St Stephen's College's class of 1975 is possibly one of the most accomplised batches that institution ever sent out into the world. Along with the standard diet of bureaucrats who went on to redefine corruption, the occasional politician - inevitably Trotsky-ites turned Mandir-ites types - some very good educationalists yada, yada. The College Student's Union President that year was a certain Shashi Tharoor. Now Mr Tharoor, and this was the year that Loha Lady v1.0, upset at insinuations that she was allowing her younger son to sow his wild oats everywhere decided to impose a state of emergency, is an unabshed Indian National Congress lover.
Now, by that time Mr Tharoor had already disappeared to Massachusetts and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Of course, the fact that several of his college mates spent some time being 'pleasantly met' by Loha Lady's 'nice' friends, didn't ever make him lose his great fondness for the Grand Old Party (of India). Though that said, Stephen's in the mid-1970's wasn't quite the revolutionary hotbed it was in the late-1960's, and while advocating Naxalism or worse, many of them seemed to prefer doing that from their room in Residence rather than ever taking up arms. And because of the fact that Student's Union was and is disassociated from the Delhi University Student's Union (DUSU), few people ever did much to protest against the Loha Lady - it fact it was SRCC (where DUSU President Arun Jaitley studied) which was the hotbed of protests against the madness of that time.
The few times I have met Mr Tharoor in my life (even though my parents were fairly close to him - but distance does tend to weaken bonds and my mother did have issues with the fact that he walked out on his wife - another nice hallmark of that particular batch from SSC) when he came to India (including a rather 'over' familar ecvening talk in college) its all been "Congress this and Congress that". Strange rhetoric.
To be fair, the NDA was in power and while you have to give the devil its due and appreciate the NDA for sowing the seeds of economic progress, their utter lack of knowldge, I would say of international tact and diplomacy might have been a factor - though our last foreign minister appointed by the Congress was no better - in fact, Natwar Singh was possibly the worst foreign minister we've had. That said, Natwar would also have backed Tharoor - Stephanian connection y'see.
Yet, can I see Shashi Tharoor heading the United Nations? No. Not because he is a Stephanian, and I hold no grudges because of that - it is just that the collective ego of all Stephanians will inflate to gargantuan proportions - and that is scary (Stephen's has always had an issue that Lady Shriram boasts a Nobel Laureate as does the Eco department at D-School, none however from the self-declared 'Best Liberal Arts College in India'). Anyway, I'll at least have something much more in common that most (other than the fact that Dad was in that batch) Tharoor is also from Mukarji East which was also my block in Residence (Tharoor was in room S-17). Yay Muk East! Plus, can Tharoor being the connsummate insider really change the UN, because it is an organisation that requires a lot of change - I personally doubt it? (Plus will the Chinese support him? I doubt it!). Nor do I hold his political views against him, I mean who doesn't want to kiss Loha Lady v2.0's feet? Therefore do I find our nomination of him surprising? No. But the #1 reason Tharoor should not become UN Secretary General is that the man is an outrageously bad author - have you ever even read 'The Great Indian Novel'. Take a small bit of advice - Don't. I've been told that 'Show Business' is possibly worse, I never got around to reading it, but I'll probably agree with that conjecture. Thankfully, he doesn't write so much anymore, unlike some other Stephanians who still believe that they are novelists. It must be something in the water.
NOTE : Before you ask, what gives me the immense authority to write on all this, my father was in that batch too! Yet another clue to my identity. I'm not taking this anonymoty thing seriously anymore am I? And anyone who has spent any extended length of time at 'College' (ie : finished an undergraduate degree course there and stayed in residence can talk of the ideosyncracies of that place, heck you don't even need to finish a degree there to talk about how ideosyncratic the place is!).
It is not as if Stephen's can't produce good writers - the best contemporary Indian novelist in English (in my opinion) is a product of SSC - Amitava Ghosh. He was a couple of batches junior to the class of 1975, maybe that is what made him more sane. No wait, didn't one of those junior batches produce Sagarika Ghose? Sigh!
On another note, what do you people think is going on in Germany? Its all getting rather confusing right now with Ghana beat the Czechs, the French somehow managing to concede a goal against the Koreans and looking terribly old. The smart money would be on the Argentines right now, because by god, they're looking sweet.
The things we hear about our glorious profession.
I was told this fascinating story by a colleague the other day. Recently, a new recruit, lets call her Madame Fashionista was doing a story on the new constructions happening at Dharavi (which in case you're not from Bombay are the massive slums in the middle of the city). Now, said Madame who is pucca townie and most likely has never been north of Worli (or wouldn't like to admit it) unless she had to get to the airport - how can much a person go to Dharavi.
To protect journalistic integrity however, said madame decided to send photographer to click pictures of the place. Not to make it a photo feature however. She would see the pictures - and as the saying goes - a picture is worth a thousand words - she would construct a story based on what the photographer gave her.
Now if the photographer was deliciously evil, he would have gone to some chawls closer to town and passed them off as Dharavi (and then the said story would have read very 'interesting'). But instead he filed the pictures the same day and shut down. Said madame asked him for the pictures and he said "Sorry, I'm off for the day." Despite the screaming and shouting about how she had to meet her deadline, photog hung up the phone leaving madame to blubber some excuse to her boss, trying to blame the photog, who was beyond care, because he knew he can't be removed.
Now, this is not the first example of such delightful procrastination at this publication (Better still, doing a story on villagers in southern India sitting out in Bombay - how does that happen? But, that can be passed off on a tight-fisted office). Several miracles of journalism - feature stories no less have been done this way. What next? I'll see some picture on Google Earth (if they start frequent updates) and write on that?
Makes you wonder about the future of journalism doesn't it? Apologies to those I have lambasted in Telly journalism, this is the worst I have ever come across. And trust me, this incident is completely true.
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