The English Media and AAP – Should One Rush to Endorse the Party: Shankar Gopalakrishnan

Guest post by SHANKAR GOPALAKRISHNAN

Over the last few weeks, the blizzard of news about the Aam Aadmi Party – and the move of many independent intellectuals and some activists into the party – has seemed like a roller coaster ride. One week we were told the world had changed, the following week that it had collapsed, and now we have no idea what next week is going to bring. But the roller coaster should not blind us to the deeper dynamics at work. In particular, there’s one that is uncannily familiar – the role being played by the English media. Those rushing to endorse and celebrate AAP should pause to consider recent events before they do so.

A good place to start is the India Against Corruption protests, which were clearly a media mobilisation. It was the media – particularly the English and Hindi electronic media – that called people on to the streets, that announced the locations and demands of the protests, and that consistently described the movement as being “universal” and about “ordinary people” (for examples, see the paragraph in this article on Times Now’s role in April 2011; or The Hoot’s analysis of TV coverage). Social media, the Sangh Parivar and the IAC’s local committees did so too, but they all jumped in after the mainstream media did, and they continued to rely on it. No other mass mobilisation of recent times, except the anti-rape protests, has received this kind of treatment at the hands of the media.

After the protests ended, IAC leaders continued to try to draw the media back, both before and after the formation of AAP. This continued until the November 2012 press conference against Mukesh Ambani, after which the media simply blacked out IAC/AAP and Kejriwal entirely. If anyone believes that the Hazare protests were covered because the media had ‘no choice’, this should be enough evidence that more was at work. The AAP leadership then set about building their organisation on the base created by the IAC protests. It appears that while they built very effectively on that base, they did not transcend it, a point that we’ll return to below.

In late 2013, as it became apparent that the AAP was growing, the English media reluctantly returned to cover it. To understand what happened next, it’s important to understand the character of the English media in India. Every class in a class divided society, and particularly the ruling class, requires an intelligentsia who helps it ‘make sense’ of the world. This group frames issues, provides narratives, engages in analysis, and otherwise provides the ideological framework within which rational action becomes possible (as opposed to just being lost in a sea of events). In India and in most of the world, the mainstream media fulfills that intellectual function for the ruling class. But in India, the fact that the most powerful elements of the ruling class operate in English – a language not spoken by the majority – gives the English media a very distinct character. On the one hand, it means that it can play its function in a more open manner since, by definition, the majority of its audience are members of the most dominant segments of society. Thus the English media can be host to brazenly blunt debates on whether and how the powerful can continue to stay powerful (such as in the recent Devyani Khobragade episode). It also means that clever political leaders can engage in mutually contradictory discourses, one for the dominant section and one for the rest, as the Sangh Parivar has done so effectively.

But this advantage is accompanied by a major disadvantage. Since the media’s function is to ‘make sense’ of the world for its audience, it has a serious problem: both literally and figuratively, most of its members do not speak the same language as the majority. Hence the English press regularly gets caught up in fake “bubbles.” Media outlets carry on mutually repeating fantasies about how “Indians” are thinking – and then get tripped up when events take a markedly different course. Elections are a particularly fertile ground for this to happen, with “India Shining” being the classic example.

The same phenomenon repeated itself on December 8th. No one in the English media expected AAP to do so well. Having been taken by surprise, the media immediately switched into its standard mode of response. As AAP came into power and started increasing subsidies, barring FDI in retail and carrying out their manifesto, editorial after editorial ‘advised’ them that this was not what they were voted to power for, that they should focus on ‘governance’ and ‘reducing corruption’, not on ‘populism.’ On the face of it, this is completely illogical. A party is presumably voted to power based on its promises. How does it make sense to say that it was voted to power for something else, and then demand that it should explicitly discard its own agenda?

But this, of course, is exactly what the media did in 2004 as well. The response is rooted in two dynamics. First, the need to reestablish intellectual leadership among its audience: “we had no idea this was going to happen, but now that it’s happened, it’s actually what we were saying all along, and now we know what needs to be done.” Second, and more deeply, the fact that the English media is after all a ruling class media: one whose owners, editors and most other professional staff originate in and operate among that class. After 1991, that class is completely dominated by some segments of big business. This does not mean that every media professional has a naked self-interest in corporate India, though many do; merely being in the same social circle is enough to create a shared ideology. If you move in a particular circle for long enough, you start to believe that its interests are universal. This then dictated the tenor of the media’s response, for, at a time when easy foreign finance has dried up, any effort to increase state spending (or, more generally, to address the needs of the majority) is a threat to the interests of big business. This threat was being tackled through the projection of Modi, who became the centrepiece of an intense campaign to take all discussion of these issues off the table. Just when success seemed close, the whole effort seemed like it was about to be derailed by the rise of AAP. So the message to the AAP leadership was clear: first we promoted you, then we ignored you, and now, if you don’t toe the line, we’re going to attack you.

At this point, Somnath Bharti chose to carry out his racist, misogynistic (and illegal) raid. The presence of elements like Bharti in a party like AAP is only to be expected, for reasons discussed below. But the AAP leadership responded with a mix of reactionary politics, public confusion and tactical mistakes. They jumped straight into the fray, and gave their Chief Minister bronchitis to boot.

Whereupon the English media went berserk. As in all successful disinformation, truth – criticism of AAP’s reactionary stand – was mixed with falsehood, namely the idea of Kejriwal creating “anarchy.” Within two days (21st and 22nd January), The Hindu, DNA, Financial Times, the Times of India, the Hindustan Times, the Telegraph, and the Deccan Herald all ran editorials attacking AAP. While all mentioned Bharti, most focused on saying the party is “anarchist”, ignoring “governance”, and – greatest sin of all – interfering with traffic. Once again, this hysterical response to the mere fact of AAP holding a dharna is illogical. Kejriwal is not the first Chief Minister to sit on a protest; practically every major State witnesses this every few years. As for “disrupting” the city, so does every public gathering, including Anna’s own protests, religious processions and – as a friend pointed out – the Republic Day parade itself. It was particularly egregious to see Modi fans attacking Kejriwal on grounds of ‘anarchy’, when their chosen PM candidate presided over three months of mass slaughter and gangrape.

But once again the hysteria masked a deeper message. It was bad enough that this party had come to power and started doing things that the English media did not want to see. Now, not only has it increased subsidies, it’s going to mobilise protests too? Don’t these ungrateful bastards realise that they were built up by the “middle class”, the “idealistic youth”, those concerned with “governance” – all code words for the English media’s role in 2011-12? Hell hath no greater fury than a media scorned.

In short, a hostile English media environment is now likely to be a reality for AAP, perhaps intermittently, perhaps continuously. The question is what impact this will have on the party. For this, we have to go back to the party’s roots. IAC and the Hazare protests were always a contradictory mix of political forces, which can be grouped into two broad categories: those forces that portray ‘corruption’ as a betrayal by individuals of a basically good system, and those who react to ‘corruption’ as the most obvious symptom of a system that has completely failed. The former tendency was represented by the Jan Lokpal demand, and the latter by the repeated talk of (though as yet no real action on) greater direct democracy. It is also the latter that is the source of AAP’s progressive impulses.  These contradictory tendencies were initially welded together by the media, not by any organisational process. This contradictory base then seems to have been built up into AAP.

At their heart, these two tendencies have a totally incompatible understanding of power: they have no common answer to the question, is the current distribution of power in Indian society a good thing or not? Since politics is essentially about power, this is the fundamental question for any political party, and this is also the fundamental question that divides progressives from conservatives and reactionaries. For this reason, it is a mistake to characterise AAP as either progressive or reactionary – at present, it is both. Contrary to what some (not least AAP’s leaders) have been arguing, this is not a good thing. It is one thing to not have a fully worked-out “ideology.” But, from the evidence that the rest of us have, since they have no agreement on the basic question of power, AAP’s members seem to have no collective, shared understanding on any issue at all– among themselves, leave alone for the outside world. If this is true, it is not surprising, for the party cannot develop any shared understanding without being forced to confront the basic internal contradiction at its heart. Instead, AAP seems to be relying on slogans and catchwords, since these can mean different things to different people. On the one hand this means that they have made an undoubtedly enormous contribution to opening space for discussion of basic needs and electoral reform.  But it also means that there is then no way to deal with reactionary and autocratic elements like Bharti. There are no shared norms of politics which they can be held to. Instead, the party lurches from knee jerk response to knee jerk response. The roller coaster is real, but no one is at the controls, and no one knows what the controls are.

A number of left-leaning intellectuals and activists have claimed that they need to join AAP precisely to ‘resolve’ this, in order to “swing” the party towards a consistently progressive position. This does not seem likely to happen. A political party is not a sports tournament that can be swung one way or the other. In this case, the backbone of the party – the people who manage membership, handle recruitment and publicity, and mobilise actions – include a disproportionate number of middle class and elite professionals. The eventual fate of AAP is going to be determined by this backbone, not by the statements of the leadership. It is not clear how such people will respond to hostile media campaigns. After all, the media is not going to attack AAP through reasoned political debate. It will attack, and has already started attacking, with the claim that it is a bunch of fools, maniacs, power hungry leaders and naive idealists. In short, it will rob the party of the halo of being “good” in the eyes of the elite. If the party had an internal shared understanding of challenging social power – one that would allow it to build up a coherent mass base and respond unitedly to elite disapproval – it could fend off such an attack quite easily, as so many of India’s political forces have done.

But does it? And if it does not, what is going to happen to it? Is it going to swing rightwards (as certain indicators, such as the composition of its ‘economic policy committee’, already indicate it is)? Is it going to lose its key organisers? Is it going to split into multiple factions? People endorsing AAP, and rushing to join it, should think about these questions before they do so.

22 thoughts on “The English Media and AAP – Should One Rush to Endorse the Party: Shankar Gopalakrishnan”

  1. I think you may be mistaken in thinking that the “media” is a monolithic entity that has thought processes like this. Opinion pieces, blogs, and articles are mostly written by people who share their opinions devoid of any coherent consistent “plan” or “conspiracy”.

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    1. I was referring to the mainstream media, not to general blogs / articles etc. (if that’s what you mean). Certainly there’s no consistent conspiracy, but there are broad tendencies which most media writers follow. That’s what this article refers too. These are a combination of the lines enforced by owners and editors and the general self-regulation produced by peer pressure, career interests and so on.

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  2. Reading about the English media attacks on AAP, I was struck by a strange thought. The English media, both print and electronic, also regularly and continuously attacks both the Congress and the BJP. There are so many times that the English media has gone “berserk” (to borrow the author’s words) on both these mainstream parties, either on corruption or on communal charges. How come the author was not moved into writing lengthy pieces when the media attacked congress leaders on the 2G scam or the coal scam, or when it attacked BJP leaders on their riot mongering practices? Why is it characterized as a “ruling class media” for “attacking” AAP, when in fact it routinely criticizes all political parties for their respective wrongdoings?

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    1. I’m not sure where you see the article say that the English media is a ruling class media *because* it criticised AAP. Indeed, I also said, as you would have noted, that it promoted the same leaders during the IAC protests. Nor did I say that it did not criticise other parties. Indeed the mainstream English media has something of a problem, because it has to report what is happening – otherwise it fails to serve its purpose – but it also has to report on an unjust society without revealing too much about the sources of that injustice. Just to look at the examples you mentioned, that is why we have a coal blocks scam reported on extensively but with barely 1% of the coverage mentioning that the scam also includes massive violation of forest rights and land rights laws – even though those are as much of a scam as the allocation process. Mentioning those laws is a threat to other corporates, focusing on irregular allocation is not. Thus a scam that actually touches on the entire range of Indian extractive industries gets limited to a handful of companies that received particular coal blocks. Or why we have the fact that the English media spoke of the role of the BJP in the Gujarat massacres in 2002, and by 2012 started promoting Modi as an excellent administrator – a total oxymoron if there ever was one. Your examples themselves are perfect illustrations of the gymnastics that its class nature imposes on the media. No conspiracy is required – most editors and reporters self-regulate themselves well enough that no external regulation is needed.

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      1. Mr Shankar, your reply is well appreciated. Let me first reply to the coal block and riot issues. You say that the mainstream English media reported only on the allocation aspect of the coal block scam, but not that much on the environment and land aspects. On the contrary, sir, I do remember reading many articles on environmental devastation and reallocation caused by these projects, and I do remember reading them in mainstream newspapers such as TOI or The Telegraph! Some of them were reports, some were editorial pieces, some Op-Eds. All these articles keep appearing and I have been reading such articles at least for the last 4-5 years if I remember correctly! I cannot give you exact links to these articles, but I request you to do a google search on “Orissa Vedanta Project”. You will find articles in Bloomberg, Livemint and Hindu Business Line that report extensively on the cancellation of the Niyamgiri Hills project.

        To say that the English media does not regularly highlight environmental and tribal rights issues is simply not true!

        Second, Modi – yes, I agree with you that the English media is promoting him now even though it highlighted his role in the 2002 killings. The reason, perhaps, is despite whatever we want, there is after all some popular support for Modi (however unfortunate that might be). Since so many people are speaking up for Modi, the English media is reporting that – just as it is also highlighting high profile personalities who are joining the AAP. So on the whole I do think that the English media is more or less unbiased in its coverage of national events. It reports events mostly as they are. And that, sir, was my original point.

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    2. in addition to what Shankar Gopalkrishnan had added to your response, I just want to add that while the media continues to cover and more importantly debate and attack politicians on scams, we hear very little on what the corporates have done. two hands to clap… but we seem to speak of only one hand. A ominous omission it seems, doesn’t it? may be this is where the class bais really is?

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  3. You say.. “If the party had an internal shared understanding of challenging social power – one that would allow it to build up a coherent mass base and respond unitedly to elite disapproval – it could fend off such an attack quite easily, as so many of India’s political forces have done.” I am interested in knowing what political parties have done this. Any links would be greatly appreciated. And very well written piece.

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  4. Backbones, when they do exist, and as I know them, are flexible. Without such flexibility, and had our evolutionary disposition been different, we might not have had the ability to stand straight. I grew up reading King talk about the Negro. In the US, I was first taught that it was Black and then African. And then again, as if to complete the circle, rappers call themselves Niggers, be they Blue or Purple. To make a point, language needs to change; as the context where the point is being made, itself changes or is changed. And so is the case, I believe, with ideology.

    Implementing participatory democracy in India is difficult. The multiplicity of coercive structures that bog us down is difficult to even identify and categorize. Wishing away this complexity, to formulate a “logical” and “neat” ideology, is bound to create confusion and contradictions. Unless, of course, we bow down to dogmatism. Now if we are able to shed some of our dogma (and it is not possible to shed all of it), we can perhaps start to ask some relevant questions. Let us start with Khirki.

    Who are the people who reside in Khirki? What do they do? Who are the people who voice local concerns? Why do they do so? Are the concerns widespread? Are people only concerned about security and “morality”? Are residents close knit? Who have they been voting for? What is the pattern of migration in and out over the last decade? Are religious places in good order? How many NGOs etc. operate in the village? What do they do? How many dowry deaths, murders and thefts been reported from the area? Do tankers provide water or does the mafia? Is drug being sold? If so, then who are the people who sell drugs? Is there a well organized drug mafia? Are customers local? If not, where do they come from? How many ration shops are there? What is the per-capita income? Is there prostitution? If so, then how is it organized and who are the pimps and prostitutes? Who organizes the trade? Are customers local? Who are the local corporators, MLAs and MPs? Are they aware of any problems? What are these problems and what have they done? Do people in Khirki know that language has to be politically correct? Do they know that it is African and not Negro? Do they know that we have something called a Constitution? Do they know that Sonia Gandhi is not the Prime Minister?

    We barely know the answers to these basic questions. Yet, we ask deeper questions. Without empirical information, how can we answer questions related to ground-level racism and fascism; markets and socialism? We cannot! We have to rely on expert opinion, dished out by intellectuals, based on their perceptions, colored by their fancy but dogmatic ideology.

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    1. Just a quick reply: do you really believe that the English media “is more or less unbiased in its coverage of national events”? This website regularly highlights things that the media ignores. As for tribal and environmental issues, sure, they report them – but so far never as a “scam”, when they are far bigger scams than the coal scam. I could give you example after example like this. If you read the English press as your main source of information, you will surely believe that it covers issues in an unbiased manner :). But read websites like this one, countercurrents, Economic and Political Weekly, etc. and you might get a different picture.

      The Modi example is a good one to show how the issue is not only what the media reports but how it reports. Even if you believe that his so-called “popularity” is not itself the result of media coverage, how is it that the same media outlets that excoriated him in 2002 can run editorial after editorial describing him as an “excellent administrator” in 2012 (as if mass murder has nothing to do with administration)? What does that have to do with popularity? This is what I mean by gymnastics.

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      1. Mr Shankar, I do read various websites in addition to the English media. In fact nowadays various social media sites on the Internet have become the main source of our information, rather that traditional media such as newspapers and TV, is it not? So I am aware of the broad arguments on a number of issues – and based on that awareness I argued that the English media does not appear to be too biased on some issues as you are trying to make it out. Besides, it would be wrong to characterize the English media as a monolithic institution, as you yourself have pointed out. There are so many newspapers and TV channels competing to sell news, and the good thing about competition is that we as consumers of news are getting choice. If TOI does not cover a particular news angle, the Telegraph might cover it, or the Indian Express might cover it. If Barkha Dutt does not hold a debate on a particular issue, then Arnab will hold it, or Rajdeep will hold it. And different opinions or different aspects are bound to come up if there are so many news outlets. The point I am trying to make from my first post is that the English media, as a whole, does not appear too biased in any one direction. One element of it, for example TOI, might be biased in one direction, but then another element, such as the Deccan Herald, will be biased in another direction.

        Another point is that bias is a very subjective issue, as I am sure you will agree. You accuse the mainstream English media of bias. What is to prevent someone to accuse this website, or EPW, or other sites (to pick your examples) of bias of another kind? You say that tribal and environmental issues are bigger than the coal scam. But who is to decide on that? Development of our cities and villages, as well as protection of the environment and land rights are all very complex issues, with lots of valid arguments on all sides. Might it not be that the websites you mention are biased in one direction, while your ‘English’ media is biased in another direction (if at all such a monolithic bias exists)? Who will then judge who is right and who is wrong? :-)

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        1. First of all i will congratulate you all for having a nice healthy discussion.

          Mr peres you rightly said “There are so many newspapers and TV channels competing to sell news, and the good thing about competition is that we as consumers of news are getting choice.” Yes that is absolutely true, but it comes with exception: “as long as news and views not going to disrupt the present status quo of “corporates-politician-lutyens journalist(remember bharkha dutt lobbying for minister portfolio in radia tapes)” where they keep sharing power and our natural resources among themselves”. And anything that if remotely threaten to disrupt this status quo, then they come together.

          This dharna organised by kejriwal was exactly that moment.
          (read http://hillpost.in/2014/01/kejriwals-delhi-dharna-this-is-not-anarchy-mr-home-minister-this-is-revolution/97741/).
          I simply fail to understand how on earth does a peaceful dharna can lead to someone start saying Kejriwal a ‘anarchist’. Who put this term in people mouth? who started this ?

          A nice story on who own Indian media : http://indianexponent.com/61616/who-own-indian-media.html

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        2. @Peres: I notice that you quietly ignored the point about Modi :). Regarding my bias vs. someone else’s bias, it’s a question of reporting facts. The points I was making are about legal violations. For instance, 1.97 lakh hectares of forest land has been diverted illegally since 2008. Since the media judges scams based on monetary values involved, the value of this land would exceed that of the coal scam (which in fact is partly a subset of this scam). This is a fact, noted by Parliamentary committees, implied by Supreme Court judgments, stated by two official review committees, etc. It has been mentioned in countless press notes and releases from one of the organisations I work with. A convention was held on this issue on Monday at which nine political parties declared their opposition to the ongoing loot. Kindly compare the number of English media articles on this issue (illegal diversion of 2 lakh hectares of forest land) to the number on the 2G scam; you can also compare it to the number of media articles on how “clearances are the biggest obstacle to India’s growth” (a factual lie, since 99% of projects are cleared), and let me know. Sure the media gives us different takes on issues, but there are certain overall trends that are mostly followed. If you find one point receiving 100 articles and the other receiving 2, I think the structural problem is apparent. In any case, we can argue this endlessly, but the Modi example alone is enough to illustrate the issue discussed in this article.

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          1. Mr Shankar, Yes, it does seem that I ignored your point about Modi. I must apologize for that. But let me assure you that it was more of an inadvertent slip – while replying to your other points, Modi got ignored. To make it clear, first I must say that I hold Modi entirely accountable for the Gujarat killings, and I am alarmed at the possibility of his becoming the PM. I am in fact alarmed at the choice that we are faced with – Modi or Rahul. I support neither. I also think Modi failed as an administrator in 2002. Having said all this, and having made my dislike for Modi clear, I must also say that I reluctantly acknowledge his success in bringing investments to Gujarat. A number of large industrial projects have been started under his regime, and some credit goes to him for that. When you wrote that the English media is promoting him as an administrator, perhaps a little part of it is related to his efforts of roping in industrialists. In my mind Modi failed utterly as an administrator during the riots, but he succeeded somewhat in attracting investments to Gujarat. Good and bad traits are associated with everyone, even apparently with Modi! I hope this is a full reply on my part to your point about him.

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    2. Sorry, the above reply was to Peres. @Tridib: not sure what point you’re trying to argue, but two responses. Backbones are flexible, but not infinitely so – at some point they snap. I am not sure how AAP is going to handle the contradictions within its mass base that actually instituting participatory democracy is going to generate. Regarding Khirki, I disagree with you, but in any case the article nowhere describes the residents of Khirki as racist – the references are to Somnath Bharti’s statements and actions. Asking his followers to catch any African they saw, the language he used, etc. This was clearly racist, if the term is to have any meaning. Moreover, everyone knows that women cannot be arrested at night without a magistrate’s order, which is just one of many laws that Bharti ignored. No need for any dogmatic ideology to believe that.

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      1. Shankar:
        1. In my opinion, and you would perhaps agree that, one need not be “sure” of methods to deal with “all” contradictions. Processes evolve. Right and wrong are context specific and contexts change.

        2. Regarding Bharti, you and I have perhaps seen the same footage. You conclude that he is racist. He could be one, but I am not as sure as you are. For me, asking people to “catch Africans” is not being racist. Stupid perhaps, but not racist per se. I would be convinced that Somnath is a racist if I were to hear him say that Africans are inferior, or that only Africans use drugs etc. I did not hear him say so. Sure, the TV channels made it out to be so. But then, you know TV channels. The way the North East is patronized, say once a year, is more racist than calling us “chinkis”.

        3. On dogma: You say, and I quote, “….everyone knows that women cannot be arrested at night without a magistrate’s order ….”. First, “everyone” does not know. I did not know till recently. Second, it is fair to assume that Somnath knew. But how are you sure that he did not ask for a magistrate’s order? We have not seen the entire conversation, have we? How do you then conclude that Bharti “ignored” the law? Fine, you “believe” that Bharti went ahead and broke laws. This belief of yours, must be based on some reasoning, on a broader set of beliefs? The methodology of reasoning and the set of beliefs is what I call ideology (and you may call common sense). Of course, I cannot say that you dogmatically adhere to this ideology.

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      2. On your comment that “everyone knows that women cannot be arrested at night without a magistrate’s order, which is just one of many laws that Bharti ignored. “. I tend to disagree with that. I am you can say well educated by indian standard (Engg, working in MNC). i did not knew that women cannot be arrested at night….. But after this incident it ignited my mind how come this be possible that if something wrong is taking place then police should go and take a magistrate order first. So i search on and found that Under sec 42 of NDPS act and sec 15 of ITP act women can be arrested without warrant and they can be arrested after sunset too.

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        1. @Abhinav Choudhary:

          So there we go:

          “Under sec 42 of NDPS act and sec 15 of ITP act women can be arrested without warrant and they can be arrested after sunset too.”

          Information matters!! The question then is:

          Will information lead to discarding old beliefs?

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          1. Re under sec 42 of the NDPS act and section 15 of the ITP act, I’m not sure how you reach your conclusions. These sections only provide a general power of arrest under certain circumstnaces, as many laws do. The procedure for how someone should be arrested (i.e. arrested under any law) is provided in the Criminal Procedure Code, section 46(4) of which states that “Save in exceptional circumstances, no woman shall be arrested after sunset and before sunrise, and where such exceptional circumstances exist, the woman police officer shall, by making a written report, obtain the prior permission of the Judicial Magistrate of the first class within whose local jurisdiction the offence is committed or the arrest is to be made.” Neither the NDPS Act nor the ITP Act override this section. @Tridib – the reason I know that Bharti did not follow procedure is because he has said nothing about attempting to obtain a warrant or prior permission from a magistrate, and in any case this is not usually done at midnight. Moreover, the law requires “exceptional circumstances” and by the Khirki residents’ own testimony, if they had been complaining for months, there were no “exceptional circumstances” that night except that Bharti happened to be there. Hence any magistrate acting as per law would be required to refuse such permission.

            You may not know this, Abhinav, and indeed one reason you didn’t know it is probably precisely because you work with an MNC – people in urban environments who deal with the police regularly (such as workers, auto drivers, etc.) often know more about criminal law procedures than middle and upper class people do. It’s my experience as an organiser with daily wage workers that most of them are aware of this provision. In any case, Somnath Bharti is a lawyer. He certainly knew this.

            @Tridib – I am not talking about what AAP is “sure” of and not “sure” of – I am talking of the likely effect on their organisation.

            On racism, you have an interesting defintion of the term, but it appears to be a convenient one. Assuming that any African you can see, in Khirki village when you happen to show up, is a criminal is racism. If the same was done to Indians in the US, or to Jews in Germany, or to Muslims in England, I don’t think we’d be having such a debate.

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  5. i can read page #2 of this article on my mobile browser, but not on my PC. what’s the deal?
    A balanced and well analyzed piece, btw.

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  6. A very well written article except for the scathing attack on Bharti. Sir you would have read the reports from Khirki extension that the people wanted the drug racket and prostitution removed from that area. Complaints were made to Bharti and he said that he need to check it out himself. Having seen it happen when he went to visit the place he asked the police to raid (who by the way can raid without warrant as per section 42 of the NDPS Act, Chapter V) Mr Bharti himself did not raid any house but was upset that the police did not do what (they should have done) he wanted them to do. The residents of Khirki have expressed their frustration that despite repeated several oral and written complaints no action was being taken by the police and that they believed that the police were in complicity. They applauded the minister for undertaking a vist and checking out the facts. Since there was nothing wrong in Bharti’s action the racial slur was brought about to crticize AAP. One needs to read between the lines to get to know the facts nowadays due to the paid media effect. Neverthless a very well written article an am looking forward to more such articles.

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