Sunday, February 28, 2010

Partisan Media

There is nothing more sacrosanct in a democratic process than the right to dissent and disagree. Walkout by the entire opposition is a matter of grave concern, nearly half of the MP’s in the Lok Sabha do not agree with the proposed policy of the Government. Why is the media projecting the trivial at the cost of substance?

Inexplicable, incessant natter in the electronic medium since last afternoon, followed by the print media this morning. Indian Express has gone to the extent of terming the walkout by the opposition parties as “Unparliamentary!”

Why is the media insisting that the authority of the Government should be unquestioningly accepted by the opposition parties? Is it not true that we need to be ceaselessly curious, raise rational inquiries and questions? As the situation evolve.

Would it not be in the interest of the Aam Aadmi if this increase in petrol and diesel prices is withdrawn? There is reason for optimism since the constituents of the UPA have also made the same demand, the media would have got a bloodied nose should this happen.

Agreed union budget is an occasion of great ceremony. No walkout! Where is it ordained? If Mr. Arun Jaitely is to be believed Congress party performed the very same act in the Gujarat Assembly while the budget speech was being delivered. Why has the media been silent on that count?

“On Friday, the opposition undermined Parliament by choosing to walkout almost to the last MP.” Press cannot dictate how the political parties must conduct their affairs in the Parliament. Would the Editor much rather have the din and the ruckus inside the Parliament, thereby hindering the speech and presentation of the union budget. How has opposition undermined the Parliament? The debate is yet to commence.

Have we not seen every year, all and sundry issue their customary statement as they come out of the Parliament on conclusion of the budget speech, it would be incorrect to assume that the full text of Budget would have been made available to them and they would also perused the same before exiting the Parliament.

“We had the oddest sight of Lok Sabha MPs feeding the waiting camera crews outside with denunciations of the proposal without obtaining the full text of the Budget.” The layman would view this with sufficient and more suspicion that the Editor is attempting to denigrate the opposition parties on frivolous grounds.

Mr Shekar Gupta goes on to level further allegations.

“It marks the flight of responsible engagement from the House.”
“It is not just that a show of opposition unity by walkout displays a lack of imagination and stamina to use the instruments of legislature to hold a government to account.”
“The walkout was another step in the gradual erosion of the House as a site for meaningful and responsive engagement.”

Was Mr. Gupta not in the country when just a day before there was a debate in both houses on the price rise issue? Was the media not questioning the opposition and accusing it of stalling the Parliament by insisting the debate be held under specific rule(s) which entailed mandatory voting. The Government did not accede to that demand, the opposition agreed to hold the debate as per the wishes of the Government.

Why is the Media deliberately attempting to portray the opposition in the negative? Media must discharge it responsibilities in an apolitical, impartial, and visibly unbiased manner.

“It is also that it confirms a suspicion that MPs see the legislature as little more than a site to numerically test a government’s majority.”

This is the hard reality, politics today has been reduced to a game of numbers and the media is an important tool employed by the parties to achieve this end.

There is another serious issue that needs to be spoken about. Is the opposition equivalent of a second class citizenship? If not then why is no respect for these parties forth coming from the media? Why is the media attempting to convert a healthy vibrant democracy into an authoritarian rule by a single party?

Often I am questioned by my son, why do we hold the police and the paramilitary forces accountable for Human Right Violations? Not the criminals and terrorists. My refrain to him has been constant, that those entrusted with upholding and enforcing the law are answerable for any excesses committed. Naturally he is bewildered as to why the media is then focusing on the opposition? Instead of the failings of government! When the responsibility of governance is squarely with it?

What we have been witnessing for over the past 6 years or so is, the Media has been busy reinventing the wheel.

They do not want to question the actions of the Government instead they question the democratic rights of the parties in opposition. The acts of omission and commission by the government are being glossed over, while highlighting the most inconsequential utterance, act or an event of the opposition parties.

The Editors of the media across the board are biased and are trying their best to foist undeserving, ill equipped, least qualified individuals for the top job of the country.

The question that these editors need to answer to themselves, as they would never respond to the public in this regards is. Are all of them holding their positions on account of their Talent? Experience? Qualifications? In a nutshell Merit? Compassion? Patronage? Or, as an Inheritance?

I am positive they will all take a very serious offence to any suggestion other than Merit. All these worthies would proudly display their detailed resumes, achievements and awards. Then why is it that they fail to apply the same exacting standards, to the aspirants for the top job of India.

Why are they deliberately exerting undue pressure on us to influence our minds, why do they want to dull our senses and ability to seek answers from those who aspire for the highest office in India! What is that makes all of them deaf, mute and blind? Is it the constant whirring of adding machines, clinking of the silver pieces or the glint of Gold or is it the glare of the Son/Sun?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

“Chhodo kal ki baatein Part 2

The discourse in the media for past few days in particular is disturbing and distressing. There are sections of the media, who are willingly and pointedly attempting to provoke a sharp response from a political party, which has not obliged the provocateur. However it has indeed incensed the common man who is voicing his concern at what these individuals and houses are indulging in. Unity of this country is at stake, public tranquility is at stake, these self appointed caretakers in the garb of secularism are practicing the opposite.

Last 62 years of Indian history have been turbulent internally at times violent. Leading to mass murders! 1984 was an unprovoked attack on innocent Indians for the act of 2 individuals the entire community was made the target. 26 years on justice still eludes the victims. 2002 is yet another reprehensible incident in the history of India. These should never have happened. Were the administrations of the day complicit?

There are many more, yet these two suffice to highlight the present day discourse, not just between political parties/formations, the media, and the general public at large.

If we are to believe a section media then it is only 2002. 1984 did not happen.

The purpose of writing today is larger. It is not to discuss the above two incidents as they have been discussed adnauseam. As the literacy grows in India, the reach and impact of the media increases manifolds, the message is carried directly to homes in rural India. There is a growing need and demand for an impartial, unbiased and apolitical mainstream media. This demand is coming from the ordinary citizen of this country whose sensibilities are being exposed to violence 24 X 7. This verbal violence is affecting the future generation much more than the older. We see how the trivial trumps the important, the breaking news and the exclusive news culture, how journalists masquerade their political biases as profound analysis, years of hard study, yet without any supporting indices. How sensation is packaged as substantive news. Government has the opposition and the media to keep it in check. Who is going to regulate the media which shapes opinions but has now acquired the taste of money and gone berserk? To say the least.

Is there a cure for the hubris and the avarice among the editors of top media houses in the country? Like the politicians and the babus, the journalists are now burdened with the credibility crisis. This is a very serious issue, the impact is long term, and neither can the gravity be underestimated.

We are fortunate, that we have WWW which is an empowering and an extremely enabling tool, were it not for this, our opinions and views would be perpetual hostages to the neo mullahs and pundits of the print and electronic media.

This piece is focused on Mr.Vinod Sharma of Hindustan Times, whose preoccupation with BJP seems more as an obsession. His latest Blog “Gamesmanship Season” of 22nd Feb 2010 needs to be commented on. The following comments were posted which for reasons best know to the gentleman in question were found unsuitable for publication. Freedom of speech and expression cannot be selectively implemented. Mr.Vinod Sharma may believe that his vocation has bestowed him with a divine carte blanch to lampoon and ridicule the BJP sans restraint. He is a journalist, and not an evangelist.

Mr. Vinod Sharma,

Movies in this country are being released at gun point. Hockey world cup is a matter of national pride. The larger issue is our failure to protect our country and hence we witness what is on display.

Your angst towards IPL is unfathomable, why must business decisions be subjected to media, political or foreign country diktats? Pakistan has sent its national hockey team, which only that country could have selected to represent Pakistan, there is no parallel. Why do you lament the cricketers from Pakistan not being included in IPL? Anyhow these players would not have represented Pakistan, just like the 10 member team that visited us on 26/11, with their own brand of cricket, they were Non state actors and similarly in IPL all these are Non state actors. So why not take a chill pill. Difficult since “Modi” is the common thread, which excites all in your fraternity so what if it is Lalit and not Narendra.

Terrorists we understand. Who are their sponsors? You would need to elaborate, the intent and design we all know. True we face the terrorist threat from without, we debate how to handle the Maoist insurrection within. The enemy can be fought without moral qualms, not very sure that there is any morality on view, not our own people attempting an armed revolution in the land of Gandhi. I do hope you are referring to the Mahatma, yes his land has been defiled by many in the position of power, yet you will want to be singularly focused on 1 set and ignore the actions of the others.

The lament and depiction of our democracy as partisan debate on key national issues, is ducking the responsibility that you and your mates must share in a much larger quantity. The biased and motivated reporting that is indulged in by all of you is the reason for this partisan debate.

The Gandhari syndrome seems to have afflicted some of you rather grievously. The future generation of this country may end up being absolutely intolerant, because our media is not willing to perform its duty in an impartial manner. The onus of national unity is on each and every individual of this country and that includes the journalists also. It is high time you swallowed your own medicine to cure yourself first.
Why not start singing. “Chhodo kal ki baatein Vinod Sharma, kal ki baat puraani Naye daur mein likhenge milkar nayi kahaani Hum hindustani, hum Hindustani”

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Chhodo kal ki baatein, kal ki baat puraani

Chhodo kal ki baatein, kal ki baat puraani …………. So goes the song, this is what the BJP should be singing instead of Zindagi ...kaisi hai paheli, haaye. Kabhi to hansaaye kabhi ye rulaaye. Zindagi. ...” there is merit in both the songs.

We are treated to long debates, post mortems of results of national and state elections. Experts from the media, society and party spoke persons feed us with their considered opinions. We buy into them and go to sleep until next round of electioneering. In all these years never has the role of the media been scrutinized in detail, is it politically incorrect to inspect the role of the media, or is it a mine field, which deters these so called experts from delving into its role, a potent tool, when employed strategically can inflict immense damage on the opposition. Has our media been reporting factually, without bias for one or the other protagonist? Editorial are exempted from scrutiny as that forum is the personal domain of the Editor.

Unfortunately the answer is in the negative, the perception with us is that there is biased reporting in favor of one to the detriment of the other. The narration below is case study, how our media has reacted!

As an ordinary Indian whose primary source of information is the Electronic and the Print media in the country, which form the basis of a considered decision to support or oppose a political party or a combination, is severely affected due to motivated reportage.

The idea mooted by Mr. Nitin Gadkari in his maiden address at the ongoing conclave of the BJP in Indore to resolve an intractable issue between the two communities, has merit and deserves to be explored. Inherent qualities that this suggestion has, it speaks of reciprocity, it removes the idiom of them and us, stresses on Indians as a whole, mutual accommodation by both sides. The most important factor, possible removal of adjudication by a third party, which would lead to a triumphal discourse and pronouncements, by one or the other depending in whose favour the order is passed.

What transpired post this speech is something that every right thinking Indian would not just be concerned, rather dismayed by the presentation of this speech in the Print and Electronic media. Times of India and Hindustan Times ran the headlines as “Gadkari appeals Muslims to give up their Ayodhya claim” this was a conscious willful misrepresentation of the suggestion. Outlook 18th Feb 2010 also carried the story the headline was not similar though the opening lines had the same message. “Bringing to the fore yet again the party's pet issue, new BJP President Nitin Gadkari today said Ram temple in Ayodhya is its soul and appealed to the Muslims to adopt a "generous" attitude by giving up their claim on the disputed site.”
Indian express of the 19th Feb 2010 also carried the story this is what the article stated ““If I don’t mention it, I will be accused of reneging on the party’s core issues. The matter is sub judice, so I would not like to say much. But the ongoing research shows that there existed a Ram temple at the Ayodhya site. Ram is a symbol of our cultural nationalism, as also our heritage. I appeal to my Muslim brethren to give us the small stretch of land there so as to enable us to build a Ram temple. This would mark a new chapter (in Hindu-Muslim amity). We would help our brethren from the Muslim community to build a grand mosque at some other place,” said Gadkari to a thunderous applause from the 4,000-odd delegates attending the two-day national council here.”
The publications which have misrepresented this issue must explain their rationale to the people for this very obvious attempt at fermenting public disturbance. Do these publications not have the responsibility of reporting precisely and factually, what the president of a major national political party is saying? Are these publications a law unto themselves?

Indian Express stands out among the print media for staying with factual reporting which enhance their credibility with the public. I wish to convey my congratulations to this Newspaper for adhering to professional ethics that are absolutely important. Editorials are there for the print media to convey their views and mould public opinion and exercise their influence on the readers.

The electronic media component and it reactions to this suggestion CNNIBN on the 18th Feb 2010 posed the question “Does the BJP have a future?” A national party with 116 MPs in the Lok Sabha with Governments in 6 states by this party! Does it deserve this line of thought, moreover this is not the first instance that this Media House has indulged in this exercise. This makes one acutely aware that there is a definite undercurrent to somehow malign this party, constantly challenge it by broadcasting provocative programs. The overt attempt at influencing the young impressionable minds who accept at face value what the electronic media presents. The statements of guests on this show made it all the more disturbing, who were again harping on past incidents. Gujarat was there prior to 2002, is still there in 2010 and shall be there much after these two guests and many others among us have taken leave from this earth. History of Gujarat or BJP did not freeze in 2002. Just as it did not freeze, for Congress or Delhi in 1984 Sikh killings! Mr. Vinod Sharma commented on the choice of song “Zindagi ...kaisi hai paheli, haaye. Kabhi to hansaaye kabhi ye rulaaye. Zindagi. ... “sung by Mr. Gadkari and sang a few line of “Chhodo kal ki baatein, kal ki baat puraani Naye daur mein likhenge milkar nayi kahaani Hum hindustani, hum Hindustani” which in his opinion would have been more appropriate for Mr.Gadkari to sing. The question is why does Mr. Vinod Sharma not sing this very song his own self, instead of displaying pathological hatred towards BJP. Guess easier to sermonize that to practice. Critics are not necessarily the best friends, especially when they come with your mindset.

Mr. Vinod Sharma says BJP must change since the country needs a strong opposition. Surely Mr. Sharma is aware, those who sit on the opposition benches today have an equal right to be seated on the treasury benches, should the public deliver its mandate in their favor. This line of thought betrays a clear bias toward the BJP unhealthy for our democracy.Another argument forwarded by Mr. Sharma was on account of Dynastic Politics, his attempt at equating RSS to Nehru Gandhi clan is bizarre and hilarious, such a senior journalist has wantonly overlooked logic and is indulging in forwarding specious argument on behalf of a political party. Those who are in the media would have to discharge their duties with lot more care, in an absolutely neutral manner, than was visible, lesser said about the other guest from The Hindu on this show the better.

Why does CNN IBN not report on the developmental work undertaken by the state governments of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and other states, where BJP has formed the government on their own or in alliance with other parties, is it because they have been commissioned for negative reporting on BJP.

Timesnow went into its usual hyper drive questioning the rationale of reviving the Hindutva agenda by BJP. Since when have the media house been empowered for the policies and ideologies of the political parties. Mr. Farooqui was unwilling to listen, was shrill when he spoke the arguments were equally juvenile to say the least. He is entitled to his views no one can fault him for that. One only wishes that the new suggestion on the table be considered before being dismissed.

It was a very pleasant surprise, that Dr. Chandan Mitra and Mr. Ravi Shanker Prasad besides being precise were at their combative best, people have been waiting for this avatar of a spokesperson from BJP, for once they scored heavily with the public and why not BJP deserves to be congratulated for this suggestion. The seeds have been sown! Await the germination to happen, who knows a new dawn could be on the horizon for this party and the country.

NDTV since I do not watch the channel on regular basis I am unaware if they have run any special show, going by the standard set by Indian Express it would be safe to conclude that this channel also should be following a somber line on this issue. The studied silence by NDTV could also be construed, not enough negativity on the plate from BJP to be played up so ignore the event, with minor comments, will have a similar impact.

A conclusion without the reaction of the congress would amount to a half baked dish. Mr. Tiwari has nothing other than a singular tune that he sings moment BJP, Modi or Gujarat is mentioned. Absolutely 2002 he is another individual who is stuck in a time warp.

This suggestion requires the support of the people of this country from both the faiths, not to discuss the genesis or the past events. We need to explore how to move forward and convert this into a reality. This is only possible if we leave behind the hardliners and the self appointed caretakers and spokes people from both sides.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"A Family Enterprise"

This is in response to the piece written by Ms.Sagarika Ghose is Senior Editor, CNN-IBN in the Hindustan Times of 09th Feb 2010A family enterprise 

This blog also appears as "The Dhritarashtra syndrome on

Grudgingly one would have to agree with the author of this piece.

The question that we are asking is where is Sanjay the charioteer? Dhritarashtra, his compulsions, and role we understand! Is Media the modern day Gandhari? No it should be Sanjay! Silence of Sanjay is baffling, his active support to Dhritarashtras of today is bewildering.

Dhritarashtra is an apt standard for comparing most political outfits. The author has not alluded to the role of the media, which is a more than a willing partner in the disrobing of Draupadi (Indian Democracy). The moral duty of the media is not to promote the undeserving, yet all these worthies are prostrating at the feet of these very GenNext of the Political parties in India. Who affixes label of Scion, Prince and many others to these sons and daughters of the political patriarchs not the public? It is the Media. Who has killed the meritocracy in this country? Not the public, it is the media.

Has any one in the Media ever publish the Resume of these colts and mavericks who are paraded as the GenNext of Indian Politics, who will take this country forward on a trajectory that would make us a truly global player. Why does the media? Not highlight the public service done by these Icons before they assume party positions. The media has failed, is failing on a regular basis to discharge it duty of a watchdog, and the fourth pillar of our democracy. The new kids on the block would be easily judged by the public for their services or lack of it prior to being anointed heir apparent to their respective political fiefdoms and thrones.

If our political collage is feudal it is because, while the political class wanted to perpetuate it, the media has propagated it willingly. The non stop fawning over certain individual is as repugnant as is pathological hatred for others. That we witness on a daily basis in the Print and Electronic Medium.

The larger than life personalities are a creation of the Media. The Demi God Status is bestowed on the undeserving and unworthy by the media, as a constant barrage that is unleashed by the Media, that influences the young minds in this country who are yet to come to terms with the harsh realities of the world, the uneducated get swayed by this 24X7X365 Swan song played by this media.

A great disservice is being done to this country. The Dhritarashtras will sustain, disrobing of Draupadi will continue, as long as we have the willing partners for this in Print and Electronic Media in India.

I welcome a debate and discussion on this…As always, please keep your tone civil, your language polite…no sweeping generalisations please and no personal abuse.  Thank you.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

More Adventurism By Mr.Shekhar Gupta of Indian Express



This is a rejoinder to Mr. Shekhar Gupta of Indian Express for his editorial dated 22nd Jan 2010. "More Adventurism". The arrogance of the journalists in India both from the Print and Electronic is unacceptable to us. These Comments were forwarded on the IE website unfortunately they were not published in full.  

The frenzy, anti India hysteria in Pakistan and the vocabulary employed by Rehman Malik seems to have sent our journalists into a tizzy Mr.Shekhar Gupta seems to have been affected the most by this, he has not just lost his nerve but also his marbles.

It is most inconsequential to me personally who among the Gold Diggers gets the opportunity and who is denied. The purse strings are in private hands, the final call is theirs to make. Sermons, ethic or business prudence they do not need to learn from our Print and Electronic Media. This was no National Team of another sovereign Nation.

Mr.Modi and his cohorts are not mandated to conduct the foreign relations of this country. Incase Mr.Shekhar Gupta detects arrogance on part of Mr.Modi and the IPL that is a matter of his perception, what reservoir are you referring to Mr.Gupta is it the one that was filled to the brim by those 10 apostles of peace and friendship who set sail from the shores of Pakistan and landed in Mumbai on 26th Nov 2008. Who held not just Mumbai but the entire country hostage for 72hours. The message of peace and friendship conveyed by them may be palatable to you. Unfortunately vast majority of Indians will not concur. The reservoir was completed drained out and sealed in those 3days.

Mr. Rehman Malik’s language may sound civil to you! The language is of a street side bully. Please spare us the bleeding heart. This relationship is yet to witness a sunrise, the dark days have been a constant factor.

You sir do not seem to have overcome your anger, IPL went to South Africa because the Home Minister of India expressed his inability to guarantee safety of the players and the Indians involved with the event. The loss of face was caused by the GOI and not IPL, besides please be reminded that these Players and their Government whose cause you have taken up did not participate in that edition, was that not a snub to India, on the instructions of their government, did that action add or deplete the reservoir of milk and honey that you seem to be so fond off.

Well this world is replete with inequalities, look at yourself you are at liberty to write about anyone in what ever manner, and you do get away with it, and also manage to influence others to the detriment of those whom you choose to berate.

The comatose state of the Government of India is what is responsible for all the frenzy and anti India hysteria that we are witnessing in Pakistan. IPL and the team owners will bear the consequences regardless of the threats that you, the Government of India or the Government of Pakistan may hold out. This was a pure business decision taken by them, your attempt to add a spin to it is deplorable.

Where is the damage that you can detect to this country or cricket in this country, please speak for yourself, and not on behalf of all the Indians and the country, yes you can speak on behalf of the government since you are one of the mouth pieces that is often employed by this Government in India.

Is Pakistan not known for employing blackmail, whose loss is it if the IPL matches are not televised in Pakistan? Not mine at least.

Why lament the lack of visit from the Parliamentarians of Pakistan? What would they have achieved, that was not achieved earlier. What we must guard against is the repeat visit of Non State actors from Pakistan who might come calling with their own brand of friendship and cricket.

The affects of the 10 messiah of friendship who visited us from Pakistan are still very fresh, rather they seems to have been frozen in our memory and may take much longer to recede, Surveying the damage inflicted on India-Pakistan relations by the Indian Premier League in contrast to the events of 26th Nov 2008, the attitude, and actions of our friends from across the border, would lead everyone to conclude are next to nothing, provided we do not follow your warped reasoning and hold a brief for the Government of India.