Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Reactions to the much awaited verdict

Sanjay Dutt trial is over. After more than a decade of twists and turns, the verdict has been handed out. The court has found him guilty of possession of arms (an expected result) and not guilty of terrorism and conspiracy. The court still has to pass the sentence but he would get a minimum of five years in prison.

I first heard this news on the TV in my office cafeteria. Now my dislike for the television media is quite acute and I really hate their substanceless coverage. But I occasionally see it to catch up on the breaking news. And the news channel did not fail to disappoint me. One of the major things that the reporters were discussing was how much money was involved in the movies that Dutt is making currently! A complete analysis of all his movies in production and the costs of each of them! Apparently, a total of 75-80 crores has been invested that could possibly go down the drain if he is sentenced to prison.

Like all decent, third rate television news channel, the onsite reporter was asked about the reactions of the people to this verdict. According to him, people feel that Sanjay Dutt was perceieved to be a naughty little boy in 1993 who did a stupid mistake and that he has already paid for it and that he should be set free now!!! Ahem, what can I say? Can we say that Manu Sharma was a naughty little boy and who did a stupid mistake while drunk and that he should be let go?
Of course, this is not the reaction of the people but really the opinion of the reporter. In a country where justice is perverted by the rich and the powerful, there are really a few instances where somebody of that class is really convicted for a crime. And when that happens, this is what we are told. Excuses of stupid mistakes of the youth...

Dilip also wrote a post about this verdict. He points out that there were others who were never charged who had also received arms from Dawood. He does not condemn the verdict or anything. In fact, he says nothing about whether the verdict was right or wrong but he suggests that Dutt might perhaps have been made a scapegoat. Perhaps he has been made a victim of a political game but there is no doubt that he deserves punishment for his crime.


Yesterday, there was another important verdict made. Shibu Soren has been found guilty of murder. He has resigned from the cabinet. And like all decent politicians who face imminent jail time, he got himself admitted to AIIMS! AIIMS seems to be the resort of the rich and the powerful and the guilty. No surprise there.
This marks the first time a Union minister has been convicted of a crime! Amazing...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Favourite bloggers..

When I met Shivam in Delhi recently, he asked me a question, "Who are your favourite bloggers?" He caught me offguard as I have never really categorised bloggers. The only blogger I could name for sure as a favourite was Annie.

Writing is an art and it is learnt through continuous practice. Nobody just becomes a great writer in a moment. They all toil hard at it and in the end, some of them go on to become great writers. All the great authors of the world wrote their first great novel many years after they started writing. Most bloggers are amateurs and it would be wrong of me to hold them to the standards of the James Joyces of the world. Heck, who am I say when I am myself nowhere close to their standards or to the standards set by some of the better bloggers... Nonetheless one of my main criterion for reading a blog is how well the person puts forth his/her ideas. I might still read someone's great ideas presented in bad (not filthy) language but I would wish that s/he improved on the language bit.

Blogging is slightly different from conventional writing for several reasons. It is more informal and could be quite personal. People can respond to one writes in the comments and there could very well be a flame war across blogs and comments as it happened recently with Shivam's post on Kherlanji. Also, blogging does not benefit the blogger monetarily but it could lead to a writing job as some bloggers have discovered. So, we cannot hold blogs to the conventional standards of the literature or journalism. Likewise, I would disagree with people who claim bloggers becoming as an alternative for the mainstream media mainly because of the differences I have mentioned above which are also its strengths. Which is why I do not think the print media fears the bloggers, much less respect them.

Writing well is one thing and popular writing is totally a different thing. Which is the reason why ToI gets away with lousy content. So, just because a blogger is popular does not mean he is a good writer. And most of the popular bloggers of Indian blogosphere are quite frankly bloated buffoons who do not have any idea that they are nothing but arrogant idiots. Some of them even write well but I refrain from reading their blogs because I just do not want to go "wtf" every single day. Some might say that I live in a coccoon of my own world but quite frankly, I have been there, done that and have realised that there is no point in arguing with them as they never really can see the difference. I am usually patient but have no patience with certain types of people who I know cannot be reached. My opinion goes something like this - "why bother?"

There are a lot of bloggers I read. The "Blogs I Read" section on the right side of this blog is a short list of all the bloggers I regularly read (which I need to update). But it is not a definitive list as there are a lot more on my feed reader. To say whose stuff I like best is not a question I can answer. It is even harder for me to play favourites. I like different bloggers for different reasons.

I like Annie's blog mainly because I think she is a wonderful writer, one who is very careful in what and how she writes. Abi's blog is always with a lot of links about so many stuff but mainly science and politics. Swarup's blog is full of links to articles on economics, something I am also trying to learn. Alpha and Waiterrant provide the comic relief (I am not a humourless person, you know). I read Alas and Feministe for their feminist content (though I feel that they are too regional which makes me wonder why there is no collaborative feminist Indian blog... anyone interested?). I read Shivam's blog for the news stories, links, opinions, flame wars, etc, etc. And a whole lot of other blogs for a variety of reasons.

No favourites for me. I like what I read and all those blogs that I read are my favourites. Don't ask me again!

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

My new nephew..

Yes, the pic is extremely bad. It was taken by a mobile camera. Will get a better picture tomorrow..

Updated with a better picture...

Born on: 11th November 2006
Name: Aryan (apparently, my sister has been influenced by a character in the book called Eragon)
Where: Mallya Hospital, Bangalore
What's he wearing: A very hip emerging-out-of-the-cocoon look designed by the Nurses Association of Mallya.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


In a sci-fi world

Eleanor Arnason pontificates on the current world situation by looking at what Immanuel Walterstein had to say.

First, he argues that capitalism — for all that capitalist thinkers thunder against government interference — needs national governments. [Read on]

Now that is a very contrary position to what most of today's free marketeers would say. I think he has a point because I have always felt that same thing.
Though his understanding of chaos theory seems a little suspect, I think he has some relevant points to make.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

"World's greatest democracy"

Go watch..

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Media as the judge

A couple of days ago, the CJI issued a statement that "trial by media is destructive to society". Needless to say, this comes as a response to the reporting of high profile cases like the Jessica Lall and the Mattoo ones.

The media has been playing truant for a long time. Calls itself impartial and reports with an agenda that does not include the fairness and justice in mind. The news coverage is usually sensational, which cannot be done without being biased. Being impartial and explaining the grey areas is too boring. So, they create dramatic recreations with the culprit already established, even when the courts havn't pronounced the sentence.

Do I need to say that passing judgements on issues that are still in court and where the "culprit" is someone the police have identified. The important thing to note is that the police are not the ones who decide whom to punish but for the judge to adjudicate, by looking at all the evidence gathered, whether the person on trial is guilty or not. Judge not media or "public opinion".

The Jessica Lall case is now quite famous. The culprit was aquited for lack of evidence but the case was reopened following public pressure. Now, is the person in question guilty or not? Quite frankly, all the information that I have about this case is from the media and people's statements. Can we form an opinion based on media's presentation of the case and the words of people that we read in the newspaper and television? Yes, we can but we need to realise that all these information are secondary and we are not in a position to pass a verdict on the supposed "culprit". Do I believe that the Manu Sharma is guilty of the crime? Yes, I do but that does not mean that I will protest a famous lawyer taking up his case. Because if he is guilty and there is overwhelming evidence, as the media points out, for his culpability, then the court will punish him. Of course, there are also concerns about witnesses turning hostile. That is a problem, agreed but I do not see how Ram Jethmalani is going to influence that, unless we accuse him of malpractices.

Besides, I just watched this interview of Jethmalani, which was telecast on CNN-IBN and I have to say that I am impressed with him. He really has a beef with the media and he lambasts them with such contempt that I cannot help but laugh at the poor girl who thinks she has some tough questions for him!

Watch it and laugh alongside.

The interview reveals many things.

1. Sagarika Ghose: But sir, aren’t you worried that you are going against the tide of public opinion?

The media thinks it represents the people or at least says it is. And that somehow gives them the right to be so self-righteous!

2. Sagarika Ghose: But as a criminal lawyer, don't you believe there is a lakshman rekha that even all criminal lawyers have to work under?

The press somehow believes that it can dictate where the so called "laxman rekhas" are. This is as sad as the moral policing conducted by some of our esteemed police constables!

3. Sagarika Ghose: The Press at the end of the day is only expressing the opinion of the Indian public.

The media is goddamn humble. "we are just the messengers". Sheesh! spare me the bullshit.

4. Sagarika Ghose: But what makes you so convinced about the innocence of Manu Sharma?

Ram Jethmalani: I don’t have to convince myself. I am only convinced that the man is entitled to a fair trial. He is entitled to the services of a good lawyer. Courts will decide and no Pressman, no editor or television will crew will decide.

I have nothing to add here.

5. Sagarika Ghose: But is this how you want to be known in the public eye?

ROFL. Is that veiled threat to a man who has already said "to hell with you"?

6. Sagarika Ghose: What is wrong with an activist Press—a Press that speaks for the underdog.

There is the trumpet again. Blowing it must give them long, happy moments from their stressful, activist lifestyle!

7. Sagarika Ghose: But you aren’t giving me an answer – why are you defending Manu Sharma.

Ram Jethmalani: Because he is my client. I am lawyer.

The press is really stupid, is it not? What kind of a sorry ass question is that?

8. Sagarika Ghose: So you have taken on the case because you are angry at the way the Press has been trying him by media.

Ram Jethmalani: Now that is very stupid and a big lie. I have never said it.

The press tries to put words into people's mouths. It has been doing it for a long time but Jethmalani is too old and wise for such tactics.

9. Sagarika Ghose: Where the high and mighty buy the process of justice, Press is the sounding board. It is the only recall.

Ram Jethmalani: You can give yourself all the tributes that you want. This is self-praise. By all means, adopt it, pocket it, publicise it, take credit it. But when you are doing something wrong, I will say you are doing wrong. I have the liberty in a democracy. People have the liberty to go wrong and you are going wrong.


10. And the final word...

Sagarika Ghose: You are the one who seems so angry at the Press.

Ram Jethmalani: It is because of what I hear from you. If you represent the real Press, then I think something is wrong.

This was one lovely interview. If you do look very carefully, you will realise the amazing way the press tries to manipulate the public opinion. declaring itself as the vassal of the public and asking stupid questions in an interview where they have already taken a side and questioning motives, etc, etc.

Hat tip: Kafila

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Sunday, November 05, 2006


Most sporting events are telecast exclusively on a single channel. The channel pays huge amounts of money to get that right, particularly if the sport is cricket. And they recover their costs through advertisements.

But these days watching cricket on television has become a painful experience. Why? Simply because advertisements, which used to be between overs, have begun to infiltrate the action. Much like the web world, irritating banner ads are being placed at inconvenient locations that grate your senses. Plus, these days, there has been a concerted attempt to gain as much time between overs as possible so as to air more advertisements. What this means that the moment the last ball is bowled, the editors are waiting anxiously to cut the action abruptly to move to the advertisements. They also seem to wait as long as possible and put in as many ads as possible before returning to the live action and in the process, we miss a ball or two. What this has enabled the channels to do is that they are able to fit in two advertisements where just one was possible.

Amazing how the quality of viewing matches has reduced drastically in recent years, isn't it?

I have nothing wrong with companies trying to boost their profits because that is what companies ought to do. But it should not be at the cost of the consumers, should it? Also, I have a problem with this monopolistic nature of sports telecast. I mean, where is the choice to the viewers? Isn't choice and thus, competition the epitome of capitalism? How do you justify this idea of exclusivity? Of course, they make more money for the parties concerned but doesn't the viewer suffer because of all this? Why isn't monopolistic hold over the telecast of a certain sporting event illegal?

Exclusive live telecast survives on the fact that there is a guranteed viewership in spite of all the annoying flash ads. I would watch an important match, though I might get irritated and leave after a while but still in that time frame, my sense have been bombarded with an astonishing amount of ads.

I think somebody should come up with unobtrusive ads like google did (of course, the reason for their success is different) but I think it is highly unlikely if the viewers do not do anything about it. As chetan pointed out in his rail against Airtel, we do accept an astonishing amount of crap and bad customer service.

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

So how does one define justice?

You invade an opponent's home, rape and kill the women and children and dump them in the neighboruhood canal. Then hold a communal meeting instructing everyone to just shut up and not say anything. Manage to get the law enforcers in your pockets (because you have the money, the power, etc).

Shivam reports on the mass murder that took place in Kherlanji a month ago.

So how do you make sure that justice isn't served?

Simple, divert the attention to something else... In this case, an explicit photograph of the girl who was brutally raped till she dies. Apparently, the photograph violates the dignity of the dead girl.

Shivam responds to the allegations and calls them petty.


Gawker takes the case of those hypocrites. I love the way he elegantly takes them apart.

Shivam posts his report published in Tehelka.

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NRIs are still Indians!

Read this story...

Vijai B. Pandey, 60, filed a lawsuit in Hampden Superior Court last month against friends who tried to arrange a marriage between his son Pranjul K. and their niece.

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