Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Out of focus.

I forgot my glasses at home the other day. I've been wearing glasses for over a decade and I've had the most godawful luck with them. I've lost glasses in rivers and deserts, stepped on them by mistake had them broken by stupid goons in school but Monday was the first time I left them at home. And even though I realised this within seconds of stepping onto an autorickshaw, I was already too late to rush home and get them. My power isn't so high that I can't do jack, so office was OK, though people in the distance appeared blurry, but the walk back to Churchgate was weird. I walked down Marine Drive because of the nice breeze and my entire world seemed to overwhelmed by amber. It was like a out-of-focus camera, I mean not too out-of-focus but everything seemed surreal. And then I treated myself to a Baskin Robbin's ice-cream.
That said, life of late has been a bit on the hectic side, fewer posts to complain about the state of the media. But, let me, just for a few lines look at the 'Questions-for-cash' scandal. While I believe that such abuses of democracy need to be brought out into public, this was clear case of entrapment, which is illegal in certain countries. Of course, had the politicians even had half-a-brain to look at the questions that they would ask before they took the money, or even after that, they would have realised the stupidity of it all. All that this will do, is that it will force the average politician to maintain to far more intricate bribe-taking system. Like certain ministers in the government employ their children to be their go-betweens, more people will start doing the same. The power of lobbying has been known for years, if you have ever seen the stacks of parliamentary questions, and I mean stacks, half of them seem to have been written by certain lobby groups.
Lobby groups for years have paid politicians with cash, wine and women, not just in India but across the world. I have always had this slightly weird opinion of 'Sting' operations. Now, in the case of the corrupt Delhi Police cop who asked a family for money to release a body, the money was asked for first - Undie TV then did a great job exposing the person. But India TV's silly expose of the casting couch was derided and rightly so because it was a TRP gimmick. Star News' 'discovery' that film-actresses sell their bodies (ratherB-grade actresses who pay their way into music videoes) for money was also an open secret. Putting it on TV serves little purpose.
What really baffled me was the piddly sums of money involved. Piddly. A question for Rs 5000? Man, I'm embarassed. And another question, obviously these 11 weren't the only ones targeted, I'm sure several others were on the hit-list too, but might have been a bit smarter than to take cash on camera. Again, the problem with such a story is what you don't see on camera. Who were the honest ones who NISMA to screw-off? Who the hell facilitated the deal? Unless you know the pimp, you don't know the story. Too many unanswered questions. And more questions are being posed everyday.
Many on the Indian blogosphere feel kicked because their names were used on one question, and because of that no-one has been questioning critical issues. However, no-one's been asking the questions that only the mainstream media seems to have been asking? Of course, this will die down in a few days, these politicians will be suspended for a couple of weeks and we'll be back to hunky-dory. Sigh! As I said, the only lasting impact of this sting operation will be a dramatic change in the bribe taking infrastructure of this country.
Dubner and Levitt of Freakonomics fame have written a brilliant article for the NYT!

8 comments:

thalassa_mikra said...

K, do you know of specific countries where such entrapment is illegal? It would be interesting to know what sort of history prompted such legislation.

4WD said...

Yea. My problem with it is that the sting has stung mostly bjp guys. More cannon fodder to the cong. It doesn't say what percent of empees fell for it. And it had no method to it.

cobrapost clearly says that they only went where the middlemen took them.

S said...

Hey am getting addicted to your blog. Am not a blogger but bumped into your link via a friend's. Its' interesting to read peppery "inside stories", becoz I am from HT too. Keep pouring..

Anonymous said...

Even in the Cobrapost Durodhana sting many MPs are seen asking money. "Pachas nahin to chalis", "election main 10-15 lakh aana chahiye," etc. Entrapment for a sting op that is in public interest should be fine. There's no way you can actually prove that an actual lobby paid for such-and-such question. So a sting of this sort, I think, is justified.

Not many knew that questions are bought by lobbyists, so what if you did, considering you are a busines journo.
S.

Suresh said...

The DNA edit that you point to, could it have something to do with DNA being owned by Zee and the Cobrapost sting being aired on Aaj Tak?

K said...

"Not many knew that questions are bought by lobbyists, so what if you did, considering you are a busines journo."
Hmmm, its like claiming that not many knew about the casting couch. But earlier in your comment you point out that politicians take the money because they have to fund elections, and because the political donation system in India is quite immature, the money to fight elections has to raised from somewhere, right? The average MP in Delhi spends a couple of thousands every day taking care of their constituents (rather the local leaders from his constituency) who use his official house in Delhi as a Guest-House. They have to kept, wined and dined, because if you don't how the hell will you win the next election?
It is a crying shame that our current PM hasn't been elected from the LS.
S : Thanks.
"The DNA edit that you point to, could it have something to do with DNA being owned by Zee and the Cobrapost sting being aired on Aaj Tak?"
I wouldn't be so cynical of the media. At many levels the media does co-operate.

Anonymous said...

so u justify political corruption? You think it should not be exposed?

K said...

Whoops, I took some time to reply, because I didn't know there was another comment. I think salaries across the board should become more reasonable and account for what people need to do. Pay an MP a crore a month but shoot the bugger if he is corrupt.