Friday, November 9, 2012

Is this not newsworthy?

Have a look at the poster above, it was being distributed at the Jantar Mantar last week as one passed by the otherwise crowded street, well its the nerve-center of protests which wore a deserted look on that day. A group of students huddled in a tent with some of them perched on top of what seemed like a stage were caught up in fiery sloganeering with some A-4 sized posters held close to their chests. Took a step closer to them to understand what was the ruckus all about, thought must be the usual Marxian philosophy triggering the dissatisfaction to an extent when the sheer impulses against the crony capitalists comes out often through protests, posters and what not.

No but this was not on the lines of preconceived notions. 12-year old Navaruna was kidnapped from her home in Muzaffarpur in Bihar on Sep 19, 2012 and even after 45 days since the incident occurred the Bihar Police seems to be clueless. With the initial probe headed towards the hollow premise of elopement it did not reach an acceptable conclusion after proposing the land mafia side of the story too. While the CM Nitish Kumar might be riding high on the populist notion of a ruler who has changed the face of a state considered to be backward and written off completely by the optimists, the fact is that lawlessness is something the state is yet to overcome. If one checks the stats available at the official website of the Bihar Police the trends are interesting indeed. From 1689 cases of kidnapping in 2001 the state has progressed to 3763 cases of kidnapping till September 2012, the only respite being that comparatively this figure is less than the disturbing figure, 4211 of 2011. It is the apathy of the police that has disrupted the structure of an entire family with Navaruna's parents leading lives bereft of normalcy. 

Even more disturbing is the fact that when some 20-30 studets of various educational institutes, the Delhi University, JNU, Indraprastha University, Sharda University, and few others decide to wage a battle on behalf of the helpless Chakravartys'(Navaruna's parents) the media doesn't consider it worth giving space in their anchor links or bulletins. And trust me, media bashing does not happen to be a favorite leisure of mine. But the larger question that looms is what it is that makes for a KHABAR  for the community of jholawalas and byte collectors. What it is that is tried to be achieved through the nauseating trend of panel discussions with 6-8 boxes on your TV screens giving a literal toss to your eyes, ears and brains! Why is Navaruna's story not newsworthy? Did she have to fall in a pit or pen drain of the capital in order to attract attention or perhaps highlight another issue of civic importance? 

Definitely the nation is not asking the answer to this question nor are the countrymen looking at the wider perspective as some stalwarts would like to suggest but Mrs. Maitri Chakravarty (Navaruna's mother) surely seems to have lost touch with the real world that doesn't hanker after her kidnapped eldest daughter with as much alacrity as expected. Meanwhile the younger sibling, Navrupa is getting accustomed to live with the ugly reality, bearing the burden of a society and its emblematic anchors spelling it out clearly - we don't care, we certainly don't.

(following is a copy of the letter written by the students to appeal to the Chief Minister of Bihar to look into the matter)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A duo turns into the Gamechanger

In one of his bytes to the news agency, ANI  another expose-man YP Singh shared his experience that not very long back, in 2007-08 when Anna Hazare used to call upon a press conference, only 2 reporters used to turn up at the venue. Things have truly changed in the past 3-4 years. And no today I'm not in a lashing out mode, scrutiny doesn't always bode well you see! And in a sense the duo of Arvind Kejriwal and Anna Hazare have emerged as the proselytizers of Indian Politics- the Omerta has been broken, new targets set, new course has been chosen and the entire political arena has been metamorphosed like never before. 

It was a byte yet again that took me to the house of a Judge of the Delhi High Court where another interesting incident happened. As we were preparing for the shoot, trying to figure out a perfect shot and so on, one of the servants of the Judge sahib approached us requesting to take his byte too with an explicable wish of his to appear on television. To give weight to his desire, he stated rather emphatically, 'aaj kal Annaji toh hamari baat rakh rhe hai" (Anna is keeping forth our viewpoint) thereby implying that if the saint from Ralegan Siddhi can take care of him what it is that makes us brush aside his views. It is this feeling of pride and self-respect elicited by the year old movement that has made Anna a hero among a certain class. 

If the guru had a noble idea of bringing in the Lokpal, his protege has gone a step further than him in taking a vow to change it all by nosediving into active politics. By weekly exposes Arvind Kejriwal has not only dared to point fingers at the high & mighty of the country he has kickstarted a new trend too. This means that perhaps all the leaders shall be careful to have a blemish free track record, their life which constitutes what on e may term as the public domain would have to have the seal of nothing less than safedi woh bhi Tide wali

Vadra, Ranjan Bhattacharya and Ambani are those surnames the elite prefers to speak about in hushed tones. Kejriwal's recent antics have proven them to be nothing less than slimebag who should be exiled immediately. Delhi's Constitution Club emerged as the akhara from where the Yodha (fighter) challenged brazenly the behemoths known as National Parties, finally a man with an Aam Admi topi if not the aam admi truly that way, has sent tremors across galleries of power. Rules of the game have been changed for sure, the latest player wants complete revamp and nothing else. 

At least a debate has been triggered, opposition space has been curbed the media has been compelled to introspect because after all the expose mechanism was something akin to them and not an activist and his army of civil society members. 

As I loitered yet again in August this year at Jantar Mantar trying to understand the sociological and psychological impact of such discourse I came to the conclusion that leaders are not necessarily churned out of a 'Lead India' campaign, you stumble upon them and their ideology bumps into your indignation, the consequences of this collision being good or bad depending on the end product. How much dissatisfaction, anger and frustration is building up inside a common man can be gauged through the conversation in this video  where discussion from the Lokpal drifts to the problems they face or have faced, the conversation going off the track completely. (on a lighter note just neglect the frame of the shot where public urinals might catch an eyeball or two)

Friday, November 2, 2012

A crude reality, be damned!!!

And that unwarranted violence erupted again,  the two seemingly divergent communities headed for another clash. For that matter these two entities have  for a long time since post-independence been wary of each other on numerous fronts. In midst of the Durga Puja celebrations it was Faizabad that was witnessing friction between the Hindus and Muslims yet again over what else the security of their religious interests. 

Allegedly while the procession being taken out by the Hindus was hampered, the shops owned by the Muslims were targeted and were gutted accompanied by looting in a planned manner, at least this is what the fact finding team of human rights organization, Rihai Manch has come to conclude. Interestingly before the news started pouring in on news portals and caught up with the scribes, my eyes were in fact glued to the Special series of CNN-IBN on the tradition of Ramlila. Isn't it an irony that the city of Faizabad that boasts of hosting the longest Ramlila (well, it has been going on for the past two years) failed to aid the residents of killing their own demons before the symbolic one. 

This sense of distrust and that perpetual vacuum is not an offshoot of recent past it has in fact become ingrained in our social system thanks to the efforts of the erstwhile rulers the British and their chicanery which ceased to fizzle ever since. 'Divide and Rule' a  political ideology that ensured the hegemony of the British, a fact so well corroborated in Maria Mishra's 'Vishnu's Crowded Temple'. In the 1880s in the backdrop of the National Movement gaining ground with the Congress playing a lead role, Muslims led by Aga Khan had begun to espouse the cause of what they believed to be moderate nationalism. In the year 1893 Bal Gangadhar Tilak a fiery nationalist brought into the public domain the idea of the celebration of the Ganpati Festival. The intention behind the enunciation of a new chain of festivity was to divert the Hindus from participating in Moharram processions which at that time had dancers and singers from the Hindu community adding on to the occasion. Thus progressivism eventually evolved into a pejorative in an attempt to consolidate a larger section that was oblivious of the institutional thought being imposed on them. And such designs worked for the British too when the MacDonald led National Government (1931-32) gave a nod to the provincial autonomy to the Muslims. This led to the coming into existence the 'Communal Award', electoral majorities carved out in Bengal and Punjab. 

Unfortunately the seeds sown way back continue to bear vicious fruits till date. Why this might not cause any ruffle among the broadcast community busy trailing the movements of an anti-corruption crusader these days, one needs to sit down and ponder how can such incongruities be taken care of now an din years to come. Yes, communal clash is a crude reality of Indian society which victimizes a particular class and its consequences are borne by another and yet it fades into the normal din as if its an acceptable trend in this country. Vetting the recent clashes shall reveal that somewhere exists a crevice which is utilized by the bellicose yet pseudo-nationalist to assert their antediluvian beliefs. And yet if you ever happen to visit the Sadar Bazaar and get to watch the Ram Barat taken out every year during the Navratri, the conveners shall lead you to believe that this procession that makes way through Muslim dominated area is intended to promote harmony among the two communities. If only the political puppets and staunch saffronites could lend an ear to what these people have got to say in the video below and if these words could have a reckoning beyond the limits of Baratooti Chowk, Old Delhi.