Sunday, November 29, 2015

The 'False'man Show

The Truman Show has been a recurring theme here, and here. The movie is a well known one -  with the whole story revolving around one man whose life is made up in order to create a TV show.

From the wiki entry,

To prevent Truman from discovering his false reality, Christof has invented means of dissuading his sense of exploration, the most drastic of which was "killing" his father in a storm while on a fishing trip to instill in him a fear of the water. Christof also floods the channels with news reports and commercials about the dangers of traveling, and television shows about how good it is to stay at home. The actor that played Truman's deceased father sneaks back onto the set as a homeless man, but is whisked away as soon as Truman notices him. Despite Christof's control, Truman has managed to behave in unexpected ways, in particular by falling in love with an extra, Sylvia, known to Truman as Lauren, instead of Meryl, the character intended to be his wife. Though Sylvia is quickly removed from the set and Truman marries Meryl, he continues to secretly pine for 'Lauren'. Sylvia becomes part of a "Free Truman" campaign that fights to free him from the show and to reveal his identity.

This is how media controls our life.

Or controlled it - until the internet and social media. They showed us the 'right' kind of news,  kept us away from the news that may hurt their narrative, created a set of intellectuals we would admire, demonised another set of intellectuals who were challenging the system. There is a larger story there, by virtue of our education have been colonized, history sanitized and perhaps even the actual story of the freedom struggle narrowed down to one set of people with the other set being reduced to side characters.

So, in their narrative, the majority Hindu religion of the country is a bad religion - that often puts its minorities into trouble. Any news that adds up to this is trumpeted and any news that does not (and these days most of the news does not) is suppressed. So, Hindu godmen are bad. Christian and Muslim fathers and imams are perfect. Hindu festivals have campaigns against them - either they are patriarchal (Karva Chauth) or polluting (Diwali, Holi, Ganesha) or both. Some of the customs are sought to be ridiculed - actually most are. There is never a word on any religions festivals in a bad light.

All riots are caused by Hindu majority - and even when there is evidence to the contrary, this is not brought out. Recently, in the last few years, there have been so many communal incidents of the 'secular' kind and our media has kindly kept them away from us. In Kashmir - which honestly, is the only incident in the country where the majority (guess who) has ensured that the minority has been terrorized into leaving their homes - is never highlighted to push their narrative forward.

They created a set of intellectuals who we were supposed to admire - while the others like Subramaniam Swamy, Gurumurthy, Bhyrappa were supposed to communal. Why, many of our reporters,  writers, Bollywood actors (only those who sell the snake oil of communal Hindus) are supposed to be intellectuals.

The common factor was that all these subscribe to leftist belief systems - among other things. Even our history has been slanted to further this narrative.

I can go on and on.

Except that social media has been successful in breaking the monopoly of this narrative.

The current intolerance debate - a manufactured one at that - which everyone in the room is able to see - mainly thanks to social media is one such example.

Every video that the media puts out (selectively edited) has been countered by an unedited clip which shows how the media lies. Every tweet that the media puts out - is countered by a response by the same media when the tables are turned (for example, when they threaten to sue bloggers that is freedom of speech, but when someone counters them they are trolls or bullies). And so on.

So, well, media, the days of your 'False'man show have ended. Social media will challenge you at every step. Get used to it...

Oh intolerance...

The tolerant folks of the country, are telling us that we are intolerant. To prove their tolerance, they have been using, hold your breath, not tolerance, but intolerance. 

Vikram Sampath - who was organizing the Bangalore Literature Fest - who held views that were not acceptable to the tolerant had to step down to prove his intolerance and their tolerance - whereas in reality it should have been vice versa. 

A TV anchor who shouts much about tolerance asked a renowned and reputed historian to take back a word that he had learnt through his scholarship and he refused. Now if the anchor was tolerant, would she have done that? Who is tolerant and who is intolerant?

People returned their awards protesting against intolerance. A larger section has not returned. Is it a question of numbers - this intolerance? 

Or it it based on what superstars who make billions feel? Or what?

These are just a couple of examples on how this manufactured dissent has snowballed into a faux agitation...

And the intolerant who are claiming intolerance want our country to be a place...

Where the mind fears them and wants some heads to be bowed low, 
where knowledge is owned and distributed by them, 
where the world has been broken up into fragments defined by them
where they build those narrow walls
where words come out from the depths of falsehood, 
where tireless publicity results in stretching its arms towards donations,
where the only stream of reason should be their murky stream
into the dreary desert sand of dead habit,
where the mind is led forward by only those who are certified
into ever narrowing thought and action,
in that heaven of despondency, they want our country to awake...

(apologies to Rabindranath Tagore)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

A note to Namo Supporters

Its all over social media these days. The very same set of people who assiduously supported Narendra Modi in his nothing less than historic 2014 victory are now tut-tutting his chances for 2019.

Yes, it has been a turbulent 18 odd months for this government. For the most part, it is due to no fault of theirs. They have done the right things - tightened up processes, left less scope for discretion, opened up industries, worked on development (electricity, cities, transport), ramped our foreign policy engagement, kept Pakistan on a tight leash, engaged with the neighbours, worked on improving internal security.

But the media has been shouting with its own agenda. There are no guesses as to whose agenda is the media playing. The media is playing to the person who owns their precious ecosystem. The ecosystem which gave them sources - sometimes resources. Which allowed them to lobby for positions, spin - why some journalists are 'dealers' or 'wheeler dealers'. They own companies which get lucrative contracts. Some are family members of the ecosystem party. They used to get free foreign trips both from the government and sometimes from an 'ISI marked Fai'. All in all, life was good.

Now, Modi has broken this ecosystem. Broken, but not completely. Because the same channels which throw muck on the government is rewarded with government ads, interviews from top ministers. Modi himself has been praising them, attending their functions.

So, there is good reason that they are shouting. They shout that Modi is not doing enough. He is not talking enough. That the communication strategy of the government is all wrong (and maybe there is some work required there).

But to take all this noise and feel despondent as a supporter on SM is a little too much.

Think about it.

Most of the agenda driving has been aimed at Modi (and Amit Shah). As a social media supporter, what you see and experience is a fraction of fraction of wrath that Modi has been at the receiving end of the ecosystem. Of course, this is nothing new to Modi - who has been at the receiving end of this ecosystem - from fake cases to bought witnesses to slander to insinuations to abuses from eminent people who once ruled the country to security threats.

And yet, he did not give in then and he has not given in now. Giving in, would mean capitulation - which is what the ecosystem wants. The way that Vajpayee was brought down from the inside - is not possible since there are very few moles.  So, interesting old but new, improved strategies are being used to distract him from jailing the crooks, going after the corrupt among other things.

If Modi can stand this for over 12 years, why cant we stand by him for 5 years?

Sure, he can do more and he will. Right now, no one, not even his worst enemies can argue that he is not doing the right things. There are many more things that he wants to push - but Parliament (led by stateswoman of the ecosystem is not cooperating). Even here he could have taken the easy route of 'deals' or 'CBI inquiries' but he has not. He is trying it the hard way of winning elections, getting the numbers and moving the needle...

So, we need to stand by him...because nobody else has and nobody else will...

Is Technology making us dumber?

The latest question being asked in intellectual circles is this. They don't mean, technology like washing machines and baking ovens - though it could get there as well. They mean technology like whatsapp and Facebook and all that.

Did TV make us dumber? You bet. The 80s were the idiot box generation. Hours lost because people sat in front of boxes that emitted electrons and newspersons that spouted nonsense. This, apart from tele serials and the like.

Did newspapers make us dumber? Yes, the leftist liberal claptrap that has been drilled into our heads is primarily because of the news we were fed when we grew up.

Yet, one can argue that both TV and newspapers also made us smarter. Because, for one, it made us aware. And two, there were good articles and programs that did make sense.

Ditto for books - much before TV - there were books. One can safely argue that not all the books printed are worth reading (and I don't mean textbooks).

But books did make us smarter? Without doubt. And there are books which continue to make people dumb - and those books are not even banned.

Truth be told, this has nothing to with technology and making people dumb. Hitherto, people sat in front of idiot boxes, watched programs, believed most of it, talked to their neighbors, shared it in post morning walk conversations or spoke about it over lunch tables in offices...

Today with whatsapp and Facebook, they post it on the internet (yes, the internet is making us dumb) or on whatsapp groups (which are really extended conversations with family, friends, random people etc).

Trouble with posting this on the internet is that the sanctity of narratives are being questioned. Earlier, in those good old days we believed anything that was printed. Not any longer. We also believed anything they said on TV. Not any longer. Why? Because for every article they write, there are countless rebuttals. For every clipped video that they air - there are citizen sourced videos that people put up - so that people can see the truth for themselves.

Today when a superstar claims intolerance, people express themselves (earlier also they did - but in closed circles). Today they express their feelings on the internet. That, by the way, is social media. Get used to it. They also, see what the superstar said last year and what he is saying now - and they ask him - rightfully - hey what changed. They also see soldiers dying on the front for our security and liberals outraging about ink attacks - and they question it - rightly so. They see news anchors (journo tycoons) take positions - that contradict their own tweets from a few months ago. They see media building up fear mongering - and question it. They also see media holding up Rahul Gandhi as an icon of intelligence  and they question  it.

This is what bothers our intellectuals.

Earlier, they spoke and we believed them. Often, because they spoke, we were ashamed of what we thought. They set the narrative and we believed them. Today, social media questions that and these faux intellectuals are upset.

Instead of saying "Is technology making intellectuals upset" it is now framed as "Is technology making us dumber".

Fire burns - can also be used for cooking. Internet has junk  - but you can also learn from it. TV is useless on all counts. Newspapers carry enough junk that I don't want my kids to see - and a few good articles. One can argue that any technology is dangerous and making us dumber.

No it is not. Depends on how you use it. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Deja vu for NDA

To the NDA under Modi government,

The Lutyens liberals will not let you rule peacefully like they never allowed Vajpayee. Just before Delhi there were some loud noises around Church attacks. Just before Bihar, there was loud noise, not about church attacks - but about a lynching that happened - not in Bihar, but in UP. And its Chief Minister got a free pass and you got blamed.

There is a pattern here as we saw during Vajpayees tenure. First distract you and your government with all sort of things like the above. And more important, repeat this so that the people get distracted. And the swing voters will not swing. And while they press for you and your government to respond to this nonsense, the opposition continues its way ahead in canvassing for the elections. This is classic distraction strategy.

What happened in Bihar - is basically an extension of what happened in Delhi and what will happen in UP for 2017. Note - trial balloons have been floated for their favorite Chief Minister already. 

First the so called opposition will unite. Then they will distract the swing voters and create a loud noise demanding that the Prime Minister do this and do that and so on. And this was just the beginning, there may many other events that may get orchestrated.

Note: Even as I speak, the veterans have already been roped with an eye on Punjab.

So,what can be done?

1. Take off that Statesmanitis garb of yours. And gloves. And kick some political ass. Announce fast track corruption courts. Get the corrupt into jails. That will ensure visibility of the government. Open other pending cases - there are tons of them inside. Let loose classified files - like the Henderson report.  (Remember Congress never suffers from an attack of statesmanitis. Vajpayee succumbed to statesmanitis. You needn't - you have staved off the vultures during the Gujarat tenure.)
2. Have strong leaders in every state - Raman Singh, Shivraj Patil and Raje are not enough. Fadnavis was a good discovery. But Bihar had no credible name. Ensure that there is a name for UP/Punjab now and get them working on the ground now.
3. In your ministry, get rid of underperformers.
4. There are some interesting cases under your radar - including some media houses that seem to love you so much. Also some politicians have left a neat paper trail for your ministries to follow. Fast track every single one of them.
5. Throw out each of your spokespersons and their TV channel visits. Restrict them to a press conference each day. Disregard random people who put the wrong part of their anatomy in front of TV mikes while wearing a BJP badge.
6. And yes, work on getting as much work done as you can with the Lok Sabha majority. As for Rajya Sabha, point #1 will take care of the crooks.

Remember this is just the beginning. Pakistan is yet to deliver a gift to you - like they did for Mr. Vajpayee. Kargil, Kandahar were just Pakistan gifts for the NDA1. They will likely send you another one. And then we all know, how the media will react if something happens along those lines - see this link from 2008 by the venerable Kanchan Gupta. They may not do it - only because you are not pussy footed - and may elicit a stronger than expected response - but the recent episodes should gladden them. They have forced you to make many a statement - and that may embolden Pakistan to try a trick or two.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Pump and Dump - Congress ecosystem explained

There is something known as a 'Pump and Dump' strategy in the stock market. To outsiders like you and me, it is not visible. And it takes a fair bit of investigation to figure this out. But put simply, it works like this:

(from the wiki entry):

that involves artificially inflating the price of an owned stock through false and misleading positive statements, in order to sell the cheaply purchased stock at a higher price. Once the operators of the scheme "dump" sell their overvalued shares, the price falls and investors lose their money. 

This is how it happens in reality. Buy a stock at a low price. Talk up a stock using some information and spin, get a bunch of people to talk about it, buy the stock, create small movements - and keep repeating this cycle till everybody believes in it and then as it attracts more people, the original investors (who bought it at a low price) sell their stock and make money.

Now, cut to the Congress ecosystem. The ecosystem works exactly like this. Sounds a bit like the 'Emperors new clothes' or 'herd mentality'. The spinmeisters will spin the story of the greatness of someone. They will put that into your head through school curriculum, news reports, TV, books, articles, awards - you name it. Until, like the emperors new clothes you (and the population at large) believe it. Because we believed in what we read in newspapers and heard on radio and TV (until recently that is) - and they told us stories that madam wanted us to hear.

How it works: First one person in the ecosystem will go ga-ga over Ms. X. Ms. X will almost always toe the party line for anything. Or Ms. X will be related to someone who directly helped Congress or indirectly helped Congress. Or both.

Sooner or later X is praised by Y. Y writes a foreword for a book written by X. Z takes an interview on TV. P writes about it. Q nominates X as the chief of some organization. And then X, Y, Z, P, Q repay this favor to each other and to the madam at the top. Multiply this over a 100  or a 1000 across generations and see what you get.

Many of the idiots who you used to admire are all part of this industry.

Take anybody in that ecosystem and you will find that this works. A Congress Padma awardee for example, would have by and large served Congress interests - see so called journo-tycoons awarded. A writer would have among other things - written something like Indira Charisma (I kid you not).  A sportsperson (there are exceptions here mercifully) - may be used by Congress to campaign.

Things were not always this bad. But especially in the last 10 odd years of UPA, everything has been politicized.

And Rahul Gandhi and Sonia epitomise this. Lets see.

Sonia does not give a single interview - not a single interview given in 10 years. Nobody questions Sonias education (but they all question Rabri Devis education) or her knowledge or her leadership skills. The media has created an aura of mystery around someone who is barely seen making any sense beyond prepared speeches.

Cut to Rahul. Rahul gives 1 interview and flubs it so badly that people reproduce it with comedy tracks. He has been spotted reading from chits. He has been spotted given incoherent answers - the kind of answers my third standard teacher would have laughed at me for poor comprehension - even to kids - let alone competent adults. He has not been spotted saying anything meaningful beyond a sentence or two. He has been spotted copying out notes into a visitor books. And our popular press - which is a rabid part of the ecosystem - has always sung the Congress scheme of things every time Rahul launches yet another photo opportunity as part of building up his image. (This Humpty Dumpty won't stick.). We have known that people have walked out of his rally before he even begins to talk - we are never shown the reality of the 'crowds' - thin at best that dot his rallies.

Thankfully, Social Media exists to poke holes in the air balloon of the ecosystem. because the ecosystem will never ever point out the emperors new clothes - except that the social media doesn't waste time. Rahul Gandhi jokes dot whatsapp. His memes take over twitter (in a comedian sort of way). His speeches and some extremely warped dialogues (Escape velocity, Power is poison, I spoke to my mother) are subjects of satire and sarcasm. Even his interview was wildly dissed on social media, but our great press - well, what they called it you go and read.The moment he gives a prepared speech - they actually tweet similar things. The moment he goes off on yet another of his tangents - they actually croon, oh, Rahul and the revival of Congress.

Oh wait, thats the pump. Whats the dump? And then when things go against the Congress ecosystem, as it often does - these pumped up intellectuals (most of them) rise up in defence of the Congress. They shill for them. Under-report scams they commit. Put innocuous questions when it comes to Congress crimes (Where is the fraud?). And smoothly, ever so smoothly deflect Congress politician criticism to either all politicians  (People blame politicians) or blame it all back on you and me (National shame). If a Congress minister or MLA commits a crime, the party name is cleanly whitewashed...

And like in these days - these idiot intellectuals for hire are pretending that it is an emergency. Except that it is not - and the only emergency that happened was under their glorious leader.

Thats pump and dump for you!

A perfect echo chamber, until Social media created a sound of its own...where you the dump is quickly flushed down the drain. 

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Peddling victimhood

Recently, unless you have your head in the sand in a desert, India media has been fighting a battle. A fake battle. A battle where it has created its own straw man and is now spending time demolishing this straw man. The straw man argument is that India is intlolerant. And to aid this, some useful idiots have gone up on TV (or newspapers) and claimed victimhood.

The list is long and I have a few examples here.

A famous film actor - hailed as the finest - winner of national awards - claims that he is a victim.

Another famous film personality - known for some bad acting - but winner of several awards, owning a huge piece of real estate in a very expensive part of the country claims he is a victim.

An ex police commissoner - who is respected for bringing down many a gangster and terror network - and decorated with awards - claims victimhood by writing articles in newspapers.

Another film personality, who has converted from her erstwhile religion and now gives sermons to others on tolerance (despite following a non-secular approach at home) - has come out stating how much intolerance is there in this country.

(There is a bit of a deja vu here. Many years ago, a famous cricketer - who was a fine wristy player, came under betting allegation - played the victimhood card and now runs for elections as a pastime.)

All of the above are limousine liberals - these people are idolized by the general public for the talents and their contribution to India. If there was victimhood, they would  not be able to succeed - they would have been driven out of their homes, they would have had to hide - but hey, these are well to do folks who have made it big in Indian society on their own steam - like anybody else.

So, well, here is how India treats these victims. It elevates them. Awards them. People idolize them. Pay to watch their shows using their hard earned money. It gives them a level playing field. Gives some of them national awards. And at the end, instead of being grateful to the country and the audience or working on real issues, what do they do? They peddle victimhood.

But here is the thing, dear victimhood peddlers. There are victims like you and there are real victims.

By elevating your faux concern to the level of the real victims you do a grave injustice to the real victims of India. There are real victims - of corruption, of caste, of religion, of gender, of political high handedness, or bias.

By equating (or attempting to equate) the fact that your food served in a five star restaurant had less salt to the hunger of the man of the street who had no food, you are committing a grave injustice to the real victims and making a mockery of their tragedy.

And oh, by the way, there is another film personality who is taking these idiots on - whose family was  driven out of his home as part of a religious movement - and who has made it big in the industry and who has not yet claimed victimhood. That person is Anupam Kher.

Well, thank you Anupam Kher for calling out the idiots out on this one...

Media and the human mind

Many years ago, there was just television channel in India. So, everybody watched the same things. On Sunday evening, there was a special Hindi movie that would be screened. Most of India (atleast the part that understood Hindi) would watch it.

So, the next day when we went to school, the topic of discussion was always the previous evening movie or program. If you missed that news, you were left out.

Times have changed. There are numerous channels. There are channels for sports - if you want to avoid news. There are news channels, if you want to avoid music. There are channels in your own language. Simply speaking, media no longer controlled your mind.

However, if you watched the news channels - by and large - they all say the same thing - atleast the English media channels do. The newspapers also by and large all report the same news in the same way. So, while we have a number of media channels - they all say roughly the same thing.

Almost all of our news channels (the English ones) have a very strong left liberal bias. As do our newspapers. So if you grew up reading a newspaper - it is very likely that you subscribe to the view - without even you knowing it.

Which is probably why a lot of us start off with a leftist viewpoint of life - until at some later point you question a few aspects behind it. That is tough - because the matrix all around will paint you as stupid, uncool or dumb if you try to get out of it. This is why I believe that leftism is a lazy belief system. (More on this again - later).

So, if you noticed, ever since May 2014, the media has been after the NDA government.

They have used a set of words to create a subliminal messaging in your head that the government is promoting intolerance - that there is an atmosphere of hate - and have consistently carried articles and interviews to 'confirm' their viewpoint. This is so perfectly orchestrated that one would think that there is just one media channel in India.

Except that there is social media - which brings the alternate viewpoint. And like in NDA 2004, media has singing its favorite songs - that this government is bad. Except that unlike then, social media is calling out the nautanki of the people who are at it. These are the same guys who were well fed by the Congress ecosystem - who have taken many a favor from the Congress and are connected to its ante-chambers. These are the same people who get awards from the ecosystem. And everybody knows them. Thankfully, by this time, media has damaged its credibility - most people don't believe media any more.

But the moment you see something on media - question it. Once you question it, scratch the surface, you will get better answers...