Na Tired,… Na Retired,…!!!

I like Jaswant Singh. I think he was arguably India’s best External Affairs minister in the post Nehruvian era. I cannot think of another politician in that time who could have handled the diplomatic fall out of the Pokhran tests during the Vajpayee regime better than him. When I recently read his book – ‘A Call to honour-In Service of Emergent India’ where he elucidates the complex negotiations he had with the US leading to the relaxing of sanctions much earlier than the world expected, my respect for him went up a few notches. So it was extremely sad to see the same Jaswant Singh last week waging a lonely battle of sorts with his party for not nominating him from the seat of his choice. When the party wanted him to retire gracefully, he wanted to retire after a last race!!! He was visibly tired. Even the vocal energy was missing. Those grandiose articulation skills which helped him stave off many a diplomatic challenge didn’t come of use in his own turf battle. Diplomacy they say is “an art of give and take” or rather “appearing to give and take”. Jaswant Singh nor the party leadership was in any mood for even appearing to give in. The result – Mr. Singh had to throw in the turban in the election ring as an independent and has been expelled from the party. While the curtain on his career is certainly down if he loses, I am not sure if the climax will be anything interesting even if he wins. With this episode, has he become a foot note a petulant one in that in the party’s history?? History will judge.

It’s not just Jaswant Singh. We have leaders across the spectrum of parties in India for whom a “graceful exit” is an alien concept. At an age of 87, one would expect a patriarch to provide abundant blessings, plentiful advice and be a fatherly figure. But, here we have Mr. Advani throwing fits about where he will contest for the next Loksabha elections. When his tenure ends he will be 92 – not an age one expects to have the energy to energize the nation of a burgeoning youthful population. Giving him illustrious company is the “Kalaignar” from South – Karunanidhi who at 90 is doing all what he can to prevent the “Rising Sun” from sinking. The visuals of an immobile leader being wheeled from meeting to meeting his mastery over Tamil language notwithstanding are hardly inspiring.

knidhi

Is it just politicians?? Nope. In sports too, we have enough examples of exits happening only when push comes to shove. It was my humble opinion that even God aka Sachin Tendulkar called his retirement a couple of years late. In the context of retirement, a very used cliché is – “One must exit when people ask why now and why not?” However if one surfs through history of legends, it is mostly of the “Why not” variety. Whether it was Kapil Dev or Saurav Ganguly. That’s why a Sunil Gavaskar who stepped down from captaincy after a World Championship win or retired from tests after one of his best knocks is still respected and that’s why a Rahul Dravid who decided to hang up at the 1st sight of self-doubt will be spoken with high regard.

This disease has plagued industrialists who run empires as well. I know of a group where the Chairman who in his late 80’s still tries to be active in running the business. He used to say that he will stop attending office the day his son (in late 50’s) starts acting responsibly which is when he attends office on time!!! And his son used to claim that he will be in office on time the day his dad has confidence in him and stops attending office!!!

Hence in this “I will not give up” atmosphere, one was pleasantly surprised to see Jairam Ramesh of the Congress declaring that in his party, leaders must retire at 70. It’s another matter that his party soon disowned his lofty comment as a personal lament.

Let me for the moment limit this issue of “No Voluntary Retirement” to the sphere of politics as that is of public importance. It can be safely concluded that but for extreme bad health nothing else stops politicians from trying to be politically active. Are physical strength and mental alacrity not critical in matters of governance? Jairam Ramesh also added “People unfortunately in India don’t know when to exit. That is why most mentors become tormentors”!!! Is this “not stepping down graciously” an “Indian” thing? For want of adequate information, I am unable to conclude. Is it time to amend laws to stipulate upper age for contesting in elections? Will the leaders who hang around themselves will ever come together to bring about this legislation?

Only time will tell. Till such time, as Atal Bihari Vajpayee a man with a liberal gift of the gab once said “Na Tired, Na Retired” will be the overarching theme for our netas. “Young nation with Very Old leadership” is what looks like is preordained for our country. But I think the time has come for a national debate on this.

“Hello!

 Is this Mr. Kejriwal speaking,…???”

 Cartoon credit: www.cartoonistsandeep.com 

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Neutral Media???

Aam Admi Party’s most khas admi Arvind Kejriwal’s diatribe against media few days back brings back the neutrality of media in sharp focus once again. The last time it happened was when Radia tapes were leaked and hell cut loose only to be forgotten and forgiven in a few months. Stung by the open attack, most of the TV channels and newspapers picked up cudgels for media neutrality against Kejriwal. In fact the channels AAP subsequently named, (India TV, Timesnow,..) unleashed an all-out war against Kejriwal and AAP and came up with hour-long defences to shield themselves. In Timesnow’s case it was not defence but complete offence as Arnab Goswami’s (who else 😊) as is his wont ripped apart one hapless AAP chap that night in Newshour (where else 😊). The key question is – “Is Neutral Media an oxymoron???”  Before answering that question few associated ones pop up.

  • Is media neutral today?
  • Was media ever neutral??
  • Can media be neutral at all???

Is media neutral today? – Certainly not. How can it be? In the age of cut throat competition and proliferating options – it is struggle for existence and survival of the smartest. Being smart include being owned by corporates and barons who have deep pockets, being flexible in editorial content, packaging “News” with “Views” and taking a slant politically to reap the rewards. So it is not surprising that many of the media groups are owned by politicians or corporate bodies. They have not invested certainly for charity. If a channel or publication is owned partly or in full by a politician, can we expect neutral reporting on the wrong doings of his/her party? In the same lines if the channel is funded or owned by a corporate group with varied interests, can we expect the channel to report any scandal happening in that group?

Was media ever neutral? I don’t think so. Today when we say media, we mostly refer to the 24*7 TV news channels. But much before histrionics and hysteria took over our drawing rooms every evening, mainstream media was mainly newspapers. Even in the glorious print era of The Hindu, The Times of India, Hindustan Times, Malayala Manorama, The Indian Express,.. it was a known fact that the owners of most of these papers belonged to political parties and used their paper legitimately to pedal their parties’ cause. So, while you had news reports and events there were the editorial and Op-ed columns to proliferate opinions with a particular slant. This tradition if I may say so continues till today whereby newspapers give a particular angle as per their compulsions. This is more than evident in the Radia tapes.

Can media be neutral at all? I doubt. For reasons espoused earlier like rampant competition and lesser value system these days it is and will be increasingly difficult for a media house to stay neutral and survive. Many proclaim to be but it is difficult to fathom how they can be.

While it is a fact that media plays a major role in forming and influencing public opinion, it is for the same reason that it is manipulated. It is extremely difficult to pick up one anchor/journalist today who can be said with confidence that he/she is neutral and his/her opinion can be respected. So the only option as readers and viewers is to understand and realize that Neutrality and Media cannot go together and take what we read/see with a fistful of salt.

  • As responsible citizens it may not be very wise if we take decision on who to vote based on what is mentioned in the media. For example the same Bihar which till a year ago was the emerging state with all round development is back to being a “BIMAR” state (after Nitish broke off JDU’s ties with BJP). Similarly the same press which hailed Akhilesh Yadav as “THE” Yuva Neta when he won, is trashing him to the dumps. To me there was nothing spectacular about him then and nothing so worse now.
  • The concept of WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) may be popular in the context of “Text Editors”. But in the context of “Gen Next News Editors” it seems to be an obsolete idea. We saw that in the leaked Kejriwal-Punya Prasun Bajpai video (watch here) where even Kejriwal’s shenanigans were exposed.
  • As we also saw, there exists in India an “Opinion poll marketplace” – where one can order data and opinion poll results in the way we want and get it delivered at your place and someone will say OLX pe bech de 😁
  • As I mentioned in my earlier post (read here) for the same reasons of survival, a marketing plug is masqueraded as news item and slipped in. So at our own peril we can decide on buying that product believing what is written in that news item. Same is true for political stories.

Bordering cynicism, let me say this and close. In our great theatre of democracy our media provides 24*7 (mostly free) entertainment. So lets’ enjoy as the Arnabs and Rajdeeps battle it out with the Kejriwals, Lekhis and Tiwaris and “experts”. But form our opinions and cast our vote as per conscience and not based on what we read or see. Neutral umpires in Cricket became a reality long time back. But Neutral umpires in Media is still imaginary.

journalism

Cartoon of Satish Acharya from http://cartoonistsatish.blogspot.in

My close encounters with “Mamas”!!!

First the disclosure:  This post was inspired by another post I recently stumbled upon among the deluge of shares which hit one’s timeline in the social media daily– “The Ascent of the Maami” – Read here. I liked it and thought why not I write one on my encounters with the mamis’ counterpart namely the “Mama”. Also I wanted to take a break from Aam Admi and write on “Mama/Mami” 🙂

Second the definition:  In Tamil brahminical parlance, any male above the teenage threshold who cannot be tied in with any other description like Anna (elder brother), Chittappa (uncle), Thatha (Grandfather), Cousin,… is called a “Mama”.  Its’ important to note here that once you are called a mama you are no more a teenager and vice versa.

Third the disclaimer: This post on mamas in general has nothing to do with “my” mamas. This is about mamas in general. Hence the above definition needs to be understood in perspective 🙂 🙂

In my last 40 years or so, en(noda)counters with mamas have been very many. At home sometimes but mostly in social functions like marriages or common gatherings like Avani Avittam, Temple pooja,..,.. Based on these interactions, the mamas can be grouped as under:

  • Question Killer: Like serial killers, these mamas have the ability to almost kill you with their serial questions. When you see them, its’ almost like interrogation. Kelvi kette saagadippanga intha mamas
  • “Hello – Eppo vandha? (When did you come?)
    • Just now
  • Eppadi vandha? (How did you come?)
    • In my car
  • Athe car thane, illa puthusu vaanginiya? (That same car or you bought a new one?)
    • The same car
  • Wife varaliya? (Wife didn’t come??)
    • No she didn’t.
  • Enna Veetukku Vellilaya??? (Has she got her periods???)
    • 😠 😠

                   You then force nature to call you and slip out

  • Mama Konjam toilet poyitu varen (I’ll just go to the toilet and come)
  • No. 1 or No. 2???
    • 😠 😠 (to yourself – Vidave maattaar polarukku intha manushan)
  •  Perfection personified mama: For these mamas, everything needs to be perfect. Nothing short of that.  Your living in this planet is a waste if you don’t do things with utmost perfection. If you get caught with this type in some occasion, the next day you will have to attend some HR course to boost your self-confidence. Becoz in 1 hour he will find 100 faults in everything you do and shatter your ego and self-confidence.

    • Ennappa veshitya ippadiyaa kattarathu? (Do you wear your dhoti like this??)
    • 11 o’ clock ku pujai, medhuva 11.05 kku varaye?? (The puja is at 11.00 o’ clock and you are coming slowly at 11.05??)
    • ,…
    • ,…
  • Rules Mama: For this mama, everything has to be followed as per the set procedure/rule. If there’s any deviation, in front of everybody he will pull you down that too with his loud voice ensuring that everybody in the vicinity comes to  know what you did. They can also be labelled as Maanatha vaangarathukune porantha mamas.
    • Ennappa elaya eppadi podaruthunnu kooda theriyaatha? (You don’t know how to keep the leaf??) – In functions it is customary to serve food in banana leaf. And the leaf has to be laid in a particular way only. If you change the direction, you will be subjected to a few nasty looks and loud jibes)
    • And if you decide to help and do some service and volunteer to serve food, there is an order by which the different dishes have to be served. If you happen to serve some dish ahead against the set order you will have to listen to archanai (taunts) from the Rules mama.
    • ,…,…
  • Over smart, padutharathukune porantha mama: These mamas are deadly. They are born to torture you. Sample these:

                   1.  “Mama: Dei, how are you, Enna theriyuma?? (Do you recognize me?)

                   You: (you are obviously unable to place him. But if you tell him the  truth  you will be subjected to a mouthful. So you lie) – Yes, yes, I recognize you. How can I forget?  How are you?

                  Mama: You remember me?? O.k. tell me who I am???

                  You: 😠 😠 Well, well, (you just escape)”

`                 2. “Mama: Ennappa entha companyla work panra?? (Where are you working??)

                   You: Mama, Godrej company

                   Mama: Evalavu Sambalam tharaan?  Kanja pasangalache??? (How much are they paying??? They are stingy buggers no???)

                    You: 😣 ???”

  • The Professional mama: These mamas wear pride in their sleeves having done professional courses like Engineering,.. that too in those days securing admission absolutely in merit when there were only few colleges. They loathe the present education system, lament on the decline in education standards and absence of meritocracy these days. So whenever you meet one of this type you will be subjected to a long lecture on how tough it was to get into engineering college those days and how he managed to get a job in Kirloskar company,…,.. When I happened to get into engineering college and met one such mama after my 2nd year, he almost took a test on Thermo dynamics, Machine design,.. all in the midst of a Seemandham function where we met!!!
  • Ellam therinja mama: He is the know it all. Period. He has an opinion on everything and as per him that’s right. From weather in Bay area to political climate in Chechnya, he knows everything.
  • Angry Old mama: These mamas were Angry young men in their primes. They get angry over everything. On the Government, system, roads, politicians, people, relatives and what have you.  Usually you will find them alone as generally people avoid a run-in with these types.
  • Munjaakirathai (Over cautious) mama: This category of mamas are always over cautious about every thing. So much so that one mama from this clan told me that he accepts friend requests in FB only after checking their horoscopes 🙂 🙂 🙂
  • Advice Kadai mama: These mamas are always into advice some time solicited, most of the times unsolicited.  From how to handle a bad boss at work to tackling inflation they provide free guidance.

And there are more. I can go on and on. Due to space and time constraint I will have to end here. Wait a minute. There’s a ring at the door and It’s my neighbour’s 15 year old son Vivek

        “Vivek: Hello, what are you doing uncle?

        Me: Well nothing much, just doing my usual Sunday blog

        Vivek: Oh, what are you writing on?

       Me: Well for a change some light stuff. On my encounters with “Mamas”  (I explain  the different   types,..)

        Vivek: Uncle, you can add one more type

        Me: Which is???

        Vivek: Blog panniye boradikara mama

         Me:  😦 😦 😦

APPU

Picture courtesy : www.appusami.com

P.S: This is a light-hearted intentional take but with no intention to hurt anybody or any community.