WTF Just Happened: September 22 edition

Subramanian Swamy plays canary in the coal-mine in a recent interview,  where he said that the economy was heading for a “tailspin” and that the signs have been evident since May of last year when he first warned Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the possibility.

It is not a new message; economists have been warning of this possibility for over a year now, before demonetization, first, and then the hasty introduction of GST, struck further blows at the economy. Those warnings were deflected as coming from ‘anti-nationals’ and the ‘Lutyens media’ — criticisms that can hardly be leveled at Swamy, which is why it pays to listen to the interview in its entirety.

‘Tailspin’ is the leitmotif of an alarming number of stories/analysis in the media. A detailed Livemint analysis of the state of the economy has ‘tailspin’ right up there in the headline; the same paper details a UN Conference on Trade and Development report that warns of ‘serious downturn risks’. A recent State Bank of India report categorically refutes BJP president Amit Shah’s spin that the slowdown is for ‘technical reasons’. The Economic Times warns of a looming pension crisis; the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has downgraded its forecast for the fiscal ’18.

Swamy makes the point that a series of planned remedial measures are urgently required if the trend is not to become irreversible. A series of news items from recent times indicates why:

Continue reading

Advertisements

What The Fuck Just Happened?: 21/09 edition

I was supposed to be in Kerala this week — partly for personal reasons, partly to meet with some local journalists and grassroots politicians from both sides of the divide to gain some sense of what is going on in my home state. Torrential rains and a landslide blocking NH17 along the Thamarasherry stretch of the Ghat road caused a postponement, but news from there continues to stream through my email box. Like, so:

#1. Students Federation of India goons attack policemen attempting to prevent them from clashing with a rival group. Nine suspects have been booked in the case, under Section 332, causing hurt to deter a public servant from his duty. (more stringent clauses, relating to assault, attempt to murder etc would be a more effective statement).

Continue reading

So hey, let’s talk about Kerala

Last night (Sunday, September 10) produced a remarkable display of histrionics by Arnab Goswami of Republic TV. In what was billed as a debate on whether the left or the right was more intolerant, Arnab focused his considerable energies on the ongoing cycle of political killings in Kerala. He referred to recent attacks that had led to the death of RSS workers, and segued into an attack on the “liberals”. Where was Sagarika (Ghose), where was Barkha (Dutt), where was Rana (Ayyub), he demanded.

He banged the table as he brought his peroration to a close. “Where were the Not In My Name people?”, he thundered as he flicked back an errant lock of hair.

It was an awe-inspiring performance that I watched with all the morbid fascination of a spectator at a train wreck.

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad is not given to such infantile histrionics. Speaking recently to the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh, the minister was calm and reasonable as he condemned the killing and segued smoothly into an attack on “liberals”.

“Why is it that all my liberal friends who speak so eloquently and so strongly against the killing of a journalist, perfectly so entitled to, or even maoists and naxalites, maintain a conspicuous silence when so many RSS workers are killed in Karnataka or BJP workers in Kerala?” the minister asked.

  Continue reading

Media Matters: Culpable Homicide edition

Briefly: In January, conservative website The Daily Caller published a video of people being run over by cars. Mike Raust, whose byline went with the video, said in the accompanying text:

Here’s a compilation of liberal protesters getting pushed out of the way by cars and trucks. Study the technique; it may prove useful in the next four years.

Fox Nation, the aggregator site of Fox News, then republished the video and caption, giving it greater amplification and traction.

Earlier this month, in the wake of Charlottesville where civil rights lawyer Heather Heyer was killed when a fascist deliberately ran over a group of protestors, Slate rediscovered that video clip, which continued to reside on both Daily Caller and Fox, and called those outlets out.

The Daily Caller and Fox have since taken the clip down. Not because they thought at the time that the clip was inappropriate, that it was an incitement. Not because they were chastened by Charlottesville, where a murderer used the technique they had urged the right wing to “study”. But because they were caught out, called out in public.

Keep this in mind, the next time you hear intemperate TV anchors demonize some person or group. There are dangerously unstable people out there who will take their cues from these rants. And someone will die. And the journalist, the anchor, the website will have killed that person, as surely as if they were at the wheel of that car, or held the knife, or wielded the sword or gun or rope.

(As I’ve said before, I will between instalments of the Media Matters deep dive use this blog as a scratch-pad to collect incidents, thoughts that I can connect up later in the series. This is one such.)

Deaths, foretold

News, now:

Two Muslim men herding eight buffaloes on their way to a local Friday market were bashed up and hanged to death from a tree by unknown assailants at Balumath forests in Latehar district, 100km from here, in the wee hours on Friday. The buffaloes were freed by the men and locals claimed the assailants were Hindu radicals.

The deceased Muhammad Majloom, 35, was a relative of Azad Khan alias Ibrahim who is around 15-years-old. The two had their hands tied together behind and their mouth was closed with a cloth. “The sight suggested that the two of them were subjected to extreme levels of brutality. It means that the assailants were moved by extreme hatred,” a police officer said.

In Jhabbar village of Balumath the sight of the hanging men engaged in cattle trade, sparked protests by locals. The protests turned violent when police tried to take down the bodies. SDO Kamleshwar Narayan and six cops were injured when locals pelted stones at officials who arrived in the morning to manage the situation and ensure that it does not take communal turn.

This is what happens when you inflame passions for your own narrow political ends. When you indulge in the politics of cheap populism. When you play the “religious sentiment” card to disguise the fact that you have nothing of substance to hang your politics, your appeal, on.

This is what happens when you let the genie out of the bottle. People die.

The need for vocational training

A West Bengal resident, who police claimed was behind the killing of three witnesses and four attempts to murder witnesses in rape cases lodged against self-styled godman Asaram and his son Narayan Sai, has been arrested by the Gujarat ATS and Ahmedabad Detection of Crime Branch in a joint operation.

Karthik alias Raju Dulalchand Haldar, resident of Ramlochanpur in South 24 Parganas, had become a ‘sadhu’ in 2000 and a follower of Asaram, police said.

ATS officers said Karthik was arrested from Sarona Bazar in Raipur, Chhattisgarh, where he had been hiding. They said Karthik hadn’t taken any weapon training, one reason why four of his targets survived.

See why vocational training is so important? There are other points here, but you know what they are so I’ll desist.

And on a personal note: The other half’s birthday today. When I asked her what she wanted, she said “Internet se azaadi, for one day — all I ever see of you is the back of your laptop and the dome of your head sticking above it. Not today.”

What to do? All together, now:

“Hum kya chaahte? Internet se Azaadi”

See you tomorrow, therefore.

A catalog of murder

This is CPM leader Pinnarayi Vijayan’s response to the story of the brutal murder of an RSS worker in full view of school children.

See what I mean when I said I don’t give a flying fuck anymore?