Insight Mahiprasad

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Right to watch. This is too much.

Each hours in the morning these days we are bound to watch the leering photographs of our astute politicians. These photographs are given in almost all the leading newspapers of the country. They do not contain any news, neither they are shown along any news material. These photographs are sheer advertisements for the party before the general election,sponsored by different Ministries/Departments of the Government. In today's newspaper (TOI) only, there are as many as 15  advertisements which carry the photographs of these politicians along with their self-narrated accomplishments. To add to our woes, there are seven full pages and two half pages amongst the total of 32 pages, which occupy these advertisements.

In democracy, there is every right to propagate one's views in a civilised manner. Therefore, just before the election, all political parties have their freedom of expression through every mean. But how far is it ethical that one is forced to look at them just when he is opening his eyes for the day? It is debatable whether these photographs and advertisements create soothe to the eyes of the supporters of those parties, but the simple truth is that these contents and photographs are eyesores to the common readers of the newspapers. Why should anyone watch the photos of Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, Mayawati etc. day after day, only because he has bought a newspaper? Unlike in television or radio, where there is an option of altering the channels, the newspapers compel its readers to give a glance to its sponsors. This is unacceptable to the educated class of India. The real democracy demands the right to watch.  This is too much for a reader who pays for each page.

It seems that there should be a parameter in all the national newspapers that the political parties or the Government departments may air a report that promotes party interests once in a week only. Recently, the central government has brought a bill which has prevented the media from covering pre-poll analysis or Exit-poll before the election, which the party in power fears that this could sink their ship. Considering the interests of its esteemed readers, the newspapers must come together now and issue a rule that abrogate the political parties from beating the drum before the election.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Dishonest Government, Incompetent Opposition

The successive governments in India are in the habits of beating the drums before the bugle of election is heard. This is quite true for all the political parties that have tasted the blood of power. Be it a general election, or for state assembly or municipality, the party in power exaggerates its past performance with gusto. All previous governments had not left any opportunity of speaking loudly about its make-belief accomplishments, at the cost of government coffers. The NDA at the centre, SP-BSP in Uttar Pradesh, Lalu in Bihar, Left in West Bengal and Kerala, TDP in Andhra, in fact it's all and one speak in the same voice, when in power . The present UPA led by Congress are no pushovers, rather they are the ones who taught the other parties how to be dishonest while at the helm of power.

Of late, it has come to notice from Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) that the present government is inactively sitting on a whopping Rs.78000 crore of unutilised foreign assistance and paying commitment charges to the amount of Rs.125 crore to the World Bank and Asian Development Bank for not using the sanctioned amount. Another report from CAG discloses that over Rs. 51,000 crore allocated by the Central Government for Bharat Nirman and other schemes remained overstated. This is the truth of the government who, notwithstanding, incessantly applaud its achievements. This is not an end to it. There are numerous other areas where one can easily point their fingers on and seek explanations from the government.

Around 90 days have passed after the mayhem took place in Mumbai on 26/11. No conspicuous action on this has been felt, except that our Foreign Minister keeps telling the media that action taken by the Govt. of Pakistan is not enough. But never ever has he said what action the government of India would be taking. How long shall the people of India wait for its government to act? Isn't it so that the people look foolish when the main party in power, Congress, leers to claim that it would bring terror as subject while campaigning during the forthcoming election? Apart from this, the country has recently witnessed a worst ever financial crisis, barring the Chandrashekhar government, and the insipid market looks at the government like a crow parched with thirst for survival. However, the government seemed to be indifferent while presenting the interim budget as let bygones be bygones, forgetting that the country anticipated relaxation on taxation, reducing excise duty, promoting entrepreneurs to revive the economy of the country. The recent job-cuts during the last six months is one area where the whole country is amazingly keeping mum.The companies are laying off workers and personnel with sagacity in order to save their skins. No new appointments are forthcoming. Though the recession was diagnosed six months from now, nothing substantial from the administration is noticed. The future is not only alarming but it remains cold and dull.

The opposition parties are as unhealthy as the parties in power. No one dares to speak the truth. The truth does not mean digging out the fallouts of the rivals. Herein the truth illustrates about the real problems of the people and the country, and what measures or plans they have with them to counter those realities. The government never comes out honestly with any discrepency of its administration, they rather prefer to deceive the people. The crust is that no political parties at present seem honest to divulge in the roots where the shoe pinches. Unfortunately, this is our fait accompli. 

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Next Target

This blog is a modified version of my article written in February, 2008. After 26/11 mayhem occured in Mumbai, the media entered into direct foray with the politicians of the country.  As a result, the govt. bounced back when the dire situation seemed to have calmed down.  Proven right,this encuraged me to remind this article and add on few instances, and bring it forth before the readers.

It is often seen that a professional group or an institution is targeted by the government in power. Years on the line, the governments are forced to have cold wars with the professions in question. In whatever way, the govt. endevours to curb the wings of the profession and in retaliation, the professionals come back with some popular measures and obtain the sympathy of the common man, and thereby humiliate the govt. in power. In the course of time, the government makes the politicians of either side, be in the ruling or in the opposition, understand that the profession itself is guilty, and is the enemy of the politicians as a whole and not the government alone. Getting together, the government acts with an iron hand, and demolishes the spines of the profession in question, and coerces them to go into wilderness. Sooner, the rebellion withers away and the people forget them that they once made the government stumble to the knee. In effect, the profession was subjugated to by the lawmakers by punishing them, and sending them to near extinction. After some time, the said profession forgets whether they were ever part of any kind of rebellion. This had been practiced during the British Raj, and is being formulated by any modern day government.

During the 1970-80s, it was visibly observed that the officials serving in the Central and State Governments were basically anti-establishment. The succeeding governments, esp. the one led by Congress party, pushed the babus into troubles first by marauding them, by breaking their agitations and putting them behind the bars during the emergency, then appeased them by offering regular pay commission packets which enhanced their salaries to a respectable one. However, it was seen, the people sitting inside the North Block, South Block and other Bhavans did not cherish the government line. They do not vote enmasse, but they have a voice. They are middle class, they are educated and able to persuade a feeling of distrust and hatred amongst the people who vote. The succeeding governments noted that, and during the economic liberalization period, the government decided to cut short the wings of the babus. It was then pronounced that half of the posts in the Central Government would be curtailed gradually. There was no immediate sacking, but the posts once vacant would not be replenished. Though some departments were closed down, but the skulking officials were never sent home. There was no scope of rebellion, and hence, no one could protest. It was a policy which was tantamount to be a punishment meted out to the officials serving in the Central and State Governments.

The anti-reservation agitation has always been the aspiration of the middle class people of India, which they felt that the power never paid heed to their feelings. The people at large feel that the reservation to a section of society was only to secure votes and insure power. An endless appeasement to others made them jittery. It was also observed that no political parties dared to venture against the reservation class. In order to garner more, the parties in power, extended the benefits to some more. In this game of ascertaining the power, whoever opposes the reservation policy, had to face invariably the wrath of the mighty government.

However, the medical students all over India, took the bull by the horns. In 2006-07, they opposed the government policy of reservation, vehemently. They took the protest to the streets. Other students from different streams lined up behind them. They challenged the legislatures. No political parties were seen meddling around them. Sensing that all the political parties were up against the wall, the Government motivated themselves to let loose the power against the students by thrashing them on the streets by the brute police force, resulted into injuring many. Without wasting time, a bill was presented in the Parliament to provide reservation to the OBCs in the higher educational institutions. Later though, the matter was taken up by the Supreme Court, the agitation of the medical students took a back seat. Getting the support of all the political parties, the government bounced back to maraud the medical students. P. Venugopal, the effervescent Director of AIIMS, became the first casualty. He was sent to forced retirement by making a law in the Parliament, for the sake of punishing one man. It takes around five and a half to study MBBS and roughly twelve years for getting ahead with the subject. Now, the government has increased the course period for MBBS by one year, and plans that it would take them nearly eighteen years to button up the whole medical course. The government has curved down the agitation, and the agitated are sulking and cast down.

Looking at the atrocities made by the governments in the past to the institutions that had caused troubles to the politicians, it is clearly presumed that the next target to face the agony and wrath of the government will clearly be the mediamen. Until the last century, the media in India were relatively subdued, as they were less professional in their approach. They had their freedom, but upto a limit, and they most often toed the line segment of the government. They never used the name of a person, party or community when it was involved in groping any scandal. The period of economic liberalization has indeed intensified the vigour of media who are keen to outperform. The competitiveness amongst the communication industry has effectively encouraged abundant liveliness and durability so as to attract people in the most candid way. It is in this period only when we saw the judiciary also take on the politicians to do the justice. The corrupt political leaders and the government departments were taken to task by the judiciary and when we found the police, the magistrates and senior bureaucrats seemed worried and pulled their socks up to retain their jobs. These were all the handicrafts of the Media esp. the electronic one. Apart from doing this adventurous job, it also finds out the elevation in the poverty, the lawlessness in the country, and most importantly it tries to listen to the bereaved. These activities were never taken kindly by the government.Of late, people at large find out in the media a friend, a trustworthy one, which they didn’t see in the behaviour of the government over the years.

In effect, the government seems gasping. They have been pacifying the media all the time, but by now it has taken the shape of a Frankenstein. It is difficult to undersize them because they seem people-friendly and they have a voice. It is true that the politicians take benefits from the media whenever it suits them, but for some time now, most of them feel humiliated by the media's intrusiveness. Post 26/11 the electronic media of India have shown exclusive coverage of the gruesome incidents and behaved like a friend in need of the people, exposing the careless attitude of the politicians at large and the government in particular, which was taken seriously by the government. It was presumed then that sooner or later, the politicians will get united and look down its nose at the media and will definitely snap its neck. Last month, the government had attempted to bring a law which would censor the electronic media from displaying events that could humiliate the govt. Looking at the uproar of the mediamen and the approaching general election, the govt. has cleverly retreated from its move. Never mind, a law will definitely come after the forthcoming general election in order to quieten them. No doubt the media is mighty, and have the universal support. But not as mighty and cunning as any government, when force matters. A hard battle is in the offing. Will the media be able to stand erect against the government when the force is applied to or will they too kneel down to hibernation?

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