Monthly Archives: October 2009

Let debate remain a debate…all in favour vote aye

A few days back I had posted an article on marxism and how corporates can make use of the same. Well as always a lot of people commented on the same. Some I agreed and some I disagreed which is always the case. Anyway it so happened that someone made a disaparaging comment about my city and I obviously wanted to comment. So here I got onto chat, and before I knew it, it became a personal attack, to the extent that I was not even allowed to say a word. If I said anything,it was misconstrued in the most amazing way and the point was hammered so many times, that one lost the entire reason for the conversation and it went into a different direction. Well after a couple of minutes I obviously did the next sensible thing to do and just ignored the conversation and actually had a good laugh with another friend who was online who was following the chat with me. But the entire conversation got me thinking, why is it today that debates are no longer reigned within the limits of a debate. Why are people so scared of their point of view being unaccepted that they are ready to rave, rant and go to any low heights as possible? Is winning so important? Or have we reached a stage where intolerance rules.

One of my friends in FB is a staunch communist and she often makes various postings on FB regarding how anti communist forces in West Bengal and India are destroying the country and how communism is the best philosophy to follow. Now I disagree with some of her views and agree with some. Of course when I disagree I give my reasons for the same and vice versa. But what amazes me is the way the comments from the readers flow in any of her discussions. I can accept that one is passionate about what one says and believes in, but I am amazed why people are not ready to listen to another point of view? And when one sees ones point being diluted in the barrage of comments, the comments invariably more often than not become personal. Or otherwise they start screaming and hammering away to glory so much so, that one forgets that one is in a civil society. Internet being an unmoderated medium this becomes even more easier.

If one follows debates on various television channels where one political party is pitted agains the other, the same rule follows. Firstly most debates on TV which involves the politcal class are always so divided and polarized that one rarely gets to hear the true story. Secondly with most speakers who come on TV (there are some good political orators but they generally choose to stay away) its always an extremist point of view that they carry and for them the one point agenda is not to defend their theory but to belittle one’s opponent. In that effort most of the politcal class usually catch hold of the most inane points in the opposition’s topic of conversation and misinterprets it in such a wonderful fashion, and then repeats it so many times that one forgets the real reason for the debate. And if one finds onself in the receiving end of the debate, or losing as one would say, the voices of the loser becomes shriller and louder to the extent that he / she feels that the best way to win a debate is to stop the other one from being heard – decency be damned. Logic and any form of evidence more often than not takes a back seat and all one gets in the end is a shrilly discourse where one hears nothing except some pathetic personal attacks and a loud cacophony of noises. What is worse is that the so called moderator or the anchor of the show actually encourages that cacophony, so much so that at the end of the debate the viewer not only remains uneducated about everyone’s point of view but also needs to clean his ears lest he turned deaf.

One of the most debated topics in India of late have been the Nuclear Deal. I am sure the most of us did follow the same specially on the day the parliament moved the motion of confidence against the Government. The parliament debated over the topic for over 6 hours (a record of sorts since they never work so long but thats a different topic) but tell me honestly how many of you even remember a single debate except the one Rahul Gandhi and Omar Abdullah made. I don’t. And I will tell you why I remember Rahul Gandhi’s speech. After ages I heard a politican who did not feel the need to belittle another party and rather paid respect to all saying all is equally concerned about India. He did not need to scream cause he knew his content made sense. But still no one learns.

In the last two parliamentary elections the BJP lost. Among the many reasons attributed to their loss, I feel one of the reasons they lost is that they forgot that a democracy is a fight for different schools of thought and not of different individuals. At least in urban india one would like to hear a debate on how they different. Their fight in the 2004 elections was anti Sonia and 2009 concentrated on being anti Manmohan. None of their debates had any concrete topics and solutions to the many problems India faces today but just personal attacks. Most of their debates especially if the panelists included people from the RSS was always about a personal attack. They lost the first time and yet refused to learn and fell again. Hopefully this time they wil  learn. Of course I don’t mean congress is any better. They usually have a little more smarter people who come for the debate and hence their tactic more often than not, when they have nothing to say is to catch the most insignificant statement that the opposition makes and keep repeating it so many times, that one ends up discussing a topic completely different from what one started with and before you know it, the time is up. But the best of the lot I find is from TMC and certain marxist leaders. They usually start the debate with screaming and shouting and throw up insignificants points in the air, which have no relevance with the topic and hope that the chaos created by them confuses the audience enough to forget the topic of discussion. Logic and proofs be damned.

I am deliberately avoiding putting up any examples for the above as there are so many that even my debate will lose its relevance. But there is one which I have to point out and I feel its enough to drive home my point. Sometime back in NDTV there was a discussion on Mayavati’s statue building efforts. Now among the panelists was a gentleman who was speaking for Mayavati and her spend. Failing to justify it under any circumstance he came up with this bizarre explanation which flumoxxed everyone. He said that statue building of elephants was to bring in the plight of elephants being killed in India, and since India was racist they were more bothered about the diminishing number of tigers in the country than elephants, who he felt was a sign of dalits. Now in that one swift move he managed to turn the topic of discussion to something completely different and confused the entire panelists to think the discussion was on racism and saving the elephants. Much as I laughed during the debate I feel more often than not today debates are reduced to the same. Create a confusion, rave, rant and in the end ensure people don’t get to hear any opposing thoughts.

When I was a kid and I used to get angry with my people for not agreeing to something I said, I used to scream. Ma always said something, which then I did not understand but today I do. She used to say when you are right your content will do the convincing. Raising your voice only shows how hollow your viewpoints are cause you feel only by shouting you can win. More often than not, your opponent just gives in cause he/ she feels intimidated by you. I guess today we have become so intolerant across all spectrums of life, that we cannot tolerate any other school of thought which contradicts ours. Hence instead of talking sense, we end up just mud slinging each other and screamig.

I am someone who really enjoys a healthy debate, if for nothing else but to make my grey cells ticking. Hence like old times, when debates used to end with the moderator asking all in favour vote aye…i say all in favour of the old form of debate coming back please vote aye…I FOR ONE CERTAINLY VOTE AYE…

The News Media needs a dictionary ..Please contribute

News Media - CNN IBN, TimesNow, NDTV, TOI and the likes and their need of a dictionary

Why does news media today exaggerate?

When I was a kid I used to hear my dad say that he had learnt English listening to English News on the Radio and reading the Statesman. He was quite sure English Media could teach any kid English. Now I too had the same idea that if I ever have kids they too will read the English newspaper and watch the news (radio being a defunct medium now at least for news broadcast) to learn the Queen’s language till I started following their reporting of late. And I felt if anything they need the dictionary first.

Let me elaborate my point with examples. If all of you recall sometime back there was a major controversy with Varun Gandhi making comments regarding the Muslim community. Now of course the media instead of ignoring that jerk, decided to give him all the media space he could have asked for in his entire lifetime, of course in the name of holding up the truth. Now here comes the fun of it. Priyanka Gandhi had gone for some election rally when she was constantly asked by journalists about what she felt about her estranged cousin’s remarks. First she avoided and then like any normal decent human being she commented saying it was not something she was taught as and of course the blah blah comments on how the Gandhi family was taught otherwise, etc. She did not criticise, shout, or do anything but simply commented that it was not her philosophy and that too on being asked. Now I watched the news that day all day. So here she was giving a live interview, that too on being questioned incessantly but what is the coverage we get half hour later in all news channels. “PRIYANKA GANDHI SLAMS HER COUSIN”. Now the OED defines Slam as censuring someone harshly or forcefully. Now under no circumstances did she even censure the man cause she was quite clear it was not her job. So how did the word “slam” get attached to it? Did someone here mention the word TRP? Please we are talking of the honest media here. The 4th estate. And how can you demean it by saying TRP? They are not here for business but for telling us the truth. Please understand that in their busy schedule they forgot to buy an OED for themselves and hence the honest mistake.

Now let’s go to another example. How many of us have see the word “breaking news” flashing across your screen all day in all news channel. Now the OED dfines “breaking news” as a news which is just flashed. Now you must admit that rarely does news happen 24 hour which can be broken into the media. And a news cannot be called breaking news if its 2 hours old. Now again did someone say eyeballs, viewership, etc? Tsk tsk. No. Those poor people do not have the dictionary with them. So the mistake. If only someone told them that it should be flashed as news update, they would have, but poor guys do not know the same.

Now if you think am only saying people in the audio visual media need the OED you are wrong. Even the poor print guys need a dictionary. Let me give you another instance of the poor language being misused. Am sure all of you guys are quite used to controversy relating to MOS Mr Shashi Tharoor. Now poor man being part of the UN, etc uses too much of the queen’s language not understanding that the Indian media has no clue about the same. Poor chaps tweets about cattle class. Now cattle class is a word coined by the Americans to define economy class travel and has nothing to do with the word cattle, same as barking up a tree does not call one a dog. But our ignorant media of course had headlines the next day “Shashi Tharoor calls Indian masses cattle”. Poor chap had he said Indian people leads a dog’s life I can just imagine the report. “MOS Tharoor calls Indian middle class dog” Anyway now as tragedy happened some smart alec brought it to their notice that what cattle class really meant. So then they went running to the Congress for some comments and those people not knowing what hit them, had to say they do not accept such comments. Now next came the report “Congress rebukes Tharoor”. Now firstly your lack of the knowledhe of the language creates a controversy and then you create a further controversy by asking people for comments and then saying they are rebuked and then taking the high moral ground stating why don’t politcians have a sense of humour or know the language?
Now Please don’t say our 4th estate is corrupt and they did this just to sensationalise the news and create news when they had none. How many times do I need to remind you its all cause they do not have the knowledge.

Now I know a lot of you cynics will say all this is done for TRP, money, eyeballs, etc, etc but I honestly still feel its cause they do not have a dictionary with them. Hence I would like to contribute to them. I will admit I am doing so for my own selfish reasons as tomorrow when I have kids, I want one headache less. At least the media can do the job of teaching them English like my dad learnt, and anyone who knew him will admit that his hold on the language was par excellence. For all those who agree with me, PLEASE PLEASE DO CONTRIBUTE. All contributions towards this noble cause will grant you a place in the history for saving the English language.

PS : Same applies for all vernacular language and hence please contribute generosuly for them too.

Marxism and the Corporate World

Marxism and the Corporate World

Marxism and the Corporate World

Being born in a communist family I was always educated about the marxism and what Karl Marx taught about socialism. Somehow as an youngster i sort of equated socialism with being poor, the right to strike, the right not to work and still demand wages, etc. As I grew up I of course realised that I was wrong but I used to be still intrigued as to why most communist leaders used to oppose anything which would mean profits. Was Profit such a bad word? Did Karl Marx really say being rich was being bad? Why was making profits such a bad thing? Why was communism in my state equated with anti business? Why was it said that communism killed the work culture? And that is when I got to actually doing some fact finding myself about what Karl Marx actually said. What Marx actually said was that wealth of a company belonged to its workers and compensation depended on his value brought into the company. But tell me how can a company be wealthy if its workers are on strike. How can a company be wealthy if people do not work and consider a right to still be employed a birthright? Now Marx never said be lazy, did he? I once remember ages ago hearing an interview of a marxist labour union leader from West Bengal who said he had met a labour union leader in China. Apparently during his meeting it came out that his Chinese counterpart was agitating against the management cause of some treatment meted out to an employee. Of course the gentleman in question asked his Chinese friend why were they not going on a strike and I still remember what his Chinese counterpart had said “I am a labour union leader. If there is no labour being done then what am I a leader of? I will protest but stopping work is not the way of doing it.” Those words struck me even then and yet I saw my state lumbering its way through countless strikes and corporates moving away. Not one labour union leader realised that wealth cannot be distributed unless wealth is created. Some say Karl Marx’s theory is redundant in today’s world. But I feel its the most relevant in the world of today. If an employee’s pay is directly related to the welfare of the firm then both will be profitable. If every employee is a stake holder, then before going on strikes . If every employee is a stake holder then every employee will think twice before being lazy at work. If every employee’s benefit’s depended on the company’s welfare they would think a million times before they force a firm to accept an errant employee back as that errant employee would result in the company’s profit margin coming down. After all the end intention is to distribute wealth and unless its created it can never be distributed. And Karl Marx never said don’t be rich. Infosys is one of the greatest example of the above theory being a success. They created wealth and they distributed it among its employees. But you see nothing in this world came free. Hence each employee was made a stakeholder of that company. So if you want the wealth you have to work for it. The fruits of labour cannot come unless you have a stake in that business. I know many people will say this is simplifying the entire problem. Maybe it is. But its still better than the world where I came from where communism became synonym with strikes and laziness. And its certainly a start to ending the never ending enmity that capitalism and communism cannot co-exist. In today’s world the only way ahead is a synergy of both the thoughts. One needs to reinvent the wheel today if one has to survive and if communism has to survive in India, it has to befriend the corporate world and accept that making money is not all that bad.

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