Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mumbai terror and the Media

Watching TV after the Mumbai events has been a pain beyond words. Listening to Arnab Goswami or Barkha Dutt has been like watching an old Manoj Kumar movie. May be those films were better.

The way media comperes have sought to play on peoples’ sentiments has been truly atrocious. They have invited the worst of Mumbai’s already mutilated “civil society”, asked them the most provocative questions and obtained the the most reactionary answers.

See the samples below:

Prahlad Kakkar, Adman: “we need someone with strong political will to govern the country. If the BJP puts up Narendra Modi as a PM candidate, it will win hands down because he seems to be the only politician with strong political will.”

Glenn Saldanha, CEO, Glenmark: the way we should deal with this problem is with the power of capital. We should join hands with the capitals of the world in the developed countries, and confront Pakistan (not exact words, but close).

Saldanha’s words were truly eye opening for me. I had not thought at all of that angle. The less said of Shobhaa De, the better.

However, there have been honourable exceptions. The dancer Javed Jeffrey and theater personality Sanjna Kapur have been bold enough to confront the nauseating comperes by integrating Ayodhya, Mumbai riots and Gujarat into the discussions on terror attacks. Sanjna was bold to say on screen that the Home Minister should resign. Poignant was when she told Barkha Dutt against her question “Has Mumbai changed forever for you?” that “Barkha, for me, Mumbai changed forever after 1993, not yesterday”. The indigestion was most evident on Barkha Dutt’s face. Of course, most channels avoided uncomfortable guests like Teesta Setalvad.

The best incident of the day has indeed been Mrs Hemant Karkare’s refusal of Modi’s “compensation”. Hats off to the woman! As one of my friends SMS-ed me today: “Great man, Great family”.

Hemant Karkare: Progressive and Secular to the Core

Here is one of the best, and most revealing, obits of Hemant Karkare. It appeared in today's DNA.


'He always led from the front'

Neeta Kolhatkar / DNA

Sunday, November 30, 2008 03:26 IST

Hemant Karkare, the Anti-Terrorist Squad chief was born into a Maharashtrian Brahmin family in Sagar, Madhya Pradesh where his parents lived. His father, Kamlakar worked in Central Railways as a guard and his mother was a teacher.

The family moved to Nagpur when Karkare was in the sixth standard. His mother Kumudini who had both bachelor's and master's degrees in education, after her marriage, taught at D Dinanath School.

Karkare's childhood friends remember the family as warm, simple, rational and highly educated. "Kamlakar and I were worked together. He was an active trade unionist of National Railway Mazdoor Union and All-India Guards Council," recalls Narayan Rao, secretary of Maharashtra unit for All India Peace and Solidarity Organisation, an affiliate of World Peace Organisation.

Kamlakar was a great influence on Hemant. "He inherited his father's qualities of being rational and able to identify with the masses," Rao says.

Kamlakar was close to AB Bardhan, general secretary of the Communist Party of India. "Kamlakar helped the poor, he would give them homeopathic medicines," he added. He was also inspired by his mother's resilience and was his role model.

"The one thing that stands out about the Karkare family is that while they were Brahmins, who were not atheists but were never pro-RSS. His family was far from fundamentalist Brahmins you meet in this city," says Rao.

Hemant studied at the New English High School in Nagpur. "When the bigger boys bullied him, he would just ignore them," says his friend Colonel Rahul Goverdhan.

Hermant later went on to study Mechanical engineering. He then joined Hindustan Lever, appeared for his UPSC exams and joined the Indian Police Services.

Karkare was an excellent sculptor. He made lampshades and artefacts from wood. As SP, Chandrapur, he had learnt these skills from local artisans. He even helped them sell their wares. Hemant would make gifts for his friends and family like photo frames," recalls Avinash Joshi, a friend.

Goverdhan says Karkare liked to take charge of things. "The day he was to take over as SP Chandrapur, there was an attack on the police. Hemant went and opened the police station and lead the attack on the Naxals. He always wanted his men to know they could count on him,"says Goverdhan.

Karkare's colleagues from the ministry of external affairs remember him as a teacher to them. "We worked in Vienna many years ago. He was my guru," says Kamaldeep Khanna, an officer with MEA.

Hemant was just 54 when his career was cut short. He is survived by his wife Kavita, a teacher, the backbone of the family.