Playing a morality card

Mumbai’s first moral cop, senior Sena leader and a veteran journalist Pramod Navalkar died Yesterday. His death brought another controversy, interestingly, about another morality issue.

According to a story appeared in today’s Loksatta, even the Sena veteran’s death did not prevent legislatures from going to a late night party in Nagpur where assembly session is currently going on. (Well, conducting a session at Nagpur in winter is meant for partying)

And as per Loksatta reporter’s description, the Sena MLA from Akola Gulabrao Gawande was spotted sharing some old Hindi songs with his colleague in the party. Gawande was reported to have sung “sukh me sab sathi, Dukh me na koi”. Many in the government including some of the senior ministers also attended this, not clear if it was a cocktail, party.

Written on a pious note, a reporter from Loksatta (story is without byline) has given point-by-point account of the party as if he was physically present there. The story also criticized politicians saying despite the demise of senior Sena leader and ex-minister; politicians did not let party down. My Journo friend from Nagpur today told me that there were other few journos present at the party venue.

Now the issue is, this reporter (and other some reporters) did not forget to criticize the politicians but failed to remember that Navalkar was a Journalist too. So wasn’t it duty of journos present there to stay away from the party if morally it was wrong?.

Here, perhaps they played Navalkar.

According to Sujata Anandan, HT political editor, Navalkar himself was ‘rasik’ (fond of good life). His likes include Wine and Woman. And despite all this, the sena veteran always used to play morality card when it came to culture and tradition.

What say...?

Hats off to Prof. Yunus

This morning was simply incredible. In fact last evening too was good for me. It was rare to have an interaction with person like Nobel laureate from Bangladesh Muhammad Yusuf. To know his work and the results that it has borne were all fascinating. On his two-day-long tour to the city, Yunus made many his fans.

Prof. Yunus in all his humbleness described how he managed to bring down Desh’s poverty by 2 % every year. Denied of loan from Central Bank of Bangladesh, this man formed his own Grameen Bank. The motive was to help poor people or rather woman. And the help was by way of micro-finance, which includes lending money and helping that female borrower to start her business so that she would stand on her feet.

And as the work began to unfurl, Grameen bank set some standards. The poorer the person is, more deserving h/she will be for a loan. Also, there won’t be collateral, guarantor or even signing of papers to borrow money.

This was, as professor told us a bunch of reporters, right reverse to the conventional bank. Indeed conventional bank’s first task is to check the financial condition of borrower. And even if you are sound enough to repay the loan, they will make you sign hundreds of papers and ask for guarantor.

But Yunus didn’t ’t just stop here. His bank then began lending money to beggars. And soon one lakh beggars took benefit for this. Today, as Prof. Yunus went on to say, ten thousand beggars have completely abstained begging. Rest ninety thousand have taken begging as part time job with remaining time they utilize in doing small-time business. Another interesting thing in the Grameen Bank’s working system is, it has never waived off any loan. Contrary, if a person has been unable to repay money, Grameen Bank will further give him/her money so that he/she can start her business afresh.

(When I asked Prof. Yunus if loan waiver can be a measure to arrest farmers’ suicides in Vidarbha, his reply, though not India specific, was it can just be a quick fix but not a permanent solution.)

Here while Yunus was recalling his journey towards eliminating poverty, a thought came in my and I am sure everybody’s mind. What must could have been a driving force between Grameen bank, which borrow money without any legalities and poor people of Bangladesh repay it without any reluctance.

As Prof. Yunus proceed, we came to know the fundamentals on which Grameen bank and its customers do business is Trust.

And the driving force behind building that trust is a subtle fear in the mind of people who feel if they don’t repay the money it would be a breach of trust. And then, their ‘Allah’ will not forgive them for such breach of trust.

As the interaction ended, a friend of mine whispered, why doesn't this fellow take on a global task and join institution like World Bank for the welfare of the world. The answer that came was if he joins World Bank, poor would become poorer.

The punch between-the-lines is “World Bank works for rich people and reach countries”.

Not so decent

Gagged after an emergency was clamped, Pakistani media seems to have even forgot to react on the offensive and atrocious remarks used against their own President by a British Daily. The remarks that appeared against Mushrraf in Daily Telegraph’s editorial were totally against the values of journalism.

Mushrraf was twice referred "sonofabitch" (read son-of-a-bitch) or get other dictionary meanings as “scoundrel” or “bastard”. The issue led to ouster of three reporters of Daily Telegraph working in Pakistan. It was actually a result of Pakistan establishment’s strong measures after it failed to get apology from the paper. The UK newspaper, to my knowledge, hasn’t so far reacted on the issue despite Minister for Press at Pakistan High Commission in London Imran Gardezi sending strong protest note to the paper.

And one can’t expect so, so easily. In fact when Briton’s very own PM Tony Blair was referred as “Bush’s poodle” by section of international press, there was no reaction either from Blair himself or any other minister or british daily. So when Briton calls herself true democratic and talks of freedom of expression, so does its press.

Also when it was anticipated that Pak media would strongly react to it, the reactions instead came from the press of arch-rival India while the nighboring press, to the best of my knowledge, maintained mum. HT in its third edit today termed the remarks as “unparliamentary”. HT in fact masked the referrals to maintain one's dignity. Of course I can not do it here in my blog as it would mean further taxing readers to refer links.

I just want to bring out the details and force us everybody to think again that who is truly parliamentary and democratic.

A candid explanation

Statistics hides more than what it reveals…. An old saying came like a preaching for me after I came out from the cabin of additional DG rank police officer, a few days ago. Before stepping out, we discussed the recent Maharashtra crime report. The report had no major change over cases pertaining to Immoral Trafficking (prevention) Act (popularly known as PITA). It suggested slight joggling in numbers of PITA for last few years with around 100 points increase this year.

During my stay in the cabin, I opened this subject to know officer's reaction. I was trying to link those figures with the post dance bar ban scenario. As per my naïve understanding, a ban would have brought rise in the prostitution cases and subsequently in the registration of PITA cases. In absence of any other more effective law to control prostitution, police applies PITA to nab prostitutes, panders or pimps.

Exulted over discovering a very good story angle, I hastily asked the officer, “Sir, your minister would be happy to see no change in PITA cases”. While saying this I was pointing out the heavy criticism poor R R Patil had to undergo through when ban was imposed on all the dance bars in the state. Patil was criticized scathingly from certain quarters that were said to be worried about ‘a ban would invite rise in prostitution’.

The officer; folded hands, smile on face, took couple of second to came back to me. Though ostensibly reluctant, he then told me how statistics sometime butchers the ground level situation. “The action taken in cases like PITA is a preventive one”. (Of course one can’t expect cops to arrest prostitutes after they finish the game with their customers ;) )

The officer the went on to say “Look, when the dance bars were in existence, the record showed around 200-230 cases every year. Now after the ban the number isn’t changed”. He then smiled….and then kept quite.

His mum was a pointer towards an inefficient police force, lack in action curbing prostitution. Otherwise, in this state, how can there be only 200-230 cases every year when prostitution is a rampant activity.

Before leaving his cabin, I was left with nothing but to say, “statistic hides more than what it reveals”.

Its all about ads

It was getting same like Twenty-20. Misbah was full in form. 39 runs in 21 balls was Pakistan’s requirement. And then the adventurous Misbah played that same old misadventures’ shot. Though this time there wasn’t a Mallu Sreesanth to catch the ball, a flick by Misbah again proved suicidal and the ball after touching bat wrecked right through the stumps.

The following batsman played indeed well and India lost the match taking the country into mourning right before Diwali morning.

I was not moved much by the results. What actually caught me irritating throughout the match was heavy doses of advertisements that were continuously bombarded on Doordarshan while the game was on.

After almost every couple of delivery, an ad came pomping. For a moment I thought I was watching an ad-game and not cricket. As per the new system the ads bang right in the one third area of screen while a quarter space holds the game. The avaricious Doordarshan, despite being a government channel, looks like it has sold off itself to advertisers.

It was ludicrous to see a Fevicol ad being Flashed out on screen. It was last minute of the game and Pak needed 1 run in 4 balls with 4 wickets in hand. The killer Afridi hit out the delivery towards boundary and an ad pomped up “chhodana nahi India”(India, Dont leave).
Huh! There was nothing to hold and this Fevicol fellow was still saying "Chhodana nahi India"

The continuous ad-popping forced me to think how will the future matches be on DD.

I fear the unwritten code of showing ads only between the gap of two overs or a wicket falling or any break in game will thin down so much and one day there will be ads only, with games in the small break after ads flow shows slump. I am not pessimist, but I know what I have stated isnt too far to us to see.

There won’t even be tickers running down to give stats. Because there wont be a game to show.
Also read Dilip D'souza's column appeared in HT on Nov. 5 or Kadambari Murli's peice in HT on Oct. 15.