Friday, June 23, 2006

Finally something to cheer about!

Neha mailed to ask me if I had followed an NDTV story about "children getting ill and not enough facilities being there...again irony being the chief minister himself is a qualified doctor", and since I am working hard to earn a tag of 'Media Basher', she added "thought u might be interested to know, coz the media brought a worthy issue in front of ppl as compared to rakhi sawant and mika's kiss issue."I told her that I didn't see this particular story and that NDTV is a saner channel than others but I wasn't sure that media would have left such a 'juicy' story as Ms. Sawant-Mr. Mika liplock! My suspicions proved right when I read the article of Poonam Saxena in Hindustan Times (June 17th).

But NDTV has got its chest-thumping moment and mercifully without any sting operation!

Their story of DPS Dwarka refusing admission to CBSE High School topper Garima Godara on the pretexts of a) her spoken-english being not good enough and b) her not fitting the required social profile for the students, attracted not only sharp protests from all quarters, but also made the school revrse its own decision. Delhi Government constituted an enquiry and Garima was offerred admission with scholarship from another DPS branch. (Ironically Chairman of DPS Board is another Congressman, Salman Khursheed!) Many other schools offerred her adimission and scholarship as well. And Garima and her parents ensured that their reply get as befitting as it could be! They refused the DPS offer and decided to continue with present school only.

The worst aspect of this issue is that school made a mockery of merit. If DPS wants its seats to be reserved for the kids of politicians,beaurocrats and businessmen (in other only for rich and influential) then they can put that before us! (Though everyone knows that only rich can afford their fee, but then Garima's family sold their land for her education, so in a way they might have thought they were rich enough!)

This was only one instance of a deserving candidate being turned down by an institution, which got caught on camera. And it exposed the real admission policy of the school. Let's hope that greater public awareness and closer government scrutiny will ensure that other so called 'reputed institutes' consider only merit as the selection criteria.

Congratulations Garima. Thank you NDTV.

Also read: The English Divide by Barkha Dutt (Managing Editor, NDTV 24x7)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Life mein Twist!

Scene 1:
"This MMTS is a good thing yaar. Within half an hour and for just 5 Rs. we can reach Necklace Road directly. It's so much better than bus."
"Ya, we can come here, every weekend. Have an icecream and roam around and then be back in time!"

Scene 2:
"My relatives are leaving their flat after a month or two. We can shift to that one, it is cheaper and has markets nearby. Only problem is that it's a little far."
"OK , we shall consider it."

Scene 3:
"My project is getting over in september. I think we can try for a transfer to Delhi then."
"Yeah, I too will try for Delhi.Then we can go together."

And then comes THE monday!

"Abhishek, did you get any mail from MATC ?"
"No, what's the matter ?"
"They are transferring everyone who is unbillable to Mumbai!"
"What! Really??"

...and then

"Hi Abhishek, I got transferred to Mumbai!"
"Oh! So bad."
"What about you?"
"I have no news. No one in my team got any mail from MATC."

but next day.....

"I want four people to volunteer for going to Mumbai."
"What? No one wants to go?
"Ok. I want to go."
"And me too."
"Good. You all can decide who are the other two, and tell me."

No more trips to Necklace road. No more plans of shifting to relatives' house. No more plans to try for transfers to Delhi!

Life just got snapped!

Goodbye Hyderabad. Hello Mumbai.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

India. Is That Really Bharat?

(I really don't know whether I want you to read this blog till the end or not. Ofcourse I want you to, but if you don't, then you prove my arguement correct.)

I am writing this blog on the day when the news of Rahul Mahajan's possible arrest is headline of all the newspapers and all the 24-hr news channels. Almost every media outlet packaged this tragedy in most 'informative' (read attractive) and we were forced to know each and every thing about toxicology and effect of drugs like cocaine and heroine on different parts of human body, that apart from hearing from Mahajan's family, friends, doctors, servants, neighbours and God knows who else! You will agree that this is nothing new. We have witnessed this mass-hysteria in media at the time of Amitabh Bachchan's illness as well.

I don't have anything against Mr. Bachchan and Mr. Mahajan as well. The question I want to ask is, why has media, or for that matter, policy and decision makers, very easily and very effectively as well, sidelined the other India. The 80% India that doesn't goto Malls for shopping, doesn't flaunt designer labels, doesn't fly in low-cost (or high-cost) airlines. I am not pointing finger towards Government, I am accusing media of not giving the real issues their due share in mind space.

Did you know that in about 9000 farmers have committed suicide in this decade (between 2001-2002 and 2005-2006) in four states namely Kerala,Karnata,Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. (More facts and figures on this issue). Worst affected are the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra and Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh. So when Chandrababu Naidu Government was busy developing Hyderabad into Cyberabad (and really his effort is visible in the city and I am thankful to him for this), and previous Congress and later BJP-Sena Governments in Maharashtra doing effectively nothing to Mumbai (except making it ready to be deluged in coming years), the poor farmers were getting burdened by insane agricultural policies and corruption (Read an example of this).

The agricultural sector, once the leader in growth indices of GDP, has grown this year by 3.4%, thankfully much above last year's 0.9%! But these dismal figures are over shadowed by Services sector (9.4% growth) and Business News channel watching corporateizens are happier than ever before! Only time the rural India is considered, is when it is acting as a market.

Did you know about Plachimada? This small village in Kerala, once with abundant ground water is now facing not only water shortage, but is almost disowned by its own Government. Coca Cola has got a huge plant here and it has not only sucked its water (with pipes running deep upto 750-1000 feet) but also given in return a very poisonous sledge that is killing the villagers slowly. There have been protests in USA against Coca Cola's such exploitative policies, but state Government is on the side of Coke and supporting the plant fully! Why has media not covered this issue?

But why only media, look around yourself, you will see this disparity everywhere! In Hyderabad, most parts of the city are sufferring severe water crisis (Ameerpet gets water for 1 hour,every two days!) but come to Hitec City and Madhapur area, the grass on the dividers and 'HUDA Zen Parks' is as green as possible, courtesy daily watering by HUDA water tankers!

The reason I think is that most of these issues lack what journalist call as 'news value'. There is not much scope for drama and bytes that will grab the eyeballs. These poor farmers or villagers are no celebrities. There won't be a spurt in TRP by covering these issues. And honestly do we really care if such a news comes up?

We all are failing our country. The Bharat that is very different from India.