The Making of a Revloution

It was 8 am on Friday. I had just retired on a borrowed bed at a friend’s place, after my weekly editing night out in office, when the phone rang. It was my boss.

“We have to something on this Anna thing yaar, it’s a revolution in making”

I was just about to reason out why this wasn’t a revolution when the voice on the other end boomed, “This is the first time since 26/11 that people like you and me, the common Indian, is raising his voice against a totally corrupt system. Be there at Shivaji Park and make sure you do a half hour on this.”

After this, I realized there was no point in arguing, and thought that this might actually turn out to be revelation… Probably I would uncover something I did not already know… And in all senses of the term, it did turn out to be a revelation.

The Revelation(s)

I went for Rang De Basanti style candle light vigil, at the Gateway of India, and the first thing that struck me, was that the march was in the opposite direction… not towards the Gateway, but on the opposite side, with the Gateway in the background.
I was muttering this to myself, and wondering what could be the reason, when the answer came from the ‘Fraternity’.

“This would give us a better view. You can have the Gateway in the background, it would make for a better picture. Moreover, here they have constructed these platforms so that we can stand over the crowds, and we can have the lighting also.”

He turned out to be absolutely right. The pictures were definitely more grandiose, and with part time activist-actors leading the charge, it was more dramatic too.

The rest of the evening was along expected lines, with the usual slogan shouting match on, till, somebody turned up with a megaphone. He was a 25 something , a ‘something’ which my boss calls, ‘The Face of New India’. Dressed in a ‘Being Human’ t- shirt, donning the Gandhi cap, he decided that the mass should sing Vande Mataram. And so he started, in his voice hoarse from the shouting match.

Vandeaaaaaaaaaah Maaaaaaataram

He was desperately trying to hit the right notes, till somebody pointed out; he was trying to sing the Rehman version. He put the megaphone aside, turned around, and asked in a hushed tone

‘What is the tune for the original one? I can’t remember it.’

Handling the Media
So while the crowd was trying to figure out the tune for Vande Mataram, I sauntered to the end of the ‘Gateway’ enclosure, and bumped into a group of students from a famous management school. Since, I had the ubiquitous trade tool in my hand [the Boom Mic], the first thing that they asked me was for my contact number, and then, if I could cover a seminar in which some hot shot businessman was the chief guest.

“But isn’t this supposed to be about Anna Hazare and the Jan Lokpal Bill?”

“Yes, yes, we are for that only”, said one, quickly changing his tone “We have been coming here for the past three days”

So, I did my customary duty of getting ‘bitten/byten’. The jingoistic sound bytes do sound good on air, and these guys seemed to fit the bill to a T.

But as we continued chatting, they confided a major reason for them turning up for the ‘march’ was to get in touch with the Media… They were first year students, and had been given the responsibility of ‘handling the Media’.

Jumping the Queue
So, while the drama was drawing to a close, those ‘in-charge’ were busy deciding their ‘dinner’ plans.

“Let’s go to Jazz by the Bay”

“Today, is Friday yaar, there would be a cover charge. And then there would be a mad rush for tables”

“Chill dude, I have a friend there… No cover charge for us, and we can jump the queue!”

The Day it all Ended
So finally at breakfast time on Saturday, Mr. Hazare broke his fast. And here at Azad Maidan in Mumbai, the crowd jumped in joy, and the ‘Fraternity’ was gripped by collective madness.
I too approached the person who seemed to be running the show.

“Sir, can I have a couple of minutes?”

“You want a byte?”

“Yes. And No”


“I mean I do want a byte, but before I do that, I’d like to talk to you for sometime”

“Ohh! Then you will have to wait. You see there are so any others waiting for me. They have their ‘lives’ on. Let me finish with them first”

So, off he went, jumping from one frame to another. [It was not really jumping, it was more like one step left, and one step right.] And while he was doing this, I realized, it was such a symbolic moment. The entire media world was not only small, but was strikingly similar, towing the same line.

Mood Kharab Kar Diya Yaar
Azad Maidan, was a scene of contrasts that day. On one end of the enclosure was The Hazare Show, and on the other, there was another protest.

A group of women from rural Maharashtra were protesting against the extortionist practices being followed by the Banks. By sheer numbers, theirs was a much larger group, but their voices got drowned in the high decibels bellowing from the ‘Bose’ sound system installed at the other end.

Perhaps, it was too much of a contrast for them to bear. And finally there was a scuffle between the ‘fraternity’ and the ones on the other side. Apparently, one of the women asked a cameraperson to cover their ‘cause’ too, and when he refused saying it was not ‘news-worthy’, she completely lost it.

I had gone out for a smoke, when this happened, and as I was walking in, the sight was horrific. A group of Policemen, had decided to intervene when they saw the scene ‘getting ugly’, and the result: There was this woman, bleeding profusely from the blows of the ‘fibreglass’ lathi, being carried away.

The media, on the other hand, was all one, and did not allow my cameraperson to take any shot of the injured woman. So even though it was there, it would seem as it never happened.

Back at the The Hazare Show, a 30 something remarked, “They spoiled the mood. I am telling you India is going down because of people like them”

In a couple of minutes, it was back to ‘normal’. The show was on, the protest had resigned to its fate.

The Brown Sahib’s Burden
However, the big surprise of the day, was yet to come. The man in charge went on stage, and blared into the microphone.

“Today, is the day of our second Independence”


“Today, is the day of celebration”


“Today, we’ll have a rock concert in the evening, and Kailash Kher would also sing for us”

[Claps all around]

“And tomorrow, we’ll all get together again. We’ll have a car rally. From Shivaji Park to Borivali. Get your cars, and be there tomorrow at 9 in the morning. We want atleast 300-400 cars”

Somebody from the audience, “Bikes? Are bikes allowed?

“Yes, bikes can come too”

“And those without a car?”

“Yes, they can come too. We can accommodate them in our cars”

So, here was a ‘revolution’…

A revolution of the middle class, for the middle class, and by the middle class…
A ‘revolution’ that the middle class, and the middle class dominated media, thought they deserved. And they could not have been more right. When the entire world was looking up to these ‘Faces of New India’ how could they be left behind when it comes to ‘moral highground’?

Or, is it that the middle class thinks it’s beyond scrutiny… They think they have created the New India, and only they have the right to form its laws. They are the guardians, and it’s their land, their rules and their culture.
And as I was contemplating this, the speakers blared again… The rock concert had started, and the ground reverberated with the lines “Mera neta chindi chor hai”…

क्या गीता, क्या वाणी और कुरान
क्या उपनिषाद और क्या पुराण
कहा है खुदा और कहां राम
काबा काशी या गोरखधाम?
कौन है ईसा और कौन कृष्णा
छल-कपट ... है सब तृष्णा

मंदिर मस्जिद और गुरुद्वारे
चारों धाम और तीरथ सारे
शिरडी, अमृतसर और अजमेर
बालू-पत्थर के है ढेर
क्या चर्च और क्या अज्ञारी
हर जगह है पैसों के पुजारी.

भजन कीर्तन और माला
सोना हार और चांदी थाला
रोज़ आता लाखों का चढ़ावा
धर्म को व्यापार बना डाला
होली दीवाली और हर त्योहार
बिकते है मुरली और ऊंकार


....तस्वीरों में रिश्तें नहीं खोते
ख्वाबो में किश्ते नहीं होते
बातों का कारवां न रुकता
कल के सामने आज न झुकता

यादों की ज़रुरत न होती
इतिहास की हैसियत न होती
तारीखों में हकीकत न खोती
खतों की शख्सियत न होती

कैलेंडर से उम्र नापना न पड़ता
घडी से ज़िन्दगी मापना न पड़ता
अख़बारों में 'आपके सितारें' न छपते
हर कोई, हर लम्हा माला न जापता

...वक्त अगर लहरों की तरह होता
तो पल भर के लिए ही सही
तुम तुम होती, मैं मैं होता

Drive Me Crazy!

The new wave of cinema in the Hindi film industry is just a decade old. And within ten years it has matured, and has been able to ably judge the sentiments of the multiplex hopping audience, that is not afraid to test and taste new waters. In the epochal flux through which the entire Indian bourgeosie is going through, has ignited a curiosity for the unknown... both in the external and the internal world. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise to us, that psychological abberations, have caught the fancy of a class that is trying to forge an identity for itself.

It all started with dyslexia, followed by alzheimer's, paraplegia (though not strictly a psychological disorder, but as exotic nonetheless) and now Asperger's Syndrome. For a nation, whose interaction with the workings of a mind, has been limited (in the scientic sense, and not the spiritual), these 'disorders' not only provide a window to the unknown (thereby, giving a sense of adventure...thrill...FUN) but also are foreign in terms of speech, thus, making it exotic.

The exoticity is also conspicuous in the portrayal. Although the films claim to be on and about these disorders, but the truth is that, the aberrations are no better than adornments. Taare Zameen Par was supposed to highlight the trials and the tribulations of a dyslexic child. Though, dyslexia is present throughout the film, its role is not more than that of a side kick. THe film is not about the child, rather it is about the teacher, who understands the fallings of a decadent education system. it would have had hardly mattered had the child not been dyslexic. The film would have had been still able to capture the functioning of the pressure cooker society. Dyslexia,just adds to the glamour, and acts as an sttractant to the 'I am not too sure about my identity, but stil the Master of Myself' type of audience.

In the same manner, Paa, was not about Auro's paraplegia, rather it was a love story gone sour turned sweet by tragedy. Had Auro not been paraplegic, would that have had made any difference to the film? Would the film had been less effective?

And in Karan Johar's latest offering, My Name is Khan, Aspergers' Syndrome is just an adornment. MNIK did not require help from Asperger to underscore the wave of discrimination that has washed the shores of almost every land that has had a rendezvous with terrorism. Aspergers' Syndrone just adds to the glam quotient, and to the 'Dont be a Stupid, Be an Idiot' Janta, this makes for 'intelligent' viewing.

What I am trying to say is that these films would have worked even if they hadn't spent hours scouring a Psychiatrist's Handbook looking for fancy names. And films about the disorders will never work... because these disorders are afterall diseases, and diseases are not glamourous. Such filmmakers, will still have to slug it out for a Sunday afternoon slot on DD National to showcase their labour.

'Capital' Conversation

This post is the result of an argument with a colleague.

A Gmail Chat

K: After Dubai, Which is the next blowup???
Me: NSE, BSE. They are on the terror list ;). Who cares? Only a handful of 'Investors'
K: No Everyone has to take care. They are the true indicators of the economy.

The conversation carried on, and both of us presented numerous arguments in support of our own viewpoints. And, as is the fate of all arguments, even this one could not get to a conclusion. However, this never ending discussion did get me ticking.

So, are the Stock Markets real indicators of the economy?

Most analysts, corporates, and my friends from the business media fraternity, will say yes. And then,they will also go on to great lengths, and to great heights, to convince you. Market enthusiasts, often, justify, this statement, by quoting incidents from recent history, and how markets and more or less always preempt...

Join the Dots type of Scenario.


On the first glance, it looks and sounds credulous too. Yes, it does preempt. It did anticipate the Slowdown, and yes it is all set for the revival also. The enthusiasts, in the same breath, will add ten more incidents to the list, and will present before you a very convincing argument.

And now allow me to present my argument. But first, let me share, a little bit of background information, just to make you more comfortable with the questions that would follow. The Dubai Crisis/Crises, effected markets globally on 25/11. For a day and half, markets around the globe, mourned the demise of Dubai, and shed tears in form of points. However, half way through day two, they decided, enough is enough, and started soaring. The analysts, being true to their profession, backed the markets, by saying, that the scale of Dubai's economy is small, and impact of the crisis limited.

And now, a basic question.

If the scale of the crises was small, and the impact limited, then why did the markets crash to begin with?

And why was there a recovery in the markets? Only because the GDP numbers came out, although, it was widely known and accepted that, the stimulus fed industry, would show good numbers (The IIP numbers gave a fair idea about how the industry was behaving under heavy dosage of stimulants)

Thus, can we come to the conclusion that the crash happened, because the Bear Cartel of Brokers needed a fall to cover their shorts, and the crisis in Dubai just gave them an opportunity to pull the markets down. And once the shorts were covered, the market was pushed up again, on GDP numbers.

And this has been the case always. So when, analysts say, join the dots and you'll get the real story, they are, actually stating the truth. Join the DOTS and if you are intelligent enough, you'll see the picture in the picture.

This is inherent to the dynamics of the market.

And what it underscores, is the fact that shares, are always bought to be sold, a far cry, from the concept of becoming shareholders in companies, to 'share' the profit. The mechanism, has completely turned itself upside down> You buy to sell. And stock prices have nothing to do with the state of the company or the profits it is making. That prices are manufactured is a fact universally known, but not acknowledged.

And unlike what 'experts' try and make you believe, Stock Markets are not run by logic and statistics. If that would have been the case, then the most successful players would not have been school drop-outs, who cannot even put two and two together. They are talented, no doubt, but not at what you think, but at what most brokers call, 'timing'. That enigmatic word which is often used to justify the irrationality of the means and the mechanism.

Markets have gained such an important stature across the world because it is the easiest, and the fastest (legal) way to make money. And that is why, the numbers keep on getting bigger and bigger and bigger.And that is also why, the dirt and the murk, keep on getting darker and darker and darker. And that is also why, the arguments in favour of stock markets, keep on getting stronger, and stronger and stronger.

Na Baap Bada Na Bhaiyya, Sabse Bada Rupaiyya.