Saturday, January 31, 2009

Terrorism camouflaged in Nationalism

If I can terrorize you, then not terrorizing you according to my will would be called Democracy. You may differ. If you can terrorize me then all your initiatives will be like Democracy, where I would believe that only you can provide me a shelter. The terror of market economy is somewhat similar. Almost 70 crore people have become helpless in front of this vicious market. The Govt. has bowed down and has made the citizens consumers. Mumbai attacks have however made it clear that only Terrorism can confront the brute of market.

So should that mean our Judiciary is based on terror? The more the terror, bigger is the power, vaster is the Democracy and huge is the profiteer. The new face of Democracy is recognition against societal terror. Some six years back Atal Bihari Vajpayee preached Narendra Modi the nuances of National responsibilities. From a common man to a corporate and industrialist alleged Modi’s politics as divisive in nature. Modi was hailed as a black spot on the fabric of Indian Democracy by these businessmen.

From all that has changed in these six years one thing can be learned that Tata, Ambani, Mittal and likes want Modi as the Prime Minister of India. The question however isn’t that Modi has transformed himself or is rigidly against terrorism. Nor the question ever proves that the corporate and industrialists feel safe under Modi’s reign. The question straightly is that terror has replaced Democracy in true terms of its definition. The Indian constitution has imparted equal rights to every citizen, so does it not matter? Our Nation and Democracy is under threat.

Post Mumbai attacks the whole nation is raging against the Govt. which is a fact. The working and lifestyle approach of these leaders has filled masses with anger. The politicians are playing with their lives and no Govt. has been successful in curbing terrorism. Organizations responsible for dealing with terrorism are themselves caught up. In this whole game of power and Democracy, all the Govt. organizations are doing what they desire. No policy or plan lies in front of the people that could ensure the very existence of a leader or a govt. for that matter. Masses are infuriated over the death toll and this seems a valid reason as people have united themselves against terrorism now. There is a consensus over the frivolity of caste and religion based politics and a sense of unity among the masses to stand together for national interest. Many questions have come up in this context which point towards a simple reality that had not terrorism grip the nation; there wouldn’t have been this consciousness. Or is it the terrorism itself that can stimulate the nation?

If we see India as a terror struck nation from the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts and also keep in perspective the present day socio-political-economic conditions, both the above mentioned questions could be well touched upon. Fifteen years back, the Kandahar plane hijack was one such incident that shook the roots of the whole nation. Post that, till date our nation has faced more than 200 forms of terror attacks including the present Taj-Nariman killing. This dreadful trend was started with a blast in the Srinagar Vidhansabha premise where more than three dozen people were killed.

In the last one and a half decade, more than sixteen thousand people have been killed in various types of terror violence and more than 90000 crore rupees have been lost. The nation has also witnessed a clash between the political parties in efforts to curb terrorism. Demanding firm laws, the prevalent limitations of the Home Ministry and breach into the Security agencies are the issues being raised every now and then. This has highly infuriated the masses. Contemporary to that definition the present society has witnessed plethora of communal violence and regional conflicts.

No political party ever promoted implementation of any policy or laws against terrorism. On the contrary they have been playing a blame game all through. Everything of this sort began 15 years back. Babri masjid wasn’t just a demolition, but divided the whole society by drawing a line instead of erasing it. The political scene has darkened this line though. During this time, not only UP, Maharashtra, Orissa, Karnataka, Bihar, Punjab, Haryana, Assam but also 16 other states faced communal riots. Not considering 5 lakh in Gujarat, more than 70 lakh families have suffered atrocities of communal violence. More than 50,000 crore have been lost and all the ruling Govt. are blaming each other. The Central Govt. wouldn’t interfere in the working of State Govt. and all communal violence has a political genesis. The power politics has always justified its presence claiming its importance in the society using it as a base of the four pillars of the Constitution.

Regionalism has given this violence a new canvas based on caste and religion. People have been affected in Mumbai and Assam equally and more than fifty lakh families have been threatened of their livelihood. The outsiders are being blamed for snatching away the jobs of the so called resident insiders. This politics can be called Constitutional or unlawful but none of the Govts. have had the courage to stand against this ugly practice.

Supreme Court’s judgment also seemed like a whisper in front of this blatant parliamentary debate. It was time when the nation was being prepared to develop. The Govt. policies framed during 1991 did more bad than good in the form of Babri Masjid riots in 1992 and Mumbai serial blasts in 1993. It led to big time violence and killings and affected the prosperity of nation. A web of economic policies negated the struggle for freedom and redefined development in such way that India emerged as an army of consumers. The Govt. that is supposedly a well wisher of a 100 crore population was the one who framed the policies considering a country of 25 crore consumers above 8 developed nations. The remaining 80 crore who couldn’t come in the frame of eligible consumers were forced to become one owing to the policies framed by the leaders. The new economic policies were considered holy and became larger than the masses. The executives of these policies only cared about legitimacy on paper and needs of the public were presented distorted.

Everyone from the Finance Minister to the officials of planning commission, the officers of Zila Parishad, Panchayati Samiti etc saw economic development as a result of these economic policies where the purchasing power parity dethrone powers and the Constitution seems insignificant. Not only this but the market and capital become standards of Democracy. The terror of this market economics has defined security standards and the politics hence.

The impact of economic policies can not just be defined in terms of 60,000 farmer suicides. More than 2 crore people lost support and more than 1 crore lost their homes as a result of these development plans. The traditional means of livelihood have supported crore of families throughout. It has been linked with the profiteers and is recognized by the Govt. The land which even without an infrastructure fills the stomachs of crores, is being snatched away now.
Taking the banking sector into market economy, the Indian constitution has snatched away people’s right to equality and assurance to the weaker sections thereby. Bank is now synonymous to a newer understanding of development. During the period, the income per person became Rs. 2500 but also 50 crore people couldn’t earn more than 1000 annually. India became richer in terms of Millionaires and the aspirations to conquer the whole world neglected basics like water, health and education. The amount of money spent by ten crore people on water, health and educating their children to become a Doctor, Engineer, MBA degree holder in one year is an amount that 50 crore of population don’t even earn in a lifetime. In a society like India where the society moves from one household to another without any walls, this game of 10 crore Vs 50 crore runs very smoothly.

The failure of states and dominance of capital over Democracy dictated security and other nuances and this pushed people to the market they never belonged to. There was a sharp increase of 5-20% in suicides, murders and violence during this period alone. Tension, aggression, political violence and irresponsible behaviour inside Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha increased in the society during this time. This is where the politics lost itself as a New Economy in 1991, Ayodhya Riots in 1992; serial Mumbai blasts in 1993 drew a new line in the political power after the first Lok Sabha elections in 1996. The masses lost all the faith in the political parties and their politics.

Coalition may have seemingly supported Democracy but in circumstances of no choice the politics chose market of consumerist nature. The skill of production of goods was replaced by marketing strategies and likewise dollars replaced rupee. The responsibility of State shifted from a majority to a few hands and promoted privatization. The theory of profit became powerful and this power brought politics under profit. The parliamentary understanding of Democracy became a business more or less.

Keeping in light the development other than the cultural one, what will happen to the generations who have been attached to a land now being sold off? This is where the right and wrong directions of terror begin. All the terror violence that happened pre-26 November Mumbai attacks have shattered people’s trust over politics and society. The 26 November attacks shattered the very consumerist nature of this nation to which even the politics bowed down. For the first time it was not about a particular section but the whole nation. This raised an important argument, would India wake up only by instigating terror? India has taken various measures against terrorism but the inside system is moving on the same pace, as provided by Pakistan. Decentralization of power in the society has been that anyone can get into politics by means of terror.

Politics is posing itself as terror camouflaged in Democracy where election is the biggest weapon. You may choose between variants of ghettos and types of terror. Now, only a cross border terror can awaken the masses by creating incidents like Taj and Nariman, else the people won’t wake up. And if this holds true, then, is terrorism a new tool for Nationalism?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Censor’s joust: PM and editors in high spirits

A group of editors of various news channels were high in spirits after they met PM Manmohan Singh on 16th January. The PM approved to do away with the strict laws made to tighten the noose on the news channels. However, an official of PMO has stated that the PM was very happy after meeting the editors. The official though didn’t elaborate much. Various officials have given hints that somewhat match the prevalent political notions of our country.

Almost all the leaders remember the first week of December. Post-Mumbai attacks the news coverage of rallies across Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Hyderabad by channels reached the television sets of millions rising against the politicians and their politics. Throughout December, politicians and Govt. were busy pleading as to how the entire politics can be negated because of a few politicians. The first ever comment that came from Omar Abdullah after becoming the CM of Jammu and Kashmir was that all the politicians shouldn’t be labeled as that of the same category.

At that time, our leaders almost begged the news channels not to flow with the tide of the ideology denying Democracy. However, the issue concerned millions and their emotions, which then, was impossible to ignore. Journalistic ethics and business TRPs for the first time recognized the masses that earlier fell for superstition, a car sans driver, monkeys-bears, Rakhi Sawant and Raju Shrivastav. It was the same public that once wanted to close all these news channels. The news channels cashed on the emotions of people during and after the Mumbai terror attacks. This goes away from the present political system. In reality, the business of politics and that of the news channels is almost the same. If the people’s emotions are with the Govt., it stands fearless and if the viewers like watching a particular news channel and see it as their form of expression; the news channels remain fearless.

The time when news channels went astray, even the Govt. was lost. The Govt. policies were laden with economic concerns negating the common man aspect of it. The news channels, at this time were busy with comedy and humor with people equally involved in watching. Apparently enough, the Govt. generally focuses on a certain section and the news channels have become habitual of showing news wrapped with an illusion of entertainment. The channels are denying the role of media which is to raise public interest stories and demanding a fair implementation of Govt. policies for public welfare. Hence, when the whole question of censoring the news channels came up, the channels suddenly realized their role of the ‘fourth state’.

Nowhere has the Govt. mentioned its action plan when a news channel shows dance-music shows, reconstruction of crime sequences and sci-fi entertainment instead of news. The censor carries facts which no longer exist in the media. For an instance, riots in Gohana and Gujarat cannot be aired according to the Govt.’s censor. Bribery, doctor’s racket indulged in selling medicines in the open market etc cannot be shown. Misuse of farmer’s land on the name of SEZ cannot be broadcast. Neither the atrocities of police on people can be shown nor the encounters carried out to do away with the criminals of society. No sting operation can be carried out or aired keeping in mind the public interest. This would mean that the whole KPS Gill instance which consequentially improved the condition of the Hockey Federation could not be aired. It would also mean that before broadcasting Achyutanandan’s remarks against martyr Unnikrishnan’s father, permission from the Govt. would be required. So, if the Govt. is leftist, no permission would be granted. However, if any regional party has a support in the Centre, the issue can be made as big as concerning the national interest. So largely, not showing such news means always asking the Govt. for permission. Concerns of national interest would be decided by a bureaucrat and actions against a journalist would be taken by someone who negates even a mere possibility of affecting Nation’s dignity.

Long back, some 13-14 years ago, Doordarshan and metro aired a 20 min Aajtak, a half an hour “The World This Week” and a 45 min program called “The First Edition”. Every news and footage was monitored and was only aired after getting an NOC. Though there has been a clear difference as compared to the then scenario in terms that presently the Govt. keeps an eye on the news with views. This happens to make sure that the news is not moulded to subscribe to a certain set of views. Also, to know if any political party is being aided through the channel or if something is happening against the Govt. to malign its image.

When KPS Gill became the CEO, Prasar Bharti, in a meeting he asked as to how to define if he is more patriotic than the founder of Aajtak, Arun Puri. He said, “Who am I to question his nationalism?” That was the day when the NOC system ended. Doordarshan sold time then and the producers of news programs earned through the advertisements. The Govt. had an eye over the makers of programs and the media noticed if the Govt. demanded more.

But when the economic development made profit the core motive of policies, then what are the news channels supposed to show? There’s no monitoring as the State itself has adopted policies promoting accumulation of wealth. And the only responsibility State took up for the benefit of people was providing food to the needy and ration card-tax card and visa. Also, the Govt. has given education, health, safe drinking water, employment, housing and security in the private hands, getting rid of its own responsibilities. Hence the public started lacking interest in the Govt. and its leaders. This soft corner was caught up by the politicians. For the sake of business only the most demanded was shown. In reality, news comes with responsibility. But if the State itself indulges in getting rid of its responsibilities then it’s obvious for a news channel to become latent towards its duty which is ‘Mission Journalism’.

In this light one more thing comes up. If at all the censor comes into function, then topics ranging from astrology to supernatural elements will be shown profusely on TV. Programs of a dog-cat relation, a decade old underworld tape, a sensational crime report or a reconstruction of some romantic sequence would be shown on the name of ‘news’. And this wouldn’t need Govt. permission as this isn’t against national interest.

A question that comes to everyone’s mind at this point is that if the censor doesn’t control such situations, why are the news channels worried? The censor isn’t imposing the broadcast of news only. The first answer is, the way all the politicians cannot be categorized into a single category, so are the news channels. Not all the news channels can be viewed in a single way. And the second contention is, the politics has already lost itself in the economic development strategy and has lost faith of a majority section. Similarly, in the game of money making, media may lose its role of the fourth estate and the editors may have to confront the public on this.
If the public distrusts media, how will the politics call itself the most powerful weapon of Democracy? The reason of editors’ happiness and PM’s elatedness was that both the editors and the PM realized that they are journalists and politician respectively and this raised their spirits altogether.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

From Slumdog Millionaire to Marketdog Millionaire

The Indian cinema audiences got an opportunity to watch the film Slumdog Millionaire when the actual ‘Marketdog Millionaire’ is off to jail. The game of ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ seems a cakewalk on TV but in Slumdog Millionaire this is a game of winning and losing a moment in life. This has taken a blatant face of reality that sometimes it feels like a shame to declare oneself as a part of this society. The reality of ‘Marketdog Millionaire’ is confronting the truth which is selling the Nation and society to achieve everything; that which can be lost in the glitter and become a Marketdog under state politics.

The game of Slumdog Millionaire starts from ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ where coincidentally a chaiwallah of Mumbai takes the hot seat to become a millionaire. Anil Kapoor explains him rules of the game before starting the game. Every question takes the 18 year old boy to his past from where he gets the answers to all his questions. But he has to answer his success to the policeman under a third degree treatment to make sure of his capabilities to win 2 crores without hassles.

But before understanding the film, we need to know about the ‘Marketdog Millionaire’, meaning the former Satyam Chairman Ramlinga Raju. Satyam’s downfall and Ramlinga Raju’s ploy is a reflection of the market economy. In the 70s and 80s, when Naxalism was grounding itself in Andhra Pradesh, Raju’s father earned his living by farming in a small village at the banks of Godavari in Andhra. For the Naxalites, Raju’s family was a Zamindar. The naxalites were indulged in money snatching for the nearby farmers.

Raju has emerged from these circumstances and that’s the reason he left his village and farming completely. When Raju decided to live an urban life, farming was never a viable option economically and politically. After his father’s death he erected a statue in the village and sold the entire land to have a stand in the market. However, the villagers tell this antagonistically. They say that the statue got erected only after Raju made his mark in the market. He did everything from tractor dealing to event planning, but nothing worked. Even the recognition that farming gave to Raju’s family, didn’t work.

In the political scene of Andhra Pradesh, when N.T.Ramarao addressed the active naxalites in Telangana by the name Anna, fortunately the eastern- Godavari and Kareemnagar were places largely affected. Kareemnagar is the home town of former Prime Minister PV Narsimharao. This was when Raju got disconnected from his village or more so understood the nuances of politics. This understanding polished his political skills and from hereon the whole game of 'Marketdog Millionaire' began.

In the film Slumdog Millionaire, the story starts with Jamal, the resident of a slum next to Chhatrapati International Airport in Mumbai. He plays cricket on the airport premises. Living this life, Jamal and his brother Salim face troubles of lifetime at an age of 4. From considering basic minimum to building dreams, Jamal and Salim lose their mother in riots and face hardships. They face severe hardships ranging from an encounter with the eye mafia to earning meager Rs. 2-4 daily. Life turns when Salim kills the eye mafia and saves Jamal and his childhood friend from the yoke of the eye mafia. This is how a Slumdog Millionaire takes birth as now he is recognized among the mafias. And Salim very well understands the game of mafia which drives him further.

The ‘Marketdog Millionaire’ Ramlinga Raju started his software company in 1987 by the name Satyam Computers and that’s when he first encountered politics. In the same year the naxalites kidnapped seven ministers from Andhra and strengthened their hold. Among those kidnapped, there was one who belonged to eastern Godavari area. Ramlinga Raju gained a consignment to serve the Indian Govt. for the first time. And coincidentally, P.V. Narsimharao became the PM after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.

Economic development initiated in the country and a new era hence started for the new so called business. Technology and computers knocked the Indian market and the American market opened up for Satyam on the name of providing service. Satyam got its wings when through Track I and Track II, the Central Govt. recognized it and Hyderabad became the IT hub with the help of a tech-savvy Chandrababu Naidu.

Raju proved to be a true pedestrian of the path. He shared stages with Bill Gates in Hyderabad after becoming Naidu’s only close professional. In the wake of a proliferating career Raju dealt with the lands. The dealings were accelerated by politics. It was the time when Hyderabad was valued like never before. The profit was shared with the CM and politics on land got started by Naidu continuing even after the new Govt came into power. YSR Reddy’s administration did not entertain Naidu’s counterparts; however, its doors remained open for Raju. Raju’s barter for YSR’s favour is still a mystery in the politics of Andhra.

That was when Satyam’s Raju was considered as the Kohinoor of corporate world. From 2002 to 2008, Raju’s development company Maytes owned the largest land share in the state and Satyam was awarded all the glory of the corporate world. On other hand in the film Slumdog Millionaire Salim made a mark for himself amid the mafias clam. In the film, he owns crores whereas his brother Jamal separates from him and remains a tea seller to the BPO workers. Coincidentally, one day a telephone operator of the BPO leaves his desk and asks Jamal to be there for sometime. That’s when Jamal finds his brother on phone and fortunately his line gets connected to the Millionaire show and he eventually makes it to the hot seat.

The tables turned here. Jamal, heads to the mafias with Latika in his heart whereas Raju’s hunger to acquire everything buys him tenders to Metro Project in Hyderabad. But because of the whole fuss and controversy behind the Metro Project, the chief Shridharan refuses to take it up. For ‘Marketdog Millionaire’ Raju, this proves a big shock. On one hand there’s money stuck in the land, whereas on the other the hung up Metro Project. This is when America blacklists Satyam. In Slumdog Millionaire this is when Salim helps Jamal, rescues Latika and send her to Jamal. Latika stays with two of them. They are aware of the three musketeers. Jamal had read the story of Three Musketeers and when coincidentally Anil Kapoor asks him the ultimate question on Three Musketeers, he smirks and knows that he has become the Slumdog Millionaire.

He chooses to use his lifeline ‘phone a friend’ to talk to his brother. His brother Salim, who is already a Slumdog Millionaire due to his mafia connection, ends his life over money. He gets murdered by his fellow mafias. And coincidentally the Marketdog Millionaire’s end happens because of his self declaration of being a fraud. This is a new beginning for the 'Marketdog Millionaire' Raju, as he is a symbol of the State’s system.

It’s the Govt. that in order to hide its own shortcomings has sent Raju behind bars. And the same Govt. is making efforts to get Raju out of all this now. The film Slumdog Millionaire is a hit. It has been awarded with four Golden Globe Awards and is running for an Oscar now. The film is based on a novel by a Mumbai based diplomat whereas 'Marketdog Millionaire' is Manmohan Singh’s stamp on the American market. The game of 'Marketdog Millionaire' is on because it’s not a film but truth. Now it’s you who’ll decide whether to watch Slumdog Millionaire or become a 'Marketdog Millionaire'.