Mumbai (2012-12-31): These are my New Year resolutions. I hope to dutifully keep them. I promise myself that I will really try. I already feel silly listing them because they are actually rules that all reporters should follow but well, we often either forget them or ignore them. Just like those miserable diet plans and food charts. So here is my list:
Mumbai (2012-12-24): “Desh ka yuva yahaan hai, Rahul Gandhi kahaan hai?” rant the air. There were many catchy slogans, shaming politicians and expressing solidarity with the victim of last week’s gang rape on Saturday. Implausible as it sounds, anger against the rapists had turned into anger against the establishment. And this outpouring of grief and anger was done in the heart of the capital, opposite the President’s House, Parliament and the Prime Minister’s office.
Mumbai (2012-12-17): “Sabotage”, he claimed. Rehman Malik was convinced that there was a grand design to sabotage his India visit from the word go. As soon as he landed at Delhi, the vile Indian media posed questions about events in the past. How dare they? Didn’t they know that Pakistan has advised India to forget the past? How dare they insult a guest by asking him vulgar questions about the Pakistan Army mutilating the body parts of Indian soldiers? “That was 15 years ago.” he protested
Mumbai (2012-12-10): She walked in, with some books under her arm, wanting to photocopy her project. The newsroom was buzzing with activity. Wide-eyed, she stopped short and asked me, “Is everything okay, Maami?” “Yes”, I said. It was a regular news-day; we were instructing and taking instructions from each other at very high decibel levels, with a lot of colourful language thrown in. My niece was darting glances at me.
Mumbai (2012-12-03): 1997 was a tumultuous year in Indian politics. In April, the Congress Party had decided Deve Gowda was to be toppled. United Front had to thus choose a new Prime Minister who was acceptable to its picky allies as well as the Congress party. From all State Bhavans, emissaries rushed to and fro — with prospective names, and demands. The fulcrum of action was Andhra Bhavan, where in the eighties, N T Rama Rao had formed the national coalition of non-Congress parties. Now, Chandrababu Naidu, the inheritor of his father-in-law’s legacy started cobbling together a consensus for the next non-Congress Prime Minister. But no agreement could be reached as hours passed by. Late into the night, Inder Kumar Gujral’s name was decided upon simply because he was the least controversial. He did not have a vote-bank and was not a threat to anybody. No one thus objected to his name. He had links with the Congress: so he could be expected to call in favours when needed.
Mumbai (2012-11-26): The terror attack on Mumbai four years ago was supposed to hit India where it hurt the most and hurt it irrevocably. The goal was to shatter India’s dream of being the next economic giant, it was supposed to crush the ambitions of its millionaires, it was supposed to lay nought the hopes and aspirations of its burgeoning middle class. It was supposed to break India’s will and bring it on par with its self-destructive neighbour that was not willing to compete fairly.
Mumbai (2012-11-19): The public outpouring of grief by Shiv Sainiks at the funeral of Bal Thackeray was expected but what was not expected was the restraint and solemnity shown in the past two days by the Dear Departed Leader’s storm troopers. Ever since Thackeray’s failing health reports came in four months ago, there were fears about public expression of uncontrolled grief. Mercifully, there was no violence.
Mumbai (2012-11-12): Owl: Oh my! A flying kabootar in the dead of the night… I thought I would never see this in my lifetime. You seem a traveller, dear pigeon. Who are you?
Mumbai (2012-11-05): It is death by press conferences. There is one almost daily. Beamed live on TV where accusations are hurled against politicians, whether from the ruling party or the opposition, industrialists and random media houses. In trying to get across to saturated TV viewers, new depths are plummeted every evening. The ugliness is unbearable and yet like coke addicts, we consume the ‘stuff’ day in and day out.
Washington (2012-10-29): Not long ago, but now forgotten, in the United States, there was HOPE. And it was Barack Obama who promised it and then embodied it. The year was 2008 when the US was grappling with sinking economy, torn with wars desperate to reverse the pernicious practices of the Bush years. ‘Yes We Can’ and ‘Change You Can Believe In’ were slogans that were the white ray of hope. An American born in Honolulu to a white woman and a Kenyan black man, raised by a strong grandmother, Barack Hussein Obama became the 44th President of the United States defying all odds. With a name like that, he was always the Outsider.
Washington (2012-10-22): This isn’t an election! Where are the posters? Where are the songs? Where are the massive rallies and rath yatras? Where are the music videos and film stars at the rallies? Where are the scandals and tears? Where are the election commission diktats? Seriously, we can teach a thing or two about elections to the Americans.
Mumbai (2012-10-15): It is a true story. Neelima (name changed to protect identity) got married last month to the man of her choice. She married out of her community and caste. My cousin twice removed had broken taboos and all of us silently applauded her. Neelima grew up knowing that her mother had no option but to stay married to her father — the man who had no job and sat at home chewing tobacco, not helping either with the income or with doing chores. As an engineering student in the ’70s, he abused prescription drugs and lost his mental balance. His parents refused to admit that there was something wrong with their handsome son, and asserted that once he was married off, all his ‘problems’ would end. Instead, his problems kept multiplying. He produced three children but couldn’t provide for them. His poor wife was forced to hunt for odd jobs while his parents used up all their retirement funds to sustain their son’s family in the village home. It was a hard life, especially when relatives came visiting. As children we didn’t know how to reach out to Neelima and her younger siblings. The chasm ran deep. We were privileged city cousins who wore shoes and jeans, we spoke fluent English, and we laughed without a care. They didn’t.
Mumbai (2012-10-08): The election carnival is upon us this Puja season. Running parallel with the Navratris, Eid, Deepawali, Gurupurab, and other festivities during the Ashwin and Kartik lunar months, is the campaigning for assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat. Speeches by candidates will be analysed for content and delivery. The crowd sizes of political rallies will be compared. Body language of national leaders will indicate their comfort levels with local candidates, and with their coalition partners. It is not just the poll results. A lot more is at stake here.
|I am the Editor News, at Asian News International (ANI), Indiaís leading Multimedia News Agency and the India Correspondent for Channel News Asia, a Singapore based broadcaster.|
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