Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Sunday Pioneer – Dilli Billi – 23rd December 2012 – “Daily buzz of entertainment”

Daily buzz of entertainment

Watching shows on small screen gives a break from mundane activities. Unfortunately, it is also making people forget traditions and values.

Last week, I called my aunt. I was shocked when she took the call but disconnected it immediately. I was a little put off but let it go. I then called my mother and mother-in-law. Both told me that they would call me later. This is the standard answer that I get whenever I call them in the afternoon or evening. It was then that I realised that it is prime time for soap on satellite channels.

Ever since the introduction of saas-bahu serials and reality crime shows like Crime Patrol, Sansani and Savdhaan India, housewives in India can never get bored now. The serials have entertainment quotient and the reality shows are diverting. They help to bust the stress of everyday life.

I understand that the shows on the telly help people forget their hassles for the number of hours spent in front of it. Watching women in their fancy saris, bindis and perfect make-up go about their daily chores with a lot of drama thrown in for good measure gives the woman at home necessary break from household work. Television shows are definitely a source of entertainment for the middle class families.

I remember when we were young and only had options like Krishi Darshan, Chitrahaar and a movie on Sunday on Doordarashan. Today, things are different. There is entertainment for all ages 24X7.

The news channels, that on most occasions sensationalise the news, are also entertaining in their own way. Then there are shows for children. It is sad that they are more interested in watching TV than reading books.

Gone are the days when there was emphasis on good handwriting, vocabulary and reading. Texting or keeping in touch with friends on social network sites, it appears, is the favourite pastime of teenagers. Today, every child over the age of eight has a mobile.

Though soaps and reality shows are doing their bit, one wonders whether they are doing more good than harm. Crime shows are a way to educate the people to be on guard at all times. One only hopes they are not making people taking to crime in real life.

There was a time when girls where taught needle work, knitting and how to cook. I don’t know a single girl of this generation who knows any of this craft. In their free time they are busy watching shows on the small screen. It’s alarming to see mothers switch on the cartoon channel whenever it is time to feed their child or putting them to sleep. The days of telling a story are gone.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Pioneer- Dilli Billi-16th Dec 2012- “Media needs to put checks on itself”

Media needs to put checks on itself

Journalists should stop sensationalizing news. It needs to rethink its strategy and apply the unwritten code of ethics

The whole nation watched with interest the war between two big industry giants. One is Member of Parliament and chairperson of the Jindal industrial empire Naveen jindal. He has money, influence and power. The other is Subhash Chandra, a media king. He belongs to the industry that is powerful and feared. Therefore, it is natural that the extortion case against the two reporters of Zee TV is being talked about in Hushed tones. No one can dare to publicly take sides as both are extremely powerful.

The aam aadmi has praised the role of media in bringing to public knowledge issues of corruption, violence and crime by the people in power and positions of influence. The media has played a major role in educating the ordinary man, the value of his vote and showing the real face of the leaders. The media has made many heroes, who it picked up from the streets and many heroes lost their place. The law and order situation has improved because of media intervention. Many criminal cases have reached the right end only because the media took the cause.

Journalists became kings and the public looked at them as their heroes. Many big names lost their seat of power due to the media. But this meant that the media was becoming aggressive and arrogant. The news started to be sensationalized. The channels created news where there was none to increase their TRPs. Many a reputations were ruined due to wrong reporting or because not much effort was put in while chasing a story.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely. A few people in the media felt that since they were lords, nobody would dare to point a finger at them. Unlike the modern-day journalists, the old-timers still have ethics in place. They know the parameters and work within that with respect. People, who toyed with the media, didn’t realise that they were playing with fire. Today, the media with its newbie reporters are in taken by the glamour and power. They have lost their ethical code of journalism.

It is sad to see fresh-out of college graduates make a fool of themselves on new channels. I have seen a young anchor insensitively ask a mother who had just lost her child, as to how she was feeling. Is that a question to ask? There is no depth in there journalists and the questions they ask appear to be meaningless.

Journalism today has lost its sheen. No one knows the true picture anymore. Media houses have become centers of making money. The reputation media had is lost forever. Media houses don’t have many friends. Wherever they go, they are looked at with suspicion. People are always on their guard while talking to a media person. They fear that their statement may be used in some context and be distorted. The fight between a business house and a media house has brought to the light a whole new game that is being played out.

We all know that media carriers paid news and planted new which is bad enough. Now, the public has to contend with news being aired on the amount of money that has been paid.

But there is always a silver lining to everything. This whole episode has united the politicians and businessmen alike. The media really needs to rethink on its strategy and apply the unwritten ethical code. Otherwise, the common man would soon start treating them with contempt.

The Pioneer- Dilli Billi-9th Dec 2012- " Cong in a state of disarray”

Cong in a state of disarray

It is sad that the oldest and largest national party in the country doesn’t have its house in order. The conflicting signals given by its leaders are not in national interest

The countdown for the 2014 General Election has begun. It is more or less clear that the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate would be none other than Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. As for the Congress, it is still not decided who its prime ministerial candidate would be. Though there is speculation that Rahul Gandhi may don the role, it is said that he has still not decided whether he wants to head the oldest and largest political party in the country. There are rumors that he would prefer to rule from behind the curtains like his mother. Why be the king when one can be king-maker and there is someone else to take the rap for every wrong.

It’s a shame that one of the biggest national parties in the country doesn’t have its house in order. It is the party worker who suffers. He can’t decide who the real head is – is it the person who is ruling or is it the person who controls from behind the real power centre.

In the Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections, after crossing many hurdles and giving into pressure at the last minute, the congress had fielded Himachal Congress chief Virbhadra Singh. Though it was the right thing to do, it came a little late in the day. In Gujarat, Modi wants to know who will lead the Congress, but as usual the party is in disarray. Its partymen are becoming masters of goof-ups.

One doesn’t understand how the people in the advertising campaign could make such major blunder? Nothing could have hit the party more than the fact that the picture they used for the poster was picked up from Sri Lanka and UNICEF. Why did the company not take fresh photographs would probably remain a mystery. Every news channel splashed the pictures of the advertisement. If this was not enough, the news that the BJP had amassed wealth meant for the poor Gujarat took centre stage.

It is unfortunate that the money meant for the upliftment of the poor has been diverted into useless schemes and projects by Modi. One hopes that the locals in Gujarat watched the news and are aware of the ground reality. It is time the people saw the true picture of their leaders.

Meanwhile, the Congress would be in a dilemma if Rahul Gandhi says no to be the Prime Minister and lead UPA-3. The question is – who would become the Prime Minister? One hopes that whoever sits on the chair has people’s interest at heart. In fact, I wish the person would have certain traits of a dictator. The country needs a head who can rule with an iron hand, who can take spot decisions, who can lead the nation by setting an example himself and take the youth in confidence and move forward. We need a person who can take a leaf out from the experience of the senior leaders and combine it with energy of the young Ministers at the Centre.

When one talks to the aam aadmi on the streets of Gujarat there is a startling revelation – the people may have forgiven but not forgotten Modi’s role ion Godhra riots even though his name has been cleared. They have forgiven him because of the developmental work that has been undertaken in the State. His authority over administration and the confidence has impress many. The business houses who have invested in his State are happy with how smoothly things move in the State. Unlike other States where there are many leaders and hence there are conflicting signals, in Gujarat Modi’s word is final. This makes it easy for things to move. The projects undertaken are passed with a single nod from Modi.

Many say that Modi is like a lion who has smelt the power of success even though there is a hint of arrogance in his stance. This is because, for now, he is the undisputed king in Gujarat. One will have to wait and watch how much time it takes him to reach the power corridors of Delhi and who are the people who would act as roadblocks I his journey. Let’s see how many hurdles he would have to cross since he is man who is in a hurry to reach the top.

Would Rahul Gandhi challenge him or will the regional parties, who have their own agenda, be able to stop him? This is an era of collision politics; the real heroes are the regional parties who will have the last laugh.
Sadly the Congress appears to have become more of a regional party than a national one. Count the number of States it is in power. In Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh the party is in a mess. No Congress Chief Minister today has confidence in the High Command that even if he is elected he would be Chief Minister again. The High Command is capable of doing another Bhajan Lal or repeat what they did in Uttrakhand.

Punjab Kesari Jalandhar Article 13th December, 2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Pioneer- Dilli Billi-2nd Dec 2012- " Politics is about vested interest”

Politics is about vested interest

The nexus between politics and corporate always existed but, today, it has become a norm. So much so that politicians can’t see anything beyond their selfish needs.

The preparations for the Lok Sabha elections are underway. The UPA-2 Government has also started gearing up for the elections. And those who had expected a lot of excitement around the Cabinet reshuffle are disappointed. Many had thought that the elections would be held in 2013 and not in 2014. It is said that the Budget session of March 2013 would be a people-friendly budget. The message from the Finance Ministry would be clear for all to read – it would be the aam aadmi who would benefit the most.

One waits for the day when the prices of essential commodities would be slashed and the benefits of various schemes started by the Centre manage to reach the common man easily. As is common, many wannabes join the political bandwagon just before elections. This is because today, there is no better business than being a politician. Joining politics is rather tempting; it is an easy route to making money and having a lot of power. We know that politics today is dirty but it has its advantageous.

It is impossible to stand for an election without a strong financial backing whether it is national parties, regional parties or even Independents who are backed by business houses who have their own agenda. Many demand and push for policy changes to suit their purpose. Recently, many businessmen have started to openly associate themselves with politicians and political parties so that they can be nominated to the Upper house. Rajya Sabha, at one point of time, was reserved for the elderly statesmen today, unfortunately has many businessmen as its members. A lot of their time is spent dining and wining with policy-makers. As a member, they can easily meet the people who matter. This is one of the reasons that the kind of people entering into politics has gone down leaving a bad taste in the mouth of the ordinary man. It is difficult for the common man to be able to identify with the leader who travels in a private jet without a care for the public who voted him to power. Such leaders can’t see beyond their own selfish needs.

The media and some activists have exposed the nexus that exists between politicians and businessmen. In this era of coalition Governments, it is known fact that the Capital has its share of people who liaisons with different Ministries get the maximum benefit for their business house. Lobbying is a reality today. In fact, in countries like the US, it is legal and is political parties openly made use of it. I believe that as long as the Government protects the interest of the aam aadmi and works for the betterment of the nation, it is okay to lobby. The public is not so innocent to believe that the Congress is the only party which can deliver. It is no doubt the oldest party in the country but regional parties, which work only in a selective area, are gaining ground.

The Congress really needs to get its act together. It is a difficult task but with hard work and commitment it can change its image.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Pioneer- Dilli Billi-25th Nov 2012- "Cong, BJP losing ground"

Cong, BJP losing ground

Regional parties are gaining ground because the two national parties – the Congress and the BSP – are losing touch with grassroots workers & the common man

Most political leaders wonder what annoys the aam aadmi. The sad part is that even though these leaders claim to have caught the pulse of the public, they are yet to fathom the reason for anger. While regional party leaders who have grassroots connection appear to have some sort of understanding, the two national parties – the Congress and the BSP – are at sea.

Probably, the fault lies with the fact that leaders at the centre have never been in touch with ground reality. They prefer to stay in New Delhi and become advisors to their High Command. When State leaders who are the main workers, come to New Delhi to meet senior leaders, they have to wait for days on end to get an audience. And, often, they return disappointed. It is then that one gets to see the difference in thinking.

The Grassroots leader talks with conviction and authority and the problems he faces when he goes asking for votes. It’s easy to sit in Delhi and give out orders. There is no understanding on any side. People who come from the States don’t understand the reason for the arrogance that central leaders have. It leaves the worker disillusioned.

It is unfortunate that the top leaders in the BJP and the Congress are unable to put a stop to the infighting. One has to remember that strong leadership is able to do way with any negativity as soon as it starts. Time and again we have seen that problems are created for a strong State leader by leaders in New Delhi. Whether it is created by a few men who vested interests, on doesn’t know.

For such people it is always self before the party welfare. The wrong information given by such people only irritates the real leader because he has a strong base and doesn’t need to ask for any favours from anyone. This is because he brings substance to the table which no baseless person can ever bring. Begging for a meeting with the top brass is humiliating and demeaning for a strong State leader. They get tired of the decisions that are forced upon him and then snubbed in full public view. Under such a situation, many self respecting leaders break away from the party and float their own.

If the Congress and the BJP wants to survive they need to start respecting their State leader.  It is because of these grassroots level people that others are able to rule at the Centre. It is sad when senior leaders like Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Vir Bahadur who can deliver are put to test time and again.

It is here that regional parties gain. They don’t have to report to anyone. They are responsible for their actions. It is their decision that means a win or loss for them. They are their own bosses. Hence, it is not surprising that many congress and BJP leaders would love to change places with them.

Many leaders are of the opinion that time is fast approaching when Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi would win the Gujarat Assembly elections and change the number game for the 2014 General Election.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Pioneer- Dilli Billi-18th Nov 2012- "Festivals have lost meaning"

Festivals have lost meaning
Gone are the days when festivals like Diwali were celebrated with simplicity. Spending time with the family has been replaced with getting drunk and gambling away lakhs of rupees.
Diwali is one festival that I look forward to. And for one reason – the entire family comes together and for the next three days, it is celebrations all around. The festival is so simple yet there is much to rejoice. Days are spent eating alu puris and lots of mithai. In our family, it is a tradition to play teen patti. Of course, since every family member plays, the stakes are not too high – it is limited to 10 board.  It’s bonding time for my family and my husband’s too.
Strangely, these kind of celebrations are seen as old fashioned and boring now. Today, for most, Diwali means getting drunk and playing cards where stakes are in lakhs. I am told, sometimes, it goes as high as a crore. I have some friends who chartered a plane and took their card playing friends to a resort so that they would not be disturbed. The question of spending time with family was zero.
Their life is so different. I feel sorry for these parents and their children. For me, festivals like these are family time. Those who don’t bond on these occasions usually find themselves at a loose end. If parents are busy elsewhere, who will teach the children importance of bonding with each other? Who will teach them the meaning of giving, patience and tolerance towards each other?
For me, the biggest gift an elder can give to the younger generation is values. Unfortunately, over the years, the meaning of Diwali has undergone a change. For many, especially in the Government, it has become a means to bribe officials and politicians by giving them expensive gifts. Love is weighed not by affection and hugs and cares but how much the Diwali present cost.
Therefore, our generation is confused. Studying in foreign universities and exposure to the western culture means that these children have not been able to fully adopt a single culture. Being modern, to them, means freedom which in turn means that all their demands must be met – a Mercedes or a BMW and pocket money to spend at pubs with no questions asked. And if a parent does ask for an explanation, the usual retort is ‘stay out of my personal life’.
Till date, I have not understood what is personal between a parent and a child, especially if the child is financially dependent on the parents for everything. I wonder why a parent allows a child to bully or emotionally blackmail them. Parents who give in to their child’s demands every time usually end up ruining their ward’s future.
When I was a child, I was never given a choice of missing prayer times, meal times, and any festival or birthdays. Today, some parents ask their teenage kids if it would suit them to attend a particular family function.
Most of the children today, don’t’ know why some of the festivals are celebrated. Our rich heritage and traditions has been lost to them. The west wants to learn our culture, values and traditions. Our own children are running away from it.
I felt ashamed when my friend’s son said that he didn’t know why Diwali is celebrated. What is sadder still is that he knew why Christmas is celebrated but ignorant about festivals in India. Faulty upbringing and giving wrong values is the cause of many problems in the society today.
It is time we took pride in celebrating our festivals.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Pioneer- Dilli Billi-11th Nov 2012- "Make Accusations if they can be proved"

Make Accusations if they can be proved

Today, politics has become a game where leaders make personal attacks without thinking of the repercussions. It is time that elections are fought on more concrete grounds

One watched the campaigning for Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh with a lot of interest. What was shocking was, of course, the bad and foul language used at Press conferences where the leaders had nothing to say but make personal attacks. This kind of behavior is shameful. The politicians need to understand that the youth are major voters. They are educated and are aware of ground realities.

Meanwhile, the news channels have become channels of entertainment especially when they discuss politics and politicians. One can see which side a particular channel is inclined towards. Candidates always complaint that news channels play favourites. The personal equation that many channels have with a particular media house, obviously with gains forming a major part of it, affects the coverage of the news. It is sad that the media has sunk to such low levels that people are doing sting operations on the media heads. Nothing can be more shameful than this. With so much bias shown on news channels, many prefer to watch a serial than watch the news. These people rely on Doordarshan for the news of substance.

The other day at a dinner party, I attended, people were discussing that there was a time when a whistleblower would address the media, people would want to know what he had to say. Today, People are tired of self-proclaimed heroes who have taken it upon themselves to be conscious keepers. There is no doubt that they are doing the nation a service, but people are not interested in accusations. The public is not concerned with whether the person involved is good or bad in personal life. As long as he is working for the betterment, what he does in his private life doesn’t concern the common man.

It takes years to make a name for oneself. We are humans and make mistakes. This doesn’t mean that a wrong should not be highlighted. But to tarnish somebody’s image with frivolous charges is not in good taste. Ours is a democratic set up which the whole world respects. So unless there is concrete proof, one must resist the temptation to speak ill of the person. And if the charges are proved the Government must take strong action against them. As for the people who blow the cover, they too have a duty towards the society- to put portray the correct and true picture if the corrupt politicians, businessman and or the official involved.

At the Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat election campaign, personal attacks were made. A Senior State leader was insulted by a young MP. The young leader said that the senior leader was mentally unstable and resembled a monkey. Who appreciates this kind of talk? It just shows bad upbringing and the voter is completely put off by the party which gave the young MP courage to say something like. After all, a person who has been in politics for 50 years demands more respect than shown by the first-timer MP.

It is sad that allegations are carelessly made and it is left to the accused to prove his innocence, in my opinion, if the accuser is proved wrong he should be punished and the media that was instrumental in carrying such fallacious news needs to apologise to the person concerned on the TV.

I is high time that elections are fought on issue based grounds rather than hurling insults and making personal attacks just to score points on a new channel.