your 15 minutes are up

  • a lack of ethics, responsibility and professionalism by Ms. Dutt and NDTV Limited;
  • that Ms. Dutt and NDTV's reporting at the scene of the Mumbai attacks during November 2008, resulted in jeopardizing the safety and lives of civilians and / or security personnel caught up in and / or involved in defending against the attacks in Mumbai in November 2008;
  • that Ms. Dutt was responsible for the death of Indian Servicemen during the Kargil Conflict.
an apology for expressing an opinion? perhaps, it would have made much more business sense if he'd smsed his comments to you? i am thinking some very defamatory statements now- maybe, i should also think an apology, just in case.

when it matters, we know now what certain people west of punjab would like to watch, most. unapologetically. next time, they might go on air (or go to sea) only after making sure you're in an ethical, responsible, professional condition to be around.

hell, they might be the only people watching you.


terrorists are animals?

NEW DELHI: A senior judge of the Supreme Court on Tuesday likened terrorists killing innocent people to "animals" and said they cannot be allowed to take benefit of human rights.

"Those who violate the rights of society and have no respect for human rights cannot be a human," Justice Arijit Pasayat said at a seminar on terrorism here.

"We should not talk about human rights violation of terrorists because terrorists are the people who kill innocent people with AK-47 and AK-56," he said, adding that "those who killed innocent people by no stretch of imagination are human beings. They are worth not more than animals."
animals? my view is that they generally started out as human beings. a lot of things helped them along on their progress towards animalhood. including human-made structures, institutions, ideas and sometimes, perhaps, chemicals in their brains. not forgetting other human beings who refused to believe that they were human.


mumbai is not cosmopolitan, the slums are

mumbai, and as for that matter any large indian city, bares it divisions quite openly. the world bank says more than half of mumbaikars live in slums. and the other, almost, half live in what you'd call the city- of brick and mortar and glass and marble and whatever...chawls, apartments, bungalows, homes. and nearly half a million live on the footpaths. anyone, of the articulate classes, who says he or she is proud of being a mumbaikar or a delhiite or a bangalorean usually isn't thinking of the slums (or the footpaths). and it is this other almost-half that usually engages in debates on whether the taj or the cst is the icon of mumbai, in the media and elsewhere. forgetting the slums.

that's one way in which mumbai is divided- where you live: in slums or regular homes. another way mumbai is divided: where people work.

in 1991, around 66% 0f mumbaikars worked in the informal sector- the figure could be more now. this includes people who are self-employed, from top lawyers to street corner cobblers. the world of a great majority of the informal sector workers (or self-employed individuals) is characterized, relatively, more by the kind of insecurity and deprivation that marks the life of the street corner cobbler or the bargirl or the vada pao vendor- the top lawyer or popular film star or big retailer or prosperous maufacturer, on the other hand, benefit from the unorganized nature of their customers, workers, audiences..the world at large, around them.

around 34% of mumbaikars (figure from 1991, again) work in the organized sector- for the state and central governments, public sector undertakings, large private companies run by the tatas, ambanis etc., on an average, they are much better paid, enjoy a great deal of job security..they have rights, in many senses. comparing the average organized sector employee with the average unorganized sector worker is like comparing a kendriya vidyalaya with a municipal school. or western europe with eastern europe. or..

regular homes with slums. you don't expect those who work in the mantralaya or bombay university or tata sons or reliance industries or the railways to live in the slums, do you? yet some of them do, not many. but those are mostly people who work in the lowest ranks of the organized sector employees, like some police constables, peons etc., but a great majority of them live in regular homes and neighbourhoods. neighbouhoods, where sometimes butchers are banned from setting up shop. like in some places in dadar (which means, not just muslims and christians, but around 90% of so-called hindus too are excluded from those neighbourhoods).

a great majority of those organized sector workers (check all those reports on how the dalits, obcs and muslims are represented in this sector), living mostly in regular homes and neighbourhoods, are upper caste hindus. a great majority of those working in the informal sector, mostly living in slums, are not upper caste hindus. the latter come from a wide variety of backgrounds: dalits, muslims, obcs, adivasis and some upper caste hindus. they represent indian diversity more accurately than the regular mumbai.

if the slums are not a part of mumbai, then what would remain? a recent nsso survey (2005) says 37% of urban india is upper caste hindu. so mumbai without the slums is essentially a very hindu city, shedding regional cultural impurities everyday, working, consciously (?), towards a distilled version of an idealized akhand bharat.

that's the way mumbai is divided, arundhati roy and gnani sankaran.


right to insult and the right to be insulted

'yeh ma$&&^&*$&!#@ toh faqeeron ko bhi lootthe hai' that was the observation of an auto-wallah i'd struck up a conversation with, a few days ago. he was talking about the congress government in andhra pradesh.

one of the favourite replies of the chief minister rajasekhar reddy whenever he is questioned on any large deal or project of the state government by opposition leaders, mlas and other busybodies is: make use of the rti...find out if we've indulged in any wrongdoing.

if someone checks the records of the proceedings of the andhra pradesh assembly in the last four years or so, he/she would find that this particular response was used by the chief minister, and many of his ministers, in discussions on practically every major programme or deal of the state government. if elected representatives in assemblies get that kind of response when they wish to check files relating to certain actions of the government, what are the faqeers supposed to do with their right to information?

they'd need to ask aruna roy, i guess.

another related question, thrown up by the scam of this month: through nregp, one of aruna roy's other pet projects, almost the same amount is stolen every year (as ramalinga raju siphoned away in nearly half decade or more). ramalinga raju stole from people who have money to invest in the stock market (less than 2% of the country's population) while the nregp funds were stolen from people who sometimes have nothing to invest in their next meal (definitely more than 2% of the population).

shouldn't someone, big and powerful, be sent to jail for stealing (or helping someone to steal) from the second class of citizens too?


the hindu rate of globalization

companies in the organized public and private sector seem to take decades, after they've gone insolvent, to fall. and while they're falling, oh so slowly, like the textile mills nationalized by the goi (i wonder if anyone among the ruling and indignant classes were thinking of the handloom workers across the country when they were embarking on this magnanimous project), a new generation of small unorganized businesses, like the powerlooms in bhivandi, rise and fall, more than a couple of times.
that's what i'd said a couple of weeks ago, in this post. going by ramalinga raju's confession, satyam had been falling, slowly, for half a decade? and now that the company has acknowledged the fact that it was falling, we now see a rescue act slowly gathering form. the government testing waters, thinks aloud a bailout. even before its thoughts are out, the cpm suggests that the government claim a stake in satyam. both agree, the employees need to be protected. i remember a fleeting headline on one of the business channels- over 12 million workers to lose jobs in the indian textile sector (mostly in unorganized businesses) by the end of this year. both, i'm sure, would talk about protecting them too. but, i'm sure again, nothing tangible, except much talk, would come out of that.

yes, the view that the government shouldn't use taxpayers' money to save satyam has a larger constituency among the powerful and the vocal. something about principles of free markets and capitalism is cited. but these sections too are aware that satyam's employees would be saved- their confidence stems from the belief that the company could be broken up and sold and even if it's not, the customers and the employees would be absorbed by competing indian companies.

what do you see? this is the result of liberalization and globalization? of free markets? it tells you about the need for regulation? that's one school of thought. this is a one-off phenomenon- that's another point of view.

neither point of view can adequately explain why satyam's employees would be saved and the textile workers would have to starve.

'...so long as it is black'

"Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black"
- henry ford.

only four dalits have been appointed as justices of the supreme court until now. how many sc judges were from an adivasi background? we do not know. how many were obcs? we do not know. came across this paper which says ( in the abstract):
If the Indian Supreme Court is institutionally biased towards protecting the fundamental rights of all Indians, than it stands to reason that the Court will have a non-elitist ideology. The methodology used in this paper is an examination of the castes of justices in benches of different sizes and the cases assigned to them. Using a random sample of cases dealing with caste reservations between 1950 and 2005, I find an overwhelming support for the institutional responsibility hypothesis and that across bench sizes, Non-Brahmin justices are much more likely to be assigned to cases involving caste reservations than Brahmin justices. [italics mine]
for the researcher, shyam sriram, analysis of the background of all justices (from 1950 to 2000) was important. he finds out:
-Percentage Hindu: 81% [Brahmins – 56.6%; Non-Brahmins – 43.4%]
-Percentage Muslim: 11%
-Percentage Christian: 4.4%
-Percentage Other Religions [Sikh, Parsi/Zoroasterian & Buddhist]: 4.4%
in the research results he points out that more non-brahmin judges get assigned to deal with cases involving rights of the underprivileged such as reservations:
The results overwhelming support my hypothesis. Across bench sizes, there is a substantial difference in the number of Non-Brahmin justices assigned to these cases versus Brahmin justices. Of the 73 cases chosen for analysis, there were a total of 300 justices in all the benches. According to the results in Figure 4, a Non-Brahmin justice was four times more likely to be assigned to a case involving caste reservations than a Brahmin justice. This is more than a coincidence, but evidence of a pro-minority and anti-elitist ideology of the Chief Justice and subsequently, of the institute of the Supreme Court as a whole. [italics mine]
now who are these non-brahmin judges? apart from the sikh, christian, muslim judges? there's a list at the end of the paper (in the appendix).

check how many of the non-brahmin judges are obcs, dalits, adivasis. i can spot some khatris, kayasths, rajputs, marathas, reddies etc., non-brahmin does not mean non-brahminized, does it? remember how long it took for the indian state to constitute the national commission for scheduled castes and tribes. remember how long it took for the second backward classes commission to be appointed after the first. remember how long...


'Hundred percent reservation in capital punishment'

PATNA: It is unbelievable but irrefutable. That barring Kare Singh, out of 36 prisoners waiting on the gallows in Bihar's Bhagalpur Central Jail, 35 belong to OBCs, Dalits and Muslims.
this news report goes on to say:
Kare, a Bhumihar, is the lone exception. This caste has been categorised among forwards in the official list. He comes from Ramdiri village under Begusarai district.

The list of 24 other condemned prisoners includes the names of Hariballabh Singh, Bhumi Mandal, Binod Mandal, Indradeo Mandal, Arjun Muni, Dukho Sharma, Jagdish Shahni, Shivesh Mandal, Baidyanath Sharma, Bindeshwari Mandal, Upendra Mandal, Jalim Mandal, Ramshagun Mahto, Singheshwar Rai, Binod Prasad, Mithilesh Thakur, Manoj Rai, Raghunath Shahni, Ashok Kumar Gupta, Prabhat Kumar Rai, Mahendra Yadav, Durga Mandal, Manoj Singh and Naresh Yadav are among those convicts who all come from the OBC group.

Bir Kunwar Paswan, Krishna Mochi, Nandlal Mochi, Dharmendra Singh and Shobhit Chamar are among 5 convicts who come from dalit section of the society.

Funo Shah, Md. Ehsan Shah, Sheikh Shamshul, Sheikh Gyash, Md. Gayasuddin Khan and Naushad Alam are among those 5 convicts who are Muslims.
5 dalits, 24 obcs, 5 muslims and one upper caste hindu. you could say the gallows are almost totally reserved for the non-brahminized sections of the country.

i tried to find the original article (published in the hindi daily hindustan, a few years ago), on the study the report refers to, by prabhat kumar shandilya, without much success. but i did find another reference to the same study here:

Amid the intellectual debate over the justification for the capital punishment, Gaya-based human rights activist and PUCL member Prabhat Kumar Shandilya gave another twist to the very concept of death penalty. He pointed out that people belonging to only Dalit and lower castes, tribals and minorities are awarded death sentence and no culprit of upper caste ever went to the gallows after the Independence; with the only exception of Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte, the killers of Mahatma Gandhi, and lastly Dhananjoy Chatterjee. "Most of them were Dalits, tribals, lower caste people and minorities and belonged to the poor sections of the society," he said.

"It's like 100 per cent reservation for the lower castes and minorities to the gallows," lamented Shandilya, who some time back wrote to the President of India for a review of this "discrimination". [emphasis mine].
nice to know that there's at least one public institution in india that doesn't worry about dilution of merit.

please note: the title of this post is the title (translated from hindi, i guess) of the article by prabhat kumar shandilya- if anyone finds the article, please send me the link.


'Aapko kaisa lag raha hai?'

pranab mukherjee says the Indian government has handed over 'evidence of the links with elements in Pakistan of the terrorists who attacked Mumbai on 26 November, 2008' today. the minister also, according to the news report, 'accused Islamabad of "denial" and "shifting the blame" for the deadly Mumbai attacks'.

isn't that ironic? that the government of india has to produce 'evidence' and go to a court, of sorts, before an indifferent judge, pakistan and the so-called international community of nations, and seek a hearing and justice, ultimately? one'd like to ask the brahminized ruling classes: how does it feel like being an unfortunate dalit or a muslim or an adivasi.... waiting outside a police station, for once?
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