Friday, May 15, 2020

Gibberish Arguments pertaining to Economic Stimulus Package don “The Hindu” newspaper


The following article was written for MyInd Makers. Pasting it here for reference:

A trio and a duo shared many enlightening thoughts over the past two days in “India’s National newspaper”, The Hindu.  The trio- Jayati Ghosh (from JNU), Prabhat Patnaik(from JNU) along with Harsh Mander (who was a member of Sonia Gandhi’s NAC) have penned “A plan to revive a broken economy” in The Hindu. The NAC was the super-cabinet during the UPA’s rule. All policies were credited to “suggestions” from the NAC. Two days after the massive announcement of a 20 lakh crore package by the Prime Minister of India, the trio write in The Hindu and tells us that “….but this includes already allocated money of Rs. 6-lakh crore and monetary policy directives to banks and non-banking financial companies
The Prime Minister was very explicit in his announcement. The 20-lakh crore package to revive the economy includes amounts from the announcements already made by FM & RBI and will include the new announcements by the Finance Minister. Why does the trio find the need to write an obnoxious sentence like “but this includes”?  “But this includes” clearly implies that this 6-lakh crore is not of any use to help the economy. Do they make that argument in his article? No. Instead what is it that he proposes?
Food and cash transfers first”. They propose transfer of INR 7000 per month for three months per household and 10kgs of free grains for 6 months. I have always wondered why Sonia Gandhi, her family, her party and her NAC have this love towards direct transfer of money? And the only plausible explanation that comes to mind is that this is one of the ways to perpetrate a scam and fill the coffers.
You may want to ask me then – but this is Modi government so why would a scam happen. Here’s where the trio come up with a brilliant solution. They want, wait for it, the central government to borrow from the RBI and transfer the money to the state governments who will then decide whom to give the money to! Am not kidding, here are their own words – “The required cash and food have to be handed over to State governments to make the actual transfers”. Do you feel like standing up and do a slow-clap for this unparalleled brilliance? Do remember – the Congress is in power in considerable number of states.
And then they arrive at their favorite topic – the MNREGA program. They want the government to take away the limit of 100 days and make the program applicable to all through the year. So now they want governments to give 21,000 per family and also daily work for the whole of the next year? Not content with this idea, they moot another mind-boggling idea – “introduce an Urban Employment Guarantee Program”. How should this be done? “Urban local bodies must take charge of this program and would need to be revamped for this purpose.”
Oh! why not, that’s just so easy to do! Let’s wake up one day and “revamp urban local bodies”! I wonder why the government can’t think of such easy solutions like “revamp” of our urban local bodies. Why isn’t such sagely advice adhered to by the Modi government?
Who should be giving the jobs? Not just the government. They now want “work in the MSMEs” to also be included in this program. Don’t scratch your head to understand how this will even work. It will work because these eminences have said so. Otherwise the economy is doomed!
Not content with the ideas they have unleashed, they go full throttle, lose total control and bombard us with more mind-boggling ideas - print more money, increase public revenues (Oh, where would we be if they didn’t tell us this!), 2% tax on top 1% of population, and do something with IMF.
While these eminences focus on plan to revive economy after a large part of the plan is actually unveiled, we had two other eminences – Prashant Bhushan and Shyam Agarwal – tell us in another article that “Guidelines issued by the Centre to the States under the Disaster Management Act are unconstitutional”. What bothers me most is the utter lack of creativity amongst this elite batch of eminent intellectuals. Can’t they come up with more original thoughts than just “unconstitutional”? Just a couple of weeks back, Owaisi came up with this argument that was discussed here. And now since it doesn’t seem to have gained enough traction, other members of the group want to propagate it. They make no new argument so there is no need for us to write the same rebuttal again. Suffice it to say that the entire country has been witness to how the Prime Minister and the Chief Ministers have closely coordinated, interacted and helped the country fight an unprecedented crisis. While they were busy doing actual work, the eminences found space in The Hindu to vent out their ill-gotten ideas and ill-conceived musings.
Meanwhile, the fortnightly magazine, Frontline (from the family of The Hindu itself), has a cover story ready for print in their edition for May 22. The story is titled “Dystopian Pipe Dream”.
Their byline is extremely powerful – “The reluctance of the Narendra Modi regime to extend fiscal support to those in real need of help during a prolonged lockdown suggests that it is promoting further concentration of capital. Dire consequences await the economy and the polity.
It is with profound sadness that we have to inform the editor of the Frontline that this article and the byline, though powerful, will now become extremely irrelevant when it goes to print on the 22nd of May. Since you folks anyways look for a way to blame Prime Minister Modi, you must now write an article blaming him for making your cover story irrelevant! 

Ansari and Owaisi peddle lies and politicize the lockdown


The following article was written for MyInd Makers. Pasting it here for reference:

Former Vice President Hamid Ansari wrote in The Hindu on “Rollback the distrust, remember the core values”. The headline and the content of the article are fully in-line with the lies and perception the English media ecosystem has been trying to create since the past 6 years. Hamid Ansari tries to keep the article generic but makes a minor slip that gives us a peek into his thoughts. He tells us that the situation “is alarming enough to induce a group of 100 of our most eminent former civil servants to appeal, recently, to State Chief Ministers
What did these former civil servants write about? In their opinion the NPR and CAA are wasteful exercises. They propagate the same lie that Muslims will feel insecure because CAA excludes Muslims! They happily fail to tell us that CAA does not affect a single Indian citizen (irrespective of religion). They peddle a lie in January; the media amplifies it for a whole week; the former Vice President of India makes a reference to this letter in April! This begs a question – what is the agenda of the former Vice President of India here?
We are in the midst of a severe pandemic. Thousands of participants of the Tablighi Jamaat and their contacts were tested Corona positive. We have seen how health workers have been attacked (physically attacked and not mere social media trolling) when they went to help or save these people. The health workers again went back the next day to carry out tests. What more should be done to “rollback the distrust”, Mr. Hamid Ansari? On whom is the burden to “rollback the distrust”? On the attacker? Or on the victim? While writing so eloquently about citizenry, constitution, morality etc, couldn’t you really write one sentence condemning the violence on health workers by our own citizens? What stopped you from appealing to them to stop the violence?
Or are you still stuck in a time-warp and want to exclusively focus on NPR and CAA? If so, as a former occupant of a constitutional position, isn’t it your responsibility to dispel the fears of the citizens of India? Isn’t it your responsibility to tell the citizens that the CAA will not snatch the citizenship of a single Indian? Isn’t it your responsibility to kill the fake news factory and come out with facts? Instead of amplifying the lies being spread, you could have chosen to write an article on NPR and CAA at least two months earlier and attempted to assuage the agitators.
It is sad that you chose to use the Corona pandemic to further refer to NPR and CAA. It is further distressing to note that you had no words of advice to all those citizens who were attacking the health workers carrying their duties. It was incumbent upon you to “rollback the distrust”. Instead you chose to simply pass it on to the hapless citizens!
On April 27th, we had the MIM Chief, Asaduddin Owaisi write strongly on “Unconstitutional nationwide lockdown”. Looks like “unconstitutional” is the buzz word in the WhatsApp group of the English media and their friends! Why does he call it unconstitutional? Because “So far, the Union government has not provided any factual basis for why Covid-19 was beyond the “coping capacity” of any area of the country.
This makes me wonder - Does Owaisi live in the same world that we all live in? Does he really not know that if Corona explodes, India doesn’t have the “coping capacity” and the only way to get ready for that is a lockdown? I bet he does know, but if he accepts that, how can he still be a darling of the “intellectuals”?
Owaisi further lists out articles of the constitution and sections of different acts as a show-off. His rant includes amusing statements such as “The Union government is in no position to assess the specific context of a particular State, let alone the circumstances in which migrant workers are living or what is best for them”.
Owaisi conveniently avoided telling us that many states were already in lockdown when the Prime Minister announced a nation-wide lockdown. Not a single state government came out and said what the PM did was unconstitutional. MIM’s best friend, the TRS, has welcomed the announcement of the Prime Minister. Except for 1 or 2 states, all state governments have strongly recommended a further extension of the nationwide lockdown. If this was “unconstitutional”, why would all our state governments enforce this lockdown to the best of their capabilities? Why does this simple logic elude the intellectual brain of Asaduddin Owaisi?
Furthering his agenda Owaisi blatantly lies that India is spending 20,000 crores on Central Vista project in Delhi. This lie has been dissected in article here, so no need to dig further on it. While the first half of this article was focused on how the Union is doing nothing, Owaisi suddenly shifts tact and tells us that the Union government is “micromanaging”! Owaisi should have first decided what is it that he wanted to criticize – the central government is doing nothing, or the central government is doing everything! The article is confusing at so many levels that it makes us wonder why Owaisi couldn’t find a single meaningful criticism of either the state or the central government.
The only solution that Owaisi offers for the problem is creation of Inter-state council. That’s it – apparently that will solve all problems. PM has been in touch with all the CMs of the country on a regular basis to ensure the best implementation of the lockdown. But it is immaterial to him.
Both Hamid Ansari and Asaduddin Owaisi could have chosen to be more forthcoming on the real issues faced by the country in these turbulent times. Instead they chose to fall back on the same old trite that the English media is keen on promoting. Apparently, that doesn't resonate a bit with the citizens of India. I wonder how they would want to respond to this lost opportunity.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Lockdown and the English media in India


While the English media is busy peddling lies and their agenda- we lost sight of some remarkable success stories of how different state govts in India have effectively implemented the lock-down.This gang will continue to write that lock-down failed. Numbers wouldn't lie though

As of today (May 11th), nearly 33% of total cases in India are just from ONE state. Nearly 70% of cases are from the top 5 states - Mah, Guj, TN, Delhi and Rajasthan. Remarkable containment by the remaining 23 states. But we only hear of Kerala model and "Best CM".
They never told us why Karnataka had such remarkably low numbers. But today (May 11), they tell us that K'taka had the highest number so far -54. 54 cases in a day, nearly 50 days after lock-down. Why isn't this model being studied in the media?
Andhra Pradesh, despite the onslaught of "single source" cases, is consistently reporting 50-70 cases a day. For a population of >5 crores, why aren't we hearing more about how this containment was done?
For all the -ve press Haryana and Bihar get, their numbers have been remarkably low. What did they do right? Perhaps we will never get to know.
How does Odisha have such low numbers? What did they do right? How did the people and the government make this possible? We'll perhaps never know. Uttarakhand, Puducherry, the entire North-east - every single one of them did an awesome job with the lock-down and containment. Yet no stories about them.
The cynicism and agenda of the English media gang is simply very nauseating. We deserve a better media that disseminates the right information.

Friday, April 24, 2020

HT refused a Ram Guha article that peddled lies about Central Vista project: Here’s why the trash could only be published in The Wire


The following article was written for OpIndia. Pasting it here for reference:

Recently, Ramachandra Guha made a hue and cry about Hindustan Times rejecting to publish his article. As usual, he called it censorship and claimed that he will now never write for Hindustan Times. This article, which was essentially fake news, was published by the controversial publication, The Wire. 
This latest rant is against the project to redesign “New Delhi’s Central Vista”. He begins his article by referring to another article as the basis for his argument! Don’t you love the ecosystem that simply refers to each other’s articles as some sort of concrete proof for their lies? In Guha’s own assessment, “Kishore (author) focused on one key element in the project: the provision for a grand new house for the prime minister, on Rajpath
The author, Alpana Kishore, tells us that it already cost us about INR 10,000 crores, over the past 30 years, to construct the current PM’s residence at 7, Lok Kalyan Marg (earlier 7RCR)! Where does she get her estimate from? She doesn’t tell us. She only tells us that this is a “conservative estimate”. Who gave this estimate? She doesn’t tell us. And by this logic, she derives that the alleged proposed new house will cost INR 10,000 crores! (“Rs 10,000 crore on a second house for the prime minister”.) Not only does Guha freely feed on this lie, he goes on to spread the second lie that this redevelopment project will cost “20,000 crores and counting”. 
He asks us this question – “Why can’t the funds currently allocated to the Central Vista scheme – estimated at Rs 20,000 crore and counting– be diverted to help ameliorate their (the poor suffering from the lockdown) condition?” There is not a single reference to the source of any of these numbers.  
In this earlier article, we have traced the origin of this lie and its subsequent spread, so will not be elaborating on the same again. Here is a challenge to Guha – can he point out to one official document that tells us that 20,000 crores worth of funds has been “currently allocated”? For an intellectual like Guha, it should be an easy challenge given that he claims that funds are already “allocated”.
Do his concerns end with just the money? No. He again refers to the article by Alpana Kishore and tells us that the process of awarding the contract was “a process marked by secrecy and subterfuge”. Oh boy, we now have the makings of a thriller movie here. Secrecy and subterfuge huh? Let’s dig into the secrecy and subterfuge around this. 
On September 2, 2019 the Union government issued a public press release, inviting bids for appointment of a consultant for “Development/Redevelopment of Parliament Building, Common Central Secretariat and Central Vista at New Delhi”. A press release announcing invitation for bids – that’s how secret the process has been! The press release details the various eligibility criteria, financial and technical, needed to present a bid. The “secret” press release also tells us why this redesign is necessary for the following:
Parliament of India (Building is >90 years old)
Central Vista
Common Central Secretariat
  1. Parliament House to be constructed by July 2022
  1. Central secretariat by March 2024
  1. Central vista redesign by November 2020 (some news reports now say that the deadline in 2021)

“Its facilities and infrastructure are inadequate to meet the current demand. There is an acute shortage of office space and there are no chambers for Members of Parliament. With the likely increase in the number of seats in Lok Sabha due to reorganization, the situation will further aggravate.”
Has the entire English media that is up in arms against the project given a single meaningful solution to this pressing problem? Isn’t it really weird that each MP of our Parliament doesn’t even have an office of their own? How do we expect them to work freely with the barrage of visitors and also with the heavy volume of committee related works? There are actually many secret documents that the MPs will have to refer and read – isn’t having an office space a bare minimum requirement? Plus, how do we plan to accommodate the increased strength of the Lok Sabha? Instead of coming up with exorbitant numbers, why can’t these “intellectuals” come up with any meaningful solution? 
The Central Vista, which is the main boulevard of New Delhi extending from Rashtrapati Bhawan to India Gate, is one of the most visited tourist places in Delhi….. It lacks basic public facilities, amenities and parking. The unorganized vending and haphazard parking leads to congestion and gives a poor public perception. Therefore, there is a need for its up gradation
Isn’t this true? If you visited this area, you would instantly realise it is actually true. And if this problem is being solved, why would someone have a problem with it? If we want to improve an area that has high tourist arrivals, wouldn’t that automatically lead to more employment, more revenue and more importantly, better name for India? Do you know the number of solutions these “intellectuals” have offered for this problem? Zero. A big fat Zero. 
Central Secretariat, at present, is spread over 47 buildings in Delhi, housing various Ministries, Departments, Attached and Subordinate Offices etc
These buildings include the Rashtrapati Bhavan, North and South Blocks etc. The document also tells us that since the North and South Blocks are >100 years old, they are not earthquake resistant enough. The press release document makes zero reference to the Prime Ministers’ residence. 
The bid document clearly states the following deadlines:
If, for a moment, we were to believe that Narendra Modi “yearns for a house on Rajpath”, why would he set a March 2024 deadline for the same, when his present term ends in May 2024? Since Guha is so sure that Modi will win 2024 and continue to be PM till 2029, why would PM build such an opulence for himself for a mere 5 years of his final term? Assuming that the PM’s residence will move to the new area – the occupants of the building will be the PM and his/her family – not Narendra Modi forever! How does such simple logic elude these “intellectuals”?
A total of 24 firms attended the pre-bid meeting. A total of 6 firms finally bid for consultancy services for this project. A six-member jury selected Gujarat based HCP Design Ltd for this project. The government will be paying them INR 229 crores to this company for submitting plans of the redesign. All this was announced in a press conference by the Union Minister for Urban Affairs, Mr Hardeep Singh Puri. Yet another “secret”! In the same press meet, he also told that consultancy costs are typically 3% of the total project costs. That will peg the overall cost of this project at ~INR7600 crores. This is nearly 1/3rdof the 20,000 crores lie that the English media is freely perpetrating. 
So all this begs the question – where is the “secrecy and subterfuge” in all of this? The exact process that has been followed for any tender and bid, has been followed here. The value of bids of competing firms will obviously not be disclosed. These tenders are only for the designs, which means the designs have not been finalized yet. Do you want to know where the problem of “secrecy and subterfuge” is? Believe it or not, in their own words – “From announcement to selection, the process took barely 45 days”. It baffles me as to how our journalists have not yet realised that the Modi government works at a speed that is faster than any previous government. For them to assume that projects will take their own sweet time while they dish out inane articles and opinions about the same, is very amusing! 
Do their concerns end here? Not yet. The mere mention of Gujarat set alarm bells ringing for Guha and company. Guha tells us that this company designed a new complex in IIM-Ahmedabad that is “cold and soulless” and “those assigned offices there yearn for a transfer to the original”. I think we must propose to the Government of India that they abandon the tender and bid process and just talk to Guha & company to chose architects of their choice! 
Do their concerns still end? Phew, not yet! He asks why should the country’s 75th year of Independence be celebrated in this manner? He tells us that “Both the 25th and 50th anniversaries of independence had been suitably marked, by a special session of parliament. Apparently, what was good enough for Indira Gandhi and I.K. Gujral wouldn’t quite do for Narendra Modi”. 
That argument is the entire crux of Guha’s insecurity with the Modi era. Modi is not an I.K.Gujral who will listen to this cabal and do as they say. Modi is not an Indira Gandhi who has imposed emergency in our country and trampled the freedom of every citizen of India, leave alone the press. Modi chooses to ignore the continuous rants and bile emanating from this cabal. Modi chooses to listen to the citizens of India and do what’s best for them. Hence Guha’s exasperation – how dare he does something that Indira Gandhi and I.K.Gujral didn’t do!
The building of infrastructure is one of the many ways of reviving the economy and creating powerful symbols that will last centuries. Redesigning of these buildings will help with creating employment and further improve the functioning of the government of India. It is this improvement that Guha and company do not want. It is the creation of these symbols that Guha and company do not want. And to achieve this aim, they are following the only path they know – spread lies and stop progress of our country. 

The Hindu gets 'liberal' with the truth again on the issue of dissent


The following article was written for MyInd Makers. Pasting it here for reference:

India, along with the world, is going through an unprecedented crisis. But even such a huge humanitarian crisis hasn’t stopped the legends of the English media to continue spreading their hate and lie filled agenda. The Hindu’s Readers’ Editor writes a weekly column every Monday. According to the terms of reference of the Readers’ Editor, the column must address “one or several aspects of readers' concerns, suggestions, and complaints,..” and should serve “as a platform and forum for readers' views”. More often than not, instead of speaking about the reader’s concerns, the RE ends up talking about his concerns!
Today’s column is titled as “No dissent, no democracy” and he talks about “No government, whatever be the circumstances, has the right to take away our freedoms, justice and equality”. This batch seems to be desperate for an emergency 2.0 to be imposed in the country and are in despair that the Modi government is not doing the same. His today’s list of concerns is merely a rinse-repeat of what the entire English media has been doing since 2014. Let’s take a look at them.
1. “On the birth anniversary of the framer of the Indian Constitution, B.R. Ambedkar, civil rights campaigner Gautam Navlakha and scholar and activist Anand Teltumbde were forced to surrender to the National Investigation Agency for their alleged involvement in the Bhima-Koregaon riots of 2018. “
So no arrests or surrenders should be made or planned on April 14th of every year? How does the RE assume that good prose can make up for bad logic? And what is the offence for which they were “forced to surrender”? “Alleged involvement” in riots! What does the RE propose that the police do, even after they find evidence? Should they write an article for The Hindu and get permission from His Highness N.Ram before making an arrest?
2. “The Uttar Pradesh government has filed a case against the founding editor of the news portal The Wire , Siddharth Varadarajan, for allegedly spreading fake news against Chief Minister Adityanath and making an “objectionable comment” about him.”
Again, should the permission of N. Ram be taken before filing a case? Siddarth Varadarajan lied in a tweet and hasn’t bothered to even apologize. In times of pandemic, what freedom allows someone to spread lies and get away with it?
3. “In India, dissenters seem to either be killed, as we saw in the case of Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, M.M. Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh,…
Are you by any chance implying that the government has killed these “dissenters”? Or are you by any chance implying that these are the only four “dissenters” killed in the entire history of India? Gauri Lankesh was killed in 2017. Have there been no killings of “dissenters” after that? Does that indicate that India is moving towards being more open towards “dissent” and therefore more open towards “democracy”?  Do you know if all these cases have been solved? Have convictions being given out by the courts of law?
4. ..”  Or are subject to an unfair judicial process, as is happening to Dr. Khan, Mr. Navlakha, Mr. Teltumbde and Mr. Varadarajan. “
What is unfair judicial process in Mr. Varadarajan’s case? That he should have been allowed to lie and get away with it? What is unfair in Mr. Navlakha’s case? That he had to surrender on April 14th? If you are really so concerned about “unfair judicial process”, why not raise your voice consistently against the so many under-trials languishing in our jails? Why not raise your voice consistently against the unreasonable delays in handing out verdicts? Why not raise your voice consistently against the “unfair judicial process” when it is impacting the bottom of the pyramid? Why do eminences like you wake up when a case if filed against your fellow eminences for fake news or involvement in riots?
5. “And comedians risk being on the no-fly list.”
Can you please enlighten us as to what was comic about what that alleged comedian did on a flight? Anyone who did what the alleged comedian did would have been on a no-fly list. Why would any airline want to have an abusive and hate-filled passenger on their list? Instead of condemning how the alleged comedian misused Rohith Vemula’s death and created a ruckus on the flight, you have miraculously chosen to link this is “dissent”!
The Readers editor further tells us about an anthology called India Dissents that documents about dissent since 3000 years. We are told that the anthology has works ranging “From the Charavaks and Gautama Buddha to contemporary public intellectuals like Romila Thapar and Amartya Sen,”! Whoa, did he just equate Gautama Buddha with Amartya Sen? Is our English media so bereft of arguments that they are now resorting to such mindless comparisons?
The Union government is a large entity and can do many things at the same time. So the English media must stop suggesting to Modi that he drop everything and focus only on Corona. Would The Hindu for example stop reporting news on all sectors and focus only on Corona? If anything, dissent is alive and thriving. The Hindu is the best example of dissent in times of the Modi era. Every single day, the newspaper is filled up articles and news that rant against the Modi government exclusively.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

5 point agenda suggested by Sonia Gandhi, President of Congress, to fight Coronavirus: Juvenile, disconnected and petty


The following article was written for OpIndia. Pasting it here for reference

Amidst one of the largest crises that humanity is facing in general and India in particular, the all-powerful President of the Indian National Congress party had suggested a 5 point plan to the Prime Minister of India. Here is what, in the mind of Sonia Gandhi, will help India fight the Coronavirus pandemic.

First point suggestion by Sonia Gandhi to fight Coronavirus: Impose a complete ban on media advertisements

You would assume that given the magnitude of the crisis we are going through, the very first point would be something related to either medial related stuff or specifics of an economic revival package. Staggering to believe that amidst such a crisis, the first thought that comes to the mind of the President of Congress – Ban advertisements! What good is it going to do to anyone to ban advertisements? It is very important for us to ponder why the Congress party has a fascination with bans (starting right from the Frist amendment to the Constitution).
English media doyens, who often fancy giving a running commentary on everything and anything under the sun, are tight-lipped about this suggestion that is fatal to their own field. Is it because it came from the mighty Sonia Gandhi? Are they so afraid of her to even make a mild comment on this idea? Next time they scream “fascism”, you know which letter to point to! 

Second point suggested by Sonia Gandhi to fight Coronavirus: Suspend the 20,000 crores “Central Vista” beautification and construction project herewith

You would think – Oh that’s a good suggestion, she wants to save a whopping 20,000 crore – and want to give merit to the thought. Here’s the thing – there is NO notification from the central government that this project will cost 20,000 crore. Here’s more – there has been NO allocation for the same in this year’s budget either. What then is the source of this number? 
The number first appears in the report by The Print on 17th February. Where did they get the number from? Their report merely mentions “The project…is estimated to cost around Rs 20,000 crore, ThePrint has learnt.” That’s it – “ThePrint has learnt”. No details on how they “learned it”. 
Strangely, The Print in its sourced PTI article on 16th January tells us that “The Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry has estimated that redevelopment of Central Vista will cost around Rs 12,879 crore.” No one has any clue on where both the numbers have come from. But let’s continue with the 20,000 crore number. 
The Print in their article on 23rd March– Govt notifies land-use change for Rs 20,000-crore Delhi power corridor to revamp plan backlink to their own article regarding the 20,000 crore estimate as proof that the project is costing 20,000 crore. The WireThe WeekThe Hindu and the entire bandwagon hop on to this bus now – and dish out articles and graphics telling us how 20,000 crores are being spent on “beautification” and not on Coronavirus. 
You would still think that the government notification on “land use change” will mention the amount. Here is the release– can you find any reference to the 20,000 crore amount? Can you find any reference to any amount and the plan for their releases? Here are the links for the full Gazette notifications– can you find any reference to the 20,000 crore amount? Fact is that there is a no official document that mentions this number.
It is still baffling as to how our media gets away with such blatant lies. Their co-ordination in spreading a lie is very praiseworthy though! That this co-ordination is supervised by the highest echelons in the Congress party is quite evident from how this lie made it to the letter by Sonia Gandhi. How else could she rely solely on media reports and write a lie to the Prime Minister of India?
More importantly, why should a redevelopment project be suspended? The project will provide employment to thousands, which in-turn can help in the revival of the economy. Does Sonia Gandhi not want a revival of our economy through such means? 

Third point suggested by Sonia Gandhi to fight Coronavirus: It makes sense to order a proportionate reduction of 30% in government expenditure (other than salaries, Pensions and Central Sector schemes). And use the money to create an economic safety net

Yet another point bereft of any details. What exact expenditures are left after the “salary, pensions and central sector schemes” are exempted? If that expenditure is again put to help those in distress, will Congress again count that as an expenditure cost only? Why couldn’t she specifically tell us that the various areas that the Central government can cut expenses on? For example, since she wants central sector schemes to continue, does she want a reduction in how much the states get? Or does she want infrastructure projects to be halted? How can the mighty President of the Congress party not give any specifics in a letter addressed to the Prime Minister of India?

Fourth point suggested by Sonia Gandhi to fight Coronavirus: All foreign visits of PM, Ministers, Bureaucrats etc must be stopped. 

This doesn’t make much sense. There is a travel lockdown now anyway. Why doesn’t Sonia Gandhi mention for how long she wants this ban to be in place? The Modi government has been most austere in planning for foreign visits even when the economy was going good, so this piece of advice looks as silly as Rahul Gandhi’s tweets. 

Fifth point suggested by Sonia Gandhi to fight Coronavirus: Transfer all money from PM-CARES to PMNRF

While her personal interest has been exposed and discussed threadbare regarding the PMNRF, there is yet another staggering statement she has made – “I understand that Rs 3800 crores are lying idle in PMNRF”. What does “lying idle” even mean? Does she mean to say that PMNRF should have no funds in their account at all? The funds in PMNRF are to be used for disaster response, natural emergencies etc. This basically means that there must always be funds available in the PMNRF. Funds availability in PMNRF is not equivalent to money “lying idle”!
More importantly, no one really cares about this silly controversy that the English media and Congress ecosystem is trying to create. The enthusiastic response that PM-CARES has received is proof enough of how citizens of India care more about contributing than the silly controversy of where the money should go. 

The disconnect of the Congress party

The suggestions by the President of Congress party do not include any points regarding help to migrant workers; help to the health sector employees; specific help to MSMEs (only a cursory reference to them); help to the IT sector, construction sector etc; details of any revival package; good things that various Congress party state governments are doing from which others can learn etc. Instead, there are lies, chicanery and repetitive rhetorical points that only boil down to saving some money and control of that money. 
Infact, from all the five points, it is so clear as to how juvenile and disconnected the Congress party is with the people of India and how well connected it is with only the English media ecosystem. 

Heartwarming humanitarian response amid unprecedented health crisis


The following article was written for MyInd Makers. Pasting it here for reference:

The remarkable capacity of the Indian citizenry to rise up to a humanitarian crisis is unparalleled. While the usual suspects were busy propagating their agenda in times of such distress, what we witnessed across the country over the past 15 days is humanity and disaster managements at its finest.
To start with – the exemplary cooperation between the central and state governments. Over the past many years, one of the standard complaints by many folks was on how politicians often bring in partisan politics over state/national interest. Today we have all the Chief Ministers speaking in one voice, irrespective of the party they come from; and all of them working in tandem with the central government without airing any public disagreements. We see exemplary coordination between the CMs and the Prime Minister of India. This speaks volumes about the maturity and sagacity of our political leadership when it matters. This pleasant surprise of close coordination over silly bickering will be remembered for a long time to come.
We have government employees going door to door survey even in big cities (this observation is not just based on media reports, they came door to door in our apartment complex too!) seeking information on the health of people in the house and travel histories if any. We have police remarkably visiting the houses of all those who were under home quarantine after their foreign visit. We have agricultural department making humungous efforts to ensure vegetables ae available in abundance within walking distance from people’s homes.
We have also found that the police department has many creative people too! Many videos of police singing to convey the message are such a treat to watch! It underscores the importance how well the message is being drilled into the minds of the people. We have of course seen the remarkable efforts of health department officials in tracing back thousands of contacts of any potential infection, and putting them in quarantine.
However, what needs a special mention is how the citizenry rose up to this occasion. We could all have continued to crib about the government or make jokes on the leadership, but we didn’t. A 60-year-old donated all her savings to fight the war against COVID-19. Residents of apartment complexes have come together to pool in money and help out all the construction workers, daily wage earners and maids – without seeking any benefit in return. Social media volunteers are rushing to help people (in the words of Tajinder Bagga – faster than pizza delivery). Many NGOs, small and big, are arranging for dry ration items and cooked food for poor people, residents of old age homes; daily wage earners etc. Listening to how they are coordinating with the local authorities to get the food to the right people is simply exhilarating. Hearing stories, online and offline, of how communities are coming together to help pregnant women feel comfortable is so heart-warming. The youth in many villages are gathering funds to help distribute vegetables and ration to poor people on a regular basis. Community volunteers in villages and towns are visiting houses regularly to seek feedback on what can be done better to ease lives of people in this lockdown.
At the Swaminarayan temple in Ahmedabad, every single day vegetables are packed and delivered to the needy. And we have the remarkable story of the Mannargudi Jeeyar swami who gets food cooked for 200 people with just 2 staff. The Langar seva by the Sikhs across the country and other remarkable services by different communities is simply unprecedented.
We can go on and on about more such stories. The Prime Minister himself is acknowledging the widespread efforts of the citizenry in helping the needy and also more importantly helping the country combat this deadly virus. Well meaning people have also come forward to point out on areas of improvement. We have seen that our governments have their eyes and ears wide open to this kind of feedback. Getting agriculture labour to pluck fruits and vegetables is apparently a big problem. We then have the over-crowding at vegetable and meat markets despite stringent instructions to follow social distancing. Hopefully some teething problems like these are overcome soon too – because over-crowding and not following social distancing is a disaster waiting to happen. And the biggest problem of all – spreading fake news on WhatsApp – has no solutions yet. Even the horribly managed migrant situation has been later tackled with remarkable maturity.
So while the English media is obsessed with “more testing” and “communal strife” and “Udhav Thackrey is the bestest” and “What good would clapping do?” – the citizens of this country have been obsessed with thanking and encouraging those who are helping in this fight; and obsessed with helping out those in need. Every single organization and institution that this batch has derided over the years has risen upto the occasion like no one else has. Humanity and Disaster Management at its finest, indeed!

Saturday, April 4, 2020

In glorifying the dissenter, there is no need to demonize the supporter: The Media, its hypocrisy and its glaring bias


The following article was written for OpIndia. Pasting it here for reference:

Since December 2019, the most dominant topic in the English TV and print media in India was the coverage on the CAA-NPR-NRC protests. During the course of this coverage it struck to me that at least twice in the past few years, NDTV’s Editorial Director Sonia Singh had enlightened us that “You don’t have to shout to be heard” is NDTV’s tagline. And looking at their coverage of the violence and protests, I could not help but get amused at how Irony died multiple times looking at NDTV’s hypocrisy in extensively highlighting the voices of only those who were shouting, literally and figuratively! In their coverage of the anti-CAA violence and protests, almost the entire English TV and print media has chosen to glorify the dissenter and demonize the supporter.
For example, we were emphatically told that the student community was moving away from the Modi government. Infact we were also told that the protesting students are not even being viewed as citizens of India! Doomsday was predicted based on history of student protests in India. The horrendous days of emergency were recalled. Rallies in literally a handful of universities and violence in a subset of that handful(!) were amplified to make a case out of this.
Amidst this, the silent student supporter who chose to attend classes instead of wasting time on a ill-informed meaningless protest was never given the chance or choice to be heard. The silent student supporter who yearned to learn meaningful lessons from his/her classes was assumed to be non-existent. One of the best examples was the fact that a vast majority of students in the ever controversial JNU cleared their hostel dues and registered for exams the moment the hurdles created by these glorified dissenters were removed.
Noticing that the student angle was not working, we were then told that the youth of the country have moved away from this government. Infact, Shekhar Gupta even condescendingly wrote about a “children-versus-uncle/aunty mood among the youth.”  He had a sample size of three events to decide that the youth has given up on Modi. The ilk told us that those voted for Modi are now moving away from him. Well, I, for one, am not moving away from him. If anything, I am even more proud that I voted for him! Leave aside glorification, I need not tell you that the voice of this supporter and millions of supporters like me will not even be given a space in their industry!
They glorify when 1000 people write a letter against CAA but royally ignore when 1000 professionals write a letter in support of the CAA. Would you like to know why no space is given to such supporters? Because the supporters are “people of no consequence”. One Bollywood star attended a protest and the whole English media industry went berserk. Many Bollywood folks met a Union Cabinet minister and Shekhar Gupta dismissed them as people of “no consequence”. In his own words – “check out the worthies who landed at the central ministers’ dinner in Mumbai to support CAA. You will need Google to identify some.” So, for the supporter to get a voice, (s)he has to be identified without google first!
I know of one entity that is “of consequence” – the state government. After all that noise made on NPR, all states except one (West Bengal) attended the meeting called by Government of India to discuss the modalities of NPR! After the meeting, only Kerala additionally said they will not update the NPR. Some states objected to only one question in the NPR database – place and date of birth of parents. It was clarified that the answer to this is optional. So, in summary, a mere 2 states opposed the entire NPR exercise and they were glorified. MP now is saying they will also not implement it. There are atleast 20 states that are enthusiastically going ahead with their planning for NPR. Do you remember seeing TV shows debating why an overwhelming majority of states do not have a problem with the NPR even after so much noise that was made on TV? Do you remember articles in print explaining to us why an overwhelming majority of states do not have a problem with NPR even after so many Editorials, Op-Eds and front-page banner headlines of just the dissenter?
This, however, is not highest form of their hypocrisy. The highest form was when this ilk told us that the voices of dissent needs to be heard and answered to. In the context of all this violence and coverage, I am still raking my head as to who didn’t listen to the dissenter. Every single question the dissenter put forward was answered by the Home Minister of the country in Parliament. The dissenter chose not to listen, yet the ilk chose to glorify the dissenter. The Home Minister chose to yet again clarify in many interviews to TV channels. The Prime Minister spoke about this in public rallies and in Parliament. The entire party machinery across the country came forward to clarify. While the dissenter was slowly beginning to listen, those providing platform to the dissenter still chose not to listen. Their continued glorification of the handful of protestors in one area of New Delhi has already become nauseating.
Amidst all this, it’s not like the supporter didn’t speak. The supporter was on the street too, in many cities, but the English media happily chose to not give space to the supporter because they were of “no consequence”. Merely because the supporters are busy with their lives and contributing to the economy doesn’t mean they don’t care or support.
Most importantly, expression of support doesn’t necessarily mean everyone has to come out onto the street. Afterall, “you don’t have to be shout to be heard”! It is our tragedy that our English media has turned into a mafia that has become adept at peddling falsehoods and spreading lies that disturb the peace of the country.

Delhi Riots: Callous media stoking communal tensions


The following article was written for MyInd Makers. Pasting it here for reference:

Director of Editorial Strategy (whatever that means!) of The Hindu, Dr. Malini Parthasarathy tweeted on evening of February 25th telling us that “Muslim citizens are being literally bludgeoned” in the Delhi riots.
 
 


Bludgeoned = “beat (someone) repeatedly with a bludgeon or other heavy object”. Now, that’s a very strong statement to make so you would assume that she has staggering proof available for her claim. She provides zero proof for her assertion. Zero proof. At the time of writing this piece, 20 deaths and 150 injuries have been reported. All Malini had to do was publish a list of the people and let the people of India take call who was being bludgeoned and who was bludgeoning! She hasn’t done that job yet.
Since she is Director of Editorial Strategy, it is also safe to assume that she either wrote today’s editorial – A test of Governance - or whole heartedly approved it. We are told that the “The police must clamp down on the communal violence in Delhi”. Oh, where would we be without such pearls of wisdom! But that is aside the point. The same editorial also tells us that “There was arson and violence on December 16, in areas around the Jamia Milia Islamia, to which the police responded by indiscriminately unleashing violence on students inside the university”.
Now, come on! When the police did “clamp down” on the rioters in December, you are calling their action as “indiscriminately unleashing violence”. And in your same editorial, you want to police to “clamp down” on violence exactly how? Dr. Malini is best placed to solve this confusion so that Delhi police can wake up and act according to how the Director of Editorial Strategy wishes them to do so!
In the same editorial, we are also told that “The Delhi police did nothing when a gunman opened fire at anti-CAA protesters on January 30.” Did nothing, dear The Hindu? The man was arrested on the same day and investigation is ongoing. Infact your own newspaper told us how he was arrested – “The policemen then surrounded the assailant, bundled him into a police vehicle and took him to the Greater Kailash-I police station, where senior officers are believed to have interrogated him” What more do you want the police to do? Kill him? Why can’t you be more explicit instead of blatantly lying in your editorials? Is this how you disseminate information to your readers?
The new wave of Delhi riots began on the day Donald Trump visited India. Journalists were very quick to jump to blame BJP leader Kapil Mishra for this. What did Kapil Mishra do? He apparently gave a speech that said if the police don’t act in removing the Shaheen Bagh road blockers, they will take matters into their own hands after Donald Trump leaves. If our journalists want us to so strongly believe Kapil Mishra then shouldn’t we also believe that he genuinely meant of riots after Trump left? And since the violence began when Trump was here, this can’t be Kapil Mishra’s brainchild right?
And then we had the entire gamut showing us fake videos about vandalization of mosques. Note how not a single mainstream media has told us how the riots even began. The biggest vulture of them all – Rajdeep Sardesai – immediately bought in 2002 and an excerpt from one of his books about the 2002 violence. What a horrible way to market one’s book at such a juncture really! The Hindu’s National Editor Suhasini Haidar tells us that Army was not called in during the 2002 riots. That blatant lie has been shredded to pieces at many forums and yet they persist.
The glee with which they have been spreading fake news (look at the image below telling us that this is a Hindu mob!) is unparalleled.
A group of people standing in front of a crowdDescription automatically generated
When the first phase of violence was unleashed in December, these same media folks had serious issues as to how the police handled the riots. Not a single one these “critics” have not made a single useful suggestion as to how the police could have handled violent rioters going on a rampage on the streets. It is simply beyond belief how newspapers like The Hindu are so easily lying in today’s day and age of information availability and dissemination. It is also amusing how they are preaching to the police as to what to do and are agitated when police actually do what is suggested.