Indian Democracy: Spare Us..Spare Us…!

I can not but help observing that the subject cartoon of 1949 was published at a time when Shri. Babasaheb Ambedkar was very much alive and active in the solemn work of framing the constitution and that he himself must have had a hearty laugh at the caricature and did not take offence. As such, the comic act of our parliamentarians seething in anger at the vintage cartoon even while the affected person Shri. Ambedkar himself was not moved to anger in his time by the cartoon could itself be a subject matter of a new cartoon for the fraternity of cartoonists.

Kesava Shankara Pillai popularly known as Shanker or Sanker had drawn that cartoon way back in the year 1949! The e ‘so-called’ controversial book in which the cartoon was reproduced was published as long ago as 2006! But no one objected then, probably because in was taken in the right spirit…as it should be! To wake up now and rake it up as an issue to pound shows a mean streak of intolerance!

In India we make a mockery of everything -be it democracy, constitution, parliament, government, ..name anything! No doubt every incidence makes us cartoon characters and folds in the eyes of the World at large! The intolerance of political class for an innocuous cartoon which no way denigrates Dr.B.R.Ambedkar whilst the Indian parliament is celebrating its 60th anniversary smacks of hypocrisy and parochialism. It is surprising that even Kapil Sibal, the habitually self asserting and belligerently protective spokesperson of government issues, irrespective of merits, meekly submitted to the ‘across the board’ misdirected criticism; perhaps lost his steam sequel to the continuous failure of his government and the Congress party in recent times and the most recent, Dr.Singhvi’s disgrace, could have shaken him. Cartoons in school text books are certainly a novel idea, as thought provoking, funny visuals contribute to stimulate the young inquiring minds as to their meaning; therefore the subject is better understood and retained in the mind. This approach deserves appreciation. The argument that the cartoon could be misconstrued by the 11th standard schoolchildren who read the textbook is bogus and an insult to their intelligence.

It is laughable to see an utterly inoffensive cartoon being used to create a controversy. Most of the politicians in India are devoid of any worthwhile convictions and have zero intellectual content. It is strange that not a single one of them came out against the controversy. Really, it’s a pity to see our nominated parliamentarians squabbling instead of debating and solving issues that hinders the progress of society.

In cartoonist Shanker’s days  when cartoon was king,  appreciation of the art of lampooning through the tip of the pencil took a front seat… aided , abetted and encouraged by no less a person  than Panditji (Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru) himself ..He even used to scold   our cartoonist high priest, albeit in fond terms,  when the latter slackened on his lampooning act, saying “Don’t Spare Me Shanker” !

The cartoon incident has happened even as our celebration of sixty years of our Parliamentary democracy is on. Many citizens are worried by the way our politicians surrender to muscle power, whether it is of caste or money. If only they all had debated to make sure that all the government schemes are implemented properly, India would have been a really developed country. In school I learned that diversity (in language, religion, etc) is one of the greatest plus points of India. Now I realize that this diversity is nothing but a complex social structure which provides fuel to a massive number of inconsequential political issues. Our democracy is essentially thriving on the randomness generated from such a complex social system.

Today  Shanker would be turning in his grave, whimpering: “Spare Us..Spare Us..!”

In fact that is  precisely be our cry too…as we bemoan the state of things today!

Congress in throes of terminal illness in Hyderabad

Mobashar Jawed “M.J.” Akbar, the Editor of The Sunday Guardian and editorial director, India Today and Headlines Today writes about media greed, conscience and coercive instruments used by Congress to suppress media in his column titled Cats, whiskers and mice in The Dawn (Pakistan):

Every victor in a democracy now knows that defeat is only a matter of time; the age of permanent re-election is so last century.

But as long as that dismal horizon seems only a distant possibility, the powerful remain serene if not smug.

When possibility metamorphoses into probability, good judgment begins to disappear. The mood gets brittle. The prospect of life outside the pomp and perquisites of office makes ministers frantic, and sends chief ministers (as well as their mentors) into a frenzy.

What other explanation can there be for the crude decision in Andhra Pradesh to freeze the bank accounts of the Sakshi media group in the expectation that its print and audio-visual properties would collapse?

It is obvious that the Congress government in Hyderabad is in the throes of a terminal illness. The party is being taken apart by a nutcracker: Telengana is one handle, and the rising popularity of Jagan Reddy the other. The Congress is loath to acknowledge that both these handles are self-created.

….It is time its sympathisers told Congress that quasi-censorship does not work, for two reasons. Media has more resilience than governments imagine. It is also counterproductive, for in popular assessment it only exaggerates the impact of bad news. If you have something to hide, then it must truly be terrible. An odour turns into a stink, precisely because you are not allowed to gauge its level. The best recipe for media is to leave it alone. Some politicians cannot resist feeding it occasionally, and if this
feed is just information, no harm and perhaps some good done. The fate of governments is not determined by media. When governments die, it is always suicide, never murder.

Read the full column in the Dawn: Cats, whiskers and mice

Neither fish nor fowl: Abhi’sex’ stripped by fellow ‘kaalakot’!!!

The controversial CD, that had cost Congress MP Manu Singhvi more than just his post of party spokesperson, has returned to haunt the senior lawyer.

In an apparent fallout of the ‘certain incident’ came to light through a CD,  the Supreme Court advocates reportedly passed a resolution to boycott him. This, when Singhvi had to give in to the mounting pressure to quit Congress amid huge criticism after the alleged CD came into light.

According to reports, the Supreme Court Bar Association recently passed a resolution deciding not to engage senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi, allegedly involved in a controversial CD with a lady advocate.

The resolution was adopted at a meeting of the Association wherein it was unanimously decided that Singhvi shall not be engaged by any of the advocates on record henceforth.

The Association also dispatched a copy of the resolution to Chief Justice of India SH Kapadia expressing dismay at the alleged controversial action, which it felt went against the professional conduct prescribed for the lawyers under the Advocates Act.

The SC advocates’ move comes nine days after Manu Singhvi resigned as the Congress spokesperson.

The series of controversies started after Singhvi approached Delhi High Court to stop a media house from publishing contents of the allegedly ‘forged, fabricated and morphed’ CD.

The Congress leader got some respite initially as the HC restrained the media from making public the contents of the alleged CD. The relief was shortlived as two days after the HC’s order, the content of the video went viral online.

The Congress leader’s driver admitted that he distributed a “distorted” video to take revenge on Singhvi.

More humor scoop from ‘gupta express’: media regulation bill !!!

It’s worth wondering why Indian Express drags (read, does PR for)  Rahul Gandhi into this, though.

Anant Rangaswami writes in Firstpost

And humor scoop from 'gupta express': media regulation bill !!!

And humor scoop from 'gupta express': media regulation bill !!!

The Congress party’s member of parliament, Meenakshi Natarajan, “wants a law to regulate the media, both print and broadcast. And set up an authority that can even “suo motu” probe “complaints” against the media,”said the Indian Express.

Natarajan was to introduce a private member’s bill called the “Print and Electronic Media Standards and Regulation Bill, 2012,” last Friday, but was absent from the house.

Today, a follow up story led the front page of the Indian Express, with the provocative headline “Ban & seize: Cong MP Bill out to gag media.”

The story reads like a doomsday prophesy, informing readers that the Bill provides for a media regulatory body “with a sweeping set of powers including imposing a “ban” or suspending coverage” of an event or incident that “may pose a threat to national security”. The details of the bill can be found in the article link above.

What makes this story interesting is that the Indian Express gives the bill credibility, almost suggesting that the smooth passage of the bill was guaranteed – and that is far from the truth.

“Why aren’t young people out on the streets protesting the noxious Natarajan bill, the Govt’s newest test balloon?,” asks Pritish Nandy on Twitter. The Indian Express story has even someone like Nandy worried.

“It has to be viewed as a trial balloon as it comes in the midst of intense debate over guidelines for media and while even the judicial experts are talking about it,” he said. “It is very clear that unless self-regulatory measures are not adopted by the media, the government may try to bring in such a regulation,” says Balveer Arora, a political analyst, quoted in Mint.

Mint also says that Ambika Soni and Manish Tewari said that the Bill may not reflect the party’s or the government’s views and that “three Congress leaders, including a cabinet minister, said the proposed law embarrassed the party.”

Mint also put the likelihood of the bill passing in perspective. “According to PRS Legislative Research, a non-profit organization focused on pending legislation, no private members’ Bill has been passed by Parliament since 1970. Of the about 300 private members’ Bills introduced in the 14th Lok Sabha, barely 4% were discussed; 96% lapsed without even a single debate in the House,”  it said.

Thank you, Mint, for the stats, which give us a clear idea of what is likely to happen to the bill: it’s got no hope.

Why, then, does Indian Express give the bill so much play? As curiously, why the repeated and marked references to Rahul Gandhi? Today’s story begins thus: “The private member’s Bill that Rahul Gandhi’s close aide and Congress MP Meenakshi Natarajan…”.

Yesterday’s story said, “At a time when the Supreme Court has indicated its intent to lay down “guidelines” for the media, Congress Lok Sabha member and a close aide of AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi, Meenakshi Natarajan, wants a law to regulate the media…”.

It’s quite clear that there’s no need to take Mr. Nandy’s advice and go onto the streets and protest – the bill is a non-starter. It’s too crude and ill-thought through to even be a ‘trial balloon’, as an expert quoted in Mint suggests. It’s worth wondering why Indian Express drags Rahul Gandhi into this, though.

YOUBIHAR: Are Indian newspapers agents of the Congress Party?

Shalu Sharma, a homemaker from Patna writes in YOUBIHAR, (http://www.youbihar.com) a social networking site dedicated to Bihari viewsissues and history of Bihar.

If you read news from major news channels such as Hindustan Times, Times of India, Tehelka you will be surprised to know how they manage to cover stories of the Congress Party. We know that Bofors is in the limelight again but you never hear about that in these newspapers. This is perhaps because these newspapers are sold to the Congress Party. None of the newspapers highlighted the Singhvi Sex CD Case. Some even went to the extent of saying that it was a private affair. All of the major newspapers of India and News channel are trying to cover all bad stories relating to the Congress party. Hindustan Times and Tehelka in particular seems to be publishing paid articles for the Congress party.

They are all bukwas. They have sold themselves to the Gandhi family. They are pimps. HT has cheap crappy articles with lots of errors. The editors are pimps nothing more nothing less.

Ragini Bhatia from Delhi adds a comment on Shalu’s posting:

Most Indian TV channel and newspapers have special journalists ready to take split the hair when it comes to what to report report and how especially for the present government. They are sold newspapers and not to be trusted. A few Indian agencies try to remain honest and impartial but I believe amongst the very few most of them have paid news. 

The purpose of YouBihar is to communicate with people in and outsideBihar, to facilitate easy access to her glorious heritage; and to track Bihari issues. This site as a Bihar social network is dedicated to Bihar’s supreme past and to addresses today’s Bihari issues.

“#unfollowsachin” trend on Twitter

The recent nomination of Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar for the Rajya Sabha seat has managed to stir up a storm in the entire country. Everyone, television channels, social media, general public, political parties has caught the bug.

Some are questioning the practicality of the nomination; some are in favor of a political seat for the little master; while some are terming it as a political ploy by the Congress party. The reactions are many and varied.

The Twitter has become battle ground between Sachin’s fans and people who object to his nomination for the coveted post.

There was a general consensus among the people that it was an ‘attention diverting tactic’ on the behalf of the ruling Congress party.

The party- plagued by allegation of corruption, scandals, and misrule- wants to shift the focus from the main issues, it was believed by some.

One campaigner flashed out the collective sense of outrage. According to him, by accepting the Rajya Sabha nomination from the Congress, and by personally meeting Sonia Gandhi, Sachin had, in a manner of speaking, sold his soul to the “corrupt” Congress.

Sachin Tendulkar had gone to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi, on Thursday prior his Rajya Sabha nomination announcement.

The issue came into limelight on the social media site, Twitter. So much so, the Twitter site is buzzing with calls, for and against the #unfollowsachin trend; with message pouring in at the rate of over 100 tweets per 10 minutes.

The cause was vociferous on the web.

The chief minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar tweeted- “ #UnfollowSachin still trending on twitter & I still believe 95% of them have nothing to do with hatred toward Sachin but towards Congress.”

Vijya Mallya was the most vocal supporter of the nomination- “Delighted to hear on the news that Sachin has been nominated to the Rajya Sabha. Befitting for an extraordinarily accomplished Indian.”

“I have unfollowed Sachin. He has become part of corruption now,” read one of the tweets.

One tweet sums the entire episode, “@sachin_rt U should’ve joined politics but not Sonia Gandhi, who is hated by the nation. Hence #UnfollowSachin. U’ve let down Indians.”

“Y #unfollowsachin? I thinks it’s great that he goes to d Rajya Sabha. Better than many many tht have gone before” reads the tweet of director and producer, Shekhar Kapoor.

The hashtag has not gone down well with the ardent fans of Sachin Tendulkar. The reaction was enormous. One person tweeted- “The most absurd hash-tag in recent Twitter.”

While the other read- “First you push him to score the 100th 100. Then you suggest him to retire. And now this. Mind your own work people!”

A majority of the people were of the opinion that the hashtag ‘Unfollowsachin’  is inconsequential and Sachin will always continue to rule the hearts of millions of Indians with his batting displays.

68 % Indians don’t want Sachin in parliament !

Star cricketer Sachin Tendulkar’s nomination to Rajya Sabha was met with widespread bemusement on Friday, with many questioning whether the publicly apolitical batting superstar will have the time or inclination to serve as an MP.

President Pratibha Patil approved the government’s nomination of Tendulkar late on Thursday, offering him one of the 12 seats in the Rajya Sabha, or upper house that are reserved for presidential appointees.

He is the first active sportsman to receive the honour, with the seats normally gifted to people who have distinguished themselves in the arts, sciences or social services.

The adoration of the cricketer in India verges on religious worship – a fact not lost on Friday’s newspaper headline writers, with newspapers announcing that ‘God has a New House’.

Not to divert attention: Cong

Most members of the upper House welcomed the decision even as the Opposition felt this could be a move by the Congress to divert attention from the problems afflicting the party.

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut maintained that Tendulkar should be given the Bharat Ratna but questioned the timing of his nomination to Rajya Sabha.

“Sachin is still on the field and has not retired. So why is he not being nominated for Bharat Ratna? And if Sachin is being used to divert attention from the problems plaguing Congress, then such politics should not be practised by them. Anything that Congress does is inspired by politics. Sachin is above politics,” he said.

Congress Rajya Sabha member Satyavrat Chaturvedi rubbished the opposition charge that Tendulkar has been nominated to divert attention.

“The Government, country and Parliament are above any individual. One person can neither build nor destroy the fate of a party or a government. The sooner this confusion is removed, the better. The kind of mindset Shiv Sena has, it can say anything,” he said.

Chaturvedi maintained that nominated members have also contributed immensely to Rajya Sabha.

“I have seen some nominated members who have made a lot of contribution. Can anybody ignore the contribution made by M.S. Swaminathan or Shabana Azmi? On the other hand, there were some who visited only once in a blue moon,” he said.

Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, Mayawati (BSP), Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP), Sudip Bandyopadhaya (TMC) and Raj Babbar (Cong) welcomed Tendulkar becoming a Rajya Sabha member.

Hope Sachin is not bored: Hema Malini

Rajya Sabha is a place for retired people and one hopes that Sachin Tendulkar does not get bored with his new responsibility, actress and former MP Hema Malini said today.

“It is a very prestigious thing. I am happy for him. This (RS) is for retired people…and I suppose he is not retired yet. I just hope he doesn’t get bored,” Malini, whose term in Rajya Sabha ended recently, said.

Noted director Mahesh Bhatt hoped that glory will follow the 39-year-old star batsman in Parliament as well. “He is a legend. It is great that he has been nominated. Glory is his co-traveller. This (nomination) is just deepening of his halo,” Bhatt said.

“Don’t forget Sachin had taken on the Shiv Sena and said that Maharashtra belongs to every Indian not just to Maharashtrians,” actress Shabana Azmi wrote in reply to a Twitter user, who said Sachin would never raise his voice against anything wrong.

Bandit Queen director Shekhar Kapur wrote, “I think its great that he goes to the Rajya Sabha. Better than many many that have gone before.”

Actress Gul Panag tweeted, “I am all for Sachin for RS. Better than a retired 60+ sports person no?”

While Bollywood celebrities came out in support of Tendulkar’s nomination, the twitter world seemed divided with ‘Unfollow Sachin’ trending on the micro-blogging website.

“UnfollowSachin trended not just in India, but worldwide. Point was made loud and clear that Sachin’s fans don’t like his Rajya Sabha entry,” a twitter user wrote.

“We like Sachin for his cricket. With GpCapt rank in AF he degraded Air Force Offrs. Same way many don’t like him degrading MPs post (sic),” another tweeted. “Give him a chance, he has always done right things in his life,” a supporter wrote.

Sachin interested?

The reaction of media commentators and some of the ‘Little Master‘s’ fellow cricketers was one of puzzled caution.

“Frankly, I am at a loss for words,” said former Mumbai and India team-mate Sanjay Manjrekar.

“I never realised these sort of things interested him. He is not one to express his views publicly and this would be a real test for him. I hope he can make a difference in parliament.”

Tendulkar, who turned 39 on Tuesday, has played more Tests (188) and one-day internationals (463) than any other player since his debut in 1989.

He is the highest run-getter in both forms of the game and last month became the first batsman to complete 100 international centuries – 51 in Tests and 49 in one-dayers.

Doubts on serving as a politician

Despite recent speculation about his retirement, Tendulkar has given no indication that he plans to hang up his pads, leading some to question how he could fit an MP’s duties into his hectic playing schedule.

“He plays almost right through the year, where is the time to go to parliament?” said another ex-international Akash Chopra.

“I will be disappointed if he did not contribute and make a mark for himself in the Rajya Sabha.”

Not a great idea: Bhogle

Noted cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle suggested the nomination was a cynical ploy to gain ‘political mileage’ out of Tendulkar, who has rarely, if ever, spoken out on political issues or professed any party affiliation.

“I don’t think it is the greatest idea,” said Bhogle. “He does not have the experience of governing or doing social work.”

No comment from the cricketer

Tendulkar has not yet commented to indicate whether he will accept the honour.

But news of the nomination broke just hours after he and his wife called on ruling Congress party president Sonia Gandhi at her residence in New Delhi.

“My only fear is that the stamp of a political party should not come on him,” said Chetan Chauhan, a former India opener who forged a career as an MP.

“The minute he associates himself with a party, the public’s perception about him will change,” Chauhan was quoted as saying by a newspaper.

Well-known cricketers who are sitting members of the elected lower house, or Lok Sabha, are former internationals Mohammad Azharuddin, Kirti Azad and Navjot Sidhu.

A snap online poll in a daily revealed 68 per cent of respondents did not want to see Tendulkar in parliament.

Another editorial labelled Tendulkar’s nomination a populist move that made ‘little sense’.

Pointing out that that Tendulkar’s cricketing duties kept him on the road for 216 days last season, said nominating an active sportsman ‘defeats the purpose’ of choosing eminent people who can enrich parliamentary debate.

“His new role will force Sachin to choose between his duty to the team and his job as a parliamentarian. It’s an unfair choice,” it said.