Saturday, August 7, 2010

"Silencing of the Lambs”

This is in response to "No spark to light our anger" By Namita Bhandare in Hindustan Times dated 06th Aug.

I just adore these sanctimonious jewels of journalism from over modern day journalists, gloss over the rot in your own house, question the actions of others, and relieve yourself of guilt temporarily. Where are the journalist with integrity and ethics? Media has morphed into PR firms. Media which is a medium of conveying the public concerns to the powers that be, is a one way street these days, these are the mouth pieces of the establishment deployed to silence the detractor and dissenter.

At what point in our collective history did we lose our capacity for outrage?” The response would have to be it still exists. Moot point is this collective outrage has no visible platform from which it can be expressed; the ostensible fourth pillar of Indian democracy is in tatters, it is corroded to an extreme level, has degenerated into crony journalism.

Post independence this country has witnessed mass protests leading to change of Government twice, first instance was 1977, that is in the aftermath of internal emergency imposed by Mrs. Indira Gandhi 1975-1977, where we had unequivocally placed our enduring faith in democracy. Print media, intrepid journalists and journalism is what engendered, directed the collective outrage of the middle class, we had still not abandoned the pre-independence values completely. This was achieved without a strong opposition in the parliament; Congress had 352 MPs in the 5th Lok Sabha (1971).

Second instance of collective outrage was witnessed in 1989 in the aftermath of the Bofors Scandal. Congress was reduced to 197 from 400 which it commanded in 1984-1985. 1984 witnessed four major events, which have left an indelible mark on our psyche. Operation Blue Star, Assassination of Mrs. Indira Gandhi, unprovoked killing of innocent Indians (Sikhs) on the streets of Delhi and other parts of India, and Bhopal Gas Tragedy. The last 2 events in particular have not seen a closure till date, these wounds are festering.

The political discourse underwent a major change in 1989. The number of political parties increased, politics become more competitive, campaigning more shrill, divisions in the society more acute and irreversible. All this was at the cost of the national integrity; middle class watched this in complete disgust as a mute spectator. Various tools were employed by the political parties to best their opponents. Important issues were ignored, caste, creed, region, religion became the basis to seek and obtaining votes. 1991 was another watershed year, India opened it economy to the world, the euphoria of globalization and the opium of GDP growth became the buzz word, along with this came the era of coalition governments.

Media houses proliferated like the mom and dad stores. Ethics, accountability and all those factors that go into making of a responsible publication or a broadcaster became the first casualty. In their bid to stay ahead and generate profits for the promoters and share holders, newscasters became editors in most of the nascent electronic media. News was soon replaced by opinionated broadcast though the nomenclature was maintained; difference was perceptible to a discerning viewer. Somehow along the way even the nicety of maintaining the fa├žade of neutrality was discarded and a convenient view of the events became the norm for the news 24 X 7.

The talks show became popular, Indians grew addicted to these and surfed the channels to watch the discussions, with the passage of time the novelty worn off, and it became apparent the profound views expressed by the participants more often than not supported the establishment or a particular political party. The in studio audiences were suitably manipulated to achieve the required results. When a discussion on an event which had occurred 25years. The studio audience selected, were aged no more than 30 to 35 years. Those who have no first hand experience of the event could hardly be expected to raise questions which would be uncomfortable for the perpetrators of the event long ago. It was but natural that this audience would raise issue to which they could relate, and this led to digression much to the delight of the party who was let off the hook. Guests with a contrary view point are routinely interrupted and not permitted to complete their point or rebuttal. Corruption flourished since the item on top of the list for promoting the political outfit that had contracted them.

Print media could not be left out of the loop, a similar pattern emerged, with the advent of WWW most publications went online, this provided the middle class an opportunity to vent their feelings and comment on each and every issue. However here again Freedom of Speech and Expression that is guaranteed to us by our constitution is not without fetters. All newspaper without an exception indulge in censorship, either they do not publish comment which violate their line of thought and leaning, or edit the comments suitably. Pasted below is a shining example of what is the current state of affairs with our media houses.

“Court to hear CBI's plea for Amit Shah's custody today - Hindustan Times 3 days ago
Nishit that is not correct my friend Islam does not mean terrorism. Listen yes people are indulging in terrorism in the name of Islam, this no one can deny. Do not paint all Indians who follow Islam as supporters of terror.

No I am not a Muslim I am a Hindu before that an Indian and more importantly I am a human being. I do not like what has been going on in the Media since 2002 I have often asked these questions, yet no one has been able to give the answers every one just runs away.

I will post those question, these are not for you to answer, but you can ask them every time some one raises a finger towards Mr. Modi.

What are the allegations against the Chief Minister of Gujarat?

Did he actively participate in the riots?

Did he instigate the riots?

Did he plan the riots?

Is dereliction of duty the allegation against him?

Who has the evidence?

Does the media, Congress and this section of the society; have the evidence? If yes then why is it not in public domain?

Hope some day some one will give us the answers to these questions. Until then keep asking.
This comment is awaiting approval”

Comment with much venom and vitriolic have been published on this topic, yet the publication for the last three days has not been able to make up its mind if the above comments should be published or not. What is the issue? On the basis of which these comments have not been published has still not been communicated to me.
The Political Editor of this publication does not pass a single opportunity to lampoon a particular political party, regardless of the topic of discussion, this individual cannot seem to rest unless and until he has not had a go at his favorite target. The media needs to seriously introspect and come up with answers to arrest the downward spiral that it is in. Cynicism is fast taking hold of most Indians; we have little or no faith in the electronic and print media. We read the news published backwards, listen to the broadcast with little or no attention.

Listen to your political paymasters but not with both your ears, place one ear to the ground and you shall hear the rumbling that is gathering momentum.

Latest update as on 06th Mar 2014

No channel has ever shown this video about 2002 riots. Instead have made false allegations. 

Latest update as on 02nd Jun 2013


One of the biggest disservices done by the self appointed guardians of Muslim community is that they exaggerated, overstated and distorted the events of 2002 beyond recognition solely with a view to serving partisan interests of the Congress party. Their aim has never been to ensure punishment of those guilty of murders and mayhem during the 2002 riots. Their single minded focus has been on targeting Narendra Modi. In the process, they have actually weakened their case by introducing endless lies to their narrative to project Modi as the man who personally ordered and directed mob violence against Muslims.

Just as during the festival of Holi, people take a lot of liberties with each other saying “Bura na maano, Holi hai” (please don’t mind, this is Holi), so also the new mantra of the Congress party is to respond to charges of heinous corruption, murders, mayhem, rapes and instigating riots is: “Bura na mano, we are Secular”.  However, the pranks people play on Holi are relatively innocent and the play is with colours. But the Congress is playing a very divisive and bloody game which has life and death consequences for India and its people

Latest update as on 09th April 2013

Today Modi has an active team of highly respected Muslims such as Asifa Khan, A.I. Syed, Mehboob sahib and many other credible persons.  The enlightened Muslims are with the BJP.  The Congress on the other hand prefers to have Muslims who are willing to be rubberstamps. Asifa, Syed sahib and others worked very hard during the election campaign. But they would not have been successful without BJP as a whole embracing Muslims and being proactive in garnering the support of Muslims. All those, who say that he is dictatorial and authoritarian are simply off the mark. No one who has engaged with him will say that.

Latest update as on 03rd April 2013

Those who hold this view need to hear Asifa Khan of Bharuch who joined the BJP  a few weeks before the 2012 election after spending 4 years as the Congress spokesperson in Gujarat. Asifa is a highly respected public figure and  her  joining the BJP created a real stir. She is respected not just by fellow Muslims but also enjoys high level of prestige among the Hindus. ( The full text of interview with Asifa will be posted soon).

Latest update as on 31st March 2013

Three articles are uploaded with the explicit consent of original author Mrs.Mahdu Kishwar 
When some pockets of Gujarat were convulsed by violent riots in February 2002, I too accepted the version presented by the national media as well as our activist friends and assumed that Modi was complicit in the Gujarat riots of 2002. Therefore, I too signed statements against Modi, published articles sent to Manushi indicting Gujarat government. We also raised funds for riot victims. However, I refrained from writing anything under my name because I did not get the time to visit Gujarat and experience and assess the situation first hand. My earlier experience of covering various riots as well as conflict situations in Kashmir and Punjab had taught me that media reports cannot be trusted enough to take a definitive stand on such issues since they are often coloured by the ideological prism used by the writer.  Therefore, I refrained from making statements on Gujarat.

58 train passengers, including women and little children, were charred to death on 27th February 2002 when their compartments were set on fire just as the train moved out of Godhra railway station.
The first incidents of retaliatory mob violence were reported on February 28. They continued in full intensity on 1st and 2nd March. By 3rd March situation was under control. After that small incidents were engineered in a few pockets but they were put down firmly.
I will deal with the how and why of those incidents in another article. For the moment, I am presenting a very brief overview of the actions taken by Narendra Modi to control the riots.

If you take the latest figures, the economic position Muslims have now, they never had that before. It is much better than ever before.  Here are some revealing indicators.
Zakat is the easiest indicator to judge a Muslim’s wealth profile because you pay zakat on your wealth. zakat is what you pay to the needy. It is essentially used for helping meet some poor man’s basic needs. Suppose this year I paid Rs 2500 zakat, you can immediately extrapolate that I am worth Rs 100,000. Next year if I pay Rs 5000 zakat, it means my wealth has increased from one lakh to two lakhs. Zakat has been continuously increasing in Gujarat year after year. In fact, you will find that 50% of the zakat of madarasas across the country comes from Gujarat and 50% from the rest of India. If Modi had destroyed Muslims, their share of zakat should have fallen. But in the last 10 years, the wealth of Muslims has increased.