MUMBAI BE KIND AND GET WELL SOON !

The recent deathly incident that happened on a railway station in Mumbai saddens me beyond reason. This has taken place exactly a month after the flooding crisis which was caused by rains on August 29th. It is just heartbreaking to see people dying in such inhuman ways and scary because I too am a traveler of the same Foot Over Bridge and the ill fated station. It could have been me! Or you or anyone else. As more and more information about the identities of those who succumbed to this horror is coming out, I somehow feel like I know these people. Maybe because they were fellow commuters and I know and completely understand what they must have been thinking as the bridge quickly turned claustrophobic. 

Lets face it, we have been seeing these symptoms for quite some time now. People die in overcrowded local trains, by falling into uncovered manholes, in flooded water, in unsafe buildings, bombings, the list is endless. People die a faceless death here almost every day, especially while travelling in the lifeline called local train. The lifeline for lakhs of people proves to be a deathline for hundreds every year. But this city continues to be a dreamcity for millions of others. In a large country like India, its Mumbai where people come in train-loads every day, to accommodate it has been quietly kept expanding.

What it was and what it has become. It is hard to imagine now that once upon a time there were seven beautiful islands rich in biodiversity where fisherfolks inhabited.  Its quite beauty even inspired a great writer like Rudyard Kipling whose house lies almost forgotten in the JJ College of Arts campus. Kipling would frequently go on long nature walks and bird watching. Is something like this possible now? Of course not when we are struggling to save the last of green lung that is the Aarey forest.  The trees, the forests, the rivers, the mangroves, the mill lands started making way for  mostly buildings, buildings, buildings, buildings and more ugly buildings!

The process had begun during the British rule when they reclaimed large tracts of sea and officially created a Bombay. After independence the process continued further when it also became the financial capital inhabiting a big entertainment industry, and rapidly so.  But the tag has come with a price.  In no time a beautiful Bombay has turned into a choking, polluting, bursting, overflowing, desperate city. The weight of the dreams of a billion people has been really heavy for simple Mumbai to carry. But it has been carrying nevertheless, somehow. It raised its stamina. But the time has come to realize that it can only carry so much. Year after year a nexus of greedy builders along with careless and corrupt authority have made the city carry more than it can. And the result is that today it has become almost an unlivable city. It’s a shame to have an unlivable city as a financial capital of a growing India which aims to be a superpower by 2030.  How are we exactly going about it?

Coming back to the recent crisis, as far as the infrastructure is concerned there is no one but the government to blame. No doubt about that. But as citizens or rather as HUMANS I feel there is something we should try to do. Kindness, patience and understanding, let us all try to re-inculcate these forgotten values. The crowd, the desperation and the often famed fast life of Mumbai has somehow made us forget this basic virtue called Kindness. Every day I see a lot of people being rude to each other in local trains. Travelling in local trains can be a stressful affair. The pushing, shoving, bickering while getting in and out can take a toll.  Let us all try to make it a little easier for each other and understand that no one “pushes” on purpose.

Avoid being rude to fellow passengers. Let us be kinder and convey things a bit nicely to each other.
Lets not push or keep insisting that people step out of the train faster. Everyone already gets in and out real fast. No need to emphasize with incessant chants of chalo chalo chalo. 
Let us allow people to get down first. This universal protocol of public transport is increasingly getting flouted in Mumbai local. A new ‘rule’ has emerged where people getting down at last station stand aside to make way for those getting in. This is creating congestion at the entrance leading to more shouts and bickering. Lets be patient for a few seconds, the seats won’t run away.
More importantly, lets not shout unnecessarily and spread rumours.

The need of the hour is understanding, among fellow human travelers, between authorities and about our environment, if we wish to resuscitate Mumbai from the state of a polluted, overcrowded zombie that it is becoming. Let us all try and let us all hope!

More importantly, Lets go Green! The sooner the better.

Get well soon Mumbai!

 

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Qissa ‘Mohandas’ Ka- Audio

Mohandas is a short novel penned by one of the finest contemporary Sahitya Akademi award winning(which he returned )Hindi writer Uday Prakash. It has also been adapted into a feature film and several plays in various Indian and foreign languages.Recently Seven Stories Press also published an English translation of three of his stories titled ‘Walls of Delhi- Three stories’ translated by Jason Grunebaum which also includes ‘Mohandas’.

Mohandas’ is a poweLESS  tale of mistaken identity set in a small-time India which resides in a  big-time India but no one is really aware of its existence.

Presenting a short audio excerpt from ‘Mohandas’. Hope it will make you want to go ahead and read the entire story!

Characters:
Mohandas/Beesnath
Kasturi/Amita
Inquiry Officer A.K Srivastava
Kaba Das

Duration: 5 minutes 19 seconds

Video| #HappyHoli?

Every year around the time of Holi we also see messages such as Save Water, Save Environment doing the rounds.  But something else also does the round. The phrase ‘Bura na Mano Holi Hai’. There is little room for offense when it is Holi. Whether they come at you armed with harmful, and sometimes permanent colours, to paint your face with. Whether they chase you equipped with water balloons and plastic bags full of coloured water. And whether they empty a bucket full of water on your head and grope you.  Bura na maano. Kyunki Holi Hai!

Watch this short video to understand why some women don’t want to step out of their house on this day.

Guns ‘N Roses

There is a theory famously touted, called “The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance.” The theory says that anyone with dedicated 10,000 hours of practice can become an ‘expert’ in any field, with no “natural flair” required. Does not prove to be true all the time I think.

Let us see why.

Look back into time, during the Dark Ages, the cannibalism, the invasions, the occupation of occupying unknown lands. Now come to the present, the times of ‘uprising’s’, ‘mass protests’, ‘springs’ and ‘occupy movements’ all these wars and cries, what were the sole intentions to lead them? “Peace”? well you have been doing it for almost a millennium now, imagine the number of hours of intense practice you had. Intense and gruesome hours of practices of attaining “peace”!… So, where is it? Where is your expertise? And where is “Peace”?

John Lennon spoke on behalf of millions to the government and the rest of the world that “all we are saying is to give Peace a chance,” and he was killed.

Moving ahead, for the last few years the Syrian Civil war and the subsequent crisis has constantly been in the news, grabbing a lot of attention just like any other controversy that will feed the news channels with some eyeballs. This one probably for its sheer scale of violence and destruction of humans and human-made civilisations.

But I want to ask. Who cares? Many people that I live around don’t even know what Syria is and I think it’s because they are miles away from the tear gases and air strikes. Speaking of people who do care, many are driven by high selfish motives and are upright hypocrites. My statement is not base less, its what one of the leading newspaper tells me.

Why should one bother about this war? There are hundreds of other wars happening, what difference is it going to make to talk about this war? And if one cares all that much, please let me ask that one, how do you plan to bring about a change? since Assad is definitely not listening, then? Please don’t tell me by ‘writing articles’. I can imagine people might be using those newspapers/articles to wipe their arse. Sounds funny but I can Imagine that. What is one suppose to do when famine is used in a state as a weapon against the people to control them. When numerous military and political parties stand head to head with extremism in their blood, you are bound to have no rational outcomes. There will be another 100 wars like this that will come and go, only the people who are affected will react. I sound very cold at the moment, but there will be blood and it will stay red, I too feel the pain and it makes me cry. Guns will be used and there shall be many bodies who won’t see roses left by their coffins. It’s a sad world and I wish you stay nice (rational). Yes, I am a pessimist. Remember, It doesn’t matter if you die.

“What’s so Civil about War anyway? ”
-Guns ‘N Roses

Guns N Roses

Courtesy: Not In Our News

Books |About Silkworm By Robert Galbraith

Cormoran Strike #2

Cormoran Strike #2

Silkworm by Robert Galbraith is about the rocky, mean, cold, and somewhat dog eat dog world of publishing. A world which is fast spiraling down the hill due to the growing popularity of e-books and also due to the phenomenon of “more writers writing books than people reading”.

This uncertain publishing world of London is faced with a murder of a little known literary figure. What happens as a consequence of this grisly murder forms the plot of
the second novel starring private detective Cormoran Strike and his smart assistant Robin Ellecott.

Expectations were quite high after having read The Cuckoo’s Calling, the first in this series, more so since Silkworm involved the publishing world, publishers, a writer, a murder and a limping detective. All of this was enough to make me eagerly want to read the second book.

It starts off pretty interestingly, exploring the quirks of Detective Cormoran Strike, his office, his poky attic apartment, his girlfriend etc. All this is quite fine since elements such as these add colour to a novel and its characters. And then lands a curious case of a missing writer on detective Cormoran Strike’s shabby office. He takes it up, although reluctant initially. No sooner that he accepts this case that he finds himself occupied with it with little or no headway for a really long time. This long time is also a long time for me as a reader. Halfway into the book and very little light has been shed on the mystery. And this proved to be quite frustrating.

Cormoran and his assistant meanwhile also juggle other cases that have come their way as a result of successfully solving the Lula Landry case that had made headlines in the city of London in the previous book The Cuckoo’s Calling. This is the interesting part because the kind of cases that come their way are a little weird and a lot more ‘boring’. But it’s these mundane cases that usually pay well. So Strike follows these cases sincerely. He literally does follow his subjects and suspects. From suspicious rich wives not sure about their husbands’ fidelity to rich business men making sure their girl friends are theirs alone and not being shared by other men. These and many other such cases where the rich clients all want his ‘surveillance’ services. And sure he does keeps an eye on all of these cases while trying to find headway into the case that interests him the most but not really promises to pay him a bomb.

The way the mystery unfolds seems to bear resemblance to the previous mystery of the Lula Landry murder case. The similarity lies not in the actual mystery per se but the way each characters and their side of the story come to light as they talk to detective Strike. It felt as if the same pattern was followed in the second novel as well. But one of the strong areas of J.K Rowling’s works is the detailed characterisation of each of the characters. Be it Harry Potter series, The Casual Vacancy or this recent detective fiction series, all of these novels’ characters have been sketched with fine detail. Even if the plot does not manage to hold your attention the characters definitely do! (At least it managed to hold mine). Take Cormoran for example, he is an imperfect detective with personal problems, not really charming or polished. He is definitely one of the most interesting detectives of recent times.

However, Silkworm appeared almost pale when compared to The Cuckoo’s Calling. It was almost a torture since there were times when pages after pages nothing substantial was happening. As the end of the novel was nearing I was literally begging for the mystery to be revealed. I could not take it anymore (this might sound like an exaggeration). Having said this overall the novel was not really a complete bore and a waste of time and hence I am looking forward to read the third soon to be released ‘The Career of Evil’.

Why you should consider reading this book?

After writing the fantasy series Harry Potter the author wrote the dramatic tragicomedy The Casual Vacancy and now this cozy mystery series starring detective Cormoran Strike. This pretty much establishes the fact that J.K Rowling is a versatile writer.

The popularity of Harry Potter series brought fame and money to her.Today she is one of the most popular people in the world. And who better than her will know the flip side of being a celebrity and constantly being under the radar of pesky paparazzis? This world of celebrities and paparazzis is the setting for the first in the detective series The Cuckoo’s Calling. Interestingly, immediately after the book was released under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, her real identity which was supposed to be a carefully guarded secret was leaked, bringing along with it all the media attention which the author was probably trying to avoid.

Similarly, the setting for the second novel Silkworm is London’s publishing world. And as someone with nearly ten commercially successful novels under her belt she has no doubt seen this edgy world of London publishing almost inside out.

One of my favourite aspect of this novel, along with, The Cuckoo’s Calling, is the subtle social commentary that runs throughout.
P.S: Watch out for his assistance Robin Ellacott.

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The novel begins with these macabre lines by the English writer Thomas Dekker

 

 

Film (Killa) : Swami and friends of 2015

I was walking to Max Muller (Mumbai) in the mid of 2014, expecting to be surprised and inspired by Indian folks who made it to the 64th Berlin International Film Festival as well as those who grabbed quite a few awards. I didn’t know any of these nominated four films or the Directors/Producers the name of their films or anything at all. All I knew was that they made it to the Berlin International Film Festival.

It goes without saying that I was desperately waiting for these films to sprinkle their magic on Indian screens, and so they did. At Mumbai International Film Festival I got the opportunity to watch Killa and that of course had to be fun!

Since It’s been six months now, forgive me if I go wrong with any of the details but I will tell you what I remember I felt. The moment the film started I could smell something, it felt like I was wet and I could smell wet mud around me (even before it was raining on screen). I was in the frame with the characters, grief was taking over me with some nostalgia. Chinmay (Archit Deodhar) is a kid we know everything about even before he speaks, we know he has to make friends to lighten his heart, to distract him from the recent loss of his father. We know he is too tired to do that, too tired to go about adjusting to a new place and people all over again. So he goes on keeping to himself, slightly apprehensive, but in fact he is forced into all kinds of situations – be it reluctantly visiting relatives or his confronting friends at his new school. At the end who else could he be drawn to at the merry age of 11? His new friends of course and they even begin to appear bearable now, well… now they are even better than anything else.

So the hopes are high, and man do they fall. When his friends leave him alone in the Killa, he is all alone now, just like the Killa itself. The cycle has to begin all over again. By now his friends become the revolving story for our sweet boy and we see his mother on a parallel track, who is ditched by petty office politics. That’s 21st century, layers of story and emotions are much more complex than earlier times, it’s not just Chinnu who is struggling but his mother too.

There are a ton of heart-full sequences and parts we will fall in love with. I have one of my favorite in them- it’s of Chinnu and this man on the beach, lying drunk (if I remember clearly). Chinmay has a bad impression of this man and is evidently scared of him but I strongly felt that this man’s role was pivotal and by the second meet where he finds him sober and actually pleasing, ends up teaching Chinnu a thing or two about people and adjustment.

There is a constant feeling of nostalgia and I felt compelled to compare this with old times, not because I belong to any of those periods or have been brought up in such surroundings, it’s because it makes me sure that if R.K.Narayan was writing his novel now, this is what Swami and friends would go through in 2015.

(This writer is a first time writer, calm down if you feel like stabbing him, and sorry if he hurts any sentiments)

Commentary on Court (Film)

A still from Court

A still from Court

For most Indians the Indian courtroom is almost a mystery. Whats with the filming or recording being not allowed inside the courtroom. Therefore, the typical courtroom that is part of our imagination is the one we have seen in our films and TV. Now, that courtroom of a film or TV set, albeit old, looks appealing and pretty much organized. But do courtrooms really look the way they are depicted on screens? Not really if Chaitanya Tamhane’s ‘Court’ is to be believed.

I was curious to watch this film since last year when I read an article about it in the newspaper. When the film finally hit the theaters it had already toured at several international film festivals. I managed to catch up Court when it was already in its second week in cinemas. This piece is all about what I felt about this film.  Before I proceed let me tell you that I don’t claim to be a film expert nor can I boast that I have watched tons of films in my lifetime. This post is not a review but just a commentary, my opinion. 🙂 Now that we are clear on that let’s being with the beginning first.

Court begins with a powerful ballad (powada) being sung by Narayan kamble in a locality somewhere in Mumbai. The performance is disrupted by police. Kamble gets arrested. And we are drawn into Court-the film. I am not sure if this film can be categorized as a Courtroom drama, since in large parts the drama lies outside and behind the courtroom. The focus of this film is not really what is happening inside the courtroom but outside it. It explores the lives of critical people who make up the very judiciary system- mainly the two lawyers and the session’s court judge (at least in this film).

Courtroom drama as a genre can be very thrilling and full of suspense, but that may not be the case when a real case is tried in a court of law. It can go on for months, years and even decades.

Coming back to Court. Charges of abatement of suicide under IPC 306 are slapped on the lokshaheer (folk singer) Narayan Kamble. Reason- a manhole worker, Vasudev Pawar commits suicide by choking himself in a sewer after watching Kamble allegedly sing on these lines–

“   Manhole workers, all of us should commit suicide by suffocating inside the gutter. “

And in this manner the film revolves around the incredulousness of the accusation and the whole case itself. And in many ways the incredulousness of the entire state machinery as well, drawing me as a viewer in its various shades, along with its serious and not so serious moments. Take this scene for instance, in which the accused Narayan Kamble’s lawyer, Vinay Vora is addressing an audience at an event . He is talking serious stuff but suddenly a door opens and two men enter with a fan and excusing themselves start placing the fan angling it not at the lawyer who is on the podium but at the other guests seated on the stage! And there the scene ends letting his sentence hang incomplete. For some reason I enjoyed this scene very much.

The film unravels or progresses just like a court case in an Indian court. Sometimes slowly, taking its own time. I am not even sure if the film is supposed to ‘progress’, because it does not follow a usual format of story, i.e, a beginning, the problem and the resolution. Nor does it follow the conventional techniques in terms of cinematography. For instance the film does not have any fillers, the ones we see in between two scenes. It directly cuts into the next scene instead. This film is more of an exploration.

Now, we have seen lawyers and judges before on screen, in their complete form, being all dynamic with almost impeccable oratory skills. But in real life lawyers may or may not be ‘good’ speakers. Moreover, what do lawyers and judges do when they are not in the court? Just like us do they go to the theaters with their families, cook food, take care of their children? The prosecution lawyer, Nutan is shown doing exactly all of this. It seemed as if this is just like any other job that she is doing in order to earn a living. All she hopes for is a speedy conclusion of the case.

“Just sentence him for 20 years and finish it off”, is what she says to another colleague in one scene. She doesn’t appear to be involved in the case as deeply as Vora, against whom she is fighting this case. Vora visits the deceased’s locality whereas Nutan discusses her family’s diet in the local train. Vora is sympathetic to the folksinger whereas Nutan serves dinner to her family (does it reflect the story of many Indian women who at the end of the day, are expected to cook dinner after a long day at work?). Vora hangs out with his friends at clubs/pubs whereas Nutan enjoys a Marathi play with her family. At the same time Vora has his share of pesky parents he deals with who keep pestering him to get married. These and many other such moments are part of this film.

And then there is the honorable judge Sadavarte who dishes out tarikh pe tarikh and while on a family picnic also dishes out suggestions that has some superstitious connotations.

The fact that almost all of the actors were new, and were not ‘acting’ but appeared quite natural with their dialogues was quite refreshing. Court is a bold film, however I think it should have explored the characters more. I was left wanting more. It felt as if the moment the characters started displaying some interesting shades it all ended, and ended rather abruptly. What must not be forgotten is that the film indirectly has managed to highlight the issue of safety of sanitation workers. It’s interesting how those light-hearted moments in the film also had the capacity to make the viewers uncomfortable.

Interestingly, I have come across people who have either enjoyed the film or hated it! And I think its not difficult to see why. Court is a different kind of cinema altogether and not really an “entertainment” package per se. But if you are looking for something different then you should definitely try this one. Having said that, it does not mean that it is not engaging-simple dialogues and the rawness of the actors being some of the reasons for that.  Now that this multi-lingual film has won so much national and international acclaim I really hope more such rule-defying cinema comes out of our country’s film factories.

Observations on worshipping Hindu Gods, Goddesses and patriarchy


Hinduism has over 36 crore Gods and Goddesses and we in India love to worship almost all of these religiously and with regularity. But how we celebrate or worship them tells a lot about our system of patriarchy. This system has a lot of influence on how we treat our Gods/Goddesses and also how we see them.
As someone born and brought up in a Hindu family where almost all the religious rituals are followed with perfection I have often wondered about these things. Following are some of my observations.

Celibacy/Brahamcharya

We all are aware of Lord Hanuman and also that he is a celibate. Then there is Shani Dev (Saturn God). Women are forbidden from going ‘near’ him at all times. Clearly, Brahamcharya is an important concept in Hinduism and requires a lot of courage in order to keep this vow of celibacy. In Fact, A man must go in seclusion to practice it. He must not go near the woman, as if the source of sexual excitement (corruption) is in her and that men know of no excitement, that the woman is an enchantress/seductress and has powers to make a man lusty. Men have to save themselves for the temptations of women! As if, it is only when the woman tempts that the men get excited!
On the other hand, can you think of any popular Goddess who is a Brahamachary? I can’t think of any. What does this indicate? It indicates that it is natural and obvious for every woman to be married. It cannot be otherwise. An unmarried woman is in fact looked down upon.

The dutiful Sacred Goddess

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Jai Malhar on Zee Marathi: In this version of Shiva’s story, the lord leaves his kingdom to marry Banu while Parvati anxiosly waits for him to return

 

Similarly, there is no dearth of Hindu Gods with multiple wives but can you think of any Goddess with multiple husbands. Indeed, polygamy is just a male prerogative. Females are expected to devote their entire lives to one man. Clearly men tend to have more choices ranging from celibacy to polygamy.

Maa, Maata rani

‘’Maata Rani ka Ashirwaad’’ has been an integral part of many of our Indian TV serials and films. The characters invoke Devi Mata all the time in order to gain strength and confidence. But do they ever invoke Pita Parmeshwar ? That title is not reserved for the Gods. This is how we see women as-either as mother, sister, daughter, wife etc. She has to play one or all of these familial roles. She can never have any other identity.

Priestess?

Almost all the Hindu places of worship has a Pujari or Panditji. And they are always men. Even when it is the Goddess who is being worshiped in the temple, it is always the man who is near the idol and performs all the required rituals. Even those that include draping the idol with sari! The presence of a man is acceptable when it is God. But why even for the Goddess we have men performing all the religious tasks? Why will the Goddess, who is herself a woman will not want a woman doing these things for her? A woman, especially an Indian woman is always asked to be wary of that paraya mard (unknown man). But it is okay for our Goddesses to surround herself with men. Bizarre, isn’t it? The reasoning behind this practice is that women menstruate and men do not. This brings me to my next observation- Periods.

It’s ‘that’ time of the month

It is a common practice across almost all sections of Hindu (and even Muslim) society to restrict menstruating women from entering a place of worship such as temple or performing religious activities. The oft cited reason is that Gods do not approve of it since women are “impure” during this time. What about Goddesses? They say even she doesn’t approve. I have often wondered, Goddess being a female does not approve the proximity of a menstruating woman?? Does the Goddess menstruate? Isn’t this natural process considered as a gift? According to this logic those women who do not menstruate at all should be considered fortunate (Since they can enter the temple whenever they wish). But they are often stigmatized instead. I fail to understand this logic which is filled with contradiction.

Ghar Ki Laxmi

This Diwali I learned something new regarding the Goddess of Wealth Laxmi. On the day of Laxmi Pujan in almost all the houses the Goddess Laxmi is worshipped. The rituals may wary from region to region. In some houses along with Goddess Laxmi , God Kuber is also worshipped. I was told that there can be no Laxmi without Kuber since Kuber is the husband and protector of Laxmi. This reflects the idea that men are after all the protectors of women. This idea is further reflected in the way how women are considered as Ghar ki Lakshmi. This aspect is well put in this DNA article.

“It sounds very nice to hear when men talk of their wives saying, ‘Yeh toh mere ghar ki Lakshmi hai (She is the Lakshmi of my household).’ But from early Raja Ravi Verma paintings, just see how Lakshmi’s feet are kept well-hidden. Even now people believe that if Her feet are free she’ll move taking all the prosperity along. This gives you an idea of how men transfer-project their idea to control women onto the Goddess as well.”

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The famous Mahalaxmi temple of Kolhapur, Maharashtra

But there are incidences where women have challenged these notions and centuries of unjust practices. Few years ago a group of women from a political organisation forcefully entered the inner area (this was forbidden) of the famous Mahalakshi temple of Kolhapur. This created quite a stir and generated debate.
Very recently in Pandharpur after a court verdict the hegemony of one family was broken when the doors of the famous vitthal temple were opened up for women and the people belonging to lower casts, as they were allowed to apply for the position of temple priest/priestess. Finally!

These are just a few observations that I came across. What about other religions? What is your experience? Do share in the comments section.

 

*The author of this article does not intend to hurt any religious sentiments.

http://www.dnaindia.com/lifestyle/report-lakshmi-vs-saraswati-an-unequal-contest-2020262

http://indianexpress.com/tag/mahalaxmi-temple-in-kolhapur-district-for-women/

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/pandharpur-temple-allows-women-men-of-all-castes-as-priests/article6038635.ece

20 Years of National Alliance of People’s Movements

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An encounter with people’s history

At Vikalp Sangam, when I asked one of the organisers of NAPM’s 10th biennial convention, ‘how many people would attend the event?’, she said, ‘close to a thousand people or even more’. Surprised, as I had never attended one with so many numbers, neither had I read/seen such a big people’s event being reported in the main-scream news media. Also, I did not know much about NAPM then. When I first entered the Rashtra Seva Dal (Pune) campus, where the convention was held, a colleague remarked, “it’s the JNU of Pune”. I gave it nice laugh. However, soon after entering it, I realised, it was more than that. It was a conglomeration of I-don’t-know-what; gandhians, ambedkarites, marxists, socialists, environmentalists, feminists, secularists, et cetera all had a place for. And was very easy to verify this in the posters and pictures hung on the walls…

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Dogs of Journalism : Paranjoy Guha Thakurta

Which-Dog-Are-You

Students of journalism are told: if dog bites man, it’s not news. But if man bites dog, that’s big news. Much depends on who the dog bites. If it’s Narendra Modi or Michelle Obama or Bips or Dips or Piggy Chops, it will surely become newsworthy for some. Journalists are often described as watchdogs of society. But there are journalists and journalists just as there are dogs and dogs. A watchdog may just be able to bark and not bite. But the burglar may not know this and would run away. There are lapdogs as well, dogs that are particularly comfortable if the lap belongs to a powerful politician, a corporate captain or an influential bureaucrat. There are journalists who are little more than stenographers. And then there are intelligent dogs, guide dogs who help a visually challenged person cross a busy street, sniffer dogs that can smell drugs or explosives in a pile of luggage, or a Saint Bernard who rescues a person caught in a blizzard. So I ask my young friends who wish to pursue a career in journalism: What kind of a dog do you want to be?

Paranjoy Guha Thakurta

(Paranjoy Guha Thakurta is an Indian journalist, political commentator, author and a documentary film maker)