Thursday, October 18, 2012

Funeral For A Sparrow

History hangs on tiny chances. The five gentlemen in the pic below have nothing in common now. From left: First is a tax-guru, next is a film-maker, 3rd is a politician, the fourth is a playwright and the last one is a lawyer. Yet, if you look up history, it will tell you that these guys do have something in common. They, with a few more, led the first and only successful mass agitation ever in the history of independent India. What will shock you even more is that the agitation started with what was a small, localised issue of hike in canteen charges in a college. The issue of corruption got added to the canteen issue.

History hangs on tiny chances. Mohamed Bouazizi, a street vendor, immolated himself over losing his stocks after paying a fine and that triggered in Tunisia what we now know as the Arab Spring. He died.

Cut to the present. What is it that TeamAnna wanted to change? Obviously, corruption in the govt system! Change the system to what? Bring in a Janlokpal. There is no specific incident or event that triggered Anna’s Lokpal movement. It’s not as if someone killed himself or self-immolated directly for corruption. This was a well-planned, well-organised agitation and not a spontaneous movement that brought people together. How to bring about that change? Hunger strikes, gatherings in Delhi, SMS for support, put up websites and so on. Then they made a fatal mistake. Following some minor success in terms of people’s response, they broadened their agenda. They added to their demands Lokayuktas across all states, Citizen’s Charter, CBI under independent control, Charge-sheets against certain ministers and a bit more. The menu had grown bigger.

The movement died the day Anna gave up his fast after 12 days in August 2011. That may be a bitter pill to swallow for some but that’s the fact. I may sound harsh but why did Anna give up his fast when he had the govt and MPs by the scruff of their necks? Especially since he kept repeating that he is a soldier who will “die” for his cause. No, I don’t regret it. I am happy Anna is alive and we hope he leads a long, healthy life. But there is no Lokpal. There is nothing to show as results for that agitation. In the end, when the Lokpal Bill does get through the credit will be claimed by some political party (just like with RTI) although that may not be that important.

Having failed to get the Lokpal Bill, the movement has now become some kind of a political monster. It has become the very thing that Anna’s agitation targeted. Irony! Not in terms of corruption but in terms of strategies and language. The “how to” change has become more of hurling charges at some politician or prominent figure every week. Mind you, the charges are not being discussed here. Arvind Kejriwal now leads a political movement. His tactics, though, haven’t changed. The only visible change is that AK has borrowed Anna’s ‘Topi’ which he never wore earlier. It’s once again an irony as some point out. AK wants new-style politics with old-style symbolism. The Gandhi-topi for long has become a symbol of the pot-bellied, corrupt politician and not the principles that Gandhi used to represent. The other grave and serious mistake that AK and his team are making is: fighting a battle in the media. By now AK should have been wise enough to learn that the media is not his friend. It is nobody’s friend. It’s a friend to those in power and those with money. If you have neither, they will make sure you are run down and destroyed. I have documented the media follies of TeamAnna long back in the post ‘Goodwill Blunting

After the noise and drama over Robert Vadra and Salman Khurshid even the disappointed media called TeamKejriwal’s so-called ‘expose’ on Nitin Gadkari a “damp squib”. Naturally so! The media would have loved to see some serious charges against Gadkari. It would have suited them great and so too their Congress bosses. Haha! Not surprisingly, even chronic distorter Digivijaya Singh was unhappy with AK. He stated on TV that he would have liked AK to go after Narendra Modi. Why not! In the context of the forthcoming Gujarat elections nothing would have pleased the Congress and media more. Agitations and political battles are not fought on television. This is something that the IAC team doesn’t seem to have learnt and something Narendra Modi seems to have mastered. Even if you do not wish to pursue corruption charges in court it’s a lot better to take these to the people than to the media. As simple as that! Narendra Modi’s 1880 Crores charge against Sonia Gandhi is going to stick for a long time. The media will bury allegations against Robert Vadra, Salman Khurshid and Nitin Gadkari and move on. They need their daily “item number” and AK seems to be providing it for free. But if AK and his motley crew had gone to the people at various places they would have succeeded in creating “perceptions” that would be hard to dismantle by the media.

One of the stupidest arguments by fanatical AK supporters when he is lampooned or criticised is “what are you doing about corruption?”. This is as silly as they can get. Far from getting more support it alienates more. First, not everyone has chosen to fight this battle for their own reasons, not even the media. Secondly, how stupid would it be to ask a movie critic to go act in or direct a movie if he lampoons a movie? If Harsha Bhogle were to criticise batting or bowling, how moronic would it be to ask him to go out and play instead of commentating? The media has already targeted TeamAK by bringing out some builder-NGO nexus of corruption against Mayank Gandhi, one of members of TeamAK. Who can forget the frivolous travel bills issue about Kiran Bedi? That made more noise in the media than allegations against Gadkari. The question both AK and his supporters need to really ask is: Why has the biggest face of IAC, Anna Hazare, himself withdrawn? That has never been honestly explained. Merely borrowing the symbolic “topi” for the media doesn’t mean anything. As it gets tougher for their paymasters, the media is sure to raise more muck against TeamAK, real and imaginary. Symbolism has to connect with people.

The five gentlemen I mentioned earlier are Mukesh Patel, Manishi Jani, Umakant Mankad, Parthiv Vyas and Nirupam Nanavati. All were leaders of the Navnirman agitation in Gujarat in 1974. The agitation also found support from political parties, including some members of the then Congress govt in the state. Even Narendra Modi is reported to have been involved from the outside through RSS and ABVP. Except for Umakant Mankad, who is a Congress member, none of the others are in politics. They succeeded in their agitation; perhaps far beyond their expectations. It was the agitation that triggered Jayprakash Narayan’s movement which led to the Emergency in 1975 and eventual downfall of Indira Gandhi. The first pic on the left is of the agitators on Nehru Bridge in Ahmedabad. The second pic is that of stone-pelting. Haha! Ironically, it’s not by the agitators but by the police in retaliation to being attacked from rooftops. There was no TV then and most newspaper reports couldn’t be accurate because of months-long curfews. The Navnirman agitation brought down the Chief Minister and the state govt. All this by traditionally “effete” people as Barkha Dutt and Vir Singhvi call Gujaratis. Navnirman wasn’t fought on TV or in the media. It was fought on the streets by a huge number of people.

Symbolism matters. No, not on some stupid media channel but on the ground with people. During the Navnirman agitation a Sparrow was unfortunately killed in police firing or by stone pelting. The agitators symbolically took out a huge funeral procession for the unfortunate sparrow. Not even the police dared to stop the procession and allowed the funeral rites for the martyred sparrow to be completed. Over 100 people died in police firing in the Navnirman agitation. Each time Team AK hold a press conference for their ‘exposes’ it keeps getting bigger and bigger. The media gets a reality show without having to pay for the production costs or hire actors. Sooner or later this same media will destroy them. These shows aren’t as powerful as the funeral for a sparrow.

Note: The Late Chimanbhai Patel, Chief Minister, who was brought down by the Navnirman movement returned as CM some years later. He is credited with initiating the Sardar Sarovar Project (Narmada Dam) which is a lifeline for Gujarat. He remains a much respected figure in Gujarat politics.


  1. Couldn't agree more .. Thanks Ravi for sharing this useful information of Gujrat agitation was not aware of ..

  2. Totally agree that the countdown to media lynch-mob descent on Kejriwal and co has already begun.

  3. Loved your post.

    I once lampooned AK's movement on Twitter, and I was reprimanded by an IAC fanatic, and asked the same question. What are you doing about corruption? When I replied that my family had been victimized many years ago, because of honesty (much like Ashok Khemka today) this IAC moron then had the audacity to tweet that I was lying.

    AK has had his 15 minutes of fame. The IAC movement needs a swift burial now.

  4. Hi Ravinar,

    I think inadvertently, your blog gives all the media houses ( congress run ) undue attention that is truly undeserved. I do understand you act as a media critique but the point is, does the media really require a critique ? Only works of a certain bare minimum quality deserve to be critiqued and media falls below this bare minimum. I would rather suggest you focus on bringing to light true journalistic works of lesser known media groups ( print / television ). As a famous poet once said :
    "Full many a flower has been born to bloom and blush unseen and waste the sweetness of its fragrance on the desert air."

    thanks ,

    Anand L

    1. @Anand

      If this is the kind of attention the media wants.. they are sure welcome to enjoy it.

      The purpose of the blog has been stated pretty clearly many times. Are you seriously asking for great works of journalism to appear under the "MediaCrooks" category? That would be a dishonour to that kind of journalism.

    2. Hi Anand,
      If the attention that the media gets is that they are a bunch of power brokers who can be as horrible as the politicians or real estate goons, then such attention is required at this juncture.

    3. wat @Anand is saying is u r indirectly providing free advtsing to the media by focussing on the bad, instead his suggestion is to bringout great local journalistic wrks may b under a diffrnt name

      I undrstnd this type f critique is needed bt u r unknwingly talking abt d same shit tht u hate thereby publicising it, wht v need is a hope 4 chng , an alternativ , u wud do more service to d country by focussing on unbiased small local media houses

    4. @ManOfPoise

      First of all, I would suggest that you try not to impose your "opinions" as the motive of this blog. Criticism here is not driven by "hate".

      Secondly, it is wrong to expect the blog to do something that it does not offer to do. The purposse is clear and stated in no uncertain terms. Wrong expectations often lead to disappointment.

    5. Hi Ravinar,

      There is no reason to be bullish about the motive of this blog.
      I suggested uncovering smaller media houses as it is a
      lateral thought and runs in-line with your current work
      although not with the title of this blog.

      If this strikes your as a singular opinion, pls ignore.
      ( I will continue to remain an ardent reader though :) )


    6. @Anand

      Your suggestion is not a problem and is welcome. I am just answering your thought on why this is not being done. (Not just you but a few more readers). I just tweeted someone that one doesnt use WashingDetergentSoap as BathingSoap, even though there is nothing to stop one from doing so. The products are meant for different purposes. I hope that explains why the "focus". That person was suggesting a separate parallel blog titled "MediaGems" (as example) which I find far more reasonable and feasible.

  5. I think the same question needs to be asked AK."What are you doing about corruption?" The exposes done were already done by somebody else and no lawsuit has been filed against anyone by his team.
    One one side they claim the existing system in completely corrupt and on the other side they expect govt to act on their charges and conduct inquiry.You cant have it both ways.
    Disturbing law and order without a plan or clear agenda or a vision cannot change anything.
    What is the alternative IAC is offering and how will it implement them? We are yet to hear how do they propose to run a govt without corruption(Lokpal is not a magic wand).How will they handle recession or price rise or the severe electricity shortage(since they were at K-plant)? These are real issues outside corruption which a political outfit needs to answer.

  6. Completely agree with your thoughts !

    I too feel that Arvind Kejriwal must concentrate on his party and how to get inside Parliament, to make a difference. I bet that half of his followers are with him / Team Anna / IAC, just because he was against the corrupt Govt and mostly Congress. Now that he has started targetting all politicians (or call it 'painting everyone with the same brush, as Kiran Bedi said), lot of people will start loosing faith.

    We all know the system is corrupt from the root and agree that it must be cleaned. But this can't be done overnight and by giving a totally different set of people as a choice ! ...and AVOID giving sound bites to the media :)

  7. Ravi--Enjoyed reading the article. Strange--truth can be simple and agrees with your system. Garbage can only give you indigestion. IAS officers are intelligent--politicians have good sense of timing--opportunistic.
    Challenge is to choose between bad & worse before we come to RAMRAJYA.

  8. I read one of the comments, and found it more like "What are you doing for corruption". Mediacrooks has focused himself on exposing the blatant lies which go unnoticed even by an expert's eyes. I would like to tell everybody out loud that the work 'Mediacrooks' is doing is far beyond the work (if any) Team AK will do. A Guru tells you how to differentiate between 'Salt and Sawdust'. I was naive when I thought that those appearing on the TV channels are very upright and intellectual, pure and ethical. My father used to tell me that these news on TV/print are modified and catered to suit their master industrialist and politicians; I ignored his views. But see now, when I could see the broader picture, and that too when 'Mediacrooks' provided me the magic glass. Even today I can't say I am good, but sure I will refine myself to differentiate between real 'Media' and 'Crooks'. Thank you Ravinar.

  9. Ravi,You have just lost one follower in me with your blind opposition to AK and tam.I certaily would like all of us to combine critiquing with action.Supporting BJP has always been dodgy.Give them power they would be as bad as congis.

    1. Dear Deb,

      Please realise that having a role model is a great feeling especially during youth when the Blood is hot & ready to take on any challange for some sort of Revolution, etc.
      I understand that AK may be role model for a few youngsters, but unfortunately he & his followers do not know the art of waiting for the right opportunity to strike, focussing on one target at a time or Ground level toiling which take years of back breking hardwork.Did anyone asked AK why Anna Hazare & Kiran Bedi distanced from him ???? Are they fools ???? If you have guts please confront him. You will be kicked out. Some things can only be learnt through experince.


  10. Dear Ravinar,

    Its really sad that such a great agitation which prided in leadership of Anna Hazare has come to such a low that the activists & their leaders have become a free breaking news item for Main stream Media.
    In the initial days of the Janalokapal Andolan, I have attended a few meetings in Mumbai. I had suggested in one such meeting that to achieve JLP we must create a ground level Organization which would work for next 20-25 years to achiev the JLP & root out the corruption. I was told by their senior member that JLP will be achieved within next 6 months itself & hence no need to build a strong Organization. Since then I slowly moved away from them as I having an RSS background know very well how expert the Media & Congress are in use & throw unless you have equally or better groundwork.

  11. Hi Ravi,

    I completely agree with you, agitations should have people involved, they are the ones who take it forward. I think AK has lost focus or is too hyper, does not concentrate on one issue, achieve the goal and then move onto the next one. Now being a politician, he should focus on how to build party rather than still being an activist. If he believes media can help him the I can he will soon be another panelists. Better he realizes this very soon.

  12. "The media gets a reality show without having to pay for the production costs or hire actors",,,I like it.

  13. Ranvir, very well-argued article here. Problem for AK as pointed out in comments is that he does not have an organisation. Also an organisation can not be created overnight (I dont think they have money to do so). Although BJP had RSS backing, but its own organisation was created by Mr. Advani, and history tells us that was very painfull process. What AK can do is to create an organisation in Delhi, connect with DU students and may be fight delhi assembly elections. His first priority should be to put some members in coming assembly elections. 2014 is far away, he should identify urban middle class dominated seats and try to put some members in parliament. And that will require him to go door to door. Press confernces are all okay to get some visibility, but voters dont vote on basis of press conferences. I would also suggest, he should start identifying probable candidates for 2014. One special seat he should try to get is Lucknow seat. This seat was represented by Mr. Vajpayee and hence has symbolic value as well as it is seat of government of most powerfull state (in term of number of parliamentarians).

    If he fails to declare his candidates before March 2013, i dont see him reaching 10-15 seats in 2014 which i find a reasonable target.

  14. This is another one! Today evening, there was a full coverage (without break) on all news channels of the nauseating speech by Sonia in Mangalore. But now when Nirmala Seetharaman is making a point-by-point rebuttal of the charges made by Sonia, it is getting repeatedly edited and interrupted.

    1. Janardan Dwivedi's speech (ref SC verdict on Rahul Gandhi) was fully broadcast without interruption though it had no substance only homilies.

  15. I completely agree with Ravi and many comments here! AK is losing focus.. he is playing right into MSM hands! There was no need for him to go gungho on more than one issue... All this Salman Khurshid and Gadkari episode has helped Media and Congress to successfully bury Vadra case! the more he tries to 'balance' his actions int he eyes of MSM by bringing out corruption cases against opposition parties the more he will loose his credibility. As much as I like Team Anna and IAC, I will not vote them to power because they are not sending any signs of maturity! They are not even spelling out their stands on Key national issues in public. I dont think AK will be able to field 500+ candidates in next Lok Sabha elections. I am a traditional Anti Congress voter, have never voted COngress, but i would like to see a credible alternative, to be honest in my opinion is not AK's IAC. Atleast not now or in near future!

    1. I fully agree with you. They have to take a stand on all issues concerning people. like say
      Reservation Vs. Equality
      Secularism vs. appeasement
      Land vs. Industries
      peace vs. war
      stand on cast
      not the least foreign policy
      how to deal with pakistan, america, israel, china

  16. From the moment AK decided to make a political outfit, and then delcaring support of Afzal Guru, exposes on Robert Vadra, Kurshid, Gadkari and many more may follow, seems to be a clear strategy of Congress to keep the public mind busy and diverted and nothing else.
    In all probability there would be no major breakthrough or achievement.

    If all goes as per the congress supposedly plan, the congress can even sacrifice Vadra, like Vadra sacrificed his family for Congress's sake. With sympathy votes, Priyanka will become the face of congress and come to power in 2014. What Sonia plans or is trained to plan only Digvay Singh can tell.

    God bless Vadra and Kejriwal.

  17. I hope for the Nation sake that IAC continues to gain strength.When ppl say "What have you done 4 corruption" they r essentially asking what is ur big idea of doing this?IAC is still evolving and it can make mistakes, but to just unilaterally criticize is not only stupid but immoral.
    I feel where IAC is making big mistake is alienating itself from all parties just for stupid "Balance".I think if they concentrate on making biggest CHOR (Congress) a non entity then large % of corruption will go.

  18. Y P Singh one time associate of kejriwal has just ripped his Halo apart. Kejriwal is turning just another politician. He and his gang members fail to convince on TV shows that why did they leave pawar out and why did they went on exposing Gadkari without proofs? Few of the farmers they claim to be victims of Gadkari came on Camera and denied such things. In cases against Vadra there were clear proofs, mismatch in data from various parties. But in case of Gadkari nothing could have been established. What AK was waiting for? Maharashtra elections?

  19. Very good Article, I don't think IAC understands Gandhi at all, They should watch "Gandhi" film. If you don't connect with the Real people on ground, what different are you? If IAC was serious about corruption, they could have done soooo much, They could have gheroad RTO and other government offices, They could have silently protested in front of corrupt Babu's houses every weekend, soo many things that would have garnered them common man's support.
    I am also disappointed on IAC's electricity bill stunts, he is no different from the other politicians,
    They missed a big opportunity to change India, Like my history professor used to say, French revolution happened in France even though they were better off than rest of the world, because they were worse off then before, similarly India is ripe for change as they were promised a dream of a superpower and now have their dreams snapped away by the corrupt UPA. One way other Change is bound to happend and IAC didn't get it

  20. I will come back to this article when AK prooves you wrong. Congress took him lightly and now must be crying in a corner. BJP and it's supporters will also realize that soon.

  21. I have been reading your blog for some time and realized that most of your articles about media person is not correct.
    if you think that media , IAC , all the politicians are bad, corrupt, crooks, they just malign and don't do anything
    Look at yourself what you are doing.
    Frankly speaking you are wasting your time and others time as well.

    1. @Unknown: How you can say about his time and about others time? Talk only about your time!! Yes most media is crook which I am claiming based on facts(You can also find facts on this blog), most politicians are corrupt, most IAS and IPS guys are corrupt. Most media person have brain with a size of a nib of a point ball pen.Why don't you counter claim this bloggers point with facts and research?Now as you claim you are reading this blog for some time now,I think you wasted lot of your time(as you claim this blog is time waste) please switch to cnn ibn /ndtv for proper time utilization.

    2. I don't agree with each and every point of Ravi regarding AK,but there is a valid point that AK has opened too many war fronts and thus is not always well prepared on each and every front.He has also done some mistakes and sometimes adapted drama tactics from politicians.On the same note this is also a very valid point that in today's scenario when CBI,Courts,Govt and babus all are corrupt going to court is not an option.

  22. "Agitations and political battles are not fought on television." TV is a powerful medium - e.g. US Presidential debates are held on TV - AK did go to the people via the Anna movement, and it served its purpose. Spreading awareness, especially amongst educated, but politically apathetic, middle-class. Now, I feel, AK has had to change tactics. How successful he & his pol party will be, only time will tell. But using media, as one avenue, for reaching out to people, is intelligent.

    1. I am totally agree with you. AK has done good job indeed.. now these media channels must carry the issues which he(AK) has exposed...along with all these exposures.. he and his team must also work(and m sure they are working)on selection of candidates for Delhi polls(i think this would give clear indication about their stands.

  23. What simply AK is missing -- grass root politics. Without this no organisation seeking political mileage can succeed. He has to grab the rural space. Media fanfare cannot result too much in longer term. All politicians at present, specially old ones, have strong hold in rural areas like Lalu, Mulayam, Mayawati etc. In addition, it is the real India from where one can achieve political success not the urban.

    AK lost the road very soon when the entire team Anna was depicting everyone as Congress supporter or corrupt if anyone Q them. They took the wrong way by targeting each and everyone. They didnt listen to anyone. AK now waving some docs and targeting anyone without any clear policy. In short, at present he is creating chaos not more than that and free bites for media.

    Giving so many conspiracy theories like B team of BJP or Congress anti vote grabber what to say more of him at present? The real picture would come out after AK's first political result. He is seeing his campaign as successful till date in view of Facebook and twitterati fan boys\girls support. These fan boys or girls hardly go for voting.

    Media was thinking of diwali before dusherra if it was NaMo instead of Nitin Gadkari. Thank god AK disappointed them.

  24. Hi,
    Rani Singh who contributes for CNN ( zionist channel )— writes a book -- “Sonia Gandhi: An Extraordinary Life, An Indian Destiny”
    In his foreword, Mikhail Gorbachev, the former president of Soviet Union, wrote "Sonia Gandhi has served India in many ways - as Rajiv's wife, as the mother of two remarkable children, as an example of dignity and strength, and as a political leader of high caliber. India must be proud of her".
    What is the catch?
    What makes Gorbachev thinks the WTE ( waitress turned empress ) is of such high caliber—and that we Indians are so proud of her?
    Find out who the REAL Gorbachev is.
    Capt ajit vadakayil

  25. Arvind Kejriwal has lost his credibility. He shot himself on the foot last Wednesday by picking the wrong target and dubious information sources. From now on all of his energy will be spent on defending his credibility and motivations and media will have gala time tearing him down (and for very good reasons in this case).

    Arvind Kejriwal lacks the character-ethic to lead a noble and ambitious movement like this. He has given ample proof of his leadership incompetence by recruiting people like Anjali Damania in his movement.

    He also behaved unethically with BJP leader Vijay Goyal by highjacking his rally and making claims about BJP which were not even true. He owes an apology to both Sh. Goel and BJP (and also to Mr. Gadkari for that matter as his charges were false) . But being a self-righteous attention freak that he is , he is unlikely to admit any mistake. It is good that he is out of Anna's movement. I hope Hazare keeps him out. Otherwise, whatever little steam is left in the movement will be lost as well.


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