Monday, June 27, 2011
Tribute SP : Legacy of Ethics and courage in the media By Vidya Bhushan Rawat Surendra Pratap Singh or SP as he was popularly known was one of the most iconic journalists of Hindi media at the time when it was opening up to new realities of television journalism. At the time when media particularly the vernacular media and its journalists were openly hobnobbing with the Hindutva lobby in the corporate and enjoyed the patronage, he was sharply different and committed to the profession of journalism. Yes, unlike many other veterans in the Hindi world, who crossed the thin line between journalism and politics, SP was clear about his motive and work. He never pretended to be a mass leader, nor was he a preacher. Those were the days of Indian media when many of the editors had the habit of coming to the front page under their by-line yet these temptations did not attract SP. He was happy with his contents and stood with the ethics of journalism. We all know that the vernacular journalists are habitual of political patronage and feel proud of their linkages. At the time when Hindi newspapers converted themselves to Hindu newspapers and the way they reported the entire Ramjanmbhumi-babari masjid controversy to say the least was shocking. The newspapers baron was playing tricks. Most of them owned both vernacular and English dailies and hence they cleverly allowed ‘freedom’ to their editors. So that was an interesting phase when the owners put different breed of Secularists and Hindutva sympathisers for their Hindi and English News papers. Many brought them in the name of literature. SP was not enamoured by literary figures. The fact is that after the demise of Rajendra Mathur, perhaps the most respected editors of his time, who actually was editor in chief of Navbharat Times when SP was editor, the Times Management brought a veteran Brahmin Vidya Niwas Mishra as the Editor in Chief of the newspaper and that brought a complete down fall of Navbharat Times, a newspaper who every body would subscribe. He knew how the journalists have openly joined hand with political parties and later Rajya Sabha seat was not a far away job but it was not surprising for him. He always mentioned that this has been happening since independence and journalists and writers were always ‘Promoted’ and ‘awarded’ the state for their own purposes. However, in the Ramjanmbhumi-Ayodhya matter even the owners of various newspapers jumped in and became ‘writers and journalists’. Their writing was completely irrational and unethical. They forced their reporters to twist the facts and distort the news. Even the press council reprimanded many of these newspapers. The Hinduisation or brahmanisation of Indian media is a continuation process with SP a victim of it. He stood against it and provided opportunities to budding journalists in his institution. He had faith in the youths and was that way an iconoclast who never believed in big names of the literature to be the best journalists. He always said that one can be a good writer but may not be a great journalist. And it proved when Vidya Niwas Mishra proved to be disastrous for Navbharat Times, which was a great institution before SP left it. SP continued with his writings and many of them appeared in English press also. However, his best days were yet to come. As Doordarshan allowed a half an hour news based programme Aaj Tak to India Today group with SP its head, the meaning of news changed for many of us. It was a sharply different news style than the boring faces of Doordarshan who would only report about the inauguration and death ceremonies of the political leaders and ministers. (Today, doordarshan seems to be better option than our preachy and self conscious anchors of the private channels). Aaj tak became very popular and SP synonymous to it. People would wait every night to here his voice and analysis. The best quality in him was that he was not judgemental and always left to his viewers to decide. As he said many time, his did not do journalism to fulfil any fixed agenda. He was committed to journalism and its ethics. For him, news should be ethical and should not promote mass hysteria. At a time when the entire country witness the ‘drinking of milk’ by Ganesha, SP had the capacity to send his reporter to a very ordinary shoemaker in Delhi and seek his opinion and explain the science behind the Ganesha drinking milk. He never appreciated such acts which were being promoted in the name of news. Upahar cinema tragedy in June, 1997 at Delhi, shook every one of us. We waited that night to listen to him. As he started speaking and narrating the entire sequence and we saw dead bodies, burnt corpus of young old being taken, people in distress, SP’s voice was choked on TV. He became philosophical too how the administration could be so callous that such kind of things can happen in the capital city of the country. The trauma of the cries of people was too much for him to bear. He struggled for life many days and finally succumbed to it on June 27th. SP is not there but his smiling face always remind us that news can not be just for sale or production. News must be ethical. One important point that our friends must learn from his experience is that not everything that brings crowd is great. It can make great news but there must be news behind the news too. Therefore, he not only showed the news of people queuing up to offer Ganesha milk but also exposed it showing how a common Dalit does not believe in all these miracles by showing an interview of a shoemaker. When Delhi was burning against Mandal Commission report, SP stood strong and refused to toe line of his peers in the media who came out openly asking students to come on the street and immolate themselves. Today, when we remember SP for his immense contribution to India media and how he changed the perception of media and how important it is for the budding journalists not to worship their elders but believe in getting into the depth of the news. He started various products right from Ravivar from Kolkata to Aaj Tak in Delhi and converted them into credible brands. People read him and watched his channel out of deep respect for him and credibility that he brought. You can not build credibility on compromise. It is built on ethics. Nobody ask you to have a particular ideology but commitment to truth and values and SP believed in it. Yes, whatever one say, he proved with his hard work that nothing is invincible and age does not matter. At a young age his left behind a credible legacy to us and hope those who worked with him or read him will actually take forward his legacy of commitment and impartiality to the news.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Relevance of V.P.Singh and his politics Vidya Bhushan Rawat Today, we remember V.P.Singh on his birthday. We know that on his death anniversary our friends do not have time except to shout loud of the hotel Taj and how India was attacked that day. The forces of status quoists always find ways and means to undo everything that comes in the way of social justice and social change. I did not intend to write this article today but somewhere I always felt that we have done great injustice to the man himself. Even when the forces of hatred continue to speak loudly and in deepest condemnable term, we keep quiet or just listen to it. We may not be VP Singh’s fan but definitely we must understand why he is being abused even today by the caste forces, most of them, who would happily go at Ramdev’s fast or Anna’s tamasha at the Rajghat. It brings us to the question that the caste Hindus always suffer from the disease of ‘merit’. This merit which has not brought any laurel to India, no invention except the caste system and its worst form. It is a unique country where majority suffer and minority rules. It is a unique country where the participation of the marginalized is resisted powerfully. If you understand, please note the point of convergence between Anna Hazare and Kapil Sibbol-Chidambaram-Pranab Mukherjee gang. Despite their differences, they share common hatred towards the Dalits and the OBCs. They want to be the leaders of every Indian but just get panicky when the issue of reservation is raised. Whenever the issue of marginalized comes up, our political leadership buckled under the pressure and became media savvy. Those of us, who have followed the heady days of anti mandal agitation in Delhi and other parts of North India, know well how much courage it needed for a prime minister to face an adverse atmosphere. We know every suicide that time was glamorized by media, supported by editors as fight against injustice. The whole story cooked up by the crooked editors as if the High Caste Hindus are facing the discrimination at the hands of ‘Dalits and OBCs’. It needed lot of courage to implement such a path breaking decision whether knowingly or unknowingly, which actually cost him his own government. Why did the National Front government fell? It fell for two important causes of India. One for the implementation of Mandal Commission Recommendation and secondly and more importantly protecting shrines which the Hindutva forces were ready to destroy and celebrate. Yes, V.P.Singh did not allow the Babari mosque to be demolished yet years after when Narsimharao connived with the Sangh Parivar in destroying the mosque at Ayodhya, nothing happened to him. He still remains a ‘pratasmaraniya’. Those who say that equity has been achieved will not get shocked when the Chair person of National Commission for Scheduled Caste is denied entry in temple in Orissa simply because he happen to be a Dalit. Many meritorious Dalit students are forced to commit suicide because the academics have clearly shown their caste character in most of our academic institutions. But the caste Hindus have kept their eyes shut. Today, when Anna Hazare is claiming to fight against corruption. None of his colleagues ever remember V.P.Singh because they fear the caste Hindus. Why ? Why do the castes Hindus not want to remember his anti corruption campaign? Is it so because they are afraid of even the ghost of V P Singh? He was the cleanest among his peers, honest than any other prime minister India has so far and was involved in direct interaction with people. There was no ego when any body went to meet him. He was ready to go to the hunger strike, sitting, dharanas and even fight with police. We all know how he reached village Bajhera Khurd one early morning and ploughed the land acquired by Reliance Power Plant. This was time when Mulayam Singh Yadav had handed over three thousand hectare land to Anil Ambani for a Gas based power plant in Dadri, near Noida, much against the wishes of the farmers. To understand V.P.Singh, one needs to see his campaign and political strategies. He might have weakness like any other politician but he had conviction. At this moment, when we suffer from the hyper Hindutva and an aggressive upper caste lead Congress Party, we really miss this space of opposition which V.P. had the capacity to unite and organize. He was an elderly statesman who could have united the forces of social justice and secularism. India needed him more at this moment. We miss him because we see the two upper caste parties sucking India’s blood and undoing everything that has happened since 1989 with massive participation of Dalit-OBC-Adivasi-Muslims political leadership. That leadership needs a statesman today who could bring them together and fight against this Hindutva corporate nexus. The war is put on us. Our land is being acquired in the name of ‘development’ and our jobs in the name of ‘merit’. Let us be clear, it is not time to pitch one against other. Reservations provide us opportunity to be in power structure and land reforms are important point of entry to attain social justice. Well, the caste Hindus want to grab everything in the name of their own constructed theories. They are active every where to cry against everything. Whatever, they may claim and spread, the fire that V P burnt has ignited all those who aspire to change and fight against this corrupted system. A small effort of a man in power can change many things so V P might not be an ideologue but he stood with his convictions and always remained with people’s movement till his death. The abuse hurled at him shows his strength and relevance to the polity of social justice.
Thursday, June 09, 2011
Fight against Corruption: Are we Serious ? By Vidya Bhushan Rawat Those were the years when the people in Uttar-Pradesh and Bihar thought that now the change was about to come. The crowd at his gathering was increasing regularly. The speeches were laced with new adjectives of ‘future of India’. Rajeev’s clean image had taken a beating. The expose had jolted his government. As finance minister, he ordered that the corruption charges against prominent industrialists be probed. Many of them had to go to jails. He selected his officers on the basis of their probity and personal strength. They gave him results. Soon, the ‘best finance minister’ was shunted out of the Ministry to ‘defend’ the country. The Industrialists wanted him out. He ordered an inquiry against corrupt politicians too and they too wanted his exit. No industrial house in India can survive without corruption. Tax evasions were rampant and he was trying to find out the big fishes without understanding that these sharks would connive together and throw him away. He was send to Defense Ministry ignoring big public opinion against him. Government of that day was habitual of such things. Rajeev was surrounded by the coterie and completely ignored saner advises. As he moved to defense ministry, he found that there was a commission paid in HDW Howitzer deal ordered from Germany. The Bofors report also came out and it became difficult for Congress to hide its face. This he that time was V.P.Singh who we all love to hate despite his personal integrity and honesty in political life. Yes, V.P.Singh was dismissed from the primary membership of Congress Party for his fight against corruption. Yet, the successful thing was that he became symbol of fight against corruption in India in the late eighties. The students, middle classes jumped and joined hand. His personal image remained cleaned all the time. The government of the day, started personal vendetta and fictitious reports were created. Editors were hired to write in papers. Some of the biggest name of Indian media jumped into the fray and allowed themselves to be used in a vicious propaganda against Singh. A fake account was opened under his son Ajeya Singh’s name in St. Kitts islands which later turned out to be fictitious. He ancestral property issue also cropped up. Yet, V.P.Singh could survive because he was simply a man of integrity and his life was open for probe. The upper caste middle classes were first to jump on his bandwagon when they realize that he is now ready to overthrow the government. The Brahmins of Varanasi anointed him with title ‘ Rajarshi’ and he developed tremendous good will of the people i.e. upper castes. V.P.Singh came to power in 1989. He ensured that people with integrity take charge of the ministry. The government was functioning well. It started allowing freedom to Doordarshan and all India radio. It was refreshing to see news that time. It was working on labor and election reforms. Lot of other issues including Lokpal was under consideration that time. That apart, the Janata Dal as a political party had promised to fulfill 27% quota for the OBCs. On August 7th, 1990, V.P.Singh announced the acceptance of the Mandal Commission Recommendations in Parliament. Till one month nothing happened and slowly the upper castes realized that their control over power is slipping and unless a slanderous campaign is started, they will be completely out of power. So, not only slander but everything that was available in dictionary was used to defame the Dalits and OBCs. The middle class Hindus were in the streets against OBC quota. V.P.Singh became one of the most hated politicians of our time. So much that none of the Hindu journalists ever want to say few things about him. Today, when we are fighting against corruption, none of these leaders bothers to even mention his name. Why? The answer lies in the upper caste hatred against anything that provides connection of power to the Dalits and marginalized. V.P.Singh was the greatest person as long as he was talking about corruption and everything but he became the worst since he started talking about the Dalits and OBCs. His government not only did the OBC quota but it also provided reservation for Neo Buddhists and the Centenary celebration of Baba Saheb Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar and honoring him with Bharat Ratna. Similarly, Mayawati is not corrupt as long as she placate the upper castes but as soon as she has erected those monuments of Dalit Bahujan icons in the city of Lucknow, we are angry because we feel that the natural inheritor of our roundabouts in the city center, are the Gandhis, Nehrus, and our so many Gods and Goddesses. The upper caste middle class feeling is that Dalit Bahujan icons should remain in the Bastis and dalitwadas When we talk about corruption, how can we ignore the illicit land deals in our country? How can Anna and his team just feel that corruption is just in terms of money? The biggest corruption in today’s India is selling of our natural resources, our land, forest and water. What is their stand on it? What will they do that powerful and well connected people do not buy land just because they have money. Will we put a ceiling on land in India despite people’s purchasing power? When civil Society want to judge every one, who will judge civil society? What is this civil society. Did Anna and his team follow any principle of democracy in forming his team? How does democracy survive? With such blackmailing tactics of Gandhi who used it to foil the separate electorate of Dalits?’ The issue of corruption is not light but then those who want to fight against it should also remain clean. Yes, for people like us, they should not only be clean but also have faith in our secular pluralistic values and can not be hate preachers. How are these multi billionaires who have acquired their property in each state and even outside India interested in fight against corruption? Do Anna and team not know that Baba and his games, his property and his money? Is it a fight among those who say you have grabbed over one hundred million rupees and it is our term to do so? How are we going to talk about individuals? Democracy will have to come out of these individualism and work. Yes, corruption affects us all. So why not we start to work developing a movement from the ground involving those who lands have been grabbed by the local elites who may be donating huge sums to these anti corruption fellows. Should we not see who these forces we want to project an alternative are. Just because there is a crowd does not mean that it has right to do anything. Crowd does not provide legitimacy. Many of our friends actually feel that any one who brings out the crowd is great. Yes, Babas crowd was not a crowd of social justice. Anna’s crowd is similar. The stupidity of the Sangh’s propaganda is that the Ramleela ground incident is being portrayed as Jalianwallah massacre. And see their gleeful faces in Rajghat. Sushma was dancing while Advani was comparing this incident to Jalianwallah Bagh. None ever question about the fictitious land deals of Ram Dev and other Babas. If we ignore the vital corruption in terms of land in the name of mutts, temples, Gurudwaras and mosques, we can not fight against corruption. In fact, we provide legitimacy. We can not start a movement in which India majority population feel isolated, and fearful. The concern of 20% Indian Muslims and other minorities are important and can not be ignored. It is not just corruption but also their place in India and partnership in decision making. How do allow Dalit, Adivasis, Muslims and other partnership in our movement if we allow the entire reactionary forces in our decision making. Just because you want to eliminate Congress Party does not mean you can ally with any one. Yes, if the government and those who claim to work for us, are serious, then they must talk corruption of all kind, in all forms, anywhere. And not talk what is suitable to middle classes who started corruption and want to lead the movement against it too. We want the government to release all the land papers of temples, mutts, Gurudwaras, Churches and Mosques. Let the people know how much money is lying there and who is using it for what purposes. Anna Hazare and his team would do great danger if they do not consider it as corruption. Will they speak on it ? Will they take on the religious thugs sitting on our land and water and preaching us of austerity? The Hindutva forces are working over night on their agenda. They will use all the platforms which brings back power to the bramanical social order. After Ramdev, they want to bring back Uma Bharati to fight against Mayawati. While Congress is shamelessly sticking to Brahmin elite in Uttar-Pradesh, the Hindutva is busy with experimenting and who else can do it better than the Shudras. It is time we understand the dangers of such fight against corruption and expose them tooth and nail. None can be a bigger threat to India than the ascendancy of the Hindutva forces to power. Let us fight against corruption and expose the very source of it.
Sunday, June 05, 2011
Dangers of Ramdev's rhetorics By Vidya Bhushan Rawat Delhi police in the midnight forcibly evicted the Ramleela ground where Baba Ramdev and his fiftty thousand devotees were fasting against bringing 'black money' from abroad. Baba was over excited. He wanted that he will not sit in AC untill each Indian has an AC. He was in Land Rover and later shifted to Scorpio. I hope he would not say that I would not sit in Land Rover or Scorpio unless each Indian gets one. Baba's rehterics are immense. Once Laloo used to do this but then Laloo really was a great orator and his understanding of Indian masses was too large than Baba Ramdev. Baba, on the other hand know that his clientale is local Marwaris and upper castes who have generously donated for this great campaign. They all want to get India's money back. One must tell Baba that a parellel economy already exists in India itself and most of those who have donated him may not have clean hands yet since anything which is coming to Baba is becoming clean so we must accept that everything Baba does is clean. I had maintained from the very begining that the Varnavadi forces lead by the Sangh Parivar and their Hindutva lampoons are behind Baba. Long back MN Roy wrote that Indian facism may not be violent but it would be cultural fascism. We are witnessing corporate fascism today when our farmers are being brutally beaten up for protesting their land grab, students are beaten up when they ask for their rights and quota but then these are not the issues of Baba. He want justice for farmer but would never ever sit on fasting against illegal land grab. Baba Ram Dev can make some of our issues truely national. When our friend Udit Raj fast unto death for reservation in government services, most of us term it as purely politics and do not even come to support. Why is that Baba Ramdev continue to desist the issue of Dalits and OBCs. Well, he knows that if he raise these issues he will not be able to bring likes of Ashok Singhal, Rithambhara on his platform. Watching them and their faces makes one wonder that what is this hue and cry over corruption. Corruption is not merely in the form of money, in India, it actually exist in our values, our spiritualism and our brahmanical system which created this superficial superstructure called brahmanical social order. What is corruption Babaji. Simply because you belong to a shudra community does not give you a licence to claim that you must be working for their rights. In fact, you are converting the new assertive shudras to again bow to brahmanical Hinduism which is the aim of such forces lead by the Hindutva. They want shudras to forget asking their rights, political and economic power. They want to use Shudra's power to actually hit at the bottom of Dalits. They want to make shudras as the gate keepers of brahmanical system which Ambedkar had long back rightfully commented. You can look who are the people around Baba. and you can undersatnd what do they want. All of them gets fits just hearing the name of reservation and quota for Dalits, Adivasis, backwards and minorities. Yes, Baba want to change our constitution. He want a direct election of prime minister like the presidential form of government. We all know Indira Gandhi started this long back and later Advani also wanted it as they are afraid of the regular coalition governments in India. They are afraid of no stable government. Kanshi Ram used to say that the non stable governments are best suitable for all the Dalit Bahujan masses.They will listen to their voices only then. In the presidential form of the government, it is the politicians, who have media, mafia and money with them, will win the elections. We all know who have these with them. Dalits-Bahujan know it well. But then Baba is working on RSS iagenda who always wanted to scarp our secular constitution. Yesterday baba said that I condemn rape on women when a journalist asked him question. He said that he eat at the homes of Harijans and Balmikis. How great he is. He was actually unable to hide his discomfort on the question itself.He forgot Harijan is a prohibited word and they do not need his 'greatness' to eat at his home. He must know that illicit money can not be black as it is the money of the people who are pushing him. He must know that our temples and muths are dens of corruption. In this country, an average Indian has .6 hectare of land.Most of the Dalits do not possess land but you can have huge track of land in the name of cows and any damn gods. There is a ceiling law where an individual can not procure over 18 acres of land. It is different in different states yet it is not over 18-20 acres of land yet for different Gods, we can have thousands of acres of land. All the corruption in India stem from brahmanical corruption. The illicit money in these temples need to be exposed. We must tax all the money in these temples and mutths. Government must bring out a law to regulate these temples like the SGPC in Punjab and other parts of the country. Baba Ramdev, we just want to know why you need such huge track of land. Why you need a chopper to reach masses. You must get the old Mahabharat or Ramayana time chopper and not the modern day instruments to preach your spiritualism. You speak of rehtrorics. We all want to fight against corruption. It is a serious issue. Do not make it non serious through your antics and oversimplifications. Your donors must be having the interest in the so called black money which exists not just in Mauritius or Switzerland but in India too. Why dont you speak of the illicit money in India itself. The Dalit Bahujan masses do not have it. Even the socalled corrupt leaders of theirs do not have this much of money to send to Swiss Bank. This illicit money and I refuse to say black money as I respect the power of blacks.. I respect the color of black.. and I refuse to call black as the symbol of illicit things. For me black is symbol of revolt.. it is colour of Dalit Bahujan. Do not attack our colours. Ask all your donors who are giving you handsome donation as where is their money coming from. I can vouch that Dalit Bahujan Adivais do not need your Yoga as they are hardworking masses.. and they are not in a position to pay you handsome donation baba. Mahatmas have come and gone, said Dr Ambedkar on Gandhi's fast. He blamed that Gandhi did fasting for everything but not a single fast for the emancipation of Dalits. The only fast Gandhi did related to Dalits was for denying them the rights under seperate electroate. So many years after Gandhi, when our Dalits and OBCs are asserting and seeking their role in power politics and rejecting the castiest Varnashram dharma, the danger of Baba Ramdev is that they try to evade these issues and damage the forces of social justice. We condemn the police brutalities in Ramleela ground. But then dont we know how our police behave. How our governmeent behave. When this police beat up Muslim boys, cook up stories about them, leak them to media, we jump and report those as gospel truth. When they inflict brutalities on the Adivasis in Chhatishgarh and Jharkhand, we keep conspicuous silent and say they deserve it. Why are we so angry. Is it because most of these devotees belong to upper caste middle classes? And finally, if Baba want to do politics, he must join it and claim it. He must clear his agenda. Every one has a right to start a campaign for himself. Dont use your Yoga classes and Vandemataram for politics. This is absolute communal agenda from backroom and again putting the brahmanical agenda on the top of our head. We must be careful.