Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Gouri Chatterjee - JNU row: Thank you, PM Narendra Modi, for allowing the nation to polarise so quickly // Akshaya Mishra - JNU students as 'anti-nationals': Dear anchor, who the hell do you think you are?

Thank you Mr OP Sharma. Or simply OP for his friends like Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Thank you for not letting your status as member of the Capital's legislative assembly stand in your way of hitting, kicking, pulling the hair of defenceless, unarmed people at the Patiala House Court on Monday afternoon. Thank you for proclaiming this with pride: 'Goli bhi maar deta agar banduk hoti" (would have shot them dead if I had a gun) and stating unequivocally that "it is not wrong if somebody shouting such (anti-India) slogans is beaten up or even done to death."
Moderation, never his strong point (he was suspended during the Winter Session of the Delhi Assembly in 2015 for using derogatory language against AAP MLA Alka Lamba), is something he will not have to pick up in the service of his party now.

Thanks to those men in black coats, trained to uphold the law and the Constitution, for shoving and pushing and beating, mercilessly, completely outnumbered mediapersons and students, irrespective of gender and age, grabbing their phones and cameras. Thank you for chasing them into courtrooms and closing the doors for concentrated attention, merely for waiting to hear the bail petition of Kanhaiya Kumar, JNU's student union president on charges of sedition or, at worst, for simply being "JNU-waales." You even embarrassed that great champion of television patriotism, Arnab Goswami.
Not to worry, they have laid down the law, might is better than right, whatever they may have been taught in law schools.

Thank you home minister Rajnath Singh. First for sending the flatfoots into the JNU campus and picking up Kanhaiya Kumar for merely being present at a meeting where 'anti-national' slogans were raised but one who, by the police's own admission, did not mouth those slogans himself. Second, for not knowing the difference between fake and real tweets thereby giving true blue terrorist Hafiz Saeed, a handle to accuse India of "misleading its own people and the world."

Whatever else the home minister may be accused of, efficiency is unlikely to be one of them.
Thank you Smriti Irani, for paying more attention to the complaints of ABVP members than to the submissions of teachers. Thank you for interfering into the workings of the academic institutes under the charge of your HRD ministry, throwing university after university into turmoil and generally living up to the appellate Manusmriti Irani, bringing a gleeful smile to the face of her bête noire Madhu Kishwar who has been happily tweeting, tongue firmly in cheek, that "CPM leaders very happy with HRD Irani for her cooperative attitude towards their concerns." Ms Irani knows who are actually beholden to her: East Delhi MP Maheish Girri, Secunderabad MP Bandaru Dattatreya Batra and others of their ilk.

 Thank you Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi, for making your priorities clear by dismissing the assault on JNU students and journalists at the courthouse on Monday as a "minor incident", the "fallout of an emotive issue". Probably unused to seeing commitment to one's profession, he was certain no one had "suffered any major injuries" since the media was "reporting from the spot even after being attacked." Meanwhile, the people who may have actually shouted those anti-national slogans at JNU on 9 February are still missing in action.

Thank you Mr Amit Shah, for raising the ante by stating this to be wholly an issue of "nationalism and patriotism", clearly endorsing the strong-arm tactics deployed against the "Left-leaning JNU students," dubbing JNU a "hotbed of separatism and terrorism" and accusing anyone questioning the actions of the authorities as "joining hands with separatists". Clearly, the BJP president has found his poll issue, whenever and wherever they are held.

Thank you Mr Narendra Modi, for permitting the country to be polarised so quickly. No longer the fig leaf of the great developer, the angry flames that engulfed the Make in India stage appearing like a symbolic funeral pyre for those grandiose drams that the man who wanted to be Prime Minister had successfully sold to the nation. Growth is turning out to be a mirage and can be consigned to those flames, replacing it with nationalism and patriotism, often said to be the last refuge of scoundrels. Birthday wishes in person to the Pakistan Prime Minister notwithstanding, anti-Pakistanism is now the mantra, and will be chanted ad infinitum, on any and every flimsy ground.

 If that gambit failed in the Bihar elections, that doesn't mean it has to be given up so easily. Now the choice will be even sharper. There was still some confusion during the Bihar polls with Narendra Modi riding two horses - the development agenda and the anti-Pak plank. Come 2019, or in Assembly elections before that, we will have a much clearer choice. Voters need no longer be confused by promises of a great economic leap forward and will know precisely what they are voting for. Almost like something approaching the current American experience. The Prime Minister and his men may even have started taking notes every time Donald Trump comes on television. If we haven't got our Bernie Sanders yet, we will. Situation, the times will create him.

Akshaya Mishra  - JNU students as 'anti-nationals': Dear anchor, who the hell do you think you are?
Dear television studio super heroes, leave the students of JNU alone. You called them anti-nationals and traitors, maligned them in other ways, gave a respectable university a bad name and earned your TRPs through it all. Now please allow them to breathe some fresh air. They are young people, smart enough to settle disagreements in a civilised way. And they hate your presence around them. They are polite and they still have some respect left for journalists, so they won’t call you vultures waiting for a carcass to feed on. But that’s how they feel about you at this point.

Of course, their feeling does not matter to you much. Many of you have lost empathy. Bloated by silly egos and that intriguing sense of power that the overlordship of the studio brings, you have stopped being mindful of delicate human sentiments. It won’t bother you one bit that students are still immature and they have a long way to go in their lives. It won’t occur to you that anti-national and traitors are simply very harsh words for them, and calling them ‘worse than terrorists and Maoists’ is just going too far.

Before we go any further here’s question: by what right do you call people anti-national, seditious? To make it more direct, just who the hell are you? It is never a journalist’s job to brand people as this or that. It is never a job of a journalist to distort the truth and present an alternate reality to the audience. A day after the issue of anti-national slogans hit the media, Kanhaiya Kumar was quickly termed a ‘deshdrohi’ and the overwhelming hint in the panel discussions that followed in several channels was that the varsity is indeed a den of such elements.

The impact of such irresponsible branding by you is visible now. House owners around the campus have started throwing out students, a couple of them have been beaten up and the general impression going around among the locals is everyone in the JNU is busy in anti-national activities. The respect for students is gone. Now, who has to take the blame for that? Obviously, the lot among you wearing nationalism on its sleeves. The video with Kanhaiya in it shows none of his acts was remotely seditious.

Nobody is going to pull you up; the media in the country enjoys a unique status that allows it to get away with anything. But sirs, in your over-enthusiasm for the branding business, you appear no different from the people who kill someone for eating beef or kill someone over religion or having a view different from yours. Behind those brilliant suits and the wonderful English you speak, you are uncouth people who would maim and murder with words. The issue is still the same, though it might be a bit clichéd by now: intolerance.

Blinded by your own sense of power and the grand delusion that your opinion makes the country go around, you commit acts of intolerance that are sometimes worse than those of the thugs claiming to be ideologically-driven. We know you are clever people. You kill the other opinion by loading your panels with people who would say yes to you all the time and pounce upon dissenters at the slightest hint. We know how cleverly you twist debates to support your view point and how tactfully you avoid topics that will hurt the powerful and the influential. Students are not powerful or influential, and so you think you can hurt them any way you like.

Since it’s your space and you lord over it, nobody would tell you on your face that you are intolerant or uncouth. But sirs, if you chose to call us anti-nationals for having our own independent views, then we have the right to call you and your view point anti-national too. Our voice won’t be heard far, far away, because unlike you, we don’t control the megaphone. That precisely is the reason why you should be more responsible in your conduct. The damage potential from you is much bigger. But you seem to have abandoned that responsibility. Sirs, to raise the earlier question, just who the hell are you? Who gave you the right to play god?