The best way to know the self is feeling oneself at the moments of reckoning. The feeling of being alone, just with your senses, may lead you to think more consciously. More and more of such moments may sensitize ‘you towards you’, towards others. We become regular with introspection and retrospection. We get ‘the’ gradual connect to the higher self we may name Spirituality or God or just a Humane Conscious. We tend to get a rhythm again in life. We need to learn the art of being lonely in crowd while being part of the crowd. A multitude of loneliness in mosaic of relations! One needs to feel it severally, with conscience, before making it a way of life. One needs to live several such lonely moments. One needs to live severallyalone.

Saturday, 24 December 2011


Continued from:

Would Russia be another Iran for the ordinary Russians?

“By nearly every indicator, Russians are embracing social and digital media in ways deeper and more impactful than most other countries around the world,” a Mashable post this June said. Though the report was about linking marketing insights to the emerging social media trends in Russia, it tells about the deeper penetration of the social media in Russian life. Facebook was launched in Russia in January 2010 and it grew by 376 per cent in first four months. The report emphatically says, “The millions of 18 to 27-year-olds now poised to drive the next generation of social and economic change in Russia are setting aside previously held perceptions about global engagement and are tweeting, blogging, liking, posting and emailing through a myriad of online social communities.”

Globally, social networking time spend is now 19% of the total online time-spend and Russia is in top 5 countries registering fast paced growth in online social networking, say a recent comScore report. With a median age of 38.7 years and an industrial economy in unstable phase, the social networking usage on different social media platforms can easily be diverted to target the angst against the political events in the country and it may happen spontaneously in an interconnected world where the dots are the digital spots hard to restrict. Internet has done thing, converting the whole world into a global information village and all you need is the access spots, something that is well supplied in Russia. Okay, some analysts and Russia watchers say the crowd that gathered for protests post December 4 elections was not there for political upheaval. These analysts saw it another extension of their social media activity by the younger or politically insensitive lot. But they forget the issue in the backdrop. Allegations of a rigged election and a call by a popular blogger (and not a political figure) bring thousands on the streets. That blogger is arrested and it leads to further protests mobilizing tens of thousands. The 15 days of prison make the popular blogger a key political figure in Russia. A recent Financial Times report places Aleksei Navalny at the top in its list of ’25 Russians to watch’. On December 21, Navalny completed his prison term and walked out.

Though Navalny’s character make is that of a mysterious person with ultra-nationalist and Fascist overtures, what draws Russians to him and especially the working middle-age population is his consistently confident challenge to the authorities. Now he is out and raring to go. Now he is immensely popular. Now he is strategic asset for political analysts, journalists and Russia watchers. Now he is considered one of the most potential threats for Putin’s iron grip on Russia. And he realizes it. He realizes the opportunity that is before him. Putin needs to do something dramatic with Russian political system reforms unlike his misplaced raw sense of humour? Has he learnt his lessons?

Russia’s Legislature is far weaker than the Executive. President wields considerable power and appoints the Prime Minister and other higher state officials with Duma approval. United Russia is in majority there. And United Russia is synonymous with Putin. The extent of Putin’s power can be gauged from the fact that he remains the central political figure even as the Prime Minister and dictate the terms to Medvedev. Very shrewdly he didn’t allow any possible upshot to Medvedev which could have prompted the later to aspire for greater political role in Russia. The reported ‘Putin-Medvedev 2012 swap deal’ is the telling truth.

Recent protests tell Russians have started getting fed up of it. Tens of thousands could be tens of millions if not addressed. But by the casual attitude adopted by Putin and Medvedev in their television interviews, it seems the minority view may see its day to become a majority opinion. What best proposed (according to Putin) was a system of indirect selection of governors of provinces. Instead of being nominated by the President, there may be an alternative system where governors will be elected from a list finalized by the Kremlin. Some other suggested reforms were on this line only. What crap! Anyone can see the rubbish in Putin’s logics. A report said this ‘high pitched reform rhetoric’ can easily find its parallel in Iran’s political system. If Putin intends to bring political reforms like this with sole aim of making his grip on Russia even stronger, it’s horrific. Add to it the history of election rigging in the short history of democracy in Russia and one can easily see the political mess Russia is in. It is not just with this election. Even 2007 elections were reported to be not free. A US report quotes the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. Parliamentarians of the OSCE and the Council of Europe who observed the elections concluded that they were "not fair and failed to meet many OSCE and Council of Europe commitments and standards for democratic elections." They noted that the elections took place in an atmosphere which seriously limited political competition. Frequent abuses of administrative resources, media coverage strongly in favor of United Russia, and the revised election code combined to hinder political pluralism.

Would Russians go for a political system like Iran?

Certainly they would not and the recent protests might be the beginning of a whole new wave. Let’s see what happens on December 24 protest calls. The difference from 2007 is the presence of the Internet. It has become the main tool of expression for millions of Russians. Tunisia saw the Facebook revolution. Egypt saw the successful ‘Facebook April 6 Movement. Russia has begun with successful ‘Facebook’ rallies. Russian government being worried of it is the testimony to the growing influence of the social media in Europe’s largest Internet user in shaping opinion of the Russian population. An AFP report quotes Russia's Security Council chief Nikolai Patrushev in an interview with Argumenty i Fakty newspaper saying, "We cannot ignore the use of the internet by criminals and terrorist groups." Patrushev says Internet usage in Russia needs to be regulated like it is done in China.  A Reuters reports says, “Russia's top social networking site VKontakte defiantly rejected a request by the Federal Security Service to block opposition groups from using it to organize street protests accusing the authorities of rigging the election.” Rights activist Lev Ponomaryov told the Interfax, “It's very significant that such proposals are being voiced after the mass rally in Moscow and ahead of another protest planned for December 24." He further said that restrictions on Internet freedom would provoke additional tensions in society. According to an AFP report, almost a quarter of Russians get most of their news from Internet and most of this is uncensored. The report says, “Putin famously dismissed the Internet last year as "50 percent pornography", but the Russian-language sector is more and more dictating the news agenda despite the state domination of print and television media.”

Would Putin think on the similar lines even now given the fact that the increasing wave of ground activity based on online campaigns prompted the United Russia officials to use the same media, Internet, to counter the upsurge of opinion? Instead expect some cracking down given the recent trend. The Reuters report says, “In recent days, mass cyber attacks crippled the country's top blogging platform LiveJournal and the sites of liberal media outfits which reported on campaign violations.” “Now the connection between hackers and state government activity seems to be more clear," said Andrei Soldatov, a Russian intelligence expert from, which tracks Russia's special services. "Clearly we now see panic. They have no strategy for how to deal with Facebook," he said.

It is already people vs. the state now. Much depends on who gains what, whether the government unleashes a run to crush the people’s mood or the anti-government factions swell up to form an effective deterrent. Much is on the stake. "Just using the Internet, without having access to other media, neither television nor print, Navalny carried out an intervention with a slogan," AFP quoted Alexander Morozov, a political analyst and director of the Moscow Centre of Media Studies before the December 4 parliamentary elections. Navalny is to address the December 24 rally on Moscow's Sakharov Avenue and he has made his intentions clear. He said in a post-release interview on December 24, "I don't think Putin's regime of absolute power, which prevails in this country, will last for more than two years - that's the maximum."  

Let’s wait for the evening of December 24.

 ©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey -