Piddi

Harappa “couple”: What does Indian Express mean by “aunt and her nephew”?

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Piddi, my pet, was livid. He had got hold of Friday’s Indian Express (January 11, 2019). I try to keep the newspaper off his limits due to Piddi’s chronic high blood pressure. Something or other in the newspaper seems to get his goat up. Today it was an editorial about the skeletons of a “couple” discovered in a Harappa grave in Rakhigarhi in Haryana.

A little background to this Harappa grave is in order. In 2016, archaeologists and scientists from India and South Korea found these two “very rare” skeletons in this Indus Valley city. For two years they researched the chronology and possible reasons behind the deaths. Their findings are now out. “We believe they were a couple,” said the archaeologist Vasant Shinde who led the team, to the BBC.

Indian Express is having fits over the findings. Its’ editorial–no news report or columns, mind you—which implies the stand a newspaper has on the subject is bigotry of the worst kind. The editorial writer thinks it’s an “excessive claim” that the skeletons were of a couple and that the institution of marriage was developed in the Indus Valley civilization. The editorial says the “pre-history is a land of maybes.” The piece ends with an absolute horror: “There’s no ruling out of the possibility that they (the skeletons) were just good friends. Or an aunt and her nephew.”

It’s this “aunt and her nephew” snide which had Piddi ramming his head on the wall in despair. The dialogue between us went something like this:

Piddi: What does the newspaper mean by aunt and her nephew? Isn’t it to suggest a licentious relationship? That too towards Hindus?

Me: You can’t say it was a snide against the Hindus. It must have been said in light humour.

Piddi: In that case the light humour could’ve been factual. Relationships and marriages within family is more common in Christianity and Islam. After all, Charles Darwin had married his cousin Emma; more than one Caliph in Islam had married their cousins. This obviously is meant to snub Hindus.

Me: You are being churlish Piddi. Christianity and Islam hadn’t even existed—they were only barbarians—when a highly sophisticated Indus Valley civilization was in existence thousands of years ago.

Piddi: Oh, come on. Can’t you see the writer has termed the scientific conclusion of “they-being-couple” as nothing better than “excessive claim.” Do you mean to say that these rent-a-byte journos know better than a whole archaeologists/scientists team which spent no less than two years on the subject?

Me: Err…..

Piddi: Are you telling me that you agree with Indian Express’ assertion that “pre-history is a land of maybes”?

Me: Isn’t it so Piddi. A lot of pre-history could be a matter of conjecture.

Piddi: In that case, what should be we make of sexuality of Jesus where Saints have variously claimed to  HE being a celibate, heterosexual, homosexual and practicing polygamy. The life of Muhammad only began being chronicled 4-5 generations after his death.

Me: But the writer is mentioning pre-history Piddi. These are post-history figures of the Christian era.

Piddi: Oh, so why there still is a “maybes” around these post-history figures. Why not be definite. Why not say that King Arthur definitely existed when historians are still debating his existence. Or Robin Hood whose historicity is not conclusively proven to this date. Or that legendary Homer, the greatest of them all, probably didn’t exist?

Me: I think Piddi you are going a little overboard…

Piddi: Not me, I am just being factual. It’s these diehard Hindus and defenders of faith who allow such nonsense to keep going on. Haven’t we paid enough price for our sloth in our history? Why do we allow these Marxists, Macaulytes and Muslimytes such utter nonsense?  To call a scientific discovery as an “excessive claim” or “pre-history-is-maybes” or “aunt-nephew” skeletons? Why not abuse back as “editor-and-his-stepdaughter” jibe?

Piddi is still hysterical. His fine sense of history, as I have mentioned before, is a trouble for all of us. We have kept him in kennel. Meanwhile, we have decided to bring Indian Express at home under pyjama from tomorrow.

Wish Barkha Dutt had spoken to my “piddi”

(This is a reprint from NewsBred)

A righteous Barkha Dutt was ecstatic. An act of new Congress government in Rajasthan made her tweet pompously (see image): “In a deeply unequal country, education is a privilege and lack of universal education a failure of the State. To have educational barriers to contesting elections was regressive and the Gehlot government has done well to overturn it. Next you will say only the educated should vote. Rubbish.”

Now Barkha please don’t ask me how could I access your twitter handle since you’ve blocked me. You see my “Piddi” (pet) also has a twitter account and follows you. My only fault is that I provided Piddi with the background on Ashok Gehlot’s revolutionary move: The new chief minister of Rajasthan had scrapped minimum education criteria for candidates in civic and urban polls.

But then my Piddi is not Pappu. His sense of history is strong. He asked: “But wasn’t it only the other day when the ecosystem in which Barkha Dutt thrives had called BJP union minister Smriti Irani names for her supposed lack of education?”

They called Irani names alright. Samajwadi Party’s strongman Azam Khan had pooh-poohed Irani’s educational qualification. Congress leader Ajay Maken was beside himself in anger: He too had tweeted: “What a cabinet of Modi? HRD minister (looking after education) Smriti Irani is not even a graduate.” Congress general secretary Gurudas Kamat had called Irani a “kaamwaali bai.” The front soldiers of this ecosystem, Lutyens’ Media didn’t need an invitation to take up the cudgels. The Outlook magazine had a satire penned in Irani’s own words: “I was touched by the support extended by the one and only Rakhi Sawant, who, like me, was unsuccessful in contesting the Lok Sabha polls.” The First Post was doubly quick to point out that “forget Smriti Irani, there are six other ministers who aren’t even 12th passed.”

Irani wasn’t alone, bad words were reserved for her Prime Minister Narendra Modi too. Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam had added “illiterate” to Modi’s name with glee. The entire ecosystem was falling upon each other to show the country was run by illiterates and predicted a doomsday.

Now that Ashok Gehlot has removed education as a criteria for contesting polls, the eco-system is hailing the visionary. The usual suspect Indian Express was first off the blocks with an editorial, patting Gehlot for a good job done. The Hindu made it sound as if it’s the biggest thing done to democracy since the French Revolution. It said: “Rajasthan strikes a blow for democracy.” The Wire was jubilant at this act of removing a “discriminatory and elitist” rule of the previous BJP government.

So these offenders who had held a noose for Smriti Irani were now upholding a garland for Gehlot. Such is their moral fibre. They wouldn’t have written a line questioning the educational qualification of a Sonia Gandhi, Jayalalitha, Rabri Devi, Mayawati, a Phoolan Devi or a Karunanidhi. But bring on Irani or Modi and see their daggers under the cloak.

While we are at the fakery of Barkha Dutt, let me leave you readers with a surgical strike Olympic hero and now a Minister of State (MoS) of Information and Broadcasting ministry, Rajyavardhan Rathore conducted on Shekhar Gupta on a “misleading” article the latter had printed at the start of the new year. Lest you didn’t know, Barkha and Gupta are old collaborators on the news of their own kind.

So this is how the New Year has begun for them. I wish they had taken a resolution to desist from fake news at the start of 2019. So much of muck is hardly healthy.

 

Express surpasses itself in Sibal’s defence

Indian Express in its second lead on front page on Thursday have twisted itself into a tangle. Its’ murder of logic is something which Agatha Christie or Sherlock Holmes (or our own Col. Vinod) would utterly fail to solve.

Its’ Ayodhya story has so many loose ends that its multiple writers (the creditline is: Express News Service) could win world championship in “Fake News” but to pass them off as journalists is only possible in most creepy and insane mental asylum. And to think somebody actually cleared the copy and decorated the Front Page with it is Ripley’s textbook material. Such scripts can present the whodunit movie makers a guaranteed blockbuster.

The 1000-word gorilla of a story essentially tries to prove that Kapil Sibal was representing an individual client and not UP Sunni Waqf Board and the guy (Haji Mehboob) who snubbed Sibal on his unprompted remark “postpone-Ayodhya-hearing-till-July 2019” was not a member of the board.

Readers can read the entire Express story in this link and then most possibly would join me in posing a set of questions to the newspaper:

(a)    Even if Sibal is representing this individual client Iqbal Ansari (this guy must be rich to afford Sibal), his remarks have been disowned by Ansari himself. So whose case is Mr Sibal fighting? (our guess is Congress. Express could’ve asked even “piddi” to get this answer).

(b)    Express quotes a lawyer of the UP Sunni Waqf Board for claiming Haji Mehboob is not its member. It then quotes Mehboob for having met Sibal in Delhi three days ago. In what capacity? (for as per Express Sibal-Waqf Board-Haji Mehboob are all unrelated).

(c)     Express states that Mehboob replaced his father as a defendant in the Ayodhya case. Who’s the father? Express doesn’t make an effort to clarify.

(d)    Express brings All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) to buttress its story with this quote in support of Sibal. “…it was not the right time to take up the matter for final hearing.” But who’s AIMPLB? Isn’t the body in question in UP Sunni Waqf Board? Why not speak to them and find out whether they had authorized Sibal’s views or not?

(e)    For a moment, let’s admit AIMPLB is legitimate body to comment. Shouldn’t Express have asked them how they arrived at the conclusion that the “right time” has to be after July 2019?

(f)     Could it be that Express wasn’t able to access Sunni Waqf Board? But then how was it able to lay hand on one of its Advocates-on-Record and quote him extensively without asking the primary question: What’s UP Sunni Waqf Board stance?

(g)    What are readers supposed to make sense when it reads from other sources that UP Sunni Waqf Board chairman Zufar Ahmed Farooqi has said: “none of the members supported the view that the case be deferred.” (Express can claim it couldn’t get Farooqi on record. But would it carry Sunni Waqf Board’s views next day?)

Express then states that Modi has “picked up” the Sibal quote and goes on extensively to quote the latter, allowing him to offer his defence.

Sibal predictably lays into BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accusing them of having no principle in politics. He outlines the virtues of Congress and how it wants unity in the country. His grouse against employment, exports, GDP situation in the country is allowed full vent.

But Express fails to ask Sibal a basic question: Who do you think you were representing? Neither UP Sunni Waqf Board nor your independent client has supported your comment. If indeed you are present in the hearing as a lawyer and not as a politician, why colour the legal proceedings with apprehensions on political fallout in 2019 General Elections?

Express doesn’t ask some basic questions in this story. All it does is to sweat and put Sibal and Sunni Waqf Board in separate pigeon holes and labours to make them appear in better light.

The attempt is a massive flop. And even its diehard fans are asking: How come “journalism of courage” has turned into “gutter of journalism?”