The campus debate

The full video of a campus debate organised as part of the India Today conclave, that pits rival JNU factions, one led by Kanhaiya Kumar and the other by Saurabh Sharma of the ABVP. Watch:

Some passing amusement over how quickly student leaders pick up the tricks of seasoned politicians. See how often the panelists, asked a direct question, deflect it and answer the question they ask themselves.

PS: A no-blogging day tomorrow. Ramesh Srivats and I want to take the day and work on some fun stuff. Details soon.


On the ‘chai-wallah’ PM and other tropes

The Telegraph organised a debate on the motion ‘Intolerance is the new tolerance’. Anupam Kher spoke — and the speech, now being transmitted on social media timelines,  is drawing wah-wahs. So I listened. You can, too. Here it is:

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Surviving in the global social media zoo

As citizens, so much of our political conversation – perhaps the majority of it – happens on social media these days. If social media really is the awakening of a global consciousness – us all becoming one gigantic brain – then it is little wonder that this birth of a 7 billion-part “us” is, sometimes, terrifying. Like some bewildered Frankenstein’s monster, waking up on the slab and lashing out, not knowing the power of its new arms and legs.

In order that this fabulous, awe-inspiring beast do no harm, we need to establish some rules for global communication and activism, so that the same mistakes are not made over and over again. So that going online doesn’t, some days, feel like walking into a zoo that’s been set on fire, with penguins attacking lions, gnus trampling on hippos, and a couple of unhappy llamas in the corner, crying, “I just wanted to show everyone a picture of my lunch! I am excited about avocados! I do not like all this anger! I am going to hide under my table!”

Thus Caitlin Moran, who on the back of that set-up provides a guide to how to win arguments online without acting like a dick.

The quality of “debate”

The headline writers of national papers seem unanimous — they all cite Narendra Modi’s quoting of Indira and Rajiv Gandhi as the main talking point from his speech in Parliament yesterday.

The specific section that seems to have caught the imagination is this:

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All smoke and mirrors

Sandip Roy asks a pertinent question: Do we even ask the right questions anymore?

Back in 2013, NDTV CEO Vikram Chandra tweeted:

“Was Ishrat a terrorist? And does it matter whether she was or wasn’t? Should it affect our approach to a fake encounter?”

Now with the latest accusations hurled by senior bureaucrats alleging a cover-up and affidavit-fixing at the highest levels, the Ishrat Jahan case is back to haunt the Congress High Command. There could be a probe as to who changed the affidavit and why. As there should.

But chances are, in the upcoming political game of gotcha, whether the encounter was fake or not will play second fiddle to whether Ishrat Jahan was an L-e-T operative or not and whether then Home Minister P Chidambaram changed the affidavit or not. Those are very important questions but it does not mean the original question about fake encounters is an unimportant one.

But when patriotism and national security come into the picture, we quickly lose track of the principle at stake, as we have seen at JNU.

Do you even know what sedition is, the Delhi High Court has apparently asked the Delhi Police as it heard the bail application of Kanhaiya Kumar.

That is exactly the right question to ask in the case. Do anti-India slogans, however repugnant, amount to sedition?

Precisely. Read the full opinion piece here. And consider this: All this manufactured outrage, faux anger, “hurt sentiments” — and both sides are equally guilty — serves what end? Simple: It throws up so much smoke, the fundamental issues are lost sight of.



A village just lost its idiot

Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle mérite

18th century Lawyer and philosopher Joseph de Maistre figured out, way back then, that “Every nation gets the government it deserves”. The corollary goes unstated — that each nation also gets the Opposition it deserves.

Vide Anand Sharma, who in the Rajya Sabha today kicked up a ruckus over Smriti Irani’s Durga distraction, called it blasphemy (in which he was joined by the TMC), and demanded an apology.

And a village somewhere went, ‘Ah, there’s the idiot we lost’.

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