Independence Day: Need for the noisy riffraff press

My grandmother told me stories of her mother who participated in the Quit India movement, and got arrest warrants issued on her name for writing seditious articles in her journal. She was one among thousands who took part in a political struggle by publishing something in a small printing press, often clandestinely.

India’s political awakening during the freedom struggle was led by a press that essentially self published. The large established newspapers did not necessarily take anti-establishment positions.

In terms of number of consumers, capacity to print out journals, the 1940s India was nowhere in comparison to present day India.

Yet, the impact of the media that was loud and clear.

Here is an interesting extract from Everyone loves a good drought – P. Sainath

As early as in 1893, Reuters assigned a correspondent, S.H.S. Merewether, to cover the famine-hit districts of this country. Apart from his reports, this resulted in a book, A tour through the Famine Districts of India. In it, he wrote that his assignment came about after a request Her Majesty’s Government had made of Reuters. The Raj, among other things, wanted to counter the riffraff of the nationalist press.

This is back in 1893, a when journals were published in numbers less than 1000s. The number of people who could read back then were probably less than 10% of the population. Yet, this press (media) was writing and reporting with moral authority. And it had caused enough noise for the colonial powers that be, to dispatch a correspondent to counter their arguments.

Compare India’s media today. It is massive. Seemingly free but highly controlled through varying overlapping layers of ownership and conflict of interests.

Here is a nugget of a video by P. Sainath.

We do need a noisy riffraff press that self publishes with some moral authority.

Happy Independence Day!

Image Credits

The epic mocking of just about every TED talk there has been

I recently came across a funny video. The speaker essentially imitates, mocks and totally destroys every TED Talk or similar talks, that I might have seen or will see in the future.

And thats good because there is a lot of absolute rubbish in the name of knowledge and information bandying about words like thought leader, influencer and post  {add techonoloy jargon } world etc.

Anyways enjoy the video.

Mahatma Gandhi’s Generation

gandhi-march

Photo Credits

I usually avoid hero worship. I generally dislike thinking of any one single person having realistically made a significant change to the world all by themselves. They never really do.

Today is 2nd October, the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. He was born a 146 years ago.

‘Father of the Nation’ is a epithet that I dislike at times to describe the great man that Mahatma Gandhi was. It enshrines the entire credit of modern India to a single person. I never really feel comfortable with such notions. That said, Gandhiji was a man who had an exceptional impact and his generation was truly a magnificent one in history.

These men and women in their thousands were flawed in more than one way. They were often in many respects, beliefs and ideas, products of their times.

They were also exceptional from many other generations as they forged and nurtured a union that we know of today as India, together with several hundreds of languages, different ethnicities, religions, caste and so much more which could have torn us apart.

India today is a chaotic democracy but a beautiful experiment at the same time. The experiment that we could refer to our “tryst with destiny” is still ongoing.

A friend, rightly point out on Facebook today . (Not linking to the post as it was private and he wants to stay anonymous)

but we should also remember that Nehru, Gandhi and all those leaders of that massive pervasive and diverse National Independence movement represented a generation. A generation that in early twentieth century was thinking of us in the 21st century, thinking of our future our well-being and our dignity. They were not just bothered with then and now, they had a vision — for a world where people like you and me can live with our heads high.

That dream came true for you and me but is not yet fully accomplished for millions of our fellow humans. That dream might not come true for our future generations and descendants. That pledge with destiny has not yet been fully redeemed. Lots of work left.

My friend is right.

In recent times, India feels more divided than ever. People are often casually hurling abuses and insults towards each other for having differing political opinions and views. We would do well to remember Gandhi’s generation for a few moments.

In this generation were founders of modern India. Our nation’s fathers and mothers. They thought about the world, about India and humanity. They forged a nation with no experience and several differences even among themselves by investing in institutions and civil traditions that continue to outlast them by many a decades. We should be grateful to them, but lots of work is still left to be done.

The responsibility is now ours. This age is now ours and we have to nurture this idea of India, make it better and leave it behind for generations to come.

As goes one of Gandhiji’s famous quotes “The future depends on what we do in the present”.

Taking down notes!

I came across an article about the famous and controversial billionaire Richard Branson. He apparently is one of the few powerful men from the corporate elite who take down notes during meetings.

No matter how big, small, simple or complex an idea is, get it in writing. But don’t just take notes for the sake of taking notes, go through your ideas and turn them into actionable and measurable goals. If you don’t write your ideas down, they could leave your head before you even leave the room.

Richard Branson’s blog post

Branson makes a good point about why men and women both should be taking notes – and certain activities at work should not be identified with gender.

But in addition to promoting gender equality at meetings, it is a really good habit to form. It seems like a waste of time when you go through a long interesting discussion and then forget about your ideas and reference points. Why keep this just about work?

We should be really writing down notes every time we discuss something interesting with even friends or family.