins):

That’s just a small part of all the schemes and projects in the Nehru-Gandhi brand name and scrolling at high-speed. If I were to include all the 450 schemes that A. Surya Prakash has listed and scrolled it at normal speed, it would take at least 30 minutes to read all the credits. (And he says those 450 are only in the last 18 years). Those 450 brand-builders are quite a handful and can "Terminate" any challenge to power. Also, Surya Prakash’s list doesn’t include Mahatma Gandhi since he doesn’t belong to the “family”. But hey, the “Gandhi” brand name is what it is and has the same effect on the ground. So instead of a trilogy it could have been a Septology. Mahatma Gandhi à Nehru à Indira Gandhi à Rajiv Gandhi à Sanjay Gandhi à Sonia Gandhi à Rahul Gandhi. Oh, and there’s Priyanka Vadra in the wings who can any day turn into Priyanka Gandhi if and when required. If trilogy is about a series of 3, septology is a series of 7.

What does Sanjay Gandhi have? Not much, but there’s a prominent National Park in Borivali, Mumbai named after him? What about Sonia Gandhi? Ha! You’ll be surprised. Since there was nothing else possible, Padma Shri horticulturist Haji Kaleemullah Khan has named a ‘mango variety’ after Sonia Gandhi. Haha! Sounds fair for the ‘Mango Man’, doesn’t it? What about Rahul Gandhi? He is too busy to bother about these things so the Congress UP branch decided to name his birthday as “Farmers’ Rights Day”. If you thought that is all, you just got lucky. You see RG is fond of eating at various homes and places. So this Canteen in M.S.University in Baroda named all the dishes after RG and each dish is accompanied by a nice picture of him. So you could order RahulGandhi-Samosas, RahulGandhi-Rotis or just RahulGandhi-Coffee. And you will be served!  

We can ignore the light-hearted menu at the RG canteen. We can also grant the projects in the name of Mahatma Gandhi, given that he is now an international icon. There are streets and monuments to his name across the world. A report in 2008 mentioned there’s a campaign to rename 185 streets in 39 countries after the Mahatma. Not much to read in that but in India The Gandhi Septology also forms a great part of the “establishment”. That’s the challenge for any non-Congress or non-Gandhi family person to seek high offices. We can even accept a few monuments and projects in the name of Nehru-Gandhi but surely 450 is an excess that is too glaring. Does the MSM protest or complain?

This “establishment” includes govt schemes and projects, organisations funded by the govt. They also include NGOs and individuals, educational institutions, many govt titles (Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna?), think-tanks, many media beneficiaries and wannabe beneficiaries. Most of them receive public land and money one way or another. Collectively they could directly or indirectly employ a million people or more. Would they want to let go of what they have been enjoying under this Septology? So apart from official govt and political propaganda these million plus people also spread the good word. In a brilliant article Minhaz Merchant exposes how “How black economy subverts India’s politics” and how the officially declared “funds” can hardly cover election expenses for any party.

Well, my answer to the friend who asked the question was that many media channels also survive on such funds. Think about another one: Does Reliance really expect to earn money from an investment in TV-18 group? Does it expect to earn money from any media group? With investments like 1500 or 2000 crores, which is peanuts for Reliance, what do they really aim to earn? Your guess is as good as mine. These 450 Nehru-Gandhi schemes and projects are mostly moderate to heavy advertisers. Even at a measly 5 ads per annum to each friendly media house that would be 2250 ads. Even at a heavily discounted rate, of say Rs.20000/- per ad, you do the math for each media outlet. Then add to that all the anniversaries of those who feed the “establishment”, it’s quite a feast. Isn’t it? Suddenly there’s a Motilal Nehru ad, in colour. Sure, celebrate his birth anniversary but why an ad? Also add those individuals and groups who aren’t part of the govt but operate NGOs and other feeder organisations. All of this with your money! Why would they want to kill this goose? Motilal Nehru? That just made it Octalogy, didn’t it?


  1. Ravi,
    your blogs are addictive (like my strong morning coffee !) & this is one site wherein we feel vindicted & that all is not lost in this country !
    The stupid,corrupt & communal congress believes that they have a hegemony on EVERYTHING in this country & the latest Rajiv Gandi Equity Scheme is one more naming fraud !
    And while they can commemorate the 150th Birth Anniversary of Motilal Nehru , how come this govt DID NOT have even ONE ADVT on the 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda ? (They spend crores every year on he various anniversaries of the pseudo Gandhi family )
    The govts which celebrated this great anniversary were from Gujarat & Karnataka .I have no informtaion of other BJP govts.
    And AFTER witnessing the huge turnouts to the Viveka Yatra of Namo, the congress suddenly wakes up & talks about Swami Vivekananda !
    Talk of selsective amnesia !

  2. Just look at the Moti Lal Nehru's picture, he looks quite a chikna guy just made for the extra curricular activity that he usually indulged himself in to keep himself busy. I will not elaborate much, readers of this comment are encouraged to search internet for what I mean vis-a-vis our eastman color chikna Motilal. What kind of fools are we to suffer with such ads which patronizes such people like Motilals. We could get over Jawahar who made his father proud by taking the extra caurricular activity to the next level [international], and we have now Moti Lal, all this with all tax payers money??

  3. Brilliant article once again Ravi. You missed Sanjay Gandhi Jaivik Udyan, Patna which is one the largest zoological gardens in South Asia.

  4. The country is awash with govt veterinary hospitals without any name.

    If only Nehru had owned a dog...

    1. well now a days there are lot of politicians who call themselves as loyal dogs of that family ..... we may expect being them named soon :-)

      Good article Ravi

  5. Ravi,

    One nail a day seems to be the right dose for this disease. We will see it eradicated from India sooner than later.

    I am sure next government is going tom be hard pressed for finding new names for all these schemes, streets, buildings & institutions.

    We will just have to reclaim India from this Nehru clan.

    1. Will it not be a good idea to consider renaming all the Sulabh Toilets and other public urinals? If we finish all these as well we could consider the cemetries / burial grounds . Thereafter we have the slaughter houses that are there across the country.Only the animals cannot protest. Poor things. Pity they have to endure this too.

  6. Good piece. It's time to come out boldly & bravely without fear or favour now, before it's too late. The rot it deep may need mature surgery never know even chemo ... so if all want a glorious Bharat need to act fast.

  7. the pity is that not one party is telling voters that it will replace all these name the moment they assume office with common names with local flavour. I remember to have read once that TDP of AP would change the name of Hyderabad International airport. I think its time we switched of all those suffixes for programme names.

  8. One more scheme: Rahul Gandhi Jan Ungli Yojana :)

  9. there is a power plant in name of sanjay at unchahar (raibareli) was a up state electricity board power plant bought by ntpc as up could not pay bills for electricity..
    there are schemes of tree planting also in his name

  10. For quiet some time, one thing is churning in my mind. what Mr. Ravinar and his kind of people are doing is a noble activity. But a "vast majority" of people are ignorant of the "true face" of Indian MSM and Indian Polity. It may be "impossible" or "extremely" difficult for individuals or a group of people to educate the "vast majority". But can we think and come out with individual plans/actions to spread this kind of awareness? Some example, spread the info about blogs like this one among our peers, friends, relatives, or simply prepare a small reading item and take a printout and stick it onto our vehicles, or public places (without harming the general beauty), etc.,

    If we are going to be content with "happiness" of "more educated" than the "vast majority" about Indian MSM and Polity and doesn't do much, the things will not change for good for a foreseeable future.

    If any one of you have already started this kind of activity, if you share with all, it may help others who might help to spread this "good" cause.

  11. Can't able to digest/believe such statements here
    " Reuters reviewed more than 30 letters written by Gandhi to the prime minister and US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks that portray her as passionate about social issues, and attached to protecting the poor."

  12. I hope all of this Gandhi nonsense is coming to an end now.

    Its OK to remember the father of our nation at times, but to force feed his brand surname to gullible audience is heavily prejudiced and criminal.

    Not just Gandhi, we should also abolish naming any street or road or park by the name of political figures.

    What can be acceptable can be naming them after sports personalities of art figures.


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