Two stories, one dangerous trend

A policeman is seen supposedly drunk. Someone shoots a video and uploads it. The Aam Aadmi Party, which has been arguing for control of the Delhi police, sees an opportunity and pushes the video hard. It goes viral. Police officials immediately suspend the supposedly errant cop.

It turns out the cop was suffering a stroke.

Elsewhere, a girl student goes to a national education center to do some research. She is stopped at the gates; the security guard declares her a traitor and says she comes from a den of anti-nationals, and refuses to let her in. She leaves in tears.

Spot the link between the two stories?




Shashi Tharoor on nationalism

In the ongoing JNU lecture series, the latest is Shashi Tharoor. Here is his speech:

And before Tharoor, Kanhaiya Kumar spoke as the opening act:


The news — and views — in briefs

#1. Read M Rajshekhar on the lucrative trade in Rajya Sabha seats:

According to the former Congress MP, the legislative arithmetic in these states creates a market for buying and selling Rajya Sabha seats. A third big party that has some seats but not enough to nominate its own members to the Rajya Sabha can capitalise on its numbers. This is likely, he says, if the small party has been out of power for long – and is cash-strapped.

#2. Boring, but very important: The BJP national executive that met in Delhi over the weekend passed a resolution that is worth reading in full, and remembering as the year ahead unfolds.

#4. Speaking at the executive meet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told his partymen to avoid controversies. The reported statement seems along the lines of the established right wing narrative — that there is a vast left-wing machinery lying in wait for any excuse to play ambush politics. This neatly shifts the narrative from the acts themselves, to the motives of those who question various acts — but let that lie. I’m hoping Modi’s partymen were listening — and will respect his views. We could do with a lessening of the political temperature in this country.

#4. For Holi week, a brief history of bhang.

#5. The best thing to have come out of the JNU fracas is the teach-in program featuring academics and others speaking on nationalism and related subjects (Several of which have been posted on this blog earlier). Here, the announcement for the next series (Follow Stand With JNU for updates):


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.


Anupam Kher, redux

Yesterday, Anupam Kher spoke at JNU. The full speech is here for those who want to listen.

It is not the contents of the speech that struck me — there is nothing there that Kher has not said before, in other forums. What is noticeable is this:

Continue reading

Kanhaiya Kumar, tomorrow and yesterday

Tomorrow, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court will hear a petition demanding that the bail given to the JNUSU president be revoked.

Yesterday he spoke, thus:

Also read, this “open letter” by Kiran Nagarkar to Kanhaiya Kumar.


The news in briefs

Ephemera continues to dominate our public discourse. After a day off from the internet, I get back to find that we continue to discuss issues of tremendous import. As, for instance, whether a BJP MLA actually beat a horse, or whether he merely led the violence that resulted in the maiming of a horse.

Here’s a bloke charging at cops doing their duty, with upraised lathi in hand, and egging on his followers. And this is what we are concerned with — whether there is any video to show that the stick in his hand actually landed on the horse or no?

Elsewhere, four men reportedly attempt to attack Kanhaiya Kumar who, in the court of public opinion, has already been tried and found guilty of crimes ranging from sedition, to being present at an event and doing nothing to stop it, to peeing by the roadside and then getting into an altercation with a lady passing by, who protested. All of which, amplified by hysterical coverage and social media amplification, provides sufficient justification for random patriots to attempt to do violence on his person in the name of flag and country. How can this possibly end well?

How can this possibly end well?

And while on kangaroo courts, TimesNow has reportedly been asked to apologise and pay a fine for its coverage of the Jasleen Kaur versus Sarabjit Singh controversy. Inter alia, the News Broadcasting Standards Authority says:

“Broadcasters cannot condemn as guilty persons accused of having committed a crime or offence when the matter is still under investigation or where the court is yet to decide upon the guilt or otherwise of the accused.”

And that is when, if you are not careful, you swallow a mouthful of hot coffee the wrong way. Really? “Broadcasters cannot condemn…”? What does the NBSA suppose happens every single night on prime time? One of the prime movers and shakers (on whom more here) even coins a term for it — “instant journalism”, the process where a cause is decided on in the morning, a verdict is determined on prime time, and society is exhorted to “act on it”, you know, like those four men at the JNU rally?

What woke the NBSA out of its deep dream of peace, anyway?

Meanwhile, a tried and tested pattern manifests again. At a private university in Mewar, Rajasthan, “rumours are floated” that a few Kashmiri students are cooking and eating beef. A scuffle results. Assorted — and unnamed — “Hindu religious groups” arrive at the venue and raise slogans. Thankfully, the police manage to defuse this particular manufactured crisis.

Never mind — tomorrow is another day; the same play from the well-thumbed playbook can easily be tried elsewhere.

Still on ephemera, I learn that a small town in Tamil Nadu is praying. Fervently. Why?

A bare-chested priest sat cross-legged in the temple of this farming village on a recent morning and recited all 1,008 names of Vishnu, the Hindu god, in the hope of soon receiving good news from the White House.

And finally, for now:

The Hindu has accessed the report of the JNU inquiry committee that looked into the incidents of February 9. It is interesting — both for what it says, and for what it does not say.