Even Sherlock Holmes wouldn’t touch the VYAPAM Scam with a barge pole. Simply because it’s likely it would be the last thing he would ever touch! With 48 deaths of accused or witnesses (mostly unnatural and mysterious) in its wake it would be surprising if anyone would stick his neck out in the case knowing fully well that he could well be – #49 !!! Read on at your own peril , lest you know too much as well!

Third term as Madhya Pradesh (MP) CM & Shiv Raj Singh Chauhan was riding the crest of the largest and strongest wave of his political career, until it hit a breaker named – VYAPAM -acronym for MP Vyavasayik Pareeksha Mandal or MP Professional Examination Board (MPPEB).

The MPPEB, has been responsible for the conduct of entrance exam for professional courses since 1982.In 2011, its scope was widened to include all appointments except the gazetted ones. Overarching powers, rampant unemployment and the lure of the professional courses, made VYAPAM a lucrative proposition for anyone who was wily enough to exploit its potential for generating ill-gotten wealth. It was too good an opportunity to be missed.

And it wasn’t missed.

In 2009,Paras Saklecha, a one term independent MLA from Ratlam and an academic first raised the issue of alleged irregularities in the conduct of exams by VYAPAM in the State Assembly. Soon, Anand Rai, a government doctor, filed a PIL as well as a police complaint on the same issue. Undertones transformed into overtones and VYAPAM was now mired in a full-fledged controversy. An inquiry commission was then formed and submitted its report in 2011.Subsequently,certain admissions were cancelled and numerous cases were investigated.

Intriguingly, the Government’s actions did not act as a deterrent. VYAPAM’s own records suggest the number of irregularities in admissions kept increasing from 42 medical seats cancelled out of the allotted number in 2008 to 85 in 2009, 90 in 2010, 98 in 2011, 286 in 2012 and 439 in 2013.If observed, though the figures are for the medical seats only, the irregularities saw a significant jump in 2011 when a massive number of departmental recruitment too were brought under the banner of VYAPAM, ostensibly for streamlining the process and to introduce transparency in the system. But all it did was add more lusture to VYAPAM and made the professional and recruitment exams a ripe ground for the conspirators to exploit.Their impunity obviously resulted from the fact that they were comfortable in the knowledge that their “patrons” would cover for them.

This state persisted till 2013, when the edifice of VYAPAM took a body blow.Indore Police on a tip off arrested 20 impersonators on the eve of the PMT. The subsequent investigations blew the lid over what is today known as the VYAPAM Scam and the Indore Crime Branch discovered that VYAPAM had been completely compromised.

The façade of fairness had crumbled completely and Shivraj Chouhan found himself in the middle of a raging fire, for it was under his watch as the Minister overseeing VYAPAM that it had degenerated into a corruption mired sloth which was playing with the futures of young aspirants and hollowing out the credibility of the departments it was carrying out recruitments for.

This coupled with sensational allegations from Anand Rai impelled the CM to constitute a Special Task Force (STF) to investigate the VYAPAM Scam. The STF found that the rigged tests were the PMT 2008-13, Pre-PG medical test for 2012 and recruitment exams for contract teachers, food inspectors, police constables and Ayurvedic medical officers. A total of 167exams were now under the scanner.And a probable Rs 10000 crores exchanged hands !

The modus operandi in the VYAPAM Scam was based on impersonation, where a brilliant student sat on behalf of another candidate after having duly affixed his own photo on the admit card. This photo was later changed after the exam. Favoured candidates were also made to sit within an “engine and bogey system” where a proxy candidate or another impersonator sat between two others (bogeys) who would then copy from his (engine) answer sheets. Lastly, targeted candidates were advised to leave the answers blank on the OMR sheets and they would later fill the answers based on the high grades they were awarded in the test !It was obvious that none of this was possible without the active collusion of students, parents,examiners, VYAPAM officials and a well-oiled network of middlemen and VIPs who were recommending the candidates. For the record, success at the PMT was guaranteed at Rs 15 lacs and for the PG seats at Rs 50 lacs.

Arrests of middlemen led to the revelation that the principal system analyst Nitin Mahindra could get any candidate selected at will. He was found to be in cahoots with the chief controller of exams and Chairman at VYAPAM, Pankaj Trivedi. The arrests of these bigwigs clearly indicated that there was more to the scam as these individuals could not have run such an elaborate scheme without political patronage and blessings. VYAPAM had been stinking all along only that the stench was ignored by the CM, how can such an elaborately layered scam be perpetrated without anyone getting a whiff of it unless fate intervened?

The STF hired a free lance and ethical hacker and forensic expert , Prashant Pandey, to recover data from VYAPAM computers and call data records. An Excel sheet conforming to meticulous details of the transactions carried out by Mahindra was recovered ,giving out records of the candidates, the amount paid by them and the name of the middleman and the VIP/ individual recommending these candidates. In addition, Pandey retrieved another 40 GB of incriminating data as well as Call Data Records (CDRs) wherein he recovered SMS trails between various middlemen and the ones promoting the candidates.

This was the turning point in the investigation for more than one reason.

Not only did it lead to numerous skeletons jumping out of closets but also set in motion a sequence events that would eventually lead to the demolishing of the Shivraj legacy.

Based on these details and findings and the excel sheet records the STF went on to file 55 cases and 45 of them for professional courses and the other 10 for irregularities in the recruitments. The arrests made were spectacular as well and demonstrated how deep set the rot was. Dr Jagdish Sagar, known to be close to the BJP was arrested with a list of 317 PMT candidates he was going to target, barely days before the PMT counselling. State Minister for Technical Education, Laxmikant Sharma, was arrested for fraud in relation to a case in the recruitment of contract teachers. His OSD , OP Shukla was arrested for taking 85 lacs from Mahindra and Trivedi, and his PA Sudhir Sharma was arrested for his role as a middleman and a facilitator. Numerous bureaucrats and their relatives were also arrested for their role and participation in the scam. Quoting the Hindustan Times, Dhanraj Yadav, former OSD to governor, is accused of being involved in the recruitment of a large number of candidates. and the biggest catch of them all, Governor Ram Naresh Yadav was booked for allegedly accepting bribes from five people for recruiting them as forest guards.The CM’s then personal secretary Prem Chandra Prasad was also implicated in a case involving his daughter but was, allegedly, never pursued seriously.Names of RSS Chiefs and other Sangh Parivaar functionaries also figured as the sponsors of candidates.

During this time Prashant Pandey turned whistle blower when he despaired that the STF was not taking action against the CM, to whom it was reporting, and against his wife Sadhna Singh , who had both purportedly figured in the excel sheet retrieved by him.He alleged that the STF had replaced Shivraj Singh Chauhan’s name with the letters “CM” and with the name of the former MP CM ,Uma Bharti. He handed over the data to the Congress Party’s Digvijay Singh, who in turn used it to file a case in the MP High Court, making a case against Shivraj Chauhan as the kingpin and arguing that the STF was deliberately going slow in the case and instead of going after the real mastermind was simply filing cases against parents and children and also harassing them.

The MP CM’s and his wife ,Sadhna Singh’s name also cropped in cases pertaining to their relative’s being recruited as well as ineligible candidates being recruited from their native districts (these candidates were later disqualified)The CM was also accused of changing the rules of VYAPAM to suit his interests.

Following various writs against the STF and for handing over the investigations to the CBI the MP High Court constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to monitor the work of the STF.

All this while a spate of deaths and suicides started. Namrata Damor, a student of Indore Medical College was found dead in 2012.Her death was termed suicide in spite of the autopsy report suggesting violent homicide. Two years hence her name figured in the list of fraudulent candidates. She was allegedly close to Dr Jagdish Sagar and probably knew too much about the unfolding scam. Similarly almost 40 others also died, including the Governor’s son , Shailesh Yadav, who had been named as an alleged recipient of bribes. According to the STF’s own records 23 of the deaths were unnatural (suspicious or a result of accidents) and most were of people in the age group of 25 to 30, yet these deaths were not being independently probed. With each death the pressure on the Shivraj government increased to call for a CBI probe of the scam and the STF came under fire for failing to protect the witnesses and others involved. But the MP Government did not relent and continued to repose faith on the discredited STF.

In a dramatic turn of events, the case filed by Digvijay Singh based on the details provided by Prashant Pandey was thrown out by the MP High Court on the grounds that the SIT had found the data on Pandey’s pen drive to be forged ! The SIT never commented on the fact that it was the same Excel sheet which was relied upon for arresting so many others then how is turning out to be forged now??? The SIT also claimed that the SMS details provide by Pandey were inadmissible as they were obtained illegally hence their worth as evidence was void! But it could atleast have clarified whether the SMS sequences were authentic or not irrespective of the source.Why discount his fact after all???Pandey was also arrested for the forged data and certain STF staff were booked for hiring private investigators in an ongoing government inquiry. This totally turned the tables on the opposition and the MP CM found some breathing space. The MP Governor too won a reprieve as he had in a separate case suggested that the data could be forged and hence the FIR against him should be quashed. The opposition though maintained the pressure but the fizz was out from its drive against the CM.

The situation changed dramatically between 28 June and 06 Jul 15, when four deaths of people related to the VYAPAM Scam, occurred in quick succession. Two amongst them were police constables who were allegedly accused of being the beneficiaries of the scam (though this was denied by the MP CM) and one was the dean of the Jabalpur Medical College ,Arun Kumar, who was assisting the CBI in the investigations.The most shocking was the death of TV Today Group journo, Akshay Sigh , who collapsed and died of a heart attack moments after interviewing the family of Namrata Damor as part of his investigations into her alleged murder and its connect with the VYAPAM Scam.

The almost daily sequence of deaths shook the entire nation and VYAPAM was finally and firmly on the national mind scape. The details started tumbling out and it became increasingly embarrassing for the MP CM, whose position was fast becoming untenable. VYAPAM had become synonymous with death. And Shivraj Chauhan was losing the perception battle at an alarming rate. The general impression now was that there was a systematic cover up and the manner of elimination suggested shielding of influential individuals.The taint on the CM and his wife now returned to haunt them.With the death toll at 48 (the government though claims lesser) the sensationalism around the scam was at its peak. And with each new dawn it seemed one more VYAPAM Scam accused or witness or anyone possessing information on it would bite the dust till there were none left to depose or provide information!!

In the aftermath of the turn of events, the Supreme Court of India (SC) took cognizance of the matter in response to appeals filed by Digvijay Singh, Kapil Sibal and three other VYAPAM whistle blowers including Prashant Pandey, Anand Rai and Ashish Chaturvedi,to hand over the case to the CBI.Faced with imminent handing over of the case, Shivraj Chuhan then proceeded to , belatedly, approach the MP HC for the same. The MP HC however deferred the hearing and the SC eventually made the CBI responsible for the case.

This Amul Advertisment on the VYAPAM Scam featured in the midst of the raging controversy and after the spate of deaths of individuals related to the scam.It depicts the Amul Girl as a student sitting in a class room and scratching her head in a bid to figure out what exactly was going on that led to so many suspicious deaths.The sequence of question marks is as much a take on the VYAPAM Emblem – ? – as it is on the big question mark the scam had itself turned out into.


The Tag Line ….Dial M for Madhya?… is a spin on the name of the famous Alfred Hitchcock thriller  “Dial M for Murder” , which is about a perfect murder plot. And in this case is a not so subtle and scathing commentary over the spate of alleged murders that took place in Madhya Pradesh in relation to the VYAPAM Scam and ostensibly left no evidennce to prove them.

The Punch Line …Play Safe…. Endorses Amul Butter as a safe product but also echoes the dominant sentiment of the time that it is better the people who knew about the VYAPAM Scam played it safe than being sorry later. If they were around at all !

In this entire sordid saga, the MP CM emerges as the man who would rue his missed opportunities to unravel the scam when he could have. His slow start to the investigations in the initial years, ignoring the scam as something that would blow away while winning a third term, not going for the removal of the Governor when he was named in an FIR, not going in for independent investigations in the numerous suspicious deaths, not handing over the case to the CBI in the face of the STF’s incompetence and helplessness are some of the slip ups that he is directly responsible for. Naturally many would argue that perhaps he is himself involved which explains his actions or inaction.This has demolished his “Mama ji” image – a well-wisher for the youngsters – as also his claims for a clean and corruption free administration.

When every action of the ones responsible for the probe was evoking suspicion then why did the MP CM not hand over the case to the CBI? Chauhan’s claims at being the original whistle blower fall flat as the pace of the investigations and the many omissions and commissions of the investigators puncture his attempts at attaining the moral high ground. He is today a lame duck CM, a far cry from the wave rider days, and is badly mauled in the aftermath of the VYAPAM Scam.He proved ineffective in preventing it, prosecuting the accused and also in protecting the witnesses and the key accused. Most damningly, VYAPAM the institution transformed into a monster which epitomizes everything which is wrong with today’s India – rampant corruption, poverty, exploitation, greed, unemployment, political patronage, nepotism, poor governance, lack of moral authority and accountability. The MP CM was all the while content with holding on to power and was least concerned with the fate of the 77 million affected due to the VYAPAM irregularities since 2008. VYAPAM became a synonym for corruption and death under his watch. His legacy is destroyed and his days in the appointment are numbered as well. His fate now hangs in the balance till the time the CBI reports on the veracity of the data presented by Prashant Pandey.

Some may argue that the deaths are being made out to be what they are not as part of an inner party tussle within the BJP and that once adequate collateral damages has been inflicted on Shivraj Singh Chauhan, making his exit imminent, the news reports would die down After all, the media is but a tool in India.Even if this is true, this is also true that the scam happened, 48 people have died and not all of them were meant to die just because they were born (as MP Home Minister and foremer CM Babu Lal Gauur would have us believe), that the STF was impeded in its progress and probably was inhibited too and lastly that VYAPAM has been an unmitigated disaster for the people of MP. For all this alone the truth needs to be found out and accountability fixed.Its a sad commentary when , if it is true, political vendetta leads to scams such as VYAPAM being taken to their logical conclusion !

For having forsaken the well being of the people of MP the CM needs to resign. And now.

However, the rot in MP runs deep and the fact that the Governor Ram Naresh Yadav is an accused is symptomatic of the same. His continuance in the post is baffling when the very same BJP Government in the Centre went hammer and tongs against untainted UPA appointed state governors and eventually replaced them. Obviously, I would ask that is Yadav being handled with kid’s gloves since he knows a little too much about the ones involved???Shamefully, an appeal demanding that the MP Government be asked to seek the Governor’s removal is pending in the SC.Will someone move even now???

Alarmingly, the sequence of actions in VYAPAM have a common chord with some other scams involving the high and mighty. The fodder scam in Bihar saw more than a dozen people connected with it die unnaturally. .Accidents were the major cause then too. Subsequently in the National rural Health Mission scam in UP, two CMOs were shot, a Dy CMO was killed in jail, another was killed in an accident while on his way to meet CBI officials, and a clerk was found dead in a field.

Isn’t it all too convenient in  India?

A swift closure to the investigations, independent inquiries into the unnatural deaths, setting up of a new institution with adequate safeguards and speedy justice in the cases seems to be the only recourse towards setting the house in order in MP. Though this seems to be a tall order as with 2000 arrests, 500 absconders and many more to be accused in the future the CBI has its task cut out. Whatever be the measures taken, the long term damage has been done.VYAPAM has single handedly destroyed the credibility of the professional courses and those graduating in them in India.

This is one scam which has come to light and there may be many more VYAPAM’s already underway or waiting to happen. And its likely we may not come to know of most especially since with the way the whistle blowers are “protected” in India, who would put his hand up for the greater cause when his/ her life would be almost certainly endangered.

Play safe has to be the mantra after all.

But the underlying feeling is of despair and dismay that almost anything can be tampered with in our country and if you are connected enough you can get away with it and the money as well. Life is cheap and never more so than in the VYAPAM conundrum.

I would like to personally compliment the kingpins and the masterminds on their modus operandi that it is so perfect that the VYAPAM scam successfully impersonated death and did a good job about it too.

Have I learnt too much?

If my cell phone doesn’t respond hereafter, please dial M for Madhya !




Jayalalithaa’s foster son was about to be married , when asked if he possessed a “bangla,gaadi ,TV, fridge, AC, and 1001 lungis, and 10002 bottles of coconut oil” required for leading a happily married life, he simply gave a knowing smile and calmly said uske pass “Ammaa” hai ! “Ammaa” too sponsored his wedding in style! And two decades later “Ammaa”, her moonh bola beta and a moonh lagi dost were still seen clearing the wedding dues in the form of a Disproportionate Assets (DA) case !

Jayalalitha first became the CM of Tamil Nadu (TN), in 1991, after her party, the AIADMK, swept the Assembly and Parliamentary elections. Fondly addressed as “Amma”, she found herself perched as the Prima Donna of TN politics. She progressed with her first term with equal mix of hits and misses and was known for her pro women policies and also the ablity to take a tough stand on contentious issues such as the Cauvery water dispute.

Amul did not miss the import and captured it in one of its first topicals on Jayalalitha ,which was inspired by the stand off between the Karnataka CM , S Bangarappa, and her.

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But Jayalalitha’s first term as CM was also conspicuous for her total reliance on her close friend Sasikala and some of the latter’s relatives.Sasikala emerged as the main power broker within the AIADMK. In time businesses and companies with Jayalalitha and Sasikala as stakeholders, went on a land and property acquiring spree and making huge financial transactions. It was at this time that Jayalalitha’s foster son Sudhakaran VN, Sasikala’s nephew, was married in the most ostentatious manner. The marriage found mention in the Guinness Book of Records for the maximum number of guests and the largest ever marriage banquet. The vulgar display of wealth and jewellery by Jayalalitha evoked a lot of negative publicity and curiosity. Her popularity waned tremendously in the wake of the controversial wedding.

Subramaniam Swamy, erstwhile Janata Party President and presently a BJP member, filed a case for investigating Jayalalitha for corruption to investigate the expenses of the wedding as well as other financial and land/ property deals involving her. She was accused of amassing assets worth Rs 66.64 Crores when her known income was estimated to be Rs 3 crore.

In 1996, “Amma” lost the State assembly and parliamentary elections.

The incoming DMK Government formed a special court and pursued the issues against its main political rival and charged her and her associates with corruption, acquiring income beyond their known sources of income, money laundering, benami transactions and land grab through dubious land deals. ”Amma” was eventually arrested in December 1996. The recovery of 28 kgs of gold, 800kgs of silver, 12000 sarees and over a 1000 pair of shoes from her residence was shocking in its mere scale and proportion. Jayalalitha and her associates had a lot of explaining to do.

Amul too was inspired to take out a topical on Jayalaitha’s arrest , which won the 1996 AAREN Awards.


Following the furore Jayalalitha broke all ties with Sasikala and even disowned Sudhakaran as her foster son.She also vowed to abjure from wearing gold ever again.

The case was pursued vigorously for five years. In the interim Jayalalitha’s political fortunes swung once again when she with her 28 MPs.became a crucial partner in the BJP led NDA government of 1998. With waxing fortuneS, “Amma’s”  arrogance surfaced once gain and she exerted undue pressures on the coalition government to dismiss the DMK government in TN which was vigorously pursuing the cases against her.Important Income Tax officials investigating the cases against Jayalalitha were also transferred arbitrarily by central ministers belonging to the AIADMK .

The blatant misuse of power by Jayalalitha inspired yet another Amul topical way back in 1998.


Eventually the situation came to a head and “Amma” threatened to withdraw support from the NDA as a sign of her political power. By now This too led to yet another Amul topical on her.


 But in 2001 Jayalalitha, in spite of her conviction in the TANSI land case (which was later overturned) and all her histrionics she was back at the helm as CM (it happens only in India). Consequently, scores of witnesses in the DA case resiled and the prosecutors also faced pressure. The case was almost collapsing for lack of evidence when in 2003, senior DMK leader, K Anbazaghan sought and obtained from the Supreme Court of India (SC) the transfer of the case outside of TN. The trial was now to be conducted in Karnataka.

Cut to 28th of September 2014.

18 years, five judges, four Special Public Prosecutors (SPP), one senior counsel, 250 plus witnesses and innumerable dilatory appeals were consumed in arriving at the verdict in the Karnataka trial court of Justice John Michael D’cunha. Jayalalitha along with Sasikala and the other two accused was found guilty of amassing assets and wealth disproportionate to her known source of income, and sentenced to 4 years imprisonment. Jayalalitha was fined Rs 100 crore and the others Rs 10 crore each.

Jayalalitha earned the dubious distinction of being the first sitting CM to be convicted. She was unseated from the CM’s chair and stood disqualified from holding public office for 10 years, four years for the duration of the conviction and six years after its termination. “Amma” appealed against the judgement in the Karnataka High Court (HC) and also applied for bail, which was initially denied but later the SC granted her the same on the condition of a speedy disposal of her appeal in the HC.

All was over for “Amma”. Or so it seemed.

Jayalalitha had been unseated once before in 2001 when she was convicted in the TANSI land case. But back then the conviction was overturned and she was restored to the CM’s chair. And on 11th of May 2015, history repeated itself. Most surprisingly and unbelievably Jayalalitha found herself exonerated and acquitted in the DA case!

“Amma” was back; Mummy Returns! And how!

This Amul ad/ topical on Jayalalitha came out after her acquittal in the DA case. It shows a caricature depicting Jayalalitha, who is flashing her trademark “v” for victory sign and sweets in her hand. She is flanked by another caricature depicting a gleeful O Paneerselvam (again with sweets), who was CM while Jayalalitha stood convicted in the DA case. The Amul Girl is seen offering a bouquet to the elated “Amma”.Other supporters are seen joining in the celebrations in traditional Tamil attire.


The Tag Line ….Chief Amma-inister again… is a play on Jayalalitha political sobriquet and term “Chief Minister”. It is posing the question which all had in mind whether Jayalalitha will now be CM again and how soon?

The Punch Line …Chennai’s choice… is an endorsement of the Amul Butter and is a subtle take on the popularity of Jayalalitha in TN.

In her own words, Jayalalitha had now emerged “like tested pure gold”.

What turned the tide and that too in such a dramatic manner that all it took was a mere 10 seconds for the HC Judge, Justice KR Kumaraswamy ,to announce “Appeal allowed. All charges set aside. All are acquitted.”

18 years of prosecution up in smoke, AND in 10 seconds???

The main constituents of the assets under the scanner were the Sudhakaran wedding expenses, construction costs in Jayalalitha’s Poes Garden residence, acquired properties and the ownership of the seized ornaments, apparels, sarees and footwear. The trial court had estimated the wedding expenses to be approx Rs 6 crore and attributed it all to Jayalalitha, the construction costs were estimated to be upwards of Rs 27 crores, the ornaments and items of footwear and apparel were all accepted as being owned by Jayalalitha and it opined that Jayalalitha had spent approx. Rs 20 crores on the acquisition of properties by paying hidden amounts over and above the sale deed and for this it had relied on the testimonies of various individuals.

And as regards the attributed income; the loans obtained, foreign remittances and other gifts received and assessed income from Jaya Publications and the Grape Farm were disregarded by the Trial Court either in part or toto to arrive at its conclusions and calculations. Most damningly, the documents forwarded by the defence counsel to support various claims of a subscription scheme, “Namadhu MGR”, were deemed to be r an “after thought” as well as “fictitious”. It also did not consider the delayed filing of the income tax by the accused as a clarification on the assets acquired.

The HC on the other hand attributed the wedding expenses to the bride’s side including Sivaji Ganesan, as well as Jayalalitha and its verdict stated that the Prosecution had exaggerated the construction and wedding costs by a whopping Rs 28 crores! The Court also stated that their was no evidence (disregarding the testimony of witnesses as “hearsay”) to prove that Jayalalitha paid over and above the sale deeds to acquire the various properties. And regarding the ornaments, sarees, watches and footwear it said that it wasn’t proven as to when the assets were acquired and also that attributing everything to Jayalalitha when there were three other residents in her house is a faulty premise and thus calculated the total assets to be approx. Rs 37.6 crores instead of Rs 66.64 crores.

For computing the income , the HC included the loans, gifts, remittances and assessed income (as per the defence counsel) from Jaya Publications (including the subscription scheme, where AIADMK party members deposed as witnesses and provided evidence by accepting the scheme) and the Grape Farm and arrived at a figure of approx. Rs 34.8 crores.

In the overall analysis it found that the assets exceeded the income by a “mere” Rs 2.8 crores and since it did not cross the threshold as laid down by the SC in its 1977 judgement on the Krishnanand Agnihotri case, which introduces the concept that disproportionate asset to the extent of 10 per cent deserves no punishment, Jayalalitha and all others were acquitted as the HC felt that the prosecution’s case is not proven beyond reasonable doubt

To add to the irony, the SPP, Mr Bhawani Singh was unable to present oral arguments as he was appointed at the fag end of the SC stipulated time frame for dealing with the appeal, as his predecessor was removed when his appointment was found invalid. What is alarming is that the trial court had ruled most documents forwarded by the defence as not being genuine and the HC has relied on the very same documents for its verdict! How can two judges differ so much on such a crucial issue?

The HC verdict has rendered DA as a grossly vague and nebulous concept. There is a school of thought which says that it’s the nature and social impact of the corruption which has to be taken into account and the auditor’s computing. The SC itself considers corruption as the “enemy of the nation” and has followed a “zero tolerance” policy towards such cases. An appeal against Jayalalitha in the SC is essential for her to not only establish her credentials firmly but also to settle the issue of how to deal with DA cases.

But if left to the politicians even this would not happen.

Karnataka Government dithered till as late as possible to follow the due process of law and file an appeal against Jayalalitha’s acquittal until its legal expert reminded it that not filing an appeal would erode the people’s faith as also of the SC which had entrusted the case to the Karnataka judiciary! By now however Subramaniam Swamy and a social activist, “Traffic” Ramaswamy had already filed appeals to challenge the acquittal.

Jayalalitha’s acquittal was sensational and unprecedented but it all seems so farcical that a conviction can be so easily overturned. It would be fine that instead of such complicated computing Jayalalitha and co. could have simply stated that the entire wedding expenses were on loan, the house was repaired and constructed by donations, the foot wear belonged to angry supporters who hurled them at Jayalalithaa, the land and properties were… well they were simply not theirs and the sarees and ornaments were all gift including everything else that they could not account for! This is how incredulous the whole thing appears today.

The signal this has sent is that the high and mighty can manage almost anything in the Courts of Law. The verdict came close on the heels of the Salman Khan trial where in the actor secured bail, after being convicted of negligent driving, within a mere half an hour of the listing of the appeal. Whereas the common man keeps on languishing under the infamous “tareeq pe tareeq” dialogue from Sunny Deol. After these acquittals it is time Dawood Ibrahim surrendered as he can now have faith in our judicial process. It will firstly drag along for 93 years and surely our “learned” counsels will find a way to keep Dawood out of prison.

In the meantime, “Amma” is back in the CM’s chair amidst tremendous shows of loyalty and sycophancy. She took over on 23rd of May 2015 and is now calling the political shots and there are speculations that she may even order snap assembly polls to ride the wave of sympathy, support and euphoria. The wheels of fortune have truly turned for her and we have to hold our breath till the final act in this saga is played out in the SC.

Mr Paneerselvam, in deference to “Amma”, had refused to use her CM office and let everyone know that he was just a chair warmer! This modern day Bharat will surely be rewarded for his loyal behavior as he went a step ahead of the original Ramayana protagonist. Unlike the original Bharat who ruled on behalf of Lord Rama just as the latter himself would have, Paneerselvam inflicted administrative paralysis in the State. Projects were delayed, no decisions taken, no schemes launched and in particular for Chennai – the metro rail inauguration was delayed till “Amma” won freedom, and all this at the expense of the very people of the State in whose name the likes of Jayalalitha and her cohorts come to power.

Politicians will after all remain just that – politicians!

Meanwhile , in a mere 48 hours of “Amma” returning as CM , the TN Government has announced social welfare and development schemes worth Rs 3000 crores. The administrative paralysis has miraculously disappeared.

Mummy Returns, in style !

Incredible India Indeed !


Some Delhi school, actually two, will need to come forward and make an exception for mid-session admission of two kids in the Nursery section – that of Master Arrvind Kejriwal and Master N’ajeeb’ Jung ! When the two are not tweedling and sucking at their thumbs they are also the Chief Minister (CM) and Lieutenant Governor (LG) of Delhi NCT respectively .The two “toddlers have recently run amok and wreaked havoc with the Delhi Administration. And how!

When the Delhi Chief Secretary (CS), Mr KK Sharma, proceeded on a 10 day leave, little would he have realized that it would be the most talked about leave in the country (of course after RaGa’s disappearance).The LG appointed a stand in CS ,1984 batch IAS officer Shakuntla Gamlin (wife of former Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister and Congress regional satrap Jarbom Gamlin).

“Baby” Kejri soon opposed the appointment of Mrs Gamlin on the grounds that he had not been consulted and accused the LG of usurping the powers of the elected government , of not adhering to the ‘the Constitution, GNCT of Delhi Act and the Transaction of Business Rules’ . Now “baby” Jung (jaisa naam waisa kaam, so true!), took out his thumb, and claimed that he had acted under the provisions of Article 239 AA of the Constitution, and is the representative of State Authority in Delhi and that he is the authority on appointments and postings and his decisions will be binding on the government.

And hereon it was a veritable free for all.

Kejriwal shredded Mrs Gamlin’s public reputation by insinuating that she was close to power companies and had recently sought to influence government decisions in favour of the latter.Adding, in crass taste, that she (Gamlin) “might be in office for the coming few days, but rest assured the government will keep an eye on her every move and not allow her to misuse the power of her office.” After humiliating the officer in the Auto Samvad, Kejriwal then asked Mrs Gamlin not to take charge as her appointment was against the set rule. She however assumed charge.

The very next day, in an openly vindictive , brusuque and arrogant manner, Kejriwal removed his Principal Secretary (Services),Anindo Majumdar, from the position ! And this was meted out as “punishment” to the officer for simply having simply followed established procedures to issue the appointment letter to Mrs Gamlin, based on the instructions received from the LG. The other “baby” in the mix, Najeeb Jung, then attempted to bail out Mr Majumdar by declaring his removal as void on the grounds that the AAP government had failed to seek the LG’s sanction for effecting this change.

By now the entire saga had taken a sordid , comical and farcical turn.

And since kids love comics and make believe, both Kejriwal and Jung did not relent even at this stage. Shunning all possibilities of a consensus Kejriwal donned his “muffler man” suit and proceeded to defy authorities (isn’t he the authority now??). Reminiscent of his disconnecting – cables-from electric meter- days, Kejriwal ordered that Mr Majumdar’s office be locked and he be barred from entering it ! (Yes he did that !) Mr Majumdar , a senior bureaucrat, was humiliated in front of his own staff for simply following orders and procedures!

And the “AAP ka CM” was now back in his comfort zone, openly charting a confrontational course. By now I almost expected him to sit on Dharna. He did just that , but by other means available to him.

Following the “lock out” the AAP government defiantly appointed, the CM’s Secretary, Mr Rajendra Kumar, to look after the two departments which were previously under the charge of Mr Majumdar – Principal Secretary (Services) & the General Administration. This appointment too was promptly declared void by the rapier wielding Jung, who was also out to match fire with fire.

Mature handling, I must say.

And thanks to their respective attitude of seeking an eye for an eye, both Jung and Kejriwal were by now blinded by rage, arrogance and fury (all misplaced of course) and continued to blunder on. Kejriwal passed instructions that no bureaucrat shall initiate any action on the verbal or written directions of the LG without approval of the CM or the Ministers. Kejriwal was now openly challenging the Constitution while complaining that Jung wasn’t upholding it. This was simply preposterous.

And then in yet another escalatory action he appointed Mr Arvind Ray as the Principal Secretary (General Administration), and to really get everyone to ease out he added a dash of comedy by getting Mr Rajendra Kumar to issue the order in his capacity as Principal Secretary (Services), whose appointment, incidentally, had already been declared void!!!

Yes, fellas what you just read actually happened. And no points for guessing what happened next. This appointment too was declared void by the LG!

Having soundly pinched, bitten, kicked and blinded each other both kids now walked up to the Principal (the President, Mr Pranab Mukherjee) to seek resolution to the impasse and paralysis that had taken over the Delhi administration. It was comical sight indeed and I hope the “Principal” gave them a sound thrashing, for being the truant kids that they were at the moment!

Some drama was still left in the story.Now both the kids carried out some letter writing practice as well. Jung wrote to Kejriwal and declared void all appointments made by the latter in the intervening period since the appointment of Mrs Gamlin.Mr. Jung said he alone was competent to approve transfers and postings of senior bureaucrats in consultation with the CM. He also added he had the constitutional authority to decide on policy matters of importance over and above that of the CM.

In his reply, Kejriwal questioned Jung’s moves and sought to know under what provisions the Lieutenant-Governor had exercised his authority? He also wrote a letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi and urged him to allow the “Delhi government function independently,” and to not hijack it through the office of the LG..

The NDA government at the centre queered the pitch by issuing a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) notification ( LG functions directly under the Home Minister) making it clear that it was not mandatory for the LG to consult the CM on matters like services, public order, police and land and the Delhi Assembly had no executive powers on the subjects.It would have been prudent to take a dispassionate and concilliatory position at this stage, to get both the CM and the LG to sit and talk things over.

Predictably, the notification led to the AAP government accusing the BJP led NDA of nervousness and seeking to protect the interests of corrupt bureaucrats as also of being the brain behind the confrontation. And with this the imbroglio turned into an impasse.

This amul ad / topical on Arvind Kejriwal and Najeeb Jung depicts the impasse in the Delhi administration which has resulted due to the ongoing feud between the two protagoists. The topical has two caricatures depicting the principal actors of the feud who are engaged in a duel, with Jung carrying a sword and Kejriwal carrying his party’s symbol – “jhadu” (broom)- in the backdrop of the Red Fort which gives a lively red hue to the ad.


The Tag Line …Najeeb Dastaan Hai Yeh… is a play on the name of the LG, Najeeb Jung as well as a spin off an old Bollywood song – “ajeeb dastaan hai yeh” – which referred to life being a strange tale.And in this case it’s a take on the distressing tale of the clash of egos of Kejriwal and Jung.

The Punch Line …Feud Chhodo, Food Khao… is a subtle call to the feuding duo to bury the hatchet and move on !

Kejriwal’s reaction to the appointment of Mrs Gamlin triggered the entire fracas and farce of appointing and “discarding” bureaucrats. It was just a matter of ten days and Kejriwal could have avoided this ugly spat by seeking constitutional recourse and not by indulging in impulsive actions aimed at playing confrontational politics resulting in pronounced brinkmanship, which seems to have become the operational philosophy of Kejriwal and by extension of the AAP as well.

Importantly, Kejriwal has sensed opportunity and now, through this bizarre fracas, has brought to center stage the demand for full statehood for Delhi. His assertions are absolutely valid that the CM needs to have a say in the appointments and transfers of officials as after all it is the government which is responsible for governance. Otherwise he isn’t really independent and it won’t be democracy either. He also sought a clarification on the powers of the LG so that the limits of intervention or affirmation are well laid down especially when it comes to the jurisdiction over critical departments, failing which the elected government will face hurdles galore in implementing its people oriented policies. According to Om Thanvi, a veteran political commentator quoted by Firstpost, “Kejriwal wants to raise the question loud and strong to prepare ground for a new mass movement to press the Centre to give Delhi the status of a full-fledged state” as by now the AAP government has realized that it does not have the requisite freedom of action to deliver on the campaign promises and to provide the model governance the Party claims to believe in. Which will cost it heavily in the long run.

The discordant note is how Kejriwal has denigrated civil servants and made them scape goats at altar of his the self-declared constitutional crusade. He tarnished the reputation of Mrs Gamlin in the most inappropriate public forum and and humiliated her and Mr Majumdar..By this he has deflated the intensity and morale necessary to be possessed by bureaucrats.Humiliation and derision are seldom known to motivate.

It is no surprise that Mr Majumdar has since requested for leave as well as deputation out of Delhi. And also that a body representing the IAS officers has protested against this insanely disdainful disregard of the dignity, prestige and respect of a bureaucrat.AAP may claim that it is acting against the “transfer-posting” industry in Delhi, but in real terms Kejriwal has denigrated the civil servants by using them as pawns against the centre and Jung.

By taking on the LG, the BJP,the NDA and the bureaucracy – which represent the “ruling” class- the AAP and Kejriwal are panning to their core vote base which comprises of the youth and the socially and economically under privileged. To them , this spectacle is a sign of empowerment and they will cheer AAP through every “guillotine” that it organizes to decimate the oppressors. In essence, Kejriwal is et again relying on anarchy to whip up emotions and achieve his ends.

But deep down, hopefully, he too must know that the systematic denigration of every established pillar of governance will erode the people’s faith and render the tools of administration ineffective. And no AAP KI SARKAR or Kejriwal can ever rebuild the edifice from scratch. And indulging in arrogant behaviour as well as constantly alleging that the central government wants to rule by proxy wont help either. AAP and Kejriwal are paying with fire. They need to realize that politics is best when it is based on consensus and not confrontation. Failing which , the AAP is only betraying the trust and faith of the Delhi electorate.

5 Saal Kejriwal?Any takers if the preceding is what it holds within?

As for Najeeb Jung, he hasn’t shared a comfortable relationship with Kejriwal who has gone from describing him as a “very noble person” (source India Today) to an “agent” of the Congress and the BJP. Jung could have demonstrated maturity in the face of impetuosity. Instead he chose to be equally immature. Rather than declaring everything void and rendering or presenting the Delhi government as impotent he could have sought constitutional opinion, and though the process would have been long drawn it would have maintained dignity and prevented a complete beak down from taking place.

And in this vein, the MHA notification was a needless act which only added to the impression that it was actually the Central Government which was the master mind behind the fracas. Both Jung and the Central Government need to be cognizant of the fact that the the AAP has been given a mandate for governance by the Delhi electorate and any tinkering with that will only result in a severe political and social backlash. Hopefully, grandiose plans for imposing President’s rule are not being discussed.

The entire controversy was needless. And its handling lacked maturity. Not even once has any one amongst Jung, Kejriwal or the MHA sat down together to help resolve the impasse. Each one of them is simply pursuing their respective narrow agendas. The Central Government is probably hoping to create enough friction so that the AAP government collapses under the weight of expectations. And Kejriwal is hoping that he will keep getting these “ropes” to help him deflect attention and come out of the hole the AAP finds itself in the face of unfulfilled promises.

It is undeniable that from this fracas what emerges clearly is that Delhi needs full statehood and denying it will only imperil the BJP, it needs the powers to be clearly defined, the electorate need governance which is presently paralyzed and lastly it doesn’t need kids to be CM and LG –but mature people with some vision.

More drama as well as TRP motivated histrionics of all concerned can be expected especally as a special session of the Delhi Assembly has been convened on the 26-27 May 15 to discuss the issue of the Queen’s (NDA government) notification to its Viceroy (Jung)- as referred to them by Arvind Kejriwal.

And after going through all of the above, I realise that God really loves stupid people. Thats why he made so many.

Some with mufflers and coughs and some with a beard and name which implies war !


“Vogue” roped in Homi Adjania & Deepika Padukone for its Vogue Empower video on women’s empowerment in India. A seemingly fantastic mix of editorial, production and marketing choices indeed, which were bound to spur skywards the prospects of all involved. But after 22 million hits on You Tube, strangely, none of them is sure if that happened. So what went wrong?

Vogue India decided to celebrate their 7th anniversary by launching a social awareness initiative, #VogueEmpower, with the aim of drawing attention to women’s empowerment issues which (as per the Vogue website) “touch and impact the lives of both urban and rural women”. As part of the campaign Vogue India planned to include features in the magazine, get its ambassadors to espouse causes, to tie up with Give India to fundraise for various women focused organistations and to finally be a “conduit of change and champion of women’s rights to empowerment of mind, body, thought and action.” The chosen medium were the magazine, social media, multimedia, digital and off line activities with a simple message “It starts with you.”

To reach out to the social media, Vogue made its first video on the theme on the issue of women’s safety, titled Going Home, a film by Vikas Behl, it featured Alia Bhatt and received wide acclaim and was an inferno on the social media.

Emboldened by the response the next video was boldly titled “Its My Choice” and was about a woman’s ability or inability to freely exercise her choices. It’s a slick 2min:35 sec video with a catchy back ground score which had a montage of Deepika Padukone and 98 other women, in various expressions from joy to anger, with Deepika providing the voice over. The art in the video is predominantly black, for greater impact and to also go with the aggressive theme.

The opening lines go along fine when it talks about letting women wear clothes they want to and whether they want to be size zero or 15, because after all these actually are personal choices.Few controversial issues follow such as whether the woman wants to marry or not, whether she wants to have sex before marriage, outside of marriage or not at all, and whether she wants to love temporarily or lust forever, or if she wants to not to love or love a boy or girl- and in all of this Deepika says -it’s her choice. And her (woman’s)choice alone!!! And when adulterous behavior is simplified as a mere matter of mere choice, devoid of sensitivity , then the video would naturally lose appeal.After all havent the men been accused of the same callous attitude?Then how is the same behaviour a sign of empowerment for the fairer sex?Something doesn’t quite click, isn’t it?

The confrontational and “me versus you” undertones become OVERtones when Deepika says “you are my choice, I am not your privilege”. The apparaent trivialisation of the male hardly wins the video support from the “oppressors”, ironically, this is what the video set out to achieve.Instead of thoughtful reflection most men would easily,and damagingly, end up construing that “women’s empowerment = women’s supremacy” !When the reality is just the opposite.

Deepika reveals naivete when she associates empowerment with freedom to return home late and the offensive tone bars the father, brother or partner from even being concerned !The best (or the worst) is saved for the last when Deepika says it’s “her choice”  (alone) whether she wants to have “your” baby or not, and if the male wants it then he is being “cocky” (pun intended?).Now what kind of logic is this??Since when has having a baby been an individual’s choice alone?Isnt it a collective decision?

Finally,Deepika delivers the coup de grace by stating that the women’s songs, order or virtues are essentially a man’s noise, anarchy and sins respectively !Mercifully,the video ends soon after and all that lingers is the scent of controversy.

This Amul ad / topical on the Its My Choice video shows the Amul Girl depicting the montage of Deepika Padukone with open and windblown hair from the video itself. Designed against a black backdrop it is consonance with the black setting in the video too.

deepika padukone

The Tag Line …Its My Choice… is a play on the theme of the #VogueEmpower video.The all yellow “O” is a take on the traditional “bindi” which has been chosen by Vogue as its symbol of women empowered.

The Punch Line … To Use a Butter Knife or to Use My Fingers… is a witty play on the theme of the video while playfully endorsing the inviting and delicious taste of the Amul Butter.

So why did the video not click with the audience?

Vogue went off target right from the start. It chose mostly bourgeois topics to raise awareness. It totally panned to its upwardly mobile clientele and overlooked issues such as equal rights to education, health, support for seeking employment, more representation in public services, work – life balance, dowry, domestic violence, safety and security and respect in public places. So what was covered was essentially the peripherals to the debate.It seems someone at Vogue did his or her studies on women’s empowerment from IIN and goofed it up royally!

Next, the meaning of empowerment is mutual understanding, trust and respect which should lead to equality between the sexes. Whereas the video reduced mutual coexistence between the sexes to the realm of imagination.It alienated its target audience and was rejected across the sexes for being offensive, insensitive, missing the point and portraying an untrue and incomplete dimension of the espoused cause.Instead of a “me and you” approach the video embarked on a “me versus you” trajectory.

The above was exemplified by the controversy over the two most contentious issuse in the video – adultery and child bearing.

The entire agenda got hijacked when the video was seen to endorse adultery – “sex outside of marriage”- as a matter of choice for a woman.The men ofcourse turned around and asked if it was open season for them as well, with no questions asked?Is this what Deepika had in mind when she says “my virtues, your sins”?

The line adopted on the issue bearing a child was another sticking point which exposed the flawed logic and the misplaced sense of empowerment being espoused by Deepika and Co.And here she rings the death knell for the compassion sought to be generated.Women’s empowerment cannot happen without mutual undestanding and factoring in of each others sensitivity.

 As is obvious, the arguments were vacuous and the lines hollow and this undoubtedly damaged the espoused cause substantially.

In the aftermath, the men now, gleefully, demanded that they be not judged when they exercise absolute freedom of choice to love temporarily, lust permannently, to be adulterous and to consider everything about a relationship temporary. This retort and the line of argument by the men not only turned the logic of the video on its head but also exposed its hollowness completely. Seriously, I think Rahul Gandhi did more for women’s empowerment in his disastrous interview with Arnab Goswamy, than this video. At least in his case there wasn’t any hostility associated with the concept! Only hilarity.

The lines on returning home at 4am totally obfuscated the intent behind the video. It was as if the woman was saying that I will do whatever and you, the guy, can neither question (still understandable) nor have the right to be worried. And this in a country where crimes against women are committed on the streets, in the by lanes, homes, neighbourhood, trains, buses, fields, public parks and of all the places – Police Stations! So is being genuinely worried about a woman mutually exclusive with her sense of freedom??? If yes, then for me this is – #VagueEmpower!

The topics spoken about in the video are hardly mirroring rural concerns. Was there any mention of female infanticide (it happens in urban India too) or of the necessity to provide proper ablutions to the women or about the atrocities of the Khap Panchayats? If not then Vogue failed in its stated intent as mentioned in the beginning of the Post.

If it’s about absolute freedom, then let everybody do what they want. Let rapists run riot, let murders be committed, let eve teasing be the norm, let wife beating and marital rape not be cognizable offences, then don’t drag boys to court on charges of rape when they walk out of relationships – as in all these cases it was all about “their” choices and they exercised it. So, whats wrong with it?


There is a fine line between freedom of choice and absolute freedom. The latter will lead to chaos and anarchy. Choices have consequences and the ones who make them have to be accountable for it, as these always impact lives of those affected by these choices. Even the universe, which Deepika has alluded to, conforms to rules to maintain order and eschews chaos.

The utter gibberish dished out by Vogue led to numerous spoofs. The best amongst them was the one titled #DogueEmpower, where the cute little canine politely tells us about “his/her” choices. And believe me, the canine’s assertions for exercising “his/ her” choices are far more convincing than those of Deepika Padukone. The video has thus far received over a 100000 hits.

For her part in this charade, Deepika Padukone of course has proven that she is competing with Aliya Bhat for the “new blonde in town” title. She comes across as comfortably dumb, to have not realized the implications of the hollow lines she was parroting. And she can’t seek refuge in the fact that here she was merely in her “on screen” avatar. Doesn’t she add value to her dialogues and roles, in a movie, by sharing inputs with her director? Then we expect her to have exercised her discretion in this case too. Thus she is equally responsible for the fiasco and is also a poor choice as a feminist poster girl.She speaks of the uncaged female spirit and the expanding universe but then in reality does everything that signifies enslavement of a woman’s mind, body and spirit – just to stay on top of in the film industry, which happens to be the most exploitative of the women who are part of it ! Ironical, isnt it?

Padukone’s association with the #VogueEmpower campaign is extremely hypocritical as she is herself endorsing figure slimming cereals and skin lightening creams and perpetuating myths and stereotypes about the way women should be seen rather than want to be seen (choice.. Remember?) So, Deepika, see if you can differentiate between “real” and “fake” feminism!

As for Homi Adjania – “yeh hi hai wrong choice baby”. In the Bollywood flick “Cocktail” he has trashed the freewheeling “snowflake” (girl), in favour of the nice “snowflake” who is the exact antithesis of the “coming-home-at-4am-sex before marriage-sex outside of marriage” type endorsed by him as the poster girl for women’s empowerment. So, Mr Adjania, what do you have to say about this? After all, a director’s work also mirrors his beliefs.And yours appear as hollow as the video you dished out !

The in-congruence of the video also lay in the choice of the 99 women. Though successful in their own right, they are all from privileged backgrounds where they would have hardly ever experienced the denial of a choice. Vogue had hoped to carry out a marketing blitz and cash in on the latest big thing – Indian Feminism. And the fact that the video was a result of a marketing ploy rather than a reflection of the realities of women empowerment explains why it did not resonate even with the mere 30% percent (english speakng) of the population that it targetted.It also suffered due to the poor credibility levels of fashion and life style magazines as they are known to perpetuate trends and stereotypes which are totally against their professed stand on issues such as empowerment !

The video was an utter failure and i really wonder how much #VogueEmpower can do for women’s issues especially when the campaign is floundering and misfiring on all cylinders!

In the end, my heart goes out to Jiten Ram Majhi, who was pilloried when he endorsed the extra marital affair of his son as a consensual relationship. But here , #VogueEmpower wants us to believe that it is a sign of women’s empowerment.If this video would have happened a few months back Majhi could have cited it in his support.

Its never too late though.Makes for good copy and some more juicy controversy !


Kudos to Bharti Airtel for doing what common national interest could not manage. It got Saffronistas, Ra Ga retards and the AAP –clowns to unite on one common issue and unintentionally pitch forked “net neutraliy” into the national mindscape. This set in motion the toughest battle to date that the netizens in India have had to wage for a free and neutral internet!

In December 2014, Airtel had come up with a scheme to charge separately for VOIP services such as Skype, Viber and apps such as WhataApp,as these services were riding on its infrastructure and not paying for the same. By this it hoped to offset the telco’s “revenues foregone” (for calls and data/ messaging which otherwise would have been made on the telco’s services). Post a consumer back lash Airtel grudgingly stepped back.But maintained that these services / apps needed to share the revenues and if the consumers won’t pay then the VOIP types should.or they risk being blocked altogether!!! Goonda gardi, hafta vasooli…call it what you may!

Not one to give up easily, Airtel came up with a data usage plan – Airtel Zero – wherein apps and sites forming part of the platform paid for the customer’s usage of data while accessing them. Termed as a “zero rating” scheme, it’s virtually a toll free proposition but consumers would have to pay for anything not part of this scheme. Airtel positioned the scheme as one which would make universal internet accessibility a reality. It was supposedly the cyber equivalent of the eradication of hunger. There were khushi ke aansu all around, and just as Sunil Mittal almost announced “let there be light”, Satan descended upon earth and ushered in the clamour for scrapping Airtel Zero as it was against “net neutrality”. The controversy gained momentum when Flipkart made an exit from Airtel Zero as angry netizens penalized it en masse for being affiliated to it. This gave a rocket boost to the fight for maintaining net neutrality and the fire raged ever bigger. Kejriwal, Rahul Gandhi, Naveen Patnaik, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Shah Rukh Khan too joined in in favour of net neutrality.

Net neutrality?????

In a land where even water and air have colour most were confused about the concept. Finally it dawned that “net neutrality” is the de facto governing principle of the internet and implies that the customers have access to all sites and apps without discrimination, at the same speed and at the same costs. That is exactly how you have been getting internet up to now. But the “Satan-archists” were alleging that Airtel was going to jeopardise the concept forever.

This Amul ad/ topical on net neutrality depicts the controversy generated by Airtel Zero and its impact on the internet as well as the consumer. It shows the Amul Girl sitting with an annoyed expression wherein a hand from the internet browser is making away with additional data charges. A reflection of the potential disruptive effect of the zero rating scheme.


The Tag Line…. Tum com ho interfere karne waale?.. is a direct statement on the telcos attempting to subvert the nature of the internet in India and literally translates into “who are you to interfere?”

The Punch Line … TRAI this nutralicious snack…. Is a reference to the ball being in the regulators court and is also a play on the Amul butter and its much preferred taste.

Airtel swiftly came out with its rebuttal and claimed it supported net neutrality.It also asserted that Airtel Zero was non-discriminatory and was simply a marketing tool and not a tarrif plan (confusing isn’t it? ) which essentially encourages innovation. It averred that all the “satan-archists” objecting to the concept should preferably “ja ke apni bhains charayein” as they did not quite understand what net neutrality meant. And Sunil Mittal did. Period.

To counter this, firstly an app can only be on Airtel Zero if it had enough cash to cough up the fees.If this isn’t discriminatory then I am George Clooney!!!Based on the previous attempts at “hafta vasooli” and due to financial incentives Airtel could be expected to indulge in paid prioritization and providing better data speed to its partners.It could also resort to blocking a competing app, eg WhatsApp for Airtel’s very own Hike. So where’s the elbow room for innovation? And will this not strangulate a low budget start up? So if I want to start “CHH-ITTER” an app which not only allows you to “poke” but even slap (doesn’t matter if you don’t need it, but then that’s the beauty of the internet!) then I can’t as I just don’t have the cash to outspend my rivals Twitter and Facebook.Moreover, if Airtel Zero is not about tarrif then why all sites/apps on it are toll free and other sites arent? And why is Airtel silent on the modalities of payment and whether all on the platform are paying the same amount?

All this is definitely not in line with net neutrality as the world comprehends it. But then you and I don’t have the slightest comprehension of the concept. Sunil Mittal has.

Importantly, if Airtel Zero is allowed to operate then Airtel will be the de facto gate keeper of the internet. The telco has roped in Google and Twitter by not charging them any fees as of now, because today it needs them both. But tomorrow they will need Airtel and will then have to pay a “hafta”. And from whom would they as well as the others recover these costs from???And what about the consumer; how does he get guaranteed services for the sites/services /apps not on Airtel Zero?

Is this how we want the internet to function?

Facebook too has tied up with Reliance to offer “internet.org”, another zero rating plan for a collection of mostly content based sites with Facebook as its centre piece.Mark Zuckerburg, wrote a piece in its defence recently and has alluded to how it brings “internet” free to the next great innovator who otherwise may not be able to afford it.He pitches strongly for the coexistence of “universal accessibility” with “net neutrality to “alleviate poverty”. (Khushi ke annsu….remember…)

What “Mr Poke-you- anywhere” isn’t saying is this that Facebook becomes the gateway and “forces” millions to sign up for it if they want to access the free “internet”! And it also gets to control web content. Seeing this the advertisers will “poke” back harder. So everyone is happy poking while Mr Zuckerburg gets away with the cash. Voila! Poverty gone!!! And we are made to look like Pokémon!

So, Zuckerburg sahib watch “Dabbang” and you will realise “ki humein pyaar se darr lagta hai”.And that too the unsolicitef type.So,it’s not about accessibility it’s about money. The “young innovators” get to see a warped and limited version of the “internet” which shuts out the thousands of sites that can’t afford to be on “internet.org”. He would then be a captive netizen in a cyber-colony, based on Pokerburg’s and Sunil Net-eresa’s vision of the web.

And don’t be surprised that Zuckerburg wrote that piece. He is in a partnership with Airtel in Africa. Ek hi thaili ke…

It’s given that telcos and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will eventually resort to negative business practices.Comcast and Verizon in the US did this by blocking and resorting to paid prioritization of peer-to-peer apps.In another instance US ISPs ganged up against Netflix, a video service, to block it till it coughed up the requisite cash/ fees (hafta !!!). These incidents prompted the US Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to revamp its laws in April 2015 and to classify the internet as a public utility. It deemed net neutrality to be sacrosanct and a guaranteed right that will be safeguarded by regulatory protocols. Even President Barack Obama has spoken in favour of the same.

There are some other players too and their fallacious arguments that we need to shred ,amongst them are the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI).

TRAI – the “watchdog” – has come up with its consultation paper on net neutrality and other issues titled Regulatory Framework for Over-the-top (OTT) Services which was true to its title as it went over the top of most trying to make head or tail of the jargon ridden paper. Simply translated, asking the public for its opinion on 20 questions, on regulating the internet and net neutrality. TRAI’s contentions in the paper are straight from the heart – the bleeding heart of the telcos!According to an editorial in The Hindu, it “appears to propose only two choices: that we either accept licensing of Internet services or compromise on net neutrality. If TRAI’s claims are accepted, any business that uses the Internet — e-retail, media or health care — can potentially be regulated by TRAI as an OTT service. This is indeed regulatory overreach on a grand scale.”TRAI is also convinced of the telco’s “revenue foregone” theory! Isnt TRAI on our side???

It’s a fine mix isn’t it…telcos…regulators…big business…hapless consumers…

Firstly, telcos have done no favour as they have been given a license to develop a nation’s resource on the terms and conditions meant to safeguard the people’s interest. Secondly, they are mere pipe layers and cannot control what flows through the pipes. For example a water distributing company can’t crib about the profit margins of a soft drink company and consequently seek to charge the soft drink maker or the consumer arbitrarily and irrespective of water usage. Why??? Because the distributing company (read telcos) didn’t think of innovating (read VOIP and messaging apps)! And now TRAI wants us to be sympathetic towards these crocs and help in making good their fictitious “revenue foregone” by making the consumer pay for it!!!

COAI has been trumpeting fallacious assertions to justify zero rating and to debunk net neutrality by talking about the negative financial viability of the sector, high spectrum and operating costs (7.5 lac crores) high debts (3 lac crores), prohibitive technology and binding security protocols.And says that while the OTT services are simply riding piggyback on the telcos and rake in millions while using 99% of the infrastructure of the telcos.The poor telcos get no share of the pie amidst falling revenues!But who’s pie is it – telco’s or the innovators ? And what falling revenues are we talking of?Excuse me… the Q3 fig for Airtel alone shows an overall increase of 30.5% year on year (YOY) in its net profit and 70% in its profit for mobile data revenue YOY with a 41% increase in data users.COAI… Naughty boy….you didn’t tell us this…did you?

And if the business prospects were so poor under the present unregulated and unenforced net neutrality concept, then why was more than 1 lac crore spent in the recent spectrum auction??? Quoting The Hindu, “In fact, when telecom companies want to raise money from investors, they present a rosy picture of a booming data business and rising revenues. Companies that prepare reports for investors — such as Morgan Stanley or PricewaterhouseCoopers — say much the same things. In fact, even voice and SMS traffic in India is growing.” Then why the campaign against OTT services???Also, even Telcos are using VOIP for transferring voice calls to and from their network, so is it only for the OTT services that they are laying and modernizing the infrastructure?

COAI says that if telcos are not allowed to dip into the OTT revnue share then data costs will zoom to x5 or x6 of the present level.And make it unaffordable for the masses.Okay..i am scared and can we no have the facts !!!.This is bunkum since the bandwidth rates are falling the world over as it is an infinite resource. And why have the telcos kept the data package charges so low as to hurt them when TRAI isn’t governing the rates? Then let there be a comprehensive study of the revenue model to arrive at the actual facts..Quoting alarmist figures, raising bogeys such as universal accessibility, alleviating poverty and financial viability is a common tactic by these greedy and avarice driven telcos.

Innovation drives investments. If we penalize innovation today (OTT services) then the telcos have no incentive to upgrade their services. At the same time banning zero rating isn’t a good idea at all. While allowing this let there be strict regulations and safeguards to thwart telcos and ISPs from violating net neutrality. OTT services too need to conform to certain standards so as not to have a free run but licensing of apps and services though is uncalled for.

The Internet has to be kept free from manipulation and monopoly, especially when the likes of Facebook has been found to have generated content to manipulate the mood of its customers. It needs to be declared as a public utility and TRAI needs to have the statuatory authority to enforce regulations safeguarding consumer interests. For this restructuring of the IT Act, 2000 and the Telecommunications Act, 1895 is urgently needed to align them with the advancements and realities of the sector, just as the US recently removed 700 parts from its archaic Communications Act.

And all of the above cannot be at the expense of net neutrality, which too needs to be defined and defined in line with international standards and not based on some Pokerburg’s theory!TRAI would have done well to extend the opinion period on its paper, like it was made 90 days in the US ( 1/6 our population).And by segregating the period into specific pros and cons window it again demonstrated myopic tendencies or was it intentionally done to taper the “referendum” in favour of the telcos?The “pros” camp has managed 1 million votes or mails and the cons (the telcos) then ran a counter campaign (bite this) backed by their deep wallets and mustered in 4 million votes !

In the end, we must take a cue from what Tom Wheeler, the US FCC Chairman, when he says, “the internet is too important to let service providers make the rules”. Because, though right now big business doesn’t want to kill the geese laying the golden eggs, but it’s always on their list!!!!


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.


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. Another Amul ad/ topical on the Delhi elections 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 ad/ topical on the clean sweep by the AAP 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 command structure” is developing within the party,which is against the principles they stood for, and has given rise to a rebellion of sorts.He has also alleged that inner party transparency is being compromised especially when it came to the issues of making public the election expenses and fund raising.

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 and is being increasingly seen as imposing his will over the objections of the other members.

AAP is going through an internal churning and what will emerge will 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.

This Amul ad/ topical on AAP covers the widening rift between Kejriwal, Yadav and Bhushan.It depicts caricatures depicting the trio and sitting on a split bench.It amply showcases the disruptive nature of the ongoing dispute in the AAP.The Amul girl is seen standing in the background and is demonstrating dismay over the ensuing fracas in the party which had promised to be different.


The Tag Line …Aam Aadmi Parting?… is a play on the name as well as the initials of the party and is asking the question whether a split is imminent in the ranks of the AAP?

The Punch Line …Easy to agree on… is an apt hint on the disagreements in the AAP and also endorses the Amul butter and its consumer acceptability.

20th April 15; Amidst much mud slinging and “stinging”, Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan who had earlier been evicted from the National Executive were finally expelled from the AAP for anti party activities.This was preceded by a sting operation being revealed wherein conversation between AAP member Bibhav Kumar and journalist Chandra Sutra Dogra was taped (without the knowledge of the journo) and used to implicate Yogendra Yadav for providing anti AAP facts for a piece done by Dogra in the daily The Hindu.Kumar taped the conversation in the guise of clarifying factual inaccuracies and when the journo revealed Yogendra Yadav as the source, the tape was then used as evidence against Yadav. And he and Bhushan were eventually given a show cause notice and finally expelled from the party.

The expelled duo have since formed a non political organisation “Swaraj Abhiyaan” to promote clean and issues based politics.

AAP’s resorting to stings on its own members has damaged its image and credibility just as much the public spat between the senior leaders.Kejriwal emerges as a devious and opportunistic politician who is willing to, in private, dump the party’s ideology while in public maintains a totally different posture.His dictatorial streak along with his reliance on a coterie will do the party harm in the long run.And the melodramatic and immature public image of AAP is not going to go down well either.It seems they haven’t learnt a lesson since their earlier tryst with fiascoes.So here they are dishing out more such fare !

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



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. 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 the foot in mouth syndrome.

Manjhi once, 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.He was later contradicted by the minister himself. Manjhi angered his own colleagues when he likened the upper castes to foreigners, implying they were 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 too 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’s utterances ! 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.And also 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 not-so-subtle and 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 in an year for the poor,sociaaly backward amd against corruption than Nitish had done in his 10 years as CM. Manjhi was now eroding Nitish’s credibility and standing faster and more effectively than the BJP ever could. Manjhi had now gained political traction by posturing himself close to Nitish’s bete noire, Narendra Modi , and foe turned friend, Lalu Yadav.

Finally after months of dithering Nitish belled the cat and Manjhi was asked to resign ad CM. He refused. The JD (U) then became the first party to expel its own CM!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 it was still the ruling party 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 even be CM and the undisputed leader within his own Party!

Bihar plunged into political turmoil with the status of the CM and his administration being reduced to mockery. When Manjhi recommended dissolution of the Assembly and fresh elections an unprecedented two thirds of his Cabinet colleagues resigned in protest! Manjhi then pushed for a secret ballot during the no-confidence vote banking on the BJP’s support plus a substantial chunk of MLAs breaking away from Nitish. 

This Amul ad/ topical on Jitan Ram Manjhi came out at the height of his exploits 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.


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.To prevent further damage to its imageBJP drew its hand from openly supporting a split in the JD (U) and did not want to be seen as the ones rocking the boat. Devoid of his backers,Manjhi resigned without taking a floor test and in his own inimitable style announced thay he did so under rhreat to his and the lives of his supporters. 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,dumped their “controlling hands” and successfully charted their own political course – Pervez Musharraf, Suresh Prabhu, John Major and now Jitan Ram Manjhi.

Feom the chaos in Bihar what I have learnt is that politicians and diapers need to be changed frequently.

They stink.


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 ?

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.


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