October 24, 2013

The threat to Arvind Kejriwal and what to expect

The news that there could be a threat to Arvind Kejriwal's life was least surprising for me. There would be many willing to bump him off for a couple of lakhs. Also, let's not forget that politicians are also related to mafia and goons- could be supported by Congress, BJP, RSS.

I think the threat is serious, and I have tweeted a number of times to Kejriwal, and in general, that he must consider taking security - if not police, then let an army of well-trained volunteers or ex-army volunteers help in this. Kejriwal has denied police security and has argued that it is against the party's ideology to do so - broadly, he questioned - why must he take security when the people of the country have no security? This is a very noble and idealistic stand to take. I have often seen pictures of  Bal Thackerey and Narendra Modi travelling while black cat commandos hover around them. These black cat commandos may intimidate possible attackers, but what does it do to the distance between an Aam Aadmi and his leader? For once, the leaders must open themselves to the threat, and it is only then that they will know what it is like to live like a common man. This is exactly what Arvind Kejriwal is doing - but who is the threat? Terrorists? Yes! Political terrorists, who will use arm twisting means to shut his mouth. You have heard Salman Khurshid say it...

In someways I am happy that Kejriwal has taken this stand of not taking security, but as a supporter I am also concerned. The politicians want leaders who challenge the corrupt system to be dead, they would have never interfered if Anna was to be dead. And they would only be happy of Kejriwal is dead. One of the solution is what I proposed - having ex-army personnels do the job and take adequate security measures while Kejriwal is at home and while he is travelling.

Now that a possibility of threat is detected, it has to be understood that a threat will be well-planned. And this is the crux of what I anticipate - the attack will be done after enough traction is achieved by the means of propaganda. First the attackers will prepare the ground and label Kejriwal as anti-national, supporter of naxals or maoists or breaking the country etc etc. After a consistent campaign someone may try to attack under this pretext of saving the nation from Kejriwal, the killer may be termed as mentally unstable or may be termed as right-wing extremist and will live in jail with full/luxurious state support.

If an attack on Kejriwal is to happen, I will not trust in notion of India anymore, India for me will be a country of dead people where non-violent protesters are mercilessly beaten, and if their voices get too loud, they are killed. For me, any attack on Kejriwal will be the most cowardice act, and will be the final death nail on Cong-BJP. Lastly, it is up to the people to decide - whether they want to support a man who speaks for them, and also express dissent, or shut up like usual.

July 12, 2013

Why Money Life has lost its follower in me


Recently, Money life posted a news report titled Aam Admi Party look at trade unionism to increase its support base?

To begin with, I notice the question mark hanging at the end of the headline. Adding a question mark is often used as a savior in the field of journalism when enough information about a case is not available. And while the journalist/publication can get away by using a question mark by still reporting about a group or individual, nevertheless, such reporting also has the potential to frame the group or individual written about in a negative way - especially when the group or individual written about is not quoted in the report or does not present his or her side of the story in the news report. I wonder why was Money Life, a magazine which I until now respected for its journalism, was so hurried to publish this story if it had any ‘questions’? And if it did seek clarification on the 'questions' it had.

The news report does not mention if a response was sought, and if it did receive any response from spokesperson of AAP or Arvind Kejriwal or Rahul Bajaj or spokesperson or individuals from the Labor Union and whether there was "acceptance", "denial", "no comments", "unavailability" etc about Kejriwal-Bajaj meeting. But these are just some of the journalistic inaccuracies in the news report - the analytic framework of this report is riddled with naivety.

Few Indian journalists have time to analyse politics and the lack of this clearly shows in this news report.

True, parties like BSP, Shiv-Sena originated from Labor Unions. But this report missed the point that these parties originated by serving the interests of a particular ‘group’. BSP, which was started by Kanshi Ram in 1978, was formed to serve the interests of All India Backward and Minority Community Employees Federation (SC/ST& OBC). Shiv-Sena, on the other hand originated to serve the interests of Maharashtrians, and to stop the growing influence of Gujratis and South Indians in Maharashtra. To add, Sena's protest, on many occasions, was violent in nature. Both BSP and Shiv-Sena (which are used as an example in this article) developed into full-fledged political parties as they gained influence and power over the groups they represented or protested for and eventually they evolved to set agenda for a particular caste, religion, faith. If these political parties represent anything at all today - it's divisive politics.

On the other hand AAP has originated from a collective peaceful and non-violent mass protest of the Jan Lokpal movement - faith, caste, religion or being a member of a particular group was not a variable for this protest. Nor did Jan Lokpal Protest, which is the birth of AAP, served interest of an exclusive group, caste, religion or faith. The Money Life comparison of AAP to Shiv-Sena and BSP itself is a fallacy and reflects poorly on the journalist's capacity to research and analyse political events in India. The 'Unionism' framing is not only faulty, but ridiculous.

Considering the above argument, what I failed to understand is why Money Life considers it as something "news worthy", and if it is why is it presented in a largely negative framing - as if factory workers or trade unions being extended support by AAP is something alarming. Aren't these workers common man? And why shouldn't AAP support them? Some of these trade unions have already participated in the Janlokpal protest individually or collectively. Certainly, Money Life can choose to see a 'strategy' in AAP associating with Labor Unions, but it misses taking a holistic perspective and furthermore uses irrelevant examples to make a point.

AAP will go anywhere where interests of a common man  are suppressed/affected.  And anywhere where a common man will feel suppressed or affected will associate with and approach AAP. This has been proved time and again - take the serious case of sexual abuse of Gudiya when the immediate family members of the victim approached AAP after Delhi police failed them. There are many cases which are perhaps not even reported in the mainstream media.

Lastly, this Money Life report is unclear but suggest some connection that AAP first (?) supported the Labor Union at Bajaj, and then Arvind Kejriwal met Rahul Bajaj seeking his 'support' for a TV Channel. This information, the article mentions is something which it has 'learned'. What is the source? While I would not ask the journalist to mention the name, but why should it be considered reliable? Isn't that something which must be mentioned? Also, what do you mean by 'support'? I expect some elaboration on this - or is this some news snippet of speculative bollywood actor-actress affair where the reader is encouraged for guess work? Please mention 'dates' (when did Kejriwal meet Bajaj?) to help understand the order of events. Regardless, I consider this is a highly speculative theory which Money Life presents - unless it cares to support it with facts. At least include quotes of Arvind Kejriwal or Rahul Bajaj or Labor Unions in question or conduct your own investigation? The reporting in this story reflects poorly on Money Life's journalistic ethical standards in my view.

As an AAM AADMI who likes transparency, I am more than happy to know the truth. But journalism based on hasty and speculative information, and one which does not follow all the basic rules (like including quotes - denial or acceptance) or one that does not show the intent of presenting facts, is something which I have always questioned. All in all, I will be skeptical of reading information provided in Money Life henceforth.

Dear Money Life, I was keen to to buy your subscription but I now have second thoughts.

July 7, 2013

Of holy cow and atheists

On Twitter one comes across many gems. I came across one such gem by some anti-AAP chest beater who tweeted - "Vivekananda only belongs to us right wings, and not AAP which is full of communist and atheists."

Far-right Hindu politicians have been using the name of Vivekananda without really understanding his message or the scientific and practical approach he took towards life. The common man in India too does not know in much detail who Vivekananda is or what his philosophies were or why he took the approach he took - over all, the knowledge about Vivekananda is rudimentary and of popular level - for instance - "greatest Hindu Scholar", "representative of Hinduism in the West" etc etc. But forget the common man, even politicians are ill-informed and use his name in giving silly analogies - take for instance - Nitin Gadkari who said that Dawoods IQ and Vivekananda IQ is the same but while Vivekanada used it for nation building, Dawood used it to excel in the crime world. Clearly, Gadkari does not know the definition of IQ - he was just being a sophist here.

I responded back to this tweet arguing that Bhagat Singh was an atheist and Vivekananda ate beef and with links to references, and I got a reply back - "not impressed AAP folks" "Read some trashy tweet about Vivekananda". Why Bhagat Singh, our constitution was made by an atheist Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar - are these idiots going to give-up the constitution now? So while these far right Hindutva proponents will paste posters of Bhagat Singh, and while Mayawati will paste posters of Ambedkar they will not know what their beliefs were and how these great personalities approached life. The Dalit's will be made to believe that Buddhism is a religion - completely killing its essence.

Today's politicians get away with their tripe because they know that people are less informed, rarely scrutinize history or their beliefs and can be easily manipulated. Manipulation is also what the Britishers did and which the Indians owing to their beliefs fell for. British officer Lansdowne used "Cow slaughter" as an object to keep the Hindus and Muslims divided so that they could not collectively fight against the British regime. If the Hindus and Muslims had united, Britishers would not have lasted for 150 years in India. Langsedown used a strategy of cutting a cow and putting it in front of temples, and then cutting a pig and putting it in front of a Mosque. He then propagated that this was done by the Other group (watch this video). The present politicians and anti-social elements are no less than Britishers - either they are themselves deluded by the various myths or indulge in this politics of caste and religion knowingly. Either way they are keeping us Indians divided so that they can rule by misidentifying and misusing our beliefs. The cows and pigs have been replaced by bomb blasts today.

I would simply ask the common man to cut down his dose of bollywood and cricket and start reading history and challenge old beliefs. This is a tough thing to do because as soon as old beliefs are challenged it causes dissonance and there arises a need to identify with some group or the other. But do not worry, consider this as a research and work on it independently and you'll see an interesting perspective emerge. You cannot trust or depend on the news media or any other popular media for this - they are all victims themselves. You'll soon notice how politicians never offer scientific arguments and use rhetoric's and our beliefs to make a point - unless you don't challenge yourselves in this direction, you'll be enslaved.

As an Aam Aadmi or common man we must identify the common man in others. We have to see and identify with the 9 to 5 working man who pays his taxes, loves his family, and earns an honest bread and not the religion or faith the common man holds. I don't believe there would be a 9 to 5 working Muslim, who pays his taxes and earns an honest bread who would be a threat to any Hindu, and I don't believe that a 9 to 5 working Hindu who pays his taxes and earns an honest bread is a threat to Muslims - same applies to any other religion or group. These are perceived and created threats - we must realize this and ignore it and work towards a collective goal of developing our country for all groups. I think we will do our self and this country a great favor if we can have this outlook and speak up now. The lives of politicians and their goals are different. They are selfish and with little regard and respect for the common man. Their work and decisions has nothing to do with the benefit of common man - they have sycophants and jobless misguided and ill-informed goons who assist them with their ill-objectives and work for their vote bank politics. Why should a common man suffer for that? Don't let these politicians do what the Britishers did to India - the common man in us has to come together now.

April 23, 2013

Dear Rajdeep...

Hope you are enjoying your time away from Twitter. I understand on Twitter praises are showered but there are twice as brick-bats - but that's a professional hazard. Perhaps you had it enough. And your decision is respected. But what is not clear is the reason you mentioned for doing so:

This is what you wrote:

My timeline suggests little space for healthy debate/discussion on twitter. So will no longer raise any political issues on the medium. Will continue writing/talking on issues of natl interest in print/tv, but not on twitter. Will continue to write in print/speak on tv. But will no longer seek twitter as a medium for public debate. Had hoped to interact; failed. A journalist has only his integrity/credibility. That has been abused on this medium for too long by unknown people. Time to switch off.

I don't know you personally, but you appear to be a good individual. And I love your personal side too -  cricket fandom, interest in health and fitness, films, pun intended political commentary every now and then, drinking Old-Monk and enjoying old bollywood songs - in fact, I would love to have a peg with you. But I would like you to know that I separate you as a person from you as a journalist.

From what I observe, as a journalist you are not the kind who is particularly fearless. What is the number of investigative stories which CNN-IBN reported in the past year? What's the average? One per month? Did those stories have considerable evidence against influential politicians or corporate's? You just hold debates which have no value whatsoever, have a peg, and then sing an old bollywood song before going off to sleep. Of course, your channel cannot take on the high and mighty - for instance Mukesh Ambani - because he has investments in your group.

Today, Arvind Kejriwal is doing more investigative stories than most of your news media put together - and the kind that are truly representative of the "real, free, and fearless Fourth Estate". The news media questions the evidence he presents, and his motive, and his intentions, but at least he is not presenting the made-up "sources" stories which your brethren make up on a daily basis. Do you question the evidence/fact these made-up stories hold? Or write about it in your columns?

And by the way, no matter how much ever integrity you may claim to have, for me, this one instance raises a lot of questions. When you were the President of Editors Guild of India you presented a shocking defense  on  the Barkha Dutt incident and her alleged involvement in Nira Radia case. Eventually, you became the butt of all jokes - "Editors Guilt of India". What did the "credible" and "integrity-minded" journalist in you tell you then? You could have ordered an internal investigation but you appeared to be in a hurry to defend. It is better to share your haplessness with people than defend.

Now coming back to Twitter:

Your decision to go off is nothing but your inability to handle criticism - if some of them are abusive, you can always block them - it's as easy as cleaning your nose. But what is the point of alienating those who ask valid questions? For some time I have been demanding that all news channels and publications must put online the editorial guidelines they follow. This is how BBC does it. Isn't that a valid question? Do you read an abuse in this question? I am yet to get your response.

India is a huge country with so many castes and religions and so many issues. Indian news media needs to formulate and put in public domain the editorial guidelines which it follows - more than any other country in the world. Having such an editorial guideline out on the web will help a common man refer to the channels formulated editorial guideline and question the channel when it tows it's own line. Aren't other channels accountable to people? Isn't the channel you work for accountable to people?

I am happy that "you" the journalist has left Twitter. You couldn't make much use of it anyway - rarely responded to valid questions. And perhaps, like the Indian government, you also like the "top-down" hierarchical model of communication.

The above criticism was for you as a journalist - but for you as a person - this is a Jagjit Singh ghazal which I would  like to dedicate"Baat Niklegi Toh Phir.... Door Talaq Jaegi..". Goes well with an Old-Monk.

April 21, 2013

What does “Haath main chudiya pehen ke rakhi hai kya” really mean?

"Haath main chudiya pehen ke rakhi hai kya" is a phrase worthy of a discourse analysis - it is a unique example of gender discrimination.

In December 2012, during the Delhi Gang-Rape protests some women were reported to be shouting this - "these men have worn bangles" (see the screen shot below). 


So why exactly is it wrong to use such an expression? 
Whenever a human being wants to ridicule or abuse someone he or she resorts to comparisons with lesser things - things that would effectively humiliate a person. For example, saying - “you are a pig”. What this sentence does is 1) It assumes that a “pig” is essentially a dirty loathsome creature 2) It implies that you are as loathsome and dirty as a pig. 
Does this young woman (quoted in the screen shot above) assume that women are weak? And why did she use references associated with feminism, and that too being a woman herself? with an intent to ridicule someone? 

It only suggests that there are some rather deep subconscious notions and ideas existing in our society and minds.
Men use this phrase to tease the ego of another man or to rouse someone “for not being daring”. And the man on whom this phrase is thrown at, is expected to get offended. 
So far, I have used this blog to support AAP, but I would like to make some critical remarks so that protesters and activists, particularly representing AAP, are aware of what inferences their actions can make. This is one photograph which I came across and this method of protest should not be used. 

These kind of expressions have seeped into our society over centuries, the underlying assumption of which is that women are weak. Volunteers and members of AAP I hope that next time much thought will be put into symbolism used during protests - of course, no use of bangles anymore.

April 20, 2013

What is the truth behind report of AAP-NCP alliance?

On April 20, 2013 – there was a report doing rounds in the news media that AAP and NCP will be forming an alliance in Arunachal Pradesh. This was discussed mainly on the basis of a Press Trust of India (PTI) report - link here 

It is important that you study this report critically – what does it say? on what basis does it say what it says? Who is quoted? Who are the sources? If you read this PTI report critically, you’ll notice it gives no names – just mentions “sources”. Whenever you come across a news-report whose only spine is “sources” – doubt it.
PTI is a news agency, the reports which it publishes are brought by newspapers and websites of TV channels all over India and abroad – depending on the requirement of the newspaper or publication. The same news was seen in Hindustan Times (link here) - it perhaps brought PTI’s news report and  I say this because the credit in HT report is given to PTI (always see who has written the news report). However, there is a cache – though Hindustan Times says it’s a PTI report (which only based it's report on “sources”), HT report comes with “names” and gives credit to PTI – how is this possible?

It is also job of AAP to investigate who this “combined media secretary Kaling Jerang” quoted in Hindustan Times report is, and if he has any power to release any statement on behalf of AAP.

It is my request to all AAP supporters – be critical of all news reports you either read or hear about AAP in news media. If it is positive – don’t go gaga over it. If it is negative, be critical – question the source of information and demand evidence. A sizable amount of money is spent not just in gagging voice of AAP, but also in spreading false propaganda.

Other newspapers have picked the same PTI story - DNA and Economic Times

How can activists use Twitter to report a protest?

Twitter is a fascinating tool which protesters can use to disseminate information. While reporting an event on Twitter, these are simple general guideline's you must follow - your reports would be better than reports from TV channels or news websites

The information you tweet must have one or all the elements mentioned below - you can make one tweet, or you can make several tweets addressing different aspects of the protest.


What do you see around you? What is happening at the site of protest? What are protesters saying or discussing? What is police saying or discussing?


When did you come to the protest site? Has some untoward incident happened like beatings by the police? When did it happen? You may also add how did it happened - describe it, make pictures.


Is any police officer/officials or political parties involved in creating trouble? Who is it? Identify the person - name or political party and make pictures or video.


Where is the protest or incident happening? Tweet the exact location and the picture and time. If silent protesters are beaten up - where were they beaten up? You can also describe how they were beaten up, and by whom.


Why are people gathering at the protest site? Why is police beating protesters? (if they are!) Make small clips and put it online.


How many people are there? How is the police behaving? Are there protesters from other political parties? What is their behavior like? What exactly are they doing? If possible - make pictures, and upload it.

Recommendations - TV news channels and news media cannot be entirely trusted as a lot of false propaganda is being spread. Please report with hash tag #AAPreport  or any other consistent hashtag which makes it easier to find news related to protests.

Keep your mobile phones, camera's, audio recorders for any evidence - up and running.

April 19, 2013

Tripping on Manmohan Singh's speech at NDTV Indians of the Year Award


On April 15, PM Manmohan Singh had something up his sleeve which was quite rattling. He gave a speech at the NDTV Indians of the Year Award Function. Since he was on the "turf" of his hosts NDTV, he obviously had good (imaginary) things to say about it. You can find his full speech on – I am excusing myself from analyzing the customary "ladies and gentlemen..." and the three hour pauses between them.

So here are some troubling highlights of the speech he made – toh shuru karte hai, leke prabhu ka naam.  My commentary (bracketed) is in italics bold.

PMs speech at NDTV Indian of the Year Award:

(starts) I have been told that today happens to be the 25th anniversary of the establishment of NDTV (Accha) NDTV’s successes and achievements in its journey of 25 years owe a great deal to another outstanding individual and its founder Dr. Prannoy Roy (Okay, I understand - kiske ghar jao toh unki buraiyi nahi karte - chalo #Theek hai - granted) Twenty five years back he ( bole toh, Prannoy Roy) had
the courage of conviction to enter untested waters. This boldness and his talent, and the talent of many other men and women working with him have resulted in a media brand that is widely respected for its professionalism and ethics (Sirji ye thoda jyaada ho gaya). I congratulate Prannoy and his team for the high standards they have maintained.

Dr. Manmohan Singh, for your lack of research, and for speaking from the top of your head, this is what you must know.

(1) NDTV's stance on important issues in past has been questionable. Take for instance the time after Abhishek Manu Singhvi's CD made it on the public domain. Then, he was the chairperson of Parliament Standing Committee on Law and Justice and the charges against him were of extremely serious nature - of allegedly appointing judges in the Supreme Court of India. Most of the media had to keep mum due to the court order, others who spoke gave it a kind of spin which was not representative of a 'sound' fourth estate. NDTV did this story - Do public figures have right to privacy? How was this a "private affair" when the allegations were against a person holding a public position? And when the alleged activity allegedly took place in a government premise? If this is not agenda setting than what is? Also, it seems NDTV always has access to all the officials particularly of Congress, including the PM. Is NDTV open to do a "we the people" with PM taking questions from people of India? Access should not be a problem right?  

(2) NDTV's Group Editor Barkha Dutt has a questionable professional past - Open Magazine and Outlook had done an extensive expose on her alleged involvement in Niira Radia case. In journalism, once's a question mark floats on someone's credibility - its over. 

(3) Forget asking the right questions, on occasions  it was social media which brought to the notice of NDTV news website about its lack of research on different news stories. The most recent one was this - Naredra Modi was a "Union Railway Minister" - the text is updated here - but the website doesn't feel it is important to inform readers about the changes made. You may also like to read this.


The PM goes on to add:

The period of 25 years that NDTV has been in business is also broadly the period of economic reforms in our country (wait a minute... business? shouldn't it be journalism?). The media has both been a partner and a beneficiary from the reform process. The need for enhanced communication because of
increased economic activity, and advancements in telecommunications technology have led to a rapid growth in the number of television channels in our country. At the time when NDTV pioneered the idea of a private television company, our country only had Doordarshan as a public broadcaster. Today, we have more than 800 channels in nearly two dozen languages. Television sets have now reached more than half the households in our country (Yes Sirji, but what work are they doing? Padho, please padho) .


Then PM, in an absolute failed attempt to sound "balanced" adds:

I have always believed that the media has a very important contribution to make in the processes of nation building in our country (Nation building? news media? Kya bol rahe ho?). We expect our media not only to just report accurately on what has happened but also to highlight social and economic injustices and thus pave the way for their redressal. We expect the media to educate public opinion on what is advisable and what is not by informing the people of the benefits and adverse consequences of following a particular course of action (news media se advise? majority are owned by politicians sirji - what kind of advise will they give?. We expect the media to point out the shortcomings of the government and thus help in improving the effectiveness of the administrative set up in our country (now this is the part which I like - read this letter by a certain Shriman Mukesh Ambani - who gagged the media when Arvind Kejriwal did the duties which should have ideally been done by a journalist. Btw, on one occassion Shriman Mukesh Ambani had also alledgedly said that "Congress toh apni dukaan hai" - Dr. Manmohan Singh - what does this say about "administrative set-up of the country?". If you didn't know, Ambani also has "preferential access" to content of Network18 group channels like CNN-IBN, IBN7, IBN Lokmat etc.) This is indeed a formidable list of expectations (considering all this, indeed... indeed... absolutely).


Another interesting part from the speech:

I also believe that the media in our country has, on balance, acquitted itself well (Sirji please... you say, "media in our country has on balance acquitted itself well" - "acquitted" of some crime? Ok, if that was inference you were trying to make - I agree. Sorry.) We can be justifiably proud of its vibrancy and its independence (Justice Katju, the karta-dharta of PCI must now post a list of all news media owned/share by politicians in India - will it happen?). There are many newspapers and TV channels that have maintained a very high quality in their work, and have made a conscious effort to take up issues that are of critical importance to our society and country. We witness examples of accurate, fair and well researched reporting everyday on the pages of newspapers and on TV screens (ab aur bhi kuch bolu?). I think that as a whole our media has been successful in its task of informing and educating the people about the state of our society and to our country and the work of the Government (Bwahahahahahaha... bas kar... bas kar).

However, there have been aberrations too. We sometimes see sensationalism driven by personal and political prejudices (You need education in Indian news media). There is trivialization of the serious issues resulting sometime in misinformation (Exactly - you must be referring to Diggy boy?). Reports about ‘paid news’ during the election times should be a major cause of concern to the media. I am of the view that it is for the media itself to find effective ways and means of addressing these concerns problems (What do you feel, all our editor's are Kesari's Bal Gangadhar Tilak? Read about the serious allegations some editors have on them)