DELHI ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS: WITH SUFFICIENT THRUST ,PIGS FLY JUST FINE !

A reigning Heavy Weight Champion against an unimpressive Middle Weight challenger – a match up likely to be savoured by blood crazed boxing fans. The challenger may have harboured hopes, but then if pigs could fly…. ! But in the recently concluded Delhi assembly elections the challenger not only knocked out the Champ but sent him reeling out of the ring too. It seems pigs can fly indeed !

The BJP had swept the Lok Sabha elections and riding high on the Modi wave the Party had gobbled up 4 more states as part of its resounding electoral victories. Now the juggernaut was about to overwhelm Dellhi in its blitzkrieg. And all that stood between Delhi and the decimation of the opposition was the Arvind Kejriwal led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

Kejriwal had been CM of Delhi previously in 2013 after the AAP had won an unprecedented 28 seats in its electoral debut, when hardly anyone gave it a chance. Amul had aptly covered the euphoria surrounding the victory of this unassuming and squeaky clean activist turned politician in 2013.

amul-hits-1755

But when Kejriwal quit controversially in a mere 49 days and tried to capitalize on its surprise victory in the Lok Sabha elections, he was labelled a “bhagoda” (deserter)He now had the onerous task of seeking to keep his and his Party’s political aspirations afloat.

Sensing trouble Kejriwal sought refuge in the comforting feel of his muffler, which he probably doesn’t remove while bathing too.The AAP party cadres were enthused by the sight of the muffler and they along with their star campaigner –“the mufflerman ” – jumped into the electoral fray.The party had in fact been at it since May 2014 and had been conducting door to door interaction and Delhi Dialogue to identify the problems facing each constituency.

The BJP on the other hand was busy setting its house in disorder. Unable to decide whether to usurp power by engineering a split in the AAP in the outgoing assembly or to go in for fresh elections it had made no strategy other than “ghar wapsi” (incidentally Azam Khan’s buffaloes too saw through the “ghar wapsi” charade and refused to oblige due to the VIP comforts available to them ) and at best seemed startled by the announcement.

Party President Amit Shah took the campaign under control and and foisted a complete “outsider”, Kiran Bedi on the Delhi BJP as the Party’s CM candidate. Actually it wasn’t Shah’s fault. To counter Kejriwal’s honest image the BJP only had blackened faces of its corruption mired local leaders, which were fit to be placed outside homes as “nazar battus” (evil eye). Bedi seemed like a good bet against Kejriwal due to her tough and honest cop image and this deft move found its way on a cheeky Amul topical as well.

delhi elections 3

The Congress finally realized there were elections on. Prospective candidates rushed to drown away all news from reaching their lucky mascot Raahul Gandhi,lest he took off on the campaign trail ! But Ajay Maken wasn’t lucky enough. Nominated as the Party’s CM candidate, Ra Ga went all out to promote him and this effectively sealed his fate.

With the CM candidates announced the die was truly cast now. Amul covered this in an interesting topical.

delhi elections 2

As the campaign progressed it became increasingly cacophonous, crass, vitriolic and negative.The marginalized Congress could not do much but the AAP and the BJP traded charges and went for each other’s throats (In this case Kejriwal was well protected because of his muffler).

AAP accused Kiran Bedi of opportunism in joining the BJP after once criticizing it bitterly.It also levelled charges about the BJP distributing cash and liquor to infuence the voters. And also complained about the possibility of the EVMs being doctored in favour of Sunny Leone-sorry, BJP. Charges were traded day in and day out in a no holds barred match between the two principal rivals. The BJP demanded that AAP come clean on its dubious funding. The AAP retaliated by challenging the Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley to prove the charges. And Jaitley, the champion of a million electoral battles (having won never) could only tremble indignation at Kejriwal but not much else.

The AAP campaign seemed to be getting derailed as it was almost coming to an end and no one had yet slapped Kejriwal. His victim’s image was taking a serious beating. The BJP then decided to help him out by taking out posters directed personally at him.Even his kids were sucked into the cess pool of politics.The personalized attacks were crass and crude to say the least and had an opposite effect on the electorate and they began to view Kejriwal as a victim.On the other hand Bedi was proving to be a disaster and she demonstrated her authoritarian side when her own campaign manager resigned in protest. She also embarrassed herself often and once in an attempt to reach out to the electorate in her constituency Krishna Nagar,she lashed out at its poor only to be told that the constituency had been represented by Dr Harshavardhan of the BJP uninterrupted for the past 15 years !

Somehow by the end of the of the campaign the BJP was losing ground rapidly to the AAP.

Soon Election Day dawned and the fate of the CM candidates and the parties hung in balance. The Congress was the least bothered but the BJP was fretting and the AAP was confident.

Delhi voted in huge numbers and recorded a massive 67.08 percent polling. Large poliing figures suggest land slides or electoral swings.And swing it did.

The AAP swung such a punch that the BJP won just 3 out of the 70 seats with its MLA’s coincidentally having their names starting with B,J,and P ! The Co ngress which had a 28 seat deficit with the BJP had managed to bring it down to 3 and won “0” seats. Ra Ga had done it again. And the winner was AAP with a whopping 67 seats – the biggest land slide win ever in the electoral history of the country.

This Amul advertisement on the Delhi Assembly Elections shows a caricature depicting Arvind Kejriwal holding his Party emblem,the broom, and riding on a mechanical super scrubber which has swept the opposition clean from the floor of the Delhi Assembly.He is being driven by the Amul Girl.Incidentally the topical missed out on the muffler on Kejriwal!

delhi elections 1

The Tag Line… Clean Sweep… signifies the landslide victory of the AAP.

The Punch Line… Always AAParajit… is a play on the hindi word “aparjit” meaning undefeated and with the first three letters in capitals it shows the undefeated tag now worn by the AAP in the two elctions it has contested in Delhi.It is an endorsement of the Amul butter as well.

The win was spectacular but wasn’t surprising only the margin was. AAP had been in election mode for the last 9 months and its Delhi Dialogue had made it aware of the local problems far better than other parties. The volunteers also made the difference by carrying out door to door campaigning. Kejriwal addressed each constituency twice. By positioning itself as a neutral ideology and pro poor party the AAP benefited tremendously. Its vote share amongst Muslims and Dalits was 77 and 68 percent respectively ! The marginalized and the poor had felt the exploitative pressure ease up in the 49 day government and had loyally backed Kejriwal. He was also backed by the youth with 56 percent between the category of 18 – 22 voting for him. It was a remarkable turnaround for him as he was able to shed his :”bhagoda” tag by whole heartedly apologizing for the mistake and demonstrating humility. The electorate in Delhi had overwhelmingly voted for transformational , transparent and accessible politics. The concept of practicing grass roots democracy had yielded handsome dividends.AAP emphasised upon accountability and it’s clean micro donation based fund collection was in sharp contrast to the opaque methods of the BJP and the Congress.Eventually it emerged as the party with a difference.

For the BJP, it was a disaster to say the least.The Party applied some warped logic and even declined to take out a manifesto,instead relied on a vision document. For an average Delhiite his daily problems demand immediate attention and not some vague vision of “achche din”. And when this document erroneously referred to the people of the North East as immigrants it summarised the BJP campaign totally-sloppy and short on detail.The Modi government’s inability to demonstrate any substantial progress on corruption made its claims hollow in the face of the established anti-corruption credentials of the AAP. The BJP’s biggest mistake was to have focused entirely on demolishing the image of Kejriwal and this back fired totally as they had no one to counter the same. Kiran Bedi proved to be the wrong choice and demonstrated lack of confidence in the local leaders and also sowed the seeds of discontent in the Party. She enthused no one and herself suffered a humiliating defeat.The personal attacks on Kejriwal did not cut much ice and instead made the electorate rally around him. Modi should have known better after having benefited from exactly such a campaign against him in 2007 and 2014. Lastly, the divisive agenda followed by the Sangh and its affiliates sent a message to the electorate that the BJP had betrayed its development agenda and the minorities thus felt vulnerable and went en masse with the AAP.

For the time being the impact of these elections may not be far reaching in electoral terms as the AAP has learnt its lessons well from its Lok Sabha debacle and will rather consolidate before fledgling out.The BJP has been sounded a wakeup call as it was being seen to be closely affiliated with big money and business and exuded arrogance and was bereft of reality. Modi’s penchant for advertising governance rather than delivering it,had back fired terribly. Within 9 months the BJP had suffered a wipe out in a State where it had won all 7 Lok Sabha seats in 2014. This was the oppositions “Stalingrad” moment and the AAP has shown that the BJP is beatable and vulnerable when pitched in a two corner fight. The saffron agenda will always polarize the minority vote against the BJP and with the poor also transferring their vote from the Congress to the AAP,it’s definitely introspection time for the Party.It may yet recover but no doubt it has been bruised badly and suffered because of the narcissistic and delusional traits of its leaders.

Kejriwal will have to deliver this time and shed his high handed and controversial overarching ways. He will need to stop being an activist and instead perform as the CM, something he did not do the last time round. He has made a lot of populist promises but in time he will need to backtrack on them at the altar of financial prudence and that will be his biggest test. He will require to develop cordial relations with the Central government and the two will together need to preside over the development of Delhi.

The second coming of the AAP is in line with the global phenomenon against globalization and crony capitalism and resulting inequalities. If the BJP wants to remain relevant it needs to acknowledge this reality and needs to resolve these in the right earnest and not merely focus on foreign policy and hyped up mega schemes which do not alleviate the crushing inequalities in the society but are seen panning to the interests of “big business”. Otherwise it should be prepared to surrender space to AAP in the long term.

AAP has proven,for now,that with sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine !But do they perform til? 

4th March 15; AAP has plunged into a crisis regarding a personality centric “cult” developing around Arvind Kejriwal. Founder member Prashant Bhushan alleging that a “high commands structure” is developing within the party,which is against the principles they stood for,has given rise to a rebellion of sorts.

Party ideologue Yogendra Yadav has also been at logger heads with Kejriwal.There is growing unease within the party regarding Kejriwal donning the twin roles of CM and party convener. 

AAP is going through an internal churning and from this the structure that emerges is what shall be it’s organisational character in the coming  years.But the allegations against Kejriwal are instructive in nature and a sign of the times to come.

11th March 15;The rebellion in the AAP has resulted in Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav being removed from the AAP Political Affairs Committee (PAC) and are most likely to be expelled from the Party. Kejriwal has established total control and like all most parties the AAP is likely to get into a “supremo” mode.This will affect the Party cadre and some will quit in the name of the founding principles being flouted.But today Kejriwal is bigger than AAP and thus eventually he will reign supreme.

Welcome to Indian Politics.Nothing remains untouched by the muck. 

R.I.P AAP !

THE ADVENTURES OF JITAN RAM MANJHI: WHERE GOOFY AND GAFFES GO HAND IN HAND !

In politics neither are there permanent foes nor permanent friends. Those who follow this to the “t” form a league of extraordinary gentlemen excelling in the art of survival. And politics needs its share of characters too just too make it a tad bearable. Lalu Prasad Yadav was an icon of this league and Jitan Ram Manjhi, a seemingly daft and ridiculous politician, who shares the ex CM tag with Lalu is now carrying his legacy forward. And that too in style.

The advent of “Modi Sarkar” spelt doom for the Nitish Kumar dispensation in Bihar and Janata Dal (United) – JD (U)- faced rapid erosion of its support base. To assuage the disenchanted electorate, Nitish then played a “mastercard” and stepped down as CM and instead anointed Jitan Ram Manjhi , from the Mahadalit community, as his successor. The decision assured Nitish of the “sacrifice” tag and also underscored his credentials as a champion of the downtrodden.

The unremarkable and unassuming Manjhi, a party hopper from the Cong (I), to the RJD and then the JD (U) had helped draw the backward class votes for the JD (U). Nitish obviously considered Manjhi trustworthy enough otherwise a politician can only trust his wife to keep his “seat” safe as Rabri Devi did for Lalu (else a Chandra Babu Naidu is always lurking around the corner). It was also assumed that Manhji would be fed instructions by Nitish Kumar to do his bidding and be suitable “remote controlled”.

The new CM started his innings so slow, that the only thing slower than that was an Akash Chopra innings. He was the quintessential “ever-so-grateful-I-am-so-indebted” type of second rung leader who made the right noises about his political mentor. But he had a strange penchant for putting his foot in his mouth each time he opened it. He controversially quoted a minister travelling with him to a Temple that the idol and the temple were washed clean after his visit, hinting at untouchability being inflicted upon him, only to be contradicted by the minister. Then he angered his own colleagues when he likened the upper castes to foreigners, essentially exploitative. Coming close on the heels of this was the warning to the doctors in the state that if they denied or delayed help to the poor, Manjhi would “chop their hands off”! When informed of people in flood hit areas eating rats he retorted that in his childhood he had eaten rats many a times and they were very nutritious!! He then went on to admit that he had paid bribe to get his electricity bills reduced and that he had accepted commissions from engineers/ contractors and to underscore this he even suggested that small time traders can go about black marketing and it won’t be considered a crime !He controversially exhorted Dalit youth to marry out of their castes to perpetuate greater power Eventually his family to contributed, his son was involved in a sex scandal which was defended by Manjhi and his son-in-law came in for undue attention when Manjhi appointed him his personal assistant flouting government regulations.

By now Manjhi had developed a reputation for being a buffoon bumbling along in the corridors of power. When a week passed without a controversy, JD (U) leaders probably felt underemployed as they weren’t defending Manjhi and his daft comments and the opposition sought his resignation for not discharging his “bounden duty”! The controversies created a negative image for the JD (U) and threatened to reduce the CM’s office to a caricature. He was fast becoming a liability for the party as well as Nitish. Rumblings for Manjhi’s removal grew stronger but it wasn’t easy to replace him as it would have sent negative political signals to the disparate but 30 percent strong backward class electorate as well as cause severe embarrassment to Nitish for the comical turn of events.

But the wheels of fortune were turning and for Nitish they turned for the worst.

Manjhi started coming into his own. He cited his bribe giving as an example of how corruption was rampant in the State in spite of the efforts of Nitish Kumar. He also blamed “powerful” politicians and well connected bureaucrats of stifling him when he tried to chart an independent course. The hint was strong and subtle enough. Eventually he and Nitish drifted apart. The alarm bells sounded when Manjhi started taking action against bureaucrats and officials (known to be close to Nitish) for a stampede in Patna. Not only was this in complete contrast to Nitish’s way of functioning as he had seemingly shielded officials in spite of previous stampedes (chhath puja, Nov 12) and bomb blasts (Narendra Modi’s “Hunkar” rally, Gaya) but also signaled Manjhi’s inclination to dump the “remote control”.

Hereon, Manjhi took off. He declared his ambitions to be PM one day and pushed aggressively for Dalit, Mahadalit, EBC unity to be powerful stakeholders in the State. He also claimed to have done more than what Nitish had done in his 10 years. Manjhi was now eroding Nitish’s credibility and standing deeper and faster than the BJP ever could. And even more alarmingly, Manjhi had gained political traction by posturing close to Nitish’s bete noire, Narendra Modi and foe turned friend, Lalu Yadav.

After months of dithering Manjhi was asked to resign. He refused. The JD (U) then became the first party to expel its own CM! And Nitish was made the leader of the legislature party. But Manjhi managed a stay order on Nitish’s election and both of them approached the Governor to be allowed to prove their majority. The political narrative gradually transcended from the ridiculous to the sublime. The JD (U) now demanded the status of the Leader of the Opposition to demonstrate its distance from Manjhi while its members would also sit on the treasury benches!!! JD(U) –united- stood disunited and Nitish who had once borne Prime Ministerial ambitions was now struggling to be CM within his own Party. So much for ambitions.

This plunged the State into poitical uncertainity with the CM recommending dissolution of the Assembly and fresh elections and an unprecedented two thirds of his Cabinet colleagues rejecting the same and resigning! Manjhi pushed for a secret ballot during the no-confidence vote as he had been banking on the BJP’s support plus a substantial chunk breaking away from Nitish. Granted time, both camps indulged in sordid politicking an the now familiar whisking away of MLAs to resorts, dinners and feasts being hosted to keep the flock together.

This Amul advertisement on the exploits of Jitan Ram Manjhi came out at the height of the crisis and shows two caricatures depicting Nitish Kumar and Manjhi involved in a tussel.Nitish is shown trying to wrest the CM’s seat while Manjhi is shown desperately holding on while the Amul Girl watches in bewilderment. The strip shows Manjhi and Nitish in their trademark attires and also captures the disgusting spectacle of power hungry politicians squabbling in public.

majhi

The Tag Line…O, Manjhi re,Kaun Hoga Paar?…. describes the uncertain political situation and literally translates into asking the boatman who would manage to cross over to the bank from a rocking boat in the midst of the river.Manjhi is also hindi for a boatman.

The Punch Line… Utterly-Biharterrly Delicious… is a play on the famous Amul ad line as well as indicating the state of affiars in Bihar politics.

Eventually, the secret ballot wasn’t allowed and even more fortuitously for Nitish, the BJP lost the Delhi elections.Stung by this reversal the BJP drew its hand from openly supporting a split in the BJP and left Manjhi to manage the numbers. Manjhi resigned without taking a floor test and in his own inimitable style announced a threat to his and the lives of his supporters. And Nitish Kumar was once again sworn in as the CM after 8 months of chaos.

Nitish had read Manjhi wrong just like Nawaz Sharif had read Musharraf wrong. Born in 1944 to homestead workers, Manjhi had learnt his political lessons way back in the 70s.While securing votes for others he realized he could do it for himself and did just that when he won his first elections in 1980.He simply applied the same theory when made the CM.A six time MLA and having always been with the party in power Manjhi wasn’t as pliant as he seemed. After all Clark Kent is seemingly harmless too!

Manjhi proved a deft judge of the political scenario.He correctly identified that to defeat the BJP the RJD, Cong (I) and the JD (U) will need the backward class votes.He being from the Mahadalit community (Musahar) could become the rallying point of this grand alliance in case he was able to posture himself as the undisputed leader of the downtrodden. This made his removal difficult as both Lalu and Nitish did not want to be seen as anti-backward classes. And his dalliances with the BJP should surprise none as Manjhi’s son is already a BJP member and way back in 1991 Manjhi had garnered the BJP workers support in his bid to win in the Gaya Parliamentary by elections. The BJP saw in him an opportunity to engineer elections in Bihar and to capitalize on the chaos in the JD (U). Manjhi too saw a great chance to be the CM in case the BJP backed him outrightly.

But for Arvind Kejriwal, Manjhi was almost home !

Manjhi in his brief tenure emerged stronger and his actions to increase quota for SC/ST in government contracts, appointing 45000 safai karamcharis, increasing land allocation for the landless from 3 to 5 decimals and hiking of government subsidies upto 80 percent for SC/ST farmers clearly presented himself as the last, best and only hope for the reinvigorated backward classes. His seemingly gibberish utterances were after all well thought out and had a subtle and telling effect.It is he who is the victim now and has survived his mentor. Clever indeed. After all, survivors are thinkers too.

In the end, Nitish Kumar emerged weaker and lost political capital. Lalu as lost as ever. Rahul Gandhi and the Congress totally marginalized (they may well consider joining Manjhi’s newly floated Hindustani Awami Morcha). BJP emerged devious but stands to benefit by this split in the backward class votes.

Whatever happened in Bihar shows us the ugly side of India’s caste based politics which trivializes development and governance at the altar of caste based politics. It’s always about vote bank. After all that’s why Manjhi could shout down protestors by saying that it’s not their votes that make him win. Simply means, if you matter you get benefitted otherwise languish right where you are and suffer goofy and gaffe prone clowns. Kashmiri Pandits and the victims of the Bhopal Gas tragedy are a case in point.

For those who want to be remote controls let me share an updated list compiled by a columnist, of those who defied the gadget. Pervez Musharraf, Suresh Prabhu, John Major and Jitan Ram Manjhi. There are lessons to be learnt here.

What I have learnt is that politicians and diapers need to be changed frequently. They stink.

POST SCRIPT  

11 March 15; Nitish Kumar expectedly and comfortably won the Confidence/Trust Vote in the Bihar Assembly when he garnered 140 votes.There was slight but predictable drama with the BJP staging a walkout and Jitan Ram Manjhi stay in away from the proceedings.

Manjhi had earlier sat on a dharna at the Gandhi Maidan in Patna to protest the revocation of 39 of his administrative orders by the present Bihar CM. Manjhi claimed that had Nitish persisted with the policy decisions they had the potential to rid Bihar of all its ills.

Mr Manjhi, pardon my ignorance but does this include politicians too ?

INDIA V/S PAKISTAN: WE NEVER GROW UP! BUT DO WE REALLY WANT TO….

Nothing gets the adrenaline flowing like a prospect of an India versus Pakistan match. Such is the rivalry that months are spent in anticipation and when the day dawns the roads are deserted, guns fall silent on the Line of Control (LOC), Hafiz Saeed too stays home watching TV and for those few hours people forget that there’s a care in the world. Time stops still…its just  The Match”.

The ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 had pitched the arch rivals in one of its earliest fixtures and they were kick starting their campaign with this “juicy” match up, wherein India has had the better of Pakistan 5 out of 5 times, a streak running since 1992.The tickets were sold out months in advance.Such was the frenzy in our part of the world that when some aliens dropped by to investigate someone handed them a flag too.

For most, on both sides of the Radcliffe Line, the World Cup would begin and end with this match.

Going into the match the Indian team had had an indifferent build up where they had not won a single match in their long tour Down Under. The Australians had whipped them in the tests and the Amul topicals of the time say it all with only one of them talking of a genuine cricketing achievement and that was the twin centuries by Virat Kohli in the opening test.

IMG-20141215-WA0010

In the second test all that they could give Amul to write home about was the excessive chatter and sledging between the teams when India tried to do a Australia on Australia and it backfired with Mitchel Johnson blowing them off with both bat and ball.

IMG-20150109-WA0036

The third test was best remembered for MS Dhoni’s anticipated but surprisingly timed retirement from Test Match Cricket. Captain Cool had ensured a draw, batting last on the 5th day and then rode into the sunset.

IMG-20150109-WA0034

The fourth test ended in a draw with nothing invigorating enough.

In the tri series, even the One Day Cricket clowns, England, ripped apart the Indians. The batsmen were in woeful form, Rohit Sharma had last scored a fifty only on a Play Station, Shikhar Dhawan had no idea if he had a bat in his hand or not, Kohli lost his Test Match form as soon as Anushka Sharma joined in, Suresh Raina wasn’t sure what was the record of getting out on ducks so he kept doing that till someone told him, Dhoni was all at sea about his batting and Jadeja in any case masquerades as a batsman at the best of times. Barring Ajinkya Rahane no one inspired confidence. And as for the bowlers, well, their bowling cards had more centuries than the batsmen.

The World Cup team selection too had come in for flak and considered low on skill and experience.Stuart Binny and Ambati Rayudu were considered as bad a call as Kiran Bedi for Delhi CM.Yuvraj Singh not being selected was seen as hara kiri.

As for Pakistan, though it was short on match practice it had recently beaten Australia in a Test Series and its batsmen Younus Khan and Misbah ul Haq had found form in addition to Ahmed Shehzad, Shoaib Maqsood and Umar Akmal already in good nick. Shahid Afridi was behaving his usual idiotic self, claiming he would wrest back his record of the fastest One Day International century from AB de Villiers when he is yet to score one since ages, so all seemed to be going well. But their bowling had lost teeth. Saeed Ajmal and Mohammad Hafeez ineligible because of a suspect action and Junaid Khan out injured with Hafiz joining in later.However they have traditionally been good with their bowling finds and still presented a decent attack.

India was listless in the warmups, whereas Pakistan was sharp and it seemed the latter would put one across this time. It was cricket’s equivalent of a Brazil v/s Argentina football match and a tremendous pressure game. It was billed as a match-up between the Indian batsmen and the Pakistani bowlers. the The victors would soar and the vanquished would sink without a trace in the tournament as it’s not easy to recover from such high stake losses, especially when the hopes of an entire nation are belied.

Star Sports came up with a courageous TV ad showing a teenaged Pakistani boy waiting to celebrate his team’s success but is shown putting away his box of crackers in all World Cups since 1992 and even in 2015, with a cheesy tag line ”mauqa, mauqa…kab aayega mauqa” (when wil the chance present itself).It was in the midst of such emotions that the match was about to begin. Narendra Modi chipped in with calling up the leaders of the SAARC nations participating in the tournament.

This Amul advertisement on the India versus Pakistan match captures the associated hype that goes along with the high stake clash. It depicts the occasion when “Big B” -Amitabh Bachchan commentated on the match,specially, on Star Sports in company of Shoaib Akhtar and Arun Lal.A caricature depicting Bachchan with the mike and is show in the company of the Amul Girl.

B9uavl3CUAEHCHj

The Tag Line…The Butter of All Matches ….is a take on the iconic status of the match and it is actually a spin off from the famous Saddam Hussein line “the mother of all battles” on the eve of the Gulf War in 1991

The Punch Line…Desh Ka Dish …is a take on the acceptability of the Amul brand all across the the Bharat Desh !

The team strategies had to be absolutely uncanny and out of the box since so much was at stake.

Dhoni -Captain Cool – His advise to the batsmen was simple and he of course having got away once was smug in the knowledge that if things went wrong he could always announce his retirement any time during the match. Rohit and Shikhar were to try and not get each other out and also score only one duck between them. For Virat, he was free to do anything (including abusing) as there was no point telling him anything. Suresh Raina was told it was IPL all over again and was to wear a CSK shirt under the Indian Blues. Ajinkya Rahane was asked to switch to CSK in case he wanted a permanent batting position. Jadeja was told that he was “sir” and how could he be coached. The bowlers were the least of the problem as Dhoni knew that nothing could be worse than what they already were. So there was hope.

For Pakistan, Afridi came up with a masterplan to stop Rohit from scoring a double hundred.He suggested Pakistan get all out at 190 !Misbah wasn’t available for the final team meeting as he was busy preparing his English lines for the post match ceremony. Waqar Yunus decided that the reasons for the defeat was the Indian conspiracy to get Ajmal and Hafiz reported for suspect action. It seemed plausible for sure. But.. wait a sec !The match hadn’t even started !!!

India won the toss and elected to bat.Rohit outlasted his talent by a couple of overs and was the first to go. Then Shikhar and Kohli scored a fifty and a century apiece to get the momentum going.Raina playing in the IPL is a different kettle of water and his breezy 74 proved just that (Yellow is the shade for him).The CSK brigade scored 22 between them and Ajinkjya managed a duck. To spice things up a bit, Sir Jadeja narrowly missed the record for being run out twice on the same ball. With the spirit of Ishant Sharma consuming the Pakistani bowlers, India seemed destined for a 300 plus score.In the end it scored 300 for 7.Not much but competitive.

Pakistan replied with 35 year old Yunus Khan coming in as opener. Slow on reflexes he soon departed and after a brief resurgence Pakistan soon suffered a batting collapse with Umar Akmal blaming the drone for his dismissal. Drone? Well, he was referring to the overhead camera actually ! Misbah’s plucky 70 odd weren’t enough and soon Pakistan slumped to a 76 run defeat.Sir Jadeja ofcourse trigerred the slump by actually catching the same ball twice.

It was 6-0 ! And “Mauqa, mauqa, mauqa…” rolled over to 2019.

The subsequent Amul advertisement depicts Shikhar,Kohli and Raina sitting on a table with the Tag Line ….India Jeet Te Raina (India Keep winning) and the Punch Line…Taste Ke Shikhar Par….alluding to the achievements of the opener and the middle order batsmen in the famous win. Surprisingly Kohli’s century has been passed over.

B994vf6CEAMis58

India erupted in joy. The biggest hurdle was past and the World Cup could now begin in the right earnest. Young kids came out dancing in the streets.And once again there were no crackers in Pakistan. A local channel instead covered the Pakistani public breaking TV sets in sheer disgust.The social media went berserk too and handed a solid bollocking to the Pakistani netizens. Quips such as “Nawaz Sharif says –Yunus Khan out nahin Shaheed hue hain” were hilarious indeed. Another inferred that all the terrorists crossing the LOC were actually innocent Pakistanis wanting to be on the winning side at least once ! As a consolation someone stated that for all the drubbing, Pakistani men shall always be more handsome than the Indian men. I contest this and say we are equal if not better. Just compare the pics of Maulana Masood Azhar and Sant Gurmeet Ram Rahim Ek Insan – MSG actually scores over with his hairy arms !

In the end it all ended well for India. One did feel for Pakistan especially as I watched it with my Pakistani friends Tanveer, Sartaj, Shafiq and Ali sitting in far flung Abyei. We had all joined up together to watch the match knowing fully that there would only be one victor. It was a sweet victory for us Indians but sitting in the presence of friends it taught me humility too. We shook hands and left the room. Till the next time.

Thank God for small mercies. I have been on the winning side 6 times since 1992 and my son too is now. Though just an ad, but all I would say is…. thanks Kapil (1992), Jadeja (1996), Azhar (1999), Sachin (2003), Yuvraj (2011) and Kohli (2015) for ensuring that I wasn’t in the boots of the hapless young man waiting with his crackers for the last 23 years ! I have experienced child like joy while winning each time and just for the sheer pleasure of it…who wants to grow up anyway !

Tanveer has since confirmed that the crackers have been sold on OLX.

#WontGiveItBack !

POST SCRIPT

Expectedly the victory and the loss had different effects on the two teams.

While India thrashed South Africa by 130 runs (first time in the World Cup) on the back of a fantastic century by Shikhar Dhawan. Pakistan, though slumped to a 150 run defeat. And this time the blame wasn’t on the drone but on ex player and selector Moin Khan. No he wasn’t playing. He happened to visit a casino before the match against the Windies !

11 March 15:As of now India has topped Pool A and is heading into the quarters and the knockout stage with a clean slate.However it still has one more match to go against Zimbabwe.Topping the Pool has ensured that India plays Bangladesh in the Quarter Finals and does not have to travel to New Zealand,which is considered a positive development since the team is now used to the conditions in Australia and would like to exploit it as a “home advantage” of sorts.

This Amul advertisement on the Indian Team topping the Pool B standings is simply designed and shows the Amul Girl,all padded up and with a bat,pasting Amul butter on a points table showing “10” against India thus depicting the 5 wins out of 5 so far for the “men in blue”.

B_upR7SU0AAW2t3

The Tag Line ….On Top of Every Table… is as much a statement on the Indian Cricket team topping it’s Pool as it is on the standing of Amul butter as a brand name.

The Punch Line …Quarter It…. is  a play on the team making it to the knockout stage and also inviting the consumers to help themselves to generous “quarters” of Amul butter.

Pakistan on the other hand needs to put it past Ireland in its last match to make it to the knockout stage.Its surprise win against South Africa has helped in keeping it’s hopes alive.

AIB KNOCKOUT: IF I AGREE WITH YOU,WE WOULD BOTH BE WRONG !

The AIB Knockout Championship from the comedy collective All India Bakchod (AIB), sought to break new ground by introducing Comedy Roasts in India. Accused of obscenity, AIB and the format have faced calls for ban. The controversy pitches “Indian cultural values” and democratic tenets of free speech against each other. But is it simply about this or the issue straddles shades of grey too?

Comedy Roasts are shows where “peers trade insults albeit in a good natured way”. According to Wikipedia, the insults can be absolutely explicit hitting at personal habits and the public perception of the person at the receiving end, known as the “roastee”. The roastee’s friends too are subjected to a similar treatment. The host of the event is called the “roastmaster.” Anyone who is honored in such a way is said to have been “roasted.” The first roast is known to have been played out by the New York Friars Club in 1910, when it decided to counter “Toasts” (felicitations) of members. Later, Dean Martin and Comedy Central have made the format their own. The latter being a sought after privilege with Justin Beiber slated to be the roastee in 2015.

So “ROASTS” have taken 105 years to arrive in India (ask the Punjabis ), courtesy AIB which has been formed by four stand-up comedians — Tanmay Bhat, Rohan Joshi, Gursimran Khamba and Ashish Shakya. The “roastees” were film stars Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh and the “roastmaster” was Karan Johar with a panel of 8 others deputed to take on the roastees including film critic Rajeev Masand and Roadies producer Raghu Ram. The event was exclusive at Rs 4000 per seat and had 4000 attendees. Later its video was uploaded on YouTube with a due disclaimer which had age restrictions stipulated along. The event collected Rs 40 lakhs towards charity and it got more than 8 million hits on YouTube and went viral on the social network.Since Indians are a little too tight on getting offended and everything from Alia Bhatt’s dumbness to Modi’s suits are sacred cows, this is a welcome change indeed. Then what was the furore about?

Nothing had prepared the larger audience for the sheer volume of abuses, cuss words and 4 letter hindi words for everything sexual in our lives, not even our raucous National Elections. AIB went through its routine firmly believing in the right to offend and its jokes on taboo topics such as rape, gang rape, gays, race, religion, and homophobia which formed the core content of the show led to complaints and criticism. Though Karan Johar was very much at home walking like a dog and rubbing bums yet a PIL was filed in the Bombay High Court by Sharmila Ghuge who was offended by it all and accused AIB of crossing the limits of morality and decency, of vulgarity,and obscenity and of affecting the minds of the youth. Brahaman Ekta Sewa Trust was the first to lodge a complaint. Btw just try deciphering what the Santha stands for ? The four words seem …seem like disjointed ideas ! Yet, the Santha had the right to be offended and it exercised it just like AIB exercised theirs.

AIB has since removed the video ,issued an apology in general and also to the Christian community but defended its right to offend, an FIR has been lodged on the orders of the Court against the organisers, participants and some in the audience such as Bollywood actors Deepika Padukone and Sonakshi Sinha (what about the remaining 3998?).Procedural issues too are being looked into to identify lapses and as of now the script submitted has been found to be at a variance to the one spoken by the participants.

This Amul advertisement on the AIB Knockout controversy has three caricatures depicting Arjun Kapoor (standing) and Ranveer Singh and Karan Johar. The chairs and the dresses and the poses of the caricatures resemble the details on the actual show. The Amul girl is standing behind the chairs with an annoyed expression and indicates to the trio to seal their lips.

B9AGQD2IQAA-Kbg

The Tag Line…Yeh Roasti Hum Nahin Todenge…is a play on the hindi son “Yeh dosti hum nahin todenge” from Sholay which translates into a friendhip bod never to be broken.This is a reference to the bromance between Arjun and Ranveer and the word “roasti” is a reference to the comedy roast hosted by them..

The Punch Line….AIBAll India Butter…gives out the identity of the comedy collective which scripted the show and also endorses the Amul brand.

Free speech advocates maintained that there wasn’t anything objectionable and that AIB had the right to offend and the objections were to do more with the perception of what’s appropriate or not and as such who has the right to decide upon this in a democracy. They labelled all naysayers as “pseudo moralists” and puritans who were objecting to cuss words and abuses as if they had never used them before.

The naysayers were generally amongst the political class and this time they were muted after a serious backlash over “ghar wapsi” and the Kiss of Love campaign . However the Maharashtra Nav Nirman Sena  (MNS) issued threats to the roastees of preventing their film from releasing if they did not apologise for their part in the event.  Actor Aamir Khan objected to the content and called it verbal violence only to be subjected to some himself and was lampooned for his hypocritical attitude over his defence of his expletive ridden production “Delhi Belly” and its lyrics such as Bhag Bhag Bose Dk, Bose Dk and Hole ***,Hole ***, Hole *** , famous college anthems in their own right.

Talking of hypocrites Deepika Padukone and all the “free speech” advocates too are the same as during the the cleavage row they fervently preached about female dignity, and promptly forgot it while guffawing raucously on the vulgar and hurtful jokes directed at women during the AIB show.

AIB apologized in the face of rising criticism and denied their supporters their very own Charlie Hebdo moment by not being the sacrificial lambs. They stated that it was all meant to make people laugh and not to hurt though they retained the right to offend and expected others to not get offended as it was all in good humour. The group also positioned itself as free speech crusaders and were standing up for thousands who felt gagged as creators or activists.

Touching indeed.But what exactly were they standing for?

As a concept the Roast was a hit and credit goes to all involved. It really broke through the glass ceiling and yes it takes guts to do this in a country where a man playing Lord Shiva indulging in a cigarette can offend people. Then to pull it of saying that the last good thing Ranveer was in was Deepika Padukone, in front of them and not on a WhatsApp or a FB joke train is definitely new ground in terms of comedy in India, where the ultimate benchmark is something as slapstick, sexist and laborious as Comedy Nights with Kapil!

But the good part ended there.

It’s true that abuses and cuss words are commonly used, but not in living rooms and nor at work or school by not even the “roastees”, or AIB collective or their 8 million (and counting) supporters even in jest. That’s because these are established indecent form of expression across cultures not because the levels of vulgarity and obscenity may vary for us all but because swearing and cursing are associated with perpetuating an insensitive and aggressive attitude towards the groups or habits the cuss words are directed at. And this is not my hypothesis but of reputed institutes all over the world. All abuses are mostly directed at women and no vacuous arguments in favour of free speech can justify their mainstreaming in any country or society. Many below 18 were exposed to the open use of expletives and this is objectionable, not because of culture vultures or “desi Voltaires”, but because of the propriety of the whole issue. Similarly advocating use of filthy 4 letter expletives for women or anyone else cannot ever be clubbed with a free speech debate.

AIB does not only have the right to offend but also bears a responsibility. The videos did not have the disclaimers till the Maharashtra Government objected. Age restrictions were in place but could their subsequent circulation on Facebook or WhatsApp be controlled? If not then AIB’s defence stands exposed that they put adequate safeguards in place. This certainly makes AIB responsible for the message it sends across to these young minds.To skirt this, is like seeking power to influence without accountability.When Yo Yo Honey Singh glorifies “sabki bajate raho”, “chaar botal vodka kaam mera roxz ka” and ladkiyon ka buffet” these do get picked up by starry eyed youngsters eager to establish themselves and the weak amongst them will adopt the very ways being glorified.The impact of introducing expletives in the average comedy act would also be on the same lines.

Right to offend cannot be wielded without understanding those likely to get offended. An intended message will always be lost if an equal opportunity offender demonstrates “cultural blindness” leading to the “heckler’s veto” will gaining ground. Just drawing from the gags on the show, for those who are surprised at people being offended let me clarify for you that contrary to the projection in the gags all blacks do not have Ebola, only blacks do not have Ebola, calling someone black is not a laughing matter, all priests are not gay, rape and gang rape are unimaginably painful experiences and for the families of those beheaded by the IS… its not a joke.

When AIB and the “everything free” brigade came out all guns blazing they finally stood for championing gross language ad obscene and explicit comedy.I am a supporter of free speech and expression for the right of an artist to create what he wants. But what was being created by AIB? They were just promoting a comedy form to make themselves popular (no social or larger responsibility here) and created an expletive ridden Bollywood focused cuss word infested show. Was the obscenity directed at driving home a lesson about the way Punjab or Haryana Police behave or was it just to cater to the larger audience aimed at achieving instant popularity?

Though I am okay with the audience and participants consenting to the obscenity but not all who watched it were comfortable. Yes, they would have switched off the video but then you cant say don’t be offended and then defend it for the sake of defending.Understanding has to be mutual.If it is not then both parties need to find common ground .Banning the show or insisting on producing more crass shows is an extremist position which is unsuitable for a considered discourse in a complex world. After the Charlie Hebdo massacre there was widespread support for free speech but then eventually issues of sensitivities and the debate on the larger situation of the muslims in France also gained steam. In the case of AIB too there’s a need to acknowledge the problem and neither the moral police nor the defenders of free speech should protest simply because that’s what they can do.This should instead open a debate on the acceptable norms of decency including movies and reality shows , regarding controlling the content being uploaded in YouTube in India and also regarding the hounding of comedians by the government by using legal provisions.

If it was an Aseem Trivedi like incident where a cartoonist is charged with sedition or if Mamata Didi is jailing professors over cartoons then I would say that’s about freedom of speech and expression. But here you cant defend AIB for its language content and insensitive gags. When jokes and satire are directed at groups which are at the receiving of society or not on the same page intellectually and socially as the humorist then the gags on them shall be lost in translation and the intended message is almost always lost. And in this case there wasn’t any message at all. If humour is not contextual then it’s just a hollow medium being exploited for promotional or professional purposes. And AIB did just that.

The “free brigade” and AIB in reality do not stand for free speech and expression rather for using expletives and obscenity in shows without wanting to accept the responsibility that goes along. AIB has a right to produce what it wants, and banning is not an option. But then AIB has to ensure appropriateness of the content as well for all the reasons discussed earlier. If AIB continues to defend for the sake of offending it will in the long run damage the cause of free speech and not benefit it.

 I too support freedom of speech and expression but for a cause and not for the sake of it and if I agree with AIB and its supporters then we are both wrong!

POST SCRIPT 

13th March 15; The controversy generated by the Censor Board banning 28 cuss words has got a new lease of life with Board Members Chandrashekhar Dwivedi and Ashoke Pandit registering their protest by way of correspondence and through the social media.They have attacked the Censor Board Chief Pahlaj Nihalani for following and autocratic and arbitrary style of functioning.They have spoken against the list of cuss words as they feel it will restrict artistic expression in films and have sought the formalisation of the same after due deliberations within the Board as well as the civil society.

Two prominent movies have been affected by the new directives.Anushka Sharma starrer and her home production “NH 10″ was recently passed with an ‘adult’ certification and 9 cuts (30 were originally proposed).The release of the movie was delayed as earlier it failed to obtain requisite certification. Varun Dhawan’s ‘Badlapur’ was luckier and was passed intact but with three cuss words removed.The film industry is up in arms and termed the new guidelines as “suffocating” and fear that too many rules can be used to victimise producers and directors .

Nihalani has stressed that movies that have too much swearing ,bloodshed and objectification of women shall run the risk of not being granted a certificate for public viewing. He has come under attack for proximity to the BJP and for furthering the Party’s cultural agenda.

This Amul advertisement on the Censor Board shows a caricatures depicting Pahlaj Nihalani running with a net to nab errant movie makers and with a scissor to “chop off” the  objectionable dialogues and scenes.

B-53PMlU0AAPNLR

The Tag Line …Gaali Gaali Mein Shor Hai… is a play on a popular phrase in hindi and literally translates into- every cuss word (gaali) being objectionable.

The Punch Line …Swear By It… is a subtle play on the issue of the list of 28 swear words as also endorses the trusted quality of Amul Butter. 

One wonders if there was ever to be a biopic on Virat Kohli then with the present Censor Board directives it would most likely have to be a silent movie or one with a continuous beep tone !

FIGHTING TERROR IN THE TIME OF NAYSAYERS !

In the dying moments of 2014, there was a high octane drama unfolding off the Gujarat coastintercepts suggested that a suspicious fishing boat was heading from Pakistan towards India with not so noble intentions,relayed in real time to the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) it resulted in a high speed chase and eventually then a fiery end for the boat, its cargo and all aboard! Was terror plot averted? Or was it a maritime “encounter” with a “staged chase” at the centre of it all ?

Early on 31st December 2014 the National Technical Research Organiation (NTRO) intercepted Thurayya set conversations off the Gujarat coast, between a vessel and its Pakistani handlers who talked of unloading unspecified “valuable cargo” in the vicinity of Porbander. This possibly involved 2 other vessels, all from the Pakistani port of Keti Bander. The message was promptly relayed to the ICG and the Indian Navy (IN) and by evening two fly overs by a Dornier reconnaissance plane positively identified it to be a small fishing boat, which was 365 km off the Indian coast and heading towards Porbander. The ICGS Rajratna was launched to intercept this “uninvited guest” and an hour long chase ensued. A few warning shots and edgy minutes later the boat was set alight by four persons on board who initially hid below deck. Later a huge explosion destroyed the boat and its crew and no remains or debris could be retrieved due to weather and sea conditions.

 The ICG and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) recorded all of the above issues as part of their press release and that the boat was planning some “illicit transaction”. No mention was made of any purported terror plot as that was yet to be ascertained.

Since the incident happened in the backdrop of renewed firing on the Line of Control and the strained India-Pakistan relations, the media raised the pitch celebrated it as a foiling of a terror plot.

This Amul advertisement on the Indian Coast Guard depicts the Amul Girl standing alongside two caricatures depicting the Coast Guard personnel on the deck of an ICGS. A reconnaissance helicopter completes the picture of vigilance.A small fishing boat in the background is a reminder of the incident which which inspired the strip.

IMG-20150109-WA0033

The Tag Line…A Toast to the Coast Guard…is celebrating the prompt action of the ICG.

The Punch Line…Guard against uninvited guests !….is more a statement on the suspicious boat trying to breach Indian coastal security than for the Amul brand itself.

Then most interestingly we had naysayers coming up with their stories with an alarming regularity and conviction, which suggested they were perhaps amongst the 4 crew members of the star crossed boat.

Manu Pubby of India Today called this an “encounter” and Sunetra Choudhry of NDTV doubted as to how the MoD knew the boat was going to do some “illicit transaction”.Praveen Swami of the Indian Express was the most vociferous and he came out with a piece debunking the official version totally.

Swami doubted India’s claims of “destroying” a terror boat” as “highly placed government sources” told him there wasn’t any terror link at all”. He quoted more “sources” to state that the boat belonged to small time smugglers from Keti Bandar and was ferrying “bootleg cargo” from Gwadar to Karachi. Further “three naval officers” stated there could not have been a chase at all as the larger ICGS would have easily outran the hapless fishing boat. He finally insinuated that “disproportionate” and “lethal” force was used to “destroy” the boat and that the official line was a cover up of sorts. Swami doubted the inability to retrieve debris etc. by quoting an open source site to point out that the contrary to the official version the weather and sea conditions on that fateful night were perfect ! He also blamed the NTRO for violating laid down procedures in sharing information.

This “source and evidence” infested article evoked interest internationally with many Pakistani channels using it to stoke the embers of the “staged chase” theory. It contributed largely to the perception that the Indian Government was fabricating facts for ulterior motives and cast a serious doubt on the credibility of the ICG and created a needless controversy.

Swami tried to showcase his reach but in actuality was dishing out, as one observer has put it, stenography in place of investigative journalism.

Firstly,who said anything about a terror plot or the “destroying” of a “terror boat”? It was consistently stated that the boat was set alight by its crew and that it was out to carry out “illicit transaction”. This was vindicated when India Today and Aaj Tak accessed the transcripts and reported that the Pakistani handlers, including the Army, constantly monitored and instructed the ill-fated boat and two others, which were later ordered to abort mission and return. All actions by the crew were known to and approved by the Pakistani handlers, who even spoke about suitably compensating the families of the 4 dead.

Then, If these were smugglers on the Gwadar –Karachi route why were they 400 miles south of an obviously easterly course and into an unfrequented stretch of Indian waters? Any experienced hand will tell you that smugglers tend to stick to busy sea lanes to merge into the trawler traffic and not venture as lone wolves waiting to become headlines! And if it was boot leg cargo only why did the occupants of the boat set it afire when they could have simply dumped the cargo in the sea???

Swami claims a “staged chase” as the ICGS would have easily outran the fishing boat and also that the weather conditions were clear and the sea calm. But the Indian Meteorological Department (IMT) talks of disturbances and poor visibility for the period in question. Yes, an ICGS can easily outrun a small boat anytime but on a choppy sea the scenario is entirely different especially with the prey carrying out evasive actions too. It seems Swami’s “open source” web site was referring to some intergalactic as yet undiscovered sea on planet Z67TREW2 and probably the IMT too involved in a grand conspiracy hatched by the Indian Government to establish its robust security credentials? Seems Mr Swami watched “Knight and Day” and “Tomorrow Never Dies” just before penning his article.

He also paints the ICG as wanton marauders keen on using “disproportionate” and “lethal” force. But are the ICG so daft as to destroy the boat knowing that absence of debris and the culprits will leave them with egg on their faces? And is their 12.7mm gun so potent as to set alight plastic explosives and diesel, both of which are not known to burn easily. Rajnikant would accomplish this with his eyes but it’s beyond the ICG for sure.

Swami is partially right regarding the NTRO’s actions as the latter crucially left out the Intelligence Bureau and the maritime and coastal Police in Gujarat and Maharashtra from the info sharing loop.

However,the alacrity of the ICG cannot be faulted .In 1993 it was the same Porbander coast where the explosives for the Bombay blasts were landed. The 26/11 Mumbai attacks too were set into motion by the hijacking of a small fishing boat, Kuber. So what’s the harm if the ICG wanted to be doubly sure especially since the incident was happening in the backdrop of the Vibrant India Summit being held in Gujarat?

The Pappu led, Indian National Congress (INC) seemed all at sea in its attempt to  politicize the issue.It bemoaned “civilian” deaths at sea (now how were they so sure of it?) and then asked the government to “come clean” with the facts,as if it was the PM himself who was at the helm of the sunken boat! Manish Tewari coined a lovely term and accused the government of being “chaperones of terror” (which means?)Some even wanted to know which “terror outfit” was behind the incident and if the government failed to provide the name then they blame it for obfuscating facts.

In a world where terror can be wrought upon the public from air, sea and land and the internet,what harm will it do to initiate the preventive measures whenever there’s even an iota of doubt? And this boat and its crew were suspicious by any count,especially when seen in conjunction with the intercepts.Every lead is to be investigated and struck down otherwise the prospects are ghastly to say the least. It’s important for the media to behave responsibly and to neither prematurely celebrate nor denigrate matters pertaining to national security. All this eventually contributes towards developing uncertainty in the minds of the security forces, which can one day prove counter-productive for national security. Even politicians should shun petty bickering in favour of national security otherwise they  are only compromising on national interests.

It was a bizarre sequence of events with stenographers serenading as journalists and clowns masquerading as politicians. I don’t advocate that no scrutiny be carried out.But base it on considered thoughts. Journalists and politicians need to be restrained and not embark on personal glory hunting at the cost of the nation’s image and security. I don’t remember any one asking George Bush to “come clean” when conspiracy theories emerged regarding the 9/11 World Trade  Centre attacks.

At least something should be sacrosanct.

I wonder if Swami and the political lot would dare to try similar antics with the IS,if they were citizens in the newly established Caliphate ?

18 February 15; the ICG finds itself in more controversy when it’s DIG,BK Loshali was quoted from what he reportedly told a gathering of guests during th launch of ICGS C-421in Surat that he ordered the blowing off of the Pakistani boat as he didn’t want to “serve them biryani” after arresting the crew. 

This directly contradicts the government’ stance regarding the crew setting the boat alight . Loshali has clarified that he was quoted out of context and his comments have been blown out of proportion.He also says that he wasn’t in charge of  the operation hence could not have ordered the blowing up of the boat

This once again rakes up the controversy and Manish Tewari of the INC, not learning any lessons, has tweeted that he is worried about the civilian deaths if these were not terrorists.

I think expecting full time politicians to place national issues over their petty 2 bit hassles is a bit too much actually. And Mr Loshali too should be served some biryani so he would keep away from speaking out of turn.Lets all just wait for the final report an if there’s a discrepancy then the government should not dither in disclosing it so that vital lessons are learnt.

Till  then let’s just hold our horses or shall I say  -our  plates of biryani! 

A “RENEGADE” & THE “FUNNY PEOPLE ” !

The visit of the President of the United States (POTUS) is an event to remember. But, when Barack Obama decided to visit India for the Republic Day Celebrations it triggered unprecedented excitement as after all he was going to be the first ever US President to visit India twice and the first ever to be the Chief Guest at the R Day Parade.

To begin with, the visit offered 24 hour news (gossip?) channels an opportunity to shift focus from “really grave” issues such as the survival prospects of a live fish stuck in a boy’s wind pipe. Having long mastered the art of saying the same things in many ways – What will Obama do in India? Will Obama do anything? Has Obama done anything ever? – “in depth” expert analysis was provided. Nothing was too banal or sacred and Obama’s stomach ailment was explored ad nauseum and almost the entire nation was now an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of “acid reflux” – which was going to deprive the POTUS of the sumptuous and spicy Indian cuisine. Acid reflux?Its our very own “khatti dakaar” !

An earlier Amul ad covered this incident when Obama’s personal physican diagnosed him with “acid reflux”.The Tag Line ..Obamasala Nahin…is a play on the name Obama and the hindi word for spices –“masala”- and translates into no spices for Obama. While the Punch Line…No Spices Here……endorses the taste and virtues of Amul butter.

IMG-20141210-WA0033

Obama’s US codename “Renegade” was known to all and his seven layered security was reported upon in so much detail that even the US Secret Service learnt about its own capabilities watching these Indian channels. Also, ISIS got to know enough to threaten POTUS with beheading inside the White House itself! But some like the Delhi Police weren’t amused on being the outermost layer in their own lair (the farther the better?)!!!!

American “super dogs” were the toast of all channels. Their reported abilities and traits caused de-recognition of “desi” dogs as dogs itself. One guest on a show was at a loss of words when asked why Indian dogs in the forces did not have an officer status akin to their American counterparts. The reporter though tried to suggest that American dogs were smarter as they were thinking in English (Bihar Police dogs would be be gung ho in Bhojpuri?) !

Obama’s USD 1.5 million armour plated Presidential car –the Beast – mesmerized us Indians who are even deprived of wipers (Tata Nano) and other basic safety measures in cars.To ameliorate the situation “manufacturing” hubs in Punjab announced that one can get even his Maruti 800 converted into “the Beast” for a pittance and choose any colour as well. Fluorescent Green with MSG logo is a rage!

In the midst of all this the Americans rapped the Pakistanis on the knuckles over ensuring zero terror strike during the visit or be prepared to face the consequences. This left the neighbours red faced and obviously warmed the cockles of all and sundry in India.

An Amul ad on the US warning to Pakistan depicted this incident with Uncle Sam walking along with the Amul Girl dressed as a NCC Cadet and humiliatingly threatening a caricature depicting the Pakistani Army to ensure an incident free visit.The The tag line “O, bam abhi nahin” is a play on Obama’s name and the hindi word for a bomb and translates into “no bombs now”

B7yF-qoCEAA17Av

Just before the visit was too happen Obama cancelled the Taj Mahal due to the sudden demise of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. This was a dampener of sorts but for some it was good news as they could now merrily spit and deface the monument once again.

An Amul ad had highlighted this issue previously in 2014.

download

Finally..Finally..Obama and Michelle arrived.

PM Narendra Modi broke protocol and received Obama and the First Lady at the airport.From then on, for the next three days, it was the personal chemistry between the two that drove the agenda.

Visuals of the ingenuous “chai pe charcha” (talks over tea) at Hyderabad House between Obama and Modi were beamed the world over and it was a unique one- on- one, in full public view but in private too. The body language and the personal rapport were indicative of a level of comfort unseen between US Presidents and Indian PMs.

This Amul ad on Obama’s visit shows two caricatures depicting him and Modi respectively in the lawns of the Hyderabad House in the same setting as it was during the “chai pe charcha”. The Amul girl has been shown as serving the butter laden toasts being savoured by the two leaders.

B8aZHIYCcAAXR62

The Tag Line..Buddy buddy baatein?.. is a play on the word “buddy” showcasing the bonhomie between the two leaders and the hindi word “badi” meaning big, which illustrates the fact that it was during these talks that perhaps the two leaders laid the foundations for the big breakthroughs achieved during the visit.

The Punch Line….. Bread Butter Bromance. Simply endorses the Amul Butter and the “brotherly” bonhomie between the two leaders.

Obama attended all the functions with a sense of purpose and commitment. He broke protocol during the R Day Parade by attending for two hours instead of the security stipulated 45 minutes. He also made it a point to break into Hindi, whenever he could.Obama’s speech at Siri Fort Auditorium was replete with examples of Indian icons such as Mahatama Gandhi, Swami Vivekanand, Milkha Singh,Kailash Sayarthi,Mary Kom and Shah Rukh Khan.Infact Obama’s attempt at a Bollywood dialogue…”Senorita ..bade bade deshon mein… “ struck a chord and further showcased his intent and positivity towards India and the relations between the two countries.The joint hosting of the popular radio chat “Mann Ki Baat” by Modi and Obama further underscored their personal rapport and was a unique way of demonstrating the growing bonding to a larger audience.

Much of the credit for this rapport goes to the highly successful US visit of Modi, He and Obama bonded based on their humble beginnings and have since carried it forward. The two have demonstrated tremendous statesmanship in taking bilateral relations forward. It’s quite a feat for a second term President, who is considered a “lame duck” to risk his political legacy for India ,whose citizen were once referred to as the “funny people” by Eisoenhower. This is  especially remarkabke for a US President who has lost control of both houses of the senate after the recent midterm elections.

An Amul ad on the US mid term elections to the senate covered this development in the US political sphere.

IMG-20141107-WA0017

The delegation level bilateral discussions fed on the rapport between Modi and Obama and major breakthroughs were achieved in the fields of civilian nuclear cooperation, India’s quest for a permanent seat on the UNSC, defence cooperation and bilateral trade. If India will benefit so will the US. India will bolster the US’s case in the international strategic sphere and is also a major economic market for the US to tap.

It has taken 70 years for the world’s leading democracies to draw closer. As one commentator has aptly put “it’s the dance of the stars” that are finally fortuitously placed to allow Indo-US ties to come out of the shadows of the past. A shared China centric view, common threats in the form of global terrorism and India’s rise and potential as an economic power are the three pillars of this transforming relationship.

Pakistan and China added to the fun by behaving like a jealous couple. Pakistan sulked at being passed over by the US for arch enemy India .And China uncharacteristically betrayed its anxiety at the sudden warmth between India and the US.

In the final analysis India should remember that the US always keeps its national interests foremost and so she should never be blindsided by any personal charisma or rapport or strategic promise, but maintain a pragmatic course.It was an immensely successful visit by the POTUS and the results will definitely emerge in time.

Overall the visit was an emphatic success and tremendously choreographed.The first ever Guard of Honour by a woman officer,Wing Commander Pooja Thakur, and the first ever all women’s contingents of three services were a special legacy of the 66th Republic Day celebrations that even the Obamas will remember. 

To round up the zany side.

The media focused so intensely on the numerous hugs between the two leaders that at a point it seemed as if it was dying to identify if they weren’t “straight” !For their part the two couldn’t really keep their hands off each other either!!!

Then someone remarked how Modi upstaged Michelle Obama’s fashion tastes (???)! Mrs Obama versus Mrs Li Xinping is fine but Modi versus Michelle???? Well, this happened because NaMo consistently wore some “cool” and chic kurta’s and bandhgala suits.One which caught the eye the most had his name embroidered in vertical stripes.So much so that the observers felt he had upstaged the first lady of fashion in the world !

Amul caught on the idea and made use of the same in this well timed ad on the personalised monogrammed suits wirh the Amul girl showing off the company branding in the same style as Narendra Damodardas Modi was embroidered on the PM’s suit designed by Bipin Chauhan.

B8f5Lr5CUAAouX4

Though Amul found enough in the visit to take out four topicals, sadly it missed out one on the 66th Republic Day itself especially with its numerous and unique firsts. 

Lastly…The master stroke almost got missed out.PM Modi invited Obama and the American’s took over the security and thus Modi’s first R Day went incident free.Smart boy.For the next one lets call ISIS Chief Baghdadi.What say ?

Parting shot…Any guesses whom does the US Secret Service refer to as  Renaissance, Radiance and Rosebud in the Obama Presidential entourage ;)

POST SCRIPT 

Other than the nuclear deal it’s only the personalised monogrammed suit of Narendra Modi which has managed to retain its sheen from the not so recently ” concluded Obama visit.

The suit was associated it controversy when Modi’s opponents used it to attack his pro poor credentials.In fact the suit was seen as a factor, during the Delhi Assembly elections, in swaying voters towards the Aam Aadmi Party as it made Modi seem elitist and far removed from the underprivileged sections of the society.

However there was a clever twist in the tale when Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to auction the gifts received by him for garnering funds for the Clean Ganga Campaign.The Surat Municipal Corporation was entrusted with the responsibility.

The auction evoked derision,criticism as well as support but most of all keen interest and even keener bidding.bidding . For a total of 460 items the bid amount collected was a whopping Rs 8.33 crores with the replicas of the Statue of Liberty and the Pashupati Nath temple drawing bids of Rs 1.11 crores.

But the star attraction was “the suit” which drew 47 bids and was sold for a whopping Rs  4.31 crores. The bidding had stabilised at 1.48 crores on the second day of the auction but on the third day it sky rocketed to the final amount.The successful bid was made by Dharmandan Diamonds’ Hitesh Patel .The prized item is now gracing the reception of the diamond firm.

This Amul advertisement on the auction of Modi’s suit shows the Amul Girl looking at a display of the famous attire with a Narendra Modi mannequin donning it.A photo depicting the moment Modi wore the suit while receiving Obama completes the background to the suit and it’s claim to fame.

B-RI0nSIYAAero6

The Tag Line …And the highest coat is… a take on the high bids drawn by “the suit”.

The Punch Line …Utterly Button-ly Delicious… is a play on the famous Amul ad line.

The high bids and the cause for which the auction was held may help in blunting the damage that the suit had caused to Modi’s image but in a sense it was good fun too as never had a dress made it to the headlines in such an emphatic manner.

I for one am eagerly awaiting the China visit !

IPL SPOT FIXING SAGA: INDIAN CRICKET’S “WATERGATE” MOMENT !

Cricketer Sreesanth’s use of towels to spot fix during the Indian Premier League season 6 (I8PL 6) led to the biggest scandal that rocked the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) as well as the IPL. Its flames engulfed Sreesanth and eventually the BCCI too. Finally, it was left to the the Supreme Court of India (SC) to resurrect the game of cricket in India. Ranbir Kapoor knows that a towel can make a career but now, BCCI President N Srinivasan’s and Sreesanth both know that it can mar careers too.

Spot fixing should have never surprised us Indians as we have been throwing hankies to reserve seats in buses and local trains, yet the IPL spot fixing incident became a major controversy and opened a Pandora’s Box for many others.

Gurunath Meiyappan, son in law of N Srinivasan and Team Principal of Chennai Super Kings (CSK) was arrested for betting and so was Raj Kundra, co-owner of the Rajasthan Royals (RR). BCCI appointed an enquiry committee but its ability to conduct a fair probe was always suspect till such time Srinivasan continued to don his twin hats as BCCI President and co-owner at CSK. Expectedly, retired judges Chowta and Subramaniam found nothing against anyone! The findings were challenged by the “unrecognized” Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB) in the the Bombay High Court which annulled the enquiry findings. BCCI contested this in the SC but the latter disagreed and instead instituted its own enquiry – the Justice Mukul Mudgal Committee.

And this was the turning point.

Mudgal Committee indicted Meiyappan and Kundra for betting and revealed involvement of some players too whose names were withheld. It was critical of IPL CEO, Sundar Raman for frequently communicating with a bookie. And suggested that Srinivasan be further investigated for his role in the entire matter ranging from fixing to attempted cover up. In light of the new facts the SC empowered the same committee to further investigate the matter.

The final Mudgal Committee Report was submitted in November 2014 and confirmed its findings against Meiyappan, Kundra and Sunder Raman. Meiyappan who was earlier termed as a mere “cricket enthusiast” (for enthusiastically sharing information with bookies !!!) by India cements to insulate CSK from possible termination from the IPL was confirmed to be a team official of the CSK. Srinivasan was exonerated of betting and fixing charges but not of attempted “cover up”. Some names were again withheld. Indian Captain MS Dhoni was speculatively dragged in as the mysterious Individual No 2 in the report, whom Individual No 1 (Meiyappan) frequently met to discuss team strategy of CSK and later passed the same details to betting syndicates.

A previous Amul ad on the Mudgal Committee shows a caricature depicting Justice Mudgal and the Amul Girl (as a lawyer) conferring while a player in whites is crying and holding his head in shame, which probably represents the game of cricket.

IMG-20141128-WA0018

The Tag Line , “Muh Khol Mudgal”, translates to “open your mouth” and in the light of the controversy exhorts the committee to come out in the open with all its findings. The Punch Line, subtly hints at the importance of the report as also of Amul Butter.

To take matters further, Srinivasan clearly had a conflict of interest while being BCCI President and took refuge under the BCCI’s amended rule 6.2.4 which allowed administrators running the game to have commercial interests in it as well. BCCI subsequently defended this clause unabashedly in the SC. The crude attempts to alter the status of Meiyappan to “enthusiast” and the alleged role of Dhoni and Srinivasan to support this fallacious claim exposed the entrenched interests. BCCI was also shown to be incapable and unwilling to introduce internal censure and probity and shamefully, contested the powers of the court to constitute an independent enquiry. Most glaringly, BCCI claimed immunity from the courts on the premise that it was a private society and not a public body hence its governing rules were not under the law of the land!

N Srinivasan was exposed as a megalomaniac intent on protecting his interests. Repulsively, Srinivasan wanted to investigate CSK, Meiyappan and others as BCCI President itself when he had such obvious conflict of interest. He fought tooth and nail to prove that he had none and with each assertion exposed himself further.

In spite of the SC’s suggestion, Srinivasan refused to step down as BCCI President to allow for a fair probe. This disgusting scenario presented the bookies with “windfall gains” as they were now betting on Srinivasan’s “would he, wont he” until the SC forced him out. It seems Srinivasan had imbibed the properties of the product being sold by his company India Cements. Luckily it doesn’t sell adhesives like Araldite or Fevicol in addition to the cement!!!

The AGM of the BCCI to elect new office bearers was also postponed by the SC beyond the present term which ended in September 2014, as it felt that the findings of the Mudgal Committee needed to be taken to their logical conclusion. Nauseatingly, Srinivasan still sought reinstatement as BCCI President, much after his official term had already expired. BCCI insisted that it will constitute its own “ethics commission” to implement remedial measures against those found indicted! This was but a vacuous claim which found no favour with SC. To accentuate the competing interests in the India’s cricket administration set up, ex IPL czar Lalit Modi admitted financing the “unrecognized” CAB (all cricket enthusiasts) in its fight against the BCCI and Srinivasan.

Consequent to the filing of the final report, marathon hearings were conducted in the SC during November / December 2014 in which the issue of conflict of interest haunted Srinivasan.Finally, in its January 2015 verdict, the SC endorsed the Mudgal Committees findings against Meiyappan, Kundra and Sunder Rajan. It found CSK and RR guilty of misconduct on the basis of the actions of its officials and owners. It exonerated Srinivasan of “cover up” charges but only for lack of evidence. And most importantly ruled that he had a conflict of interest and struck down the pernicious and contentious clause 6.2.4 of the BCCI. It also barred individuals with commercial interest in cricket from holding a position in the BCCI. And directed that if Srinivasan wanted to contest elections he would have to give up his stake in CSK.

The SC also set up a separate panel under retired CJI, RS Lodha to introduce transparency and accountability in the functioning of the BCCI to help it to gain “institutional integrity”. It will formulate rules to streamline issues of conflict of interest, to stipulate guidelines for the conduct of elections and for any other measure deemed fit for the functioning of the BCCI. It shall also finalise the punishment for the guilty in the entire IPL spot fixing fiasco.The recommendations of the panel shall be binding on the BCCI.

By this the SC has settled the insidious claim that BCCI wasn’t under the jurisdiction of the courts for once and for all. It’s shameful that it fell upon the SC to clean up the BCCI’s mess and to restore the public’s faith in the game. Hopefully this hiding will transform the moral landscape of the hitherto fore opaque and unscrupulous functioning of the BCCI.

This Amul ad profiles the post SC verdict scenario facing N Srinivasan. A caricature depicting him,replete with his trademark red teeka,  is weighing his options with a white flanelled cricketer representing Indian Cricket ,probably Virat Kohli and a yellow flannelled cricketer representing CSK,probably MS Dhoni, forming two sides of a balance.The Amul girl is missing from this piece.

amul-hits-1983

The Tag Line... Board? Cement? Chennai? India?  ..with initial capitals in red is a play on the Hobson’s choice imposed on Srinivasan regarding contesting elections to the BCCI.He will have to choose and choose he must.

The Punch Line Chairman of Butters endorses the Amul product line and is a veiled hint at the President’s job at stake in the BCCI.

This strip is rightly about N Srinivasan, as eventually it was he who stood between the BCCI and efforts to restore faith and probity in the game.

The verdict of the SC has triggered the fall of the most powerful BCCI President ever, just like it happened for Richard Nixon in the Watergate Scandal, and even that started with a cover up of sorts which was never proven! Like Watergate, it is proven that no one is above the law. Power could neither save President Nixon nor Srinivasan. And lastly, akin to Watergate, sports administrators will now value judicious conduct and avoid being brazen and arrogant

But what a paradox that all the trouble was taken to investigate betting in cricket, a game which commences with betting itself – the toss of the coin.

And btw you can make a career without a towel too. Ask Sunny Leone!

28th February 15;N Srinivasan has tendered unconditional apology to the SC for presiding over the working committee meet of the BCCI in spite of the apex court order of 22 Jan 15 ,specifically barring him from doing so.Srinivasan has expressed regret by saying that he misunderstood the order and “went by its letter and not spirit”.

Accepting the apology the SC allowed Srinivasan to attend the AGM meeting of the BCCI on 2nd Mar 15 and cast the vote as the representative of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association  (TNCA) for the election of the BCCI President.Had Srinivasan not apologised he would have lost stake in the crucial elections.Though barred from any administrative appointment in the BCCI he has substantial interests in BCCI and the IPL and would like to have retain de facto influence over the cash rich cricket body.

2nd March 15; Jagmohan Dalmiya made a remarkable comeback as the BCCI President,ten years after he was banished from the organisation over embezzlement charges.He had sensed an opportunity when Srinivasan was barred from contesting by the SC and went on to successfully lobby for himself as the consensus candidate of all factions including the Sharad Pawar and the Srinivasan group.

This speaks volumes about Dalmiya’s propensity for manoeuvre as also the lure of the post as all factions now have managed to protect their interests and secure their slice of the pie by having a common candidate .

Dalmiya’s comeback is remarkable as he was.once a pariah and today the same organisation has elected him unopposed.This also sends signals about the fact that the satraps in the BCCI have no intention of letting their grip loosen over its affairs as also that they will try every  trick in the trade to protect and perpetuate their interests.Election of a 74 year old corruption tainted well entrenched man doesn’t bode well for the future of cricket administration especially when the BCCI considers itself above the law of the land.

Power…money…politics…

It’s in this backdrop that the Justice Lodha commission has to suggest measures for reforms in  the BCCI.And the work of this committee now becomes ever more crucial.

As a young boy I was fortunate to have my father tell me about the history of the world and about the events as they unfolded.This was based on what I would glean out of conversations,news papers and the dear ol' 9pm news on Doordarshan. Today I have a Son, Ayenesh,And I too want to be able to tell him about his queries especially about the times he grew up in. And my endeavour is being aided by the 'Amul Ad Campaign'. The topical issues covered in those innocuous cartoons are precious nuggets of history being created,while I am living through those events today! So,Ayenesh,this is for you my son.I don't want you to miss out on the events while you were busy growing up.I shall narrate to you what the ad portrays as and when it is featured. I have compiled my musings on the ads from 2012 onwards and here I intend to record my observations for the ones being featured now as well as attempt to hive the ones already reflected upon by way of careful jottings on the subject.Eventually when you grow up, you will have this Blog to fall back upon for your own private treasure trove of history, the basis for which would be the ads of a company which has butter as it's marquee product ! Wish you a wonderful life ahead and happy reading too. The views stated in the posts are my own and are based on the various articles posted on the internet and in no way represent the views or official line of the ad company or the Amul product line. The blog pictures are courtsey the official Amul Twitter account.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: