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.

Tuesday 31 January 2012

Making it big..Life and prerogatives..

My reflections on life – in quotes (XI)    

"Making it big is dependent on
preferences and prerogatives;
that click inside you.
Time is not dimensioned to be
a decisive coordinate here."

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - 

Monday 30 January 2012


Sushanto Ghosh, Hitta, Abdul Zameer Pasha, Kollegal, Bhootnath Pal, Kouri

Heard of these words, or seem like some gibberish!

Humanity continues to have unaccounted countless assassinations. Hinterland continues to bleed.

These are some of the farmers who committed suicide recently and the places associated with them. If at all, you have been able to correlate with the related reports in the mainstream media, can you recall the frequency? If you could recall any debate based show on farmer suicides in the recent past, please share with me.

The ongoing assembly elections in five states are being seen as ‘mini’ General Elections but I didn’t come across any political party talking sense on creating conditions where the farming community could have a sustainable livelihood. Instead, they are promising absurdities like free laptops in a country where outage is a big, big problem.  

Sushanto Ghosh, a peasant in Burdwan, was not able to repay the Rs 2 Lakh agricultural loan. He was not able to get enough for his paddy so was not able to recover the cost.

Abdul Zameer Pasha, a peasant in Karnataka’s Chamrajnagar District, had taken loan from moneylenders. Continued harassment by the moneylenders, as he was not able to repay his debt, forced him to commit suicide before he poisoned his wife, two daughters and a son.

Bhootnath Pal, again a Burdwan peasant, committed suicide as he was not able to repay the loan he had taken.

It is happening in a country where the incumbent government rode back into the seat of power by promising windfall debt waiver to the farmers running into thousands of crores. Continued cases of farmers’’ suicide tell us how lame was the thinking behind the measure taken in 2008. How long would we be subjected to the reckless politicking aimed at impulsive electoral mileage.

Reports say over 25 farmers have committed suicide in West Bengal in last few weeks though our iron lady is denying it in her own fiery manner.

Reports say four cotton growing farmers have committed suicide in Yavatmal in recent days. Would you like to hear what the district administration officials are saying on it? I quote some lines on the web edition of CNN-IBN. It says, “Four cotton growers here committed suicide in the last three days as the local administration stopping relief aid to crisis-ridden farmers because of the code of conduct in place for coming local bodies elections, a local organisation fighting for farmers' cause alleged on Saturday (January 28).”

Now it is the nadir that the governance practices can stoop to and such acts simply tell how insignificant are the farmers, who collectively, irrespective of religion and caste, form the largest chunk of the professional activity, and hence the largest vote bank in India.

Since this vote bank is basically of small landowners or landless farmers with poor educational and social parameters, they are amongst the most prone to be manipulated; and they are manipulated.

According to some analytic figures, approximately a quarter-million farmers in India have committed suicide in the last 16 years, a period during which India has seen sustained economy growth figures. In-spite of the huge debt waiver scheme of 2008, 17,368 farmers committed suicide in 2009.

Such paradoxes show that the very Basics, on which the governance practices of the farm policies are implemented, are not in-sync with the inter-relation dynamics of the ‘input-output’ modalities.

Farmers are pushed to the fringes and we lack serious and broad-vision plans to bring them to the mainstream. (Agreed there are some well to do, but do we count exceptions while forming policies for a large segment of the population?)

Where are the welfare economists of India?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - 

Sunday 29 January 2012


Falak means sky; yes she has been named sky by the people at the AIIMS Trauma Centre. What has happened with this two-year old is beyond imagination when you go beyond the news reports, to have the first hand account. Wet eyes, you cannot ask them not to flow. It changes much.

Any visit to the AIIMS Trauma Centre in Delhi is traumatic for many reasons. Either you visit to see someone known or take someone to the centre for emergency care or just to enquire about why some needy patient is not being attended to. The basic thing, humility, you find, is generally so precious that you should not expect from the hospital staff and the doctors. Here, I am not making some arbitrarily generalized statement. My experience of visiting different hospitals over the last year has much to do with it. Why the government hospitals function like this – sans humility, sans facility (What do you say on continued Crib deaths in the West Bengal Hospitals?)

But Falak has changed even the stoned care-givers of AIIMS. She was admitted on January 18 by a teenaged girl in a battered state with serious head and body injuries. Slowly, the issue started getting media attention and now it is in the national conscious. Much is being written and reported. And every concern is genuine. It has to be.

Falak continues to be critical. And the very same AIIMS Trauma Centre is taking every possible step to save her life. Now she is getting the medical care that she needs and we all need to raise the pitch of our collective prayers for this girl child. She is getting helping hands, and sure, some family would adopt her. Reality of this after-thought is the much needed relief after seeing and feeling the horror that Falak is living.

It is soothing to know that the media that mostly acts with the elitist bias is giving Falak her dues. But the condition beyond Delhi is still critical. How much do we hear of Alka Tiwari or Jhunu Behra in the mainstream media? What is the latest update that we of Bhanwari Devi’s son and daughter as father being behind the bars, they have no one to look to? Do we know what happened to the survivors of the Dehradoon family that committed suicide some months ago? Majority of the answers would be a clear no.

The sky is still falling. India is beyond Delhi and metros. There are genuine concerns beyond glamour of high-profile events, sloganeering and electioneering. We still have figures of famers’ suicides reaching in multiple thousands annually. We have the highest share of the malnourished children globally. We, simply, cannot have the choice to be elitist before embarking on the journey to give helping hands to the babies like Falak or the farming families like the one in the Chamrajnagar, where five of the family members committed suicide after consistent harassment by the moneylenders.

The spineless absurdity of the absence of the bridge is killing.

Some days ago, while en-route, my car was at the red-light of the AIIMS Metro Station. A girl knocked the window pane. It is normally a usual site but what caught my attention was the cheerful face of the girl on one of the coldest days of the season. Not clad properly, she would not be more than five year old. She was not asking for some easy coins. She was happily selling pens. Her smile was really charming. Captivated, I bought pens from her. I felt content after doing so but felt unease on the growing paradox in the society, the growing gap between the have’s and have-not’s, between the larger ignored and the selected few pampered lot. Immediately before this incident, I had a phone discussion on whether sending my sister’s kids to the school given the extreme weather. I said no. And here was this girl, no school, no proper winter covers, but cheerful.

It felt like slapping me in the face. I know I am not wrong in not sending the kids in my family to the school on a freezing day. If I am in some sort of comfort zone, I have earned it.

But why can’t we have a largely egalitarian society where such questions lose their track? Can we do something? If we can’t then who else?

No one! It is just us! Till then, the sky would keep on falling.

Let’s do something.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - 

Saturday 28 January 2012


The media as an institution has come to stay as an integral part of a variety of social institutions. Nothing is left untouched. Individual lives, families, social institutions like schools, hospitals, workplaces, political and military systems, even religions, and their real and virtual assemblies, all have got its glare, and more so, are more than willing to face the glare. The age old cliché! - ‘Publicity is not good or bad, it is just publicity’ is happening to be the prima-donna. So publicity is replaceable with propaganda now. Hyping a story is has become so routine that ‘take it easy’ catchphrase is advised to survive the absurdity.

Is it safe to say so? It is skewed but is debatable.

Media shape the ways; ways of news gathering and transmission, advertising, political processes and campaigns, wars, diplomacy, education, entertainment, and socialization. The pervasive effect of media can be seen in every walk of life.

But media is not the only gatekeeper. Indeed, we are living in a set-up with layers of gatekeepers, tightly gripping the information dissemination process. Media is not the lone player in this blame game now.

What else would you say when every six months the debate on legalities concerning how the freedom of expression is screwed gets renewed?

Can we rule out State and Corporate imprint in this blame game?

Cultivating the mood, or to say more technically Priming, is not something that media can do alone. There needs to be more than one pillar of a democracy working hands in glove to set the hallucinating tapestry in motion.

Priming is more rampant than ever. Agenda setting is more in vogue than ever. The partnership is getting more and more reciprocating. Several ‘Truman Shows’ of different colours but almost similar hues are the most talked about buzz words.

But where is the debate?

The air waves come at a price. The aerial pipeline has to be filled with the stuff that could convert this modicum into a sustainable medium. Survival instinct pushes any venture to fight alone first. Failing here then compels to look for partners who can be a party and certainly the partying has its own menu and cocktail. Here the air waves create the duet of priming and agenda setting to balance the balance sheet. Soon the duet attracts the chorus. Soon the chorus attracts the audience. 

Hype dominates. Sensationalism Culminates.

Did you say something of quality and democratic responsibility?

Priorities are skewed, priorities are revisited.

Sometimes they make, other times they break.

But something remarkable is happening that is rewriting the rulebook of priming and agenda-setting.

The time is ripe to come out of the academic cocoon. It’s the harvest season. The dots are falling into the place by a wave that is affecting every existing pattern.

What is that?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - 

Friday 27 January 2012


Something thrilling happening, time to go wild again :) 

Rough into the mountains, deep into the sea
Pushing up the gear, pressing down the keys
A journey so far, a WILD journey to the far
From the mild flexes to the hot wild reflexes
To the hunter’s paradise killing every advice
Pumping up the thrill thumping to the access
Pushing up the shot to the extreme thunder

Born on a day, yes, born to take it higher
Born on a day, yes, born to climb it freer

Lost into the desert, deep into the jungle
Flying always soaring crashing on the go
Fueling up the journey living it retro
Jumping up the bar raving up the wave
Wrestling in the wild, rambling extra mile
Jetting me here and there out of nowhere

Born on a day, zigzagging it all the way
Born on a day, jazzing up the fluid clay

On the still planes, to the call of valleys
Diving in the hive, with life’s careless jive
To the nascent discrete route of adventure
Voice of the moment says keep moving on
Echo of the moment says follow it back on
Pacing up going full throttle on the highway
Known just to me, a creation of this day
That adrenaline vigour, the psychic rigour
The roar of the thunder, oh! that shrill of wonder

Yes, the vibes, this all is so known,
Yet so much more remains unknown
The home is where I belong,
Rounds round the creation what I demand
Crisscrossing even the place of nowhere

Born on this day, born to go wild
Born on a day, to take it my way

The antithesis and the creation now
This all is so jazzed up, electrified as Elvis
Ragged yet elegant as the Beatles chords,
Familiarly mysterious and soothingly numb
Stuck so comfortably contemplating, reflecting
Me and my loneliness, riding high on the words

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - September 14, 2011

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - 

Thursday 26 January 2012

The word Civilization is a misnomer..

My reflections on life – in quotes (X)    

"The word civilization has been made a
and so we have theories like '
‘clash of civilizations' and their proponents.
The man on the street,
away from all such sophisticated jugglery,
indeed, is the
of this rhetoric."

                               ©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - 

Wednesday 25 January 2012


62 years and a relevant time to be realistic; an opportune time to look up and fight! 2011 was a significant year that has helped us to think again as the active stakeholders of the Democratic Republic of India.

We, as the active stakeholders, now, need a realized strength and flared up resolve. We need a poise that is as stoic and deep as the differently-abled school kids in the video clip playing the silent national anthem.

The imagery of this silent national anthem developed by Mudra is an apt reminder to the resolve we need to have to have the Republic that we need and not that is being propagated.

Words and no Words - it delivers the Symbolism that a national anthem intends to. The imagery here is so deep and powerful that the clip is already one of the most circulated and shared videos on the YouTube. We need the all pervading deep cutting thoughts strong enough to stir the soul of the nation.

Human first may be utopian to proclaim in the prevailing confines of narrow concerns but is has no replacement; it can never have any possible replacement in any just society.

With the unidirectional flow of moments, the kaleidoscope of paradox seems to get aggravated when we see yet another incident where a family commits suicide as it was not able to repay the loan as happened in Chamrajnagar. The mudslinging in the ongoing Lokpal fight or the consistent attempts to curb the freedom of expression as expressed by the so archaic Mr. Kapil Sibal or the surge of yet another bout of religious fundamentalism with the Rushdiegate and Jaipur Literature Festival 2012 controversy or the series of incessant scams tell us. We lost some more S Manjunaths last year with whistleblowers and RTI activists losing their lives.

The feeling of loss exacerbates even more. And so the resolve to fight back finds new challenges.

You’re handicapped by your thoughts only.
Go beyond it and realize the power of you.
After all, a Republic like India is basically about you and me only.

Like the theme of this video, ‘patriotism knows no language’, a human existence can always find courage even in the worst of the situations.

You’re always on the line. You need to see the dots and need to realize the pattern of the interconnections among the dots.

It is true for you. It is true for me. It is true for any society. Realizing the patterns makes them go deeper and makes us grow stronger.

Let’s work in the coordinated pattern to create the system that the India of the day need.

Set up your goal. Begin with bringing the smile back to one face and that smile will self-propel you on the journey called LIFE.

Humanity needs constellations of such self-propelled journeys, all working in the coordinated patterns but independent of each-other.

HUMAN FIRST – isn’t that the founding principle of the DEMORACTIC REPUBLIC OF INDIA?
 ©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - 

Tuesday 24 January 2012


It is always good to see rows of devotees offering Namaz. The view has a rhythm; the way body and soul coordinate spontaneously. But certainly, no one would have expected to witness the spiritual act being performed at the lawns of the Diggy Palace hotel, the venue of the Jaipur Literature Festival. That was the scene today. But the reason behind this act was equally unspiritual.

Shame on us!

Retrogressive politicking and obscene display of fundamentalism brought the curtains down on one single issue that marred the ‘literary’ prospect (if there had to be any this year) of the Jaipur Literature Festival 2012.

Much to the dismay of the progressive thought process, police officials in Jaipur informed the JLF organizers that protesters were already in and they would disrupt the Salman Rushdie’s video-linked session.

How could they say it especially after the high-profile security arrangements made for Oprah Winfrey? This is the way ‘selectively efficient’ police act in India.

Why didn’t the organizers act to prevent such people entering the venue? That is the consequence when you go for numbers and not the quality. We need to accept this fact that a literary event is not for the countless everyone. It is for literature connoisseurs who invest their time to find some quality literary discourse. And the JLF is failing in fulfilling this basic requirement. Here, the commercial overture has undermined the literary tone.

So, for the organizers, much was at stake. It was a commercial property, the venue, and it was overcrowded with people and crew members from national and international media outfits. So there was this fear psychosis of damage to the property. Also, the agitating and disrupting protesters would have made a riveting story for the international media causing a long term and probably fatal damage to the event. So the organizers had to decide on to cancel Salman Rushdie’s video-linked appearance.  

It’s a kind of scam.

The JLF Rushdiegate adds to the acid that is corroding the modern and progressive Indian thought process. The damage by this episode is done. And everyone is responsible, the author, the organizers and the governments in Rajasthan and Delhi. Spineless act by Ashok Gehlot and dilly-dallying by the central government – the combined act was an absolutely shameless appeasement act. The organizers were never firm on their stand threatening legal action that could have forced Ashok Gehlot to provide tight security measures. And the author believed on reports instead of believing on India’s capacity to provide him security.

Any literary discussion event was never so anticipated in India and it hurts when it turns out to be a no-show owing to the reasons like appeasement and religious fundamentalism.  

Grow up stakeholders, grow up!

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - 

Monday 23 January 2012


Blame it where it began - first it was the vagueness behind Salman Rushdie's Jaipur visit for the JLF.

The curry being cooked in the caste cauldron of electoral appeasement found a meek companion in commercial viability. Fundamentalism threw a proposition that Rushdie's visit would vitiate the atmosphere. And lo, a mad rush began to claim the electoral gain.

Blame, blame and blame.

Blame the developments. JLF organizers maintained a silence giving answer that was both yes and no on whether Rushdie would visit India.

Rushdie blamed the fundamentalists and exhorted he would visit India come what may, only to retreat later.

Blame it on the intelligence. The Rajasthan government, shielding behind the veil of the 'intelligence reports', blamed threat to Rushdie's life by radicals and assassins of the Mumbai Underworld and requested Rushdie be 'persuaded' to stay away from the lit fest.

Central government and every other stakeholder reacted to gain the maximum electoral mileage while trying to look sincere.

Blame it on the assembly elections.

Blame it on the commercial ruminations.

Blame it on the impulse. Some high adrenaline thought process created activists out of authors on the day the JLF had its inaugural session. The JLF is all, authors, some big, many small time, some fillers, glamour, public relation, obliging and being obliged, wine and dine, chaos and mismanagement, shopping and marketing but (BUT) LITERATURE.

Last year, when I was leaving for Jaipur for the JLF 2011, I was advised to explore the theme of literary activism in the sessions and among the authors.

Now what should I say on such suggestions. The JLF may be anything but it is not about literary activism. It survives on eyeballs and media hype and at the same time, can't antagonize the State.

So blame it on the conspirators who want to see the JLF shut as Mr. William Dalrymple cautiously opined.

Thousands were in when the activist in these four authors read passages from The Satanic Verses. So plenty of witnesses! And the omnipresent all pumped up media! The word spread all around. No middle Earth left. The organizers went into tizzy.

Organizers blamed it on the authors. They stopped them from reading further, told them they could be arrested for quoting from The Satanic Verses. They issued a press statement of having no connection with these developments abandoning their star authors.

Blame it on the awareness level. Now these authors went into tizzy. They left the festival and the city in hurry saying they were not aware of the legal issue that might put them behind bars.

So you’re provoked to become ‘the’ activist in ‘you’ as long as you feel you are not going to feel the heat.

And I was advised to explore the theme of literary activism in this Jaipur Literature Festival.

Blame it on the threat perception.
Blame it on the pseudo-activism.
Blame it on the decision making.

Many who visited the JLF on the day Oprah broke on the JLF screen had rounds of complaints. And see, the single focal point of the grievance was the multi-level tough security apparatus around the Diggy Palace hotel.

The state government that spoke of security threats for Rushdie could have made similar arrangements for Rushdie and believe me, it was bound to be, in case Rushdie would have decided to follow the schedule.

Blame it on the assassins. Rushdie finally called-off his visit saying he could not put fellow authors in danger. The second thought - it has been enough of such threats for Mr. Rushdie, and particularly this time, when there were plenty of doubts about the credibility of these intelligence reports - the decision pushed the activist to the periphery of the Middle Earth.

But there was more to the unfolding drama.

Blame it on the plot invented by the Rajasthan government. The Hindu had this story on January 23 alleging that the local intelligence invented the 'assassins plot' to deter Rushdie from attending the JLF. Maharashtra Director General of Police denies any communication that Mr. Ashok Gehlot claims to have received.

The drama is still unfolding.

Now Mr. Rushdie and many others are rightly furious and the government-on-target-of-criticism is looking even more audacious.

Blame it on the action the penultimate day had. The Rajasthan Police has registered cases against Mr. Salman Rushdie and some of the JLF organizers.   Some reports said even the video-linked appearance of Mr. Rushdie on the final day would not be allowed by the Rajasthan Police. There is no final word yet. Organizers say it is on though they accept the police have asked for the content of the discussion.

Blame it on the funny bone that even all this hobnobbing is not enough to tick it.

'The' Mr. Rushdie saga has given the JLF additional eyeballs in the election time but what happens with the JLF 2013, no one can say.

Authors and the legal eagles - it's a frustrating cocktail, especially when you're on the other side of the State endorsements. 

Let's see how the climax is written!

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - 

Sunday 22 January 2012

Who’s normal anyway?..

My reflections on life – in quotes (IX)    

"Being normal or abnormal, 
interchanging the loci 
with ethos of spontaneity 
interspersed with the consistency of the flux 
in the harmony with your SELF. 
So true. 
Who’s normal anyway?"

                                 ©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - 

Saturday 21 January 2012

अचानक ये क्या हुआ..

अचानक ये क्या हुआ
क्या था मैं,
क्या समझा गया

जो खोजी धरा पांवो तले
कुछ ना मिला,
ये जीवन जले
जो खोजा खुदी को,
उन साँसों तले,
साया भी गया,
तुम भी ना मिले
जो खोजा तुम्हे ऐ दोस्त मेरे
खोया कुछ ऐसा के,
मन ये भटका फिरे
जो सोचा के फिर से चलें
उन राहों पे,
जहाँ वो मेरा दोस्त फिर से मिले

अचानक ये क्या हुआ
क्या था मैं,
क्या समझा गया
जो खोजी धरा पांवो तले
कुछ ना मिला,
ये जीवन जले

November 1, 2010 

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - 

Friday 20 January 2012


Who we are? Don’t we act idiotic so often when we hammer more of social trepidation after every act that demoralizes the formation of a free society?

Many silly fellows would be celebrating and embalming their skin on the victory they achieved today.

Finally Mr. Salman Rushdie called-off his India visit today after much controversy around his Jaipur Literature Festival participation. Instead, he would join via video conferencing and that is not a prospect even remotely potent to fill the gap. I have been part of many such video conferencing events and know how it sucks at times.

It is high time of assembly elections in India and Uttar Pradesh being in the poll mode, almost of the mainstream media had some tough time in giving attention to this episode but, indeed, it got attention, and that shows the scale of this controversy and so the associated stupidity of us as the society, be it our political representatives, be it those issuing Fatwas, be it the so-called assassins by the Mumbai Underworld, be it the art enthusiasts, be it the larger society or be it the PR led high-on-antics organizers of the Jaipur Literature Festival.

Jaipur Literature Festival began today. Protesting the controversy on Salman Rushdie’s JLF appearance and Rushdie finally calling it off, some of the authors went on to read passages from the Satanic Verses. That was natural expression of anger on humiliation of freedom of expression in this case. But the way organizers reacted on it was the height of stupidity and certainly not a feature of a literature festival (?). Outrageously, they stopped authors from doing so. It is true the book is banned in India but quoting or reading passages for symbolic protests was the just corollary to what has happened in this case. And literature needs to be free of elements of such impulsive fear.

After 1988, when the Satanic Verses hit the stands, Salman Rushdie was in hiding for almost a decade surviving many Fatwas issued against him on the (blasphemous?) content of the book. He started slowly coming out of hiding and with time had started looking like the same Salman Rushdie, participating in public discourses as and when he thought, tweeting regularly, and more in the Rushdie-style freewheeling, romancing beautiful ladies regularly. And he has been visiting India regularly in the recent past.  

He was there in the first edition of JLF in 2007. The 2007 edition of JLF was almost a failed affair and so was not noticed much in media. Objections were raised even then on his India visit but it had not gained the proportion that it got this time. It has much to do with the increased stature of JLF as a high-profile event on the international circuit. Media, as usual is thronging it with daily special slots given. 2007 to 2011, he had another four visits to India. Ok, objections on Salman Rushdie visiting a country with significant Muslim population have become so customary that Rushdie is now acclimatized to it carrying out his business normally and so we didn’t hear much being reported on objections and controversies on Rushdie’s other India visits in the recent past.

So what happened this time?

It is being said the Rushdie-bashing this time is all about gaining Muslim politics mileage in the upcoming assembly elections in the five states including Uttar Pradesh where Muslim vote is decisive factor in many assembly constituencies. But the Uttar Pradesh election and the JLF combination was there in 2007 as well. It didn’t gain that huge a proportion then. What could be the possible factors for it?

First and the foremost, JLF 2007 was a dull affair with almost negligible media attention. So controversy on Rushdie’s 2007 visit didn’t get attention and the event passed as routine affair.

Polarization of Muslim votes has become a larger factor in this Uttar Pradesh election after clear majority to Mayawati in 2007. Muslim polarization was not clear in 2007 when no party was in clear majority. Now every outfit is rushing to gain attention of the Muslim votes, the vote bank that has been prone to the polarization skullduggery of the political class.

And so after a Muslim cleric issued Fatwa, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot found big security issue in Rushdie’s visit to Jaipur. When the intelligence inputs followed it, we had already expected this move by the government, indeed a face saving exercise, to hide in the garb of heightened threat elements while not acting to give Rushdie a safe stay and passage. Electoral compulsions prevented the regional and the central administrations from doing anything that might have sent ‘not-so-pleasing’ message to the Muslim clerics. It was only cacophonous when Abhishek Manu Singhavi said the government could not be criticized as Rushdie himself decided not to come.

So after the main draw of JLF 2012, Salman Rushdie, not coming, it will be interesting to see the crowd profile and the festival management in the context of the low quotient of literature midst the high quotient of chaos and PR.

And it will remain humiliating to us that, we as a ‘growing and developing society’, once again, surrendered to the fundamentalism of the radical elements.

A blot! A bane!

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - 

Thursday 19 January 2012


January 18, 2012

SOPA and PIPA, especially SOPA, these two acronyms were doing the rounds for quite some time now. The recent point of attraction was Google and Obama centric tweets by Rupert Murdoch where he spared no words in deriding the announcement by Obama that he was not going to support the ‘Stop Online Piracy Act’ and seeing hand of Internet giants like Google in lobbying for it. Murdoch also sees an uncanny penchant in Obama for Silicon Valley tech marvels that, according to him, are scheming to derail and mutilate the process to preserve the ‘intellectual property rights’. "Big bipartisan majorities both houses sold out by POTUS for search engines. How about 2.2 m workers in entertainment industry? Piracy rules," he tweeted. Ok Mr. Murdoch here very conveniently forgets the ways some of his own outfits generated ‘intellectual properties’ – hacking, backing and then sacking. Probably Mr. Murdoch is still ruing the closure of one of the most profitable brands in his stable – News of the World – after getting entangled hopelessly in the UK phone hacking scandal.

SOPA and PIPA got the biggest boost today when the ‘really comprehensive and affordable’ encyclopedia Wikipedia decided to black-out the website for 24 hours to protest the voice being raised for enactment of SOPA and PIPA. Wikipedia has blacked-out its Wikipedia English site. The blacked-out site greeted the visitors with the text:

"Imagine a world without free knowledge... The US Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open internet. For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out Wikipedia."

According to the latest report on site traffic by the Wikimedia Foundation, Wikipedia English attracts 10,119,484 views per hour. Multiply it by 24 and it comes to the average figure of 250 million views per day. Now that is a ‘more than significant’ count to show solidarity with the protest call!

Add to it the thousands of websites across the Internet joining the protest and it is great enough to be heard loudly and it is being heard. It is not about loopholes like Wikipedia English content pages still available this way or that way as some analysts are writing about. The protest call had to deliver a symbolic message that the common user is not going to be a mute spectator on attempts to police and regulate the Internet as the proposed US legislation says. And what could be better than it coming from a website like Wikipedia, authored by thousands of free spirits across the globe.

It echoes. Blogging site BoingBoing has gone dark for 24 hours. Google America is showing a black box on its so familiar search home page. Services like Reddit, Metafilter, WordPress, Craigslist, Firefox, Tucows, Modern Methods and many more are either fully or partially blacked out or hosting messages in support of the protest call. According to the Daily Mail, the Anonymous has promised Sony some tough time for supporting SOPA in past.

And the protest call has delivered the message rightly. Let’s wait for analytic results on the social media traffic on the issue and the black-out that will start filtering out by tomorrow. Analyses of the trend on Twitter traffic would be interesting to watch as apart from giving pulse of the momentum, it will also highlight the contrast to the Twitter CEO’s reasoning on keeping Twitter out of the black-out call. He said Twitter being a global service will not join an issue that pertains to single nation politics, in this case, the US.

US Congress is to take up ‘Stop Online Piracy Act’ and ‘Protect Intellectual Property Act’ being promoted mainly by the film and music industry that alleges loss of significant revenue due to online piracy of content. "Some technology business interests are resorting to stunts that punish their users or turn them into their corporate pawns, rather than coming to the table to find solutions to a problem that all now seem to agree is very real and damaging," BBC quoted Chris Dodd, senator and the chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, as saying. We need to see how the Senate proceeds on the issue when it takes the voting on PIPA on January 24.

Certainly the pro- and anti-debates are endless in this case like any other case where no clear line of use and misuse can be drawn. Piracy has been a clear and present danger even before the advent of the Internet. The way SOPA and PIPA have been drafted, some of the provisions could really be detrimental for free flow of information given the fact that once enacted, these may empower a private party to approach advertisers and payment facilitators of a website to request they sever ties. It is intended mainly to curb the sale of pirated content overseas and empowers the US Department of Justice to seek court orders even against the websites outside US jurisdiction.

One of the many major loopholes of SOPA is it would make many circumnavigation tools illegal. Wikipedia quotes John Palfrey, co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, saying "SOPA would make many [DNS] circumvention tools illegal," which could put "dissident communities" in autocratic countries "at much greater risk than they already are. The single biggest funder of circumvention tools has been and remains the U.S. government, precisely because of the role the tools play in online activism. It would be highly counter-productive for the U.S. government to both fund and outlaw the same set of tools.” John Palfrey is also displeased on use of his research findings to support SOPA.

There are arguments and counter-arguments and certainly, at the moment, counter-arguments to SOPA seem to take an upper edge after the global prominence of social media in helping and spreading the mass uprisings of 2011.

While the anti-SOPA activists are homogenous in their appeal and are spread across the globe, the pro-SOPA lobby is basically a policy ballooning exercise by some US industry figures.

While the anti-SOPA cause is more about protecting free flow of information on possibly the only platform that cannot be totally censored or manipulated, the pro-SOPA lobbying is more about protecting commercial interests.

Also one of the major routes of online piracy is content sharing sites on the Internet, that apart from sharing content that harms the financial interests of ‘SOPA lobbyists’, also provides channels to the content sharing in many other categories like the atrocities in the autocratic regimes.

Probably the White House realizes it. A statement by White House staffers said, "While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet."

Piracy is bad. Any attempt to regulate or manipulate the flow of information on the Internet is sin.

Let’s see how the game proceeds!

Robin Morgan rightly says, “Knowledge is power. Information is power. The secreting or hoarding of knowledge or information may be an act of tyranny camouflaged as humility.”

 ©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey -