Radio inventor discovered

Who invented the Radio? J.C. Bose or G. Marconi? The debate has existed for a century now. But Marconi has finally settled the debate over the device’s invention.

However, this is not the same Marconi who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1909 and is credited with the invention of Radio. It is his grandson, Fancesco Paresce Marconi, a well-known astrophysicist, closely associated with NASA.

We, Indians are aware of the scientist Jagdish Chandra Bose’s pioneering contribution in the device’s invention. It is also true that the Bengali scientist did not patent his work and he had to pay the price for it.

According to Indian scientists, Guglielmo Marconi of Italy later “lifted Bose’s concept” and presented his work. He subsequently won the Nobel Prize for the discovery of wireless telegraphy.

To make the Indian Scientist’s case stronger, an article in a special issue of The Proceedings of the IEEE had made a definitive case for Jagdish Chandra Bose. Bose announced the invention in an 1899 paper presented at the Royal Society in London, writes a satellite and communications engineer at Johnson Space Center in Houston who is also an amateur historian.

Ram Gopal Varma ki Company Khalaas

Filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma’s visit to the Taj Hotel as part of Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh’s entourage has bought a lot of criticism for the latter.

To make matters worse, the chief minister’s son Ritiesh Deshmukh was also present there.

Now! The word going around is that Ram Gopal who has already made films on terrorism, will be making a new one on the Mumbai attacks with Ritiesh playing the lead role in it.

The chief minister’s was on an official visit to the hotel to know the damage caused. No doubt, the presence of RGV and son Ritiesh has raised a lot of eyebrows. Moreover, the CM is already on a sticky wicket having earned a lot criticism. His deputy R.R Patil was already forced to submit his resignation.
Here are some SMSes going around about this:

I think he’s planning Ramu Ki Aag Part II. R R Patil will play Gabbar Singh asking ‘Kitne aadmi mare the? Sirf 200?” Shivraj Patil will be the Thakur without power and democracy will dance like Basanti…. Jab tak hain jaan, mein nachungi and we bloody 100 crores, the helpless poor dumb junior artistes will be spectators!

Join the terrorism organised by Deshmukh and Son. Lucky draw for a lead role in Ram Gopal Varma’s D!

Now if the CM finds himself without a , maybe RGV can cast him in one of his , in a role cast off by .

RGV was sent by the Big B to be part of the CM’s entourage. It’s his way of getting back at Sonia Gandhi’s party.

The Live spectacle

The round-the-clock live coverage of the state’s response to the terror attacks in Mumbai has brought to focus the reckless and insensitive attitude of news channels to such crisis. Quite evidently they were competing among themselves with each one of them claiming that “We are the first to have this news or enter this area.”

The media, especially the news channels, was chaotic in its coverage of the terrorist attacks. In their bid to be the first to show a particular picture or tell an exclusive story, they compromised the efforts of the security forces. The second-by- second accounts of the police operation would have even helped the perpetrators to relocate themselves or plan subsequent counter mechanisms. The television crew was on the side of the police, and their coverage showed the steps that the security personnel were taking.

Reporters ducked down and gave sleeping Piece To Cameras with the sound of bullets in the background, as if they were heroes in a thriller movie. The hype factor was never out. Their response gave the impression of “celebrating the tragedy.” Was all this asked for?
One news channel (ZEE NEWS) which was not showing live coverage of the terrorist siege repeatedly kept claiming that “their channel cared about the security” lest the viewers comprehend that they did not have the footage. The repeated claims made one skeptical of the real cause of restrain, so unlikely of the Indian media.

The visuals of blood-stained floors and copses made heart-rending and dismal viewing. The need that the media should tone down their coverage of terrorist strikes was undoubtedly felt. Instead of showing split body parts, they might as well choose subtle ways to showcase vital information.

Time and again, anxious camerapersons and reporters were tripping over their boundary, and security guards had to intervene to send them away. This was more evident on Saturday morning when the siege was over and the NSG platoon was still looking out for booby traps inside the Taj Mahal hotel. Though barred from going near the building, camerapersons and young reporters were too excited to follow instructions. In their race to be the first, they had no time to follow the ethics of their profession.

The media should behave in a way that helps those who are performing their duty. But what we witnessed in the last three days was a situation in which the security personnel were required to tackle the media. The Indian media have a lot to learn from their western counterparts. They need to be reminded of the 9/11 coverage by the American media.

Dipu Shaw
E mail –

India's 9/11

Sixty hours of hostage. 183 innocent lives lost including 20 coveted security personnel, 141 other Indians and 22 foreign nationals. So. What next!

The sadness that I feel for our valiant commandoes and police personnel who laid down their lives while taking on the hiding terrorists in Mumbai overwhelms me. Also for the 183 innocents who paid by giving up their lives while going about their daily chores.

There is disgust over the spineless leadership of our country and their sheer failure to protect the people time and again. The state apparatus bears the primary responsibility for protecting the citizens. It has laid bare its incapability to provide this basic and first necessity. And then they shamelessly come with sickening statements: “We will not tolerate…We are planning to modernize our equipments..”

I feel ashamed that such dastardly acts of terror are getting the support of locals in our own country. Such large scale and well planned carnage surely cannot be carried out without the help of locals, also confirmed from the testimony of Ajmal Amin Kamal, the Pakistani terrorist nabbed alive. The fidayeen has reportedly revealed names and addresses of at least five people from the city who helped the terror operation. There are reports that they not only provided shelter but also took the terrorists around showing them places – the places where the barbarians would carry out their operation to kill at will.

There is a sense of hopelessness. That in spite of being a nation of a hundred billion, who believe in peace, we could do nothing against these fanatics. We only sat at home and watched the perpetrators of violence wreak havoc in the lives of our countrymen.

There is fear in me. The fear that like before our leaders would make the same statements and we will again move on with our lives. This is no time to move on. It is time to confront the issues head-on. To make sure that the political leadership acts.

If the unprecedented terror attacks in Mumbai is India’s 9/11, let us sincerely follow the U.S. make the political leaders realize the seriousness of the peril. The U.S. made sure that 9/11 is not repeated. It is our time to ensure it.

No progress in Nangloi Metro Accident

The death of two men recently at the metro construction site in Nangloi in West Delhi served as a fodder for news channels for one entire day. Most national dailies too carried the story in their front pages.

After one week of the incident, the response of the administration as well as that of the media has been that of neglect and indifference.

Two men who were sleeping at the Nangloi metro construction site were buried alive on November 19, when a tractor trolley had dumped loose earth on them. Their hands presumably got locked under the blankets with which they had covered themselves up and they could not come out.

No progress in the case

The scene after more than one week of the incident is such: The dead bodies are still lying in the mortuary of Sanjay Gandhi Hospital in Mangolpuri. There has been no progress in the case. The police have been too casual in their approach into the case. Even the tractor driver who dumped the loose earth on the two men is yet to be caught or questioned by the police.

The only thing that the Nangloi police claim to have done is, they have put posters of the unidentified men in Bihar bound trains. Ironically, no such posters have been put in the Nangloi metro construction area where the incident actually took place.

Asked why they had chosen Bihar bound trains, Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) Suresh Kumar who is looking into the case said that the two “appeared to be labourers from Bihar and people of the state travelling in the trains may identify them”.

DMRC tries to evade responsibilities

Questions were also raised on the safety measures being followed by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation. However, Chief Public Relations Officer of DMRC, Anuj Dayal, has denied any lapse on their part.

He argues that construction work where the incident took place was over. In reality, this is not the case.
The incident took place about 200 m from the construction site of the Nangloi Metro Station. Less than 20m from the place where the two men were reportedly sleeping, the DMRC construction work is in its full flow.

The two dead bodies were found between the stones outlining the central verge between the two roads. Layers of mud under which their bodies were found lying as told by local residents still lies there above the ground level evidently from the construction work going on, on the other side of the road.

Asked if DMRC will provide compensation to the families of the deceased, the chief PRO said “It can be that they were brought there already dead. Their clothes were not that of those who sleep on pavements”. He also attacked media reports that the two men were covered in blankets. “There was no blanket”, he said in a recent interview.

Baseless Arguments

ASI Suresh Kumar clarifies that when the bodies were dug out, they were wrapped in blankets, giving the impression that the two men were sleeping. Asked about the type of clothes that they were wearing, the ASI said that they were dressed in plain clothes “like labourers normally do”.

Mohammad Gulfan who runs a tea shop close to the place where the incident took place was one of the first ones to see the bodies. “Their legs were protruding out from the heap of mud and that brought them to our notice”, he recalls. “We immediately called the police”. He also informs that the two labourers mostly slept at the same place, on the pavement between the roads, right in front of his small tea shop. He had even warned them when they had come to buy tea from his shop, but they did not pay heed.

Another local shop keeper Navin Kumar also clarifies that sleeping on the pavements is a common affair there. “The labourers often drink and lie down on the pavements and these two must be among them”, he says.

The unidentified dead bodies will soon be brought out from the Hospital and cremated by Police officials. Their family members meanwhile will keep waiting for their kin, who are no more.

Will someone tell them?

Dipu Shaw
Email –

India's 9/11

Sixty hours of hostage. 183 innocent lives lost including 20 coveted security personnel, 141 other Indians and 22 foreign nationals. So. What next!

The sadness that I feel for our valiant commandoes and police personnel who laid down their lives while taking on the hiding terrorists in Mumbai overwhelms me. Also for the 183 innocents who paid by giving up their lives while going about their daily chores.

There is disgust over the spineless leadership of our country and their sheer failure to protect the people time and again. The state apparatus bears the primary responsibility for protecting the citizens. It has laid bare its incapability to provide this basic and first necessity. And then they shamelessly come with sickening statements: “We will not tolerate…We are planning to modernize our equipments..”

I feel ashamed that such dastardly acts of terror are getting the support of locals in our own country. Such large scale and well planned carnage surely cannot be carried out without the help of locals, also confirmed from the testimony of Ajmal Amin Kamal, the Pakistani terrorist nabbed alive. The fidayeen has reportedly revealed names and addresses of at least five people from the city who helped the terror operation. There are reports that they not only provided shelter but also took the terrorists around showing them places – the places where the barbarians would carry out their operation to kill at will.

There is a sense of hopelessness. That in spite of being a nation of a hundred billion, who believe in peace, we could do nothing against these fanatics. We only sat at home and watched the perpetrators of violence wreak havoc in the lives of our countrymen.

There is fear in me. The fear that like before our leaders would make the same statements and we will again move on with our lives. This is no time to move on. It is time to confront the issues head-on. To make sure that the political leadership acts.

If the unprecedented terror attacks in Mumbai is India’s 9/11, let us sincerely follow the U.S. make the political leaders realize the seriousness of the peril. The U.S. made sure that 9/11 is not repeated. It is our time to ensure it.


Do you want a taste of the cultural diversity of India without necessarily worrying about going round the vast country? Well, the 28th India International Trade Fair (IITF) is one place to have the experience. You can also get a glimpse of few other countries in the process.

The 14-day Trade Fair is into its second week now. Just like the previous years, this year too, the “mini India show” is getting a very good response from the public. Infrastructure development in India and women’s empowerment are the two focal themes of the present fair, with Orissa as the partner state and Kerala as the focus state.

Organized by Indian Government’s nodal trade promotion agency India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO), IITF has had a history spanning more than two decades. Ever since its inception in 1980, the trade fair has proved to be a major crowd puller for consumers as well as traders, manufacturers, exporters and importers.
In tune with the government's commitment to promote closer ties with its neighbouring countries, Pakistan has been accorded Partner Country status while 'ASEAN' countries have been selected as the Focus Region at IITF' 08.

Pakistan’s participation as a partner nation is a special attraction in this year’s fair. The Pakistani exhibitors have managed to do good business. Ilahi Baksh, an exhibitor from Suad in Pakistan has rare varieties of traditional Pakistani and Afghan shawls that are much in demand with the Indian buyers. “The response is good. Even on the first day the number of customers was more than what we expected”, he says.

Pakistan has got maximum space among the foreign countries to display its products. However, a number of stalls allotted to the partner country were empty on the first day of the fair. “Our stuff is lying with the custom authorities, so what can we offer to the visitors”, said a frustrated Mohammed Rafiq, a businessman from Pakistan.

The businessmen who have got their stuff are already doing brisk business. Customers are flocking in for the unique collection of Pakistani fabrics and a taste of the partner country’s cuisines.

No right to information

Even under the Right To Information Act, departments related to the case have denied information on what transpired in the Batla House encounter. DIPU SHAW says one and a half months later the truth about the encounter still remains shrouded in mystery.

A version of the story was published in The Hoot yesterday. Check the link for the complete story.

Different treatments

How different newspapers report events makes interesting assessment. For instance, the report of the Patna youth shot by Mumbai police on October 27 makes interesting comparison.
Almost all national dailies had the report about Rahul Raj in their front pages on October 28. However, they differed in the content and details of the report.

The Times Of India put the age of Rahul Raj as 26. The Indian Express in its report said he was 25 years old. Interestingly, The Times Of India, on the reports in its inside pages reduced the youth’s age by three years. (Two reports in a later page of the TOI puts Rahul’s age as 23).

The Indian Express in its report mentions that the incident (Rahul Raj’s gun battle) took place at around 9 am in Kurla’s Bail Bazar area.
The TOI which relies more on the police version, says that Rahul boarded the bus at 9.15 am, that it after the incident (as per The Indian Express report) took place.

The report by The Times Of India which quotes Macchinder Ghule, (Hindustan Times put his name as Mahendra Dhule) the bus conductor, states that Rahul was carrying a bag and he kept opening it and checking something.

The Indian Express quotes one of the passengers of the bus, Abdul Rashid Sheik, that the only unusual thing about Rahul Raj was that he kept “shifting seats”. The newspaper also points out that the youth scribbled something on two currency notes and threw them out of the window. On the Rs 50 note he had written “Call the Police Commissioner” and on the Rs 10 note he wrote “I have not come here to harm anyone”.

TOI, which also pens the incident report in minute detail with a first hand account of the bus conductor who was held hostage by the youth, does not mention any such happening as throwing chits out of the window.

Hindustan Times in its report quotes Kundan Prasad Singh, Rahul’s father saying that his son had arrived in Mumbai on October 25 evening. This again does not coincide with the details with the other two dailies which mention that Rahul Raj had arrived in the city on morning of October 26.

The Hindustan Times story appears like a crime report. It says that 25-year-old Rahul Raj pulled out an iron chain and a gun, attacked the bus conductor, and began indiscriminate firing”. The reports in other dailies however convince us that Rahul was only upset with Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray and his campaign against Biharis.

The only passenger injured in the “indiscriminate firing” (as per HT) was 25-year-old Manoj Bhagat. The newspaper should verify its claims.

Making the films I have made – Shyam Benegal

Veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal at Jamia Millia Pix: Dipu Shaw

The 3rd Anwar Jamal Kidwai Memorial Lecture was held in the Ansari Auditorium of Jamia Millia Islamia yesterday. Eminent film maker Shyam Benegal who was the chief guest on the occasion delivered the lecture on “Making the Films I have made”. Prof. Mushirul Hasan, the Vice-Chancellor of the University, delivered the key note address.

The lecture is now organised every year by the Mass Communication Research Centre as a mark of tribute to its founder, the late Anwar Jamal Kidwai. The occasion too was appropriate. Jamia Millia Islamia is celebrating its 88th anniversary with the Annual Talimi Mela.

An excellent opportunity

For the students of the Mass Communication Research Centre, it was a rare opportunity to hear the seasoned filmmaker speak about his ordeals and experiences in the film-making industry. Many students of the Centre are about to join the industry by the end of the academic year and Shyam Benegal is an inspiration for most of them.

The veteran film maker who has also made more than 50 documentaries including one on Satyajit Ray and the much applauded television serial, Bharat Ek Khoj, talked on how he began his journey in the film-making business.

Mr. Benegal's inspiration

The recipient of 17 National film awards and the coveted Dada Saheb Phalke Award related about his visit to Kolkata in the 50s when he was a student. “When I saw Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali, there was an explosion in my brain”, remembered the veteran film maker. “I saw it 12 times then and eventually ended up seeing it 26 times”.

The film made him realize that there was no need for him to follow any kind of convention that was being followed by the film makers in the country. “It had the smell of the earth and showed relationships that all of us have,” said Mr. Benegal. This probably is one reason that Benegal’s films are replete with strong social messages.

He said that the juxtaposition of the feudal and colonial set up that he grew up with also got reflected in his films. Ankur, Mr. Benegal’s first feature film, was based on a short story that he had written when he was in college. “It was a part of the change when I was growing up”, he added.

Revisiting the Indian village

Talking about his latest box office hit Welcome to Sajjanpur, the director enumerated his wish to revisit the Indian village, that had been largely neglected by Hindi films for 10 to 12 years. “But, it had to be in a form that urban people would watch it”, he enumerated. “Therefore, I chose comedy as the medium to tell the story. It could then deal with the issues of low literacy and honour killing, in an engaging fashion.

The game called Politics

If politics is a dirty game then politicians are dirtier people. At least, this is what recent tongue mongering by the political leaders, urges us to conclude.
Mr. Politician, on one fine day is keen to see his picture in the newspapers. After all most of his colleagues are writing stuff and having their name and photo printed.

But there is one problem. Mr. Politician cannot write sensible and witty stuff like his colleagues.

So, he decides he will make a statement. Terrorism is the buzz word and the leader does not have to toil to choose his topic. There is one banned group alleged to have terror links. He makes up his mind to say the opposite of what others are saying. Not to ban it. And to probe into the recent police encounter. Looks sensible stuff and will also win Muslim votes for the party.

Mr. Politician
(Making the statement): The Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) should not be banned. And there should be judicial probe into the Jamia Nagar encounter.

Secretary: Sirji, Sirji…What have you done?…Just last week you had sent a cheque of Rs. 10,00,000 to the police officer’s wife who died fighting the terrorists at Jamia Nagar. You are saying exactly the opposite of what you have done. Have you forgotten your script?

Mr. Politician: Arrey!! You are a fool. I omitted two zeroes from the figure in the cheque. So, the cheque will come back to us because the amount in words and the one in figures will not match. Hee! Hee! Hee!

Secretary: Wow Sirji... You are so intelligent. (Read cunning).
The next day Mr. Politician browses through the newspapers. Almost all of them have his photograph.

Secretary: Sirji! Sirji!

Mr. Politician: I know what you will tell me. That my photo is there in all the newspapers… I have already seen them. My kurta seems not ironed in one of them.

Secretary: No Sirji. That is not what I want to tell you. One gentleman from our friendly party has said that you should see a mental doctor. Hee... Hee… Hee…

Mr. Politician is infuriated and screams at the secretary.

Mr. Politician: Who is the CHIRKUT (small fry)? Just tell me his name.

The conversation is interrupted with the arrival of other leaders of Mr. Politician’s party. Politician X is a senior leader of the party.

Politician X: Why did you make the statement?

Mr. Politician: It will win us Muslim voters.

Politician X: But what about the Hindu voters. They too form a large majority.

Mr. Politician:
Okay fine…I will retract my statement tomorrow.


Mr. Politician (To himself): It will again get my picture in the newspapers. Hee! Hee! Heee!

Politician X: But, what about the Muslim voters that you have already pleased.

Mr. Politician: You don’t worry; I will keep doing this till the next elections.

(To himself)

Mr. Politician: It means I will keep seeing my photograph in the newspapers every day. These common people are real fools and so are the journalists.

Legal aid and its aftermath at Jamia Millia University

Jamia Millia Islamia is in news ever since two of the university’s students were arrested by the Delhi police. The Vice Chancellor's decision to provide legal aid to the two students also raised controversy.

Terrorism Watch

The victimization of the Muslim community that the terrorists allude to is only a pretext for their own self-fulfilling logic. Even the people from the community will not accept these fanatics. Dipu Shaw analyses recent incidents…

Two reports on the day after the Delhi serial blasts in a national daily.
One had the story of Mohammad Ashraf from Kashmir who had come to the capital looking for peace three days before the blasts. Ashraf lost one uncle (Narim) in the blast at Gaffar Market, Karol Bagh. His other uncle, Farooq, was in the surgery ward of Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital battling for his life.

The Rs 25,000 required for the rickshaw-puller to return to Kashmir has been put together by the Beadonpura Handloom Traders. Traders Praveen Gupta and Hemant Puyani were with Ashraf all morning at the Lady Hardinge Medical College mortuary where Narim’s body was kept. Narim was a rickshaw puller in the Gaffar Market area.
In another report on the same day, there was an article about Qutubdin Ansari – the tailor whose brimming eyes and folded hands became the defining face of the Gujarat riots.

The connection

The 2002 photograph of Ansari was one of the two that the militant group, Indian Mujahideen which owned up responsibility for the Delhi blasts, used in their terror e mail. The photograph had a caption – “Eye for an Eye.”
Ansari who now runs a tailor shop in Gujarat has forgotten about the Gujarat riots. Off course, he had no clue that his photograph was being used as a poster by the Indian Mujahideen for its terror mails.

The terrorists cannot be adherents of any religion. People like Ansari too hate being associated with any such outfits. The terrorists on the other hand are claiming to act on their behalf. If avenging the wrongs done to the genocide victims is one of their agendas, then it is unasked for even by the victims of the genocide. And how do they do it? By taking innocent lives of people, who have nothing to do with any of such incidents?

The terrorists are converting innocent citizens including their co-religionists, into fodder for their own designs. Narim who died in the Gaffar Market blast will be buried with the help of Praveen and Hemant. For these traders, the 10 year old relationship that they share is more important than their religious differences.

A cult of violence

The victimization of a community that the terrorists allude to is simply a pretext. It has its own self-fulfilling logic. If this is a battle on behalf of the Muslims, what sort of battle is this? For if nothing else, these acts make life more, not less difficult for Indian Muslims. It is as if the terrorist is besotted more with the cult of violence than genuine care for Muslims whom he uses as a pretext.

Trapped in deep waters

A member of the Megh Pyne Abhiyan explains flood situation in Bihar
Pix: Dipu Shaw

As the Government officials and agencies discuss the flood situation in Bihar, experts and organizations working in flood affected north Bihar area blame the Government’s flood control policies for the state’s nightmare. Dipu Shaw reports…

Dr. Dinesh Mishra, fellow at People’s Science Institute recently released his book on floods in Bihar titled “Trapped Between the Devil and the Deep waters”. The “devil” that Dr. Mishra refers to, are the corrupt Government officials who “gain from the almost regular Bihar floods”.

This time the Kosi River nicknamed as the “sorrow of Bihar” has devastated the state as never before. More than two million people in 14 districts of Bihar have been affected by the Kosi floods. The central government has sanctioned Rs 1000 crore for relief operations declaring it a national calamity. The National Disaster Management Authority has also been pressed into action in the state. It was reported by the Government that all the marooned persons have been rescued and shifted to safer locations. Reports from the flood ravaged area, however, point to the contrary.

Kavindra Kumar Pandey of the Megh Pyne Abhiyan, which works with the flood-affected in north Bihar, was recently in the flood ravaged area. He contends “There is rampant looting and molestation by anti social groups. The relief camps and food material is also insufficient”.

Even the flood management policy of the government has received some serious criticism.
“It is a totally man made flood”, says Himanshu Thakar, Delhi coordinator of South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People. “The Kosi has breached for the eighth time, no doubt that the floods could be avoided”.

Dr N.C. Saxena, former Secretary of the Planning Commission of India is critical of the Government, both at the center as well as in the state of Bihar. He points out how there is no provision of a third party monitoring of the state expenditure. “When World Banks provide money, teams from Washington can come to monitor and survey the expenditure and its use, but for the government’s money, no one can know where it goes”, he says. “It is not the lack of funds that is affecting relief operations in Bihar. It is its improper application.”

Experts observe that it does not pay to tamper with the flow of a river that carries a heavy sediment load. And River Kosi carries a lot of silt with it. Dr. Mishra gives the example of the Hwang Ho River which has 18 embankments on it. “After breaching for the ninth time, the river did not return to its original course. Then, they built embankments on the new course”, he mentions. “When a heavily silt laden river is embanked, the sediment gets trapped within the embankments lifting the bed level and necessitating the raising of the embankments. There is a practical limit to which the embankments can be raised and maintained.”

The CSI fellow who is considered an expert on Bihar floods also suspects many deaths in the Kosi floods. “The dead bodies will be covered under the heavy silt and many would be carried away by the river. No one will come to know about them as the bodies will not be found”, he says.

Addressing the audience during the official release of his book at India International Centre he recommends a combined effort. “The layman who lives on the riverbed, the engineer who works with contours and maps in his office and the politician who takes decision need to come together to save Bihar from the devastation”, he suggests.

The Kashmir History

Recent happenings in Jammu and Kashmir have ignited a fierce debate on the plight of the Indian state. Before going into the debate of the demands of a certain section of the people in the valley, we should look into the matter a little more in detail.

It is often argued that the people of the valley are very passionate about their Kashmiri identity, perhaps even more than their national identity as an Indian. This was also one reason why the people of Kashmir never wanted to align with Pakistan during partition or even later. Islamic identity is something that they always loathed. They wanted their Kashmiri identity intact. And it could never be possible if they aligned with the neighbouring Islamic state.

When India got her independence on 15th August, 1947, Jammu and Kashmir was still an independent state ruled by the Hindu king Raja Hari Singh. On October 20 in the same year, Pakistani raiders entered Jammu and Kashmir territories. Indian troops were still not stationed in the state. The King asked the Indian Government to deploy her army and Indian troops were sent to the state. By then, Kashmir had already lost a large chunk of its territories– almost 55 percent.

The issue was taken to the United Nations. The UN called for a referendum. Kashmir had to either align with India or Pakistan. The plebiscite could never take place. The reason? Pakistani troops never withdrew. One of the conditions for referendum that the UN put was that the army should withdraw before the plebiscite takes place. Pakistani troops never withdrew and the referendum never took place.
For Kashmir, India was the only viable option which not only gave them a lot of autonomy but also protected them.

Those who are arguing for the state’s “independence” reason that the Kashmiris always felt very strong about their identity.
But, is it not true for other regions too? In fact, this is what Nehru called “Unity in Diversity”. Sub nationality is often stronger than nationality. Any community or region has several identities that they live with – religious, cultural, ethnic and so on. Look at South India. Don’t they feel very strong about their culture and identity? At times too detached from the center. Do we separate them from India’s map? The same applies to our brothers in north east India...Secession is not the appropriate answer.

Does the media care?

Speakers at the seminar on Does Media Care Pix: Gargi Nim

As questions are raised on how efficiently Indian media is covering social issues, a seminar hosted jointly by the BBC World Service and MCRC, Jamia Millia Islamia organise a seminar to debate the issues of media obsession and responsibility.
Dipu Shaw reports…

“There is something deeply absurd about the state of the nation today”, began Tarun Tejpal, editor in chief and publisher of Tehelka, in his assertive tone. The occasion was a seminar organised jointly by the BBC World Service Trust and the Mass Communication Research Centre of Jamia Millia Islamia and the media baron was delivering the key note address on “The Indian Media: Is it obsessed with celebrities and crime?”

The BBC World Service has collaborated with three of India’s journalism colleges: The Asian School of Journalism, Chennai, AJKMCRC, Jamia Millia Islamia University, Delhi and the Amity School of Communication, Lucknow to improve the quality of training in social journalism. The project is being funded by the World Bank.
This seminar titled “Does the Media Care?” was a dialogue on the coverage of social issues in the media and was another step in the direction.

Among the other panelists were Usha Rai, the first woman journalist of Delhi and a recipient of the Chameli Devi Award, Nilanjana Bose, a Ramnath Goenka awardee and Senior Special Correspondent of CNN IBN, PN Vasanti, Director of CMS (Centre of Media Studies), Rohit Gandhi a TV journalist of the Canadian Broadcasting and Dex TV in Canada and Thomas Chandi, CEO of Save the Children in India, the World’s largest independent Child Rights organization.

The debate highlighted some serious issues plaguing the Indian media today.

Tarun Tejpal who has a 24-year experience in the profession recalled the earlier times when almost every news channel had a rural reporter. “Today, the total coverage that the 250 million Dalits and tribes in India get is less than the share given to actress Kareena Kapoor alone”, he lamented.

Rohit Gandhi described the media’s obsession as one of “celebrity gazing and crime chasing” while PN Vasanti showed some statistics of news coverage tapped by the CMS. The discussion highlighted one central point – how journalism in this country had become entirely commercial and market driven.

The second session debated why there aren’t more stories about health, science and environment in the Indian Media. The key note address was delivered by veteran journalist and author Prem Shankar Jha. He began by referring to the Bengal famine of 1942. The point that the seasoned journalist brought out was the importance of follow ups in journalism. Paranjoy Guha, a documentary film maker and editor of “Realpolitic”, moderated the debate in his usual flamboyant style that sent instant energy waves through the air.

Film critique Ziya Us Salam who is a senior Assistant Editor in The Hindu, referred to the widening gap between rural Bharat and urban India perpetuated by the media. He pointed out how the Lakhme India Fashion Week had four journalists from one news channel for the coverage of the event while it did not affect the life of any one citizen. “The same time farmers in Vidharba committed suicide due to abysmal poverty”, he poignantly recalled.

Saeed Naqvi, one of the most successful and prominent journalists of India and a columnist of The Indian Express called the entire TRP game a façade, aimed to sabotage the real big issues. His frustration with the Indian media was evident in his reference to the present generation of reporters as ‘the lost generation”.

Aspiring journalists from the university and other eminent guests interacted energetically with the panelists. The speakers concluded that a good story teller could tell the most mundane of things in an interesting way and that was the essential quality for the journalists while reporting on any social issue. The counsel was a good one to take home for the aspiring journalists.

The three mistakes of my life - A Review

For those who have closely followed Chetan Bhagat’s previous two books, they would know what to expect from this one.
“The three mistakes of my life” is not about Chetan Bhagat’s life or mistakes. It is about the life of Govind Patel, a businessman in Ahmedabad, and his two friends – Ish and Omi.

The prologue introduces the story in a dramatic fashion. The writer has a suicide note in his email from a businessman in Ahmedabad. The mail published in the Prologue serves two purposes. Besides introducing the story, it builds the reader’s curiosity and gives a real touch to the story that is to follow.

The story hovers around religion, business and cricket as the title page promises. Cricket and business dominate the first two hundred pages. There are elaborate descriptions of India’s matches against South Africa and Australia. The business venture of the three friends when they set up a sport’s shop in the temple compound, Govind’s love relationship and Ishaan’s training to Ali, the young Muslim boy who is gifted with extraordinary cricketing skills – all get the author’s attention.

Ishaan or Ish had run away from NDA. He is an avid cricket fan who like many other Indians has dreamt of playing for the national team. Himself unable to make it big in the game, he coaches Ali and wants to see him in the national side.

Govind is “an ordinary boy in Ahmedabad”, as the prologue mentions. The story that the author tells us is his story. He has failed to make it to a first-rate engineering institute and takes tuitions besides helping his mother with her business. He dreams of being a big businessman one day.

Omi, the son of a Brahmin priest wants not to join his father’s profession. It is for this reason that he partners Ish and Govind in the sports shop that they set up in the temple’s compound.

The book is specially tailored to suit the taste of the Indian readers. The story is set in 2001 and the following years when first the earthquake and then riots hit the state of Gujarat. Both affect the lives of the three friends and business partners.

The quake shatters their ambitious business plans. The new plot that they had bought for setting up their shop is ramshackle to pieces. Govind, the narrator considers it his first mistake – to bet so much money for the new shop in Navrangpura mall.
Meanwhile, Govind who also teaches Ish’s teenage sister falls in love with her. Bhagat describes the burgeoning relationship and their sexual escapades in his usual flamboyant style. Govind considers it, the second mistake of his life.

The last 50 pages of the book pick up pace. It is here that the author is at his best. Religion dominates. The plot built up in the first 200 pages reaches its climax. Hindu Karsevaks returning from Ayodhya in a train are burnt alive by Muslims in Godhra. The train had Bittoo mama’s (Omi’s maternal uncle) fourteen year old son who also dies with several other young Hindus.

The Gujarat riots follow. Bittoo mama, a Brahmin priest and worker for the saffron party, is adamant in avenging the death of his son and other Hindus. He and his party workers burn Muslims alive in revenge.

Mama kills Ali’s father, a worker of his rival secular party and makes up his mind to kill Ali too. Ish is equally adamant in saving his little hero’s life. A bitter clash between Bittoo mama’s supporters and the three friends follows.

Ish manages to save the gifted cricketer’s life but only at the cost of Omi’s life and a severe injury to Ali’s wrist. It happens because Govind delays by a fraction of second in pulling away Ali from Bittoo mama’s strike - the third mistake of his life. Meanwhile, Ish also comes to know about Govind’s secret love affair with his sister. He breaks all relationships with him.

The story ends with the epilogue which brings us back to the hospital where the prologue had left us. It ends in the usual happy note – Ish forgiving Govind and the successful operation of Ish’s wrist.

Chetan Bhagat masters the art of conversational writing. And even in this book he employs his skill to tell the story of ordinary Indians.

3:45 pm. Nothing showing on TV

A total black out at Media House. A shocking disbelief in the eyes of each employee. For most of them, this is a first incident of its kind.
A blackout should be going on air too. Nothing being shown in a 24*7 news channel. The rest can be managed subsequently. So, The output head gets on work. An old tape is rolled, until the technical defect is fixed.

The chairs circle around. Various topics get the intellectual involvement of the employees. Yes! Gossiping does not have a competitor when it comes to what people in this country do when not working. Another thing about the media is that everyone here has an opinion.

Trifles aside!
A freelance journalist from Mumbai comes looking for the producer in charge of Entertainment Section.
What the young man tells her was bound to catch my attention.

“ Mam, I can get you the inside stories. I have news and pictures about celebrities – completely nude!!... Doing all sorts of shoddy stuff. Original stories Mam! I am surprised the news channels only report petty Shahid-Kareena fights.” There are so many people with the character of Shakti Kapoor and he is the only bad man known.

On asked how he manages to get those stories, he said he comes across them when he goes for his own assignments as a journalist.

“They would really shoot up your channels TRPs, mam”

The journalist leaves leaving his phone number for further reference.

From Classroom to Newsroom

My experience with one of the television news channels is acquainting me with a lot of new things about the industry. I enter the office after getting my approval as an unpaid intern there. A whole new affair awaits me.

This is what I encounter.

Youtube being browsed incessantly. Video downloads. A new script written and voice over done. A lot of effects applied on the editing machine. And, package ready.

No outdoor shoot. No reporter. No cameraperson required.
Hey! That’s plagiarism, I express articulately. A dozen eyebrows raised. Another half a dozen eyes turn towards me. I realise my ‘mistake’.

“That’s what all other channels are doing”, the assistant producer and my team leader tells me.
I now fathom how various amazing videos are being shown in channels across the country. And that too astounding videos from far off lands.

No attribution required. It would take away the surprise factor. The exclusivity factor too. And it would be like striking your own feet with the axe.

How a 20 second video clip can be stretched to a two minute story, I learnt here. My classroom had taught me to shorten a long sequence of shots into a compact and succinct package. The reverse was applicable here.

The simple knowledge of cutting clips on the editing machine was not enough. It required a professional editor who had this godly skill of “playing” with the clips.

HOW true was the video clip, WHO had posted it, WHERE did the incident take place, WHEN did it happen and WHY. WHAT actually happened?

These 5 Ws and H were an important factor in the classroom. Here, the building up of the surprise factor is the only important component.

The discipline of verification has lost its dignified place. It was of prime importance in my classroom. Not very important here.

The Other Indian...2

This time I shall harp on another aspect of the other Indian that has fascinated me since my childhood. Not about my estranged friend that I told you earlier about. But a feature of the santhal community on the whole.

The sight of a hunted swine hung upside down on a bamboo stick stretching on the shoulders of two dark men has always grabbed my attention. The mark of the pierced arrow still there on the body of the animal. At times, the arrow too keeps slinging from its original place, where the beast was hit by these primitive hunters.

The spectacle carries me straight to the hills, into the hunting expedition of my fellow friends. I too begin to imagine myself as one of the hunters bravely chasing the animals, bow and arrow in hand. My hunting dogs backing me up to find the animals.

These are the real hunters I feel, unlike the nawabs or Bollywood actors who often get penalized for their love for the game. Hunting, unlike these natives is not their need. It is only for amusement that they hunt. Safely mounted on their jeep and armed with guns.

There are however only few such spectacles now. Most of the natives have given up the sport. They work as labourers now and get Rs 60 or 70 for a day’s work. Owing to large scale unscrupulous felling the region once known for its thick and extensive forests is now bereft of much of its jungle wealth. The number of boars in the depreciated jungle has also come down considerably.

India's Garbage Guru

Waste segregation at Eco Wise Pix: Babu

Did it hurt you when someone called your country the dirtiest in the world? Did you ever react on seeing an empty packet lying on the streets? Or on the stinking garbage dump of your colony?

Well! This man did. And in a big way. Manik Thapar had decided “to clean up his country” quite early enough when he was doing his MBA in Michigan in the USA.

It was with this motive that he set up the Eco Wise Waste Management Pvt. Ltd., a waste management company in Noida two years ago. He was just 23 years of age then.

Two years on, the company collects garbage from six sectors of Noida on the outskirts of India’s capital, New Delhi. The recycle firm caters to 25,000 households and many big commercial and industrial establishments like the Haldirams and GE. This might well be a step to solve the garbage problem of Indian cities.

Environmental pollution
In India, Delhi alone generates nearly 7,000 tons of garbage per day, states Vatavaran, a Delhi based NGO involved in waste management. Most of this waste is dumped untreated in the landfills which are mostly open dumps.

“There is no scientific landfill site in all of India”, asserts Manik. There are various health problems directly associated with it.

Such landfills not only contaminate the ground water but also emanate dangerous gases like carbon dioxide and methane. Treating them in plants like the Eco Wise recycles most of the junk, so that only around 25 percent of the waste goes to the landfill site.

Treatment of waste
Ecowise collects garbage from households and also from some big commercial and industrial clients like the Haldirams and GE. “The waste is segregated and divided into bio-degradable and non biodegradable waste. The biodegradable waste is further converted into compost” explains Manik in his friendly tone.

Wet waste which consists mostly of kitchen waste is converted into organic and vermiculture compost. Cow dung and worms are used for this. The organic manure is sold at Re 1 per kg while the compost is sold at Rs 40 per kg.

So! Along with the cleaning campaign, the CEO is also making a lot of money. And it is not only him who benefits from it. “My venture saves the Noida Authority Rs 9 lakh a day”, asserts the young entrepreneurial.

I cannot but admire this bold initiative of the mature youngster. After all "Who wants to invest in garbage?"

The other Indian?

My college closed up for the summer and I get to my ancestral home. Borio is a small village in the Sahibganj district (earlier in Santhal Pargana district) of Jharkhand.

I stand at the door and watch the buffaloes being taken for grazing in the fields. When I was small I ran and tried climbing on one of them. Unsuccessful almost each time, I often fell on the ground and hurt myself. The country animal was too huge for my small size.

Now, I am confident I can climb it and would not fall. But I cannot try the sport. What will people think? The herd comes to an end with the grazier sitting comfortably on the last black beast and playing on his flute. I envied him as a child.

Does he represent “the other India” that the media far away in the capital often complacently refers to? Or that Rahul Gandhi is trying to discover in his travels to the villages - the India that is dispossessed and forgotten? The question perturbs me. And I resolve to find an answer.

I follow this cattle-grazer. I know he speaks a different language (Santhali) and is a “Santhal” – a tribe that the villagers still look down upon. But also one which had played an active role in India’s freedom struggle. He is little aware of his clan’s achievements and has now yielded to the criticism of his “dikku” adversary. (“Dikku” is the Santhali term for the non-Santhals)

The buffaloes graze in the open fields. Some descend into the dirty swamp of rainwater and lie there, motionless. Their black body dyed into a brown complexion. As the sun ascends the sky, the grazier keeps playing his flute as if entertaining his herd of animals.

Its noon. My newfound companion sits under a banyan tree to have his lunch. Rice and onion. That’s the menu on his leaf plate. It raises my appetite too. I return to my house and find my grandmother waiting for me on the dining table.

The menu here is a more extensive one. Rice, dal(pulses), brinjal bhaja, salad and my favourite variety of fish, katla.

As I take my lunch, I cannot but give a thought to my estranged friend.

Archer and Indian story-tellers

Jeffrey Archer’s 12-day visit to India may have been a treat for his readers. The media also gave him hospitable treatment and his new book lavish coverage. The English daily The Hindu in its Sunday Magazine carried an elaborate conversation with the writer.

With all the assertions on story-telling being his intrinsic worth, Jeffrey also makes a moot point. The author asks the reporter (Ziya Us Salam) for one “Indian guy” that he should read. Sarcastically though. “It is a little remark on the paucity of story-tellers from India”, pronounces the reporter in the following lines.
That the author of the bestseller Kane & Abel towers above most of his contenders in the story-telling business is a proven fact. But, to say that India does not have one readable story-teller will be a point bereft of logic.

Premchand’s classic stories are a creative interplay of tradition and modernity. So are the works of the distinguished story-teller R.K Narayan. Amitav Ghosh who recently released his much-awaited novel Sea of Poppies does not need much introduction when we talk of contemporary writers. It has been hailed as “the most eagerly awaited fiction title of the year”. The celebrated Vikram Seth is one of the most respected literary figures of present times. And that is not without his story-telling skills.

This is not to undervalue the various regional language writers of our country who get little publicity and attention from the media. The English daily did not publish my response to the article and Jeffrey’s comment.

My blog thankfully does not rest on their sanction.

Reconstruction is the new TV format

The battle for catching eyeballs and viewership had long caused the Indian news channels to shift their focus from sensitisation to sensationalism. Off late, the shift is towards dramatisation. The latest was the Noida double murder case – the killing of a thirteen year girl allegedly by her own father who had “illicit” relationship with his colleague. The minor knew about her father’s extra-marital affair and so did the servant. Both discussed the issue and had presumably developed a relationship. The father did not like it and in a state of fit killed both his daughter and servant.
The case had enough in it to grab media attention. This time “reconstruction” was the word. A channel showed how the father might have entered his daughter’s room where she was sitting with the servant of the house. Another put it in the words of the “spirit” of the poor girl.
“Mai Arushi! Kuch din pehle main bhi......Mere apne papa ne mujhe mar diya (My own father killed me). As if Aarushi herself was speaking from Heaven or had confided in the news channel to tell them how she was feeling after being killed by her own father. And all these before it had been proved that it was really her father who killed her.
News channels are fast taking up the role of their Bollywood counterpart. The difference being that while the directors take two or three years to reproduce the events, news channels are doing it at “breaking” speed.