Monday, June 30, 2008

Hoax news spins into a story on police inefficiency

penpricks, in the past, has exposed the lack of ethics and professionalism in the industry. Although largely limited to Goan media, it is a blog I would recommend to media watchers. penpricks sent out a hoax email with the intention of exposing media sensationalism. Siddharth Varadarajan picks up the story. He has nothing to say about journalists or editors but blames the police who are mere bystanders.

Firstly, this hoax email was not sent to expose police fabrications but was aimed at highlighting what is a well known fact about Indian media -- lack of journalistic standards. Secondly, that major and reputed media establishments have fallen for a hoax story with dead giveaways is an indicator of the deplorable standards of mainstream media in our country. Siddharth Varadarajan ignores these two main points. Instead of lamenting on the state of media, he links this vaguely to police and terrorism. He then devotes more than 20% of the article to lambasting the police.

It is no excuse that we must accept this hoax story because we accept the police versions on terrorism cases. The motivations and compulsions in this hoax email and police narrations are entirely different. Also, considering the pathetic nature of mainstream media, the police might have a valid reason to mislead the media and feed their voracious appetite for sensationalism rather than tell the truth. Siddarth Varadarajan, by comparing police narrations to an email hoax, is consciously and deliberately undermining the anti-terrorism efforts by the police.

On the whole, Siddhart Varadarajan displays a classic example of "I can draw this conclusion given any set of data" attitude. He avoids flogging his own sheep, labels the police as beast and flogs the beast. A coward and a bloody hypocrite.

The Hindu : Opinion / News Analysis : Stories that are too good to check
For though the ‘Johann Bach’ story was outlandish, it was no more so than the reports regularly put out by Indian police departments about the arrest of terrorism suspects.

It is easy to laugh at the gullibility of reporters and editors in the ’Bach’ case but is our profession any less gullible when it uncritically regurgitates improbable, unverified and unverifiable details provided by the police in virtually all terrorism cases? Do any of us ever stop to ask how the police is able to reveal intimate details about a suspect’s prior movements and associations within hours of arresting him? One of the country’s worst kept secrets is that the police admit to having arrested a suspect days and sometimes even weeks after first taking him into custody. During this period of custody, the suspect is worked over and only after there is nothing more to extract is his “arrest” announced to the media. More often than not, the suspect will be paraded before photographers and journalists who will faithfully note down every ’fact’ provided to them by the police. Some of these ‘facts’ may well be true; but in accepting them at face value, that too from a source whose tendency to distort and mislead is legendary, are we really all that different from the victims of Perus Narpk?

The art of sidelining pointed arguments

The left has been barking loud on the N deal and the LiC has been more than happy to do his bit in fanning the flame. Now, with the imminent exit of the Left lunatics from the UPA, the Congress has mustered the courage to raise some very pointed questions.

Taking the bull by its horn, the Congress reacted to Karat's rant on PD thus:

"At a time when developed countries are increasingly going back to nuclear energy [and looking to follow the example of France where 80 per cent of energy needs are met from nuclear power plants] as a relatively clean fuel option; we are endangering our economic growth prospects for short-term electoral prospects or due to blind ideological obduracy.”

Managing inflation has no connection with going ahead with the nuclear deal and, if anything, obstructing the deal means that the nation’s energy security and its ability to withstand future oil price shocks would be further reduced. The Iran pipeline is not an alternative to the nuclear deal. And if Russia and America, China and Pakistan and China and Russia are all busy signing nuclear deals, should India forgo pursuing its interests?”

The Left's hypocritical stand couldn't have been exposed better. Wielding power disproportionate to its national relevance , the Left has been a pain in UPA's *ss from day1 . In its blind urge to please its Chinese masters, it does not even hesitate to subvert India's national interests. Had MMS inked a similar deal with China/Russia , would the lunatics have barked this loud? What is the relation between lowering inflation and operationalizing the deal? Did the Left government in WB completely wipe out poverty before their Singur/Nandigram misadventure? The very party whose government couldn't drive out bird flue from its territory and instead chose to drive out Taslima Nasreen is now giving unsolicited advise. Heard of the devil quoting the scriptures?

Coming to Chindu, this news was neatly tucked in one of the inner pages in yesterday's issue. Today's issue(online) has Karat's warning, Prachanda's interview and a Chinese technological milestone - all on the front page. The LiC is giving the commies a bang for their buck.

Chindu gets bold

It is amazing what competition can do to self proclaimed modesty and integrity. The usually modest madisar mami from Madras has started giving column space to Fs&Bs. For a paper that mastered the art of indirect reference (sample: Chennai Silks is usually "a leading textile showroom on Usman Road" ), this turn around has been rather swift. What next LiC? A raunchy center fold to "uphold the highest values of journalism"?

Gimelstob called Kournikova the “b-word” and made sexually-charged remarks about her and his brother.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Chinese supercomputers cracks Top 10 list or does it?

Thanks to an anonymous reader for the investigation into an article posted on the Chindu quoting Xinhua without any factual accuracy.
Speed is relative. Most physicists would claim that barring the speed of light any other speed is relative. One of our readers questions Chindu's claim here --> The reader states,
"China supercomputer enters top 10 list"

Chindu is mightily pleased, of course. However, Chindu, as usual, just vomits out what it has been spoon fed by Xinhua. Unfotunately, comrade-in-chief did not care to critically evaluate his master's claims and hence blind reporting such as "a Chinese-made high-performance server rivals the seventh fastest for computing speed." In the course of a discussion in the defence-related website ( these Chinese claims, faithfully reproduced by Chindu, have been questioned and exposed.

The Top500 website quoted by the reader lists the top 10 lead by IBM's Roadrunner which Chindu discounts,
“Roadrunner” was built for unspecified military applications, the Chinese super system, covering a floor space of 75 square metres, focuses on commercial use.

I'm sure the Chinese government has given the required permissions to Top500 to analyze all their government supercomputer projects. But I digress. The anonymous reader hits the nail on the head, when in the top 10 supercomputers list there is Tata Sons supercomputer,
For the second time, India placed a system in the top10. The Computational Research Laboratories, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Sons Ltd. in Pune, India, installed a Hewlett-Packard Cluster Platform 3000 BL460c system. They integrated this system with their own innovative routing technology and achieved a performance of 132.8 Tflop/s which was sufficient for No. 8.

The anonymous reader concludes with his thoughts on this topic,
Is the chindu the mouthpiece of xinhua in India, so much so that they fail to report Indian achievements? Should nt it be reasonable to accuse the chindu on treason charges?"

Props to Bharat Rakshak for their investigative post.
Maybe its time to question the Readers Editor about factual accuracy someone LiC decides to trumpet at every occasion. Thanks to our blog's readers for their investigative analysis.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

LiC in appeasement's name

The Hindu : Opinion / Editorials : In god's name
When Jammu and Kashmir Governor S. K. Sinha demits office on Wednesday morning and flies to New Delhi on a government jet, the ground beneath his feet will be ablaze with hate. Sharpening a communal divide, engendering street violence, uniting anti-India secessionists, and precipitating a showdown between the Congress and People’s Democratic Party: these will be remembered as this Governor’s abiding legacies.
Pretty strong statements coming from LiC. I would have thought the Governor must have done a blunder of Nehruvian magnitude to call for such contempt.
As is often the case, the hate that threatens to tear Jammu and Kashmir apart has been engendered in god’s name.
Notice that "god" here begins with a small letter. This convention is reserved for Hindus.
General Sinha and his supporters claim to be protecting the religious rights of Hindus.
Now, this is serious offense. How dare they even make the claim. Have Hindus forgotten that Muslims have first right of claim over anything in India?
His opponents claim to be defending Islam. Just what is in fact at stake?
LiC avoids mentioning how the opponents are defending Islam. Gory details dont make pleasant reading.
In May, the State government assigned 39.88 hectares of degraded forest land to the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board, a regulatory body chaired by the Governor.
Most other newspapers I read pointed to 100 acres of forest land being transferred to SASB to erect temporary structures.
Islamists claimed this land transfer was part of a larger project to alter J&K’s demographic character — a fear that has stalked the State’s politics since Independence.
LiC is lying and misleading deliberately. J&K demographic character is protected from "outsiders" by the contentious article 365. It is the Islamists who drove the Pandits out to change the demographics.
While it rails against subsidies to Muslim religious institutions, it sees nothing wrong in committing public land — and over 40,000 police and paramilitary personnel diverted from counter-terrorism duties — to facilitate a Hindu pilgrimage.
Another motivated charge from the LiC. It is the government's responsibility to provide protection to its citizens, be it by deploying police or paramilitary or the army. LiC comparing this government's responsibility to government providing subsidies to muslim institutions is obviously wrong. One is a responsibility while the other is appeasement. LiC deliberately avoided brining Haj subsidies into the discussion or his point would hold no water.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Nirupama proves she's Pak's dhimmi

Thanks to Schuncher for pointing this recent article in the Chindu.
The theme is a common occurrence in Pak-land in recent times. There are a bunch of soldiers loitering around and suddenly they are ambushed either by 'miscreants' or by an American smart bomb. The Pak military then decides to play the blame game blaming everyone but themselves for the cause of this issue. However that is not the issue with the article.
The Chindu's esteemed Ms. Nirupama Subramanian(a wannabe Pallavi Aiyar) is the official correspondent for Pak affairs. Giving her insights on this issue, NV claims,
The intriguing incident in which four Pakistani soldiers were killed in an ambush by unidentified “miscreants” on the Pakistani side of the Line of Control last Thursday, will help Islamabad rebut Indian claims that the Pakistan Army, or elements in it, are once again assisting cross-LoC infiltration.

Thanks NV, that puts our hardworking Armed forces to rest easy that the Pakistan military is not sponsoring the infiltration. While you are at it, I have some Nigerian oil bonds worth about 15 billion euros I would like to sell to you, if you could kindly provide your bank information. There is very little analysis of the issue and she swallows the Pak official line hook and sinker.
The Pak official spokesman then hilariously states,
“The attackers disappeared after dark, and we could not really trace them or get hold of them,’ he said. The Pakistan Army often uses the term “miscreants” to denote militants.

Mr.Spokesman did they not leave a call back number or perhaps a visiting card? The miscreants are becoming very unreliable these days, makes one look back to the old days when they would wait and give their version before heading out for dinner. Then NV goes on to state the Indian POV,
New Delhi has also been concerned about the recent increase in the activities of banned groups in Pakistan.

Well that seems kind of logical when terrorists decide bomb peaceful civilians like those in Jaipur and other places and most of the attacks seem to have some cross border ties.
In her zeal to provide analysis about foreign affairs she forgets one minor fact, she holds an Indian passport! Reading this article makes one feel as if we are in fact reading 'The Dawn'.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Hanoi Roy would like the N-deal to fall through

Arundhati Roy is a good writer who had one good book 'The God of Small Things' which won a Booker prize and parlayed that into being a pseudo-intellectual favoring Left wing causes often without any rhyme or reason. Recently there were some students with obvious CPM roots who decided to launch a hunger protest against the N-deal simply because,
there was “no merit” in the agreement.
Running to their support was Ms. Roy who has been a vehement anti-US activist. When asked why she was against the N-deal, she said,
“Entering into an embrace with the United States is suicidal and we have the benefit of looking into its history with its allies.”

Well Ms. Roy could you please hand over your magic solution to the country's energy problems which you have in that napkin in your back pocket?
The students have every right as they should in a democratic nation to protest against their Government. However Chindu decides to see fit to publish an article simply because one of LiC's pet activists decided to make a pit stop to show support. In fact they even sent a special photographer to capture a snap with Ms. Roy bantering with the students.

Do remember this is the same person who compared the "Indian occupation of Kashmir" with the Pinochet regime and wanted the withdrawal of Army from Kashmir. Sure and while we are at it, Ms.Roy can we draw up a red carpet for all the terrorists to waltz in and bomb the heck out of our civilians?
I wonder what special favors LiC is getting to ensure that such windbags are given lines in the newspaper.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Loyalties to the Left Credo but not to the people

Anyone who has observed the long history of the Left in power in various countries has observed the repeated theme of a selected few using themes of class conflict and economic disparity to grab power and hold on to it by any means necessary.
Often the people whose rights they swore to protect are left without any rights and are brutally subjugated. USSR, China, West Bengal, Cuba, Kerala the list goes on.
Somehow the Utopian promises of equality and liberty for the proletariat are written in paper but to no avail. Sure the Chindu and LiC would love to argue the sweeping statements made here, but the facts speak for themselves. Recently given the rampant global rise in oil and commodity prices, even the Chinese government could not force artificial controls on the prices of diesel and petroleum products.
Pallavi Aiyar being the Indian Uncle tom to the Chinese breaks the news with a straight face.
China announced an overnight sweeping rise in its domestic energy prices. Effective from Friday, the cost of diesel is up by 18.1 per cent and that of gasoline by 16.7 per cent. Electricity costs have also been raised.

Wow 18.1 percent. Not your Rs.5 increase for which the CPM Karat Yechury and their goons have been holding the UPA government hostage.
The Chindu decides to treat this with an air of inevitability. Some state governments in India have asked for the UPA govt. to bear some of the hike to ease the burden on common citizens the demands which the Chindu would term as 'populist'. However when the Chinese government decides to do the same for some groups it is for humanitarian reasons.
With one eye on potential public outcry over the latest rise in fuel prices and the added inflationary pressure it is likely to result in, Beijing has been careful to announce an array of subsidies for certain groups to offset the effect of the hike.

I'm sure we will listen to Yechury, Bardhan and co. rally in all parts of the Country and advice the Chinese Government to rollback those prices, in my dreams.
The inherent hypocrisy of the Chindu in not reporting and analyzing human problems across different countries with a similar treatment simply because of the ideology of the people in power is abhorrent. Some of my Chinese friends whose families are suffering with the rise in food prices as high as 50% in some regions over the past few years. However those kinds of true facts would not be published in a newspaper which loves to show one side of the story like the Great Leap Forward.
As a great philosopher, when confronted with starving common people, once said:
"..let them eat cake."

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A local version of RedNet

Chindu is turning into an Indian version of rednet.

RedNet News - News from the World Communist Press

News and information compiled daily from Communist party newspapers around the world.

The Hindu : International : Elian joins Cuba’s Young Communist Union
The Cuban boy at the centre of an international custody battle eight years ago has joined Cuba’s Young Communist Union.

Communist youth newspaper Juventud Rebelde quotes Elian Gonzalez as saying he will never let down the former President, Fidel Castro, and his brother Raul Castro, who succeeded Mr. Fidel Castro earlier this year.

Now 14, Elian was 6 when his Miami relatives lost their fight to keep him in the U.S. and he was returned to Cuba in mid-2000 with his father.

Elian had survived a boating accident off the Florida coast that killed his mother, who was attempting to get to the U.S.

Juventud Rebelde says in its Sunday edition that the boy was among 18,000 people who joined the group on Saturday. — AP

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Australia's Labor Govt: Free-thinking or Unthinking?

I was amused to read P.S.Suryanarayana's 'Australia: a free thinking ally of the U.S.' today. The general tone appears quite laudatory of the Australian labor party PM Kevin Rudd. Why the great enthusiasm for his leadership? For two reasons it appears: his willingness to stand apart from the US and his desire to put his country's relationship with China on a special footing.

This is the same guy who pointedly indicated before his election that his government would under no circumstances sell uranium to India. True to his word, he has reversed the previous conservative government's position and since then stuck to the view that India would be entitled to the standard benefits of the NPT provided it signs up as a non-nuclear member state, something it would obviously never do. He has also clearly indicated that he values the relationship with China far more than India. He has been anxious to involve China as an active dialogue partner in all economic and security related matters in South East Asia. He has also shown a decidedly lower level of enthusiasm in bringing India into those equations, something that stands apart from the previous John Howard government's attitude. Some of these facts also happen to be mentioned in this article.

Yet, he is described as 'free thinking'. One could ascribe to him the quality of being a thinking PM if he did something novel or principled such as standing up for a cause of some kind even at the risk of acquiring the ignominy of others. I see absolutely nothing of the kind here - he has simply sought to revert his country back to the classical European world view that it has long held before George Bush's ascent to power. Non-proliferation dogma, appeasement of China, pro-environment/anti-climate change, faith in a multipolar world (read that as reigning in American unilateralism) - all of these are standard leftist talking points that every European PM adheres to. With the decline of the Bush administration's power, he has simply taken the opportunity to return Australia, long a bastion of European political correctness to its former ways. Refusing to meet the Dalai Lama, failing to recognize India's unique situation vis-a-vis proliferation and rejecting the promotion of democracy as a worthwhile foreign policy goal are all gospel for socialists and are neither new nor particularly principled and certainly cannot be termed 'free thinking' - indeed, parroting the same positions does not amount to thinking at all.

He says that Mr. Rudd is anxious to cooperate with Japan which 'has taken a leadership role' in create a planet-sustaining environment. Japan was actually a hold-out at Kyoto for quite a long time and is still strongly opposed to any curbs on whaling, a practice it continues to engage in often covertly under the guise of research efforts on whales. Greenpeace has had a long running battle with Japan on this issue. I agree that Japan is an important industrialized power that needs to be taken along for climate change efforts to succeed but leadership would not be a word I would use for a country that has been anxious to water down hunting regulations. Mr. Suryanarayana is obviously so excited that Australia is actively making efforts to build alliances such as China and Japan even if it is not particularly keen on including India within its calculations that he is probably willing to overlook such minor things that might run contrary to his thesis of a 'free-thinking' nation on the move.

Iraq and Neocolonialism: American Troops Need to Stay

I was disappointed to read the lead editorial in The Hindu titled 'Iraq and neocolonialism' today. The Bush administration's demand may certainly sound outrageous but is that not the reason why the Iraqi government has gone public with its frustration and continues to negotiate? I would have expected The Hindu to support (and perhaps call upon the Indian government to do likewise) the Malliki government's tough posture not to concede unlimited military bases to the US but it has instead gone further and criticized it for talking to the US at all.

On the other track, the dependant regime in Baghdad is negotiating with the U.S. administration the terms of a bilateral pact that any self-respecting government would have rejected out of hand. Washington wants Iraq to agree that it will continue to host a large number of foreign forces for an unspecified period; provide nearly 50 bases for them; grant immunity to soldiers for any illegalities they might commit when deployed; and, hand over complete control of its airspace. Mr.Maliki’s willingness to discuss these terms has stirred a rebellion even within the Shia community that is the mainstay of his government.

The reason for this is simply that despite all the progress that has taken place over the last year since the troop surge began - and it has no doubt been considerable (read this article that appeared this week in The Economist) - Iraq still needs those thousands of American troops to keep the violence down, maintain order and push through the compromises between various groups on everything from power sharing to oil revenues that have stalled for several years now as violence increased. If they leave prematurely as the paper wants them to, the Iraqi army, though much stronger than before, is still in no position to manage the situation if it goes out of hand. The Mahdi army remains armed and popular and other parties such as Al-Badr are equally capable of rearming should the situation so demand. The Sunni demands have not been resolved and their parties continue to remain outside the government. The Kurdish demand for independence (which remains a serious possibility particularly as the status of Kirkuk and the question of sharing the revenues from its oil refineries has still not been resolved) may be raised to a shriller pitch further complicating the fragile situation particularly if the American departure is taken as a sign of its weakness. In short, the situation is far from settled and the Iraqi government is still not sufficiently stable or in control of the situation to warrant an early departure of American troops. Hence the need for further dialogue to make them stay but only long enough for outstanding issues to be resolved. What better alternative does the newspaper have in mind were American troops to be asked to leave right away as it demands? Who does it expect to step in and assume responsibility were things to degenerate once more? The stand taken is utterly irresponsible.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The art of writing a poor movie review.

There are some simple rules when it comes to writing a movie review things like understanding the audience, provide some original opinions, most importantly to summarize the movie than spoil the film.
Given the fact that Dasavatharam is one of the biggest releases this year it serves any large newspaper or media outlet to come up with a review to match the audience's expectations. The Chindu lets Malathi Rangarajan, definitely not the most creative of reviewers, to write a review on this film. She starts off decently providing a high level view of the film production and some platitudes towards the star and the director.
Spoiler Alert
Then she decides to expose the key twist of the plot under the section 'Simple Plot'. Another spoiler which could've been avoided is the fate of the second most promoted artiste (after Kamal) in this film and I'm not referring to Asin. As usual the Chindu takes unnecessary potshots at one of the religious characters,
a 12th century temple priest, whose insular faith ends on a tragic note.

Last I heard in the 12th century, most religions were insular, like the Muslims were massacring Kafirs in the hundreds of thousands, the Christians were fighting their hundred year wars and so on. The analysis of the various aspects of the film is very disjointed skipping between the actors to the technical aspects then back to the actors and so on making for very difficult reading.
Last word
Writing a good review is tough given that the writer often has to observe and capture a lot of diverse facets of film making into a one-page review. Given the amount of work the filmmakers have put in, the investment made by the producers and the expectations of the audience it would seem becoming of the reviewers and editors at Chindu to write a decent review and not let the cat out of the bag. Unfortunately for all of us, they have dropped the ball again.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Relevancy of title to the article

The creation of a title to an written article is an art. The writer is forced to summarize what he has written in a few words to convey the overall theme but also interest the audience to bite. In a pure metaphorical sense it is the bait to reel in the fish (something this writer strugges with). The Chindu does a reasonably good picking its titles, mostly safe and bland but gives the reader a reasonable sense of what is contained within.
However a recent article had an interesting title, War for the soul of Islam in India by Praveen Swami. The summary beneath the title detailed that Islamic leaders have rejected terrorism and the terrorist remain outside the fringe.
Deoband’s rejection of the jihad will do nothing to persuade violent Islamists to end their campaign. It has made clear, though, that jihadists enjoy no support except at the polar fringes of Islam in India.

While this seems a logical extension to Khare's earlier rant, this article meanders into historical anecdotes of how the Deoband was created to the history of mushrooming of madrassas in Pakistan and finally
meanders into a discussion on Islam and modernity. The article does not present any cogent arguments or evidence on how the jihadists remain on the fringes but rather delves into irrelevant history.
The disturbing information presented in this article is the repeat of a statement by Maulana Khalid Rasheed on the challenges to Indian muslims,
India’s Muslims have faced three critical challenges. The first was Partition itself, which communalists leveraged to coerce those Muslims who chose to live in India. Second came the demolition of the Babri Masjid, which represented a full-blown assault on the economic and political future of our community.” “Now,” says Mr. Rasheed, “terrorism poses a third make-or-break threat”.

This makes little sense.
After the partition if the communalists were so powerful how come the Congress ran the Central and most of the state governments for about 40+ years?
Why is that Babri Masjid destruction blamed for every issue?
Why does Chindu take everything said by these so called Islamic leaders at face value, but question any word said by people of certain other sections of society?

The poor summarization by Chindu coupled with such illogical articles often does not help put forward any useful thoughts towards the resolution. Praveen Swami has proved that he's the political irrelevant equal of Judge Iyer.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Liars and statistics

In today's editorial, Liar-in-Chief pulls out statistical tricks to mislead readers. After all, what better lies than statistics.
Inflation is rising with a predictable regularity. For the week ending with May 24 it had climbed to 8.24 per cent, up from 8.10 per cent a week earlier. At this point the inflation as measured by the Wholesale Price Index is at a 45-month high. There are a few silver linings, however.

Inflation is at 8.24 percent - a 45-month high. Most would be worried at this. But this editorial is about a meaningful index and not about the politics/consequences of inflation. So, what is the silver lining and what is the point in providing it?
Though climbing, the extent of increases on a week-to-week basis is becoming smaller. Also, the final inflation figures that are invariably announced after a lag do not show such sharp spikes as they used to till recently.

The rate of increase of inflation is decreasing. Ofcourse, it will; this is not Zimbabwe. But the inflation is still increasing. The LiC also acknowledges that it will continue to increase in the near future. Bottomline: there is no silver lining. Even a steady inflation at 8.24% is no silver lining. Now, for the next question: what is the point in providing a non-existent silver lining?

There could be two reasons why we have this sub-standard editorial. The LiC is trying to please some political powers. The second is that the LiC is out of touch with reality. The LiC should begin by trying to talk to the respondents in "People and Prices".

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Confidence Vote and Governor's Address in Karnataka

Today's editorial 'Looking ahead in Karnataka' chastises the Yediyurappa dispensation in Karnataka for criticizing the Governor's stipulation to prove his majority before asking him to address the legislature. This is what it says:

After having secured the backing of six independents, the Bharatiya Janata Party government headed by B.S. Yeddyurappa was assured of majority support in the 224-member Karnataka Assembly. Still Governor Rameshwar Thakur did the right thing in insisting that Mr. Yeddyurappa go through the motions of a confidence vote. The BJP, which ended up three seats short of a majority in the elections and acquired the support of independents later, should have been happy to move a con fidence vote and demonstrate its majority. Instead, the party needlessly kicked up a debate over whether the Governor should indeed have asked the new government to prove its majority on the floor of the Assembly before agreeing to address a joint session of the two Houses. A party that forms a government with support obtained post-election will necessarily have to prove its strength on the floor of the Assembly as soon as possible. Letters of support from the independents persuaded the Governor to call the BJP to form the government but these were no substitute for the demonstration of support through a floor test.

There is not a whole lot of basis for this view. Some governors have established this practice of asking governments to prove their majority. But the idea of a confidence vote as opposed to a 'no-confidence' motion has little support in parliamentary tradition. The practice does not exist in the UK based upon which our own system has been constructed. The governor's job is to call upon the person most likely to command majority support in the legislature to form the government and (with considerable justification) to provide the legislature an opportunity to challenge him if it so desires. But the burden of challenging the CM's government rests entirely on the legislature, not the governor. Especially when the government may not have the requisite numbers, it is perfectly legitimate to allow it to survive only because the opposition parties cannot agree upon a no-confidence motion to bring it down. Moreover, there is virtually no reliable precedent for a Governor to not address the legislature merely because his government has not proven its confidence. There is no basis for connecting two altogether separate events. The Hindu is therefore on weak ground here.

Friday, June 06, 2008

LiC rants on intolerance

Recently there were a couple of incidents where the members of media were attacked by goons and activists. LiC having experienced some of the medicine first hand courtesy of JJ few years back decides to rant against the atmosphere of intolerance.
Similarly, the proper course for those activists who vandalised the residence of Loksatta’s Kumar Ketkar was to write ‘Letters to the Editor’ disagreeing with the newspaper’s stance.

I'm sure there are thousands of readers of Chindu whose letters to the Editor were not published simply because the newspaper felt those opinions ran counter to the newspapers arguments. How about giving a few of those readers a chance to express their opinions before preaching a course of action to the goons?
Also does LiC know for a fact that those activists did not write to the editor or talk to him politely before engaging in vandalism? Does anyone think that Mr.Sherlock Ram would've done his due diligence?
Newspapers have a right — indeed also a duty — to express themselves strongly and unequivocally on matters of public interest. They are not expected to stake out positions that please those in political life, those in power, or even those who constitute the majority. Intolerance against the written word is commonly justified in this country by invoking hurt sentiment.

This statement defines what a newspaper should and must be. Unfortunately this is a case of a quack claiming to be a registered physician just by reading the hippocratic oath. There have been numerous incidents over the recent past, many covered in detail by the writers of this blog, where Chindu has written articles with a serious lack of journalistic integrity. Hence for LiC to preach from his mountain in Anna Salai that newspapers should talk about the common man's interest is laughable.
The conclusion deserves some thought,
The sorry truth is that hurt sentiment in this country has become a cynical justification for those who want to bend the law or to take it into their own hands.

I would like to ask a simple question. There have been numerous incidents where Communists have taken the law into their hands (Nandigram, Kerala, Tripura, New Delhi the list goes on) and attacked common civilians, other party activists and even bureaucrats.
Where is LiC and Chindu's sense of duty towards the common man when these incidents happened?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Lets wait until the next terrorist bomb explodes.

The Chindu is often a picture of unintentional comedy. It charges windmills, tries to rail against phantoms of its imagination and more often than not makes a big fool out of itself. One of the key writers who ensures time and again that the Chindu appear like a dunce to the world is the Hon. Harish Khare. Readers of this blog know Harish and his pompous grandstanding ways filled with apathy and bigotry. Recently leaders of the Islamic community in Delhi decided to condemn terrorism by what else but reading out another pointless but laughable fatwa. (The concept of fatwa's and its relevance in modern society is another topic for discussion).
Harish takes this as an occasion to filibuster the audience with his standard litany of complaints against everyone and sundry. He starts of ranting against the BJP who happened to hold their national conference a day after the Deoband fatwas,
and the party found itself welcoming the fatwa. L.K. Advani even felt it expedient to exhort his party to reach out to Muslims.

Then he goes on to establish the Darul Uloom Deoband as the most respected Islamic seminary. But he does not care to define respected. By all rational standards, the institution is a Madrassa and has links to some of the recent terror attacks around the world including the Taliban. Given that they have given no indication of any internal cleansing this statement seems quite hollow. Check out the Deoband's website for more details including a one-page vitriolic article against Christianity.
Harish then goes on to group the canny terrorists, the communal Sangh Parivar, the imperialistic US, incompetent UPA Government for all the problems Indian Muslims are facing today.
With some help from a bumbling Bush administration, the terrorists have succeeded in their game plan: of generating irrational fears and a sense of insecurity among the majority community, and of invoking ham-handed administrative response from incorrigibly incompetent police personnel to create resentment, which in turn is used to find potential recruits in Muslim bastis and kasbas.

Isn't the responsibility of every active citizen to inform the law and order officials any information about potential terror activities? He then shifts his attention to the rapt reader his grand plan for how the Muslim leaders could integrate their flock into the mainstream. He talks about leaving the traditional secular camp (aka Congress) to better alternatives. Wonder who that could be? (If not the communal NDA, incompetent Congress then who?)
To Harish's credit he does make a couple of good points about how Muslims should avoid international distractions and focus on domestic issues. He also points out the obvious fact that Muslims should reject the oil money from the Sheiks. However the larger fault is that he paints Muslims as victims and giving them a free chit to escape what has happened over the last few decades with stupid statements like these,
The rest of India needs to summon responsible politics to help the Muslim discover the joys of harmonious co-existence.

Another irresponsible quote blaming the media is,
Admittedly, the media and other public opinion forums are dominated by non-Muslim personnel; but that need not be a discouragement to correcting institutionalised biases in an unrepresentative media profession.

Does he not read the "secular" media which from time to time fills the airwaves with pro-minority news?
There are several questions left unanswered as to how the religion should transform to adapt to a modern democracy and adopt a uniform policy towards other religions and women.
There are several communities which have similar social and economic conditions and are trying to adapt and come into the mainstream. Why is it that one specific community should be given a free pass?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Where does Chindu's loyalties lie?

The UPA government has decided to bite the bullet and implement a price hike on petrol, diesel, cooking gas etc. It was unavoidable given the rapid growth of fuel prices across the globe. Given the political compulsions on one hand and economic reality on the other the UPA government has taken the plunge in hiking the prices at least for the short term.
Chindu as usual does a cautious analysis of the situation gives the hike a lukewarm thumbs-up.
It offers support to the RBI move to provide support to the oil bonds offered by the government.
In a welcome move that should address one of its principal shortcomings, the RBI has agreed to provide liquidity to these bonds.

Realizing the ground realities and lack of realistic alternatives, short of finding a huge oil field under Anna Salai, Chindu offers its cautious support to the UPA government's fuel hike.
Though its individual components can be faulted, the latest package as a whole is perhaps the only practicable solution to the unprecedented oil shock.

But Chindu's political masters the CPM had their knives sharpened for this occasion and has decided to stab the Government after days of threats. The Left parties in what has become their routine decide to protest without supporting the government or offering any constructive criticism.
It will be interesting to see how the Chindu will react to this development and whether they eschew logic for political loyalties. All in all, its a lose-lose situation for the common man.

Monday, June 02, 2008

The business of NGOs

A police commissioner misuses power to file a sedition charge against TOI. The aggrieved party blames the haughtiness of the police. It quotes statements by Congress leaders, who strongly condemned the police commissioner's action.

Editors Guild assails Gujarat police action against TOI-India-The Times of India
The sedition case was strongly criticized by Congress with the party spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi...
His party colleague, science and technology minister Kapil Sibal, was equally harsh on Ahmedabad police.
What does Chindu do? Quote the NGOs. It is instructive to see how these "concerned organizations" react. It has all the usual rhetoric. First drag Sangh Parivar into it because this incident occurred in Gujarat. Then refer back to the 2000 "mostly muslim" people who died during the 2002 riots. Reiterate the "Hindutva laboratory" image and make sufficient noise. The bastard media will help anyway. Label anyone who questions these "facts" as fascists.

The NGO business is purely propaganda for political purposes. It is utterly unethical and highly lucrative. In fact, most of these NGOs, just like certain media establishments, are funded by foreign interests to fulfill a dubious agenda.

The Hindu : National : Editors Guild shocked by Gujarat case
In a related statement, the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT) demanded withdrawal of the criminal case. Describing it as a “highly condemnable and deplorable act,” SAHMAT noted that it was aimed at throttling the freedom of expression of the media.

The FIR filed against the journalists exposed “the hypocrisy of the Sangh Parivar leadership and the administration run by it on the vital issue of defence of freedom of expression,” the SAHMAT statement said.

Referring to the role of the Gujarat police during the 2002 riots, SAHMAT added: “The latest unexplainable act of booking journalists in a case of sedition and criminal conspiracy proves that there is no room for any differing views in that State. The journalists booked in the case had merely written about the Police Commissioner on the basis of their investigation.”
To understand how a spin has been created on this news, have a look at Chindu's own report from yesterday. It is obvious that the Government and Sangh Parivar had nothing to do with it. By deliberately quoting SAHMAT, Chindu is acting with malicious intent. Is it any coincidence that SAHMAT and Chindu are hand-in-glove?

The Hindu : National : Police Commissioner files case against newspaper
The legal experts, however, could not explain how the charges of “sedition and treason” could be applicable in this case. It was also learnt that Mr. Mathur did not obtain the State government’s clearance before the filing the case.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Attempting to Restore the Secular Coalition to Power in Karnataka

Parvathi Menon and V.Sridhar do a good job of analyzing the Karnataka Assembly election results. Their tables provide good data to speculate that the Congress probably lost out narrowly in most segments of the state to the BJP. Yet, in the last two paragraphs, politics gets the better of analysis.

...The arithmetic of electoral politics poses the obvious question of an alliance between the two avowedly secular parties, the Congress and the JD(S). Such a coalition in the next Lok Sabha elections would result in the BJP being a distant second rather than the frontrunner that it imagines itself to be.

It is important that the Congress not take the JD(S) for granted in such an arrangement because the JD(S), despite being the weakest of the three main parties, retains almost one-fifth of the popular vote. This may not fetch it many seats if it is on its own. But a coalition with the Congress could dramatically change the political landscape in Karnataka.

They certainly seem to be exhorting the two parties to get into an electoral arrangement in the next election to defeat the BJP. While I generally believe that dispassionate analysis only gets undermined by mixing it up with partisan expectations, overlooking that aspect, one needs to ask if their expectation is realistic at all. From the numbers they show, the Congress and the JD(S) are engaged in tough competition in Southern Karnataka (more specifically, the Hassan-Mandya belt). There too, the Congress has a higher vote share than the JD(S) as things stand today. If an alliance ought to materialize, the Congress would have to concede a significant number of its seats there to the JD(S) and thereby essentially forego not only its current advantage locally but its hopes of ever dominating the region. The only reason that the Congress commands a vote share greater than the BJP is its relatively uniform presence all over the state. By giving up its hold over a particular region, that too to a fickle and unpredictable local ally, the Congress can virtually kiss goodbye to his hopes of ever returning to power on its own in the state. Karnataka will forever be consigned to two alternatives - either a BJP government alone as is the case today or a Congress-JD(S) coalition. The Congress leadership is smart enough to realize this which is exactly why they will not enter into such a ruinous arrangement anytime in the near future. It appears that Ms. Menon and Mr. Sridhar are simply deluding themselves about a prospect that does not exist.