Saturday, January 08, 2005

Moving On....

Is god angry with us? I really do not know the answer to that one. But I reckon with the human race growing at the rate it has been things will only get worse. By this I mean that the number of people killed in such disasters will just continue to rise. I guess that in a weird metaphysical sort of way this is a way for Gaia to control population, but I guess such a statement would be seen as cynical. Of course, this does not mean we forget what happened, and we should continue to contribute, but without being cynical, lets be honest, another few thousand people will die in cyclones and floods and what not.
We cannot prevent such stuff from happening, short of living on the moon. But, we should be prepared better for them. Instead of the government promising jobs for the rural poor which will ineviatbly lead to corruption, a la Congress, do the small things to stop dramatic floods in Bihar, protect the eastern seaboard from terrible cyclone damage. Do something to make sure that Bombay doesn't shut down for a week during the monsoon.
Anyway, moving on, I hope people noticed the most dramatic of today's articles in the papers. naren, your paper carried it on the edit page. And guess what it was the most damning indicment I have read in a long time. I mean Suhel is a nice chap and all that, he likes the social life, writing in newspapers and is one of NDTV's favourite 'shoot a quote' personalities, but by god did Amar Singh do a aisi ki taisi on him today. Friggin' hell, that was good.
Sadly, HT has made their website a paysite. Hello, people if I want news that bad - I mean if I am desperate I'll go to Indiatimes. But, it is more likely that I will go to Rediff. Even the NYT and WP are not pay and HT does not exactly have the contents of The Economist. If it the wies I want to read I'll check out the wires. May a thousand poxes befall the person who did that, and I will try to access the article on another site. I'm sure someone has it.
Pay sites make me pretty angry, kind of goes against the grain of democratisation of news. What the hell, even my company has a pay site. I mean, I can forgive 'Medianet' since it at least prevents journalistic corruption, but paid websites are pure evil. the eviliest of evil things to do.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

The Tsunami

Hari Warrier, a colleague, friend and pranic healer wrote this.

The toll is mounting everyday. Tsunami Sunday has shaken us out of our slumbers like 9/11 never did. There is something about disaster which brings out the best in man – and the worst. So we have a virtual flood of aid and relief materials pouring towards the affected areas. There are touching stories of man sharing food with his pets, schoolkids launching collection drives, lots of people all behaving very nobly.
Parallely, there are tales of looting of villages as men with small hearts and smaller minds try to make hay while bodies rot. But that is man for you – an imperfect animal if there ever was.
The question everyone is asking is, Why? Why did this happen? For what fault are these lakh and a half people, many of them innocent children, dead? Is God angry with us? But isn’t God supposed to be forgiving, benign, benevolent, loving? And anyway what great wrong could kids have done? No less than an archbishop has sadly raised the question: does God exist, for heaven’s sake?
It is like this.
God is an all-loving, benevolent parent, sure. But the thing is, He can see through our little bodies, and see us for the souls that we really are. Whatever happens is for the best – for our soul, not the body.
Hoy! you say. So now we have to believe not only in an invisible god, but this soul nonsense as well.
Just bear with me a little The people who died in the tsunami were paying karmic debt. Does that mean they were all bad guys in past lives? Well, we ALL are bad guys, past life or this life. Karma is not about past only, it is also about the present. Every time we reject God, or curse our neighbour, or cheat on our spouse, or yell at our kids, or under-declare our income to the government, we are incurring bad karma. It all adds up.
Karma is gobbledegook, you say. I am out of here.
Well, your soul would dearly love to be out of here. But the truth is that it is stuck with this body, and all unholy nonsense that the mind dishes out. It is not the body that has a soul attached to it, but the soul that is shackled to body. The soul is like the chap who wants to race ahead, but is hampered by a heavy suitcase that is the body. As karma adds up, so does the weight of the suitcase. Pity the poor soul.
And another little matter: we are all part of God. That is, we have our existence IN God. There is no plural for God. What about the Hindu pantheon? Well, it consists of Devas or Devtas – who are, in simplistic terms, beings higher than the human form, but still not God. Everything, simply everything, has its existence in God, call Him Krishna, Allah or Christ (at that, Christ never claimed to be God. It was always ‘son of God’).
So why did the tsunami happen? Why does any Act of God happen?
Why, simply because this earth that we take so much for granted, is also a part of God, a living thing. A very small part (we are miniscule, nano stuff...). And like all other living things, earth too goes through cycles of catharses.
Every day, in our unthinking, uncaring way, we fill her up with our crap, our plastic wastes, and God alone knows what else, which earth ingests uncomplainingly. But there comes a time when earth too retches, throws up. And God arranges things in such a manner that some good can come out of such cataclysms – a few thousand souls manage to get rid of their bodies, a few million can donate a day’s pay, a few dozen perform acts of heroism of which they would not have believed themselves capable...
Notice, the Nicobar tribals seem to have come out of the tsunami without much trouble? Animals in wildlife sanctuaries have survived. And domestic animals, which got inkling of trouble brewing hours before their sense-benumbed ‘masters’, simply wandered away to safety. Most of them, at least. So even the devastation was choosy. Those who did not need to die, survived. Miraculously, even seven days later, floating back ashore riding cusions and broken doors.
What is the lesson? That we must return to primitive way of life? Wouldn’t that be ideal? No housing loans, no job insecurity, no college grades to worry about... But that is not feasible. What is the next best alternative?
Why, remember God at all times. Remember Lord Krishna’s little homily to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra? Perform your duties without any expectations, without any attachment. Do your stuff, and forget it. Neki kar, aur kuen mein daal.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you go out and kill your neighbour and ‘forget all about it’. Because in other parts of the Gita, Krishna has spelt out what is right and what is wrong – which anyone with rudimentary intelligence can figure out. Don’t lie. Don’t kill. Don’t cheat. Etc etc. And at the end of it all, like Kabir put it, Dukh mein sumiran sab karen, such meing kare na koi, jo sukh mein sumiran kare, dukh kahe ko hoi?
Translated, if you remember God in good times, why should there be bad times at all? Why indeed? Pity, then, that the first reaction of many tsunami-hit seems to be to reject God outright. But then, we’re still carrying that suitcase – thanks to our power to ‘reason’.
The mind is like a muddy pond (have you heard the analogy of the beautiful lotus that lives in the dirty pond? The lotus is the soul, but what is the dirty water? The mind, obviously). We need to allow the mud to settle down before we can see to the other side. The more we think, the more we agitate the water, preventing clarity. And the more thoughts we create, the dirtier the pond gets... Difficult, from the bottom of a pond like that, to see the lotus floating on top, no? We need to still the water that is mind, allow the dirt to settle down, before we can see the lotus, and understand the meaning of incarnate life. Which, of course, is where meditation comes in...
But for centuries, we’ve been living it up like there is no tomorrow. We’ve been busily improving our little material lives, discovering the wheel and then inventing automobiles to drive and crash into innocent people, discovering electricity and inventing electric toasters and washing machines so that we have even more time to live it up (with less effort), splitting atoms and then inventing the bomb. One shudders: if we ‘discover God’, to what use will we put Him?
To Acts of God against enemy nations? Help us, God. Please.


Journalism 101, for those who never knew it.
Unfortunately, I do not think too many of these questions are being answered nowadays, rather, many of thesequestions are not even being asked. How many times have I seen a press release go almost verbatim in the pages of a national daily? Way too many. How do I know? Simple, most guys can't write to save their lives.
In fact, most journalists are totally dumb fugwits. Not implying that I am not a dumb fugwit over here, my boss certainly thinks I am.
Anyway, back to the point, attending press conferences are a freaking pain thanks to certain people. Let me take the typical business press conference. You have a dude on stage who you can question about high-technology or something, but noooooo, someone will ask, "How much are you investing in India?" or "How many people will you employ?" Better still, someone will make a huge philosophical comment on something like "the common man", and why he should be allowed to buy a Terracan. I kid you not, when Hyundai launched the Terracan SUV for the stupendously miniscule price of Rs 19 lakhs, there was a fugwit who did not want to know why someone should buy the car, but how the freaking common man can afford it! Buddy, get something straight, there is no "common man" or "general public", however that is a point I concede to Naren to explain.
And then there are freeloaders. For years on end I have noticed a bearded chap at Press Conferences, and I am sure most journalists have and no-one has any clue who this chap is. But, he isn't half as bad as some of the other folks who only attend for the gifts they will get at the end. Whatever they might be, even a sad little pen. If they don't get it, they, well, fight. They fight for their right to freeload. Fair enough, I understand that half these chaps work for a pittance or work in some paper I would never have even heard of, but that doesn't exactly excuse you does it.
Anyways, there will be more invites sent out. So guys, in case you're invited just contribute please.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Heeding the call

Oh K!

If only you would emerge from the shadows and reveal your larger than life self would things get interesting around here. In the meantime people with a lot less sense -- like me -- will have to post using real identities.

Then again, isn't it all about identity. Aren't we, as reporters or editors or whatever, creating an identity for ourself. An identity that we sustain and help grow by living a certain way, talking a certain lingo, choosing to believe in certain things.

Journalism as an identity immediately raises a whole lot of interesting things to talk about .. Off the top of my head, the identity crisis we are going through. Who is a journalist? What is a journalist?

I don't think we can turn to the old guard for answers. They cut thier teeth in a different world. Thier sensibilities were developed in the days of the license raj. For them, in my limited understanding, a lot of journalism seems to be about license -- the license to know, to do something et all.

Which means that we had better do some thinking on our own. And then we could try and frame sentences based on those thoughts in private/public forums like this one or during one-on-one meetings.

Of course, for all that to happen more people will have to start blogging. Any takers?


This blog is not about defending the inadequecies of the big media houses in India. Every one of them has a problem, and since I, and I guess virtually all the fellow contributors I will invite work in the so-called 'big media' houses of the country we'll just use this space to vent. Because, god knows how much you want to vent sometimes - at editors, owners and even fellow journalists.
In fact, I will subscribe to the view espoused by some other bloggers in India when they talk about the dumbness of Indian journalists. True, most of them are dumb, very dumb. This does not mean that I am appointing myself a member of the intelligent lot. No, not at all. I've done my fair share of extremely dumb and stupid things while in the profession and some people say that I am a natural in the job. Of course, development would have been helped if certain editors instead of mollycoddling up to corporates and in certain cases every single restuarant in town would have been in office. Nope, I guess they thought banging women in PatPong was more important than running a newspaper. Who knows? I am just a measly correspondent.
The basic objective of this blog for those of us who earn their bread by selling our souls to 'Big Media' - be that the Jain's, Poorie's, Roy's or Bhartia's can defend some of the decisions that we take and some of the storis that we do. This is not however a public board. You wanna take part drop me a mail at
Oh, and if you are wondering, who the hell I am, I'll let that bit pass till I really need to come out in the open. Till then let me get a bit musty in the closet and enjoy my time.
Take care and keep visiting!