Monday, October 19, 2015

Why Watching Talvar Gave Me a 'Middle-Class' Lump In My Throat?

 I watched the movie Talvar two weeks ago  and ever since there is a lump in my throat that refuses to  go away.  The reason is that the Damocles’ sword of my middle class moorings stopped me in my tracks when I got the opportunity to play an active role in espousing the cause of Nupur & Rajesh Talwar way back in 2012. No doubt,  the movie is a touching commentary on how dispensation of justice is an emotional and egoistic issue in this country. Both Vishal Bhardwaj and Meghna Gulzar have very sensitively portrayed that the killing of Arushi Talwar, daughter of Nupur and Rajesh Talwar and their domestic help Hemraj, was the handiwork of a criminal investigation system gone horribly wrong.
Being a member of the media fraternity, I had to relive the guilt on two counts now. One for what I could not do and the other because of the media trial that the parent-couple were ruthlessly subjected to, all through the hearing.   While coming out of the movie hall I realized how a botched up case, lack of a scientific approach and nefarious intent can make a criminal out of two innocent parents.
A thought flashed through my guilty mind. I realized what my friend would often say: that there is no justice for the common man in this country. Only in this case, the two seeking justice were well-known doctors and dentists living in an up-market colony in the National Capital Region. Since circumstantial evidence went against Rajesh and Nupur, there were declared guilty and the death of their daughter became an albatross around their necks. 
 As for the ethical dimensions to my track record as a senior journalist, I hardly have anything to hide from anybody, nor do I have too many reasons to feel guilty about. But the fact that my middle class misgivings have come in the way of my journalistic pursuits continue to haunt me, day in and day out. Why am I suffering from this cognitive dissonance over an extended period of time is what I need to share in this post? 
In order to come clean on this vexed issue I need to honestly confess that in June 2012, I came face to face with the fact that the Talwars could be innocent despite the fact that the criminal investigation authorities were hell-bent on framing them as the actual culprits.
Getting down to brasstacks, a smart young lady, who had been a successful banking professional and posted in a European branch of an MNC bank contacted me from Delhi. This was in June 2012. I later came to know that one of my former media studies students had given her my contact details. This was because Lady X (as I call her) was looking for a ‘brave and honest’ journalist who was not based out of Delhi. Her contention was that media veterans in Delhi were not willing to go against the diktats of central investigating agencies and hence she needed to tap ‘outside’ media sources to get justice. She went on to share a harrowing account as to how she had been professionally ruined by the Central Bureau of investigations’ ham-handed and obtrusive ways.  She revealed that she had evidence in hand to show how they framed her and held her guilty for a banking fraud she never committed. She said that when she refused to be play ball with one of her immediate bosses to remit money to benami accounts in India, she was sent back to India ostensibly for siphoning off funds.  When the CBI was handed over this case, the officers reportedly took kick-backs from the errant boss and framed her by taking a commission.
The young women revealed that having fallen a victim to the machinations of the CBI, she decided to start a forum to provide justice to those who suffered at the hands of the agency. She also sent me documents about how CBI had misused their powers by filling premature ‘closure reports’ for a consideration and then brought the ‘guilty to book’.  I was shocked by the appalling state of affairs.
It was during the course of long discussions we had over setting up a forum that she made the damning revelation that she had been approached by Rajesh & Nupur Talwar seeking her help to initiate steps to set up an online forum for getting support from a ‘misguided’ public. She then went on to tell me in detail how the couple had been framed by the same CBI that had messed up her case. She revealed how the agency had manipulated a report of the Hyderabad-based Central DNA & Fingerprinting Diagnostics department (CDFD) wherein it was proved beyond reasonable doubt that the blood stains found on the pillow cover found from prime suspect Krishna’s ( Talwar’s clinic assistant)  room did indeed match with that of Hemraj. According to a report published in Firstpost dated January 17, 2012, it clearly stated that: “The blood-stained purple-coloured pillow recovered from Krishna’s residence was also sent. 

The CDFD report dated 6 November 2008, showed that the DNA profiles of samples extracted from the blood-stains on Krishna’s pillow-cover, a bloodstained palm-print on the terrace wall of the Talwar residence and the blood-stained scotch bottle found on the dining table were identical. 

The DNA profile, in turn, matched with the DNA profile of samples taken from Hemraj’s personal belongings - two razors and a broken comb. Thus confirming that the blood on Krishna’s pillow cover was that of Hemraj.’
In the given backdrop, the movie scenes showed how a typographical error ‘crept in’, thus strengthening the argument that deliberate manipulation lead to the case losing it sense of fairplay.
The key player who shared this information also wanted me to help her set up a forum and I even had a meeting lined up with Rajesh Talwar but it did not come through. At that point in time I felt that powerful vested interests did not want the Talwars to come clean. I also sent detailed mails to the honourable lady regarding an anti-corruption forum, which could help people to fearlessly  knock at the doors of justice to rid himself or herself of a corrupt system. Following is the excerpt of a mail I wrote to Lady X on July 4, 2015:
Hi! I suppose you have been caught up  with the Nupur Talwar bail plea in SC and are too preoccupied to answer my mail. By the way, I had mentioned in my previous mail that I had talked to website developer about a rough estimate for erecting a dynamic and interactive website for the Whistle-blower Foundation of India. The developer has sent me his profile along with an estimate of Rs 80,000 for doing the job. I had specifically asked him to include a feature enabling people to send their SOS or help message to our website by mobile phone. While the web developer said publishing people's  message on our site directly   would be costly, he has included an option wherein public messages will be recorded on our back panel and we can then publish them on our site.
Please go through it and revert with your inputs.”

That was the last time I sent her an email. When I shared that I was scheduled to meet Rajesh Talwar the coming weekend, both my family and close friends  categorically told me that I was treading a fine line. When public opinion, the judiciary and the CBI were all ranged against the Talwars, why should I rush in where even angels fear to tread.  More importantly, I developed cold feet. Seeing that the odds were stacked against me, I decided to put my new-found revolutionary zeal to sleep. However, I was further helped by the fact that the lady in question too stopped interacting with me, and that was that.
After having watched the movie, like I said the lump in my throat refused to go away. Armed with  my new-found stream of consciousness, I decided to re-establish contact with Lady X. I sent her an SMS seeking her consent to talk to me in the wake of the new developments. And presto, my efforts bore fruit and on October 10, 2015, I had a talk with this lead player and what she shred with me made me feel a bit better.
Lady X told me that a Bengaluru-based law firm was busy drafting a public interest litigation that she hopes will be admitted by the Supreme Court sometime in late November. She also wondered aloud as to why the Talwar’s did not pursue the line that the doctored CDFC report be made public as this was the most crucial piece of evidence that could change the dynamics of the double murder case.  Even now, I am not able to live down my act of omission and look to find a reason to believe – in the judiciary

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Get Set to Experience The Magic Of Sex

My caution note:
When it came up my journalistic alley, I thought it was my editor-friend Ajay Kumar's, (Group Editor State Times) ploy to sell a magazine called Supremacy with sex on its mind. But what it turned out to be in the end, confounded me. I was circumspect abut how I would be able to treat the net-based raw input he sent me. Read on & tell me if it makes sense, or is it lewd and needs to be deleted post-haste

"Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul."
Oscar Wilde
Scenario I.
The legendary Mirabai was so deeply conjoined in spiritual union with Lord Krishna through her bhakti and bhajans that she forgot about the existence of her worldly responsibilities and about the existence of her consort. It is believed that her incensed husband suspected her of moral turpitude. However misleadingly, he thought his wife had immorally given her body and soul to the God of her understanding without his consent.
Scenario II:
In his rocking theological thriller Da Vinci Code, when bestselling author Dan Brown talks about pagan rites and rituals that shrouded the existence of Jesus Christ’s female half Mary Magdalene, he exposed the soft underbelly of Judeo-Christian faith and opened up the possibilities of Christ being a married man. This evoked strong reactions among conservationists who felt that the author was evoking the Goddess of Sex to ensure the success of his novel.

The word ‘Sex’ continues to trigger the most formidable response among human beings. It is at once mysterious, mystical and foreboding. Sex conjures up different image in different people. In its most sublime form, it is but a manifestation of Godhead, and in its most base form, it stirs the beast within us. This article makes an attempt to unravel this mystic knot and shows you how to experience the true magic of sex.
Sex magic is neither new nor outrageous; although usually kept secret many esoteric systems use sexuality for spiritual and magical aims. The ancient traditions and its various manifestations in visible form are witchcraft, shamanism, alchemy, Buddhist and Hindu Tantra and ancient Egyptian religion.
A more known form of sex magic is the ceremonial sexual union of man and woman on the land to ensure a good crop. Their act of fertility ostensibly encourages the land to bring forth a rich harvest. This ancient practice is still resorted to, by many tribes in Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh as also in some other rural out backs of the country.
Western sex magic, on the other hand, has its roots in Hebrew kabala and it spread further through several occult doctrines like the Knights Templar, The order of The Rosicrucian and the Freemasons.
In present-day terms sex magic is a beautiful way of giving it back its due as sacred sexuality. It is a firm invitation to leave the trail of the sneaky, hidden-in-the-dark and 'sinful' sex most of us have grown up with. It is a call to stop fighting this most powerful human force and to make use of its immense possibilities.

Since sexuality is a gift from God, the Goddess, by natural extension, has to be divine. Within an open and respectful sexual relationship we can experience ourselves in all aspects: the animal part, the human part and the divine flame within. Thus, the beast-man-God is connected, as strongly as the beast-woman-Goddess. During sexual arousal, an enormous amount of energy can be channeled upwards from the genitals along the spine to the top of the head. On its way up, this energy fills and cleans blockages in the ‘chakras,’ caused by emotional and psychological wounds. This explains why several spiritual paths view sexual yoga as a shortcut to enlightenment.

When the magic of sex enters the head, it turns into an all-consuming spiritual experience, suggests this painting by Gustav Klimt

Why use sex for magical aims?
The force of creation itself invokes a very powerful magic. Secondly it is the most pleasurable magic one can do. The strong sexual force is the 'raw oil of our body' (the Kama Salila) as Lama Yeshe stated.
Several practitioners of sex magic reported that this form of magic turned out to be much stronger then the ceremonial magic they had practiced before. Sex magic does not require any previous knowledge or understanding of ceremonial magic. Anyone who is dedicated to controlling and directing his or her sexual energies for magical work, and who has a reasonable physical condition, is deemed fit to perform sex magic.
However, if you don't feel strongly attracted to sex magic, simply don't do it! And never let someone force you into sex magic against your will. Practicing sex magic does in no way imply that you have to give up sex for pleasure. It is entirely up to you to decide how much sex you wish to use for magical rituals and how much in having a good time with yourself or your partner.
Theory behind sex magic
In magic, we manipulate a certain amount of energy into a desired direction; for that we specify a goal, raise energy level and point it into the wished direction (release the energy) to achieve a manifestation in our physical reality.
The goal in sex magic can be the achievement or attraction of anything wished in the physical world, like a new house, a better relationship or a healing. It can also be the charging of magical tools or talismans. And the goal can be spiritual development.
This controlled form of love-making for higher goals is often mentioned as the ultimate manifestation of necromancer Alistair Crowley’s famous statement "Love is Law, Love under Will." By love, mystic Crowley meant the union of the opposites, masculine and feminine, active and receptive, and not so much as romantic love.
The ultimate goal in a sex act is Orgasm. And orgasm by inference is considered to be the moment when 'the gates of heaven open up'; for a while the barriers between the restricted physical world and the limitless heavens dissolve. During the precious orgasmic moments we swing away our magical desire into the universe with enormous power and a 'magical child' is born. This magical child is the astral effect of our magical action that will result in manifestation. The sexual fluids of man and woman are charged with powerful qualities because of their unalloyed magic and they can be used for varying purposes.
Sexual spirituality depicted on the Khajuraho Temple, India
What types of sex can be used for sex magic?
In fact, any sexual activity can be used to work sex magic. It can be practiced alone, it can be practiced with a partner of the same sex or of the opposite sex, and in advanced state, and it is also possible to work with more people. But, a group sex magic ritual is never an excuse for a sexual orgy!
It is a strong ritual in which several people dedicate their sexual forces towards a mutual goal. Magic is synergistic, which means that the power conjured up is geometric (1, 2, 4,8,16, etc., so a ritual with four people gives the energy of eight separate people!)
You would do well to remember that in no way is this an invitation to ever do a group ritual in your life unwanted, nor does it mean that joining a group ritual implies that you should also have sex with more than one partner in your personal love life. You can include all forms of sex in your ritual; it can be genital, oral or anal sex; it can be bondage, bizarre sex or whatever; as long as all partners included enjoy it and agree that it’s okay and acceptable.
Does sex magic feel different from regular sex?
In sex magic we concentrate on the ritual, while in regular sex we concentrate on the fantastic physical sensations and intimate togetherness. Sex magic rituals feel very pleasurable but they do feel different. They are simply that much more intense. A much greater amount of sexual energy is built up, mainly because when you reach the brink of orgasm you back off to later on resume arousing. This leads to a stronger felt orgasm.
And while repeating the chosen affirmation during intercourse, you send up energy from the genitals to the head, so you constantly send bits of genital excitement 'away' upwards along your spine to be stored till the moment of orgasm. By concentrating on your goal you extend the moment of orgasm and reach a trance-like state.
At times it has been noticed that halfway through the ritual, one can feel the magical energy working. A large amount of hot energy could be felt along the spine and the ‘chakras’ in the head, and in the crown ‘chakra’ you experience the feeling of a wide opened chalice or lotus flower.
The flow of this energy can cause huge tremors or shivers or even lead to emotional unloads like crying, mostly after the orgasm (be prepared for this and let it happen to you or your partner as it clears blockages).
Sex magic orgasms will be intense. And after a ritual with a partner one feels reverent and grateful, realizing that something truly meaningful has been shared. Once the depths and values of sex magic are experienced, it becomes truly difficult to stick to 'normal' sex. Dabble in it or delve deep in it, the choice is yours.

Behind the dangling conversations on social media

Uttam Sengupta

Yesterday at 9:07am · New Delhi · 
When I was RE of TOI at Patna, the Librarian at the British Library, Dipak Goswami, called up one morning and indignantly told me that I should do something about my colleagues, some of whom were despicable he suggested. I was amused and enquired what made him so angry. He was surprised. " Don't you know about the anonymous letter against you that is being circulated," he asked. I confessed my ignorance at which he read out some parts of the letter. It accused me of every possible sin I could have committed as a journalist and made it plain that I deserved to be sacked ! 
I was upset and told him that I would collect the letter on my way to the office. As I put down the phone, my wife gently told me that she would give me a copy of the letter ! Apparently my colleagues had mailed the letter to not just her but to every other teacher and the Principal at the school she worked in. I read the letter and my blood boiled. But it was not signed. It carried both lies and half-truths. I could debate and discuss with my colleagues but that would have been a waste of time, I realised. It took me an hour to decide my course of action. I took the letter from my wife, went to office, got the letter enlarged and asked the PA to put it up on the Notice Board. I never heard of it again.
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Chander Mahadev Uttam, you happened to be my boss in the early 90s and I recall many occasions when you were subjected to ridicule if not ignominy. I particularly remember the turbulent time when you were appointed Resident Editor, TOI, Patna, and it came as a shock to us then. Let me hasten to clarify that both my wife and I worked as a ‘demolition squad’ in the Patna TOI Desk and we were working under a particularly moody but brilliant Editor Sumanta Sen. I say shocking because he was slated to continue as RE despite the fact that his term was getting over. Morever, the grapevine was abuzz with stories that an India Today State Correspondent (referring to you, of course) was no match to Sumanta Da.
And lo behold, when you joined TOI, you were subjected to further humiliation when you were not allowed to sit in the Editorial office on the second floor since the present incumbent was firmly ensconced in his chair, so to speak. You then earned the unflattering sobriquet of Ram Sundar Das, the eternal dissident. Having recently shifted base from Varanasi Pioneer, we two were blissfully unaware of the political machinations that Patna was infamous for. However, let me also candidly confess that jurnos in Bihar were a much more ethical lot than what I had been privy to, in UP. 

When you finally joined as RE, your nervous energy to unravel the truth behind every story was not acceptable to say the least. Soon after you joined Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated and I was the Edition in-charge during the night shift. We strongly differed on the way the story needed to be handled and I got the impression that you were a pro-Congress jurno. It took me over a month to settle down with you as my boss but your honesty and journalistic excellence was never in doubt. Actually, you were too young to be perceived as an Editor, or so some colleagues may have thought. Your being a Reporter added fuel to the 'proverbial' fire as far as some.of the.local TOI jurnos were concerned, and that could have.lead to the launch of a spineless smear campaign that you talk of. Anyway, if memory serves me right, you brought in columnists like Frank Krishner, Subhash Jha & Payal Kumar, which further complicated matters. You also were close to politician Saryu Rai, and he would be in your office for days on end. But.little did we colleagues realise that you were working on the biggest news break of your life--the Lallu Yadav fodder scam.

The invincible maverick was forced to demit office and you came to be seen as one of the most revered journalists. While it became fashionable to be in Uttam's good books many secretly plotted your doom. You then took over as Resident Editor, Lucknow and your fearless brand of journalism won you many accolades. I lost touch with you as both Maddie and I shifted base to Delhi and over a decade later we re-established contact with you. Ever since, we have been communicating on social media but today I can say if there is one journalist I know who wrote the first draft of history better than most, it is you Uttam Sengupta. As a parting thought, I always wonder why a brilliant journalist like you could never realise my true potential. But my wonder-lust is based on honest sharing. Great way to go, Uttam
Bottom of Form

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

CM: A Genius Gone Astray?

‘Nobody likes a Red Pen, except maybe a teacher…’ Chander Mahadev
Not everyday was a red-letter day, for someone like me but today was more pleasingly so. Sharp, caring yet always a prisoner of my habits if not imagination, I was pleasantly stunned when a cheerful, committed and a boldly beautiful young counselor Anshika almost used the G word to describe me and why was I not able to control and correct one of my seemingly incurable habits. I immediately realized how red and black always had an overpowering impact on my life, every step of the way. For me, life then had a red ring to it in every which way. . As a child in Delhi, Nizamuddin the first seemingly holy sight that greeted me in the morning was my mother artfully weaving in a vermillion paste in the parting of her beautiful long flowing silken black mane. She would then dot the middle of her forehead with the same ethereal red as if to celebrate her fertility if not her virtuosity as a wonderfully caring mother.  
The next brush with red would be just as we siblings stepped on to the flaming red Bouganvillas & Jacarandas that blessed our dew-drenched boulevard down to Jaipur Estate, the haven for hot-shot foreign diplomats whose spank driveways would flaunt blood-red muscle monsters like Mustangs and Jaguars that represented a faraway unattainable world for us lowly third world mortals. Even the fist school play I got selected to act in, was the bad wolf in Red riding Hood. My favorite creature too was Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer or else it was the red-nosed comic book heroes Pinocchio or the red-costumed Superman. Was it a symbolical representation for my passion for life I never could say.
Hues of red attracted me albeit compulsively all through my life. Whether it was the desire to smoke hash or dope all through the day, and my red, blood-shot eyes became the headlights  of my existence.  I had thought if I smoked the Sufi elixir of life in downtown Nizamuddin, it would make me a great writer. How, I never knew. Later, in college my deep fascination for the hammer and the sickle, ensnared by the Red Salaam held out the promise of reaching MY promised  land.
These observations apart, I have been prone to wonder  whether I was the genius gone astray, the misanthrope nobody wished to understand, the creature brought up on a heady diet of  pop culture; that  could well be me or what has become of me. Having tasted rock music at an early age, smoking or toting dope in the early 70’s, and the heady aura  of the Hippie generation introduced me to the renegade poet’s  magic. The deviant in me got  enamoured by  the strains of Bob Dylan strumming 'It’s a hard rains gonna fall', and Leonard  Cohen droning about the mystical, magical maid  called Suzanne, I verily thought it  was the great Sufi saint Hazrat Nizamudddin Aulia's mystical messages reworked. In other words, he is the best English Ghazal singer I have ever heard. Yes indeed I was proud of the Bum Shankar strains of soulful Hindu  bhakti songs and elevating bhajans, the brilliant strains of MS Subbalakshmi’s  Vishnu Sahasranamam playing over mom’s transistor in the puja room, punctuated by the rather hoary daily muznaian’s call for the morning namaaz at the Nizamuddin basti  masjid.
 The year was 1962, barely eight years of age and these were the first memories stored in the recesses of my head   even as  we three siblings got ready for our daily tryst with international education in Delhi, the capital of free India, a co-educational public school. I was  always  distracted and defused about my cross-cultural love for  my secular Indian credentials, but love it I did. Being the oldest of three, Aku my brother was a year younger followed by my sister Lilly, yet another year younger, I had to shepherd the two on our two km daily walk to school from our two-room tenement in upmarket Nizamuddin East .

To be continued…

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Dynamics Behind Why Content Is King


If someone tells me content is king, then my heart puffs up with pride and I naturally feel like a king From generating content for over four decades to attaining yogic contentment in one life-time, my journey has been a beautifully rewarding one. One of my Team Leaders & former Editors at Manya Princeton Review Payal Kumar warmed my cockles by saying that I was a wordsmith endowed with special skills.  Another editorial colleague once remarked that I was the best re-write editor in the whole of Uttar Pradesh.  However, in my heart of heart, I wished he would say I was the best in the country. Now, you may well turn around and ask, why this self-absorbed eulogy? Now let me ask you a real hard question. 
If content is king like Bill Gates had remarked way back in 1996, then how is it that most content generators, journalists, script writers and creative artistes still feel like paupers when they look at their bank balances? The answer I think is that destiny if not somebody else created (software) content for Bill Gates so that he in turn could become the information technology icon of the century. With a name like Gates, and an enticingly named software company called Microsoft, he threw open his ‘Windows’ of opportunity. He then opened the ‘flood-Gate’ as it were, to market his wares.   If that is indeed the case, is it content or ‘marketable’ content that is king?
In the early 1970’s I recall a wonderful song composed by a band called Genesis titled ‘Selling England by the Pound’. I loved the words of the song and the layered meanings it conveyed. I sub-consciously gloated over the fact that the nation of shop-keepers, as they were odiously called, could sell their country leave alone selling content. Soon, with the proliferation of technology, dawned the I-T sector and with it began the Information Age. We now had a two-way communication model in the internet and as a media analyst I feel this was the greatest invention after the wheel.
As a result of the emergence of the global village and the democratisation of information, the world began to shrink and while western (read English) content continues to dominate, glocal (think global, act local) and not global became the new way to disseminate information across media platforms. With social media firing the public’s imagination, suddenly moth-balled personal photograph albums stashed away at home were re-clicked on mobile phone cameras and posted on social media platforms. Family members and special moments that lay buried in the anonymity of personal photo albums became ‘Liked’ celebrities, in a matter of minutes. 
Suddenly, the man on the street realised, Content is indeed King’. Little dribbles of rhyming verses that most love-lorn youngsters penned for their unrequited love were soon flooding social media sites, transforming youngsters into wannabe poets. This once again proved Gates premise that Content is King. Personal and family video shoots began to go ‘viral’ and suddenly this medical terminology became hip and happening. The more viral your content goes, the more kingly you feel.
Finally, how does the term content is king play out in the media domain. The proliferation of content factories, broadcast channels, news portals, music portals, and cross-media production houses has come to dominate media space.  Today, we find media conglomerates milking the concept of ‘Content is King.’ Let us say that a senior crime reporter covered the gamut of a sensational crime story that stayed in the public domain for days on end, like say the Jessica Lal murder case. Now, let us see how the content dynamics and the scale of economies work.
The media house runs an exclusive reality check on the murder case in its own magazine. The original magazine cover story inspires another journalist to write a book on the subject. The same media house’s publishing arm commissions the writing of the book, which becomes a hit. Now, the same conglomerate decides to make a movie based on the book. The movie is released in the media group’s own multiplex chain and it is declared a box-office grosser. Based on the pre-movie release promotional game show aimed to popularise the cinema as a pre-release promotional exercise,   the company-owned TV entertainment channel decides to launch a reality show to boost TRP ratings.  Considering the movie’s Original Sound Track is making waves, the media house promotes its content on its own FM Radio channel. The most popular lead singer of the hit film now finds her exclusive interview as cover story in the same magazine that published the crime update on the Jessica Lal murder case in the first place. The   content cycle is now complete.

 This cyclic process re-affirms the claim that Content is King. Now, let us assume the Crime Reporter who filed the exclusive update gets a monthly salary of Rs 30,000 a month. Now, let us say it took him five days to research and file the story. In effect, the reporter is paid Rs 1000 a day based on his salary. For five days’ work, he makes Rs 5000. Now, the original content has generated let us say, Rs 300 crore by way of book sales, record sales movie collections, et al. This example will give you a clear idea as to why content is king, and not the original content creator.
That is why I opened my opinion piece saying that I have been searching for yogic contentment even if my bank balance had not swelled in keeping with the ‘marketable content’ that spawned the profit motive for the media conglomerate in the first place.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Truth Behind My ‘Creamy Layer’

The smooth-talking face of the Creamy Layer of Indian politics is once again holding centre-stage.  The indefatigable maverick politician Lalu Prasad is back in the limelight just before the crucial Bihar elections.  I heard him on an NDTV Exclusive with Ravish Kumar last night as he waxed eloquent about how Nitish Kumar is the missile who will mark the re-emergence of the now-fractured Janta Dal Parivar. With a poker face, Lalu used every rustic charm at his command, to convince the anchor about his lily-white-powdered image and his imminent acquittal by the high court. This was his immediate image management agenda which had taken a beating following his conviction by the session’s court in the high-profile fodder scam.
My mind raced back to  the opportunistic caste combinations he and other so-called secularists had stitched  in the ‘90s to change the socio-political  complexion of India forever.  Social engineering became the new buzz, and caste manipulations gained currency in the Indian political scheme of things. The emergence of the MY (Muslim-Yadav) factor as a potent electoral combine and the emergence of B P Mandal with his concept of Other Backward Castes (OBCs) and the homecoming of the Creamy Layer had had me floored.
For most jurnos like me, the concept of the Creamy Layer in politics was hard to stomach. For me, Creamy Layer had altogether different connotations way back during my growing years in the 1960s. My mother would often ask me to surreptitiously buy a bottle of her favourite Charmis Cream or Afghan Snow and smuggle it in and hide it in the last drawer of her dressing table when my grandmother was not looking. While I myself liked taking a scoop of Charmis cream off and on, and rubbing it on my face, I liked the aroma therapy that went behind the cosmetic. Once I applied the cream, albeit surreptitiously, I used to often recall how beauty was not just skin deep.
However, the idea of using Afghan Snow looked repelling to say the least. Resembling a greasy version of Snowcem White wall paint, the snow would paint a yucky white mask on your face, the way Lalu looks today. When I would ask my mother as to why she had to don her ‘Creamy Layer’ in hiding, away from the prying eyes of my grandmother, she would tell me that caste Hindu women could not use make-up since it was the prerogative of nautch girls and film stars. She would shame-facedly  reveal that dark-haired and dark-faced South Indian ladies had no choice but to use Afghan Snow to look passably ‘white’ in north Indian Delhi. So, I turned to my mother and asked her why many of my peers called me Madrasi, or Kaalu, she looked at me with shame in her heart.Holding back tears, she sighed: ‘We are condemned to be the butt of ridicules since we are from the south.’ Now, I understood the real reason behind my mother’s secret desire to be one among the ‘creamy layer.’ Ever since that day, the term creamy layer became anathema to my tormented soul.
One day one of my more well-groomed cousins who studied in Delhi University came home. There was a glint in her eyes even as shared with my mother that she had brought something special to improve my mother’s skin tone. Pulling out from her cloth bag was a sinister looking tin packet of talcum powder grandly called Remy powder. She excitedly whispered in my mom’s ears that south Indian actresses managed to look fair and lovely, using this magic potion. I was aghast by my cousin’s sheer insensitivity.
I then realised how our women-folk themselves secretly yearned to be purveyors of the creamy layer school of beauty. The fact that my sister was fair only heightened the racist overtones that are deeply embedded in middle-class Indian families. Now, can you blame me if I despise the term Creamy Layer?

Friday, May 29, 2015

Two Pikus who impacted my life!

Two Pikus who impacted my life!
Two Pikus impacted my life, one in the late 60s and early 70s when I ran into a spunky, short-haired pretty lass who went by the name of Piku! I was very impressed with her Bohemian ways and we often sat down and talked about the Flower Power generation, the designer drugs and the great music we were privy to, then. Those were the heady Nizamuddin days when life meant endless chillums, music, and book-reading sessions interspersed with occasional acid trips. Seema Ahmad’s (her real name) father was a brilliant IAS officer who was an eminent historian to boot. When we used to visit her house in Moti Bagh area of Delhi we had to answer Mr. Ahmad’s history questions or else we were denied entry. I used to think he was like the Open Sesame mantra in Ali Baba’s 40 Thieves of Baghdad. He unwittingly helped me enhance my knowledge base and the more interesting fact that Piku was from Lucknow.  He was also the examiner for IAS exams but such things hardly bothered Piku. I also recall her brother Javed was the police chief of Mumbai. Both Piku and thoughts of Lucknow ceased to capture my imagination and I never thought she would come back in my life, but she did, through a ‘celluloid’ door. I could say ‘Memory you hold the key.’