Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Tale of Two Circuses—Barkha Dutt’s Circus or The One We’re Watching?

Dear Ms. Barkha Dutt. One can best describe you as the once self-acclaimed ‘bravest thing that happened to Indian Journalism’ (or so people believed until they saw the real you). After that everyone knows of the story of the Barkha ‘Radiagate’ Dutt, the one that was booed, heckled, and shooed away (at a rally to support Anna Hazare). Before readers think this is another piece to describe Barkha’s fall, let me get you back on track. So, as I was saying, the post-Radiagate still self-righteous Ms. Dutt recently wrote this article on the current political scenario, a scenario described as a circus by her. No surprise that the fake news channels’ latest punching bag Baba Ramdev figures as a major participant in the Barkha ‘Political Analyst’ Dutt’s circus. Predictably, the semi-literate waitress from mafia land is not mentioned, given that these fake news channels follow the policy of making her never accountable, never answerable, and only spoken about in a positive light-- ‘the Untouchable’.
BTW all of us know that ‘The Untouchables’ made a (no longer so) secret visit to Switzerland, but TV channels including Ms. Dutt’s loss-making NDTV did not care to mention that. Instead, some channels did their best to cover this sly visit by Ms. Sonia Maino Gandhi. Slyer than the ex-waitress, these channels tried to shroud the visit in secrecy by posting misleading questions as headlines---Will Jayalalitha meet Sonia while in the capital, the headlines asked. These headlines were cooked up by a genius who thought this would effectively debunk Subramaiam Swamy’s claims of the mother-son duo being in Switzerland.  Meanwhile, the once-upon-a-time waitress and son, along with their entourage was busy moving large sums of loot from one bank to another and investing the money in property before it became declared as national wealth, no matter what Shekhar ‘ShakeNotHer’ Gupta’s debunking theories  may claim. TV channels can’t pretend to not know where their paymistress is at any given point in time. It’s a part of their job to know. It’s also a part of their job to mislead the public about her whereabouts, which is what they were diligently doing.
So Barkha ‘Predictable’ Dutt  speaks of this ‘circus’ that would feature people she calls right-wing loonies and Baba Ramdev, and any one that stands up to challenge the hegemony of the ex-waitress and her servile and greedy cronies. Her circus predictably does not include those she believes are royalty—namely the same ex-waitress and her progeny.  To  Barkha ‘Hate India’ Dutt, an awakening of people against corruption may well look like a circus, for, the concept of loving one’s nation, worrying about national interest, and hoping for governance reform must be as alien as the concept of speaking the truth.
We’ve had a circus long before Ms. Dutt’s current circus---the one we’ve been watching for a few years now---where sell outs like Dutt (for cash and servility to their foreign lords) distort truth and deliver anti-India and anti-Hindu malice---parading as news.  Starring in this circus as major clowns are many of these smooth-talking, oh so westernized, ‘educated’, suave types, going overboard in their slavishness to hand over the nation to foreign ‘powers’ that they kow tow before. This circus is getting funnier over time because the joke that was once on undiscerning viewers and readers, is now on these servile types who are no longer trusted or taken at face value. If one took a nationwide credibility survey of various media and media personalities, it would become evident that no one takes these jokers seriously any more.
Our circus (as separate from the one ‘political analyst’ Dutt describes) features Barkha ‘False Propaganda’ Dutt and the propaganda machine she works for named NDTV, that poses as a news channel---the one that never dares to ask relevant questions, the one that never dares to ask questions at all of some, including this ex-waitress and her ‘PM in waiting’ forever son.  
Did these fake news channels dare to report about the sly Cabinet move that has taken the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) out of the purview of the Right to Information (RTI)? In the wake of numerous scams of humungous proportions, doesn’t the public have a right to know how the only investigating agency currently in operation for bringing the guilty to justice (i.e. the CBI) conducts its investigations? Cowards at NDTV and CNN-IBN only show how spineless they are in their servility when they don’t report this major policy change and do not ask these questions to those governing.  Educated fools, serving a semi-literate mafia paymistress playing hapless widow (see this article) are the real clowns not those like Anna Hazare or Baba Ramdev who challenge a corrupt system.
Subramaniam Swamy has advocated that declaring money in Swiss accounts as national property will help get this loot back to the country (visit  for the complete transcript of Subramiam Swamy’s talk on corruption). Baba Ramdev’s movement echoed this simple demand among others. Even the man on the street today knows that this measure will work. Only, Barkha ‘Let’s Not Talk About it’ Dutt and her types don’t talk about it thinking the issue will go away by their silence.
Meanwhile, the bunch of clowns including Barkha ‘Clever by Half’ Dutt,  ‘ShakeHerNot’ Gupta, Rajdeep ‘Malign for Profit’ Sardesai, and others are trying to play protectors to democratic institutions by defining the limits of civil society’s rights and roles. If you ask me, from among these Anti-Fast Activist brigade, at least one clown (Rajdeep ‘Potbelly’ Sardesai) would do well if he went on a fast.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Media Sabotage

Typically, any Media outlet has two choices in the current political upheavals. Either they speak out against Corruption or they resort to maligning movements that oppose Corruption. It’s clear for the viewers to see that several Media outlets have chosen to malign movements opposing Corruption.  The nexus between Media and the Corrupt Congress is clear for all to see. To justify the funding they get from the Congress, they must sabotage the mass movement opposing Corruption.
Of course, for any individual or channel, the strategy for maligning peaceful movements against Corruption will need to include a sufficient dose of media elitism. After all, when you trash a mainstream people’s movement, you must claim, among other things, that the general public is misled and ill-informed. Hence, the very approach (media elitism) alienates the viewership from the channel. It’s a tight-rope walk, because on the one hand, the very content of programming makes them appear anti-people, and on the other, the core content (maligning the mass movement) cannot be altered.
So, they must risk losing people’s trust and, in turn, lose viewership. Some of these Media outfits are already close to the place where Anchors speak to the walls in their studios, instead of the general public. How can such channels hope to influence political dynamics? Moreover, channels may try to explain away low TRPs as temporary phenomena.  But what can they do about losing credibility and trust of the people? Nothing! In their attempts to earn their pay from the governing Congress bosses, Media channels must compete with other similarly paid stooges. This calls for increased stridency in maligning the mass movement against Corruption. No wonder Media channel Anchors are sounding shriller and shriller! Every liar knows that a lie must be repeated oft for it to fill up the space of discourse. A truth can be spoken silently and fewer times. When Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi speak softly, their voices carry far. Their words carry weight, a quality that not many of these Anchors can claim to have. Rahul Kanwal, rather known for his sedate and sober manner was sounding so out-of-character-ly (if I may use the term) shrill on the particular show where he had to focus on ‘saffron’ rather than the issue of Corruption. His eyes were visibly watering from the effort of stretching his limitedly used vocal chords. For Rajdeep, shrillness is a way of life. He’s been doing this thing forever. After all, those at NDTV are his alma maters and role models rolled in one.
Their major goal is to distract attention from the core issue, to undermine it, and to discredit those who seek to highlight it. With Black Money and Corruption as core issues, this is no mean task. What goes with the territory is that they can no longer prevent the nation from seeing them for who they are. It gets clearer and clearer to viewers and the nation at large that these Media channels choose illicit funding over:
·         reforming the country’s legislative framework
·         ridding the country of blatantly and massively corrupt forces
·         helping the nation’s poorest inhabitants live with the dignity they deserve.
To them, this choice of undermining the movement may perhaps appear as an easier alternative to finding alternate and honest sources of funding, despite the fact that this choice portrays them as elitist and anti-people. Seek honest sources of funding? Oh no! That would require a lot of hard work and re-hauling the whole system. It’s far easier to arrive at one’s Studio each evening, exercise one’s shrill vocal chords one more time, and go back home. It’s become a way of life for them, just as sitting back and reaping ill-gotten profits without delivering a small dose of governance is a way of life for most from the governing CONgress Party. Aren’t we all slaves to habit?
This brings us to the Maligning Mechanisms that these Media Channels have come up with for sabotaging a legitimate people’s movement.
·         Maligning Mechanism 1 is claiming that ‘such’ movements interfere with democratic processes. The last we heard them reporting on Arundhati’s advocacy, Medha Patkar’s dharna, and some other SEZ-related people’s movement, we didn’t ever hear this argument. In fact, we quite heard them equate these very movements with democratic processes. People’s movements, people’s participation, activism, weren’t these the terms they generously used? What happened here? Right, Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev happened! Now, these aren’t exactly their picture of activists are they? No! Activists are those articulate, jargon dropping, pseudo-liberal personalities, whose arguments are interspersed with generous doses of left-wing philosophy that include words like disenfranchised, marginalized, and such other terminology. Hence, the very fact that this people’s movement has become mainstream, makes it ‘not  democratic’ for these maligners.
Fact Check: Both movements (Hazare and Ramdev) want the government to draft the legislations and bills using normal democratic procedures. The last I heard, even an Ordinance is a Constitutionally approved procedure. Hence, there’s no way democratic processes are being interfered with.
·         Maligning Mechanism 2 is casting aspersions on the character(s) of those mobilizing support. !  What if there are two groups, one supporting murder and the other opposing it? What if we try to propagate the view that the one who opposes murder is wrong because his character is questionable, while siding with the one who says murder is alright? There’s an in-built irony in this. For the character of the side that supports murder is automatically obvious without spelling it out. We see here a similar phenomenon. Due to his popularity as a Yoga Guru, the one with the greatest mass support in this crusade against Corruption is of course, Baba Ramdev. The cause for which he is mobilizing support is bringing forth legislative reforms related to Black Money. Hence, he opposes and stands against those that loot the country and stash wealth away in tax havens in the world. The Media conveniently overlooks the irony of assassinating the character of one who stands against those that loot the country vis-à-vis those who oppose bringing black money back to its lawful owners! Maligning Mechanism 2 is clearly an argument that the nation’s citizens won’t buy.
Fact Check: This Congress government was in power from 2004. If at all, Baba Ramdev’s accounts needed auditing, why didn’t they do so for the past so many years? If this government had evidence of wrong doing by Baba Ramdev, it would have been exposed at least as soon as he started his crusade against black money.  As we know, there is the ‘ever-vigilant-when-it-pertains-to-enemies-of-the-Congress’ Media that vociferously takes upon itself such tasks with gusto. Another fact check—Why do four ministers of the Congress government rush to the airport to negotiate with someone that they as well as their paid Media representatives now claim to be not credible? Questions that need answers.  
·         Maligning Mechanism 3 is using diversionary tactics with the help of labeling and political apartheid. Instead of focusing on the Movement, the Cause, or the Intent, Media channels shamelessly and blatantly focus on irrelevant issues. The Cause may be analyzed for its worthiness, certainly, but, to the best of my knowledge, not a single Media channel has done this. Which channel has highlighted that these movements seek probity in political life? Which channel has endorsed the worthiness of this Cause? Instead, by constant innuendo about the ‘saffron’ having  hijacked Baba Ramdev’s movement, the attention is sought to be diverted from the worthiness of the Cause.  Wait a minute, ‘saffron’ includes a legitimately elected political party which happens to be the largest Opposition party in the country, and one running a very effective government in some of the states. ‘Saffron’ also includes legitimate outfits such as the RSS, which are composed of individuals that are citizens of this nation that enjoy the same Fundamental Rights as other citizens. Looks like sold-out Media Anchors have forgotten this simple fact. Why else would they speak of ‘hijack’ by ‘saffron’ as if it’s illegal and criminal for ‘saffron’ to align with a worthy cause?  Now who’s ‘hijacking’ Fundamental Rights of citizens of a country and a whole elected party?
Fact Check: The truth is that no matter who supports these movements, they are a worthy cause. ‘Divisive’ was a four-letter word when the ‘saffron’ types were accused of playing divisive politics. Divisive politics by Media Anchors is far more real and far more vitriolic. It’s now as bad as the C words (Corruption and Congress). It is not lost on the common citizen that nothing is being said about the massive Corruption of the current government, or about government inaction.
A Word of Caution to Paid Media Stooges:  To participate in minor frauds can be conveniently rationalized by one and all. To perpetrate the most major fraud (backing the Corrupt government) in a nation that is already reeling under 64 years of plundering and bad governance is another story altogether, though neither can be condoned. With the latter (participating in the most major scam of all) however, it is the nation’s sovereignty and freedom that are at stake. If standing for truth means losing their cushy jobs at their respective channels, or losing funding for their channels, it wouldn’t be the worst thing that’s happened to them, as compared to their current spineless and conscienceless stances.  The Internet and free exchange of ideas are here to stay. In any case, English speaking intellectuals that may watch these channels are discerning enough to see Media complicity in the fraud being perpetrated on the nation. The role of sold-out Media Anchors will only hasten the redundancy of fake news channels.