Not much has changed on NDTV. The busy screen with constant "breaking news" scrolling below everything even advertisements.
The other thing about NDTV that annoys the hell out of me is the Anglo-Indian lifestyle it promotes. All kinds of capitalized light-skin and light-eyed Indians of the corporate kind sell this and that as if there is one prototype of Indian.
This is not unique to India. This meaning the Anglo-ization of its broadcasts and public life. In Mexico, for example, I looked to find brown skin faces reading the news or as continuity announcers. There were none in the times I watched.
Given that NDTV hardly represents all India why is it that it sees anti-corruption Anna Hazare as "all India"?
How has this man captured the "national imagination" as the talking heads on NDTV say all the time?
An email from India today led me to read Arundhati Roy's deconstruction of Anna Hazare and it connected with and article by Vidya Bhushan Rawat yesterday that questioned Anna's silence on "untouchability" issues.
Rawat writes in part:
Roy's critique of Anna is very similar to Rawat's. She asks who Anna Hazare (not his real name by the way) is and why is he so supported by Indian and international capitalist interests:India at the moment is at the cross roads. Anna Hazare and his team have presented a Janlokpal bill which according to them will wipe out corruption from India. They feel that corruption is the root cause of all our evils. Now, one does not know whether they consider the caste system, untouchability, dowry as corruption or not. We do not know whether billions of rupees of cash, Gold and other treasure in our religious institutions are corruption free or meant for something else.
Anna seems to have caught the fancy of India’s upper caste upper elite and middle classes. Right from the film stars to our business tycoons every one is taking oath to fight against corruption. The local businessmen, dibbawallahs, auto-drivers, taxi unions, doctors and government servants also seem to agree with Anna and want that corruption should be ended. The Prime Minister of India also want the corruption should go. Advani and Gadkari want to hang the corrupt except Yadurappa. Anna wants to hang them but do not have the courage to ask the same treatment for Ramdev and Ravishankar or any other religious guru or corporate leader if they are found guilty. He also wants to keep safe the ‘civil society’ from any charges of corruption.
This seems to be well planned exercise with solid backing from India’s corporate. Now, it is coming to lime light and sources are alleging that the Tatas and Anil Ambani group may be behind the campaign.
‘The People' only means the audience that has gathered to watch the spectacle of a 74-year-old man threatening to starve himself to death if his Jan Lokpal Bill is not tabled and passed by Parliament. ‘The People' are the tens of thousands who have been miraculously multiplied into millions by our TV channels, like Christ multiplied the fishes and loaves to feed the hungry. “A billion voices have spoken,” we're told. “India is Anna.”
Who is he really, this new saint, this Voice of the People? Oddly enough we've heard him say nothing about things of urgent concern. Nothing about the farmer's suicides in his neighbourhood, or about Operation Green Hunt further away. Nothing about Singur, Nandigram, Lalgarh, nothing about Posco, about farmer's agitations or the blight of SEZs. He doesn't seem to have a view about the Government's plans to deploy the Indian Army in the forests of Central India.
He does however support Raj Thackeray's Marathi Manoos xenophobia and has praised the ‘development model' of Gujarat's Chief Minister who oversaw the 2002 pogrom against Muslims. (Anna withdrew that statement after a public outcry, but presumably not his admiration.)
Despite the din, sober journalists have gone about doing what journalists do. We now have the back-story about Anna's old relationship with the RSS. We have heard from Mukul Sharma who has studied Anna's village community in Ralegan Siddhi, where there have been no Gram Panchayat or Co-operative society elections in the last 25 years. We know about Anna's attitude to ‘harijans': “It was Mahatma Gandhi's vision that every village should have one chamar, one sunar, one kumhar and so on. They should all do their work according to their role and occupation, and in this way, a village will be self-dependant. This is what we are practicing in Ralegan Siddhi.” Is it surprising that members of Team Anna have also been associated with Youth for Equality, the anti-reservation (pro-“merit”) movement? The campaign is being handled by people who run a clutch of generously funded NGOs whose donors include Coca-Cola and the Lehman Brothers. Kabir, run by Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia, key figures in Team Anna, has received $400,000 from the Ford Foundation in the last three years. Among contributors to the India Against Corruption campaign there are Indian companies and foundations that own aluminum plants, build ports and SEZs, and run Real Estate businesses and are closely connected to politicians who run financial empires that run into thousands of crores of rupees. Some of them are currently being investigated for corruption and other crimes. Why are they all so enthusiastic?
Roy is skeptical that Anna represents a revolution of any kind. His vision is supported because it speaks to corporate interests to finger the state and press on with the further privatization of the Indian state.
Nyla Ali Khan is more strident in his criticism of Anna than Rawat and Roy. In a short article he asks why Anna is only willing to negotiate with political elites in India as if they represent all India (and as if India is one national byproduct of its nationalism:
Much as I admire the determination and perseverance of 74 year old Anna Hazare to go the whole hog by undertaking an “indefinite” fast, I cannot help wondering at his politics. Are Anna and his team validating the culture of the Congress by asserting that the only two personages Anna is willing to negotiate with are Prime Minister Singh and Rahul Gandhi? Last I heard, Rahul Gandhi was the scion of the Gandhi dynasty and the General Secretary of the Congress. When did his position or credibility supersede that of the Union Minister for Home Affairs of the Republic of India? All I can say is that Chidambaram is in for a tough fight. I just recalled that another personage Anna considers worth his while to talk with is the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Prithviraj Chauhan. Perhaps the ethnic, regional, and linguistic commonalities between Chauhan and Anna would facilitate the mammoth task of speaking for a gigantic nuclear power, India. Also, is Anna, in the frenzy of his crusade, forgetting that India is a country riven by caste, class, regional and political divides? The diversity of this country cannot thrive on facile attempts to create the homogeneous category of “Indian.” Nor can it thrive on dubious attempts to gloss over xenophobic provincialism or a highly culpable state-sponsored marginalization of a minority community. The increasing communalization of Indian politics is a juggernaut that annihilates the myth of secularism in India.Rawar, Roy, and Khan represent alternate voices on the Anna Hazare juggernaut. I am naturally disinclined to be swayed by national products (nationalists) who see to reassert the "commonsense" of the state.
I learned a lot of things in India and hope to go back soon (without the Guru) and travel some more. The one thing that stood out for me in my time in India is that there is no one India. Indian nationalism is a fiction or rather a myth-making ideological posture.
Nowhere else was this point more salient than in Kashmir which for all intents and purposes is occupied by India.
When I think about the many folks I met in Kashmir who abhor their occupation it makes me wonder why Anna has not raised his voice to support the independence of Kashmir.
Roy has. And she has thrown her considerable international celebrity behind poor communities who remain mostly invisible in mainstream elite Indian politics.
For this reason I am more inclined to be listening to her than Anna Hazare.