Blog Posts by Anirban Choudhury

  • Why ban on the Nirbhaya documentary is justified

    Why would someone interview men who openly profess that women should be in chains? Why offer a platform to a rapist whose acts are so vile and violent they defy comprehension?

    Leslee Udwin speaks during a news conference in New Delhi.Leslee Udwin speaks during a news conference in New Delhi.Any form of suppression goes against my grain, but for some reason the ban on the broadcasting of Leslee Udwin's 'India's Daughter' doesn't make me too unhappy.

    And even though YouTube is flooded with copies of the documentary – mocking the ban, as it were – those against disallowing free release of the film seem to be disproportionately miffed.

    ‘Liberals’, Facebook activists and trolls of their ilk might now call for my head for supporting the ban. But is not this debate also about the right to one’s opinion?

    Let me first lay down the basics: I am not an opponent of free speech, but images of Mukesh Singh describing -- in gut-wrenching detail -- what happened on that ill-fated night of December 16, 2012 make me question the very motive of making this documentary. Was it Udwin’s effort to showcase to the West the misogynistic beliefs of the Indian men? The answer could be a yes or a no. Not that we live in a society that is pure as rain. Yes, we as a nation are plagued by this

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  • The dummy’s guide to Congress's downfall

    Apart from allegations of corruption, perceived policy paralysis, inability to deal with price rise, and ten years of anti-incumbency, the continuing infatuation with the Gandhis could well be the start of a long winter for the Congress.

    This election season has been dirty: from name-calling to hate speeches, we have heard it all. But the one statement that takes the cake is a gem by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra where she says that the 'Congress will fight back against all those who have maligned the Gandhi family'.
    In a way these words sum up the dipping fortunes of the grand old party of India's politics and why it is in the doldrums.
    It's common knowledge that the Gandhis perceive the Congress to be their personal fiefdom and ruling the party comes as a right, as an inheritance. But such blatant use of this understanding is rarely seen.
    Priyanka's statement that the Congress will fight back against those who try to humiliate the Gandhi family stinks of pomposity and points to the already known fact that it is ‘family first’ in this party. But that begs the question why the Congress should do a 'Kill Bill' to avenge the slurs?
    Almost all Congress leaders have been viciously attacked by political rivals, but the family has

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  • Why Narendra Modi should not be PM

    Do we want a prime minister against whom there are multiple allegations of violation of human rights, of actively sanctioning a religious massacre? Do we want someone as PM whose antipathy towards a certain community has been documented widely.

    They say 'change' is the only constant. And 'change' is precisely what happened to Narendra Modi.
    Ten years back, it would have been unimaginable to even suggest Narendra Modi's name as a prime ministerial candidate. Now, thanks to an image makeover that he owes to a seemingly vibrant Gujarat and a corrupt central government, Modi is the foremost candidate to lead the country.
    No other politician in independent India has been demonised as much as Modi, but one has to concede that his resilience – stubbornness, if you will - is what has helped him tide over the massive criticism that he invoked after the Godhra carnage. The genocide remains a blemish that threatens to cast a pall of gloom over his campaign.
    In a way, it has not been so much a change as it has been a reversal of polarity. Modi was in the headlines for all the wrong reasons in the immediate aftermath of the Gujarat riots. Ten years hence, he remains in the limelight - a hugely popular, engaging, irritating figure on

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  • A ‘Ray’ of light in post colonial darkness

    Bengalis take pride in three names -- Rabindranath Tagore, Satyajit Ray and now Sourav Ganguly -- and these are the ones who often come to the Bhodralok's rescue when they're cornered in pseudo-intellectual debate.

    My dad, being a proud Bengali, wanted his sons to absorb as much of Tagore and Ray, but as luck would have it none of his sons showed much interest in them.

    However, being a subservient son has its own perils and the price I had to pay was life-threatening for, as a ten-year-old kid, I was asked to watch Pather Panchali with my dad repeatedly lecturing that the masterpiece was not about poverty, but human bonds. I could not relate to what he was saying; the film had no fights, no dhishoom-dhishoom, no songs and tough to interpret for a juvenile brain.

    I cursed my dad that day for making me sit through the movie and despite being told that it was not about a bunch of hapless souls, all I could fathom was black and white images of hunger and suffering. This experience of

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  • In memoriam: Kurt Cobain

    I did once make a promise not to write on music greats but sometimes trawling the net can make you do things that you promised not to do. So looking up Kurt Cobain on his death anniversary threw up some strange results that ranged from his statue being unveiled to a video of some kid singing the famed 'Rape me' song but none on the genius or his life. Appalling, sometimes I feel libraries with racks of magazines and books are better than the infinite repository of information called the Internet.

    This piece comes a bit too late as April 5 marked the 18th anniversary of the death of the enigmatic Kurt Cobain.

    I can vividly picture the day I was introduced to Nirvana by a friend of mine. After school, we had a habit of exchanging comics, books and even music  - when this friend of mine came up to me and said 'Man,you got to listen to this, this will blow your mind' and handed me a copy of Nirvana's Nevermind.

    I headed home, excited, not knowing what to expect and checked if my parents

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  • FDI in retail: BJP’s latest flip-flop act

    Once heralded as a party with a difference, the Bharatiya Janata Party continues to disappoint as it continues its journey to become just another ordinary force in Indian politics.

    Being a good opposition is the basic tenet and the founding stone of a successful democracy, but the BJP today is neither a good opposition nor does it have a grasp on national politics.

    BJP like the Left Front has shown signs of sticking to their age old agendas which the voters have rejected, a fact that is evident from their poor show in recent assembly polls; where the BJP has not won more than 10 seats in the five states that went to poll this year and the Left lost power in West Bengal and Kerala.

    To top it up the BJP had dubious distinction of opposing issues for the sake of destabilising the government.

    Doing a flip-flop comes easy to the BJP. How can one forget the Wikileaks expose? The party's opposition to the India-US nuclear deal and its criticism of the US in public were to score 'easy

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  • Irom: A fighter greater than Anna

    Irom Sharmila Chanu has been fasting for 11 years. Unlike Anna Hazare, who was cajoled by millions to end his fast, she enjoys no public support or media coverage. Her cause is almost unknown outside her state. She is seeking the removal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from her state, Manipur.

    Irom has never had a Kiran Bedi to add melodrama to her agitation, but what she has had is the grit to try and persuade the government to repeal a law that empowers the security forces to arrest without a warrant, and shoot anyone at sight.

    Irom took up a cause most Indians have no clue about. Her fight is not against corruption, which has become a popular bugbear, but for a life without fear.

    Dubbed the Iron Lady of Manipur, Irom began her fast in 2000 after she witnessed the killing of 10 people by Assam Rifles jawans at a bus stop. Weighing just 37 kg, she has not eaten a single morsel for the last 10 years, as a result of which she is force-fed through her nose.

    Irom hopes one

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  • Lokpal Bill: How the government lost the PR war

    "We for sure need a Lokpal Bill because it will bring in a clean government. Anna Hazare should be worshipped for what he is doing," Sonu, a barber, told me earlier this week.

    Not just Sonu, but many I chatted with believe the Lokpal can be a solution to all their problems, from water supply to ration cards to gas connections.

    So what do we understand from the Sonus of this world?

    A) Many supporting Anna Hazare's movement don't have the slightest clue about the specifics of the bill. They think the Lokpal is a magic cure for all the ills in the country.

    B) Team Anna (led by Arvind Kejriwal) has captured the imagination of everyone tired of the bureaucratic and political corruption in this country. Their call to fight 'corruption' with a 'fast' is working wonderfully in mobilising people.

    What is being forgotten in all this is that the team is offering a simplistic solution to a complex problem. Team Anna is offering a quick fix to corruption via the Jan Lokpal Bill.

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  • Black money list revealed

    After two years of debates and controversies the list of eighteen Indians who have stashed 'black money' in the LGT bank of Liechtenstein is out.

    The list which was officially handed over to the Indian Government on March 18, 2009 includes 12 trusts and 26 beneficiaries.

    The list that Germany shared with India had 12 trusts out of which four belong to Indians. The beneficiaries are

    1. Manoj Dhupelia
    2. Rupal Dhupelia
    3. Mohan Dhupelia
    4. Hasmukh Gandhi
    5. Chintan Gandhi
    6. Dilip Mehta
    7. Arun Mehta
    8. Arun Kochar
    9. Gunwanti Mehta
    10. Rajnikant Mehta
    11. Prabodh Mehta
    12. Ashok Jaipuria
    13. Raj Foundation
    14. Urvashi Foundation
    15. Ambrunova Trust

    According to CNN IBN, the amounts in the twelve accounts totals nearly to Rs 52 Crores.

    The list has been leaked out of various media houses across the country. However, experts are of the view that this could be a plant — while the real account holders are some where out there.

    Also read

    What did NDA govt do to bring back black money: Cong

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  • No damage to India from Wikileaks so far

    The classified documents released by WikiLeaks show how American leaders, who seem respectful in their diplomatic dealings, talk more candidly among themselves, and understandably, no world leader is outraged yet.

    India, Iran, Turkey, Israel, and several other nations mentioned in the conversations have taken the revelations in their stride. That's a relief for now, but what's the guarantee that more scandalous revelations aren't coming up?

    Not many in India are offended by Hillary Clinton calling the country a "self-appointed frontrunner" for a UN Security Council seat. Except for a TV channel, which portrayed her statement as an example of American doublespeak (the US is officially supportive of India's bid), few commentators have found the leaks hard to digest. In fact, American scepticism about India's UN seat bid is not unknown.

    Though embarrassed over some disclosures, America has so far come out clean, prompting The New York Times to write a laudatory editorial:


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