Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Sampark for Samarthan is a unique, out of the box initiative to reach out to Masses

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

Recently, BJP President Mr. Amit Shah drove to former Army Chief General Dalbir Singh’s house, and later tweeted that he met him as part of a new initiative “Sampark for Samarthan”. A booklet listing the achievements of the Modi government in the past 4 years was presented to him. Shri Amit Shah later tweeted about his meetings with Kapil Dev, and then with Ratan Tata and Madhuri Dixit in Mumbai.
Controversial journalist Barkha Dutt wrote something to effect of why the former Army Chief should have refused to the BJP President. Since I am blocked by her and haven’t read any articles by her in recent times, I didn’t give much of an importance to her rant.
There was some outrage beginning on social media that Amit Shah is wasting time in meeting these people. Personally, I didn’t also follow this initiative much, until I saw Defense Minister Ms. Nirmala Seetharaman tweet about her meeting with Dr. S S Badrinath, Chairman, Sankara Nethralay as part of the #SamparkForSamarthan. It was then that I came to know that this is not some ordinary initiative, and the party is indeed serious about it. And only then did I get to know that BJP President did announce about this initiative that party leaders will go and meet 4000 eminent people from various fields and explain to them what this government has achieved.
Following the hashtag has been a very good learning experience for me – because I have come to know about some real achievers in various fields. Over the past ~20 days, the wider variety of achievers that the leaders of various hues in BJP have met is extremely impressive! Surgeons, Scientists, Academicians, sportspersons, industrialists, social workers, authors, former judges, journalists, former army men, former bureaucrats – #SamparkForSamarthan has shown us the importance the government (and the party) is giving to the unknown achievers of this country (Unknown to the media that is!).  
For example, Shri Sambit Patra has been meeting doctors and surgeons in various hospitals to explain the achievement of 4 years  of the Modi government. Has anyone ever thought before of going and meeting doctors and surgeons and engage in a discussion with them on policy? Perhaps after politicians, doctors are the next group that interact with a wide variety of people every single day! Is this perhaps the first time that this group has been engaged at this level?
Meeting achievers is not the only unique part of this initiative – ministers and senior leaders are going to the achievers’ homes & offices, instead of the other way around! This is perhaps the first time that this sort of an engagement is happening, where politicians are visiting the houses of achievers to engage with them on policy. And that’s why this initiative is a very significant one in our political history too.
Take this example of Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad going and meeting the founder of Super30, Shri Anand Kumar. Whilst the opposition is still grappling with merely congratulating him, here we have a government who is going all out to engage him with policy. Or this example of Shri J.P.Nadda meetingPadmaShri Dr. Kshama Metre.
The unique things don’t stop here – the meetings are not restricted to those who have shown an inclination to the present government only! Achievers, irrespective of their political inclinations, are being met. For example, musician Vishal Dadlani’s views on the BJP are quite well known – yet an attempt is being made to meet with such folks and explain the achievements.
The initiative is not restricted to New Delhi alone. Nor is it restricted to just the metros! We already have seen many tweets on meetings that range from bank managers in rural areas to sportspersons in the Northeast to heads of various religious institutions (In the true secular spirit and like the warped spirit of the opposition!).
It was also heartening to see senior leaders reach out to sports achievers ranging from Kapil Dev to Milkha Singh to Gopichand to VVS Laxman to Ms. Nishita Chakraborty – the engagement with the sport community has never been this stronger before I believer.
The list of people is obviously very long and one can go on and on detailing them, but following the #SamparkForSamarthan hashtag will give a peep into the various unknown achievers of India. Initiatives like this also expose the limited world view of the English media and perhaps the perennial outragers on the social media. While they remain fixated with just a couple of meetings with people they don’t like, they simply are missing the ground level connect the #SamparkForSamarthan initiative is making!
PS: The information in this booklet can be found on this detailed and user friendly website – www.48months.mygov.in

Urban Naxal Launch in Hyderabad and journey of Indic Book Club

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

Going by few past experiences, when I first got to know that Vivek Agnihotri’s Urban Naxals was being released in Hyderabad, I thought about 40-50 people will turn up for the book launch. The book launch was being hosted by the Indic Academy in collaboration with Pragna Bharati. The event was scheduled to start at 6pm. I reached the venue at around 5pm to volunteer for any help. We were setting up tables, and the tea/snacks vendor came in and said, I have an order for 100 people. I smiled, and thought to myself, each person is going to have a LOT of tea and coffee today!
Participants started trickling in from 5:30 onwards. As the queue was getting bigger to enter names into the register, we had to have a second register to allow people to enter their details. The Chief Guests of the event were two distinguished and highly accomplished individuals – Dr. K. Aravinda Rao (Former SP of Warangal, IG of Greyhounds, & DGP of AP) and Padma Shri T. Hanuman Chowdary.
At about 6:15pm, I finally went inside the hall. The hall was already bubbling with multiple discussions of the participants. There were at least 200 participants who had turned up on time for this book launch event! After the necessary introductions were made, and the distinguished guests were called on stage, another young man was invited to sing Vande Mataram. Till date, I have never heard the full Vande Mataram song. Wrong statement - Till date, I didn’t know Vande Mataram was longer than what we traditionally hear! The pleasant rendition of the entire song is something I will remember for a very long time.
Shri Hanuman Chowdary was the first speaker. By the time he started speaking, the entire hall was full (about 300 people easily!). He was also surprised to see so many new, and more importantly, so many young faces! Coming from him, whose organization Pragna Bharati has organized many such events, it was really an exceptional feeling! Why am I stressing so much on these attendance numbers?
Because I still remember that day, about 4 years back, when about 20 people turned up for a similar event by the Indic Academy. We dispensed with the traditional seating arrangement of that hall, made it a round table discussion, and we intently listened to and learned from the likes of Shri Hanuman Chowdary and others.
Because I remember the day of launching of Hyderabad chapter of Indic Book Club where about 20 of us assembled in a house and listened to and learned from the likes of Vamsee Juluri and others. With this history in mind, to see an auditorium full of enthusiastic young minds, eagerly waiting to listen on a topic like “Urban Naxals” was nothing short of exhilarating!
Undoubtedly, Dr. K. Aravinda Rao is exceptionally qualified to speak on Naxalism and the dangers that they pose to the society. We heard some good snippets from him on how the Naxals have infiltrated the society. He gave a couple of instances of how the Naxals misused the Peace Talks offer given by the then CM of AP – YSR. He also gave us the line of the evening – “I will recommend this book to every parent who has a college going kid”. Coming from such an experienced man, one could understand the gravity of the problem and what can be done to combat the problem. Every time we hear him, there is something new that we always learn.
Vivek Agnihotri went over the details of how the book came about, and his experiences. His messaging was also simple – grab every opportunity you get to spread your message; grab every opportunity to discuss and debate; if you can go and change the perception of even 1 person, you have done a good job! Until someone announced that since we are nearing 9pm, the program had to be halted, we didn’t even realize that we already spent 2 ½ hours listening to four different speakers!
There was another event scheduled for the next day. Vivek Agnihotri would read out from his book and open the floor for discussions. This time I was yet again sure that about 40 people will turn up! Not only did more than 100 people turn up, the audience intently listened to the book reading for an hour, and then participated in a very healthy discussion!
Indic Book Club and Indic Academy began as the idea and passion of one man, who followed it up in an exemplary manner. The way IBC and IA grew over the years is a text book example of how to build an organization and a long-lasting ecosystem. Today, Indic Academy has chapters across multiple cities worldwide and arranges great workshops and book launches, again worldwide! One may or may not like all the books shared by IA or written by IA members – but every single one of them is open for debate and discussion- unlike the Leftist ecosystem. In these days where a gathering of 10 JNU leftists has 50 cameras covering them, I thought these events are the ones worth covering in detail. But then another thought came to mind – why do we need their approval?

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Subdued Acknowledgement of newly released Growth Rate in Liberal Media shows their deep-seated Bias

The following article was written for MyIndMakers. Pasting it here for reference. 
Some tweets stay in your mind for a long time. One such tweet was by the Deputy National Editor of The Hindu, in October 2017.
This was the day the Prime Minister gave a speech on economy, in which he also mentioned that the RBI predicted a growth of 7.7% and Srinivasan went berserk on this timeline. Not knowing what to do, he accused all those who the PM follows as “buffoons & bigots”. Of course, in the isolated world of English media, buffoonery and bigotry don’t count as abuse or trolling. The “buffoons & bigots” tried to explain some logical points to him, but to no avail.  
Q4 results were released in March 2018, and India achieved a growth rate of 7.7% in the last quarter of FY 2017. And this sparked off a celebration amongst all the “buffoons and bigots”! What does Srini feel about this? We don’t know, because he hasn’t tweeted his opinion as vociferously when the Growth rate was 5.6%. However, since he is Deputy National Editor of The Hindu, am assuming he has considerable influence on the editorial content of the paper. So let’s take a look at what The Hindu told us, after we achieved the growth of 7.7%.
Mixed growth signals! Why? Because this might come with “inflation risks”. The editorial list 13, yes thirteen different areas where growth was seen. Private consumption and government expenditure apparently came down. But apparently there is a “sobering thought” here:
A sobering thought here is that the very same growth momentum is likely to spur price pressures across the economy that, combined with the bullish trend in global oil, could fan faster inflation. 
I am not an economist. Today’s inflation is ~3.8%. How bad will the increase be even if it increased? Why is The Hindu so concerned about this risk? Is it so significant that it had to title it’s editorial as “Mixed Growth”? We don’t get any answers for those queries in their editorial.
In their editorial on September 1st, 2017, when the 5.6% growth number came out, they concluded thus:
The Finance Minister has his task cut out: to find ways to restore momentum before the tailwinds of low inflation and affordable energy prices start reversing direction.
With the latest number, has the Finance Minister managed to reach the expectations of The Hindu? Why doesn’t the latest editorial not say a word about the Finance minister?
Let’s leave The Hindu for a while. Our memory is not so short to remember the utter chaos the English media created when the 5.6% number came out. Doomsday was predicted. PM Modi was insulted saying that he is uneducated and the awesome economist, Dr.Man Mohan Singh wouldn’t have let this happen. Numbers were thrown around at will. This noise warranted a detailed response from the Prime Minister. And then folks like Srini went berserk with that speech too.
Watch English media today. The high growth rate is not even a topic of discussion. It’s as if the high growth rate is a normal thing to happen and this government had nothing to do with it. They need to reflect why they find it so difficult to cover positive news. But we are asking too much from them!
For any problem area in the past 1.5 years, the English media pinned it onto Demonetization and GST. Isn’t it an astounding achievement that just within 8 months of bringing in GST, many issues related to GST have been resolved? Two big disruptions within a span of 9 months (Nov 2016 to July 2017), and we are already back on track with respect to growth of the economy. The subdued celebrations in the English media is only reflective of their inclination to cover and debate only negative news.

Sermoniser-in-chief, Rajdeep Sardesai, amusingly asks fellow journalists to ‘save integrity’

The following article was written for OpIndia.com - pasting it here for reference.

Page 3 news is typically referred in a derogatory manner because it majorly consists of gossip or absurd news items. The Hindu so far has been an exception to Page 3 culture. Until today, when they came very close to becoming a Page 3 tabloid! Because of this news literally on Page 3!
I couldn’t stop laughing looking at the headline – of all people, Rajdeep asking others to save integrity! However, the headline is not the only hilarious thing in that article. Rajdeep Sardesai, the Senior Journalist with India Today who is known to do fluff interviews of Mamata Banerjee, Sonia Gandhi and the Yadavs and who once proudly proclaimed that he is anti-national, has once again managed to expose his own hypocrisy. I would like to, therefore, discuss Rajdeep’s thoughts
He said the cheapest way of broadcasting news is to hold debates in studios.
Dear reader, do you know what Rajdeep does every single day? At 9 PM, on India Today, he holds a debate. So, by his own definition, every single day he practices the “cheapest way of broadcasting”. Every single day. And yet here he is, delivering sermons at the Press Club of Hyderabad!
Mr Sardesai said news should focus on education, health, environment, science and technology.
Rajdeep Sardesai has been in this business for a very very long time. He has been the Editor-in-Chief of CNN-IBN for a few years too. This means he had the considerable clout to focus on “education, health, environment, science and technology”Would he be willing to accept a simple challenge, and give us details of shows he has hosted on the above topics? Or what percentage of time did CNN-IBN spend on these topics, when he at the helm?
A couple of years back, he got a chance to interview the HRD minister of the country. He went so unprepared and got badgered by the minister, that this interview will be taught at journalism schools on how not to conduct an interview! My point is that when the opportunity threw up to talk about “education”, he screws up badly. And yet here he is, delivering sermons at the Press Club of Hyderabad!
Journalists should be objective, but presently journalists are being asked to take sides, Mr Sardesai said.
This is a serious allegation. Who has “asked” journalists to take sides?! People have only asked them to openly tell whose side they are taking. What irks people is that Rajdeep (and his friends) don’t come out openly and say that they take sides! They live in this make-believe world that they are the most “objective” people on this planet. All you need to do is watch Rajdeep’s show for a week to understand the hypocrisy in his statement. And yet here he is, delivering sermons at the Press Club of Hyderabad.
Mr Sardesai said, “We have to change what is considered news. Even good news is news. We should help build a better India”.
Boy o boy, what a realization this has been! We must again go back to the basic question – how many of his debates are centred around “good news”? How many shows has he conducted around “good news”. How much has he contributed to “a better India”? Why can’t he take the lead and start using his broadcasting slot for “good news”? If he thinks TRPs won’t come, why can’t he send one tweet a day, write one blog a week, do one video a month on some “good news”? Instead of showing the way, here he is, delivering sermons at the Press Club of Hyderabad.
Journalism in the Country faces several challenges including corrupt content, misuse of technology, lack of credibility and faulty business model of news production apart from lacking journalists with integrity”, Mr Sardesai pointed out
That’s quite a loaded statement! The first example that comes to mind when “misuse of technology” is mentioned, is how Sagarika Ghose faked an entire interview with Sri Sri (& Rajdeep was editor in chief at that time). “Lack of credibility” will arise if you openly lie about being beaten up, when the truth is that it was you beat up people. Normal citizens like me will see “corrupt content”, when you get a chance to interview Sonia Gandhi and ask her about Indira Gandhi’s role in the kitchen.
These are just recent examples. We can go back to the cash for votes days too, but I don’t want to delve any further. Sermoniser-in-chief, Rajdeep Sardesai, is simply awesome at giving advise but ranks very poor when it comes to following them. Page 3 seems to have been the apt place to place this news!