Narrating Kashmir’s Traditional Consumerism: A Sociological Description

Narrating Kashmir’s Traditional Consumerism: A Sociological Description.


Tiger Back In His Habitat

Hibernation of the Tiger finally came to an end with the master making his first appearance in the Augasta Masters and scored a 4 under 68. His best score ever in the first round of a master.

The crowds loved him back on the course – they got their moneys worth and more when Tiger scored two eagles, again a first for him. This crowd had not come to see the tiger in the woods hiding for 144 days after the ill fated SUV bang up. They had come to see the master at work in the one thing he does best – golf.

Tiger appeared relaxed and overly friendly to the gallery, acknowledging their cheers and signing autographs.

There is another school of thought which went ballistic and called all attempts by sponsors to woo Tiger, unethical and shameful.

I for one am very pleased that Tiger is back in his habitat and that his genius is at work again. It was also good to see that Tiger had left the baggage of the past behind him as he finished the first round of golf after this break.

A different world for MFH

My Name is Khan

MNIK is just one more event in the Indian history which reflects the Nation’s obsession with issues – relevant or otherwise, to fuel tensions for partisan gains. For the Shiv Sainiks it is a question of National pride to run down Pakistan on any account, make an issue out of it and hope the nation will lap it up. The methods used are violence and intimidation through sustained inflammatory rhetoric in Samna and lopsided mouthpieces such as Sanjay Raut. So they issue a Fatwa for any and everything, especially when they sense media mileage to prove their relevance to the political system of Maharashtra. MNS does the same. This art of wooing electorate by dividing the society is getting refined overtime. The educated Gen Y may scoff at it but amongst the illiterate population these issues score a point. They thus provide the vandalism required to meet Sena’s objectives.

Mumbai has been torn down the middle, be it the Australian Cricket team, Shahrukh Khan or Karan Johar. “We issue a Fatwa, you come and apologize to the Bala saheb and your sins will be washed off” . It will be business as usual after that till you offer the next opportunity. I wonder if these apologies have to be substantiated with currency exchanges also. This Dawood brand of  moral policing and vigilante behavior is like the threats posited by Gabbar Singh. Each time Dhanno has to Dance while a chained Veeru (State and Central Government) watches in despair.

The Pink Chaddi day will see some more of these vigilante actions across the country by parties bent upon protecting Indian values for the consumption of their vote banks.

I can not preach to any faction of the society as to what tolerance to others views and ways of life in a democratic and secular country mean but a little reminder to those engaged in moral policing – mini skirts are here to stay and I can be named a Khan..

“Thoughts on Naxalism”

Recently, I had an opportunity to listen to Asgar Ali Engineer, a veteran Asian Muslim author and activist for social justice, articulate his views on “Peace and Gandhian ways of life” in the context of “War on Terror”. It was a wonderful perspective that added to my understanding of the way people fight. (Seminar on “War on Terror” at SIMC, Pune, 05-06 Feb 09).

Yes, he sounded ‘Utopian’ when he argued that “Peace is our only Chance” and that we as societies, nations and ideologies love to unleash violence but are not ready to accept it from the other side. True! And can not be argued that the bane of “settling score” turns everyone blind. We then make choices in the name of “interests”: national, religious, ideological or otherwise to spread violence. This completes the cycle and viewing from this lense, over centuries, the humans have continued to create “geopolitical, ideological or other compulsions” aimed at more violence. Asgar, the 21st Century will be no different.

Naxalism, as all other movements, will continue. The transition from Martin Luther King to Obama has been a struggle through violence and wars and it now continues in other names perpetuated by those who abhorred it in the first place. You are right when you say Naxalism can not be resolved without social justice. The constitution says “equality” and it gives “right” but in practice the muddle of petty “interests” overrides these. I guess it is because people live short lives and rarely add perspective to the impact of their short term partisan interests on the society at large. This is especially true of the ruling classes in any form of governments that societies are forced to live in.

No one disputes the fact that economic development, social justice and flattening of the red corridor are essential, but can its foundations be laid on fighting against the “Will, culture ethos and traditions” of those you wish to empower, educate and energise. This mismatch is what is largely creating naxal movements to gain ground. State terror and the effort to “fight” naxals aggravate the issue till it spirals out of control.

The story from Naxalbari to 2009 underscores this. Correlate this “Way of life” approach to any ideology – tinker with it and you will get violent reactions – be it the US – Islamist conflagration of our times or the “Aryan” concept of Hitler. Till such time, we evolve a multi dimensional approach to prepare the “Charter for Peace” around these sensitivities and follow it up through empowerment, education and structured theme based plans ….. naxalism and such other conflicts will continue. Mc Caulean approach will definitely bring in social upheavals.

There then is no way anyone can mount a “War On Terror”. You have to find your way around it. As Santosh Desai put it “terror is a gift that can not be returned”. It though does not undermine the need to be prepared to face and fight terror. The key, however, as you put it, would remain social justice and balanced economic growth.

How? I reckon the answer rests largely with the “Fourth Estate” in shaping perceptions at multitudes of levels. Remember, we were a fragmented society before partition and over the last 60 years, despite political bungling and unbalanced economic growth, we are surely headed towards our ambition of a free society. There will be some more friction before we reach there. All that the thought leaders have to do is find better ways of reducing the friction and making this transition less painful. Educating the policy makers and sensitizing “law” enforcement agencies would be crucial to any approach to resolve the crisis.

As regards media – this is where a conceptual lense in understanding “India” and “Bharat” equally well is mandated for objective analysis and reporting. You put in a nice idea about comparing EU with South Asia and UKC picked up the thread. Laudable, but EU took two world wars to come to terms with this frame work and once again is on its way towards fragmentation, if lessons from the recent Russian – EU “Gas issue” are anything to go by. Once again they are headed towards the nation-state with Germany not willing to risk its relations with Russia and each of the other EU members dealing directly with Russia to limit role of NATO in erstwhile USSR.

So, these experiments at flattening of the world will continue to be seen from various outlooks based on economic compulsions and the need to keeping ones homes warm. The approach will finally be PIN code – locality –district –state – nation. That is the reality. So, utopia or pragmatism, between the two I guess, we shall have to tread carefully, cautiously and in an evolutionary manner. That is the role of intelligentsia and that is the path for the aware “Fourth Estate”.

Pavaratti’s “Jago Re’ has to be translated into action. Let us see the result of coming elections. I am sure it will make a difference. Thank you UKC for the exposure and I would love to carry forward your initiative on “Charter for Peace” with equal vigor as the “War on Terror” and offer all my suggestions to the aspiring journo and your cross functional teams to spread the right awareness content and modules desired in your annual theme of “War on Terror”. .

That Pit of the Stomach Feeling

Fest O Com 2009 at Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication Pune…

Barkha Dutt coming in as the speaker to celebrate the spirit of journalism. Young aspirants and students of journalism, all awaiting her arrival. The air at the audi was supercharged, to say the least. Aspiring journos wanted to connect with the Icon.

She entered to a laud applause and squeals of delight from the crowd of students, faculty and some parents. UKC eulogised her and the crowds went into a tailspin.

Her entry, soulful discourse and rendition of her journey through Kargil, “the high point of her life”, to “Mumbai” was a tale soaked in emotion and passion. She cried (held back tears though) with the soldiers in Kargil, victims of Tsunami or the Mumbai carnage, danced with the nation in rejoicing blissful events and debated through “We the People” with a deep sense of involvement and passion. The narration by the master storyteller made crowds feel the depth of emotion and commitment along each of the events she highlighted. Accepted criticism gracefully and put across her convictions rather than justifications.

The crowds could now truly fathom the secret behind “Brand Barkha” – the fire within to follow your dreams with passion and feel the feeling in the ” pit of your stomach”…..that one will definitely stick for a long time.

As for me, I lit that fire during our Kargil days.

Lessons on Journalism

Blogging is good so I went in for some reality check with my friend Nitin Pai, editor of Pragati magazine and the Indian National Interest portal to chat up on the making of a good journalist. Here it is for all my blogging friends

On skills required

Online journalism has connected the world like never before. Your stories get noticed instantly and your fate is decided in a matter of minutes in a two way participative dialogue with the audience. This big difference requires deep understanding of the subject and absolute control to explain your point in a lucid and objective manner. On line journalism has largely diffused the thin line between reporting and features. Any report will generate intense debate and hence must be put down with full conviction. So the field merits a strong ability to express and communicate a story while leaving adequate space for analysis and feedbacks. Online journalism has enhanced the need for taking criticism constructively. A balance in approach and grammar is therefore an absolute must.

On Training required

Online journalism requires you to be in full control of your subject and the language. In addition, skills in Web2.0 technologies are needed. The art of writing good stories requires deep research and an ability to differentiate between fact and fiction. Analysis requires you to train yourself to obtaining a 360 degree view of the story before punching “publish”. Honing skills at continuous feedbacks, pings and trackbacks will keep you abreast with the follow up. Ethics require you to attribute others work and this requires integrity of approach.

Latest trends

For one, blogging has changed the online journalism environment. Each person is now free to voice his opinion or comment on other people’s work. This has created a blogoshere of its own, where each story gets a 360 degree and more treatment. Objectivity and reporting patterns thus now need to be much more relevant and current. The word is moving at the pace of the click of the mouse. The tempo of action required therefore is faster which may colour objectivity. The Web 2.0 technologies are evolving everyday and an online journalist has to be constantly ahead of the technologies. Visibility on the net is a direct function of clicks.

Creating a port folio

Online journalism requires absorption of cutting edge technologies to keep pace with the environment. So, they are an absolute must for any portfolio. In addition, credibility on the net can be established through a fast paced objective reporting and analysis pattern overtime. Capacity to take criticism must be huge; else there will be dents in your profile very soon. Experience is a big facilitator in building the portfolio and marketing yourself effectively riding on the back of your professional competence.

with gratitude to Mr Nitin Pai

Editor “Pragati” and “Indian National Interest”