PRIME MINISTER?! MY DOG SERVES MY INTEREST

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

After the last one of my pack of Dachshunds passed away at the age of 18, I have adopted Tommy, a female German Shepherd. She is around 18 months now.

When I am absent from my study, she guards it.

When I am busy in reading or writing, she delights in watching me.

I have a rooster called Badsah.

Tommy entertains me by playing with it.

When my grand daughter is in the garden, she guards her.

She gives me company during my daily morning walk from five to six A.M.

I do not put her on a lead. She walks obediently by my side. I of course carry a lead in my hand for use in emergencies. But seldom that occasion arises.

On return to my residence I wait for the hawkers to deliver me the morning newspapers.Tommy collects the newspapers from the hawkers at the gate and comes straight to me.



She deposits the papers in my hand.

When I browse through the first delivered newspaper,

she sits attentively by my side looking at the gate in anticipation of the next hawker.

She serves my purpose with dedication and in all her actions indicates that she is ever ready to render all the expected services.

Why should I be astonished if Arjun Singh barks aloud that Congress must project Rahul Gandhi as its Prime Ministerial candidate?

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“Internet Journalism is reshaping the freedom of press”


Orissamatters Representative-in-Chief Subhas Chandra Pattanayak speaks about media reforms in India, Orissa headlines and Price Rise, on Sambad Samikshya.
Video courtesy Subham Television, Dhenkanal.
Interview by advocate Diptish Prasad Pattanayak.
Date: March 31, 2008, 6-7pm

Click below to view Part 1 of the interview:

Transcripts (translated) follow:

DPP- Allow me the pleasure to introduce Sri Subhas Chandra Pattanayak who has been actively involved with journalism for over four decades now, contributing immensely to the growth of media in Orissa. He has written extensively on burning issues of Orissa. And it’s heartening to note that he has transcended the barriers of print media and has been lending support to electronic journalism for over six years now. And it’s also matter of joy for us to invite him as the pioneer in the field of web journalism for being the first and the only such journalist to have been accredited by the government.

Subhas babu, you have been a journalist for over forty years now. Do you think the place of media in nurturing Indian democracy is still gaining importance at this stage?

SCP: If that were not the case, one could not envision a cable network right here in a small city like Dhenkanal. People are growing more conscious about their rights by the days, and this is so, mainly due to media’s proactive role in information dissemination. Media have been instrumental in not only educating people about their political consciousness, but also in enacting an “Applied Democracy” in the process.

I feel we are witnessing a glaring plutocracy in India, but at the same time, it is also true that the masses are equally getting equipped to continue their struggles against the monopolists. As a result, owing to continued public pressure to gain access into the power structure, today we have the Right to Information made available. Likewise, if the large-scale conscious opposition to the ruling parties are thriving today, both in the state and at the center, it is because people have been expressing the countercurrents through the media. In a way, the enrichment of democracy in India has been depending on the responsibilities of journalists.

Click below to access Part 2 of the Interview:

DPP: In that case, how does a journalist carry out his/her responsibilities? What are the roles of journalists in the most ideal situation?

SCP: Of course, the most ideal role of a journalist is to present the news for, and on behalf of the ordinary masses. This is the most fundamental role of a journalist. What is ideal is for the journalists to educate the masses about their political rights to overcome systematic obstacles imposed by the ruling classes. Sadly, the newspapers are refraining from their primary roles these days, which is to render political education to the people.

If we look at the history of our media, we shall see in context how journalism was deeply committed to the freedom movement. It was this commitment to freedom movement against the colonialists that also in process, granted the rightful freedom to the press in return. However, as time passed by, the elite classes of our society — as though the new colonialists — have started snatching away the freedom from the journalists. As an instance, the owners of the newspapers — the core management– have started claiming themselves as the editors.

In the past, this was not the case. What used to happen then was, only a professional journalist could be the editor of a publication. This used to facilitate the process of transparency since the bureau or desk staffs were carrying out tasks based on instructions from their senior colleagues in the field of journalism.

Since the time Birla Group took over the editorial team under the wings of its corporate management, journalists have been working for the media, no doubt, but at the same time, they are also serving the interests of the management. This has created a great dilemma for our press, since this corporate takeover of journalism has become almost a norm throughout the country.

Click below to access Part 3 of the Interview:

And to counter this trend and fight the corporate monopolies, most conscientious journalists have now turned to Internet Journalism. This is so because Internet Journalism is the only such field which enables journalists to present their news and views to the entire world without necessarily remaining obliged to one specific corporate concern. In this way, Internet Journalism is reshaping the freedom of press in a novel manner. In this zone of immense possibilities, grassroots journalism is growing in its presence. The flow of news is no more vertical. In fact, many mainstream publications are also using the grassroots media as their primary resources.

The dialectic of media as it stands today involves these two parallel and powerful processes. On the one hand, there is an attempt on part of the corporate media to suppress information that may empower the people. Certain information can be so powerful that the masses may use it to their advantage which certainly can topple the plutocratic nature of our republic. So the mainstream media are very meticulously trivializing the profession of journalism so as not to enable it as an emancipatory tool for the citizens.

On the other hand, what is also true, and more relevant to me, is the fact that most journalists are working to overcome such limitations and wage their battle against the management, albeit in a passive form. As a result, we still see human interest stories appearing in the mainstream media from time to time. The struggle that journalists have with the management is not new. It is only becoming more apparent these days, since the realization is dawning more that a democratic society cannot be envisioned without free press, just as the press cannot be imagined without a free society.

DPP: Thank you, Subhas Babu, for enlightening us about the role of the press in our democracy. Amidst all the press freedom that we enjoy, we are also acutely aware how the media have been hijacked by the rich, business class, the capitalists. And hence many information remain within their control, leading us to believe there is even more need of freedom for the press.

Let’s now turn to an article in Times of India which Subhas Babu has brought to our attention today. It’s written by Nalini Hazare who says we need another revolution. This revolution is in sphere of agriculture. Going by the agrarian nature of Indian economy, we all know that the common masses will greatly benefit from agricultural reforms. And yet, as this article points out, the reforms in agriculture have been absolutely inadequate when we compare to how much of investments the country has made towards industrial progress. Hazare says that people have been bereft of the resources the country has allocated towards agriculture in its various plans, thus leading to mass-scale poverty.
Subhas babu has recommended this article for our discussion today. So let me now ask him what his views are:

SCP: Needless to state, there can be no progress of India without substantial progress made in the field of our agriculture. Even those who claim that India is making economic progress are well aware that in the name of progress, the national wealth is merely getting consolidated in the hands of the few upper class families. And the huge majority of Indians are growing poorer by the days. Such is the situation right here in Orissa that, our abled, skilled youths are leaving our state to work as bonded laborers abroad. Mothers are selling babies just to survive a day or two more. Poverty is such widespread that people are eating tree roots, and even in many cases, as news attest, consuming stones. Poverty is widening in its scale and nature even as wealth of our country continues to remain controlled by a handful of people.

The root cause of such economic disparity lies in the systematic apathy towards agricultural growth on part of the government. Ever since India has gained independence, we have rampant unemployment problems. Prior to that, no one was unemployed. We have observed during our childhood, everyone used to contribute to their household works. Every village was a self-sustained, economically independent unit. All these have crumbled. Its because, no matter if someone was a carpenter or potter, they were dependent on agriculture. Forest was there, rain was abundant. Cultivation was excellent. We were leaders in agriculture which is why India was called an agrarian society. Unfortunately, in the post-independence phase, we have only emphasized on industries and businesses, and various laws have been passed and implemented only to favor the industrialists. As a result, the most fertile lands for agriculture today lies barren.

What’s even ironical is that we are being deprived from perfecting our inborn talents. No modern scientific textbook ever taught us about seasons and crops. As children, as well as neighbors, we were naturally brought up to understand agriculture as part of our lives. Seeds, seasons, crops, irrigation, and cultivation were our second human nature. Our skills, dedication and experiences in the field of agriculture were part of our subconscious since time immemorial. People could sustain on their own utilizing this knowledge.

However as we started the process of industrialization, deforestation was going to be one outcome. Subsequently, we noticed there are infrequent and irregular rains, and seasonal disturbances that are naturally illogical. At this point, what we should have done was to shift back our attention to agriculture and at least ensure that agricultural lands are provided with sufficient water. Unfortunately, that did not happen. And today, its as though our Mother Earth is crying for water and we are unable to provide the same when she needs it the most. Not only Orissa, many states of India are affected by drought. This is so because of a simple reason: cultivation is impossible without sufficient provision for water. How did our planning boards overlook this fundamental aspect? My suspicion is that it was a deliberate omission on their part.

As Diptish babu would be knowing, being a prominent advocate, our Constituent Assembly during the time we were framing the constitution for India, comprised of people, only from the propertied class. There was not a single representation from the farmers and working class. Dr Ambedkar in his last speech to the Assembly, in desperation declared that when we shall have the elections for India, it will be an India of deep dilemmas. It is because, he said, we are merely granting political equality meaning each citizen is equal with the other simply because everyone has one vote to spare. But the reality is, we are only forcing them to economic inequality. As a matter of fact, Ambedkar said, the ruling Congress is itself funded by the capitalists and hence it’s only natural that the right to property has emerged as a fundamental right. It’s only necessary that the free India pass laws to abolish such property rights and actually implement ways to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor, otherwise the freedom won through such relentless struggles will become meaningless.

While agreeing with Dr Ambedkar, at this stage of my life I am of the firm opinion that India is on her way to lose the independence that was so relentlessly fought for. Today, my country is once again colonized in the hands of the few, and every government that should be serving the mass, instead are serving the interests of this elite class.

So sad is the scenario that in Orissa, 70% of people are landless. Landless! Even a news item appeared this morning that said how anAdibasi student who has passed matriculation is unable to qualify for an interview in reserve category because he could not receive a caste certificate. He is unable to get a certificate because he has no land or house anywhere. There is nothing in his father’s name either. Without this, it’s becoming difficult to determine his caste. The tehsildar in his locality is trying to get him a two decimals worth of land to facilitate the process. Such students are seeing their dreams getting shattered throughout the state, only because of their landlessness. They are waiting for the day when they can raise their heads as citizens of free India. The time is nowhere to be seen.

The indigenous population in our country used to dwell in the forests and had never claimed the land to be their own property. They of course never had a land in their or their father’s names. Now that the corporate houses are encroaching upon the forest lands for their private business interests, and displacing the tribal people from their rightful lands, it’s becoming impossible for these landless people to claim their land, or their identity as free humans.

Such injustice is prevailing because we have no laws that govern property acquisitions. No law restricts how much one can grab lands for private purposes. So the more one can grab, the more one can own. As a result many government officials, politicians (as World Bank has cautioned against) who know the loopholes in our system are facilitating the business class to encroach upon, or grabbing the lands on their own.

——-

See the rest of the interview on the videos that follow. SCP talks about the current issues in Orissa (including about Speaker Maheswar Mohanty), and about the cause & consequences of price rise.

Click the video below to access Part 4 of the interview.

Excerpts:
On the Issue of allegation against the speaker, SCP asks, where is the polygraph test? Why tarnish the democratic positions? Why not set up a committee to find out the interest groups?:
SCP: Our CM always says that law will take its own course. This is exactly what he should not say to the people. It’s most unfortunate and confusing statement to come from a state leader. He should rather inform the people what the law is and what legal steps shall be taken or has been taken in a specific instance. I strongly feel that only those people who are indifferent towards law and order, or are unaware of legalities or simply do not care, can only come up with such a statement as “law will take its own course”.

Click below to access Part 5 of the Interview:

On the issue of Price Rise, SCP says if at all, this issue alone should pose questions about the so-called economic progress.
SCP: If there is price rise, where is the progress? If progress indicates increase in production, why is there a rise in price? The rhetoric behind economic progress needs to be revisited. So, has there been any actual progress? If so, whose progress are we talking about here? Only of the producers and capitalist class…

Click below to access the last part of the Interview:

REPAIR THE DAMAGE DONE TO DEMOCRACY

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Mr. Maheswar Mohanty has resigned from the Speaker position following lady marshal Gayatri Panda’s allegation of sexual harassment against him.

Ms. Panda was admittedly facing disciplinary proceedings before raising such an allegation.

This is enough reason to suspect that her allegation might have been vitiated by motive to browbeat the Speaker under whose orders she has been put under suspension for dereliction in duty.

Sadly the Opposition as well as a section of women activists has not thought it prudent to treat the matter in this light even as they have voiced vehement demands for action against Mr. Mohanty absolutely oblivious of how adversely it may affect the dignity of the esteemed office.

It is sad to further note that though the Speaker is the Constitutional guardian of the rampart of democracy, the State Government has failed to appreciate that it was the duty of the State to ensure that he was not a prey of false charges.

It was the minimum responsibility of administration to eliminate all possibilities of false charges against the Speaker in order to safeguard the dignity of the esteemed Chair.

Therefore it was necessary to test the veracity of the allegation of the lady marshal through polygraph testing before entertaining it for any action against the Speaker. We, in our lead article on 27 March 2008 had stressed on it, but the Government, as is its wont, preferred to slough it over.

Prosecution all over the world is increasingly depending on polygraph testing, as it is considered to be one of the most reliable methods to identify liars.

Accuracy of the result of polygraph testing has been established by more than 200 studies conducted by the American Polygraph Association during the past 25 years.

In India, the browbeaters are in the habit of citing Article 20 (3) of the Constitution to exclude polygraph results from forming irrefutable base of judicial verdicts under the plea that this Article has protected everybody from being compelled to be a witness against his or her own self in any court of law.

But there is no bar in use of polygraph in investigation. In fact it helps check labyrinth of lies engulfing the process of law.

In response to a recent query from the Supreme Court of India, Solicitor General G E Vahanvati has submitted on January 22, 2008 that use of polygraph in detecting liars in course of investigation is neither illegal nor unconstitutional.

“In the complex social milieu which obtains today, in particular having regard to the proliferation of crimes against society and against the integrity of the country, it is necessary to keep in mind the interest of the society at large and the need for thorough and proper investigation as against individual rights while ensuring that constitutional rights are not infringed.

“If these tests are properly considered to be steps in aid of investigation and not for the purpose of obtaining incriminatory statement, there is no constitutional infirmity whatsoever”,

Vahanvati has submitted before a Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, while harping on how the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) permits its use.

So, in a case as sensitive as this one, it was necessary to ascertain the truth of the allegation by conducting a polygraph test on Ms. Panda before proceeding further in the matter. But the Chief Minister has measurably failed to lead the State in proper direction in this case.

It is to be marked that he has dismissed his blue-eyed boy Debashish Nayak from the Council of Ministers alleging openly that Nayak’s conspiratorial role in this particular case has extinguished his confidence in him and, as a person not enjoying confidence of the CM cannot continue as a Minister, he had to be dismissed.

Navin’s assertion juxtaposed with Mohanty’s claim of innocence makes it unambiguously clear that the Chief Minister personally knew that the lady marshal was a part of the conspiracy cooked up against the Speaker. In view of this he should have stressed first on ascertaining as to whether or not Ms. Panda was telling a lie. He has not.

Consequently, a Speaker of the Assembly, who initiated disciplinary proceedings against the lady marshal for serious dereliction in duty, has been elbowed out from his position and has been subjected to police investigation to the total detriment of democratic dignity.

The injury done to democracy in such a fashion will not stop at this point. Male Officers all over the State will no more dare to draw up any disciplinary proceeding against any woman worker in any instance of dereliction in duty. It shall have a total demoralizing effect on administration.

Hence, it is time, instead of insipid utterances that law will take its own course, the Chief Minister should use his prerogative to stop all sorts of investigation in the matter till the voracity of the delinquent lady’s version is not test through polygraph that medico-legal science so painstakingly has developed. The Opposition, the Women Commission, the women activists and common politicians should wait till polygraph testing results show that the lady has not told a lie.

This may repair the damage done to democracy.