Friday, February 26, 2010

Tendya breaks ODI's 10 Sec barrier!

"Who else has 93 international hundreds, who else has more than 14,000 ODI runs, who else has more than 17, 000 Test runs? Nobody. I would really like to bend down and touch his feet. If somebody is at that pedestal, I would like to do that,...What drives him on is the little boy in him. And that little boy in him just wants to play, play and play. That is the spirit that keeps him going. And then of course there is the incentive of representing your country," - Sunil Gavaskar

'The right thing to do now is not to bowl!' said Robin Jackman while asked to tell what is the right thing to do yesterday night when Cricket's superman was on, not rampage, not fireworks, may be his art exhibition! Such is the simplicity in his innings, not brute power, no aggressive sword-fighting that Dhoni displayed. Instead, Sachin was everything artistic -poetic with his wrist-work, hopping on one leg and flicking across the line as if in a ballet, pulled the deliveries over boundaries as if it is kite-flying. His yesterday's game was of towering simplicity and as uncomplex as his own personality. And fortunately, no heartbreak this time.

Even as fellow 'good superstar' Tiger Woods is plunging into a Shakespearean free-fall, Sachin not just seems to persist with his 2 decade passion, but only seems to be getting better. He prevailed 2 decades of nomadic life, suitcase life with room services and the accompanying lonely-at-the-top, stratospheric pedestal. One wrong word, one personal flaw, one failure and a cricket hungry nation and a byte-hungry media would pounce on him. Ask Tiger Woods. And yet, Sachin prevailed. He embraced triumph and fame with an inner-calm even as his feats send us into delirium every now and then (Look at how excited the MP Chief Minister was while shaking Sachin's hand in the awards ceremony!). Peter Roebuck said "The runs, the majesty, the thrills, do not capture his achievement. Reflect upon his circumstances and then marvel at his feat. Here is a man obliged to put on disguises so that he can move around the streets, a fellow able to drive his cars only in the dead of night for fear of creating a commotion, a father forced to take his family to Iceland on holiday, a person whose entire adult life has been lived in the eye of a storm". Should we just say he is destined?

What a way to celebrate 20 years in international cricket!? 10 International centuries in last 12 months and now he gets the second-fastest of his 46 ODI centuries with a record-breaking 25 4's (overtaking Jayasurya's 24), 2 months before he turns 37! And how, like a walk in a park. Just makes me wonder, how complicated it is to make it look so uncomplicated, the game and the persona. See how he hopped in the 35th over for 2 4s and how he heaved in the 41st over with a cross-bat. As he always says, he was 'enjoying his game'. Nothing else would explain those.

As I browse through, I hear a pundit who makes uncomplicated things complicated - the brand managers. Apparently, now he feels Sachin would be back in the 'young' market with his 200*. Only a few days before when news about Mumbai's 'Save Water' campaign surfaced, one of my friends made a rather uncharitable remark, that these are all the 'deals' Sachin can get at his age. Wanted to see his face today when Shailendra Singh, Jt. MD,Percept say on TV that Brand Sachin is good to go for next 10 years! Talk about maddening crowd, only a few months before, the likes of Airtel and Pepsi dropped Sachin as he is no more in the 'youngistan' brigade, or that's what they thought. Age, according to them, is all about DoB. It only showed the hollowness of the Branding brigade. And more glaringly now, when Sachin continues to be the little boy he was 20 years before, in pursuit of his runs. See his singles, in the 50th over! Passion, Enthusiasm, Enjoy, (batting) Paradise seem to dominate the Tendulkar lexicon even while the world around him slowly seem to find these words alien. This is all the more reason why the world seem to be astounded with each milestone of his. They are woken up by the adamant little boy in Sachin, this time by breaking of ODI's 10 second barrier with a symphony of the maiden 200* with his bludgeon blade. Sachin just did to ODIs what Jim Hines did for 100 m sprint in 1968 by breaking the 10 Sec barrier.
Pictures Courtesy: Reuters/Punit Paranjpe
My previous posts on Tendya:

Saturday, February 20, 2010

TELANGANA VI: Why Telugu News Channels bar coverage?

The apathy shown by Telugu News channels in covering Telangana movement has a good reason. Initially they covered the movement from Nov 29 to Dec 9 in their typical 24x7 running commentary style with the sole purpose of increasing their TRPs, which in turn would translate into higher advertising revenues. The TRPs did increase with the marathon coverage but the Chidambaram's Dec 9 statement was an unexpected thunderbolt for them.

Discussion about separate state of Telangana, till then for the channel managements was purely 'entertainment' and something not to be taken seriously, just as it was for politicians. Telangana was a TRP money spinner for channels just the way it was a vote bank gimmick for parties. But once the Dec 9 statement came, reality of what a new state would mean dawned onto the channels. It meant a strong beating to the interests of the businessmen who own these channels. Almost all the Telugu news channels have been started by groups with strong interests in Real estate and finance companies. All these channels are profitable due to the advertising revenues they garner from thriving finance, real estate and the commercial technical education businesses in the state.

The Dec 9 declaration made all these groups, the channels and their advertising clients, go in a huddle and decide to go easy on the subsequent coverage of Telangana movement as many of these sectors stand to lose if the rules of the game in their sectors are altered in the new state. Hyderabad which falls in Telangana is their biggest market and for obvious reasons they view the new state unfavorably. So they have put an informal boycott of covering anything that would sustain or generate sympathy for the cause of Telangana even as real estate groups, bureaucrats initiated lobbying against the new state, which eventually succeeded. This explains why the police atrocities in OU are either unreported or misreported. This also explains why the many massive meetings which attracted lakhs of Telanganites went uncovered properly even while one of them was attended by the leader of the opposition inLok Sabha. This also explains why the daily suicides in Telangana are unreported and why the channels are uncritical about, if not endorsing, the state government's anti-constitutional and anti-democratic functioning.

According to a study done by Padmaja Shaw, an Associate Professor at OU about the news market in Andhra Pradesh, the following are the details about the sources of finance for prominent Telugu News Channel.

It has been clear from quite some time that Media, both print and electronic, is no more an instrument of journalistic practice but of political leverage. For instance, a TV channel bestows upon its owners a lobbying power with the powers-that-be to influence public policy, especially in sectors of their interest. The TV channel in turn shapes public opinion in favour of the powers-that-be. So no wonder all the channels that fit into the above category want us to believe what the Andhra Govt says. And with a literacy of 60.3% (ranking 26 among the 28 states and 7 union territories of India) and a TV reach of 78% and a high penetration of Cable & Satellite of 59% (One of the highest in country; Source: NRS 2006) the state of Swarnandhra Pradesh is fertile ground for Joseph Goebbels style propaganda and misinformation campaign. That is till the 40 million Telanganites' market decides to hit back with a boycott.

Monday, February 15, 2010

TELANGANA V:Plutocrats unleash terror on OU students

This Image on this Telugu news channel is telling. Even as scores are getting injured in the most ruthless police lathi-charge and firing in recent times, in Hyderabad's OU campus, this channel did it best to take it easy and go along with Telugu movie entertainment complete with belly-dancing. 3 hours and the police were still hunting down the students and worse other channels were covering it. So this channel went along and accommodated the Telangana concerns this way, literally splitting the screen. The image in the left pane is for Andhra who do not want to hear anything about Telangana and the right pane is for Telangana audience, LIVE police 'treatment' from OU campus. And yeah, the Valentine's heart at the top right is those of Samaikyandhravaadis throbbing dhab dhab for their innocent,uncivilized Telangana brethren who lost their way following their inefficient leaders.

The Andhra plutocrats are on a high after pulling off the Shri Krishna Committee and decided to celebrate it with some complimentary 'action' on the students who have been sticking out like sore thumbs all through. In what seems to be a planned,deliberate attack on Osmania University students to provoke them into a reaction and to brand them violent and discredit the Telangana movement, police agents have unleashed terror on behalf of the plutocrats last night in OU campus. They did not spare even the media and went on a rampage across the campus injuring scores of students - boys and girls and the Journos.

The students have been agitating non-violently and in the most innovative ways for nearly 70 days now. They have been the drivers of this just movement when the politicians let the Telangana people down. They have been clamped on with all kinds of restrictions and they have been successfully overcoming all by tapping into their constitutional rights.The Vidyarthi Garjana held in early January was a rude shock to the plutocrats. Even when the police and Govt refused permission for a meeting, the student JAC went to court, got permission and without the help of single political party (as per court's directive) held a mammoth meeting with around 2 lakh students in the campus. Such is the fear among our Samaikyavadi brothers that they made sure many areas in Telangana districts suffered power outage during the meeting so that the Visuals don't reach them! After that, the students held the ABVP Ranabheri, KU Vidyarthi Polikeka, Telangana Padayatra on a huge scale and took the Telangana movement into critical momentum. It is in this light that the politicians were forced to follow suit much to the consternation of the Andhra plutocrats.

The Plutocrats with their clout 'managed' the Shri Krishna committee Terms of Reference (ToR) so much that the Telangana politicians were jolted into submission by the sheer impact of the Andhra lobbying. The outrage over the ToR is now gathering speed in the students and only yesterday 15 MLAs from the region tendered their resignations. With pressure mounting on the other MLAs from the Telangana public, especially the students, the Andhra plutocrats decided to 'act' in a pre-emptive action and label the students 'Taliban' in line with their earlier propaganda. The Telugu Media for the last few weeks have been 'obedient' accommodating all Telangana news, including massive rallies/meetings, within bottom scrolls. So the time too is right for those in power but unfortunately couple of channels still were around in the campus and tried to film the Police attack on students. The police may be didn't have time to talk to their handlers on how to handle press. Or maybe simply they didn't care. So 'treated' them too. Even as something as major as this is happening, only those 2-3 attacked channels are reporting the OU events live while others are going ahead with their song and dance routine. But for these channels, we wouldn't have known how the police themselves turned troublemakers. Instead we would have heard many more cock-and-bull stories about Telangana Taliban. Not that I am underestimating the creativity of our Andhra plutocrats. After all, they brainwashed millions of Andhras to believe in their non-existent 'linguistic purity' and 'ethnic superiority' by writing their versions of history. So as it dawns here in Samaikyandrapradesh, we may very well see news stories in their mouthpieces about how the OU Taliban cornered the police in the campus for 5 hours and beat them up, and new expert ideas about how to handle these student thugs!

Even as I post this, police is still not allowing maintaining the blockade over the university and refusing entry for doctors and ambulances to treat the injured students inside. As of now, we hear 1 girl student lost eye-sight, 40 students including JAC leaders, 6 Journos got injured. Visuals showed police vandalising private property and media property within campus. Even members of ruling Congress this is a Govt's conspiracy. A 10 member committee has been constituted by the State Human Rights Commission and they are now on their way to campus. Th commission's earlier orders in last 2 months have been violated casually. Now, it should consider itself lucky if they are allowed inside the campus!

Friday, February 12, 2010

TELANGANA IV: Shri Krishna committee a crude joke

"Committee pe Committee, Committee pe Committee pur Telangana nahin mila - Mila to sirf Committee."

Tweaking Sunny Deol's
powerful performance in Damini, this is the feel Telanganites got today when center at last stopped playing hide-and-seek and released the Terms of Reference for the Sri Krishna committee which was formed to do 'wide-ranging consultations' in AP.

Yet an another committee has been formed which even for pretension has nothing in its agenda to suggest demerging Telangana from AP. The following are the ToR released by the center.

The Terms of Reference of the five member Shri Justice B.N. Srikrishna Committee constituted on 3rd February, 2010 will be the following:-

(1) To examine the situation in the State of Andhra Pradesh with reference to the demand for a separate State of Telangana as well as the demand for maintaining the present status of a united Andhra Pradesh.

(2) To review the developments in the State since its formation and their impact on the progress and development of the different regions of the State.

(3) To examine the impact of the recent developments in the State on the different sections of the people such as women, children, students, minorities, other backward classes, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.

(4) To identify the key issues that must be addressed while considering the matters mentioned in items (1), (2) and (3) above.

(5) To consult all sections of the people, especially the political parties, on the aforesaid matters and elicit their views; to seek from the political parties and other organisations a range of solutions that would resolve the present difficult situation and promote the welfare of all sections of the people; to identify the optimal solutions for this purpose; and to recommend a plan of action and a road map.

(6) To consult other organisations of civil society such as industry, trade, trade unions, farmers’ organisations, women’s organisations and students’ organisations on the aforesaid matters and elicit their views with specific reference to the all round development of the different regions of the State.

(7) To make any other suggestion or recommendation that the Committee may deem appropriate.

The Committee is requested to submit its report by December 31, 2010.

Why is that the ToR shied from mentioning anything about the various agreements/accords/supreme court verdicts/presidential orders/Government Orders which have been violated with utmost disdain by the Andhra rulers? Last time we counted, there are 14 accords that were made and dishonored. This is a crucial question because it is these actions that now undermine the sustenance of conditional merger of Telangana with Andhra state. And finally what is the guarantee that this committee's report too would not be thrown into the dustbin the way earlier committees' were? And did we not already hear the questions posed by united Andhra proponents about the mechanism under which this committee is formed?

The ToR instead goes at length to talk about how the students, minorities, SCs,STs, OBCs have been impacted by recent developments. How are these factors relevant to a statehood demand? Unless of course those in power are dreaming about throwing sops at these sections in Telangana as part of 'divide-and-rule' policy and dilute the Telangana movement? It is no secret it is these sections which lead this movement from front sidelining KCR & Co. This point in ToR directly buys into the theory of plutocrats that once Telangana forms, it would slip into hands of doras (feudal lords). It is highly ironical that these plutocrats from 2 castes who shared power within them for 5 decades preach others about social equality! Last time I saw, Karamchedu and Chunduru were in the same districts these plutocrats hail from! And for the uninitiated, google those 2 places to understand the tyrants behind the garb of United AP.

While discussing concerns/dependencies to safeguard interests of all regions in event of this demerger would have been apt, the committee's ToR deliberately sidestepped the history of Telangana struggle and restarts the debate as if this demand came overnight. Did we not hear Pranab Mukherjee (who BTW had his day in sun with his own T committee!) acknowledge a few weeks before that Telangana's is a 5 decade struggle? The ToR leaves Telangana statehood an open-ended question and instead talks about 'optimal solutions'! Clearly the Govt has now retracted from Dec 9 statement announcing the initiation of the Telangana creation process. Did the union govt of India indeed succumb to the power and pelf of plutocrats?

The plutocrats does not want to lose power in this vast state with this demerger. That is the leverage they are privileged with when they get to send 42 MPs to the center. How else would one build 3500 crore media empire overnight? The way they leveraged this unhindered political power to advance their personal fortunes in Infrastructure, Real state, Power, Media, Mining, Energy sectors put a popcorn to shame. So its natural Telangana politicians are caught in web of this money bags. After all, it is these plutocrats who sponsored their own elections the last time! The way KCR reacted today is too predictable. It looked like a deliberate attempt to weaken the TJAC.

So what next? After doing variety of programs non-violently to express their desire for Telangana, are the people still indefatigable to carry on, without the support of their 'leaders'? They ate and slept on roads, walked their way on knees, put up TG stickers on vehicles, did relay-fasting for 60 odd days, put up the
longest human chain in india, organized the massive Vidyarthi Garjana, Vidyarthi Ranbheri, Vidyarthi Polikeka, held huge padayatras, boycotted exams and what not..The lessons of violent 1969 agitation are not lost and this time they by volition didn't hurt an Andhra soul. If there is someone they turned their ire upon, it is themselves. Around 200 suicides. And this is what they get! My belief in our democratic tradition is shaken. This catapult of the center is indeed hard to digest. Plutocrats won hands down, for now.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

TELANGANA III: A case of Tyranny of Majority

If ever the free institutions of America are destroyed, that event may be attributed to the unlimited power of the majority.
-Alexis de Tocqueville in Democracy in America

In our age the power of majorities tends to become arbitrary and absolute. And therefore, it may well be that to limit the power of majorities, to dispute their moral authority, to deflect their impact,to dissolve their force, is now the most important task of those who care for liberty.
-Walter Lippmann in American Inquisitors

One question that cropped up in my previous post, in the context of the present Telangana movement, is about the failure of Telangana leaders in protecting the interests of the region in last 50 odd years. Why were the region's leaders so helpless in averting the discrimination met to the region? Some critics of the movement straightaway jump to a conclusion that Telangana leaders were not as 'efficient' as Andhra leaders so they didn't develop their region enough! I didn't believe in Hitler's Aryan supremacy nor do I believe in Andhra supremacy to accept this chauvinistic remark. Instead, I believe the reason is systemic and lies in the tyranny of the majority that has been given unchecked power in our democracy. Telangana struggle is a result of unabashed Majoritarianism of Andhrite rulers.
Tyranny of Majority:

Ever since Socrates was sentenced to death for impiety in 399 BC, the core critique of democracy has been the concept of tyranny of majority. Socrates' death showed us what a majority can do and where democracy could go wrong, even inadvertently. Socrates questioned the concept of majority getting empowered blindly in a democracy. Borrowing his thinking, one would question why for instance, in a group of 10 members, a group of 6 would be given all the power to rule over the remaining 4. Does being majority also imply being just and right? Not necessarily, the group of 6 would protect their interests even at the cost of the interests of the remaining 4 as shown amply in world democracies. Armed with nearly 2/3 of the Assembly seats, the Andhra plutocracy with vast interests in all kinds of businesses inflicted the same tyranny on Telangana.

Checks and Balances - a cure to the tyranny of majority:

It is in this light that the founding fathers of some constitutions across the world took care to protect the interests of minorities in democracies. And so instead of just placing faith in the basic goodness of human beings (like in case of French constitution), fathers of constitution in countries like America came up with elaborate mechanisms in an effort to stop a winner-take-all scenario. They have introduced checks and balances to prevent the majority group or the majority ideology to get tyrannical powers over minority. America's founding father James Madison famously said way back in 1788 "If men were angels, no government would be necessary...but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions." The emphasis hence is on designing a effective checks and balances. It simply does not work if we just go by faith and hope about the human goodness. Example: In the US, every state regardless of its population sends two senators to Washington - California with roughly 70 times the population of Wyoming has just as many votes in the Senate as Wyoming- which means that senators representing about a minuscule minority in the US can block any proposed law. This makes sure all law-making require bipartisan support. Hence, even if the ruling party has a good majority, it can't steamroll its decisions over the minority.

Telangana- a case of tyranny of majority:

Page 101, Para 378 of Fazal Ali commission's SRC which has recommended Telangana remain a separate state clearly stated -

"The real fears of the people of Telangana is that if they join Andhra they will be unequally placed in relation to the people of Andhra and in this partnership the major partner will derive all the advantages immediately, while Telangana, itself may be converted into a colony by the enterprising coastal Andhra."

There were agitations in Telangana opposing the idea of merger right from 1952(Non-Mulki agitation) when many youth lost their life in police firing. However, Andhra legislature opposed the commission's report and lobbied for the merger even as it assured that it would put enough safeguards in place to alley Telangana fears of losing jobs, land, water and financial resources. In that context, Telangana's merger with Andhra state in 1956 was a conditional one with safeguards, in form of Gentlemen agreement, attached to protect itself from the majority Andhrites who are comparatively well-educated. Having initiated and lobbied for the conditional merger along, the Andhra leadership had the onus on them to keep their word. But all they started was a rich history of betrayals making a mockery of all agreements, presidential orders, court judgements in letter and spirit. The safeguards in the 'Gentlemens Agreement' mentioned that Telangana's jobs, land, water and financial resources will be reserved for itself. Earlier Fazal Ali commission explicitly warned these safeguards would be ineffective (SRC Para 384)! Fazal Ali's prophecy came true and none of the safeguards which were supposed to serve as checks and balances were implemented. Telangana indeed became a colony for the majority. The 1969 Telangana agitation forced the center to appoint the Justice V.Bhargava committee which eventually confirmed the worst fears of Telanganites - that budgetary surpluses from Telangana have been moved to Andhra right from 1956. It has been proved that Madison's mantra of checks and balances failed to serve justice to Telangana thereby making it a victim of the tyranny of the majority.

Telangana's woes didn't end there. Even as supreme court upheld its rights as envisaged in the 'Gentlemens agreement', the Andhra plutocrats with their power and pelf overrode the highest court order too in parliament with brute majority. Thus, the concept of justice took backseat to number game of majority politics in democracy. While the major checks and balances have been entirely removed, Telangana was offered a consolatory one - in the shape of Telangana Regional Development Board. This board was supposed to overlook all development activity in Telangana and give a touch of financial self-rule for Telangana within the state of A.P. But then, Andhrite leaders have already shown their irreverence to agreements, accords, GOs, Supreme Court Judgements. So it was a matter of time before these minor check be done away with and yes, they did. NTR came to power in 1983 and among the very first actions he did was to dismantle the Board saying "We(Andhra people) are today in a supreme position, there is no need for a parallel board, a check or countercheck!!". So there it went again, yet an another safeguard. As was practice, he issued yet an another consolation, a far lesser safeguard in 1984, that of 610 GO and of course habits die hard. Even that didn't get implemented, till now. That is the disaster hegemonic power unleashed upon Telangana.

Andhrite plutocrats never abided by any agreements and when pressed to do so, reacted by either whittling down or altogether doing away with the checks and balances as shown in NTR's own words. In hindsight, we now understand why Fazal Ali warned against the 'Gentlemens agreement'. He did see the example of Sri Bagh pact before. The 1937 accord which was to protect Rayalaseema's interests was conveniently forgotten. The overarching feature of the 54 year experience for Telangana is that a majority can never be benevolent if there are no constitutional safeguards. If there indeed were some agreed upon safeguards, as in this case, you still need to trust the basic goodness of human beings to follow them! The French model of human goodness wont work for us here in this age when elections and power is synonymous with stakes in billions of dollars of legitimate and illegitimate businesses. In our kind of democracy, winner takes it all despite any agreements and the majority wins. So Telangana was doomed to be a permanent minority the moment it took the 'Gentlemen' bait. The wealthy plutocrats among Andhrites hold the real levers of power and anyone whether a Telanganite or Andhrite would be able to hold any ministry only as long as he serves as a stooge for them.

In context of this political & economical majoritarianism, any question about what Telangana leaders have done for their region while in ministry is a naive one. Telanganites served as CMs in 4 terms for a total of 6 years in 54 years of this state's existence. On the other hand, Rayalaseema leaders served as CMs for almost 25 years and even a term as President and we all see where Seema now stands in development indices! The point is not about who is in ministry, its about whose interests they are serving. After garnering the majority power, plutocrats in this state grew from strength to strength, put up place-holders like the present irrigation minister who won by 17 votes as representative of Telangana! Ever wondered why a Telangana mass leader like PJR never found his way into ministries despite deafening victories in the heart of Hyderabad? The games majority can play in a democracy are amazing indeed. The invisible character of hegemonic power is poisonous. It woes the minority when required only to boot them out later. 5 decades is a long time and the patience ran out in Telangana. Enough of the experiments with checks and balances, It is to break out of this majority stranglehold, Telangana wants its own legislature and rule itself, make its laws, use its waters, have its jobs and keep its self-respect. And guess what, the Andhra plutocrats say they are okay with Telangana state if the bill for the same passes through their assembly!