Friday, October 28, 2011
With this post I am renewing my blog. Cheers !!!
Friday, March 6, 2009
Vijay Mallya successfully bid for the Mahatmas belongings'. The priceless articles have been finally brought to India by an Indian at a price of USD 1.8 million approximately Rs 9 crore. There was a hue and cry (over the auction) in the media, intellectuals fumed and the young were discussing the pity state of affairs over a drink in the pub. Well, not knowing that the drink they are buying is really helping get the Mahatma's belongings back to India. Without knowing, millions of Indians contributed billions of Rupees, over years, to help Mallya grow. Help Mallya grow to a stage where he can 'save the pride of the nation'.
'Mallya saves Gandhi's heritage', says a header of a television channel, 'Mallya comes to the nations rescue', says the other. On the 140th birthday of the man who changed the world, the memorabilia may reach the samadhi at Raj Ghat but will Gandhiji accept it. Will Gandhiji's soul be happy. Read this, this is what Gandhiji wrote six months before he died.
“I hold drinking spirituous liquors in India to be more criminal than the petty thefts which I see starving men and women committing and for which they are prosecuted and punished… I advocate the summary punishment of those who manufacture the fiery liquid and those even who persist in drinking it notwithstanding repeated warnings. I do not hesitate forcibly to prevent my children from rushing into fire or deep waters. Rushing to red water is far more dangerous than rushing to a raging furnace or flooded stream. The latter destroys only the body, the former destroys both body and soul.”
"I advocate the summary punishment of those who manufacture the fiery liquid..." Well Mahatma the nation is celebrating, the nation is celebrating the successful bidding of Vijay Mallya of your possessions on the land against whom you fought your entire life. The nation is proud for the 'genorisity and patriotism' exhibited by a person who according to you is fit for "summary punishment".
Mahatma do we really need your memorabilia. Mahatma if you were alive, not physically but in the heart and soul of your 'successors', who carry your lastname, would you accept them to be taken to your samadhi.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Through January the United States saw, on average, the loss of over 800 jobs every hour. Or 17,000 every day since the meltdown began in September. Here in India, too, things are slipping but the lessons remain unlearnt.
Many find it amusing that it took officials 11 months to declare a “recession” in the United States. Yet, it took more than 20 years to recognise worse. When does a crisis become “A Crisis?” First came ‘the boom’ — exploding debt, crazy credit, insane speculation, a finance sector gone berserk even as manufacturing declined. Then the doom — as multiple bubbles burst. Massive job losses, a credit crunch, a huge breakdown. These are some features of the ‘Crisis’ that has struck the U.S. since September.
But some of those problems, certainly ruin of industry and job losses, have plagued other, poorer nations for close to two decades now. Some even saw doom without a boom. When imposed on those societies we didn’t call these problems a crisis. We called them “reforms.” Or the painful fallout of necessary “adjustment.” When they come home to roost in Wall Street, we call it a crisis. Simply put, a crisis becomes a crisis when it hits the suits. Even within those nations on which it was imposed, the poor and hungry were devastated years before the well-off found crisis on their menu. Indeed, the predicament faced by poor people translated into the “success stories” of those elites.
Remember The Crisis that struck India in 1991? The then Finance Minister, a Dr. M. Singh, told us that our balance of payments problem and shrinking forex reserves were truly a crisis. These, he said, called for reforms on a war footing. Oddly, 400 million human beings going to bed hungry every night was never thought of as a crisis. Certainly not one to be dealt with on a war footing.
Within India, rural despair and breakdown meant little. Crisis is when the Sensex tanks. It took over a decade of intense misery before a Prime Minister figured out there were problems in the countryside. Which he then tried tackling with makeshift “relief packages” thinly spread out across hundreds of millions of people. (Even the much-needed NREGA only happened due to arm-twisting allies.) But much larger “stimulus” packages, aimed mostly at the narrow corporate world, happen in a jiffy. And Finance Ministers are quick to descend on Dalal Street within hours of a hiccup on the Sensex. They do so, as the media tenderly put it, “to soothe the market’s nerves.” Recall the short eight-day session of Parliament in 2004? It followed the historic elections of that year. The then Finance Minister was absent on the first day of that session. He was consoling the distraught millionaires of Dalal Street. The delicate sentiment of the Market had been wounded by the democratic sentiments of the Indian voter.
Even today, debate on the ‘crisis’ in the U.S. centres around how to help the banks and other financial bodies back on their feet. And that with few preconditions or questions asked. Forays into the most painful part of it — the staggering job losses — are infrequent. These are often mentioned in news items, and now form the rationale for the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act. But it is still very hard to push through the modest measures to help those crushed by the crisis — despite popular support for it. In any case, the jobs crisis never gets the priority that Wall Street’s does.
Since the meltdown began in September, the U.S. economy has seen the loss, on average, of around 17,000 jobs a day. Move the baseline to November 1 and job losses have averaged more than 19,000 a day. And the trend is getting worse. Close to 2.6 million jobs have been lost since just September. Over 1.7 million of those have vanished over the last three months. January saw the loss, on average, of more than 800 jobs every hour.‘Understated’
Paul Craig Roberts, who was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan White House, notes that even these numbers “are likely understated.” Writing in Counterpunch.org, Mr. Roberts sums up the message of those who use un-massaged job loss data: If we revert to the methodology used in the U.S. in 1980 — before the government started fiddling definitions of joblessness — the U.S. unemployment rate would be not 7.2 per cent but 17.5 per cent.
In India, too, job losses are now finding some mention. When covered in the media, it’s mostly about jobs in the IT sector. Or those lost in related fields in the organised sector. While these are not small, only a handful of reports look at the awful hit taken, for instance, by migrant labourers. Millions of these are people who left their villages seeking work when there was no other option. They found it in construction, in laying roads and other poorly paid work. And, keeping afloat in oppressive conditions, many still managed to send something back to their families. Now, as one of them told us: “There is nothing to send back to the village and nothing to go back to the village for.” And what about all those small farmers who moved towards growing cash crops for export markets that have collapsed? And do we get to ask questions of the policy experts who brought it all to this point?
Somewhere in there persists a fond and smug belief that our innate cleverness has saved India from all those bad things out there. “What slowdown?” crowed one daily, pointing to the sums spent at IPL’s “auctions.” If our barons could spend millions of dollars acquiring a clutch of foreign cricketers, it reasoned, things couldn’t be so bad. Never mind that some of the franchisees may have laid off lots of workers, and slashed the salaries of many others. Spending three million dollars on just a couple of players is worth seeing in that context, but it won’t be. Some sections of the media celebrating the IPL’s success as proof of the economy’s vibrancy are themselves laying off many journalists and other workers.
But our elite believe that CEOs lead or should lead a charmed life. Remember their outrage when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh — otherwise a darling of the corporate media — made a few bleats of protest about CEO salaries getting, er, a wee bit too large? That other media icon, Dr. Narayana Murthy of Infosys was not spared either when he called for some restraint in CEO feeding frenzy. “Pay peanuts, get monkeys” spat one contemptuous editorial. (Never mind that such publications have paid gold and got gorillas.) Now there is coverage, without much comment, of the bumbling efforts at curbing CEO pay in the U.S.Corporate kleptocracy
Meanwhile, U.S. banks and CEOs continue to educate us on the culture of corporate kleptocracy. Take Citigroup, which hogged $45 billion of public money at the bailout trough. Soon after, it sought to spend $50 million on a corporate jet — a move that had to be squelched at the level of the Treasury Secretary. The now disgraced CEO of Merrill Lynch, John Thain, spent $1.22 million on redecorating his office in early 2008. That is, even as he prepared to cut thousands of jobs. The amount included purchase of an antique “commode on legs.” Heavy symbolism there, given the company was by then halfway down the tube with massive losses. Less than a week after the U.S. government committed $85 billion in bailout money to AIG, the insurance company’s executives whizzed off to a luxury resort where rooms could cost over $1000 a night. Blowout followed bailout. Wells Fargo ($25 billion in bailout money) laid on a trip to Las Vegas for its star execs.
Top bosses of New York financial firms paid themselves bonuses worth $18 billion in 2008. The kleptocrats clearly believe that the crisis — one that has their personal stamp on it — is for others. They themselves flourish by divine right. And the bailouts seem to confirm that. The very gangs that spurred the meltdown are rewarded with huge amounts of taxpayer money so that they can go back to doing the same things they were doing before.
Meanwhile tens of millions of human beings across the world stand to lose their jobs. Many will descend into distress and chaos. The already hungry will have it much worse. Whose crisis is it, anyway?
Friday, January 30, 2009
Excerpts of speech at Seminar on "Media and National Integration" organised by the Department of Communication and Journalism, Osmania University on 30th Jan, 2009
It is not just the Indian polity that has become fragmented. The fragmentation is not limited to just poltics. The Indian political system alone, unfortunately, is the system that is exposed of fragmentation. Today, we can see fragmentation in Executive and fragmentation in Media too, but this is least exposed, because it is they who speak about it. Politicians and political parties come out openly when they speak about caste, community, region, sub-region, language, and the list goes on.
Take for example the Executive, is it not the fact that, in bureaucracy various caste, linguistic, regional and sub-regional groups exist. Is it not the fact that in bureaucracy too, and even lower levels of administration the linguistic groups, the regional groups and the community groups exist. There are instances where the political administrators had to take a cautious approach while taking decisions on appointments of Advocate General, Director General of Police, Chief Secretary and various other crucial positions.
Is media not fragmented? Don’t we have newspapers that have caste, community and regional favorites? You have News television channels that, though do not come out publicly but vouch for a particular community, not to serve immediate interests but to serve the larger political interests. You have newspapers that claim to don the role of vanguard and trumpet to be independent yet pursue the agenda discreetly.
The fragmentation of media has become so serious that there are very few visible options left to conclude that a particular media house, newspaper or television is independent. Even if somebody is genuinely independent, it has become very difficult to prove its independence.
Amid all this comes the news value. Commitment towards to the society, …commitment towards the Nation, and finally, commitment towards the National integration. Today every literate home needs a newspaper, when it comes to television set literacy does not matter. Circulation figures and television ratings apart, no media in this country wants to compromises on National Integration. Unity in diversity is the most popular phrase among the netas or neta-turned editor / owners of television channels or newspapers.
Nobody wants to compromise on the Unity of the Nation. Like philosophers say, religions are the path to reach the God, they can be many but the God is one. Media philosophers say agenda (of media) may be any but India is one. Here comes the conflict. How can you have an agenda that is divisive and yet say I am for unity? And nobody is prepared to accept that the agenda they are pursuing is divisive. Nobody is prepared to accept that the agenda they are pursuing disrupts the national integration.
So what do we do? Do we live with it? Certainly not. We cannot afford to accept divisive politics, it can be by anybody, media, executive or the legislature. A cautious editorial approach, that identifies the agenda of those pursuing divisive politics, is the way out. It is only possible when you have qualified independent editors (which again is a point for big debate). Independent editors who ensure that it is always Nation first.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
By R Shailesh Reddy, Channel Head, Zee 24 Gantalu – Zee News Limited on 24th January, 2009.
After going through the background note on the Representation of the people (Second Amendment) Bill, 2008, it is understood that the Election Commission proposes “restriction on publishing the results of poll surveys” which includes Opinion poll and Exit Polls.
Opinion polls and Exit polls published by the newspapers and telecast by the News Channels are often done by reputed professional agencies. The period of publishing and telecast of Opinion polls begins well before the publication of notification by the Election Commission and the close of the last phase of the elections.
The primary objection of the EC appears to be that the Opinion polls are “motivated and are not impartial”. I the days of multiple manufactured public opinion, there is little scope to influence the voting population. Multiple manufactured public opinion, because there are eight Telugu daily newspapers with a combined circulation of more than 20 lacs ( the actual figure could be more considering the claims of various publication houses) and close to 10 telugu news channels with over 80 percent penetration to the C&S homes. Every newspaper publishes the Opinion polls and News Channels telecast them. The EC rightly pointed out “the results of elections have been vastly different from the result predicted”. Vast majority of the voting population is exposed to more than one Newspaper and News Channel, thereby leaving little scope for the voter to get influenced. In a way, multiple opinions will help the voter take unbiased and independent decision.
Restricting the publication or telecast of Opinion polls infringes upon the right of freedom of speech and expression guranteed by Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. Leaders of political parties often claim during media conferences and ‘near advertorial’ live shows on television about the possible outcome of elections. There is no bar on claims of the leaders which is likely to have equal quantum of influence on electorate as like the opinion polls. While this right of freedom of speech has been freely exercised by the leaders of political parties it is not justifiable to restrict the media, which often disseminates the opinion emanating out of a scientific methodology followed in conducting and analyzing the results of the Opinion polls.
Strong democratic practices should often be strengthened and not barred for questionable credibility and imaginary influences. Opinion polls, I believe, are part an parcel of the strong democratic practices.
The EC should instead issue regulatory guidelines to streamline the publication and telecast of Opinion polls.
To dispel the apprehensions that Opinion polls are “motivated and not impartial” publication / telecast of any such opinion poll should be mandatorily followed by a claimer. For example, A box on Page 1 with specific font size, the details the agency employed to conduct the survey, sample size vis-à-vis actual size, methodology adopted, period of survey, etc,. would enable the reader / viewer judge the credibility of the publication / TV station and the Opinion poll published / telecast.
The Election commission should look at certifying / registering the agencies involved in conducting Opinion Polls. This would avoid fictious and fly-by-night agencies conducting surveys for the specific purpose of the media houses that are suspected to be taking biased stance.
Finally, media houses survive on credibility. Any loss of credibility would seriously affect its businesses. No business house would risk its business and credibility by manufacturing a public opinion which is far from the opinion in reality.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
But can this man really change the world. Can this man really change the way the Americans see the world. What Obama needs to do to change the world and can he really do it? What does change mean to the Americans and the rest of the world. Here are few changes and I believe that without bringing in change in these preceptions the change is incomplete.
Can America stop thinking that they can invade and attack anyone in the world they feel like? American thinks so because nobody can confront it in the battlefield . Millitary expenditures of the USA is more than that of the combined world. Therefore, no affected country would like to confront the mighty US in the battle field and would like to attack in a manner, America calls "terrorist".
America now faces the threat of a 'nuclear terror' and 'bio terror'. The nuclear and bio-terror threat is primarily from the lumpen elements of the countries that are fighting US agression, the countries that developed nuclear weapons as deterrent to possible attack from the American and the Western nations. Can Obama change the way countries like Iran, Afghanistan, Libiya and Iraq look at the United States?
After the Russians pulled out from Afghanistan terrorism stopped in the former Communist Republic. Can Obama pull out its forces from Afghanistan and Iraq and send a message across the globe that he is serious in ending terrorism?
This is the change that one who is affected by terrorism expects from a country that claims itself to 'end terror'. I quote Noam Chomsky from the book 'Perilous Power', " ... under Reagan administration pressure, the United Nations passed resolutions on terrorism; the first major one was in December 1987, a resolution condemning the crime of terrorism in the strongest terms, calling on all the states to work together to eradicate the plague and so on - a long, detailed resolution. It passed, but not unanimously. It passed 153 to 2 with one abstention, Honduras abstained. The two who voted against it were usual two, the United States and Israel".
All the best Mr President. All the best Barack Obama.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Instant justice is what the people were demanding. Instant justice because the people think, would act as deterrent. A similar ‘encounter’ in the month of December last year is still fresh in the memory of the people of Warangal and widely talked about those who were afraid that their young ones might be kidnapped for ransom.
People hailed the actions of the police when they killed three persons accused of kidnapping and killing 11 year old Manisha on Dec 26th last year. The kidnapping spree continued till the Warangal police acted and mowed down the kidnappers. To remind you, there was no single case of kidnapping of children reported after the Warangal encounter. Before Warangal, a five year old boy was kidnapped and killed in Tirupati. Another five year old boy from Hyderabad was kidnapped and abandoned in Khammam district.
I am not surprised at the way people reacted when the accused in the ‘acid attack’ case are killed. I am not surprised at the way Varavara Rao and his fellow human rights activists reacted. But one question that remains difficult to be answered is…Who took law into their hands? Police or Criminals?
When Srilakshmi was killed in Vijayawada, the general opinion expressed was that the culprit Manohar was not sentenced ‘appropriately’ and therefore Lakshmi Sujatha, Ayesha and others. The law could not end the kidnaps. The responsibility was on the civil society to react to the crime of the criminals. The civil society failed. The civil society failed to mount pressure on the governments for proper law’s. The civil society failed to sensitize the politicians and the bureaucrats on the need for a law that protects college going girls and un-married women.
It time to act. Its time enact and Act. Enact and Act that does not give scope for the police to take law into their hands. Enact and Act that instills confidence among the police and the girls that the punishment under its provisions will be deterrent. The Act should send chill down the spine of the criminals that punishment under the law is worse than getting killed in an encounter.
Lets act. Lets stop ‘fake encounters’. Lets stop fake encounters that, by default, get sanction from the public. Lets act for an Act. Andhra Pradesh single women (security and protection) Act, 2009. This is not impossible.