Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Everybody who blows a whistle ain't a whistle blower


The Distorted World of the “Modi-phobes”

This article by me, my best so far in political commentaries, was written for Critical Thinkers.
The word Narendra Modi has a certain ominous ring to it. Depending upon your political ideology, you either ‘prepare yourself to launch a verbal barrage of Gujarat riots, communalism, Muslim killer blah, blah, blah and close your ears to all development-under-Modi talk’ or ’you go on to defend his case passionately, quoting the Gujarat growth model under his leadership and refuse to accept the 2002 communal riots story.’

The word Narendra Modi does that. It makes you take sides without even giving a thought to issue at hand. It forces you to choose either black or white. No greys allowed. And the most interesting part of the story is, almost everybody seems to know a thing or two about him, or at least about his alleged complicity in the riots that blazed Gujarat 9 years back (which has been investigated by a SIT of the Supreme Court and now referred back to a lower court in Gujarat, on 12th September 2011) . Ask them where they came to know about it from, and they say “oh, it’s all over the media”. So it turns out that when the media itself is biased about some issue, say for e.g. if 100 voices drown a single upstream sailing voice and if those 100 voices are all that is visible, then what those 100 voices say automatically becomes the truth.

We are not going to discuss Mr. Modi’s alleged complicity in the 2002 communal riot or the development the state has made under his leadership. Probably you have already read too much on that lately. What we are going to do is talk about Sanjeev Bhatt instead. A name that immediately brings to mind the name of Narendra Modi. Here’s a brief prologue to the story we will be analyzing…

Sanjeev Bhatt, the man who was arrested on 30th September and released on bail a month ago, on 17th October, an SP hailed as ‘whistle blower’ of the Gujarat riot, is an IPS officer of the 1988 batch of Gujarat cadre.

It is likely that you have heard about him also since his arrest made the media launch a fresh wave of vilification campaign against the easy-to-hate Modi.  So, basically it is two reasons why he was in news recently: his arrest and his junior Mr. Pant’s complaint against him. Now the arrest of an IPS officer- or any civil servant for that matter happens under relatively extraordinary circumstances.

Before we get into those extraordinary circumstances, let’s have a look at his chequered career record :
  1. Tried in court for: Planting drugs in an innocent Rajasthan lawyer’s hotel room during his tenure as SP of Banaskantha, Gujarat (The National Human Rights Commission had passed strictures against Bhatt for “falsely involving a person in a criminal case”, a lawyer Mr. Sumer Singh Rajput, WELL BEFORE MODI APPEARED ON THE SCENE).
  2.  Rigging police recruitment and hence misusing authority (He was at the center of a recruitment scam that hit Gujarat during his tenure as SP of Banaskantha, Gujarat, in May 1996, again WELL BEFORE MODI APPEARED ON THE SCENE).
  3.  Committing atrocities by misusing the TADA(accused in one person’s custodial death on 18th November 1990 due to draconian application of TADA, during the “Bharat Bandh’ call in Jamnagar on 30/10/1990, again, needless to say, WELL BEFORE MODI APPEARED ON THE SCENE).
  4. Facilitating land grab(lodged false criminal case against the opponent of the person he helped under Prohibition Act WELL BEFORE NARENDRA MODI APPEARED ON THE SCENE)
Apart from these gross acts of shameful misconduct, he has also been charge sheeted for  Keeping more orderlies than the sanctioned number (charge sheeted on 30/09/1999, one funny incident-he kept 22 constables at his residence when posted as DCP in Rajkot!)

Latest episode of his violation filled career- the allegation that Bhatt bullied his junior, police constable K.D Panth into signing a false affidavit regarding Mr. Modi’s complicity in the riots.
Now about Mr. Panth’s complaint against Mr. Bhatt. The complaint states that he was in Mumbai, on leave, from 25th February to 28th February, 2002 for some work. It essentially pertains to Mr. Bhatt having bullied him  to state that he went with him to the meeting Mr. Modi had with senior bureaucrats on 27th February, 2002, having assured Mr. Pant that he would be safe, by taking him to Gujarat Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia and having bullied him again to say that his disposition before the SIT of the SC was taken under duress.
Here, it is noteworthy to say that he was also asked to paintthe SIT as a team of arm twisters.  That meeting on 27th February, 2002, is the crux around which all the allegations have flown, thick and fast, with this disgruntled IPS officer Mr. Sanjeev Bhatt claiming that he was there in the meeting when Mr. Modi remarked that “let the Hindus vent their anger”.

 Here is the inside story of that meeting: The group of senior bureaucrats present at the meeting deny that the CM said any such thing. None of the said bureaucrats could recall his presence there. The chief of police of Gujarat at that time has emphasized that Bhatt was too junior to be invited to that meeting. Mr. R.B Shreekrishna-no friend of Modi-former Gujrat DGP hasn’t mentioned in his affidavit before the SIT the name of Bhatt among the ones who had attended that meeting. The SIT’s questions about specific people and whether they were present in the room that day, were met with confused, unclear answers.
Before we move on to inspect another less known facet of this story, let’s look at some more info (no, not about Mr. Bhatt’s shady record anymore) that might prove to be just the tipping point to tilt your views, understandably hardened by the feeds from the Modi-phobe media: Mr. Bhatt keeps claiming that he has massive amount of documents to implicate Mr. Modi and other ‘powerful’ people in Gujrat administration but till date has not produced a single shred of evidence.   The self proclaimed and now media designated principled man refused the court’s offer of bail on the condition that he allows the police to access his bank lockers.Known to have approached the ‘malicious’ Modi baiters Teesta Setalvad and Shabnam Hashmi who had their few years of fame by resorting to every trick in their hats, including filing false affidavits and tutoring witnesses and internationalizing the issue to defame Mr. Modi(for the less politically inclined  readers who may have missed the Teesta Setalvad expose, by her own partner-in-crime, Rais Khan. Bhatt’s affidavit was notarized by the same advocate who notarized all those false and/or tutored witnesses produced by Miss Setalvad. Bhatt’s email exchanges with Gujrat Congress opposition leader S.S Gohil (wherein Bhatt asks him for a new Blackberry phone as promised!) point to a complex dynamics of desperation, political opportunism and trying to nail that one possible trick against Modi that will work.  The English language media has always been left liberal, admitted. So Modi has hardly found as much favor as any other CM in spite of his efforts, due to his hardline Hindutva image, understandable. The Modi-phobes live in a distorted world of their own, refusing to look at the umpteen positives that have come up during his tenure, no denying. But the stooping down of the Congress to strangulate Mr Modi points to vendetta and sheer political opportunism- keeping this man continuing with his baseless allegations by openly supporting him as a ‘whistle blower’ by Chidambaram, the Congress poking its nose in the disciplinary committee’s charges against him and now the UPA making a mockery of our federal structure by appointing the Lokyukta of the state w/o consulting the CM, going against the rules laid down in the constitution, by the Governor- the office of which is now conveniently being used to keep opposition CMs in check.  The Congress’ hypocrisy could not be clearer on this Sanjeev Bhatt issue.
In the case of the cash-for-votes case involving the bribing of BJP MPs before the confidence vote of July 2008, the Delhi police, an agency under the Union Home Ministry, has opposed the bail of Mr. Sudheendra Kulkarni and two former BJP MPs. Just note what the public prosecutor Mr. Rajan Mohan has to say on the issue. “Every accused in the case terms himself a whistle blower as if they have saved the country. If they are taking the plea of being whistle blowers in the scam, they have to establish it by way of evidence. Not even a single aspect shows that they were actually whistle blowers.”
Should not this apply to Sanjiv Bhatt as well?  But who cares? You and I just look at the surface and jump to the conclusion that if an ordinary IPS officer is taking on a CM, he must be telling the truth. We don’t scratch the surface mainly because we, the youth, don’t really have the inclination to go do our bit of research and then form our opinion. We are too busy in our own little world and just  happy to sail in the same boat as most of the world does. In fact the attitude gets hardened to such an extent at times on certain issues that we are not ready to give some thought to dis confirmatory information.
I know not everybody who reads this article will agree with my case that Mr. Sanjeev Bhatt has undeservedly been hailed as a whistle blower. There will be people who will ask me my political ideology (No, I don’t belong to the right wing ideology. In fact, I don’t have a political ideology or affiliation to any political party. I base my judgments on sheer individual merit of the case). There will be people who will ask if I am a fan of Narendra Modi (That doesn’t change anything. I am one, but that doesn’t make me forget that I have a strong head of my own on my shoulders that needs to be used). There will be people who will question my inferences (Being a psychology student, I have taken extreme care to avoid errors in my social cognition, that is, if such a thing is possible…haha). But I am not afraid of such cynics. You may not agree with me. But if  I could make you read the entire article, my job is done. Cynicism is absolutely necessary in politics.

I remember the MP Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda once addressing a group of college students in North Campus, saying that “not everybody needs to participate in politics in a direct manner, as in contesting elections. If people just keep up their cynicism, making sure they debate government’s policies, find out flaws, ask questions, demand answers and never let the government lose its accountability, then they can rest assured that they have done their job.” Meaningful lines!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Get 'high' on Spirituality

All of us have a soul (now proved by the noetic scientists) and a social role by virtue of having a body and hence being a part of society.
The soul is nothing but who we actually are without the embellishment that our body is, without our name, surname, religion, social relationships, worldly achievements.
And what we actually are, I repeat, is our ‘soul’ and not our ‘social role’. The moment this is realised, one gains entry into the deluxe membership of spirituality and has easy accessibility to get rid of all hurt, pain and anger that this mortal world might have to offer.
One may find it difficult to see where one stands without having all these frames of reference of body, name, religion, country and we have none but our society and the aculturisation we receive from the moment we are born to blame for this.
The child is taught everything ; from toilet habits to dining table etiquette, save about himself/herself. It is assumed probably that things such as ‘soul’ etc. would be too difficult for a child to understand. Never mind childhood, these things are not taught even in teenage when identity crisis, emotional turbulence, relationship problems and career issues all call for the healing touch of spirituality. For it is supposed to be reserved for those in their 60s and 70s, when there is not much to do in any case.
So who is to blame if a teen deals with his breakup by drinking like there is no tomorrow? Who is to blame if he takes drugs to hide his frustration over his parents’ divorce? Who is to blame if hecommits suicide the day he is declared a ‘failure’ in some exam? Who is to blame if he doesn’t know that he could very well have drunk from the elixir of bliss that meditationshowers? Who is to blame if hedoesn’t knowthat establishing a connection with the supreme soul would have tranquilized him or given him a ‘high’, whichever he wished? Who is to blame if he doesn’t know that ending life is no solution, that the cycle of birth and death and hence the same problems will continue until he is ready to experience who he actually is?
And most often one can’t even blame the parents and teachers. Not everybody is lucky enough to be disillusioned out of the ignorance of taking our social role for our actual self, early enough. And even when they HAVE stumbled upon the truth, it is of very less use. Their children, no more children, are no more mouldable, having a mind of their own and they prefer to not learn any such thing from their parents and continue to make the journey with no knowledge of where they are headed, preferring to learn only after they themselves have fell down and are hurt.
The point I am trying to put across is that spirituality needs to be explored by the youth. Let it be studied and researched upon just like any other topic of fascination.
Let it not remain the exclusive property of the old and the sanyasis. And the society needs to wake up to all this. Let there be spirituality lessons in schools, in easy language and with a modern approach, let children be encouraged to take up meditation at an early age and let there be this healthy peer pressure to read spiritual stuff just like there is to listen to Eminem and read Stephanie Meyer or Agatha Christie.
One myth I would like to bust here is that spirituality calls fordetachment and hence is not for a family person. This is absolute rubbish. One can wear the trendiest clothes, have the funkiest gadgets and be in a family and a job, yet be spiritual. A white sari or a saffron robe and leading a hermit’s life are not necessary.
Yes spirituality brings detachment. But not detachment from people, family, relationships. It brings detachment from pain of hurt and anger. It brings detachment from fear-of failure, of loss, of death. It brings harmony into all our relationships. It makes our head free of all clutter and makes us more fit than ever for success in our field of study.
Most importantly, it makes us happy. At the end of the day, whatever we run after is for happiness right? Isn’t it cool that instead of searching it outside, we just have to discover our true ‘identity’ and learn a few ‘truths’ regarding this world to be happy?
So to lead a holistic life, spirituality seems to be an indispensible tool, and not a threat! And yes, it is not boring either!
How about looking up ‘awakening with the Brahmakumaris’ in YouTube or picking up ‘Conversations with God’ from the bookstall next time you're out?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

What makes a Psychology student more sensitive?


Consider this: a person who does not practice what he preaches is called a Hypocrite.
But my social psychology books tell me that the connection between our attitude and our actions is actually very small. For instance, this classic study by La Pierre(1934): he accompanied a Chinese couple on a three month, 10,000 mile trip, stopping at some 250 hotels and restaurants and in every establishment but one, he and the couple received service. a few months later, La Pierre sent a letter to every place they had stopped, asking whether the establishment would serve patrons of Asian ancestry. About 50% of the establishments didn't even bother to respond. Of those who did reply, almost 92% flatly said 'no' and the rest said 'maybe'.  And why just this one study, social psychologist Allan Wicker(1969) tells us that his review of several dozen research studies covering a wide range of attitudes, behaviors and people and subsequent correlation calculation offers a shocking conclusion: People's expressed attitudes hardly predicted their varying behaviors.
Whoa!
Now I know that people who non nonchalantly call others hypocrites may themselves act so in certain situations, in fact many many situations lol. Power of the situation, anyone?

I don't know whether studying psychology has made me more sorted or more confused...kidding.

Or actually, not. Yeah, seriously. Ever heard of defense mechanisms? Projection, Sublimation...etc. They give you several interesting explanations for why a person is acting the way he is. Heard of errors in social cognition? They tell you how the conclusions you jump to regarding events and the attributions you make out of observing others' behavior are not as accurate all the time as you take them to be. Fundamental Attribution Error, for example, is an error of attribution which makes us attribute dispositional causes to others' behavior and situational causes to our own behavior. And research shows it is very, very prevalent!

I could give you a hundred other examples to show how as a Psychology student now I have several options to answer the question of why a certain person acted the way he did. Earlier it was like, "ok, he did such a thing, he must be like this only." But now I am wary of jumping to any such conclusion. For now I know it very well that human beings are multi layered and much depends on the context as well, not just the person's dispositions.


Hence, I don't think I will ever repeat my earlier-often-made conclusion of ill-breeding or no proper grooming when I come across guys whom girls love to call 'lafanga' lol. On a serious note, this is how a psychology student is more sensitive. Yes, my subject has poured on me a bucketful of choices to answer every seemingly simple question of human behavior but these choices only have made me more sensitive, more open. I might leave the subject sooner than most of my friends, for my destiny lies somewhere else but I am glad I took up psychology as it will stay with me in all spheres of life, be it in administration or family.

P.S. This was written in response to the query of a friend who had expressed doubts on the prevalent notion that psychologists are more sensitive, putting across her own theory of the psychologists actually being more 'suspicious'.

P.S. 2- Psychology Rocks!