Dented and Painted

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by chase, Dec 31, 2012.

  1. chase

    chase Tihar Jail Banned

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    Tavleen Singh

    By the time the President of India’s son made a spectacular ass of himself on national television I had already spent many hours musing, in a painted and dented sort of way, upon the behaviour of the chief resident of Raisina Hill. Why did he not meet the protesters on the very first day? When the crowds of angry women swelled the next day and tried to get into Rashtrapati Bhavan, why did he not come out and speak to them? Why did he not accept the petition they tried to give him? Why did he not show the smallest hint of compassion for the brutally raped young medical student? In my musings, I asked the same questions about the Prime Minister, Sonia Gandhi and the young MPs who were so vocal inside the Lok Sabha after the horror happened. And, most of all I mused over the mysterious absence of the man who the Congress Party will make prime minister if it wins in 2014. Where was he?
    His Mummy, we heard, came out late one evening and talked to protesters who had gathered outside her house but if this happened, why was the meeting kept secret? Usually when India’s most reclusive political leader deigns to grant an audience, television reporters fall over themselves trying to get a picture or just a sound byte. With hundreds of them covering the protests at India Gate, five minutes away from 10 Janpath, how is it that nobody managed to get any visuals of the audience?

    If a single political leader had come out to meet the protesters and tried to share their rage there would perhaps have been no teargas shells, no lathi charge and no violence. So why did it not happen? In trying to answer these questions, in my painted and dented way, I have found myself deducing that none of our political leaders have noticed that in the past few years a new kind of voter has come into being. The profile of this new voter is middle class, aspirational, urban, angry and sick to death of rotten governance and rotten politicians. These voters first became evident when Anna Hazare started his movement against corruption but they have been around longer than that. They have been around since the 2009 election when the Sonia-Manmohan government won its second term.

    The new seats that gave the Congress Party its biggest mandate since 1991 came mostly from urban India. But, because Sonia and Rahul Gandhi believed wrongly that it was MNREGA and their concern for ‘the poor’ that gave them the mandate, they concentrated on wooing rural India with more and more largesse. Often this largesse is named after some member of the Gandhi family in the hope that illiterate and destitute people will think that if they get a housing loan under the Indira Awaas scheme or health insurance through a Rajiv Gandhi card, they will continue to vote for the Dynasty. It is unethical to use taxpayers’ money for personal propaganda but nobody objected. Not the desperately poor beneficiaries and not the leftist economists who make a living out of patronising the poor. Unfortunately, this means poverty must remain forever and ever.

    Leftist economists who form the inner circle of advisors around Sonia and Rahul Gandhi despise the economic liberalisation that the Prime Minister was responsible for when he was P V Narasimha Rao’s Finance Minister. They despise it because it created an urban middle class that today refuses to believe that ‘India’s poverty’ is to blame for bad governance, injustice, disparity and corruption. In order to continue to try and preserve the old order, leftist intellectuals and politicians have taken to frequenting prime time chat shows to denounce development and prosperity. I am in regular TV studio combat with people who tell me that the economic reforms have created a model development that has brought prosperity to only a few. When I ask if there was not more poverty in those old socialist times they become speechless with rage.

    The truth is they do not know how to deal with the new India or the new middle classes. So they persuade the Congress Party’s royal family to continue to play by the old rules of patronising the poor and glorifying poverty. Nobody dares tell them that the old rules of politics no longer work and that there is a new multi-caste, middle class for whom their government has done nothing since winning re-election. So if the chickens are coming home to roost nobody should complain.

    Had one leader in those high offices on Raisina Hill understood how the times had changed we may have been spared the sickening sight of policemen attacking students and young women with sticks and teargas shells. So what if they were ‘painted and dented’.
     
    Mad Indian, Yusuf and Raj30 like this.
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  3. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Political leaders all made an ass of themselves.

    Sheila Duxit took the cake by going against her own Party and the Govt. Haven't seen such a daft action taken to save her bacon, but sink the family!

    I think this son of the President got confused between 'dainty' and 'dented' and so he came out like a road side car denting mechanic!

    Overall, I am yet to see such an inefficient and rudderless Govt in Indian history!

    They are at sixes and evens and totally confused.

    The clever ones are keeping themselves out of the limelight!
     
  4. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Democracy's direct pipeline

    On Twitter, everyone can hear you scream. There is nothing more contagious than outrage, and nowhere is that outrage more visible than on social media. Over the last 18 months, social media has become a place for assembling opinion and directing anger. Whether it was the reaction against the voluntary suppression of the contents of the Radia tapes by media, or support for the Anna Hazare-led anti-corruption movement, the role of social media in creating a powerful pressure group that kept the momentum of public anger going was absolutely crucial.

    But it`s in the current protests against the horrific rape and tragic death of the young Delhi girl that the power of social media has moved up a decisive notch. For this is a movement without leaders, without any organized structure, and without any pre-determined plan. What we have been seeing in Delhi and across the country is the real thing — spontaneous protests by citizens who have had enough. An abdominal heave of a protest, one in which individual instinct discovered that was part of a collective feeling of being sickened to the core. In a civic sense, the ability to create such self-organising groups has rarely been in evidence in India; most mass protests have almost always been led by an interested party, including last year`s anti-corruption movement.

    Clearly, something fundamentally new is taking shape. Frustrated by political marginalization, and an indifferent and inefficient regime, the urban middle class is expressing itself directly in a way that has not been seen in quite this way before. The anger against the political establishment is fuelled by mainstream media whose character has undergone a dramatic change both in terms of nature of concerns and pitch. But by far the most important change has been the change in the growing influence of social media. Tired of being denied a voice, the increasingly assertive middle class has found, in social media a direct pipeline that for the first time makes them experience democracy in an everyday sense. So far, the act of voting once every few years was the only real sign that existed of this power, but this was largely an abstraction. One could by reading retrospective editorials that spoke glowingly of the `wisdom of the electorate` exult in one`s imagined power in voting out a regime, but on any specific issue, there was no recourse, not even an outlet unless you were the kind that wrote impassioned letters to the editor.

    Social media not only gives each individual a voice, it gives him a direct pipeline to people who matter. The sense of having an opinion that counts, of being able to reach out to the void beyond and find an echo in a kindred spirit, of being able to galvanise others and in turn be galvanised creates a new feeling of significance and belonging. Social media both individuates and aggregates. It makes the abstract real, the impersonal personal and the individual collective. The sense of being part of a growing and increasingly noisier crowd, of feeling the heat of one`s own passion and the gathering of strength from others like oneself, and the knowledge that the collective upsurge is visible to others, particularly those against whom the anger is directed is a potent and almost tactile experience of power. By the time the movement spills over into the streets, it already exists in a pre-cooked form in that there is already an assurance that many others feel the same way.

    While mainstream media can create a lot of ambient pressure, it does not give the same sense of participation; the individual here is not accorded any special importance, the invitation is to become an undifferentiated part of a crowd. Media creates a generalized sense of outrage without giving voice to a personal sense of anger. Also, as we witnessed in the current protests, media presence does not ensure coverage of everything that happens. It is social media that acts as an organism with a million tongues and twice as many eyes; the accounts we heard on social media about police brutality and the arrest of some young protestors was largely missed by traditional media. The individual gets recourse of a kind that is not guaranteed on traditional media; on social media someone is always listening.

    Of course, social media by its very nature acts as an amplifier of unfiltered emotions. It feeds on strong emotion and palpable action. The participating individual feels the need for some validation, for some proof that her involvement makes a difference and seeks immediate and often shallow action. Still in its early days, it has not yet developed mechanisms that allow for the regulation of opinion, providing the state with an excuse to intervene. The debate around Section 66A, and the continuous attempts by the government to tame social media point to the anxiety this vehicle arouses in the powerful. The debate is legitimate, and is by means over, for no instrument of expression comes without boundaries, but the presence of social media is by itself a powerful countervailing force against the attempts to control it. There is a new watchdog in town, and this one does much more than just watch. It can bite.

    (The writer is a social commentator)

    Democracy's direct pipeline - The Times of India

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    No wonder Kapil Sibal got that draconian IT Law that muzzles the social media.

    He still has not got the guts to amend the same!

    These politicians are afraid to face reality, are not ready to abdicate their regal position and treat the public as serfs!

    But they will have to bite the dust!
     
  5. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    NATION ON A HILL

    - Protests that expose divisions in Indian society


    Rudrangshu Mukherjee

    If Delhi is taken, as it usually is, to be the nerve centre of India, then 2012 will be remembered as the year of protests in the city that Lutyens built. The compelling images are those of young men and women thronging to Ramlila Maidan and Jantar Mantar, and then, as the year was drawing to a close, crowding the very heart of the capital in anger and anguish.

    Apparently, the issues that drew out the people to protest — in the year-end protest without the rallying cry of any political party or organization aspiring to be a political formation — were very different. The issues ranged from corruption, to the demand for a lok pal bill to violence against women. But it is difficult to believe, in retrospect of course, that any one issue impelled middle-class young men and women to come out and protest. There were probably deeper reasons that prompted people to come out on the streets.

    One of these was the sheer non/under-performance of the present government in every sphere that affects the lives of the ordinary citizens. There were cases of corruption on a scale that was unprecedented in India. Many of these cases directly involved ministers and government officials. The response to these cases from the prime minister downwards was either too slow and tardy or bordered on sheer indifference. This was the common perception and no steps were taken to dispel it. This confirmed the growing impression that in India if you were somebody or if you were somebody with the right connections you could get away with almost anything.

    The protests attempted to convey something to the entire political class: people were tired of being taken for granted by politicians. The protests were also symptoms of something much more alarming. They were signs that large sections of the urban population were losing faith in the institutions of democracy. There was some irony in this since the protests originated within the realms of civil society but the articulation of the protests seemed to undermine some of the institutions that underpin civil society — Parliament, judiciary, the media and so on.

    The protests have been seen as some sort of coming of age of civil society in India. A section of the population, often written off in conventional wisdom as being non-political and passive, appeared through these protests to have become conscious of their rights and were willing to stand up for these rights to secure their future. That this is an aspect of the strength of Indian democracy is somewhat obvious. But the protests, while attacking some of the facets of democracy and their malfunctioning, had no alternative in mind. In this sense, the anger had a target but nothing beyond it. The absence of a vision or a mind was never more manifest than in the support that dubious figures like Ramdev, Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal received in their rant against democratic processes.

    What, however, is most remarkable about the protests is the distance they mark between Delhi and the rest of India. Delhi is emphatically not the republic, whatever politicians and their antagonists on the streets of Delhi might think. A few kilometres outside of Delhi, khap panchayats are inflicting humiliation and violence on women. In the forests of Chhattisgarh and in Jangal Mahal in West Bengal, bloodshed is an everyday occurrence. In Manipur, the situation is so gruesome that the highest court in the country had to ask if that state was in the throes of a civil war; in the same state a woman has been on a fast for over a decade against the activities of the armed forces there. Has anyone in Delhi marched on any of these issues from India Gate to Raisina Hill?

    This is not to condone the rape on a bus in New Delhi (or the daily degradation that the women of Delhi have to endure on streets and on public transport) or to condemn the protests. The intention is to indicate a growing chasm between India (urban, educated and relatively affluent) and Bharat (underprivileged, oppressed and often without access to the basic amenities of a decent life). India is protesting against what it perceives as incompetence on the part of the government and the inordinate delay in the judicial process to punish the guilty, especially those charged with crimes against women. They are demanding swift justice and pressurizing the government to perform.

    The demands and the protests have a wider and deeper context and this is perhaps being missed in the glare of publicity and the slew of irresponsible comments the protests have received. The Indian middle classes have been the biggest beneficiaries of the system of subsidies that has been the hallmark of government policies since Independence. Their education, the fuel they use for their daily consumption, the transport system and the hospitals they visit have all been subsidized in one form or another by the State. Since the onset of liberalization, these subsidies are being slowly but surely and perceptibly withdrawn. The liberalization process has opened up newer avenues of upward mobility for the middle classes but the impact of the same process has also seen a dwindling of the subsidies that they had taken for granted. The middle classes may not want to admit this but they are the victims of liberalization. Is their anger rooted in this?

    The question does not appear absurd if you look at the political and social aspects of the contemporary scene. As the roots of democracy in India have deepened, sections of the population previously not considered to be part of civil society and without little or no access to the institutions of civil society have become an integral part of the political process. This is not only because they can now exercise without fear their right to vote but also because of a genuine sense of empowerment. The emergence and the self-confidence of leaders like Mayavati and Akhilesh Yadav are one kind of manifestation of this empowerment. There are other aspects of the sense of empowerment that have opened up for them through their access to education, public health services and employment in public works and government offices. They are direct beneficiaries of various government welfare projects. While India’s access to governmental resources has decreased, that of Bharat has increased dramatically. The last couple of decades have seen a progressive marginalization of India at the cost of Bharat. Are the protests in Delhi to be seen as attempts of India to reassert itself?

    It is not that Bharat is bereft of protest. The forests of central India have too much blood on the ground to make such an assertion. There the modes of protest take the form of direct and violent challenges to the sovereignty of the Indian State. But elsewhere there are other kinds of mass political action through which sections of society stake their claims to services and benefits offered by governmental authorities. The articulation of these claims are not through dramatic marches up Raisina Hill but are the stuff of tussles and negotiations often seen as arbitrary and as being outside the realm of rational and accepted norms of democratic politics.

    India, in its attempt to reassert itself, is borrowing and appropriating some of the agitational modes of Bharat. The protests that 2012 witnessed were possibly the swirling waters on the surface, beneath which are the tides of social, economic and political changes pulling India no analyst as yet knows where.

    Nation on a hill

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    Paid news?

    Anna Hazare and Kejriwal are dubious characters?

    And yet he laments that there was no leader to lead the people?

    The man must have been in his cups to write such contradictions.

    If the ones he mentioned are dubious, then who should have lead, Vadra. Rahul Gandhi, Laooo, or who?

    Because there is this social media, the anger is manifesting itself and the politicians of all hues will have to take note of the desperation they have driven the Indian people to.

    And less we have these type of paid news apparently it appears so given the slant of this newspaper, not put out since it only agitates.it will be the beter.

    It is time that we go back to the good old days when the papers gave balanced news and did not openly indicate an agenda.

    It appears that the writer is very keen op the forest of Chatisgarh. He found Binayak Sen , who espoused the Maoist, who were on a path to overthrow the govt, as better democrat than Anna in a seminar I attended, if one understood him right.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2012
  6. Mad Indian

    Mad Indian Proud Bigot Veteran Member Senior Member

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    It wont happen. The writer does not seem to know about Indians :tsk:
     

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