Sunday, November 19, 2006

When its no longer a walking stick !

As I was reading the news paper today, this picture and the caption "RISING TO THE OCCASION: India's Premlal Sharma won the pole vault gold in the 75+ category. — Photo: G.P. Sampath Kumar" caught my attention.

This was something humbling, intriguing and made me think. As one grows older, it is very plausible that one starts worrying and getting a bit paranoid about the small pains and such, imagining things that in hindsight borders between ignorance to stupidity. But for a few, it does not seem to matter at all. They just go about their lives doing what they love to do or like to do. For them, it seems it is not just important to “live” but to be also “alive”. They just seem to use the tools that are available to all, albeit a bit differently.

However, these very same tools have different perspectives in the eyes of holder – For most its a crutch, a walking stick that supports or a stick that deters; but only for a select few, it is a catalyst, a pole that vaults them to greater heights.

(Incidentally, Mr. Premlal Sharma cleared 2meters in pole-vault to win the Gold; and the URL is at:

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Law of Diminishing Returns

Sometime ago, one of my colleagues explained the “Law of Diminishing Returns”. Nothing exemplifies that better than what is happening right now, on our electronic media, right in front of the bean-bags in my living room.

Few months ago, a Delhi court acquitted Manu Sharma, the alleged (got to be alleged, since he has been acquitted then) killer of Jessica Lall. The court, while passing the acquittal apparently had passed strictures on how the investigations were conducted – shabbily. The News channels picked up the stories and created more stories around it. As a normal, every-day person with every-day problems and in spite of those, I was appalled. I was shocked to an extent that I wanted to do something about it; including printing bumper-stickers. At some point in time, I believed that the TV channels merely reflected the thinking and sense of injustice that seemed to have prevailed amongst the people. A few people I had talked to had a sense of hurt (Sometimes I wonder, if the TV news is a reflection and outing what the common man feels, rather than being other way around as they seem to think – ie opinion makers with the common man).

Now with the Priyadarshini Mattoo’s case closed, and the fast-track cases being flavor of the day, Jessica Lall’s case is being reopened. From my perspective, great - finally someone is waking up. And then the madness has started – perpetuated by the TV channels, which seem to whip up some kind of popular opinion. Somehow, the news channels – both NDTV and CNN-IBN seem to have believe that the judgment should be obvious, signed, sealed and deliver Manu to the hangman. Then, ofcourse, follow up with one-hour program of whether Capital Punishment should go or stay; and bask in Two-minute-packaged-noodle-type problem-solution within “We the people” and “the Verdict”.

But suddenly things did not seem to go per their script. They did not seem to foresee the "problem" of Ram Jethmalini jumping into the fray to defend the accused. This is where their behaviour bordered on stupidity to complete prejudice. The way Ms.Sagarika Ghosh was questioning (a belligerent) Ram Jethmalini, insulted the average man’s intelligence of judicial system. I still cannot understand what her problem was – was it that Manu Sharma should be pronounced guilty without a trial? Was it that a lawyer-of-repute was defending the accused? Were they scared about RJ's reputation as a lawyer that they did not want to see him the court and the possibility that he could actually win the case for his client? By badgering RJ, did SG believe that they want to obviate the need for trial – was she implying that the judicial trials were immaterial and irrelevant ?

As I was watching the program, I was thinking – hello!!! What is your issue here? As you ask everyone to have trust in the media, do also propagate the value of trust in the judiciary too. If Manu is indeed guilty and there is unimpeachable evidence around that, the courts would definitely do their jobs. The belief here is, as media is important, so is the judicial system. Believing that their (Media's) integrity is few notches above that of Judiciary is megalomaniacal and egoistical. If the evidence is flimsy and the investigation was botched up, focus on that; so that, it could be corrected.

Trying to circumvent the system is not on. I trust the system to be strong and solid enough to withstand the intelligence of Jethmalini, eventually. Assuming anything else or assuming oneself to be the sole upholder of justice is going back to the vigilante system of justice and at best, benevolent dictatorship. At some point in time, these channels' value to this case will cease to a point of zero utility. In my own mind, I believe the media is losing out on a supporter. Hearing about the acquittal in February, I wrote the following:

Now I'm writing about the law of diminishing returns. Soon, the Media would be doing more damage to the case than help. It would be that of vanished returns.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Ghosts !

“Hahahaha” – his close friend had bellowed in laughter – all of the others in the group had joined in.

He had told his friend that he had seen a ghost. The word had gotten around and he was the object of derision amongst his friends and butt of jokes.

“What were you smoking?”
“Were you drunk?”
“That is why you should not fall asleep in middle of your work”
“Does he haunt you while you sleep?”
“I’m sure", sarcastically said another, "its legs were ... …”

So went all the ridicule and laughter. That was several moons ago. Today he had seen “IT” again. He had immediately called out his friends, who silently climbed up far-away trees to look for the demon that he had sworn to have seen. In spite of the disbelief, they just wanted to be sure that they were away from the demon, just in case. Sure, they were scared of the demons that they had heard about only in the stories.

He and his close friend hid behind a tree and set their sights on the solid oak tree that stood at the entrance to their gated community.

He suddenly was aware of rustle of leaves as his friends from atop the trees were fleeing. He heard his friend gasp ! His friend had held on to his hand and was pointing towards their object of attention, that seemed to have a bottle in its hand and weaving in towards them. That’s the last thing he could bear to see. In abject fear, he and his friend fled.

“Look !!! Just like in the stories – look at its feet. Its much unlike us – they are actually touching the ground…”,

he heard his friend say, as they flew back under the stones, where the skeletons lay.