Archive for the Media Category

Lose Elections? Point Fingers!

Posted in Media with tags , , , , , on May 17, 2014 by swatiaiyer

One more election is behind us.  The results are out.  Good, bad, ugly, indifferent – the voice of the people has prevailed.  That is what the spirit of democracy is all about.  The point here is not to talk about the results or the merits or demerits thereof.  The question here is the attitudes which dictate the results.

Our erstwhile UPA has received a drubbing of a lifetime.  Who is responsible?

Rahul, PM, govt, silence, tickets, campaigning … Congress blames them all

reads the news on page 2 of today’s Indian Express.  So the blame game has begun.  Do we see a read “Congress = Gandhi family and Gandhi family = Congress” in this statement?  Who or what constitutes the Congress party?  There is no denying the fact that these are the people who have dictated everything and the party workers have as usual fallen into a feudalistic pattern of saying “Jee Huzoor”.  “Soniaji and Rahul Baba” have been shamelessly kowtowed to.  Sadly and shamefully enough, our erstwhile PM – an economic guru in his own right, who could have done miracles for our country if he had chosen to stick to his expertise without agreeing to being a puppet – did the same.  A man of his stature was reduced to (and chose to be reduced to) a mere caricature with no voice of his own.  Put it down to a phase of losing one’s capacity of discrimination or good judgment.  Happens to all.  So who is to blame?  Rahul, the PM, the govt (read Sonia) alone?  When will the Congress ever learn to get over this mentality of being serfs to the feudal lords?  Or will they ever?  Do they not see the fingers pointing at themselves while they point at the above persons?  (Or is that why they make sure that most fingers point at someone else)?

Pleasantly and surprisingly enough, Rahul and Sonia have shown the grace (at least publicly) of accepting responsibility for the drubbing.

“Congress party has done pretty badly. There is a lot for us to think about. As vice-president I hold myself responsible for what has happened,” Rahul told reporters.

Sonia too accepted blame.

“This mandate is clearly against us, our party. We accept politely this decision of voters and respect it. But at the same time, we also hope the next government will not make any compromise with the unity of Indian society and the interests of the nation,” she said. ……

Are they going to do anything to change their style of functioning?  Are they going to adopt a more mature, responsible and democratic way of running their party as well as style of governing?  Only time can tell.  But if history has to be believed …...

 a shell-shocked Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her deputy Rahul Gandhi took personal responsibility for the drubbing.

What is so shocking?  Did they not feel the mood of the people?  Probably not.  They were so blinded by power that they either did not see or chose not to see what was happening or believed that the people would be stupid enough to bring them back to power no matter what because “the people did not have a choice”.  They did not believe it possible that the people would opt for some other party, no matter which one.  The wake up call came too late – after the AAP won the Delhi elections.  That was the first sign that people were looking for better options.

Here is evidence of that arrogance – from the mouth of our esteemed PM coming as recently as Jan 2014.

Corruption issues which have come to light during UPA-2.

Most of these charges relate to the period of UPA-1. Coal block allocation as well as 2G spectrum allocation were both in the era of the UPA-1. We went to the electorate on the basis of our performance in that period,and the people of India gave us the mandate to govern for another five years. So,whether these issues which have been raised from time to time by the media,sometimes by the CAG,sometimes by court,one must never forget that they belong to a period which was not the period of the UPA-2,but the period relating to the previous five years,and the people of India entrusted us with new responsibilities. So the people of India do not seem to have paid heed to all these charges of corruption which are levied against me or my party.

The AAP – a party for whom I had great hopes.  A party who threw away the advantage they had.  The people had had enough of the corruption (no matter what our erstwhile PM thought) and brought them to power.  What did they do?  Resigned within weeks of being brought into power.

Surprisingly enough, our public which has been so patient with the two main national parties and their shenanigans (despite the fact that they have had decades to pull up their socks) did not show the same patience with a fledgling party which has not had even a fraction of the time the other two had, to learn their lessons.  Has a gross injustice been done?

no sooner had the first results started trickling in, there seemed more trouble for AAP internally with Ilyas Azmi, its political affairs committee member, blaming Arvind Kejriwal’s “autocratic style of functioning” for the rout …….

What they refuse to acknowledge, however, is how the party spread itself too thin contesting 443 seats with a Rs 37 crore kitty against the better judgement of Kejriwal and how it may have paid the price of diluting its original Assembly poll plank of corruption to start talking about communalism as an equal if not greater menace.

Mamata Banerjee is one more example of blindness that is hitting our political leaders.

Mamata, however, refused to make any reference to BJP’s rise but hinted at money power. “If you have money you can render an election one-sided, from the national to the regional,” she said. “This election had many lessons to give. The biggest question out of this outcome is if we will have value-based politics or valueless politics.” She said TMC will play a constructive role as an opposition party.

No one can deny the role that money plays in politics or elections.  But to assume that that is the MAIN or SOLE criterion that dictates victory at the hustings is being obtuse to say the least.  Is this a case of selective blindness or outright refusal to see the truth?  Here is a politician who is intolerant of contrary views, a politician who brooks no criticism, walks out of interviews when anyone who questions her policies after branding them as “Maoists”.

I have a simple question.  How long are politicians going to continue bribing people, think they can buy their loyalties, be blind to their own short-comings and go on the assumption that the electorate is stupid and bank on short public memory?  Is it not high time for them to wake up?

 

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It is Official – They are the Third Gender

Posted in Media with tags , , , , , on April 16, 2014 by swatiaiyer

After 2000 years India recognizes eunuchs as the third sex reads the news item.  Welcome news.  It is grossly unfair that people born with birth defects have hitherto been abandoned by their families to be brought up in eunuch colonies and forced to beg, resort to extortion and such like.  They have in turns been despised and feared.  No one would consider trusting them with a job partly because of prejudices, distrust born thereof or simple hatred.  They have been referred to in the Mahabharat and were employed in Mughal courts as guards to the harems.

High time we got over archaic notions and learned to accept that they are individuals with just the same rights and liberties as any other individual on earth.  And here comes the crux of the matter.  The Supreme Court in their ruling have formally recognised as a third sex and listed as a “backward” caste entitled to reserved government jobs and university places

“Backward caste”???  Where does the caste equation come into this?  Once they are recognized as a third gender, does that not make them just as equal as the other two?  As a class of people who have been underprivileged as well as persecuted over the centuries, they certainly deserve all possible help to become part of mainstream society and to lead their lives normally with full dignity.  To that extent, giving them government jobs as well as places in the universities is a great start, though it would have been better to probably ensure that they got a basic school education (how many of them have been through school to be assured of university places?) in the first place.  Economic help could be provided to families whose children have been afflicted at birth.  This might just prevent from them abandoning them to a life on the streets or to giving them up to eunuch communities.

What is being done to prevent eunuchs coming and taking away children who are born with birth defects or from forcibly castrating boys just to make them a means of earning money?  Are any steps going to be taken to ensure that these people stop resorting to extortion at weddings and birth celebrations?  What steps are going to be taken to take them off the streets and ensure that they get into regular jobs where they have to work to earn a living?  What is going to be done for those members of this group who are now adults but don’t have appropriate qualifications to enter universities or government positions?  Are any steps going to be taken to ensure that people availing of these facilities are genuinely birth afflicted individuals and not people who mutilate themselves or feign psychological problems merely in order to avail of these reservations?

A lot of questions to be answered which only the concerned implementing authorities as well as time can answer.

 

Aadhar or Niraadhar?

Posted in Media with tags , , , , , on November 9, 2013 by swatiaiyer

Two days ago I received a refill of my Indane gas cylinder which I had ordered recently.  Not very long ago, all gas companies got customers to provide proper ID proof (passport copies, electricity bills) with proof of address in order to be able to continue getting their services.  Subsequent to this a system of booking a refill on phone which functions 24 hours was introduced and believe me, it has been functioning very efficiently.  Just goes to show what we can achieve if we just put our minds to it.

However, here comes the twist in the story.  This time round the guy who delivered the cylinder informed us that we need to give a copy of our Aadhar card (supposed to be a unique identity card which was introduced with a lot of fanfare but has been going through several birthing pangs) in order to be able to avail of the subsidized rates, failing which we would have to buy cylinders at the full price of Rs. 1000/-.

Now as it happens, I have an Aadhar card, but my husband in whose name the gas connection is booked does not have one.  So either he has to get one, which is not an issue,(the easier option) or we have to get the gas transferred to my name.

However, there are some facts here that are being glossed over.  A PIL was filed by a retired judge against making the Aadhar card (which at present serves as a proof of residence) compulsory for transfer of benefits. (http://bangalore.citizenmatters.in/articles/pil-aadhaar-government-scheme-contempt-of-court-ex-justice-puttaswamy/print)

While everyone was under the impression that Aadhaar card is mandatory for all government subsidies and services, a Supreme Court interim order issued on September 23, 2013, ruled that Aadhaar card cannot be made mandatory, it has to be voluntary.

Under the circumstances, the demand by the gas company amounts to contempt of court.  

There are several issues which render the Aadhar card meaningless:

  • To start with, there is no verification process done when issuing the card as is done when issuing a passport.  There is no police verification.  All this card shows is that one is a resident of India.  So any resident of India including illegal immigrants can provide a proof of residence (such as electricity bill, telephone bill) and get an Aadhar card.  Obviously they can benefit from subsidies by just owning an Aadhar card.
  • If one loses the Aadhar card, one can go online and download a copy.  However, for that one has to have the receipt showing the exact date, place, time (hh:mm:ss) when one applied for the card.  If one does not have that receipt or has not recorded the card number, then one is doomed.  All attempts to call the UID issuing authorities in Delhi drew a blank when I was in this situation.  Despite claiming to have a computerized database, including my mobile number, they said they could not retrieve that information for me, which meant, in effect I could not get a duplicate issued.
  • “Can I get another one issued”?  The answer was “NO”.  Which means if I lose my Aadhar card, I cannot get a duplicate or get a fresh one issued.  So I cannot avail of any benefits linked to owning an Aadhar card for the rest of my life.  That of course is provided I am honest to own only one Aadhar card.  Is there anything to prevent one from getting a few more Aadhar cards?  Is any cross-checking done to ensure that no card has been issued to an individual in the past?
  • If I cannot get a new Aadhar card, what happens if I happen to move to another city/state?  How do I provide evidence of my new residence (based on Aadhar card) if I cannot get a fresh one with the address changed?

These are just some of the very basic problems which do not seem to have been tackled (if they have even occurred to them) by the people trying to impose the use of Aadhar card on the citizens.  Besides the Aadhar card had been earlier touted to be a purely voluntary card and not compulsory.

Issues of privacy too come into play.  Why would anyone want to share their bank details with private parties who are handling this entire business of issuing Aadhar cards?  (That a large number of people in this country do not have bank accounts is a different story altogether).  Is this another way of playing “Big Brother” in public life?  Would it not be easier and cheaper to keep a check on the number of gas cylinders that one purchases and ensure that no more than 9 a year are provided at subsidized rates?  Would it not make more sense to have a proper citizenship card for everyone? 

Yet another story of a well-meant idea of a UID card that has been totally messed up.  We shall wait till the government suddenly wakes up to the need for a citizenship card and all other cards owned by one become invalid – some more money which could have been better used will have been successfully thrown down the drain.

 

Excuse Us, We Are Indian!

Posted in Media on July 21, 2013 by swatiaiyer

Shashi Tharoor once tweeted:  “Arranged marriage is a funny concept:  All your life you are taught not to talk to strangers; Suddenly you are asked to sleep with one”. Why am I bringing this up today?  No, not because I want to discuss the advantages or disadvantages, pros or cons of arranged marriages or of other kinds of marriages.  In fact marriages of any kind are just not on my radar today.  I only brought it up because it came to mind when I was thinking of our Indian behaviour in general. Everyday there is a war when I watch Atelly.  The husband demands that the volume be turned down.  If I turn it down according to his wishes, I will have to crawl into the television to be able to listen to the dialogues.  But come commercial time, the volumes automatically go up by a few decibels.  It is really annoying having to turn the telly up and down all the time, especially given the frequency at which we have commercial breaks.  So I was pretty surprised today when I heard one ad where the volume was pretty low.  I looked up from my laptop (I was multitasking as usual) only to realize that it was an ad telling folks to go and get themselves tested for HIV if they have had unprotected sex in the recent past and informing them that it takes a while for the symptoms of AIDS to become evident. Now isn’t this something one would expect would need to be shouted out from the rooftops to educate people?  Why such coyness about HIV/AIDS when there is no embarassment about advertising sanitary napkins, condoms and other such stuff?  So why was this not at a higher volume? Why can’t we just be factual instead about being so hypocritical?  Don’t talk to young people of the opposite gender.  Wait for your elders to find you a partner.  When they do, just jump into the fray and get about business producing grand-kids to carry on our lineage and for the grandparents to play with.  We have the second highest population in the world, but we feel embarrassed to talk of topics like how to protect oneself from risks associated with sexual activity?  What is this if not hypocrisy?

Does Our Culture Really Allow For Violence?

Posted in Culture, Media on March 15, 2013 by swatiaiyer

Slap! Slap!! Slap!!!  Three resounding, echoing back handed slaps across the face.  The husband slaps the wife.  The mother slaps the son.  The brother slaps the sister.  The sister slaps the brother.  The sister-in-law slaps the brother-in-law ….. and so on.  The worst of them all are scenes of the police/CID slapping criminals to make them confess.  Basically the virtuous person slaps the person “lacking in virtue or moral values” or the person who “has gone astray.  It is perfectly justified if we were to believe the innumerable soaps on television.

Everything is defined clearly in black and white.  There is no hue of grey to be seen anywhere. There is no scope for such a shade in human life.  It just cannot be allowed.

So what exactly are the censors doing?  An innocuous kiss which is an expression of love and affection is not allowed, it is something that is censored and cut off mercilessly.  It is not fit for viewing by children under a certain age.  Mind you, I am NOT saying that there should be no censorship.  But then how is that violence of this kind is considered alright for viewing by children?  What is the message being conveyed to them?  Or for that matter what is the message being conveyed to the masses whose opinions are so easily swayed by the media?  That physical violence is alright?  That it is alright to correct wrong by physical violence?  That two wrongs make a right?  That slapping a person CAN set him/her right?  That third degree torture is alright to extract confessions?  Where are concepts of human rights?

How do we expect any social changes or decrease in violence on women and children and deaths due to such events?

Is this the “Indian culture and traditions” that we wax eloquent about and shout out from the rooftops about?

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