Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The confession of just another presstitute


Recently, the Caravan magazine brought out an article detailing how almost 300 Madhya Pradesh based journalists cutting across every newspaper, channels and what not, were allotted plots in Bhopal by the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in the early years of 2000.

The plot was not ‘gifted’ directly to each and every journalist, rather a cooperative was created that was headed by some journalists, who had more accessibility in the government than their fellow brothers, and later it was distributed ‘unequally’ among all the journalists. What Caravan did not mention was that the bigger journalists got themselves allotted more than one plot while many of them, who earn less than Rs 25000 per month and are on their last curve of their career, did not get even one plot. (I did not get any plot, nor I applied for).

Caravan also did not mention that even if these poor journalists would have got the plot, they would have to again seek government’s help to build a house on these plots. It would have been an even bigger eye opener if Caravan or for that any media houses had done a story on the salaries the journalists get.

Those who swear by ‘presstitutes’ and  prefer painting every journalists with the same brush  might not know that the salary of a journalist is barely enough to cover his household expense and I am not referring to the fresh graduates who are just out of college but those who have been slogging it out for 15 -20 years. The situation is worse for those who are working in Hindi newspaper.

Let me try to bring this out by an example. A Bhopal based bureau chief of a well known Hindi newspaper who is in his late 50s and had been in journalism for more than 20 years now was getting a salary of Rs 53000 when I last met him in January this year. His junior colleague, who was around 42, was getting Rs 42000.  Now keep yourself in the place of these two people and imagine the expenses that they have to incur to run their house, finance the study of their children and eventually arrange for the expense of their marriage.

Let me bring you to English media. Someone like me, who is in the middle position, will be fortunate enough if his annual package is Rs  6-7 lakhs. I have many friends who are not getting even that. By the time I step into my 40s, after giving 12-14 years of time into journalism, my only desire would be that my annual salary at least reaches upto Rs 10 lakhs.

Do keep in mind that media in India is a highly unregulated field, except two or three organizations, the concept of basic employee welfare, like annual appraisal, good hike, yearly paid leaves, bonuses, something that people working in other fields treat as their fundamental rights, does not exist for journalists working in Media.

Today, the recommendation of the 7th pay commission were cleared by the cabinet and the hike that the government employees will get is something that a journalist can only think  of and sometime wish for.

There is no pay commission for the journalists, only a holy albatross round the neck that they represent the esteemed ‘fourth estate’ and hence are prone to more public abuse and scrutiny.

Neither the government, this one included, nor the Maalik log are interested in increasing the salaries of journalists. When the recommendation of the Majithia pay commission for print media were to be executed, the Maalik log, showing great solidarity, pressed the best legal mind of the country into their service to make sure that the salaries of the ‘presstitutes’ remain abysmally low and despite the recommendations being finally upheld by the Supreme court in 2014, it has yet not been executed in almost 80 percent of the newspaper.

Forget the shouting and suave anchors and presenters you have been watching on the TV. Forget the stories, sometimes fictitious, mostly real that you read and hear about the personal wealth of these star reporters and editors. They represent a miniscule of the journalists fraternity because the rest of the journalists, who do not have the inclination and the guts to seek money through other means, they pass into oblivion with a small retirement send off party and if they are lucky enough, they can spend their remaining time in a small house that they might have been able to build with their modest income.

No Member of parliament, no minister and no PM has ever spoken about the abysmally low salaries the majority of journalists get. I wish the government would make it mandatory for every journalist to declare their income, for at least then there will be some sense of clarity among the readers and the viewers.

No high profile journalists does a show on why Majithia is not being implemented, Ravish and Goswami alike. Maybe they are not allowed to do so by the maalik log or maybe they do not need a pay hike. When I had asked the ever active 'Justice Katju" when he was the chairman of Press council of India that why did he not push for the implementation of Majithia and what did he do in his tenure as the PCI chairman except berating the same journalists whom he was expected to support, the man did the easiest thing, he blocked me on Twitter.

So next time you use the word bikau media and presstitutes, do say a prayer for a majority of the journalists because the only thing that they are paid their whole life is a salary that swings between modest and low.



Tuesday, May 03, 2016

25 journalists staying in government provided bungalows in Delhi


Twenty five media-persons are presently staying in Central government provided type-4, type-5 and type-6 government flats in the national capital.

As per the response shared by the Directorate of Estates, Ministry of Urban Development, to an RTI query filed by me, all these flats are situated in posh areas like RK Puram, Pandara road, Bapa nagar,Kaka nagar,Hudco Place Extension and Andrews Ganj Extension.

Some of these bungalows were allotted to the journalists as far back as the 1970s and 1980s.

Officials in the Urban Development ministry said that the allotment of government flats to journalists are rare and is based on the discretion of the incumbent minister. “In Delhi, there is always a shortage of government accommodations for the government officials who have the first claim over such accommodations hence it is in rare cases that a government accommodation is given to a media person. Unless and until the concerned minister really wishes for the allotment of the flats to a media persons, the government flats are very rarely allotted to them”, an official with the directorate of estate said.

Interestingly, in December 2012, the Supreme Court in an order, had asked the government to make sure some of these journalists vacate the ‘illegally occupied government bungalows’ as they had overstayed their entitlement. The Supreme Court had given the order after the National Green Tribunal, which approached the Supreme Court, presenting its problem regarding non availability of a suitable accommodation for it to function from, after which the SC asked the government to act.

However, more than 4 years later, some of the journalists, who were required to vacate the government accommodation, still continue to stay in those flats.

Very few of the journalists who are staying in these accommodations are working for a mainstream publication.

One of them brings out a Hindi daily from Ghaziabad, while another journalist is working for a local news channel. A journalist from a south Indian magazine has been staying the flat for the past 13 years, another journalist of a Chennai based magazine ‘Junior Vikatan’ was allotted the flat in 2006. A journalist with "Spot films' too was given the flat in 2003. A reporter with ‘Amrit Sandhesh’ newspaper that is published by the family of Congress treasurer Motilal Vora, was allotted the flat in 2006. Similarly a representative of SUN TV was given the flat in 2006. One such flat is in the possession of a reporter from Amar Ujala newspaper. A reporter from Andhra Prabha, a Telugu newspaper, too was given the flat in 2006. A cameraman with ‘Asian Film TV’ was allotted the flat in 2003.


The demand from Gujarat...


Former Home Minister and Congress leader P. Chidambaram, who is in the eye of storm for his role in the Ishrat Jahan case, might have admitted the role and influence of a Gujarat based Congress leader in the whole case.

Chidambaram, while quoting his interview that he gave to Hindu Business Line which appeared on 25, April,shared multiple tweets on his twitter account. 

The content of three of these tweet reads , “Although I have no recollection of seeing the first affidavit, let us presume that I did. Then came the report of Magistrate SP Tamang. This report caused an uproar & there was demand mainly from Gujarat that Government of India should clarify or dispel misinterpretation being placed on the First affidavit. This is why a Second, short affidavit was filed!”.


The reference to a ‘demand, mainly from Gujarat’ to effectively change the first affidavit, has led to strong speculations that the former Home Minister has unknowingly admitted that there was a strong demand from certain Congress circles to change the content of the first affidavit, which in essence stated that Ishrat Jahan was a Lashkar module, and that demand had come from a Gujarat based leader.

On 21 February, I did a story for The Sunday Guardian “Manmohan ministers tried to implicate Modi in Ishrat case” http://www.sundayguardianlive.com/news/3423-manmohan-ministers-tried-implicate-modi-ishrat-case, in which I had written about how a top Congress leader from a western state, had written to the Prime Minister’s Office in the first week of September 2009, expressing dismay that because of the first affidavit the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi could not be framed in Ishrat’s encounter. The Congress leader was unhappy that the MHA’s affidavit had placed on record that Ishrat was a terrorist.

“Chidambaram, who is very articulate with his words and uses his every word very carefully, has clearly stated that the ‘demand’ to change the affidavit had come from Gujarat. Obviously it did not come from Modi or the BJP. Since he has used the word ‘demand’, it implies that it had come from someone who was very influential. Now, he might say that this ‘demand’ had come from the civil society or human right activists but we all know whom he is referring to”, an official who is familiar with the entire case, said. 


Monday, December 28, 2015

All good for journos in Shivraj's raj

The Madhya Pradesh government doled out Rs 93 crores in the last 4 year in giving advertisements to 'unknown' news websites and news channel. The government has also given Rs 58 crores to 107 institutions for 'regional publicity' of the government.

This information was shared by the Madhya Pradesh public relation minister Rajendra Shukla in the state assembly in response to a question raised by Congress MLA Bala Bachchan.

Bachchan, in his query has asked the government to share the details of websites, institutions  and news channel who have got government advertisement for publicizing government work since 2012.

Out of the 235 plus websites that were given the government ad, only 25 to 30 websites are those which disseminate news regularly and see a regular ‘hits’ and traffic. Many of the websites mentioned in the reply provided by the state government, are  websites whose existence was not known to even the local Bhopal based journalists, whom I spoke to.  

“Most of these websites are run by journalists who are working in other organizations. Since it is illegal to earn income from two source, these journalists are running the websites in the name of their relatives and wives. The government with an intent to keep them in good humor and oblige them, has readily released government ads to their websites, which do not see even 10 hits in a day”, a Bhopal based bureau chief of a national English daily, pointing to the name of the website that is owned by a wife of journalist of a national news agency, said.

A careful perusal of the list revealed that the registered address of many of these websites was government flats and bungalows that are allotted to journalists if the are a part of a national daily. “ A journalist of the largest selling English daily is no longer a part of that newspaper, but he continues to enjoy the government hospitality by way of the government ad that his websites receives and the government bungalow that he continues to live in.  Similarly, a former employee of  an English news agency continues to enjoy the bungalow as he is still a journalist in the technical term because he is running a website that got Rs 15 lakh ”, an official with the Directorate of Public Relations (DPR) stated. As per previous rules, the government bungalows can only be allotted to those journalists who are working for national newspaper.

While choosing firms for ‘regional advertisement’ of government work, the DPR released Rs 21 crores to an agency that is known to be run by a BJP functionary.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Why Modi must act


The political honeymoon period of BJP got over earlier than it would have expected and the marital discords that a political party faces after coming to power have started even sooner than it might ha
ve anticipated.

The historic mandate it received in the general elections last year, as a majority of us will agree, was made possible because of Narendra Modi. Modi the individual was the reason that people voted for BJP rather than the other way around.

So if the public perception is that the ‘Ache din’ have come then one has to attribute it to Modi and if the perception is that there is no change from the days of the UPA  then the responsibility for that also squarely lies on the shoulder of Modi.

History is made every day, to be presented years in the future after it is created. Ten-fifteen  years from now, pages of  history will tell us that whatever happened to this country, the good or the bad as it will turn out, was because of Modi. No one will remember the finance minister, the defence minister, the external affairs ministers or the various BJP spokespersons.

In light of these ground rules, that one can tend to disagree with, the inaction on the part of Modi to take ‘notice’ of the act done by Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje, is surprising. More so because in case of Modi, unlike his predecessor, his act of taking notice of something is very much visible and more often than not, it makes news. In this case, it his inaction that is grabbing the headlines.

The BJP can field their best spokespersons to counter the allegations but can the truth that Swawraj was dealing with a fugitive be changed? Can the fact that her daughter and her husband were dealing with him change? Can it be safely said that the external affairs minister of the country, one of the top four ministers of the country , was unaware of the legal status of Lalit Modi? That he was ‘wanted’? Are ‘humanitarian  grounds’ a sound excuse to help a fugitive , that too without keeping others in the loop? And was ‘different shades of blue’ supposed to be a funny?

Similarly, no one, even Vasundhara Raje, will not and has not denied that Lalit Modi was a close friend of hers. People make friends, who later turn into acquaintances and foes and that is perfectly okay. However how can Raje, in her position as the leader of opposition in the Rajasthan assembly, do something that she knew was illegal? In her case, it is evident that she knew that what she was doing was wrong and that is why she asked for a disclaimer that the action taken by her in support of Lalit Modi should not come out in open.
How will she defend the fact that the shares of her son’s company were bought by Lalit Modi at Rs 11 crore? She cannot.

Inevitably,  Narendra Modi in times to come, will face many more such instances of impropriety from his cabinet colleagues, his party colleagues and his friends. For him, the easy way of coming out from such situation will be to close his eye and move ahead till the story dies down and is forgotten from the memory of the people and this is what the Congress led UPA did. And that is what the BJP is hoping will happen in the case of Swaraj and Raje.

The not so easier route for Narendra Modi is to act on these acts of impropriety.

The people of this country have for long lived in an era where things were said but not executed. So much so that the political promises and commitments are no longer taken seriously, let alone give rise to any hope. When Narendra Modi, during his political campaign, stated that there will be no corruption in his government, not many believed that but when he said that he will take action, quick and strict, against anyone found to be indulging in corruption, everyone believed it.

The time to put those words of promises into action has come. And with every passing day of the promises being reneged, the hopes and expectations of those who reposed faith in him will decrease, slowly,gradually but surely.

There have been many Prime Ministers before Modi and there will numerous after him. The path to creating a legacy and securing a name in the pages of history, as each of us wants, is well defined but whether we are willing to walk on that path is something that only we have to decide.









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Sunday, February 08, 2015

Why the Aam Aadmi went for the party.

Almost all the exit polls have predicted a comfortable win for the Aam Aadmi Party in the Delhi elections, and for those who believe them, the Modi-Shah magic is likely to fail in mini-India when the results are announced on February 10.
Assuming that the results will be on the line of the exit polls, the question is what happened? Why did the same people who had voted overwhelmingly for the BJP in the last year’s general election voted for AAP this time?

It will not be an exaggeration to say that the Delhi BJP took the elections ‘lightly’. Their campaign started a long time after AAP, its chief political enemy, had begun its. AAP had already secured a sizeable space in the minds and heart of the voters through the virtually nonstop radio jingles, white Nehru cap and smiling volunteers who had come on the street and started ‘mohalla’ campaigning as early as October, by the time BJP decided to rock and roll. The inclination to open the doors for a neighbor, who has been around for sometime rather than someone who has just arrived, is more. 

The local Delhi leaders were banking heavily on the ‘Modi magic’ to counter the AAP’s outreach that had spread on the ground through its loyal cadre. BJP leaders with whom I was speaking to, in the run up to the election, had no hesitation in agreeing that AAP was in a much stronger position but in the same breath they told me that 3 to 4 rallies of Modi would blow away everything that was remotely connected to AAP.  The rallies did happen, but by then, the AAP had strongly entrenched itself to be blown away.

The BJP forgot that in the Lok Sabha elections, the support for Modi was more or less equal to the anger the people had against the ‘corrupt-inefficient-weak’ Congress government. The voters at that time had to decide between the rookie AAP, that was not a national force, and the resurgent BJP led by the macho Modi. They took the logical decision. However in the Delhi elections, it was not about anger, it was more about the perception about the new union government. The question in mind was has the Modi government done enough in the last 8 months it has been in power? BJP leaders say that much has been done by the new government and if that is the case, then they should also agree that despite the media blitzkrieg, the BJP was not able to convey this message to the voters. Some BJP leaders will defend the result of Delhi assembly election by stating that it does not reflect upon the working of the central government. I am sorry, it does.

The BJP overplayed the alleged 'anarchist' tendency of  AAP. When did being a 'krantikari' became a taboo in this country? Acting 'rebellious', questioning the establishment, the status-quo, tilting towards anarchism has been the hallmark of Indians, since time immemorial. Kejriwal might have taken some wrong steps during his 49 days as CM but the way BJP tried to sell his 'anarchism' clearly did not work.

During the 49 days the AAP was in power, they managed to gain the trust of the lower income group. And even though a section of the middle-class grew disenchanted with AAP, these loyal supporters, from the auto-rickshaw drivers to the house-maid, remained loyal and the party was able to cash-in their goodwill in this election.

The BJP party needs to introspect on why it did not call for a fresh poll when Kejriwal, the ‘Bhagoda’ resigned suddenly. A majority of the the voters who had supported him had now become angry with him and wanted to teach him a lesson for not valuing the people’s mandate. The BJP was on ‘high’ at that time with Modi being virtually the messenger of god (no pun intended) that India was waiting for. However for some ‘god-only-knows’ reason, the party decided to wait and watch. Whoever advised the party to not to go for elections needs to be hanged by the strongest rope from the highest tree. His advice seems to have cost Delhi. The party needs to identify these Jaychands and Vibhishans.

In the last leg of the campaigning, negative connotation crept into the picture. Calling names, printing of not- so-soul-enriching advertisements targeting AAP and Kejriwal were bombarded on the same Delhi voters, who not too long ago, inspired by Modi, had voted for BJP for ‘positive campaigning’ and ‘good governance’ and in the process elected many non-existent political entity from Delhi. Party strategists should understand that contrary to the vile in social media, the general public of this country still lives by the century old adage- ‘Pyar se maango, jaan de denge”.

The paratrooping of Kiran Bedi, the woman who till the polling day, was not able to shake off her narcissism, proved to be proverbial final straw that broke the BJP’s back.  “The main- main, “mainey yeh kiya, mainey woh kiya, mai yeh karungi, mai woh karungi”, did not go down too well with the Delhi voters. Compare her with Harshvardan, the former BJP CM candidate. Harvardhan, the humble doctor, modest family man, camera shy, always smiling politician. The man who for years now has been the common Aadmi of Delhi BJP.  Bedi, the moment she joined the BJP, played the match as if it was about her and not the BJP. Antagonizing the cadre and largely ignoring them, she gave a message that she has been hand-picked by Modi himself, which might not have been the case. 

Finally, people will read too much into this electoral result and portray it as the election where the Modi halo was breached. But the point is in a democracy, elections are won and lost. That is what the will of people is, always oscillating, never staying still. Bihar, where the next electoral battle will be played out, may give a totally different picture. A BJP win or loss, whatever happens in the end, should not lie squarely on the shoulders of Modi. The blame or the accolades, as the case maybe, should be shared by everyone, from the party cadre to the union ministers and by the PM himself.









Thursday, April 10, 2014

Dasyu Samrat Malkhan


Thick curled moustache, sporting a Ray ban aviator sun-glasses and a red vermilion mark on his forehead, Daku Malkhan Singh, 74, a bandit of the Chambal region is now busy in seeking votes for BJP state president Narendra Singh Tomar, who is contesting from the Gwalior seat.


According to locals, after kidnapping the victim, Malkhan used to send the demand for the “Firauti” (ransom) on a letter head that had his name printed on the top and the ransom amount written below. He is one of the few dacoits on whom a book- “Malkhan- the story of a bandit King”, has been written.

Malkhan though says that he was never a dacoit, but a “Baagi” (Rebel). “We never harassed anyone who was weak or poor, we targeted those who used to steal from the poor”, recalls Malkhan, who spent close to 10 years in the prison.

He claims that the times might have changed but still the system of stealing from the poor is going on. “That is why I am campaigning in support for the BJP. Even after so many years of the country’s Independence, nothing has changed and things will not change until the BJP comes to power at the Centre”, he says.

Malkhan, who had surrendered before the then Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Arjun Singh, said that all the promises that were made to him by Singh were never fulfilled.  “Before we surrendered with our arms, the state government made a commitment that our case will be leniently dealt with. However as soon as the surrender took place, all the promises were forgotten. The Congress did not keep its promise”, alleged Malkhan, who had crowned himself as “Dasyu Samrat” (dacoit king), when he was at his prime in the 70s and the late 80s.

When he surrendered on 17 June 1982 in Bhind at the age of 42, he was facing arrest in atleast 105 cases of murder, kidnapping and dacoity.

One of the conditions that Malkhan had put for his surrender was that he and his gang members should not be handcuffed while being taken to the court but after the initial days of surrendering, the Police reneged on its promise. Another condition was that all the cases against the dacoits would be transferred from Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to Gwalior.

However, Malkhan forgets to mention that soon after his surrender took place, Arjun Singh was sent to Punjab and he was replaced with the present Congress party treasurer Moti Lal Vora, who had other pressing issues to cater to rather than think about the commitment made to the dacoits.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The life and times of a Bachelor

Recently, numerous media debates and several articles have been penned on the issue of racial profiling of the African citizens who are staying in India. But the media, like it has done in the past, forgot to raise the issue of another important allied subject, which in this case is the profiling of a ‘Bachelor’.

People generally tend to focus on the thrills and enjoyment in the life of a young earning bachelor, conveniently forgetting the perils that come attached with it.

A quiet, normal guy, leaving his house early morning and being seen by his suspecting neighbors only during the time when he is standing in the gallery to lock his door, soon becomes an object of curiosity. Questions regarding the antecedent of the lone mortal are soon raised. What does he do? Why does he stay alone? Where does he go early morning? Why is he quiet?

Soon the questions are put to the house maid who has been fortunate enough to land a job in the kitchen of this mysterious one.  And playing to the gallery, the maids too tend to use their own creativity to make the whole matter even more mysterious.  

Last week, the woman who cooks for me, told me that one of my neighbors, who is a lady police inspector, was asking her questions like what do I do? Who comes to meet me?. “Mainu unsey bol deeya ki bhaiya toh jyaada sirf phone pe hee kaam karta hai. TV aur computer ke sammne beth ke”. Soon enough the picture of a Bookie and a towel and Sreesanth flashed across my mind.

Interestingly this maid of mine was initially reluctant to work at my place. She was referred by the society security guard. When she first came to my house besides discussing her ‘pagar’(wage) she said that she was not very comfortable in working in a house of a bachelor, “Sharab peete hain, ladki aati hai, ghar ganda rakhte hain. Shuru mai ek hafta kaam kar ke dekhti hum, jamega to sochungi”

It has been 5 months, and despite my threats of terminating her services for taking too many leaves, she continues to cling to my house like a faithful cow that ritually stands at the door of a Hindu priest every morning.

It is not just the maids who assume things of disproportionate proportion. The next door ‘aunties’, as cliché it may sound, too have their own ‘narrow’ thinking about the guy living next door.

For them the guy is someone who is obliged to help them in times of ‘kitchen needs’, more specifically in the times when their Gas cylinder goes empty at the stroke of mid night when the whole world is sleeping. 

Twice I have been awakened by a smiling neighbor who is standing on my door because her LPG cylinder failed her. “Book kar deeya hai, 2-3 din mai aa jayega, tab tak aap apna cylinder de dijiye.”

I am sure the thoughts that I am also a mortal who survives on food, rather than plain air, might have crossed her mind. Also must have crossed, only to be forgotten, would have been the question that how would my cook prepare if you take away the only PLG cylinder I had.

However, the cruelties of life come and go and rather than pondering over it, a rational man moves ahead.

The biggest problem that a bachelor faces is when he searches for a house to rent, to stay and to sleep just like an ordinary law abiding Indian or foreign citizen. However, most of the house owner sees him as an outlaw, a danger to the ‘bahu-beti’ of the family, the harbinger of alcoholism in the society, a honeycomb which will attracts similar ‘outlaws’, the young ruffians, in dozens.

When I came to Bhopal, it was only after two months of hard labor that I could get a decent place to run my ‘den’. During these two months I learnt that there are multiple hurdles for a bachelor when it comes to looking for a house.

First the fact that he is unmarried is the biggest hurdle, secondly he will be staying alone without the company of his mother and father is a big letdown for many ‘makaan maalik’. If one crosses these two queries, the final frontier is his job profile.

In many cases I was able to clear the initial two stages, but when I told the owners that I was working for a newspaper, they would just give me a polite smile and say no.

A retired army colonel, staying in Pune was looking for a tenant for his house in Bhopal. I called him up, pleasantries were exchanged and quite surprisingly he stated that he had no problem with my bachelor status. The next question was about my job. Feeling confident, I enthusiastically stated, “I am a journalist”. There was a silence of 2-3 seconds and then the call got disconnected.  When I called him again, the monotonous reply that came from his side, san any past like pleasantries was, “I don’t give my house to journalists”. End of conversation. At that time, the only thought that crossed across my mind was a dialogue that I heard in Hindi dubbed Tamil movie which I had heard in the recent past- ‘Koi goonda pet se bahar nahee aata, yeh society usey goonda banati hai”.

couldn't agree more.


Monday, December 09, 2013

Rahul Gandhi needs to go

The Congress rout in the states of Rajasthan, Delhi ,Madhya Pradesh and its inability to win in Chhattisgarh, despite having everything in its favour, can be dealt in two ways by the party. The easier and the most likely to be followed method is to blame it on the regional leaders, regional issues and the regional voters.  
The second way of looking at things, which is unlikely to happen, is to admit that the fault lies at the top, within the boundaries of Delhi Darbar from where the party functions and directs the state leaders.
Leaders like Charan Das Mahant, Ajit Jogi in Chhattisgarh and Jyotiraditya Scindia and Digvijay Singh in Madhya Pradesh, as was accepted from the loyal soldiers, have accepted that the party lost because of them.  Any insinuation to party vice president Rahul Gandhi being anyway involved in the defeat was nipped at the bud.
But is this the case? Shouldn't the accountability be fixed on Rahul, for the decimation that the Congress suffered in these states? If not him,  then who?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Tehelka incident- Why the hue and cry?

The molestation of a young woman journalist by her boss, who, as one of the English news channel anchor puts it, ‘one of India’s best journalist’, has created ripples which have touched and 'shocked' the upper echelon of the society.

However, this is nothing new, Molestation in media, that is. I entered the ‘reverend’ Fourth estate in 2006. It has been 7 years now and I have seen and witnessed many such incidents, which have taken place not in elevators but inside the meeting hall where the bureau head or the editor in chief is taking the bureau meeting on how to cover stories, ironically, one such incident took place when the bureau was discussing how to 'cover' rising rape incidents in the national capital.

The assault happens in front of everyone, from the junior most reporters to the special correspondent. All sit and just wriggle in their chairs as their editor undress a woman reporter through his eyes. What choice do one have?

With time, any conscience in the mind of the editor that this ‘undressing’ will be witnessed by the other reporters who are present in the editor room, also fades. And with time, this ‘visual-rape’ is imbibed in the values of those who are working for that newspaper. This becomes a part of 'ethos'.  Soon enough ,the undressing of the female reporter by the editor is discussed over tea and fag, and forgotten with the last puff. This ‘talent’, one of the many that the editor possesses, becomes a part of his rich repertoire.

A close colleague of mine recently went to interview one of the most well known investigative reporter in India (He is synonymous with the concept of sting in India). The meeting lasted for 20 minutes and as she told me later, he was too informal with her. But, she took it as a sign that he was trying to make her comfortable so that his ‘awe’ does not affect the young reporter.

Later that night she received a message from his number- “You are beautiful. Your sultry and dusky color…”.The sentence ended with three dots.

This was a message that came from a 40 plus ‘senior’ journo to a girl who was in early 20s.  Was this molestation?  I leave it on your better judgment to decide this.

I understand the concern over the Tehelka incident that is being expressed by those who are outside the media fraternity, but it is a bit difficult for me to fathom that why the journalists are raising such an outcry over it. It is not that  the Tehelka incident has happened for the first time.  This clamorous conduct on their part amounts to something more than hypocrisy.

It is not the Nirbahaya moment for media as someone called it and it is not definitely the ‘chickens have come home to roost’ moment. It is just that the veil that covered the black albeit colorful conduct of the who’s who’s of the media has been blow, temporarily of course. People should just stop perceiving the media as a ‘holy cow’. It never was.

Sexual banter and assault emanates from the top. No reporter would have the courage to do anything bordering sexual assault if he knows that his editor is watching him and not her. It is they who have to take up the responsibility. Till that happens, we can continue with our protest on Twitter and the shows on news channels.   

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

The Modi chasm

One of the most visible dynamic thing that the emergence of Narendra Modi has done is that it has made the 'fence-sitters' take a side.And this assertions hold true both at the micro and at the macro level.
Individuals who criticize the Congress are automatically, without giving any chance to explain, termed as Modi supporters and hence communal. And those who condemn Modi are tagged agents of Congress or secular; lock, stock and barrel. No questions asked, no response sought.There are only two sides that one can be on. And if he is not on one side, then automatically it is presumed that he is on the other side. 
The answer to whether being 'communal' is correct or it's better to be a 'secular' in present times depends on which side of the debate you are.As far as I am concerned, frankly put,both these terms are one of the most misused words that have been molested repeatedly by its connoisseurs for their benefit. 
And it's not just the individuals who have been set in motion.
The diversification among the journalists have been blurred and the press too seems to have lost their uniqueness, their 'impartial stand', so to say. The parameter to judge the political identity has narrowed down.
And one cannot blame Modi for this 'great-divide'. Rather, one can appreciate that at-least because of an individual, the classification has moved from saffron, green, grey to a more simpler black and white.
Now, for every secular 'force' there is an equally strong 'communal' voice. For every pseudo-secular there is a fundamentalist. That’s how the sides to a debate has emerged.
A newspaper that wrote that Ishrat Jahan was allegedly a Lashkar-E-Taiba was automatically painted as a ‘Communally-Right’ publication by another newspaper that is perceived as a ‘Secular-Left’.
This visible political difference in opinion and the efforts of the individuals and the institutions to make a stronger point to support their case should be seen as a positive development. 
It is unique in the sense that rather than letting people enjoy the 'privilege' of sitting on the fence, it has forced them to take a principled stand, depending on their faith, belief and assertions.
One can always question their stand and their political belief or their secular and communal bias but then it also needs to be appreciated, that in our country, taking a stand has never been our stronger points.
The battle of intellects between those who have been abundantly rewarded with it, has been going on ever since Modi transformed from an individual to an election issue.  Those who think that he is the answer to the ocean of problem the country is facing, win sometimes. Many times it is those who consider him as anathema, who emerge as the winner. However, one thing is sure that the debate it slowly but surely moving from the simple shades branding someone a communal or identifying someone as a secular to the more complex world of merits,acumen and the ability of the individual to govern the Country.
The challenging of one’s political assertions and belief was never such a big issue, until now. 

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