Twenty-one years ago this day– December 6, 1992– is etched in my memory with an acid pen. Read more
At the LitLive Fest in Bombay last week, an interesting session on news in real time brought home to the audience what our politicians and even some journalists are still not able to come to terms with – the mobile phone is a very powerful weapon in the hands of the most commonest of citizens today. So beware of what you say or do, because Big Brother is now watching you all the time!
No longer do you have to be part of the Bigg Boss show with 85 cameras swinging around you to capture your every moment live and even while sleeping. The Burmese monks’ uprising, the use of chemical weapons in Syria , a terrorist attack in Tiananmen square that was quickly covered up by the Chinese authorities all became part of recorded history simply because of smart phones in the pockets of common citizens and the speed of the internet in circulating these worldwide.
But when these are combined with other forms of technology these days, the effect could be devastating for politicians – as Narendra Modi is discovering over the Saheb tapes, as even the Aam Aadmi Party has had to explain away after the sting that exposed their top leaders as scamsters and potential goons.
Closer home, a college principal in Bombay was recorded surreptitiously in while she was letting off steam against Aditya Thackeray, son of Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray and had to give in to students’ blackmail for fear of the consequences otherwise.
Everything in this world has a good side and a bad side and, sure, there can also be misuse of such technology but while I might wish for the old order of things where one can feel safe and secure at least in one’s home or office, it might not be such a bad thing really if technology helps to expose double-facedness or insincerity and dishonesty as has happened in the recent cases, including that of Tarun Tejpal’s alleged molestation of a colleague which has become a criminal offence entirely on the basis of the footage from the CCTV cameras in the elevators of the five star hotel where he was supposed to have indulged in this major violation of the law.
This week and the last have been particularly revealing in terms of various technology-driven exposes by different organisations and instititutions against people of all hues, and I must say they have been startling as well as interesting. In any case, all the stings (or just technology trappings) reveal the hyprocritical nature of those in the public eye (and I do not exclude Tehelka which employs virtually the same tactics for its investigative reports which have been rather exemplary nonetheless).
When the monks uprising of Myanmar first got out to the world, the Burmese government described it as a ’skyful of lies: Tsunami of lies’ was the expression used by the Syrian government to deny the chemical weapons attack on its own citizens. But seeing is believing. And millions of people who saw those videos across the world were not to be convinced otherwise.
I am surprised that even after nearly two decades of television news our politicians have still not understood how completely they incriminate themselves with their indiscretions. Their defence of having been selectively quoted or misinterpreted, even if true, somehow tends not to be believed and does enormous damage to their reputations.
I do not know how this week’s exposes will pan out in the future – everyone but Tarun Tejpal seems to have a defence of their involvement in illegitimate activities, official or otherwise.
But it cannot be a bad thing that technology is cleaning up public life and might soon bring in more prudence and probity among those in the glare,
Very soon the world will be a different place from what we have so far lived in, I guess.
A year before the BJP came to power at the Centre in 1996, I recall getting into an argument with its patriarch LK Advani over what he described as the ’structure’ in Ayodhya. Read more
There are occasions when Rahul Gandhi does live up to Indira Gandhi’s political instincts. I was too young to remember Mrs Gandhi’s elephant act at the time but my parents always spoke in awe of her clambering atop a pachyderm to make her way into a village called Belchi in Bihar. Read more
For a party that continually accuses the Congress of a leadership crisis, it is a measure of the BJP’s own bankruptcy in that department that they should have no better leader than Narendra Modi to lead them in 2014. Read more
When the nation asks Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, if he could not find one good and reliable ophthalmologist in India, I could say that among the best in the country sits right under his nose at the JJ Hospital in Bombay. Read more
Sometimes, I despair for the Shiv Sena after Bal Thackeray. Many of the party’s leaders have learnt well from the Sena supremo but I believe it is high time those who have inherited Bal Thackeray’s party unlearn all that the Sena tiger taught them and chart thir own course, for that is the only road to survival. Read more
“You used to be such a good girl! What’s happened to you in the last month or so?” Bal Thackeray once asked me sometime in the mid-1990s. Read more
In 1995, when the Congress was pushed below the majority mark in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly and the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance was struggling to cop up one of their own, Sharad Pawar, the sitting chief minister, well, just sat back and did nothing. Read more
The Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena like to believe that the Mangeshkar sisters belong to them. In fact, not just belong to them – the Thackerays believe that they own these national assets. Read more