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TMM Special




JANUARY 07, 2016 `50

Sushma Scores
Her Pak visit could be the first feather
in Modis foreign policy cap 12

Where the
press went

A tte--tte
with Kiran

the net

Ticket to
a wonder


and governance initiatives in parliament may well
have laid a big fat egg so far, but his peripatetic
diplomacy, I am compelled to proclaim, has begun
to yield dividends. The successive parliamentary
fiascosthe abysmal failure to make progress on
the GST bill and other crucial economic reform
measures dear to the prime ministers heartmirror
the atmosphere outside parliament.
Theres constant political street fighting amidst
charges and counter-charges of vendetta politics,
victimization, intolerance, tit-for-tat use or abuse of
investigative agencies and strident invective. The
streets simply pour into parliament and all legislation
comes to a standstill because legislators are in no
mood to cooperate or to make the government in
power look good. This, sadly, has been the leitmotif
of Indian politics over the
last few decades.
While devoting extensive, wall-to-wall coverage
to the political warfare before, during and after the
Bihar elections in which
Modi and his image as a
serial winner suffered a serious setback, the media
did not appear to pay adequate attention to one solid
win scored by Team Modi
not in India but outside it. In
A nations foreign policy is usually considered
an outcome of national
consensus. No matter how

4 VIEWS ON NEWS January 7, 2016

crudely opposing politicians may go after each

others throats on domestic issues, they usually
stand united in the cause of nationhood in dealing
with neighboring countries and the world. This unspoken compact can be broken only at great peril to
any government that steers dangerously away from
it. Changes, therefore, are incremental and great
care is taken by foreign policy bureaucrats and the
security establishment to take the Opposition into
t was because Modi stuck to this tradition that he
was able to dispatch his foreign secretary to Pakistan to negotiate a return to some form of normalcy with that country. The stark difference
between Modis inability to steer domestic policy
through parliament while managing to parley a relatively successful path in foreign affairs stems from
a stark reality. The domestic paralysis stems from
the perception that Modi and his partys real agenda
is to turn the nation away from Nehruvian consensus into an agenda set by reactionary Hindutva advocates; the successes abroad are proof that when
a leader of a diverse nation like India cultivates goodwill instead of confrontation at home, he will be
It is laudable that Modi sent Sushma Swaraj to
Pakistan by herself along with a professional delegation from the Ministry of External Affairs, instead
of trying to hog the limelight for himself. That in itself
demonstrated that he was more interested in creating a serious outcome rather than a gala event featuring Rockstar Modi.
And Sushma delivered the goods with great
finesse and professionalism. The ongoing composite dialogue process between the two nations was

External Affairs
Minister Sushma
Swaraj with her
Sartaz Aziz in
Islamabad during
her recent visit

termed comprehensive dialogue. It remains essentially the same as beforea menu of issues
including Kashmir, Sir Creek, Siachen, counter-terrorism, trade, visas and confidence-building measures. An add-on is religious tourism.
It represents continuity and gives due recognition
to what was achieved previously by Congress and
BJP governments through this processthe DelhiLahore bus service, India-Pakistan trade, a new visa
regime, a mechanism on prisoner exchange and the
2003 ceasefire on the Line of Control. Of course,
theres the odd chance that this could come undone
the moment the next terrorist attack takes place.
obody, but for pathological hawks, wants
war and bloodshed and wastage of precious
resources that can be used for fighting
poverty in both countries on an arms race. And nobody expressed this sentiment better than former
premier Manmohan Singh who wished that one day
we should have breakfast in Delhi, lunch in Lahore
and dinner in Kabul.
The supreme challenge before Indian and Pakistani leaders is not to give in to rabid elements or
to back off when terrorists try to disrupt solutions
and talks aimed at resolving the biggest security and
foreign policy challenge for both countries. And they
should be strengthened in their resolve because this

It is laudable that Modi sent

Sushma Swaraj to Pakistan by
herself along with a professional
delegation from the MEA, rather
than hog the limelight for himself.
new initiativewhich will facilitate Modi to attend
the SAARC meet in Pakistan in September 2016
has been openly welcomed by the UN SecretaryGeneral, the US, Russia, China, and above all, the
Pakistani media which has echoed Sushma in dubbing the outcome as a breakthrough.
Even though the Congress has been publicly
churlish about Modis new Pakistan initiative, its
leaders have privately welcomed this move because
the partys stated position has been that a strong
and stable Pakistan under a civilian government is
in Indias long-term interest because it is the best
defense against terrorism as well as a positive factor
in Indias land route trade relations with Afghanistan
and Iran.
Our cover story reveals that Sushmas visit was
a carefully choreographed and calibrated move.


January 7, 2016 5



Rajshri Rai
Managing Editor
Ramesh Menon
Deputy Managing Editor
Shobha John
Executive Editor
Ajith Pillai
Associate Editors
Meha Mathur, Sucheta Dasgupta
Deputy Editor
Prabir Biswas
Art Director
Anthony Lawrence
Deputy Art Editor
Amitava Sen
Graphic Designer
Lalit Khitoliya
Anil Shakya
News Coordinator/Photo Researcher
Kh Manglembi Devi
Pawan Kumar
Head Convergence Initiatives
Prasoon Parijat
Convergence Manager
Mohul Ghosh
Technical Executive (Social Media)
Sonu Kumar Sharma
Technical Executive
Anubhav Tyagi


A Fragile Modus Vivendi


New Delhis move to resume talks with Islamabad was a carefully choreographed one. But whether it will achieve justice for the 26/11 victims and
lasting peace is the big question. RAMESH RAMACHANDRAN reports

Chief Editorial Advisor

Inderjit Badhwar
Anand Raj Singh
VP (HR & General Administration)
Lokesh C Sharma
Circulation Manager
RS Tiwari

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6 VIEWS ON NEWS January 7, 2016


Natures Eye-Opener


The government and the media misread the Chennai flood situation and
were slow to respond to the crisis. The deeply ingrained North-South divide
in the Indian psyche may have prejudiced them. BIKRAM VOHRA

Social Media Saved the Day


While mainstream media lingered, bloggers and Twitter users stepped

up to the plate, disseminated vital information and coordinated rescue



Comics and Culture 28

The fifth edition of Comic Con Delhi elicited
more footfalls and sales showing the increasing creation and consumption of the graphic
art form nationwide. SUCHETA DASGUPTA


RIP, Ravan
and Eddie

Better Late
than Never
Novelist and playwright Kiran Nagarkar recalls his
advertising days,
his forays into
writing, his run-in
with the Censor
Board and how he
won the Sahitya
Akademi award.

An issue-based review of what the

electronic media covered in the
year gone by


32 Dont Block Us! 40 SPECIAL
The Spirit of 50

The heroes of Chawl No. 17 traipse

through the City of Dreams one last
time. Heres a tribute to the never-saydie attitude of the Mumbaikar.



2015 at a

Digital media is under threatfrom

ad blockers. If their use becomes
pervasive, most online businesses
will wind up. Content on internet
will no longer be free. MR DUA


the Mahatma

Trustees of Navjivan Publishing

House which prints Gandhian literature, have given the
building a
makeover, complete
with an art gallery,
cafe and Wi-Fi so
that it becomes a
thinkers' hub.


Train to


The `98,000-crore Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train reduces commute by

two hours but comes at the cost of rail
safety, toilets, schools, highways and
public health. SHOAIB DANIYAL

As the World Turns.........................17
Design Review................................44
Breaking News...............................46
Cover design: Anthony Lawrence


January 7, 2016 7

Pawar Power

harad Pawars birthday

celebrations on December
10 at Vigyan Bhawan were a
show of strength for the NCP.
The president, prime minister,
vice-president and leaders of all
other parties milled around to
wish the septuagenarian. Many
MPs, ministers and MLAs were
left standing due to the
over-crowding of well-wishers.
The award on the occasion for
the best speech definitely goes
to Madam Gandhi who shed
light on some little-known facts
about Pawar and his father-in-

Price Rise Hits


isitors to parliament, which

include MPs, officials and
media persons, are in for a shock.
The price of food in the various
canteens is set for a steep rise. A 25
percent rise has been proposed after
a campaign by select MPs to end
the ridiculous pricing`6 for a
dosa, ` 4 for a plate of rice, `18 for a
vegetarian thali, `51 for a plate of
chicken biryani and so on. In the
past five years, the canteen has got a

subsidy of `60.7 croreall drawn

from taxes. The subsidy
actually goes up by `3 crore every
year. Meanwhile, all parliament
regulars will brace up for the price
hike from January 1, 2016.

Catching Don

ecently AAPs beleaguered MLA Somnath Bharti was at Dwarka Police Station with his famous dog, Don, accused of
biting Bhartis estranged wife Lipika Mitra.
Is minister Maneka Gandhi, who is known
to take up animal rights, aware that the dog
is being dragged to the police station time
and again? It seems that Bharti is sticking
out his thumb saying, Don ko pakadna
mushkil hi nahin namumkin hai. (Catching
Don isnt only tough, its impossible.)
8 VIEWS ON NEWS January 7, 2016

law, who was a test cricketer.

She mentioned that Pawar
must have imbibed his
spinning tactics from him.
The prime minister too found
it appropriate to praise the
leader of the party that he once
unceremoniously referred to as
the Nationalist Corrupt Party.
PM Modi praised the leaders
knowledge in agriculture and
said that like a true farmer, he
could gauge which way the
wind would blow and take
steps accordingly.
Are we looking at a consensus
presidential candidate
for 2017?

Protesting CMs

here has been a deluge of

protests by CMs against governors. After Delhi Chief Minister
Arvind Kejriwals nasty spat with
Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung,
chief ministers of Arunachal
Pradesh, Assam and West Bengal
have joined the chorus. Arunachal
Chief Minister Nabam Tuki claims
that Governor JP Rakkhowa is
using the Raj Bhawan as a BJP
office. Assam Chief Minister Tarun
Gogoi has a similar complaint
against Governor PB Acharya, who
has an RSS background. Mamata
Banerjees government too has
conveyed its dissatisfaction about
Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi
to the center.

Odd and Even Gossip

he Capital was abuzz with odd

and even numbers gossip. According to one gossipy birdie, the
move by the Delhi government to
give 10,000 permits to
additional autos to deal with the
crisis seems to be less about pollution and more about politics. After
all, issuing 10,000 auto permits in
two weeks is not easy. Even basic

Photoshop Woes

overnment media offices have

been on an overdrive. A photoshopped image of Prime Minister
Narendra Modi posted by the overzealous Press Information
Bureau(PIB) on the official website
showing him in a helicopter during
an aerial survey of flood-hit Chennai

Politics in the
Time of Deluge

ven as the magnitude of the Chennai

floods was unfolding,
senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy took
the opportunity to take
a jibe at his bete noire,
former finance minister
P Chidambaram.

checks like license, nationality

and criminal record will take a
good deal more time. Whats
more, the move will leave
Delhiites at the mercy of the auto
drivers on foggy, polluted winter
days. Is it mere coincidence that
auto kings Rahul and Rajiv
Bajaj are the best of pals with the
Delhi CM? All said and done, curtailing cars and adding autos shall
end up being a zero-sum game!

was hurriedly removed after questions were raised in social media

about its authenticity. Apparently,
the PIB had been photoshopping
images earlier too during the
Manmohan Singh and Atal
Behari Vajpayee dispensations, to
boost PR drives.
In a similar vein, in a sarkari ad
of the Telangana governments
achievements, the media team has
randomly photoshopped various
photosVrindavan widows, protesting farmers at Jantar Mantar, villagers of Coimbatore and so on. Of
course, none beats Censor Board
chief Pankaj Nihalani, whose video
eulogizing Prime Minister Narendra
Modi has caused much embarrassment to the government.

Swamy approached his

followers via Twitter
and made an objectionable post saying:
Chennai rain water
flooding is actually due
to PCs Uzbekis tears
at the loss of their
business. Blame ED
and IT for it. He was
referring to the legal
cases he has filed
against Chidambaram.

Record Transfers

abus of central and

state governments are
used to being shunted
around on the whims and
fancies of their political
bosses. But this time, a
record has been created.
Beating Ashok Khemka of
the Haryana land deals
fame, 2000-batch IAS
officer Amit Gupta has
entered the Limca Book of
Records for having served
as a district magistrate in
14 districts of Uttar
Pradesh, (excluding repetitions), the most by an
Indian civil servant.
Between March 8, 2005,
and February 10, 2014,
Gupta had served in
Hamirpur, Lalitpur,
Jalaun, Kannauj,
Pratapgarh, Etawah,
Maharajganj, Firozabad,
Shravasti, LakhimpurKheri, Badaun, Bijnor,
Pilibhit and Rae Bareli.
Some of the terms lasted
barely a few days.
Compiled by Roshni Seth
Illustrations: UdayShankar

January 7, 2016 9


I do not think there is intolerance

the question that was asked, for
which people pounced on me, was
what would you say to the future
generation? because I now fall
under the seniority zone... Everything is very nice in our country.
God bless India, long live us, long
live us Indians.
Shah Rukh Khan, a day before the release
of his recent film, Dilwale, to ABP News

If you feel insecure working

with people who are better
than you, it pushes you to do
better. If youre comfortable,
you dont push yourself.
Sundar Pichai, Google CEO, at Shri
Ram College of Commerce, Delhi

The Congress is a private limited company in which the shares are held by
one family. In the Congress, no matter
how talented the individual, he or she
must be resigned to the fact that the top
two jobs will never be open to anybody
other than the family members.
Aakar Patel, in Outlook

I really like how this will upset Delhis

neatly arranged pecking order. Imagine,
on any given Wednesday, an even-numbered Nano is more desirable than an
odd-numbered BMW! I like that two
rich kids will have to share the backseat
of a BMW instead of racing one another
to school in two.
Anuja Chauhan, author, on the forthcoming
odd-even car scheme in Delhi, in The Week
10 VIEWS ON NEWS January 7, 2016

Arvind Kejriwal,
chief minister of

A CBI officer told me yest that

CBI has been asked to target
all opp parties n finish those
who don't fall in line.

Amish Tripathi,

#AryanInvasionTheory is d
greatest piece of fiction
cooked up by Europeans since
Shakespearean plays.

Shekhar Gupta,
senior journalist

UPA handed over policy-making to publicity-crazed NGOs

with no accountability & paid
for it. AAP is doing so now
with the #OddEvenPolicy.

senior journalist

Which Indian politician isnt

afraid of Sonia Gandhi? Television debates and legal finesse dont count.

Minhaz Merchant,
journalist and

If Sonia can make Indias

highest paid lawyers like
@DrAMSinghvi & @KapilSibal
run around court like errand
boys, imagine her money

Suhel Seth,
author, columnist
Utter rubbish. But nothing
about AAP surprises me any
more (on what the AAP is
saying about Arun Jaitley in
the raid case).


Arnab snubs


n an international media conference

organized in Moscow to commemorate the 10th anniversary of news
channel Russia Todays launch, Times
Now editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami
surprised his audience by openly
challenging what he perceived as the
hegemony of western media.
While 90 percent of Indians follow
cross-border news, in the US and the

What did India

BJP PR drive

watch in 2015?

turns costly

he year 2015 was all-and-all about

comedy. This is evident as 5 out of the top
10 most-viewed videos on YouTube were
comedy, reports
Grabbing the first spot is the amusing
comic music video by AIB called Every Bollywood Party Song Feat. Irrfan.
Amongst the other top trending comedy
videos are AIBs Honest Indian Weddings (Part
1), PK movie spoof, TVFs Barely Speaking
with Arnub - Arvind Kejriwal and Baahubali 2The Ending Spoof by Srikanth Reddy. The
other videos in the list are Chhota Bheem Aur
Krishna Jodi No. #1, Crime Patrol Sting Operation 3, Sujoy Ghoshs epic thriller Ahalya,
Kapil Sharma Rocks in Star Guild Award with
his Anchoring, and Splitsvilla.
Taking the lead in the list of top 10 music
videos on YouTube is Dheere Se Meri Zindagi,
followed by Chittiyaan Kalaiyaan.

he BJP government in Haryana

spent a whopping ` 17 crore
within a fortnight on advertisements highlighting its achievements on completion of a year in
office. The information was procured by Panipat-based RTI activist PP Kapoor, reports The Indian
Express. The Haryana government
defended the spending, saying the
intention behind the advertisements was to inform people about
schemes that are for their benefit.
Kapoors query on the number of
new jobs created during the year
yielded no result. He was quoted
by the newspaper as saying: The
government did not provide any
details of the employment provided
in the last one year. It shows that
the government did not make any

UK, this figure is 44-46 percent.

But the US and the UK together
contribute to 74 percent of the source
of global news even while all of
Asia contributes only 3 percent.
Indians are the least insular people,
(and) the most open-minded.
Americans are the most insular,
Goswami concluded. India will be the
next media capital in the world, he
went on to assert, adding that it will
be from countries like India which
speak English, which have
democracies, that the challenge to
the global news hegemony is about
to come.

Journalist KG Suresh
may become


ournalist KG Suresh, an authority on

right wing politics, could replace Sunit
Tandon as the next director-general of the
prestigious Indian Institute of Mass Communication. Sureshs name has been proposed by the Ministry of Information and
Broadcasting to the Department of Personnel as the next DG, The Indian Express
said, quoting sources.
KG Suresh is serving as an editor for
the website and in-house publications of
the Delhi-based think-tank Vivekananda
International Foundation.

Compiled by Shailaja Paramathma


January 7, 2016 11

Lede Diplomacy
Indo-Pak talks



(Above) External Affairs

Minister Sushma Swaraj
addresses the media along
with Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan
prime ministers foreign
affairs adviser, in

AS the recent decision

to resume a comprehensive bilateral dialogue between India
and Pakistan a sudden
and dramatic step as
the government would have us believe? While any
resumption of talks must be welcomed, it must be
seen as a well-thought-out move and not as a spontaneous flow of diplomatic emotions.
Here are the facts. On December 9, India and

12 VIEWS ON NEWS January 7, 2016

The recent decision to

resume a comprehensive
bilateral dialogue
with our belligerent
neighbor was not as
spontaneous as it
was made out to be. It
was a carefully
choreographed and
calibrated move

Pakistan jointly issued a statement saying that they

had agreed to a Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue
and directed the foreign secretaries to work out the
modalities and schedule of the meetings. Peace
talks were first suspended in the aftermath of the
26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai and a second time
in 2013 after the beheading of an Indian soldier following tensions along the border. The December 9
decision was agreed upon at a meeting between
Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj
and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharifs foreign

affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz in Islamabad.

The joint statement read that both Swaraj and
Aziz condemned terrorism and resolved to cooperate to eliminate it. They noted the successful talks
on terrorism and security related issues in Bangkok
by the two national security advisers (NSA) and decided that the NSAs will continue to address all issues connected to terrorism. The Indian side was
assured of the steps being taken to expedite the
early conclusion of the Mumbai trial.
Both sides, it continued, accordingly, agreed
to a Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue and directed the foreign secretaries to work out the
modalities and schedule of the meetings under the
Dialogue including peace and security, CBMs
(Confidence Building Measures), Jammu and
Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, Wullar Barrage/Tulbul Navigation Project, economic and commercial
cooperation, counter-terrorism, narcotics control,
humanitarian issues, people to people exchanges
and religious tourism.

ow the announcement came about was

supposedly dramatic. If the official Indian narrative is to be believed, all it took
was a two-odd-minute meeting between Prime
Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif in
Paris on November 30 to break the ice. And in less
than a week, both countries sprung a surprise on
their unsuspecting peoples by letting it be known
that NSA AK Doval and his Pakistan counterpart
Lt Gen Nasser Khan Janjua (Retd) had met in
Bangkok. A joint press release issued on December
6 said that the two NSAs, accompanied by their foreign secretaries, had concluded discussions which
covered peace and security, terrorism, Jammu and
Kashmir, and other issues, including tranquility
along the LoC (Line of Control).
That neither government acknowledged that
the move was choreographed in detail and the
meetings were carefully planned after high-level deliberations was diplomatic secrecy at work. They
were indeed not chance encounters. A lot of back-

channel negotiations had taken place (with a little

help from the US and some European powers) before calibrated steps towards resuming the stalled
peace talks were taken. That the series of meetings
followed a script is all the more remarkable because
the public discourse in both countries had begun
degenerating into mutual recriminations within
months of Modis invitation to Sharif for the formers swearing in as PM on May 22, 2014.
An appreciation of the outcome of the Ufa talks
in July this year is the key to understanding the evolution of Modis Pakistan policy in general and the
December 6 meeting between the NSAs and the
December 9 decision to resume bilateral peace
talks, in particular. The joint statement issued at Ufa
committed India and Pakistan to a meeting in New
Delhi between the two NSAs to discuss all issues
connected to terrorism, among others. Equally significant was Sharif s reiteration of his invitation to
Modi to visit Pakistan for the SAARC summit in
2016. It was subsequently decided that the NSAs
Aziz and Dovalwould meet in New Delhi on August 23. However, Indias insistence that the talks
would be confined to terrorism and that Aziz

It is believed that the
Modi-Sharif meeting
during the Paris climate
summit triggered
Indo-Pak talks at
various levels


January 7, 2016 13

Lede Diplomacy
Indo-Pak talks

Pakistani media on Sushmas visit

The Express Tribune

The Indian decision to resume the composite dialogue is a clear departure from its earlier
stance that it will not enter into meaningful talks with Pakistan on Kashmir and other
issues unless its concerns on terrorism are addressed.

India is part of the Heart of Asia process, but Ms Swarajs visit was made possible because of an
ice-breaking meeting between Prime Minister Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi
in Paris on the sidelines of the Climate Change summit. The brief meeting was facilitated by
the UK.

Pakistan Today
Adopting a cautious approach over the agenda of talks between Swaraj and Aziz, Indian
officials said they will see how the meeting goes and if there will be any point of convergence.

Pakistan Observer
Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj landed in Islamabad on Tuesday evening with
a message of goodwill and hope to improve Pak-India relations. Though, apparently her visit
is to attend Heart of Asia Conference, but diplomatic sources have termed it a major
breakthrough in tension-ridden ties.

The Nation
The visiting minister said the two countries were talking to each other on the ways to improve
their ties and move forward. When asked what message she had brought from India, Swaraj
said her country wanted good relations with Pakistan.

The News
Imran Khan said that Modi was afraid of his own right wingers and Sharif was worried about
Pakistans army, which holds sway over matters of internal security and foreign affairs. He called
for the end of this stupidity of harking back and riling up anger and hatred toward each other.

Daily Times
India is looking for a substantive engagement with Pakistan during Swarajs visit to
Islamabad. The Indian government had officially confirmed on Monday that she would visit
Pakistan to attend the Heart of Asia conference.

Complied by Sherien Kaul, Priyvrat Singh Chouhan

14 VIEWS ON NEWS January 7, 2016

was not welcome to meet the Kashmiri separatists

led to the cancellation of the talks.
Here the subtext becomes important. One reason why the Aziz-Doval talks failed to materialize
was the protocol mismatch between Aziz, who enjoys a cabinet ministers rank, and Doval, who
started out as a secretary-rank official but has since
been elevated to the rank of a minister of state like
his immediate predecessors. While Aziz had the
mandate to discuss political issues such as Jammu
and Kashmir, Modi felt that Doval, by virtue of having been a career intelligence officer with an enviable reputation, was ideally suited to discuss
counter-terrorism. Two months later, on October
22, Pakistan announced the appointment of Lt Gen
Naseer Khan Janjua (Retd) as the national security
adviser with the status of minister of state (on a
par with Doval) who will be based at the prime
ministers secretariat (like Doval who functions
from the PMO).
With this asymmetry out of the way, India and
Pakistan came good on their Ufa commitment of
holding a meeting between the two NSAs to discuss
Army Chief

all issues connected to terrorism when Doval and

Janjua met in Bangkok. Their meeting marked a
departure from the previous practice of mandating
the home secretary of India and the interior secretary of Pakistan to discuss terrorism. Now, not only
have the talks about all issues connected to terrorism been elevated to the level of the NSA (minister
of state) but New Delhi could open a line of communication with the military establishment and by
extension its chief of army staff, currently held by
the Pakistan prime ministers namesake General
Raheel Sharif.

new architecture of the India-Pakistan

talks, rechristened as Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue, as opposed to the earlier labels of Resumed Dialogue (2011 to 2013) or
Composite Dialogue (1997 to 2008), was slowly
emerging. India and Pakistan could be expected
to hold parallel or simultaneous talks, one between the NSAs (the Pakistani military establishment will be on its board) about terrorism and the
other between their respective foreign ministers
or diplomats.
While the semantically different Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue will retain the flavour of its
previous avatars (Whats in a name, you might won-

der? A lot, if India and Pakistan are in question),

what Modi and Sharif have done is to unbundle the
eight subjects under the erstwhile Composite Dialogue and bring some more issues under the ambit
of the bilateral talks. So in addition to the twin pillars of peace and security including CBMs and
Jammu and Kashmir, terrorism and drug trafficking, commercial and economic cooperation and
promotion of friendly exchanges will now be discussed. Humanitarian issues, people-to-people exchanges programmes and religious tourism have
also been included in the ambit.
While it indicates that the two countries have
reached a modus vivendi, it is not clear whether
under the new terms of engagement Pakistani interlocutors would be welcome to hold talks with the
Hurriyat as before. (Pakistan High Commissioner
to New Delhi Abdul Basit says, there is no change
in our policy towards them.) It is also not clear
whether the leaders of India and Pakistan will meet
in each others countries or will go back to the old
pattern of meeting in neutral venues.
For its part, India maintains that implicit in the
December 9 joint statement is that the talks are
being resumed on the basis of Pakistans assurance
that steps are being taken to expedite the early conclusion of the Mumbai trial. At the same time, it

Modi's Pakistan visit in 2016
will give him a chance to pick
up the threads in Indo-Pak
ties from where former PMs
Manmohan Singh and
Vajpayee had left them

It is not
clear whether
under the new
terms of
would be
welcome to
hold talks
with the
Hurriyat as


January 7, 2016 15

Lede Diplomacy
Indo-Pak talks

The meetings were not chance

encounters, but carefully planned after
high-level deliberations. A lot of
back-channel negotiations took place
before the peace talks were resumed.
Military operations in J&K
continue to be one of the
main agendas in bilateral
talks. But, other issues need
to be discussed now

cannot be said with any degree of certainty that the

latest round of talks would survive another 26/11.
India is proceeding on the assumption that with
Rawalpindi becoming a stakeholder in the NSAlevel talks, the Pakistani army and its affiliates
would tread that much more cautiously.
While Mani Shankar Aiyar of the Congress
party reiterates his oft-quoted position of uninterrupted and uninterruptible dialogue, some such as
Rajesh Rajagopalan take a nuanced position. The
professor of international politics at Jawaharlal
Nehru University believes that although the resumption of talks are only to be welcomed but one
would do well not to expect much by way of outcomes, particularly a halt to the terrorism emanating from Pakistan. Rajagopalan maintains that
India should seek to develop its military options to
counter terrorism. Rajagopalans formulation

16 VIEWS ON NEWS January 7, 2016

echoes that of some others in the Indian strategic

community who insist that India ought to develop
an effective asymmetric defence doctrine and impose costs on Pakistan for sponsoring terrorism directed at India.
Modi would become the first Indian prime
minister after Vajpayee in 2004 to visit Pakistan for
the 2016 SAARC summit. Although Sushma
Swaraj told parliament that the peace talks have
been resumed with the modest objectives of exploring cooperative ties and promoting better understanding and mutual trust, it could offer Modi an
opportunity to pick up the threads from where
Manmohan and Vajpayee had left them. As former
Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri told this writer last year during a visit to New
Delhi, India and Pakistan had come very close to
an agreed framework on the Kashmir issue during
the tenures of Manmohan Singh and Gen Pervez
Musharraf . It remains to be seen whether Modi is
able and willing to get the backing of the BJP and
the RSS to forge the broadest possible consensus on
reconciliation with Pakistan. For Sharif, the challenge would be not to squander the handsome
mandate that swept Modi to power. But the question is: Will Pakistan play ball?


Alibaba to buy South

China Morning Post

on India
labeled racist

newspaper cartoon in Australia

showing starving Indians attempting to eat solar panels with mango
chutney has been criticized as racist
and drawing on a stereotype from the
1950s, reported The Sydney Morning
The cartoon by Bill Leak, one of
the nations best-known cartoonists,
appeared in The Australian, a daily

broadsheet published by Rupert Murdochs News Corp, which has taken a

skeptical approach to action on
climate change.
The cartoon prompted a tirade of
criticism on social media as well as in
the Indian press. A comment piece by
Adita Iyer in The Hindustan Times attacked the cartoon for focusing on a
stereotype of Indian poverty straight
out of the 1950s.
Its plausible that the emaciated,
rag-clad villagers from his cartoon
would be able to teach Leak a thing or
two about solar energy, Iyer wrote.

hinese internet
giant Alibaba will
pay HK$2.06bn for the
takeover of Hong Kong
newspaper South
China Morning Post.
The newspaper
group revealed the sale
price in a statement
filed to the Hong Kong
Stock Exchange.
Besides the English
language newspaper,
Alibaba will also own
sister publications,
websites and magazines of the
have been
raised regarding the editorial
under the new

dispensation. Asked
about critics who
say Alibaba would feel
the pressure from
Chinese leaders to
change the newspapers coverage,
Alibaba Group Holding
Limited executive
chairman Jack Ma
said: I think those
people think too little of
us.Alibaba has said it
could leverage on its
technology expertise to
develop the paper.

MTV helicopter crash kills two


helicopter which was being used for

filming an MTV reality show crashed
into a reservoir in Argentina, killing the pilot
and a technician, reported NBC Chicago.
The aircraft came down at the
Potrerillos de Mendoza dam in western
Argentina. MTV said the helicopter was fly-

Egypt clamps
down on authors event

gypts bestselling author Alaa al-Aswany has said

that the authorities put pressure on a cultural
center to cancel an event where he was scheduled to
talk about how the Egyptian government manipulates
the public with theories that the world is conspiring

ing to a shooting location for the

show The Challenge. Neither of those killed
was part of the cast or the films crew,
the US channel said. The wreckage lay at a
depth of 60 metres. This is the second
helicopter accident this year in Argentina
involving a reality show.

against Egypt.
The Guardian reported that Al-Aswany said the
cancellation of his event in Alexandria follows other
measures in the past year, which have prevented him
from appearing on TV channels or getting published
in Egyptian newspapers.
Al-Aswany has been quoted by the media as saying that freedom of expression is at its lowest point,
worse than in the days of Hosni Mubarak.
Compiled by Anuj Raina

January 7, 2016 17

Ground Zero Chennai Floods

Media coverage

Lost in

The media as well as the government were slow in responding to

the cataclysmic floods in the city. Was it dismissed initially because
of a gross misreading of the situation or did it reflect inherent
north-south apathy and prejudices?

HE fact is cruel. India did not

rally around Chennai and
understand or register how
bad the situation was. Not
until it was far too late. For
some reason, torrential rain
does not have the same resonance as a hurricane
with a female name or a typhoon or a tsunami.
So, it was unfairly underplayed in the mind
and certainly the media suffered from the same
myopia and did diddly to emphasize the terrifying
onslaught by the weather. As a nation we made a
hmmmmm, how sad sort of acknowledgment
and carried on with our lives.
Id like to think the flaw in the first few days
was not one of indifference. And then, a wellknown Indian-born Australian, now an expert on
media, writes to me and articulates what I had
squeezed away into the attic of my mind and
locked the door.
Having read my indictment of the Indian
media thoughtlessly allowing itself to carry stories

Residents wade through a
flooded street in Chennai

18 VIEWS ON NEWS January 7, 2016

through audio-visual and in writing that India and

Goa were off the safe destination list in Russia
(irrelevant that Moscow rescinded the official
statement), Ivor Vaz is not surprised that no one
thought to say, Hey, wait a minute, Goa is part of
India. In fact, it has been since 1960.
The same analogy goes for seeding the
Chennai cloud.
It is the way we think that catches us out so pathetically. Hear Vaz on it: I think that the problem
stems from something far more sinister. Im currently on a tour of south-central India. Visiting
places that were at one point or another colonized
or occupied by Chinese, Dutch, French, Portuguese and eventually by the British. This has to

The Chennai deluge was underplayed in the

mind and the media suffered from the same
myopia. As a nation, we made a hmmmm,
how sad sort of acknowledgment and
carried on with our lives.
be one of the most beautiful places on earth
but is juxtaposed with some of the largest
social boundaries.
Let me explain, one of the things I hear Indians ask other Indians is where are you from? To
the untrained ear, this might sound like a seemingly innocent question. But it is laden with an
agenda to reduce your existence to a stereotype,
the shallowest depth of field and to create another
point of difference between one Indian and another. From state to province to village to tehsil to
district to which side of the street.
In Australia, no one really gives a bees behind
where someone from Australia really comes from
because if youre Aussie, youre Aussietrue blue.
Sadly in India it is different; it is sad that these
walls exist and are so deeply ingrained in our psyche. Is it that someone from Delhi or Mumbai is
superior than someone from Chennai or

people scamper
for free food
being distributed
by the
Indian Navy


January 7, 2016 19

Ground Zero Chennai Floods

Media coverage

How often we have been told: Oh

you dont look like a typical Bengali
or Malayalee or whatever,
the word typical soaked
in derision.

Indian media was quick to
carry stories that the tourist
haven Goa was off the safe
destination list in Russia

Kochi? You even hear them gasp and look at you

like you're backward if you assume that they are
from somewhere else. The truth is that, yes, you
are from Goa, or you are from Bengalurubut
you are Indian. This sense of national identity is
yet to be established with a significant sense
of togetherness.
How often we have been told, Oh you dont
look like a typical Bengali or Malayalee or whatever, the word typical soaked in derision.
This sense of national identity is what existed
during the 19-20th colonial centuries under the
divide and rule regimes but unfortunately this
split has been further eroded by our tendency to

20 VIEWS ON NEWS January 7, 2016

exclude and discriminate or, by that token, to congregate, club and become a cadre. This love for division is ruining any further potential that India
as a country might have to truly grow and subsequently prosper.
So, we come to the big question. If it had
rained in Mumbai or in Punjab, would the nation
have been more involved? Did the great NorthSouth socio-cultural divide really manifest itself
even during the worst floods in memory in Chennai? Did we need Nature to come and indict us for
our parochial prejudices?
Could it be the historical northern state arrogance
towards the southern states?
It is the attitude that everything and everyone
below the Hindi belt belongs to Madras or are
Madrasi. The parodies of cinematic characterization and the aye aye yo mockery reflects the
great Aryan-Dravidian debate.
Does the fact that northerners are relatively
fairer in skin and, therefore, by some foolish
chemistry, contributing to this thinking? Or is it a
response to the reactive South Indian cliquishness and their intellectual snobbery that makes
them see the northern brethren as crude and
Slivers of all these elements makes Chennai a
bridge too far to really bother. It is worth more
than a think because if we fail each other, what
price is the future? It is time to take the prejudices
of the past and throw them out with the
flood waters.
The first reaction to all this would be one of
furrowed annoyance. Dont be so silly, it is not like
it was cataclysmic from Day One, like an earthquake. It was just rain. The drainage system failed
the cityno one thought it was going to be
a crisis.
Partly true. Rain didnt make for much of a
story on the TRP Richter scale. Not in the first 72
hours. Oops, its raining in Chennai, oh okay, fine.

Even the print media put it on the inside pages.

It was much later when the death toll crossed
300 and the rains did not let up that there was a
national realization, albeit a little slow off the
mark, that the city was reeling. The morphed
Modi shot of deep introspection from a helicopter
port window did little to underscore the
seriousness. How desperate can it really be if
pictures have to be photo-shopped to underscore
the devastation?
Even the NRI community, so swift to wave
flags and fling clods of patriotic fervor, seemed
mired in inertia. Did the Tamil Nadu government
fail so miserably to send out the right messages
or did the northern and central belts not understand the language of the message and lost it
in translation?
On two fronts, the analysis demands to be
studied. In anthropological terms the NorthSouth equation has to be placed under scrutiny. It
is awry and needs to be corrected. If we allow the
chasm to widen further, there may be no bridge
long enough to span it.
In the second instance, it is necessary to make
amends for the slackness in the rebuilding of
Chennai. Shashi Tharoor writes: The city, home
to five million people, has virtually shut down,
with roads flooded and nearly 5,000 homes under
water. More than 450 people have died. Air and
rail services have been suspended, power and
phone lines have been disrupted.
I am not privy to his facts but I believe they are
far more horrific. A 10-minute documentary
shows all of the high-end Defence Colony in
Chennai submerged to the level of the first floor.
There was debris of garbage, floating animal
carcasses and stagnant pools which will breed disease. The need for water and food and medical
supplies and aid became paramount. As it was to
stave cholera, dysentery and malaria, the unholy
horsemen of the crisis.
There is no count yet of how many are homeless but it will be several hundred thousand. The

The city, home to five million people, has

virtually shut down, with roads flooded and
nearly 5,000 homes under water. Over 450
people have died. Air and rail services have
been suspended.
Former minister Shashi Tharoor
aftermath is often more damaging than the actual
flooding. Now is the time to get there and lend a
hand, to provide technical and skilled support, to
look after the children who have lost their homes,
to be Indian for Indians.
I studied in Chennai and worked there and, unfortunately, have no skill sets to offer except to
send out these signals that you are needed pro
bono as doctors, nurses, engineers, electricians,
plumbers... and if you need our time or help to
sponsor a family in dire straits, let us know... thousands of us would stand up and be counted, we
just wallow in ignorance and good intentions and
time passes and we end up doing nothing.

January 7, 2016 21

Ground Zero Chennai Floods

Social Media Coverage

While national
media was deficient
in its coverage of
Chennai, its place
was taken over by
social media which
became a tool for
information and
rescue efforts

After Chennai Floods

the Media Deluge

OR three daysfrom
December 1 to 3Chennai was marooned, and
there were heroic efforts
by residents, NGOs and
absolute strangers to rescue people in trouble. But did you see any of this
on national TV?
More importantly, did you get a sense of the
flooding or the scale of the disaster? You only saw
reporters standing near the airport and Saidapet

22 VIEWS ON NEWS January 7, 2016

Bridge where the Adyar river had overflowed, informing viewers that the city was under water. Yes,
there were shots of a few flooded localities such as
Kotturpuram, of residents trying to reach safety, of
submerged cars and rescue boats ferrying people.
An image that was shown repeatedly was of a family using drums to ferry their son to safety.
For two days, those outside Chennai did not know
how much of the city was under water. Nor how

deep the flooding was. We were repeatedly told that

the streets were flooded, that lakes were overflowing, that water had entered homes. But the images
did not give a sense of how bad the situation was.
Was the entire city flooded or was the flooding limited to areas located on the banks of the Adyar river?
Reporters and camera crew seemed to be shooting
from select locations and not across the city. There
was little effort to venture into localities that faced
the main brunt of the flooding.
It was only on the afternoon of December 3 that
we got a real sense of the calamity. TV crews boarded IAF choppers that were pressed into service to
drop food packets. The aerial shots shook viewers.
Street after street was under water. One could only
wonder how people were coping. Most single-storied homes were submerged. There were no roads,
only sheets of water.
Later in the evening, one saw TV crews piggybacking on army boats. On one boat, the TV reporter raised his hand to touch overhead electricity
wires to show how deep the water was. Why were

Chennai would have suffered many more

deaths had it not been for social media. It
gave the marooned a voice, a platform
where they could tweet their appeals for
help. The tweets did not go in vain.
the reporters avoiding the heavily flooded areas earlier? How well are TV teams anyway equipped to
cover such calamities?
Some of the questions that come to mind are:
 Why were there no maps to show which parts of
Chennai were flooded? And why couldnt the TV
crews interact with the administration and prepare
a map that showed how deep the water was in different localities?
 Why didnt cameramen climb buildings and take
aerial views of the flooding? Or venture deep into
areas that were heavily flooded?
 Viewers were informed that water had entered a
government hospital and that patients had to be

January 7, 2016 23

Ground Zero Chennai Floods

Social Media Coverage

The tweets for help had an instant

response. Some Chennaites in fact
offered to accommodate many people.
Marriage halls, community centers and
schools also opened their doors.
evacuated. But barring one picture of a woman in a
wheelchair, there were no shots to show the state of
the hospital or places where the patients had been
 There was considerable coverage of the airport.
But what about the railway station? Thousands
must have been stranded there.
 There were no shots of homes or schools or shelters where the rescued had been taken.
 What about officials or NGOs who were working
to reduce the misery of the people? Why were they
 Why were there so few interviews of people who
had been rescued? Or of the rescuers?
There were so many gaps in the coverage. To
make matters worse, the TV channels, instead of
pushing their reporters and cameramen to report
better, were busy asking their internet desks to
report how social media was covering the tragedy.
And that is where social media scored over national
media channels.
In fact, Chennai would have suffered many
more deaths had it not been for social media
which connected people in their hour of need.
It gave the marooned a voice, a platform where
they could tweet their appeals for help. The
tweets did not go in vain. Each message on
Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp was read,
retweeted and shared, and people responded.
The most powerful SOS helpline was Twitter
with its 140-character one-liners. Some of the
hashtags that relayed the woes and needs of
Chennai were: #chennairains, #chennaifloods,
#chennarainshelp and #chennaifloodsairport.
24 VIEWS ON NEWS January 7, 2016

In those crucial three daysDecember 1 to 3

the nature of the tweets changed as flood waters
rose, giving a scary picture of the sheer terror
Chennaites underwent:
 Twitter as a warning board: As the clouds
opened up and streets got submerged on December 1, alarmed residents tweeted pictures
and videos. These tweets acted as warnings to
fellow citizens to avoid places where the water
had started collecting. December 2 saw more
such photographs being tweetedsubmerged
cars, fallen trees, Saidapet bridge under water,
flooded railway tracks. These images provided the first clues of how parts of Chennai
went under water.


offers of help: Images of stranded cars

brought immediate offers of help. Volunteers
tweeted phone numbers, offering help to repair
cars or tow them to safety. As the flooding had
not sunk in fully, the offers were limited to rescuing people who had got stuck on roads.


tweets for information: By the afternoon of December 2, the situation had changed.
There was now worry and concern. People in
Chennai as well as outside wanted to know if
their near and dear ones were safe or not. There
were tweets requesting information on hashtags
built around Chennai rains and floods.

First appeals for food, water, material, emer-

gency supplies: With every passing hour,

peoples woes mounted. There was no electricity
and water had started entering homes by the
afternoon of December 2. People were forced
to move to higher floors or to safer places.
They were also running out of food, water
and emergency supplies. The nature of tweets
changed; they now asked for food and water and

this continued for the next few days.

 Call for volunteers: The scale of the tragedy
required more hands. Volunteers were getting
stretched. They also needed transport and emergency supplies. Tweets were now put out seeking
more volunteers and information regarding food
and water. Surprisingly, there were no tweets from
the administration asking people to come out
and help. The government seemed to be avoiding
social media.
 Chennaites tweet to open doors for needy:
The tweets for help produced an immediate response. Some offered one room, some two,
some willing to accommodate many people.
There were tweets about marriage halls, community centers and schools that could accommodate flood victims. There were also offers
to provide food. Nothing could have been more
heart-warming than seeing a whole city rise
to help.
 Acts of heroism: There was one video that stood
out. It was tweeted to show how people joined
hands on a flooded street to save a man from being
washed away. There was another first-day tweet

activated its
Safety Check
feature on
December 3,
making it
possible for
its users in
Chennai to
reach out to
relatives and
loved ones
with one click.


January 7, 2016 25

Ground Zero Chennai Floods

Social Media Coverage


When large parts of
Jammu and Kashmir
were flooded in 2014,
social media was used
sporadically for
organizing help

Why were
avoiding the
flooded areas
earlier? How
well are TV
teams anyway
equipped to
cover such

of a policeman directing traffic at a flooded underpass, though he himself seemed to be in danger of

going under water.
 Companies offer help: Private companies too
took to Twitter to broadcast messages of free services and support. Airtel offered free talk-time credit
up to `30 to all prepaid customers in Chennai, while
Paytm launched a Stay Safe initiative. Vodafone offered to reach out to all its customers. Food delivery
app Zomato came out with a customized offer,
Meal for Flood Relief , where, if a customer buys a
meal for the people of Chennai, the company will
add another to it.
 Too many retweets: There was a flip side too.
There were several good-hearted citizens who
retweeted each tweet for help. These retweets
foxed volunteers and often led them to areas
where help had already been provided. This led
to a call to remove all those tweets that had already been catered to. Not an easy task. To avoid
confusion, Twitter India put out a message as to
how the Twitterati should be using Twitter.
Facebook, on its part, activated its Safety Check feature on December 3. With this, it became possible
for Facebook users in Chennai to reach out to

26 VIEWS ON NEWS January 7, 2016

friends, relatives and loved ones with one click. All

that they needed to do was to click the Safe button
that appeared on their Facebook page. Facebook instantly notified the individuals network that their
friend or relative was safe.
Google too used its search expertise to deploy
the Crisis Response page, and its robots roamed the
net to pick up all rescue-related information and
put them up on a single page. The page also connected the latest tweets by Chennaites.
The net-savvy people of Chennai also showed
how crowd sourcing could be a great way to pool
information. was started as a
Google spreadsheet where people were asked to put
in helpline numbers, offers of accommodation,
food, etc. Forms were provided so that people could
provide full and complete information. The spreadsheet was soon upgraded to a full website.
Compare this to the way social media was used
during the Srinagar floods last year. One key difference was the lack of organized effort in Srinagar.
While there were tweets and Facebook pages, these
were individual posts where pictures of flooded
streets, submerged homes and army boats rescuing
people were shown. The people of Srinagar did not
turn to the web to provide help in an organized way.
There were only a few tweets of people inquiring
about the well-being of their loved ones. In fact,
Twitter did not turn into a helpline as in Chennai.
Even coverage by TV channels during the Srinagar floods had a patriotic spin. National anchors
baited Kashmiris saying that they must at least now
realize how soldiers were putting their lives at risk
to rescue the flood-hit. The question that was repeatedly raised was: Will this be a turning point in
the way the Kashmiris view the Indian army?
It seems like the location of a calamity and the
net savviness of people residing there have a lot to
do with the way rescue efforts are conducted. And
social media will become a vital platform for relief
in future.

The writer is dean, School of Communication,

GD Goenka University, Gurgaon

Web Crawler What Went Viral

UK social media
wants Trump barred

onald Trumps claim that parts of

London are so radicalized the police
are afraid for their lives has sparked off
a social media storm.
While the Republican frontrunner was
roundly condemned by British politicians
cutting across party lines, there has been
a surge of signatures on the British parliament's petitions webpage calling for
him to be banned from entering the UK,
BBC reported.
A petition calling for Trump to be
banned attracted more than 1,00,000

signatures in about a daya number that

climbed to more than 4,00,000 by midweekmaking it eligible to be considered for debate in parliament. The petition
calls for Trump to be barred for hate
Labour home affairs spokesman
Jack Dromey and Green Party leader
Natalie Bennett have both backed the
petition. On Twitter, many mocked
Trump for his comments. The hashtag
#trumpfacts trended in London, with
30,000 messages.

FB friends

alifornia shooter Tashfeen Malik sent at least

two private messages on
Facebook to a small group
of Pakistani friends in 2012
and 2014, pledging her
support for jihad and saying she hoped to join the
fight one day, reported Los

Angeles Times.
The new info indicates
that US law enforcement
and intelligence agencies
missed warnings on social

Tell your son

your story

n a bid to create awareness about sexual

harassment among men and boys, human
rights organization Breakthrough has
launched a social media campaign share
your story with your son, reported TOI.
The campaign seeks to fight sexual harassment by inculcating empathic values in
young boys and men towards a harassed
woman and has been popularized with
hashtag #shareyourstory. It calls for mothers to share their stories of sexual harassment with their sons so that an
inter-generational dialogue can be built up.

media that Malik was a potential threat before she entered the US on a K-1
fiancee visa in July 2014.
The two Facebook messages were recovered by
FBI agents investigating
whether Malik and her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook,
received any financial support or instructions from
foreign terrorist organizations before they carried
out the December 2

Speaking about the campaign, Breakthrough country director Sonali Khan said:
Conversations about sexual harassment
don't happen within Indian families. I have
a 19-year-old son and I thought, did I ever
have such a conversation with him? If a
parent has such a conversation, what will
be the impact?

State snooping,
beware: Twitter

witter has warned a number of users that

they may have been the target of a statesponsored attack. The company has apparently sent the warnings by email to more than
20 users, reported The Guardian.
The warning reads: We are alerting you
that your Twitter account is one of a small
group of accounts that may have been targeted by state-sponsored actors. We believe
these actors (possibly associated with a government) may have been trying to obtain information such as email addresses, IP
addresses and/or phone numbers.
Among those who have publicly said that
they received the warning are: Winnipegbased information security nonprofit Coldhak, Minnesotan encryption activist
myriadmystic, privacy and security researcher Runa Sandvik and Austrian communications consultant Marco Schreuder.
Twitter is following both Google and Facebook in sending out warnings to perceived
targets of state-sponsored hacking.
Compiled by Sucheta Dasgupta

January 7, 2016 27

Comic Con Delhi

Just for a


The fifth edition of Comic Con showed the rising popularity of comics
among young and free-spirited souls and the boom in the graphic art form,
be it in comic strips, movies or television shows


Superhero Hulk makes an
appearance at Delhi Comic Con

T WAS a bright and balmy Sunday morning on December 6. Goddesses and empresses chatted away on the Okhla National
Small Industries Corporation Exhibition
Ground, sharing puffs from slim, black cigarettes with villains and headless ghouls. A
little distance ahead, Gandalf, Hulk, Harry Potter, Hit-Girl
and Joker posed for a photograph before cheering fans.
Young, artistic and free-spirited, they came in groups and
pairs, many dressed as their favorite superheroes. By the
time the fifth edition of Comic Con Delhi had closed, there
had been around 35,000 visitors.
Started in 2011, Comic Con India travels to three
citiesMumbai, Delhi and Bengaluruannually, with
Hyderabad being the new addition. While footfalls
have doubled since its launch, the sale of merchthe
cool word for comics-related merchandisehas
risen manifold having crossed one crore two years
ago. What then are the various cultural elements
and trends driving this phenomenon?
Fandoms, cosplay: Fanfiction (fiction characters
used in different settings) writers, poets, artists and
cosplayers (those indulging in costume play which
is dressing up as in a fancy dress party or carnival)
together constitute a particular fandom. Members of
this subculture are united by a camaraderie born of
shared devotion to a particular comic strip, movie or tele-

Photos: Siddhartha Samaddar

vision show. Love for their hero often impinges on

their lifestyle.
Fans of Sherlock Holmes are said to have comprised the first modern fandom, publicly mourning
his death in 1893 and creating some of the first
fanfiction as early as 1897. Moving on to the here
and now, it is the lure of being photographed as
ones fav hero that drew many a fanboy and fangirl
to the Delhi Comic Con.
A selfie with toons: With the amount of care and
intent that goes into their get-up, it is no wonder
that one handsome Smurf, who was mistaken for
Santa because of his red hat, got offended: Chhee!
All my effort gone to waste!? Do I look like a Santa?
Santa blue hota hai kya? Come, take a selfie with
me by your side! The person who erred complied
and so did many others.
Serious comics: In 2003, Iranian-French graphic
novelist Marjane Satrapi published the English
translation of her critically-acclaimed memoir,
Persepolis, where she chronicled her run-ins as a
child with society and the law in post-Revolution
Iran. Written in the 70s feminist style of underground artists like Aline Kominsky-Crumb, it was

(Clockwise, from
above left)
dressed as
Neytiri and
Athena. Hit-Girl
and Kick-Ass.
Rob Denbleyker,
co-creator of
Cyanide And

an instant hit and sparked off a wave of such work.

Successive Indian comic cons have seen a few of
these maverick writers, including Nicolas Wild of
Kabul Disco fame. This year, there were Ram Devineni (Priyas Shakti), Sumit Kumar (Amar Bari
Tomar Bari Naxalbari) and Dalbir Singh, all Indians. In their 40s, the trio has a diverse set of products to offer and their subjects are the same
politics and society and they all have a message.
In Sikh Park, for instance, Singh has attempted
to start a dialogue on the issues faced by the Sikh
community in the US and Canada. Asked for his

January 7, 2016 29

Comic Con Delhi

Fanfiction writers, poets, artists and

cosplayers are united by a camaraderie born
of shared devotion to a particular comic
strip, movie or television show. Love for
their hero often impinges on their lifestyle.
(Below right) Visitors to the
Con took time off to doodle
and paint on this wall. Dont
mistake these Smurfs for
Santa Claus

stance on the controversy surrounding Sardar

jokes, he said, confessionally: One evolves. As a
child, I did find them offensive. Not anymore. I
could draw a parallel with the blacks in America.
Because they have integrated into mainstream society, they can laugh at jokes about race today. So
this issue need not be taken seriously.
Writers like the creator of Angry Maushi, Ab-

30 VIEWS ON NEWS January 7, 2016

hijeet Kini, felt the market must move on from redoing and overdoing mythology. Its been done to
death, he said. If you ever thought comics are
meant for only children, think again.
Webcomics wave: Black humor is the foremost
characteristic of this no-holds-barred genre and
encompasses everything under the sun. Some
strips are character-driven like the absurdist
Achewood wherein the protagonists are talking animals with personalities I am Middle Cat, not
Ray (Smuckles), not Pat (Reynolds). Others, like
the self-deprecating Oatmeal arent. Some have
story arcs, others dont. But all are intellectual,
which is why geek is chic and their appeal
Take SMBC (Saturday Morning Breakfast Ce-

real) which, many say, is NSFW (not safe for work).

One of its gentler cartoons, which still does not
miss a dig at the Anti-Evolution League of America, consists of a picture of three newspapers running the headlines: Will the world end in six
months? Is a universal cure round the corner? Was
Darwin wrong? The caption says it all. New rule
for Science Journalism. If your article can be summarized as no, do not write it.
Asked for a desi edition of his strip at the Delhi
Comic Con, Rob Denbleyker, co-creator of
Cyanide And Happiness, said to big applause: It already exists. This version of Cyanide And Happiness is already the Indian version of Cyanide And
Star power: Would anyone let slip a chance to rub
shoulders with Rana Daggubati, Ayushman Khurana, Baba Sehgal and Nawazuddin Siddiqui? Pass
up a chance to meet Sherlock creator Mark Gatiss?
Be cold to the prospects of shaking hands with
Kristian Nairn aka Hodor of Game of Thrones

Other interesting facets of this comic

con included colorful coasters with Bugs
Bunny and Garfield pictures, I Am
Sherlocked T-shirts and purple,
turquoise and pink artificial hair.
renown? All of them as well as other eminent
celebs have attended Indias different comic cons.
Fun, games and merch: Other interesting facets
of this comic con included colorful coasters with
Bugs Bunny and Garfield pictures, I Am Sherlocked T-shirts and purple, turquoise and pink artificial hair. Never mind if they cost a bomb. Sales
of posters, mugs and artwork hit a high at the con
this year and scores queued up to pick up designer
items signed by their idols. Meanwhile, those who
wanted to go easy on their pockets could volunteer
for a spot of boxing or participate in a pop quiz,
free of charge. All in good fun.

Sales of
at Comic Con
India have
crossed the
`1 crore mark


January 7, 2016 31

Book Review
Rest in Peace


Adventures of
Ravan and

This is the third book in the trilogy written

by Kiran Nagarkar and gives a close-up of
life in Mumbais chawls. It has everything
drama, action, suspense, disbelief...
32 VIEWS ON NEWS January 7, 2016

The book captures the

resilience and the
resignation of people living
in Mumbais chawls

ATAN, said GK Chesterton,

fell by the force of gravity. So
it was with Ravan. He fell
from the arms of the voluptuous Parvatibai and got
caught by Eddie Coutinho
who died in the bargain. Parvatibai named the boy
Ravan to ward off the evil eye. So begins the first
book, Ravan and Eddie, in the trilogy of books by
Kiran Nagarkar about life in Mumbais CWD
Chawl 17. The second book, The Extras, traces the
parallel lives of Eddie and Ravan, who, at the conclusion of the book, collaborate to become ... dont
want to be a spoiler! The third and final book in the
trilogy, Rest in Peace, which is being reviewed here,
is a sort of rencontres hasardeux (hazardous encounters) of Ravan and Eddie in the film world
and a detour in their career.
Let me digress here and mention about the back
cover of the book. It has the bodies of Ravan and
Eddie, wrapped like corpses, laid on a cart. Ravan

is asking Eddie: Are we dead, Eddie? To which

Eddie replies: If we are, Ravan, I promise well take
that damned author with us.
Sounds almost like an ad? Thereby hangs a tale.
It must have been around 1982 when I was a rookie
copywriter at Mechanix Marketing Associates
(MMA), an advertising start-up (that word had not
yet entered the common parlance then) founded by
Gopal Balani (one of the nicest persons I have met
in advertisingmay his soul rest in peace). We
were handling the Zenith Computers account then
and Balani had assigned me to the project. Zenith
Computers was launching a new computer and, sad
to say, my efforts in creating a concept for the campaign and punning came to naught.
It was then that Gopal approached a copywriter
from Chaitra, one of the creative agencies in the
business. We met the copywriter who was clad in
kurta-pajama, and his art director at Kwality Restaurant in Worli. While I scalded my hand trying
to pour tea into my cup from a tea-cosy covered
pot, the copywriter had cracked the campaign in
his head.
Two days later, I saw an impactful,
photographic executiona man with
his head on the guillotine and a headline in Eras typeface that said: Zenith
Computers puts its neck on the block
with... The pithy body copy went on
to extol the computers salient features. The overall effect was mesmerizing. The client loved the ad. The
copywriter was Kiran Nagarkar (the
art director was Sunil Mahadik).
Cut to 2015 at the Tata Literature
Live panel discussion at Prithvi Theatre in Mumbai. After the one-hour
session, I had my fan-boy moment. I
accosted Nagarkar and asked him to
autograph my copy of Rest in Peace.
He obliged happily.

So, the first time I met Nagarkar, he was a copywriter. The second time I met him, he was a Sahitya
Akademi Award-winning author (for Cuckold). It
was the advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach
(DDB) which turned all the rules of advertising upside down to produce the brilliant Avis campaign
which said: Avis is only number 2. So why go with
us? We try harder. Just as DDB put forth its weakness as a strong point, so too Nagarkar names his protagonist
after a villain, Ravan challenging
the status quo.

(Below) Harold Robbins penned a
triology on the American
entertainment industry
(Bottom) A Bollywood movie set.
Nagarkars book takes off from
the point when the main
characters are discovered by the
film industry

Nagarkar shows a similar bent of
mind when he dares to name the
protagonist of his book Ravan.
Ravan, as we all know, is the villain in the epic, Ramayana. To
name the protagonist of your
novel after a villain is audacious.
Having said that, to call the Ravan and Eddie books a trilogy
would be a misnomer. They are
more like a seriesThe


January 7, 2016 33

Book Review
Rest in Peace

As they
go from
one risky
encounter to
another, one
feels sorry,
angry, happy
for Ravan and
Eddie. Both
will go down
as characters
who mirror
the attitude
of the

By Kiran Nagarkar
Publisher: HarperCollins
Price: `450, 364 pages

Adventures of Ravan and Eddie.

There have been other trilogies.
Harold Robbins three booksThe
Dream Merchants, The Carpetbaggers,
and The Inheritorscould qualify as a
trilogy based on the American entertainment industry. There is also Amitav Ghoshs The Ibis trilogySea of
Poppies (2008), River of Smoke (2011)
and Flood of Fire (2015.)
Rest in Peace takes off from the
point when Ravan and Eddie are discovered by the film industry. They
have arrived. Nagarkar grabs your eyeballs from the first page itself. Savor
Writer Amitav Ghosh
this description of opportunistic Bolis known for his
Ibis trilogy
lywood film producers and directors
who are making a beeline for Chawl
17: The chauffeur got out, opened the
Then, again, the shooting scene (pun uninrear door on the right and a man in white, the size
tended) in the Chambal is pure kitsch. The corrupt
of three polar bears, struggled to come out. It took
cop and the deviously scheming villager all add to
the driver and another helper to ease the triple
the comedy-quotient of the book. Take the chapter
polar bear from the car. (Baby boomers are sure to
when Ravan and Eddie discover a new career for
be reminded of the classic James Hadley Chase line
themselves. Again, Nagarkar gives you a close-up
from the book, No Business of Mine: Go jump in a
of life in the chawls, redolent with black humor.
lake, I said, Jump into two if one wont hold you.)
So, as they go from one risky encounter to anFrom here on, the book is a series of haps and
other, one feels sorry, angry, happy, for the duo.
mishaps of the duo in the world of entertainment.
Their innocence is their salvation. The book ends
in a Tom Sharpe-meets-Priyadarshan fashion.
Nagarkar is at his best when he is irreverent and
Theres a little bit of drama, melodrama, action, sussticks to the chawls. A scene when Ravan and Eddie
pense, disbelief.... Nagarkar brings back all the imhave to return to the chawl captures both the reportant characters from his previous two books of
silience and the resignation of those who live there:
the trilogy in this finale. Each one is neatly tied up
Ravan was discovering that when you have nothand put in his or her place. Ravan and Eddie will
ing to do, one way of occupying yourself was to
go down as two memorable characters symbolizing
scratch the stubble on your face or move south and
the never-say-die attitude of the Mumbaikar.
give the goods there a good jiggle, rub and scratch.
The cover design of the book is by Nagarkar
(Who can forget the famous scene from the movie,
(once an ad man, always an ad man) and the cover
Piya Ka Ghar when Keshto Mukherjee does a simphoto and illustration are by Prashant Godbole.
ilar number?) Still, I cannot say the same when he
Rest In Peace is a post-script to a post-script. Howwrites about the hi-life (Nagarkar lives in one of the
ever, if you like a rollicking romp through the lives
tony parts of Mumbai).
of Ravan and Eddie, pick it up.

34 VIEWS ON NEWS January 7, 2016


Kiran Nagarkar

I am not an author
people know at all
no introduction. A novelist,
playwright, film and drama
critic and screenwriter, he
has written a trilogy of which
Rest in Peace is the last book.
In a conversation with
with sardonic humor, he
speaks about his early
days of struggle in the
advertising world, his
forays into play writing, his troubles with
the Censor Board
and how he finally
won the Sahitya
Akademi award

When did you start writing?

I started writing in 1967 or 1968. Thats when I
wrote my first book in Marathi, 7 Sixes are Forty
Three. I was trying to get into advertising being
unfit for anything else. I must have applied to at
least 12 ad agencies and all of them refused. One
of them asked me to come on a Monday. I turned
up early. I waited in the reception area but no one
turned up. At about 11.30 am, I told them, I am
supposed to work from today. They went inside
and told the copy chief. He came out and said they
were very sorry as there was going to be a new tax
on advertising and so I was not going to get the
job. (Laughs) The entire government was conspiring against me. I obviously must be a very important person.
Then what happened?
Ultimately, I got a lucky break in MCM (Mass
Communication and Marketing) with Kersey Katrak. Arun Kolatkar (the celebrated poet) was
working there. So thats how we got together.
Working for MCM was not easy. It pitched for
every single thingaccounts that had been
with other agencies for 10-15 years. It was
sheer madness.
What about your first book?
In December 1974, my first novel, 7 Sixes
are Forty Three, was published in
Marathi. Then around 1977, I finished
my play, Bedtime Story. It is based on

the Mahabharata and took 38 years to be published. Initially, it was legally banned and then
extra-legally banned. As a play, it got 74 or so cuts
from the Censor Board. Around that time, a director asked me to write a screenplay, so I started
with Ravan and Eddie. He thought I would be
writing something melodramatic. By the second
meeting he must have realized that I wasnt his
kind of writer. He didnt even show up to tell me
he was not interested in my work. Fortunately, I
pursued it.
What was this period like?
Those were very difficult times. On rare occasions
when we got work and if it did not pass with the
client, we didnt even get rejection fees. So earning
`1,500 every two or three months was very difficult. This went on for a very long time. I think
somewhere around the late eighties, I started getting work. In 1995, Ravan and Eddie got published.
In 1997, Cuckold came out. Then I took a very long
time for Gods Little Soldier. Actually, Cuckold died
immediately the day it was published.
Why do you say that?
Because it just didnt take off despite very good reviews. I was fortunate that in 2000, I got the
Sahitya Akademi Award for Cuckold. Its not a
bestseller at all. Even The Extras completely
flopped. No, I am not an author people know
at all.
Who were your early influences as far as
your reading is concerned?
As Coleridge has said so pithily, you have to be a
rock or someone dead not to be influenced by
books. I can tell you the books that were very important in my life but I cant trace how they influenced me. I love Graham Greene, and Joseph
Hellers Catch-22 was an important book for me.
The book that left an indelible impression on me
was The Plague by Albert Camus. Then there was
French author Louis-Ferdinand Celine. He was a

peculiar character, a doctor who practiced among

the poor in localities where you have small-time
thieves and prostitutes. He found that a Jewish
doctor had discovered that French women died
during childbirth because the midwives or the
doctors dont wash their handsso they got easily infected. Celine took up this message in his
books. There is dark humor, his style is so different. Its completely staccato, sometimes he doesnt
finish his sentencesbut hes a remarkable author. Perhaps theres black humor in my books
also but I cant trace it directly to him. Its impossible not to be influenced at all. How can one not
be influenced by Tolstoy? Theres an Italian author called Curzio Malaparte whose book on

A bouquet of books
written by Kiran


January 7, 2016 37


Kiran Nagarkar

war was amazingits called Kaputt.

(L-R) Nagarkar has a special
liking for authors like Graham
Greene and Joseph Heller

How did you begin with the concept of

Ravan and Eddie?
I had an image of a boy falling down. When I was
in MCM, the copy department secretary called all
of us from her department for lunch at her place.
And without realizing it, I found that all the
Catholics lived on the top floor, which was the fifth
floor. All the others, Hindus, stayed from the first
floor upwards. And that was the case in all the
chawls there.
So when I was writing Ravan and Eddie, it must
have come back to me as I was trying to follow the
formula of that time. I had seen it like this in my
minds eye: the fall (of Ravan) was there, the titles
came and then you saw them as grown-ups.
Which do you find difficultadvertising

Most authors are disciplined. I am

entirely lacking in that, which is why I
have no work to show really. And I am
extremely ashamed of it. You need two
thingsimagination and hard work.

38 VIEWS ON NEWS January 7, 2016

or writing a book?
Whats your method of working? Do
you have a schedule?
Most authors are disciplined. I am entirely lacking
in that, which is why I have no work to show really. And I am extremely ashamed of it. You need
two thingsimagination and hard work.
How do you write do you use a
The laptop is a recent thing. I wrote Gods Little
Soldier entirely by hand and revised it eight times.
The book didnt catch on here, but in Germany,
its a bestseller. But my works dont sell.
But you have a Sahitya Akademi Award.
Yes. The Akademi always had eminent personalities and with integrity. The moral standing of writers like UR Ananthamurthy who got the award is
so great. As a writer, you have to be responsible.
What do you think of recent writing?
I dont read much. At least four or five authors are
making crores. My problem is that I dont read. So
if at all I want to read, shouldnt I read the greats?

(L-R) The Plague by Albert
Camus left a deep
impression on Nagarkar; he
also liked French author
Louis-Ferdinand Celines
dark humor

I still remember your campaign for

retrofit machines for Pratibha, the
ad agency.
Is there life after deathI think that was the
You have a terrific memory.
No, no, I dont. The nature of advertising has
changed. The same person sells 15 or 16 items simultaneouslytheres no creativity at all. Then
theres testimonial advertising with celebrities
so boring. I mean Kalyan jewellery? Amitabh
Bachchans whole family is selling it! But then it
must be workingotherwise why would they do
it over and over again. I am totally obsolete.
Whats your take on God?
I am an agnostic. I am clueless. Theres grace in
the Catholic sense, having been to a Catholic
school. I still dont know Our Father. Its a disgrace because its such a fine prayer. And
throughout my stay in the Catholic school, I
would mumble my way through.
Where did you get your inspiration for
Gods Little Soldier, a book on faith?

The laptop is a recent thing. I wrote

Gods Little Soldier entirely by hand and
revised it eight times. The book didnt
catch on here, but in Germany, its a
bestseller. But my works dont sell.
Whatever I say will be hindsight. So just dont
trust it too much. It did bother me that they had
banned Satanic Verses. One of the pre-conditions
of censorship is that hardly anyone has read it. We
banned it and then the Ayatollah put a fatwa.
How can a religious head a president of sort,
do something like this?
Which city do you consider home?
Bombay. I was born here. But its unfortunate that
the climate here has now changed. Why should
one be at odds with the powers that be? Many authors have returned their awards because they are
worked up about atheists being murdered. I
would think that the center would at some time
ask, Whats going on? After all, this is Bharat, the
home of Kalidasa and Vatsyayana who even analyzed sex.

January 7, 2016 39

Mobile Medium

Stop Being a Blockhead!

Amitava Sen

This could
well be what
publishers and
advertisers tell
digital users as
they block ads
on mobiles,
tablets and
Without ads,
the future of
free content on
the internet is
under threat

RE you experiencing impediments while logging in or surfing your favorite websites on

your cell phone, tablet or computer? Have you ever wondered
why? Thats because popular sites are replete with
advertisements for all kinds of goods and unsolicited services that you neither need nor wish to
buy. Yet, these unwanted commercials engage our
attention, waste our time and consume our devices
batteries, thereby increasing maintaining cost.
However, solutions are at hand to protect you
from these cumbersome adsad blockers. Though
they have been in existence for nearly a decade, it
was only in 2010 that their form and design was
perfected. They are now available widely.
Ad blocking is a technology which allows ads to

40 VIEWS ON NEWS January 7, 2016

be blocked before they are loaded by the browser,

thereby saving bandwidth and making the page load
faster. Ad blockers automatically block cookies, images, resources, pop-ups, and other content and are
fast and effective. According to Apple Inc.: Once
installed, itll work continuously. But the truth is
that despite all these newly-proffered technologies,
all ads cant be effectively blocked or barred.
Currently, the most popular ad blocker technologies are: Purify, 1Blocker, Blockr, Crystal, Adblocker, Adblock plus, Ghostery, Ad Muncher,
Peace and NoScript. In some sites, such as Facebook
and Google, ads cant be blocked as these are integrated in the webpage. In such cases, ads are technologically hidden but are being loaded and bandwidth cant be saved.
However, a newly designed technology by Apple, Adblock Plus, is the most popular. Its available
for Firefox. It works to the satisfaction of internet
users. However, advertisers and publishers are unhappy as its believed that there are over 200 million
monthly users of ad block software worldwide.
Some of the well-known anti-blocking companies are PageFair, StatCounter and Sourcepoint. According to a 2014 PageFair-Adobe company report,
these companies provide off counter ad block solutions to web publishers help over 3,000 websites
free measures and recover revenue lost due to ad
blockoffer technology solutions to enterprise
publishers to recover lost advertising inventory.
Blocked ads generally include display, video, social and search ads. Their ranks are multiplying by
the day. On September 9, PageFair reported a 69
percent increase in ad block users in the last 12
months in the US. The company found that there
were over a billion ad blocking hits every month

across some 3,000 of its client websites. Ad blocking

now poses a threat for the future of free content on
the internet.

n the UK also, ad blocking reportedly grew 82

percent to reach 12 million active users in 12
months up till June 2015. In Europe, ad blocking shot up by 35 percent during 2014-15. Meanwhile, by 2016, the global cost of ad blocking is
expected to touch $41.4 billion. And with the release
of Apples new device, iOS, ad blocking will become
more common, while its Safaria smaller programwill support smaller companies. It will block
cookies, images, pop-ups and other contentcommon tools for online advertising.
According to a June 2015 PageFair and Adobe
study, the ad blocker industry will hit online businesses, particularly publishing and advertising. The
report highlights some of the serious threats to the
global digital media industry whose mainstay is web
advertising. It estimates that if ad blocking becomes
the order of the day, the net loss to digital concerns
in the US alone could escalate to nearly $21.8 billion
by 2017. The revenue loss in 2014 was $5.8 billion.
Incidentally, Washington Post recently reported
that companies that make money from ads have
complained about ad blockers, but Google noted
recently that it was looking for ways to make better,
less annoying ads to reduce customers desire to get
rid of them. Google, incidentally, earns nearly 90
percent of its revenue from online ads, which stand
at $7 billion, followed by Facebook at $3.5 billion.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Apple earned
$487 million in mobile advertising in 2014. However, overall mobile earnings are likely to double in
value to $42 billion from 2014 to 2016, according to
eMarketer, a media researcher. The mobile share of
all digital ad revenue will grow to 62 percent from
38 percent. Incidentally, its estimated that print
media ad earnings will mop up only around $28 billion in 2016.
Commenting on the hazards of ad blocking, the
report adds: Its tragic that block users are inadver-

Anil Shakya

tently inflicting multi-billion dollar losses on the

very websites they most enjoy. With ad blocking
going mobile, theres an imminent threat that the
business model that has supported the open web for
two decades is going to collapse. Incidentally, nearly
71 percent of all users surveyed are said to be supportive of ad blocking devices.
Almost all publishers and content providers entirely depend on ad revenues from the digital industry. But if ad blocking becomes pervasive, most of
the digital firms will wind up. With a view to saving
their businesses, they have been consistently urging
digital media device users to not to block ads, just
as print media establishments dont. Publishers and
content providers had hoped that internet users
would sportingly accept online ads in the same spirit
they had accepted ads on television or in the print
media. The Guardian newspaper has politely, albeit
sweetly, appealed to readers: We notice you have
got an ad blocker switched on. Perhaps youll like to
support The Guardian in another way? It directs
visitors to a link to become a supporter or donor
to The Guardian. Even though The Guardian has
urged: Without ads, we will not survive, the appeal
hasnt really cut much ice. The newspaper has kept
reminding readers of its high quality journalism.
And, finally, it has realized that its efforts are futile.
Given that the use of ad blockers comes down to
fairness than legality, the question is whether begging for mercy actually works, it said. Perhaps not.
Until bold alternatives are found, the digital industry may have to rely on its inherent strengths.

Unwanted commercials
waste our time and
consume our devices
batteries, jacking up
maintenance costs


January 7, 2016 41

Editors Pick
Shoaib Daniyal

Bullet Train, Necessity

or Accessory?
Incredibly, the government of India will spend more
on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad line than it does on rail
safety, Swachh Bharat, schools, highways or health

VON brings in each issue,

the best written commentary
on any subject. The following
write-up, from has
been picked by our team of
editors and reproduced for
our readers as the best in the

A bullet train will
be exorbitantly
costly and will
serve only a small
segment of the

N every which way, Narendra Modis

2014 campaign was spectacular.
From communication to ground
management, the Bharatiya Janata
Party electoral machine, it is widely
acknowledged, got it right. However,
a year and a half after Modi took office, one aspect of his
campaign seems to have been a bit too spectacular altogether. As part of its manifesto, the BJP promised what it
called a diamond quadrilateral: a network of bullet trains
crisscrossing the country. The first step in that plan has
gone through. India just signed a deal with Japan to build
42 VIEWS ON NEWS January 7, 2016

a Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train link.

Politicians overpromising things while campaigning
is a fine Indian tradition but the enormous cost of just
this one line should serve as a shock: the estimated project
expenditure has come to `98,000 crore.
To put that in perspective, heres a chart of how this
figure compares to other expenditure by the government
of India on absolutely vital sectors such as rail safety,
health, roads and schools (see the chart on facing page).
Narendra Modi has made cleanliness a key part of his
governments message. And indeed, India desperately
needs it being one of the countries with the worst rates of

Can Indians
first get access
to housing,
health and

open defecation on the planet. 44% of Indians do not use what is probably the most
basic marker of modernity: a toilet. Even
Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh beat big
brother India with corresponding figures of
32%, 13% and 1%, respectively.
India should be on a toilet overdrive, yet
the government of India is going to spend
41X of its Swachh Bharat Mission outlay for
2014-15 on building a somewhat fast train
line between two cities already superbly
connected by road, rail and air.

The absurdly wasteful bullet train line

All figures in ` 000 crore
Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train
Centre spend on highways, 2015-16
Centre spend on schools, 2015-16
Centre spend on railways, 2015-16
Centre spend on health, 2015-16
Safety investment in railways, 2015-16
Centre spend on Swachh Bharat, 2015-16 2.4


Theres more: the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train cost
is almost 4X the amount the Centre is going to invest in
rail safety in 2015-16. Just a week ago, India saw two train
accidents claim 14 lives and the Indian rail system is one
of the most unsafe in the world. Yet, precious money is
being diverted from safety to needless luxuries like a bullet
train. In fact, shockingly, the bullet train budget is 2.4X
the entire amount the government of India is going to
spend on the Indian Railways in 2015-16.
The Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train budget is also
2.3X the entire spend of the Centre on schools. The corresponding figure for health and highways is 3.3 and 2.3,
There is an interesting contrast here with healthcare.
Like bullet trains, the BJP manifesto had also promised a


Data: Government of India budgets

plan for universal healthcare. This is much needed. Indias

healthcare system is shambolic and according to a World
Health Organisation study, ranks 112th in the world (for
context, eastern neighbour Bangladesh ranks in at 88, a
good 24 places ahead). Yet, in March 2015, the Modi government decided to scrap plans for a universal healthcare
scheme due to a constraint on India's financial resources.
This plan, which could have changed India dramatically,
had a budget which was just 25% more than the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train link.
The razzmatazz of a bullet train might help him
politically but can Prime Minister Narendra Modi justify
reducing the Mumbai-Ahmedabad commute by two
hours as a more important public goal than rail safety,
ending open defecation, schooling, building highways
across the country or public health?
Shoaib Daniyal is a Mumbai-based writer and
a political commentator

January 7, 2016 43




Even as she mulls tightening norms for refugees in

the face of growing opposition at home,
German Chancellor Angela Merkel finds herself projected as the Chancellor of the Free World by Time
magazine. Will this soften her heart once again?

These politicians not only play with fear, they prey on it. US presidential candidate Donald Trump, French National Front leader
Marine Le Pen and Hungarys Prime Minister Viktor Orban, with
their hawkish postures on the refugee crisis and terrorism concerns, project themselves as the best bet for their countrymens
safety. Quite subtly captured by illustrator David Parkins

44 VIEWS ON NEWS January 7, 2016

Earth is in emergency ward. Is anyone taking a

cue from this illustration?

Theres no limit to human creativity and imagination as this photograph by

Lou Blanc shows. The photographer does wonders with the human body,
capturing it in various forms. Its not just depth of field in photography parlance, its depth of understanding of anatomy and aesthetics.

What are these shoes doing amid stones from

the river? These are an artists footprints on
nature, done in acrylic, with great attention to
every minute detail.

Installation artists are

getting ambitious by
the day. In this case,
Chiharu Shiota uses a
boat, red wool and
50,000 keys to cast a
web. Part of the Venice
Art Biennale, 2015, this
was titled The Key in
the Hand. The keys
were collected from
people across the world
symbolizing access to
memories of day-to-day


January 7, 2016 45









Theres no intolerance against any community in the country; there are political
issues involved in this debate, says Chief
Justice TS Thakur.
PM releases commemorative coins of
`10 and `125 on the 125th birth
anniversary of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar.

NSAs of India and PakistanAjith

Doval and Naseer Khan Janjuameet
in Bangkok.

Terrorists strike in Anantnag; were

dressed in army fatigue. Five CRPF
men injured.



10:29 AM

10:30 AM

10:31 AM

12:59 PM

1:00 AM

1:02 AM

7:57 AM

8:00 AM

10:59 AM

11:00 AM

8:00 AM

11:00 AM

10:32 AM

1:02 AM

9:03 AM

11:01 AM

Sonia and Rahul Gandhi directed to appear

in Patiala House Court on December 19 in
the National Herald case.

11:09 AM

11:09 AM

11:10 AM


External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj

meets Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad during
the Heart of Asia conference.

10:51 AM

10:50 AM

10:51 AM

10:52 AM

Bedlam in Rajya Sabha over Sonia

Gandhis appearance in National
Herald case

11:03 AM

11:04 AM

11:30 AM

11:30 AM

Rahul Gandhi claims National Herald

case is 100 percent political vendetta
against him.

46 VIEWS ON NEWS January 7, 2016

11:04 AM

11:31 AM

11:04 AM

11:3 2AM

10.54 AM

11:05 AM

Here are some of the major news items aired on television

channels, recorded by our unique 24x7 dedicated media
monitoring unit that scrutinizes more than 130 TV channels in
different Indian languages and looks at who breaks the news first.









Japan PM Shinzo Abe at the Business
Leader Forum; hails Modis policies as
reliable and safe like bullet trains.



9:45 AM

9:45 AM

9:46 AM

9:46 AM

11:00 AM

11:01 AM

11:01 AM

11:01 AM

9:59 AM

10:00 AM

10:00 AM

10:01 AM

Nation remembers martyrs of Parliament

attack 14 years ago; Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh pay tributes.

10:52 AM

10:53 AM

10:54 AM

10:54 AM

Vetaran actor Dilip Kumar conferred

Padma Vibhushan Award. Home Minister
Rajnath Singh presents the award at his
residence in Mumbai.

2:06 AM

2:06 AM

2:07 AM

2:07 AM

Politics over Shakur Basti demolition and

death of a baby girl. CM Arvind Kejriwal
calls Rahul Gandhi a kid for questioning
AAP over its protest against demolition.

11:30 AM

11:31 AM

11:31 AM

11:32 AM

Political controversy over CBI raid on the office of Rajendra Kumar, principal Secretary
to Delhi Chief Minister. Kejriwal calls it an
undeclared emergency.

10:02 AM

10:02 AM

10:03 AM

Dhoni picked up by Sanjiv Goenkas

Pune franchisee for `12.5 crore. Suresh
Raina joins Rajkot team for the same

10:30 AM


10:32 AM

Abe announces high-speed train deal

with India, along with defense and
nuclear agreements.

Railways demolishes 500 jhuggis in

Shakur Basti slum cluster; Railway land
had been encroached upon.

VIEWS ON NEWS January 7, 2016 47

Media Monitoring Year-ender

TMM Survey

2015 at a Glance
Issues that media covered in the year gone by
TMM surveyed seven major channels, Aaj Tak, ABP News, India TV, Zee
News, IBN7, India Today and Times Now, to determine which
issues dominated news space on the electronic media. Of course M&M (Modi
and Peter Mukerjea) figured prominently
48 VIEWS ON NEWS January 7, 2016

Top five political developments

highlighted by TV channels


Top five criminal cases covered

by TV channels



Top five generic issues covered

by TV channels




20.17% 15.89%

Top five sports events and developments

covered by TV channels

Radhe Maa
Award Wapasi

Top five legal cases covered

by TV channels






Yakub Memon Death

Hardik Patel Case
National Herald
Vyapam Scam
Murder Case of UP
journalist Joginder

Cricket World Cup
IPL Match Fixing
Boxer Vijender Singh
Turning Pro
Wimbledon, US Open
and International
Tennis Premier League

Controversial cases involving

film celebs on TV channels




AAPs victory in Delhi
and its performance
Modis foreign visits
Parliament sessions
Bihar elections
Indo-Pak relations

Sheena Bora
Murder Case
Somnath Bharti
Violence Case
Terror Attack
Chhota Rajans Arrest
Dalit killing in Sunped
village of Faridabad




Maggi ads involving

Amitabh Bachchan,
Madhuri Dixit and Preity
FTII and Gajendra Singh
Aamir Khan on
Anushka Sharma and
World Cup-2015
Salman Khans
hit-and-run case


January 7, 2016 49

Special Story
Navjivan Publishing House

A Touch of

NSTITUTIONS like the iconic Navjivan Publishing House and the Gujarat Vidyapith, founded by Mahatma
Gandhi in the 1920s in Ahmedabad,
stand out for their inclusiveness, simplicity and an accommodating Indian spiritvalues
that are fast vanishing in todays world. Such places
may appear anachronistic to technology-obsessed
modern youth, who are used to a faster pace of life.

50 VIEWS ON NEWS January 7, 2016

A makeover drive,
complete with a Wi-Fi
zone and a smart caf, aims
to popularize Gandhian
thought among youth
To encourage youth to appreciate the values of
the past that nurtured the nation, we need to take a
re-look at our heritage spaces that once served as
strong inspirational forces. While history has moved
on, the values need to be cherished.
To make the legacy of the past relevant to the
modern world, the trustees of Navjivan Publishing
House, that publishes Gandhian literature, decided
to give the Navjivan building a makeover with the

help of architect Samir Shukla. The endeavor is to

invite people to Navjivan House and make them
slow their pace of life and reflect on the values and
sensibilities that Mahatma Gandhi lived and died for.
The overhaul took two years and the building
was inaugurated by Chief Minister Anandiben Patel
in January this year. In its new avatar, it is expected
to become a cultural hub for thinkers and youth, and
has within its confines the Karma Caf, the avantgarde Satya Art Gallery and the Navjivan Center for
Sustainable Development (NCSD).
The Karma Caf is unlike any other place for tea and
snacks. It was conceived by the trustees as a warm
and inclusive cultural space where everyone feels
welcome, regardless of background or economic status. What lends distinction to the caf is the absence
of a menu or a rate list. Visitors can pay whatever
they like; a drop-box serves for such donations.
Explains 67-year-old Kapil Raval, a trustee: We
do not want to make profit from the caf. We are
guided by Mahatma Gandhis robust faith in human
goodness. The thrust is to invite the young and the

old to connect with Gandhi.

The caf has a selection of books published by
Navjivan Trust and authored by Gandhi, as well as
tomes on subjects like health, philosophy, ayurvedic
cures, teachings of Swami Vivekananda, speeches of
Sardar Patel, the Ramcharitmanas and Bhagvad Gita.
There are also two rare gemsThe Trial of Gandhi,
containing the court proceedings in 1922 against
Gandhi for his articles in Young India, and 100 Tributes by artist Ramesh Thakkar, containing his
sketches of Gandhi, each accompanied by a tribute.
The wealth of knowledge and history that can be
gleaned at Navjivan House is difficult to tabulate.
How do you place a value on an iconic space that
takes you away from the frenzy of everyday life?
Ace photographer and managing trustee Vivek
Desai says: Its hard not to fear what all we shall lose
if we dont preserve it in time. So to keep Gandhijis
ideas alive and throbbing, we started this endevor.
As visitors absorb the aura of the once-vibrant
place, flipping through books that shaped the nation
in its transitional years, it is hoped that the legacy will
continue to live. Says Vinod Gajjar, a lawyer, who visited the complex recently: I felt as if I had met


(Facing page) Visitors
at the Satya Art
Gallery; (above)
Karma Cafe provides
a meeting ground to
share and introspect

The trustees
have left no
stone unturned
to popularize
the place.
Visitors can
buy books at
the caf.
Organic meals
are served.
Visitors can
choose to pay
what they feel


January 7, 2016 51

Special Story
Navjivan Publishing House

Gandhiji in person. Whats more,

I got the book, The Trial of
Gandhi, which I had been looking for since the 1990s.
The caf will soon become a
center for ike-minded people. It
is the only place I liked at once in
Ahmedabad, says Chaitali Joshi,
who recently moved to the city
from Bangalore.
The efforts of the Trust are
laudable. However, the task before it is formidable since it is trying to attract the young, whose
restless spirit is not in conformity
with the Gandhian way of life,
observes Dinesh Joshi, a vernacTAKING THE LEAD
Trustees Vivek Desai
(top) and Kapil Rawal
(above) aim to
popularize Gandhian
thought among youth

ular journalist.
The trustees have left no stone unturned to popularize the place. While earlier, visitors could buy
books between 10:30 am to 5:30 pm only, now they
can be bought till the time the caf shuts, at 9 pm. Besides tea and coffee, the caf serves healthy drinks and
Gujarati delicacies. There is the option of mint or ginger tea (made with cows milk) or herbal sherbets
spiked with basil, fresh turmeric, ginger or fennel
seeds, and lime juice with jaggery. Refined sugar is
not used here. The Gandhi lunch platter is available
on weekends. All meals are made with organic products only. To ensure better turnout among the youth,
the caf will be converted into a wi-fi zone shortly.

52 VIEWS ON NEWS January 7, 2016

The Satya Art Gallery, adjacent to the caf, held an
exhibition of rare pictures of Gandhi during the inauguration. Explaining the vision of the gallery, Desai
says: It will play an invaluable role in providing space
for painters, writers, filmmakers and others to share,
introspect, and work in a conducive atmosphere.
The gallery too is expected to evolve into a forum
for encouraging egalitarian and secular thought, just
the way Gandhi would have liked it to be. He had
once said: The art which does no good to humanity,
does not uplift man and connect him with his soul
through enlightenment has no meaning.
NCSD will play a crucial role in connecting Gandhian
approaches with infrastructure development in rural
and urban India. It will look into areas such as communication, planning, execution, engineering, skill
upgradation and analytics. Explains Shukla, who is
looking at it from the architecture and design perspective: Our focus will be to work as technical service providers in rural and urban planning,
eco-friendly architecture, use of alternate energy
sources and so on.
In the March 7, 1936, issue of the weekly journal
Harijan, Gandhi wrote: The tasks before every lover
of the country is how to reconstruct the villages of
India so that it may be as easy for anyone to live in
them as it is supposed to be in the cities. Indeed, it is
the task before every patriot.
Shukla, who is also a big data analysis enthusiast,
says that the NCSD shall employ data analysts to
frame policies for development planning. For example, if the city municipal corporation goes in for rapid
transport service, we may analyze the data of new vehicles registered in a given period to find out if the
service has succeeded or not, he adds.
Thus, Navjivan Publishing House is one of the few
remaining spaces in Ahmedabad where people forge
relationships, find purpose, expand horizons and
construct meanings.



Views On News (VON) is Indias premier fortnightly magazine that

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DECEMBER 22, 2015 `50

Ramesh Menon tracks the changes that are
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an exciting new global dimension 10
takeover of
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bad news 18

Letting stories
hang 22

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hype over

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English is one of modern Indias 22 official languages, and is widely learned as the second language in
most countries. Enjoy it and avoid falling into some common error traps. BY MAHESH TRIVEDI



 Plain Jane = a plain girl

 Abrogate = abolish

 A Simple Simon = someone easily taken in

 Arrogate = claim presumptuously

 An Adonis = a young man of striking beauty

 Barbaric = crude, uncivilized

 A Silly Billy = a foolish fellow

 Barbarous = cruel

 Tommy-rot = Utter nonsense

 Chafe = make sore

 Play Judas = to be a traitor

 Chaff = tease

 To play Cupid = to play matchmaker

 Defective = damaged

 Like a Sphinx = expressionless face concealing a secret

 Deficient = short of

 David and Jonathan = inseparable friends

 Deprecate = argue or protest against

 Not on your Nelly = Never

 Depreciate = fall in value



 Croupier = a person incharge of a gambling table

 Sexagenarian = a person aged 60 to 69 years

Some nouns have special adjectives:

 Priest sacerdotal
 Smelling olfactory
 Old age senile
 Rain pluvial
 Throat guttural
 Hair crinal
 Floods diluvial
 Cattle bovine
 Cats feline



Like it or lump it, infusion of foreign expressions into

books, magazines and newspapers is a fact of life.
 Annus horribilis = horrible year
 Annus mirabilis = wonderful year
 Novus homo = upstart, new man
 Hakuna matata! = no worries!
 Frappe = chilled drink
 Mon cher = my dear
 Trattoria = Italian restaurant
 Tchin tchin! = cheers!

 The fire of passion

 Coparcener = joint heir

 Funambulist = a tight-rope walker
 Cicerone = a tourist guide
 Spelunker =an explorer of caves
 Twitcher = a dedicated bird watcher
 Coiffeur =a male hair-dresser
 Geriatrician = a doctor specializing in the care of aged people
 Rentier = a person living on rental income

54 VIEWS ON NEWS January 7, 2016

 The depths of despair

 The heights of happiness
 The school of life
 A flash of inspirations
 A flow of words
 The dawn of history
 The book of nature
 The key to the mystery
 The crux of the problem