Saturday, December 29, 2007

Bhutto

If snakes around the globe were praying for private and peaceful vacations in the period between Christmas and New Year, they got their wish. Rajat Sharma finally got something more meaningful and sensible to tell about in IndiaTV. Continuing the tradition of cursed fate of the modern dynasties in this part of the globe, Benjir Bhutto was killed. “Killed” is replaceable with “died in an accident” because contrasting theories are coming out from different theorists. Although not going for a post mortem and washing off the place of event in a jiffy puts the “died in an accident” theory in a fishy light.

As of now, everyone is busy discussing how she was killed rather than discussing the whys and who’s. Let me be a little different from them and list out my suspects.

Al-Quaida – Not only they are the most notorious terrorist organization, but also most claiming and blamed group of masked fundamentalists. They claim/are blamed for every undesired event in the world, be it Bush’s fart fracturing his commode or a blast in Samjhauta Express. They did it this time as well. Hours with in Bhutto died; there was a statement from one of their spokesperson to some channel claiming the fame. But, no matter how much hatred they have in their hearts and destruction in their minds, they are humans. They need sources and support to fund their bread, butter and bombs. They might have been the actors, but it’s the director who calls the shots. I don’t think they have the guiles to be a director in this event.

India – We blame Pakistan for all kinds of attacks – be it insect attack on the crops in Punjab few years back or Kargil or the blasts around the country. Most of the times, blames are correct. Pakistan has been doing the same over the years. Especially with increased turbulence in the country in recent past, the trend has increased and will continue. How much truth is in that, I do not know. But, India doesn’t gain anything from Bhutto’s killing which has sent the country into a political turmoil. If I was India’s head of state, I would have preferred Pakistan to be a troubled and weak state. But it should be strong enough to keep the troubles in Pakistan away from India. With an unstable Pakistan, the trouble in Afghanistan would be just a few meters away instead of being at least half a country away. Leave aside the intent of the nation to construct or destruct, India looses more and gains nothing hence wouldn’t have been a part of the conspiracy.

Parvez Musharraf – He stands as the biggest and obvious suspect. But isn’t he a bit too obvious suspect. For me, General would have to be an idiot to plot such a conspiracy. One, he would have been too obvious suspect to run him into deeper troubles and two, he was said to have a political pact with Bhutto. Musharraf was under pressure from US & rest of the world to bring back the democracy whereas at the same time, army would be pressurizing him otherwise. Bhutto might have provided him the ideal coalition. General had more risks than returns in killing Bhutto.

Nawaz Sharif – If you plan to kill someone and get away scot-free, first thing you should do is to get an alibi. When Bhutto was attacked, there was a blast to target Nawaz Sharif on his rally too where he was not present. Was it his good fortune or alibi building? Having suffering from intellectual deficiency, I know very little about politics, leave aside Pakistani politics. But whatever little understanding I have, Pakistan has a two pole world – army and the so called democratic parties. For Nawaz Sharif, Bhutto was a bigger threat than Musharraf who was already in trouble and will go sooner or later. So once Bhutto out of his way, he just needs to wait for Musharraf’s end or manufacture his dethroning as Musharraf did to him few years back. Also, everyone knew who the biggest suspect would be if something happens to Bhutto.

Pakistan’s People Party (PPP) - All these years, Bhutto was spending a peaceful life somewhere in UK, I think. The moment she saw serious troubles for Musharraf, she came back charging to her country, started her fight in politics and started telling PPP that she would get them back in power. If I was someone looking after PPP for these many years, I would have to be too loyal to accept her supremacy in such circumstances. If there are fair elections sometime in future, PPP would be the biggest gainer not only because they want Musharraf but also because of the sympathy wave. As the events are turning out, the riots, the looting of banks, the torching of trains are tools to leave a strong effect of this tragic event on people’s minds. If there are fair elections, PPP should and would be the biggest gainer.

As usual, standard disclaimer - Thoughts above belonged to be. And as per our constitution, I have all the rights to express them. But being a gentleman, I apologize in case they hurt your sentiments. In addition to that, our media is busy discussing the way Bhutto died rather than who caused those ways. But soon they would come to the latter. So in case you want to use any of the above mentioned, do remember about the IPRs.

Monday, December 24, 2007

2007!!!

Writing about a year which is about to bid adieu is an easy task. List the number of significant events, pen down your opinion if you wish and the job is done. More diversified the portfolio of the events listed, the better it is. But being an average Indian, my mind fails to go beyond the WC debacle or 20-20 unexpected. Fortunately or unfortunately, most of my friends fall in this category though they would take it as an offence to their intellect. Anyways, let me recall some of the events of the year that was or wasn’t or would have been.

January

The year started with Shilpa Shetty being racially abused and entire media coming as her saviour. Indian media came to her rescue and launched a nationwide campaign. Aaj Tak launched a campaign - “If you are with her, SMS Y at 1234”. Star News followed suit - “If you are against racial attacks on her, SMS Y at 5678”. India TV was not left far behind “If you are with her and against racial attacks on her, SMS Y at 12345678”.

Delhi police continued the tradition of foiling the terrorist attacks before every 26th January and 15th august and killed two terrorists in Delhi.

February

India handsomely defeated Sri Lanka and West Indies in ODI series on trying pitches at home. SL was so scared of India’s formidable batting line up that they decided to save their ace off spinner’s confidence by not sending him on tour. In their Pre WC analysis, Aaj Tak declared India to win and India TV followed suit along with the rest. All of them joined hands and now you could send your SMS to a common number 303 to showcase your support. Ravi Kumar was named as the biggest supporter for having sent over three thousand SMS. He was promised dinner with Yuvraj Singh after India’s WC win and if Yuvraj was not available, Kim Sharma agreed to dine.

March

India stormed in and out of WC. Aaj Tak declared Captain Rahul Dravid as WC ka mujrim, India TV declared Mahinder Singh Dhoni as Kamjor Kadi and so on. Communal brilliance prevailed and media managed to cover entire team including the support staff, their spouses, mistresses, mothers and every possible attachment in the portfolio of culprits by choosing their respective wrongdoers. It was an excellent example of mutually exclusive and exhaustive selection.

Bob Woolmer died/ was murdered/ committed suicide/ disappeared and replaced himself with the dead body of his look alike. We could SMS the name of our prime suspect to Aaj Tak at 100. Injemam-ul-haq was named the prime suspect because he was the only player to be competent enough in size with Bob. Mahesh Bhatt declared to make a film on the entire sequence of events and Star One chipped in by launching a reality show to hunt the talent for Bhatt’s film. Imran Hashmi refused to kiss the dead body hence he was chucked out.

April

The month would be remembered for the biggest marriage in our history. After completing their countrywide pilgrimage, Abhishek Bacchan and AIshwarya Rai got married. Since none of the channels could pay for the broadcasting rights, Big B did not let them in. After their extensive research and spying Aaj Tak came up with the sequence of events that would have happened inside JalsaBaarat To enter, Varmala, Fere, guests partying and dancing, Vidayee. India TV, Star News and IBN7 did their research and coincidently all of them came up with the same sequence of events. Aaj Tak sued IBN7 under copyright infringement act for stealing their ideas and the case is still pending in Supreme Court.

Few weeks later some of the party photographs were leaked out and Aaj Tak was awarded for its creative thinking. Its CEO made a special mention of Mrs Shinde (who stays in the building behind Jalsaa) in his thanksgiving speech for allowing the Aaj Tak reporter to install a camera and binoculars in her washroom. Jaguar sponsored the toilet fittings and was awarded as the best sponsor.

Ravi Kumar went on a forced hunger strike because sponsors broke their contract with Yuvraj Singh after WC debacle who broke up with Kim Sharma.

May

Finally UP saw a reversal in trend of losers ruling and winners opposing. After ages, it was Mayavati’s BSP to get a clear majority in the state. In a master stroke of marketing and taking a clue from Aaj Tak ideas getting stolen in Bacchan’s marriage, Star News released its exit poll results 4 days after Mayavati resumed office. Exit poll results were cent percent accurate and Star News was awarded as the best news channel in Star Parivar Awards for its scintillating journalism. Mahesh Bhatt declared to make a movie on Mayavati’s life. Guddi Maruti was asked to get 5 shades darker, get a hair cut and loose few grams to play Mayavati. Imram Hashmi was again chucked out because he refused to kiss Guddi Maruti. Aaj Tak made a 3 hour long documentary on why film stars refuse to kiss on screen and this was later sent in Cannes film festival under XXX category.

June

Gujjar agitation in Rajasthan continued. Considering it a domestic issue, Aaj Tak decided to cover an international issue where a foreigner had declined BCCIs offer to coach team India which is termed as an orphan. IBN7 decided to go the democratic way to select the coach and launched a nation wide SMS campaign. Mohinder Amarnath defeated Dev Whatmore by over ninety thousands votes. As a vote of thanks, Mohinder Amarnath launched a CD of songs sung by him to thank his voters. Himesh Reshamiya made a special appearance for a song. The money collected by the sales of this CD was donated to IINI (International Institute of Nasal Imperfections).

Pratibha Patil emerged as a front runner for presidential candidate. In an extraordinary example of hunting journalism, Star News interviewed Patil’s maid’s mom-in-law and broadcasted it to the entire nation.

A dera chief in Punjab hurt religious sentiments. Headlines today did the live broadcast of him hurting the religious sentiments and launched a nation wide SMS campaign to show your protest against the act. Aaj Tak, Start News, IBN7 and CNN-IBN were the first channels to report this act. A SMS poll was done and IndiaTV was declared the first among the firsts.

July

Finally the water was drained out of flooded Mumbai. IBN7 declared its recording of Mumbai flood as deferred assets to be used for next three years rainy seasons. Aaj Tak, who has already been doing it for last two years, sued them under copyright infringement act for stealing their trade secret. SC handed over the matter to CBI.

Taj Mahal featured in the list of seven wonders of modern world. Bipasha Bashu declared the results in some high profile function where she was photographed with Hollywood stalwarts. MP Raj Babbar declared it a victory of love, peace and harmony and Bipasha’s photograph as a monument of India’s ever increasing presence on the global map. A writ was filed in Indore against Bipasha for displaying vulgarity in public.

Sanjay Dutt was sentenced to 6 years rigorous imprisonment on 31st July 2007 by judge P.d.Kode. Aaj Tak termed it as an attack on innocence of MunnaBhai who had reformed entire nation by Gandhigiri. IndiaTV, who could not cover Mahatma Gandhi’s Dandi March earlier in the century, compensated by covering Dutt’s Mumbai to Pune trip later in the year. Star News launched a nationwide SMS campaign to support Sanju Baba – “If you think punishing Sanjay Dutt would be eradicating the Gandhigiri effect he has generated among common public in the country, SMS Y to 420.”

All the channels collectively made a plea to the president and asked not only to change the judgment but also to nominate Dutt for Bharat Ratna.

Mahesh Bhatt declared to make a film on Sanjay Dutt with Himesh Reshamiya to play the lead. Imran Hashmi was not even discussed.

August

NCBC recommended including Jat’s in Rajasthan under the umbrella of OBCs. Mayavati supported the recommendations and as a thanks giving gesture on behalf of the reserved categories, Aaj Tak broadcasted interview of Mayavatis neighbor's nephew in her village.

The proceedings against an Indian doctor for alleged links with the U.K. terror plots sparked a public debate in Australia. IBN7 interviewed brother in law of the neighbor of that doctor. 39% in the SMS polls conducted by Star News feel that the doctor is innocent and where as 48% are in the Can’s Say category including the channel.

Delhi police continued the tradition of foiling /terrorist attacks before every 26th January and 15th august by killing four terrorists in Delhi.

September

Light weight Team India flew to SA for 20-20 WC. In its analysis on Aaj Tak, Saba Karim declared that Australia would win whereas on IBN7, Vijay Dahiya predicted an Australian victory. On contrary, Sushil Khanna declared an Australian victory on NDTV. Among all cricket experts on different channels, Siddhu was the highest paid expert with double tariffs – one to speak and double of it to shut up. Mandira Bedi could not be hired by any of the channels because she was busy hosting and judging a talent hunt show aimed to search fast bowlers.

Rahul Dravid stepped down from captaincy. A senior player on the condition of being anonymous revealed to Aaj Tak that he was not happy with his job. Another senior player anonymously revealed to IBN7 that dissatisfaction with BCCI forced Rahul to quit. Star News revealed breaking news that Rahul quit because his batting was getting affected with their source being senior player requesting anonymity.

India won 20-20 WC. Aaj Tak paid tribute by asking Mohinder Amarnath to sing a song for the team. IndiaTV could not broadcast that day because Siddhu had hit their cameraman when he asked him to be quiet for a second to let the main anchor speak.

IBN7 revealed that Chak De India was the real motivating factor behind India’s victory, source – an anonymous senior player.

October

Political turmoil hit Pakistan and Musharraf kept sailing his boat in the storm. In a special interview with Aaj Tak, he revealed his love for peace, humanity and people of Kashmir. The interview is broadcasted on Star News, NDTV and CNN-IBN. IndiaTV decided to abstain from this because it changed its target customer segment. The channel is in direct competition with NatGeo as it targets animal acts for broadcasting. Snakes (especially Ikshadhari Naag) are their favorites along with re incarnation.

Aaj Tak celebrated anniversary of Operation Prince, an operation to save a child who had fallen in a well last year.

Indo-US nuclear deal created political turbulence and Manmohan Singh lost few more hair. He was thankful to Sonia Gandhi for reducing his workload as she has improved her hindi so Manmohan Singh had to translate fewer words for her.

November

In keeping with its tradition of using affirmative action as an instrument of maintaining the socio-economic equilibrium, the Tamil Nadu government enacted a law granting separate reservation for Muslims and Christians belonging to the Backward Classes in education and employment. The state is 92.35% reserved now. Mutthuswami Venkat Sai SCSTOBC Iyer filed a petition in Supreme Court for Iyer Brahmins to be given a place in reserved category as they are a minority. CNN-IBN broadcasted a live debate on reservation where 4 MPs were the debaters. 4 people, including 2 cameramen, one anchor and one makeup man were severely injured in the debate. Jhonson & Jhonson sponsored the debate.

All the parties released their list of candidates for the next month elections in Gujrat whereas all the channels conducted exit polls and kept them secret as a business move.

BCCI objected SRK on promoting his movies during cricket matches as they feared the promotion of his already released movies would turn away the public.

Aaj Tak made a three hour long film showing the love triangle among Indian Captain, Vice-Captain and Deepika Padukone. Himesh Reshamiya objected for his songs being used in the background.

Mahesh Bhatt declared to make a movie on this love triangle. Himesha Reshamia agreed to play the lead along with being the composer and singer. Imran Hashmi was dropped because Deepika Padukone refused to kiss him.

December

Malaysian Indians finally placed the issue of their “marginalization” on the country’s mainstream political agenda and in the wider focus of the international community.

In all its movies, US of A acts as the saviour of the planet. For a change, this time it decided to go against the trend and did not join hands in Bali Summit for saving the environment. Like ideal followers, rest followed US and did their duty. With going at this rate, God will have to come to save the earth.

Aaj Tak decided to discard these issues containing hatred & fear and focused on the love saga that started last month. The triangle became quadrangle with a Pakistani speedster joining in. Mahesh Bhatt declared to sign him for his next movie. Since Imran Hashmi agreed to kiss Mahesh Bhatt, he was also signed.

Modi came back to power in Gujrat. IBN7 released its own as well others exit poll results after the elections with IBN7’s results being precisely accurate and rest far from it. IndiaTV sued IBN7 for stealing their data and showing it incorrectly. The matter is about to go to Supreme Court.

In 2007 every channel has gained some expertise and created a niche for it– if Aaj Tak is a celebrity special then IndiaTV is snake and rest of the animal special. If IBN7 lets you know the infidelity murders in you village, Star News brings out the different talents across the country. If CNN-IBN informs you about who was robbed on last Tuesday near Hanuman Temple in Fatehpur, Headlines Today tells you the color of commode in Rakhi Sawant’s toilet. I will remember this year for the strengthening media.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

S(h)[t]ock Market

God is not unfair. He blesses everyone with something if not everything. Debt and poverty have been my blessings. Booming economy and self proclaim stock market experts suggested me to buy some instant wealth creators. After waiting for a month or so, my tiny portfolio resulted in 2-3% of profits and I deeply regretted of my life not being a tale of financial extrapolations. That would have made me the king. To add to that, I regretted of life being a sorry affair of missed opportunities. It all encouraged me to invest more. The time I did so, the rocket seems to have got leakage in its fuel tank. Now life has become a saga of banking on mistaken opportunities.

The best part is, it’s a real funny game where everyone seems to earn by making it look serious. Some of the traits I have learnt

  • If you buy just before the market booms - You anticipated it, did the technical analysis, looked at the FIIs flowing in and sensed the mood of FED, GOI, Bush, Osama etc.
  • If you buy and market crashes – Common man, you are a long term investor and know a few golden and “only” rules like you earn more by holding rather than selling or in long run, every economy attains it maximum potential.
  • If you sell just before the market booms – The market is a bit too volatile to risk your hard earned money.
  • If you sell just before the market crashes - You anticipated it, did the technical analysis, looked at the FIIs flowing in and sensed the mood of FED, GOI, Bush, Osama etc.
  • Everyone is an expert and dying to give some gyaan even on the slight hint of being asked. If hits, “I told you” and if it hits back, “Everyone goes wrong, mate”

All in all, it’s more like a reverse sweep for me. All look good only when it comes off. For all those self proclaimed experts, one of my friends put it precisely – “Kitchen tabhi tak accha lagta hai jab tak cooker na fate. Jis din cooker fat gaya, jindagi bhar pateele mein chhawal ubaal ke khaoge”.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Kanpur Diary!!!

It’s always difficult to resume office after an enjoyable but tiring break of spanning almost half a week. That is what I am discovering today, though not for the first time.

I had gone to my hometown Kanpur after a period of couple of years for a friends wedding.

It’s easier and faster to go to Kanpur from Mumbai via train rather than the flight. Cheaper, adds another feather in the cap and was my reason to opt for train travel. I generally reach station a little earlier just to make sure I do not miss the train or face last minute troubles. Indian Railways has always obliged me by delaying the trains further to convert the possible last minute troubles into a painful wait.

I was amazed to see that no one was jumping into the train when it arrived just to realize that it wasn’t a Mumbai Local. There are a few bad habits you pick up in Mumbai. An instinctive habit of jumping into and out off any moving object is one of them.

Train journeys give you a different experience all together. You have loads of time in your hands and got to think of different means to kill it. Some prefer reading, some getting indulged in political chats with strangers and some look for flirtatious options if they are lucky with their neighborhood. Since the almighty has always blessed me with the neighbors trying to convert their well setup innings into a bigger score, I always prefer sleeping till my back starts crying of pain.

Finally, I reached Kanpur on a cold morning. Kanpur, is a city where I was born and brought up. I, along with my other Kanpuriya friends, have always successfully defended the attacks in form of mockery, satire and harshness of those who have been deprived of spending their childhood or adolescence in this city. More they tried, more aggressively we defended. Are aggression motivated them further and the vicisous cycle continued and will always do.

If you are a lover of north indian food especially sweets, you wont get it better and cheaper anywhere but for Benaras neither you would get better and cheaper leather goods. The roads (if you find some), the smell of unforgettable big Naala which spans across the city, the Pan Masaala pouches and spits visible anywhere and everwhere is something only this city boasts of possessing. If you have complaints about you, your friend, room mate, son, daughter, brother, sister, girl friend, wife, mistress, mistress’ sister etc of bad habits to not care for power saving, send him/her/whatever to Kanpur. If you complain about weekly, hourly, two hourly, three hourly, power sheddings, come to Kanpur. you will realize the power of power because we hardly get it. I remember, in every summer (mind you, summer in north India is really hot!!!) there used to be at least a period of 15 days when there was no power. Once, during the humid July and August ( its much worse than what these Mumbaikars face) we had official laod shedding of 9 hours a day. It was in the morning from 5 to 10 and in the evening 2 to 6. If there is a fault in the lines, it would be rectified between the 10 to 2 period because electricity department doesn’t or hardly does work after the sun has set. When they repair, they have to cut the power for safety purposes. So you sincerely pray to God thet there is no fault. But its fun. It improves your survival skills. When these Mumbaikars claim of power shut down, I really laugh at them. They just don’t have survival skills and are slave to human inventions.

Coming back to marriage, it was fun. Generally you enjoy all north indian marriages primarily because of their scale of organization and treatment of guests unless its you who is getting married. This is completely my theory proved wrong in my own marriage. Not that others didn’t enjoy, I enjoyed the most.

I thoroughly enjoyed the food, the dance, rendezvous with friends and my capability to get lost from the Baarat not once but twice. First time I was busy chatting with an old college friend and next time seeing Yousuf and Younis drawing the second test match. Lucklily my damage control was good as always.

I also visited my house which we sold off this year (in picture) and got a regretful feeling – I wish we had built such a house in Mumbai or even in cities like Pune or Bangalore. If we had, I could afford to be a full time writer and wasn’t fudging and trying to fool everyone in office by making myself looking busy. But, as Navjot Singh Siddhu says,

Ifs and buts were pots and pans, there would be no tinkers.