“The '57 meeting was about how we were gonna divide this country. This meeting is how we're gonna survive”.
Alarmed at the gang wars, murders and general chaos one of the mafia bosses decided it was time for a meeting of all the mafia bosses. So Joe Barbara took the initiative and organised a meeting for them in the sleepy village of Apalachin in the state of New York. It was the first ever general meeting of the mafia. That was 57 years ago in 1957. The agenda was how to divide the country and settle territories for the bosses, the nature of businesses to be held by each and set up new rules of the game so that there was peace among the gangs. Hundreds of mafia bosses turned up and flooded the little village with their cars and crews. The meeting barely happened as the police noticed the unusual traffic of cars from across the country in the tiny village and triggered an alarm. They raided the meeting, some bosses escaped, some were arrested and indicted. That was the first time that law enforcement in the US acknowledged the existence of the American mafia. The events have been comically represented in this clip from “Analyze This”
I’m not aware when India’s first LitterFest was held but the more organised ones appear to have started with the Jaipur Litterfest in 2006. I call it LitterFest rather than LitFest as the mafia likes to call it because more than reading or transacting on literary work this assembly has slowly become a political platform. One will remember Girish Karnad, the Sickular guy, lashing out at VS Naipaul at the Tata Litterfest in 2012. Reason? Supposedly because of Naipaul’s “rabid antipathy towards Indian Muslims” and, of course, Naipaul had attended a meeting of the BJP. Karnad trashed Naipaul for 40 minutes over political reasons at what was supposedly a literary meet and particularly one which was meant to honour Naipaul. In the Jaipur Litterfest of 2013 another mafia member, Ashis Nandy, grandly stated "It is a fact that most of the corrupt come from OBCs and Scheduled Castes and now increasingly the Scheduled Tribes". For this statement there is case against Nandy but the SC has stayed his arrest. Benefits of being in the mafia! There is also the usual nonsense of inviting Salman Rushdie here and there and the Muslims in India going crazy and rioting.
Political opinions are inevitable no matter what the nature of a meet. But our Litter Mafia meets have been more of making political statements rather than of literary accomplishment. The other thing is most of the country hasn’t ever heard of most members of this mafia. So the organisers usually spruce up their Litter with non-literary figures as well, to add to the charm. This little group is not very different from the G-37 group of panellists that hogs our TV every day to scream about this or that. Most of them are, naturally, anti-Hindu, anti-BJP and anti-everything that is traditional India. They will fiercely protect their mafia members no matter what. Their members are above the law, as Ashis Nandy shows you. This lot has a generous mix of scumbags and dregs of society. I would describe their meets as “Where the dogs of society howl”.
The latest meeting of this mafia is the Times LitterFest organised by Bachi Karkaria (of the TOI group) and some Namita Devidayal. Among its members who will be on parade are the following:
Aakar Ahmed Patel, known for his classic works on Modi, Narendra Modi, English-illiterate Modi, Prohibition-lover Modi, Anti-beef Modi, Narendra Damodardas Modi, Failed-CM Modi, Polariser-Modi and NaMo. There’s eminent writer Jay Panda of the BJD. Kumar Ketkar who almost won a Booker Prize for his literary work. There’s Mani Shankar Aiyar whose profound utterances are nearly spiritual for this mafia. Cyrus Broacha, much known for his book “Bakra and the beauty”. Kunal Vijaykar of the “Gluttony works” fame. Rajdeep Sardesai – need I say anything? Rahul Bose, multiple award winning actor and often a guest of the G-37. Renuka Shahane, the lady from “Hum aapke hai kaun”. Ronnie Screwvala, Salil Tripathi, Shekhar Gupta, S. Varadarajan. Hold your breath – there’s Shobha De too, who keeps India clean with her broom and Persian glove. William Dalrymple – famous for falsifying recent Indian history. David Davidhar – for his work “My experiences with sexual harassment”. There was one more name but it was dropped from the pageant after the stupid, un-literary public spoilt the plan with their “extraneous noise”: Tarun Tejpal!
Some members are genuine writers that people would like to hear and some non-writers (like Cyrus Broacha) are funny guys that entertain. But, increasingly, such meets are focused on “survival” after political upheavals of the recent past. The very relevance of some members is under a threat. So Bachi Karkaria (BK) had to resurrect Tarun Tejpal, the rape-accused. The schedule for Tejpal was listed for December 5 and 6 as under:
First is Tejpal’s role as a moderator and then as a speaker on “The tyranny of power”. Oh well, TT should know all about the “tyranny of power” wrapped around his fingers. Ever since he was caught in the rape case some members of our media mafia have spared no effort to save and resurrect TT. The loss of an important mafia boss is a severe blow to the whole conglomerate. For them the law is an ass and it’s enough if TT decides to undertake “penance that lacerates” him. Some like BK vocally and openly want TT resurrected, some are not so vocal. Why do they want to resurrect this scumbag? Here’s the answer in a tweet from Sucheta Dalal:
You see, there are many media-mafia houses that boast of the TT’s of the world. It is unfortunate for them that one of their members was caught or trapped and it is their job to extricate him and restore his honour. That’s the mafia code. The rules that apply to this mafia do not apply to others, that is, you are guilty regardless of any case or court as long as this mafia pronounces you guilty. They are entitled to their hypocrisy and you have no business to object and, if you do, you are nothing more than intrusive extraneous noise that hinders their lofty lives. Take a look at these from Rupa Subramanya (read from bottom up):
BK appears to have had a soft corner for TT all along. She has been defending him from the time the rape case broke. So her deep desire to resurrect Tejpal is quite understandable. She had gone as far as equating the so-called “Snoopgate” issue, which the media used to tar Modi with, to the Tejpal case. Predictably, willful moronginis like BK forget that there was no victim complaining in the Snoopgate issue. The Gujarat HC has also dismissed the inquiry into that episode on request of the parents of the woman who was allegedly snooped upon. In contrast the noose around Tejpal seems to be pretty tight so far. Bosses going to jail does worry the mafia. After her stupidity, BK finally realised the outrage and other participants pulling out of the Litter mafia meet wasn’t helping her cause. And the “extraneous noises” seemed to have forced BK to drop TT and she made an announcement on Twitter. Later she also issued a statement:
Regretfully? So had there been no extraneous noise BK & Co. would have gone ahead and grandly hosted TT. Nice! How do you get into such a club? How do you get into this mafia? You can be the best writer on earth but you cannot find a publisher to publish your book unless you find the right connections. Either that or you have to be a celebrity yourself from another profession. It is rare that a publisher in India of any standing would touch your work unless you get a reference from a member of this large mafia. Remember, even a prominent journalist like Arun Shourie couldn’t get his initial books published. He had to self-publish. The other option is those Daryaganj type publishers who will publish, give you no payment except a negligible royalty and force you to buy a certain number of copies of your own book at a decent discount. In short, if they agree to print 1000, you would be expected to buy 500 copies of your own book. I am not joking. It is the same route that gets people like Aakar Patel into the G-37 panellists club.
Over the last decade or more this mafia has thrived on a corrupt establishment that supported their prosperity. To be a member of this honourable mafia, you have to be anti-Hindu, bitch about Modi or RSS or BJP or any Hindu outfit at least once a month. You have to trash anything remotely connected with Hindu culture. That’s how Naxal-sympathisers like Kavitha Krishnan become TV experts. Just look around you, they are all over the place. And while TT may be out, David Davidhar is still there, along with other worthless pieces of junk like Mani Shankar. Davidhar is no less a criminal having been sacked from Penguin for a sexual harassment episode. And he has been accused of that more than once. Simple thing is, what TT is accused to have done happens routinely in our media houses. It is considered normal life by them. While the incident concerning Tejpal may alarm ordinary folks and cause an outrage, this is nothing new or serious for this mafia.
It was a happy mafia. Imagine, BK whining about extraneous noise. These are the scumbags and scumbaginis of society who are on TV, who write in newspapers and magazines, who write on social media too, who are at every media or celebrity event. These are the same people who pollute public discourse with their noise every single day on some forum or the other and yet BK complains about noise when it comes to ordinary people on SM? This is the hypocrisy and irony that never kisses them. They had a great run for many years and now this intruder called social media with ordinary people threatens their freedom to perversion. The political upheaval across India threatens their very survival. Check the last lines in the video again.
“The '57 meeting was about how we were gonna divide this country. This meeting is how we're gonna survive…. Bosses are going to jail”