Tag Archives: Politics

Distortions and Discourse

It is a tough time to be an aware Indian these days. No matter which side is your ideology left, right, or centre these are the times of turmoil. One of the key features of any democracy is the political discourse, and the irony of our country has been, that despite being the largest democracy in the world, the situation of our political discourse has become extremely frivolous.

There is a lot of processing and reprocessing of information happening these days. I call it reprocessing because a lot of information that is being processed as opinions, inference and sometimes modified truth. Couple of decades back, there used to be three sources of news Doordarshan the state owned television broadcasted news every night, All India Radio which again run by the government broadcasted news, and the news papers large and small across multiple languages which mostly did factual reporting with a page for editorial opinions. So the major media was either a government mouthpiece or a fact based channel.

The came the age of cable television where we had a new breed of news channels cropped up. This was the era of breaking news and making sure the people knew the news upfront, creating major celebrity news anchors/reporters/journalists like Barkha Dutt, Sagarika Ghose, Ravish, Rajdeep Sardesai, Arnab Goswami etc. The news channels were the gold standard of truth in the decade in a race to uncover the shady story in echelons of the government. The holy grail was exclusive news and coverage, the better news channel was the one to break the most shocking news story at the earliest.

Then came the age social media, which almost killed the breaking news stuff. The fact is if you are on one of the social media bandwagons like Facebook and twitter you would probably hear the news breaking there. News like 26/11 attacks and the killing of Osama were in fact first reported on twitter. Initially the social media was primarily crowd soured. There have been a lot of controversies which have been of mainstream media and reported by the social media primarily. One of the key controversies was Barkha Dutt & Nira Radia tapes. The problem started when the social media caught up with masses and the political parties realised how effective this can be a tool. It probably started with Obama’s election campaign and quickly adapted in India before the 2014 general elections.

The problem started when the political parties started the propaganda speech and fact manipulation. It started with a harmless modification of images to make the crowd larger, change the global forwarded messages to reflect their own leaders. This has gone to an extent that doctored videos are broadcasted by mainstream media and reach the court as evidence. The fact is anything on the social media today is a difficult to believe; this has been a far reaching consequences for the country in general. The fact is so much of content being shared on the social media after modification either to reflect pro-government or pro-opposition that has ended up polarising the social media and the society in the factions which believe different versions of the same event.

The fact remains there are things happening in the country, and these are really important things. There are things which need to be appreciated, other things which need to be criticised and some which need to be debated. The fact remains or either of the discussions to happen people need to know the facts on the truth, not interpretations.

So next time when you read something, look for facts and skip the distortions.

Arvind Kejriwal: Krantikari to Bahut Krantikari

I have written about the Aam Aadmi Party and my views on it here. However the journey of it’s founder and chief “Mein Aam Aadmi Hoon, Meri Koi Aukaat Nahi Hai” and “Bahut Hi Krantikari” fame Mr. Arvind Kejriwal has been very interesting. I started knowing about him from the time he became a part of Aana Hazare’s India Against Corruption Movement. So here his a graph of how my opinion of him varied through the time.

My Take on Aam Aadmi Party

A lot of things are happening in our country and I believe that India is going through one of the most interesting times as far as politics is concerned. Yesterday the Aam Admi Party won the vote of confidence. I think this is the first time after the JP movement a political party and an individual are receiving such wide spread political acceptance and support across India.

This is one of the best times to jump into the political arena in Indian landscape. After 10 years of corruption ridden rule filled with populist policy with disastrous economics was akin to the extreme dark ages in the Indian rule. At this point of time anybody who provides a believable story board of a corruption free and sensible economic policies will be lapped up in both arms by the frustrated, tired and naïve voter of the country. Two politicians who have managed to captivate these sentiments in the Indian public using rallies, mass media and the new found social media are Mr. Narendra Modi of BJP and Arvind Kejriwal of Aam Admi Party.

Now I do not subscribe to the views of any of the political parties but the politics being played by both Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal interests me a lot. I have nothing against Arvind Kejriwal, on the contrary I really appreciate the way he has matured and arrived at the landscape of Indian polity as a matter of fact I would consider joining AAP but the skeptic in me wants to know the answer to following questions-

1-      The economics about Subsidies- With the subsidies around water and power in Delhi, what is the take on subsidies. How do they intend to finance these freebies AAP is doling out? Is this going to lead to higher direct/indirect taxation?

2-      The Take on Rural Upliftment- What is AAP’s take on the development on Rural areas and upliftment of agriculture.

3-      Take of AAP on terror and the war on terror-  With Arvind Kejriwal’s comment on the Yasin Bhatkal and Batla house issue, I find it really disturbing that AAP’s view is soft on terror. If we really look on of the most serious external threat India faces is terrorism and AAP has displayed a very antagonistic view on the war of terror.

4-      Hypocritical claims on some of the statements made- There have been some instances where they have made claims (like not accepting an official residence) and then went back and forth on it. There have been instances where they have went dilly dallied on the charges of corruption by the previous government. I feel that they should really think through before making large claims and public announcement.

5-      Black Money/Foreign Policy- While AAP has a very clear and distinctive stand on corruption, they don’t have a stand on foreign policy and if they have a plan to declare and attempt return of the black money stashed in Tax Havens.

While the above questions I feel the Aam Aadmi Party needs to answer and bring forward to people in general. While there are things which strongly makes me believe in the Aam Aadmi Party, in my heart I wish this kind of politics becomes extremely successful. These are the few things which I really appreciate with AAP-

1-      The transparency in Political Funding- The most prominent thing which Aam Aadmi Party has brought into the politics is the transparent political funding. They have time and again proved that they have been excruciatingly transparent as far as their political donations and funding are concerned. This kind of transparency is unparalleled in the Indian politics. Kudos to them for establishing the gold standard in transparency in political funding.

2-      War Against Corruption- One of the greatest thing about AAP is they don’t come with the baggage of history and since their inception their stand against corruption is exceptionally clear and transparent. With most of the political parties having history with corruption, AAP provides a utopian vision of corruption free India.

3-      The Common Man- AAP has provided a ray of hope to the middle class Indian common man, which was ignored, exploited and suppressed because he didn’t have any option. They proved that a group of people with honest intentions and very little money have a chance in the democratic system in India. The AAP has given the hope that the common man still has a chance in the Indian Democracy.

I hope AAP provides the required chaos in the Indian Democracy. I wish someday I am convinced enough to join these people and become the change I want to be for the nation.

The Newsroom Mafia

Author: Oswald Pereira
Publisher: Grey Oak/ Westland
Price: 245/-
Pages: 266

The Indian fiction is picking up steam with people courting apart from the usual romance, college genres. It was enjoyable to see a book dealing with a new theme woven around the fourth estate. The book is set in the backdrop of Mumbai, plodding the nexus between the underworld, cops and the media.

The author himself plays the protagonist, the chief reporter of a major daily. The story unfolds itself amidst the tense moments where the commissioner of Mumbai police Donald gives him the prior information on the arrest of the local don Narayan Swamy. The idea being when the arrest is carried out the commissioner gets his share of publicity and the newspaper gets the breaking news. The things take a sudden twist when the don manages to trick the police, and the news goes into the print.

With such an unprecedented event, the story proceeds with a thrilling game of cat and mouse between the don and the police with various elements from the media divided on both sides. The story charters the history of the rise of the don, his nexus with the politicians and the significant contribution made by the media in his rise by brokering deals, sharing information and forging public perceptions.

The book is fast paced tale amidst a series of thrilling events from the eyes of world of newspapers. The tale is woven well with a fast pace which would keep the reader on the edge, the book looks like a sure recipe for a bollywood action thriller. The book manages to keep the attention of the reader, while distantly relating events to things which we might have read in the newspapers. There are multiple twists in the tale, in the background of the rags to riches story of the don Narayan Swamy.

The author has done a brilliant job with the characterization of the Don, but to bring in the multiple twists in the story the author has also introduced a significantly large set of characters because of that the characterization and their involvement in the plot becomes a bit complicated

Overall a decent quick read on a new topic with a fresh plot, which manages to capture the imagination of the readers.

Summary: A quick and interesting reads who like the thrillers, especially involving underworld and the workings of the media. A fresh perspective on Journalism and the mirth in its world might interest a casual reader too

Rating: 6.5/10

 

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Book Review: JS & The Times of My Life: A Worm's Eye View of Indian Journalism

Author: Jug Suraiya
Publisher: Tranquebar
Price: 495/-
Pages: 350

Anyone who has grown up in the 80s and 90s is not unfamiliar with the name of Jug Suraiya especially with his columns in The Times of India. His columns like Jugular Vein and Dubyaman have been a part and parcel of like of thousands of people like me who would consume and cherish his humorous writing with utmost delight. When he wrote an autobiography without a doubt it was supposed to raise a lot of curiosity. So I got my hands on the cleverly titled book “JS & The Times of My Life: A Worm’s Eye View of Indian Journalism.” Now where the title seems to be extremely heavy and serious in its tone and length the book is absolutely not. It is a delight for the minds which enjoy a light, riveting yet fun read.

The book starts with Jug as his fans call him narrating his dilemma on choosing a career after passing from the college and how life coincidentally turned him towards journalism. The book draws his times of hard work and struggle during The Junior Statesman (JS) days and how he developed as a writer, columnist. The book traverse through his personal and professional life while narrating the story of the change and evolution of Indian journalism in the backdrop. Jug Sauraiya maintains his usual brand of self deprecating humor and utilizes it fully well to take the readers to the times when the Junior Statesman was still alive; the times when The Times of India was transforming; the times when the journalism and the country itself were going through a metamorphoses. And he does it in brilliant literary style, avoiding exaggeration maintaining the matter of fact version of events but still weaving them as studded amulets in his own tale.

The best part is the narrative by Jug, which is appropriately detailed to give you the view of the Journalism world, his life at the same time brief enough to retain the interest. Over the length of the book the reader becomes a part of Jug’s life and celebrates small moments which were important and saddened by events which left him dry. The book not only brings out the humorous side of Jug Suraiya which the readers of TOI and the JS have known since ages but also the hidden story teller side of him which a lot of people including me were never aware of.

The pace of the books is pretty fast with evenly spluttered with small or large events capturing the imagination of the readers. Mentions and excerpts of his edits from the old days also help creating the nostalgic feeling of the bygone era with the book. The book might be a source of inspiration to a lot of aspiring journalists, editors and authors however it fails to highlight the details of becoming one as author maintains the Journalism happened to him by chance.

Summary: A nice autobiography quite realistic yet entertaining and funny to read. A must read for those who enjoy Jug’s columns in TOI or JS.

Rating:  4 / 5

 

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!

Irony in India and Some Random Thoughts

Ironies of life are funny things, I mean not funny for those who are a part of it and at the time when it is happening but generally it is funny; you got the drift right. Given the state of affairs in our country the quotient of Irony has shot up by unparalleled proportions. If we had an index which would represent the irony (even stupidity for that matter) we would have been amongst the top nations in world following Pakistan, Libya and obviously US of A.

Very frankly we cannot match up to the Ironies in US, I mean how can you ever match up to a country where they are desperately fighting to create more jobs on side while at other side the Jobs have already resigned (cheap pun, I know but I couldn’t help cracking this one 😀 ). Coming back to Sonia Gandhi’s own country, no actually that would be Italy; So coming back to Manmohan Singh’s Own Country err that would be Sonia Gandhi; So coming back to Rahul Gandhi’s own country and that would only be found on television in the silent mode; So coming back to Kapil Sibal’s own country  but then he would be from the land of non-existant $35 Laptops. And this actually went on in my head for like one hour and I couldn’t come to a conclusion. Now you know how difficult it is to write a blogpost in times like these.

I read this joke on the Laugh it Out Blog

Having already downed a few power drinks, she turns around, faces him, looks him straight in the eye and says, ” Listen here good looking, I screw anybody, anytime, anywhere, your place, my place, in the car, front door, back door, on the ground, standing up, sitting down, naked or with clothes on; it doesn’t matter to me. I just love it !”
Eyes now wide with interest, he responds, ” No kidding…………………….. I’m in Congress too. What state are you from?”
And I sadly realize that this is true for our majority party in the government which coincidentally is also called the congress.

I sincerely hope these many days of fast by Anna Hazareji for our country brings a downplay in the role of corruption and one day in my life time I would wake up in a country as envisaged by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, whose poetry I have been reading since I started my school.

WHERE the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

On a very different note I am participating in the Indiblogger, Samsung Mobiler Contest and I need your help to become an official Samsung Mobiler. If you have an indiblogger account or a blog (which is required for an Indiblogger account) please promote my post on Indivine here.

MF Hussain And Freedom of Self Expression

So this renounced artist MF Hussain, who was a citizen of Qatar when he died yesterday. Though my heart prays for his soul to RIP, but I have never been a fan of him or supported him. To set a brief context, he is an Indian who supposedly had to leave India to escape from arrest which was due to some court cases against him. There was a lot of agitation and legal retaliation against him because he painted Hindu goddesses in nude and sexual manner.

This had time and again in our country created debates on freedom of expression. So before I discuss my views on freedom of speech and expression, I would also like to quote where legality stands on this particular issue does. So this is what our constitution says about Freedom of Speech & Expression-

 

(1) All citizens shall have the right—

(a) to freedom of speech and expression;

(b) to assemble peaceably and without arms;

(c) to form associations or unions;

(d) to move freely throughout the territory of India;

(e) to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India; and

(g) to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.

(2) Nothing in sub-clause (a) of clause (1) shall affect the operation of any existing law, or prevent the State from making any law, in so far as such law imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub-clause in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.

So coming back to my point I respect our forefathers to include the freedom of speech and expression in our constitution; but my respect trebles on their foresight when I read the clause 2. Now coming back to case of MF Hussain, I see these areas where I think whatever happened to him weren’t totally unjustified.

 

Firstly if he painted some goddesses in a naked and sexual way his freedom of speech and expression was clearly shaky on the grounds of morality, decency and may be secularity too. When there were cases against him, he left the country, if one is convinced that whatever his expression was it was not indecent, immoral or affected the secularity of the state then he always had the option to fight the legal way out running out of the country is not an answer.

Secondly, he chose Qatar as the place where he would belong after separating from India; did he try and attempt to do an illustration which might have been a bit controversial for the people of Qatar. I am sure that would not be the case but instead he worked on the project under the ruling family glorifying the Arab history. Not that I have a problem with that but then my problem lies with the fact that between India & Qatar there is a drastic change in his idea of creative expression through art.

Now, coming back to a deeper question which a lot of people have been demanding, the creative freedom of expression should not be restricted by the rider in the clause (2) is where I have a huge problem. My entire argument in this regard is based on the premise of non discrimination and equality in the constitution would hold true. So when you waive off the rider for someone like MF Hussain to allow him to paint whatever he wants no matter how offending or immoral or indecent it may be, but he should be allowed to do as it is his form of creative expression. This is where my problem starts, now a good for nothing guy is standing on the corner of the crossroads and making lewd gestures to women passing by. Now he doesn’t say anything nor physically touches them. So technically he is performing an art form which can be a mime (or we can call it something else) which is offending, indecent & immoral to a lot of people (while it might be funny to some idiots standing around) but our constitution would allow it in the absence of the clause (2). I would accept a lot of arguments on this, but I would not accept an argument which is based on the premise that the laws of this Good-For-Nothing-Guy should be different from MF Hussain and I would not accept that Art & Paintings need to be given more rights than Mime (or whatever you want to call those lewd gestures technically).

He no doubt was one of the best painters India ever had but then he was a pathetic movie maker too (If I would have met him I would have asked my money back for GajaGamini).To conclude I would only say, my Hussain saab’s soul rest in peace. I have no issues with him or what he did; he paid a hefty price for it in his life time.It’s not an easy thing to live in self-imposed exile. I am sure the majority of the Indian population is gracious busy enough to forgive and forget him as they would soon forget the likes of A Raja & Kalmadi to elect them back in power then I guess the best painter of India deserved the “Saare Gile Shikwe Maaf” from us.

 

Rantings on Osama and Launch of a Friends Book

So my feed reader, newspaper, televisions, and both real and virtual discussions are all packed with the same event. The untimely death of Osama Bin Laden, untimely as it happened tad too late. So while the whole world is going gaga over it finding conspiracy theories if he is still alive, was he killed after being captured yada yada, I really feel how it makes a difference to my life. Though it does makes me feel like I am in the middle of a Jeffery Archer novel (not that I love being in one) but then the significant events happening over a time difference of 10 years do take the pace and steam out of the story.

However, the events and the way they unfolded were quite ironic, or rather laughable. So if I recount the series of events, there was a covert operation, which involved breaching the air space of an “important” ally and conducting a critical military operation right in the heart of a civilian area. Obviously this was done without informing the “ally” and was ordered by a Nobel Peace Prize winner, who incidentally also interfered in the local leadership of Egypt, bombed Libya, deployed additional troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, way to go for peace.

Coming back to the most wanted terrorist of the world, who was living in a million dollar mansion in one of the posh Abbotabad area at a stone’s throw of the military academy of the “ally”. This shouldn’t come as a surprise that this “ally” is also receiving critical 3 bn USD aid in terms of war planes and other military supplies to strengthen their military and intelligence agencies for war against terror. The minor fact that the mansion where Osama was living since past 5 years, is owned by the agencies funded by the same army and intelligence is not really relevant. I guess its high time Oxford dictionary needs to revamp their definition of peace and ally.

What is really funny is, that the same American government doesn’t wants India to follow their suit and take down people like Dawood Ibrahim and Hafiz Saeed, who are openly living in Pakistan and appear on National television every other day. So to cut a long story short the message is while US can kill terrorists attacking their soil and India should act restraint against their terrorists and their ally. Not to mention our honorable government who is a step ahead of US and is currently singing melancholy of bilateral ties and discussion, I mean can’t you learn from 3 wars and effin 60 years of discussion dance?

Anyways as I said all this doesn’t make a difference to my life, I hope the truth of what happened that night would emerge to the world sooner or later.

One of my co-authors in Urban Shots has come up with his own book titled “The Lotus Queen”. The book is set up in Medieval Rajasthan and is a historical fiction based on the mysterious life of queen Padmini and the rather infamous siege of Chittor. So if the genre is your type do give it a try.

Tweets, Protest and The Book Launch

This space is getting ignored more often then I would have liked to. But in my defense last few days were pretty hectic, there was Cricket World Cup, there was work, and did I mention Cricket World Cup?

Yeah, India won the quarter finals against Australia, semi-finals against Pakistan and finals against Srilanka. As I am reading in the news this win from India has caused a loss of two captain and a foot; apparently the Australian captain Ricky Ponting & Srilankan captain Kumara Sangakara resigned from their captaincy. While the Pakistani Captain Shahid Afridi, lost his foot as reported it was last seen in his mouth during an interview to PTV.

However, this time I was totally involved in the world cup as seen in the picture below, but what stole the piece cake during this cricket watching experience was twitter. You can read how fabulous the experience was from Monika & IHM. I cracked a lot of jokes around the matches

Srilanka says they don’t need a Poonam Pandey to do a full monty, they already have a “Mahela” for that in their team

Srilanka would be playing with one less player, Ashish Nehra dropped due to fractured finger

However, the highlight of the tweeting was my open tweet to Mr. Raj Thackarey which  was then RTed by Amitabh Bacchan. I believe in my entire span of more 17,000 tweets this was most forwarded and shared tweet and being a fan of AB himself it is good to know he read, agreed and shared something I felt & I wrote.

Coming back to some more serious things in life, I feel India is at crossroads today. It’s a country which is growing at 9% but it is also a country which is one of the most corrupt nations in world. Today, India is on the verge of what seems to be a revolution. Social activist Anna Hazare has started a fast until government includes the civil society members while drafting the Lokpal bill.

I feel strongly against corruption and I have decided to support the revolution. My reasons for supporting the revolution are-

  • Supposedly the government led by all Congress, BJP and the Third Front have not been able to pass the weak Lokpal Bill in 42 years. I don’t trust any of them to do it now.
  • The last year has all been packed with Scams, be it CWG, 2G spectrum, Adarsh Society, Mining in Bellary and obviously nothing has been done.
  • The current government actually thought Sharad Pawar deserved a seat in the GOM for drafting the Lokpal bill.
  • I don’t agree that an institution like Lokpal would not have power to register FIR or prosecute.
  • I also don’t agree the provision of severe punishments via Lokpal to the people making “frivolous” complaints while the people complained about cannot be punished. This seems like a perfect vendetta forum for anyone voicing against corruption.
  • Leaving the bureaucracy out of the purview of the Lokpal is again something I don’t think would combat the corruption. The corruption starts at the root level and goes top up via the bureaucrats.

So I plan to support him in whatever little ways I can, may be fasting on the weekend or joining the candle vigils or wearing the white strip. So if you feel convinced by what I said then please join me to support the JanLokpal bill and Anna Hazare. If you need more information please visit India Against Corruption Website to make your call.

On a completely different note, I would be in some esteemed company for my book launch in Bangalore; Ahmed who has been a great supporter and motivation would be there. Abhijit Bhaduri, the famous author of “Mediocre But Arrogant” and “Married But Available”, who I have admired and followed closely through all these years. Nikhil Rajagopalan, who is a fellow blogger and a budding author also featuring with me in “Down The Road”.

So if you are in Bangalore on 16th April, please make sure you reserve your time for “Down The Road” book launch at Crosswords, Garuda Mall. Please read the official declaration of the event here.

Down The Road Launch Invite


 

Down the Road is now available on Flipkart, IndiaPlaza, Landmark, Crosswords please book your copy now.

 

 

 

Down The Road

When I first heard these words, the immediate response in my mind was a Bryan Adam’s song “Heaven” which has a line  “Now nothin’ can take you away from me, We’ve been down that road before, But that’s over now,  You keep me comin’ back for more”. If you haven’t heard the song you can hear it here, it is one of my personal favorites.

I believe that everyone has been “Down the Road” before whose memories can’t be taken, which keeps you coming back for more, no matter how further you move on in life there is always good time to relax and go “Down the Road” across the memory lanes. Surprisingly these roads for the most of us exists in our childhood and youth, in our schools and colleges, in the canteen and lecture halls.

So this time to take you to a series of small trips of these Roads there are 16 Authors and 28 tales woven carefully in the schools and colleges, amidst friends and crushes, revolving around “The Road” you might have been before but then it’s over now and you keep coming back for more; my publishers have come up with another anthology of short stories titled “Down The Road”.  The book would be launched soon pan India and yes this one also has a story written by me.

Down The Road

Down The Road

So folks what do you think about going “Down The Road”?