ArpitGarg's Weblog

An opinion of the world around me

Archive for November 2016

Media bias and why it is bad

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media_bias.jpgIndia had its first brush with power of media with Jessica Lal murder case. Govt. and Courts buckled under media pressure. Public supported the campaign whole heartedly. The case had all the ingredients of a pot boiler made for television. It garnered TRP’s and served justice. A win-win.

Media backed Anna Hazare who shook the roots of Indian politics and gave us Arvind Kejriwal. Kejriwal’s anti-political diatribe was tailor made for claps and whistles. People lapped it up (at least those who could afford cable television), resulting in a resounding win.

Last half decade or so Arnab Goswami took media activism to another level, equalling US journalists. In US, journalism is too bi-partisan. Two major political parties reflecting two differing ideologies have their own propagandist media apparatus. Last decade or so has given India the same. Media, which used to be a stronghold of Congress, got rivals in BJP. Today the field looks evenly distributed.

But the bias in media has turned out to be bad for society. To be true, it’s not just the bias, but the biased people earning millions and prospering is what irks common man more. It’s not mere coincidence that oldest and largest democracies are headed today by individuals who rode the anti-media wave. Modi called media news-traders, his people called them presstitutes. Trump has called media all sorts of names.

6-8 years back, in India, media was this promising child with high credibility. Currently, it’s credibility is as bad as that of US media. Biased towards one side or the other.

Earlier media used to shape the politicians and politics worldwide. Nowadays politicians shape opinions about media. Ironical isn’t it? In India it would be a first in modern times that PM and Govt has more credibility than media. And it’s scary. I’ll tell you why.

Media is one branch which has the power to keep the legislative in check. It talks directly with public and informs them if executive is doing anything wrong. And public does the rest in the next election. The loss of credibility of media will hit this balance hard. With corporatization of media, the problem is bound to get much worse. Media bias is the new form of crony capitalism and quid pro quo. Scratch my bacl and get favorable coverage.

Whatsapp, facebook and youtube channels have come up as alternate media. They berate main stream media just like I have been doing through this post. Some like the_young_turks have got a huge following and along with that subscription money. It was nice initially but as the current US election showed they too became biased and carried out their own propaganda.

It’s very important for media to curb political leanings. If media persons want to be political activists, it’s their right but they should quit the profession first. If they can’t curb this inherent bias, they should not go on air. Rise of fascism is preceded by a biased media!

Written by arpitgarg

November 30, 2016 at 5:09 pm

Why are people so angry these days?

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angry.jpgLiving in a metro city, fast paced life and tiny homes, I find people around me angrier more than ever. I remember a time when my grandfather/father used to hang out with people in the evening, talking range of topics. They did that in a calm tone and could have a decent conversation. Mix of social and political issues with a bit of gossip thrown in.

I find the conversations totally different around me. They are more political, more hard-lined and end up becoming heated. I am sure a lot many of us would have had similar experiences. Let’s try and find out why.

I feel people are getting bad at taking jokes and making self-deprecating humor. It’s always, how dare you? It’s coming from an inherent anger in them. What is the source? Well, it’s complicated. Fast paced life coupled with globalization might be the reason. Globalization in the sense of online globalization. Facebook and google. People sitting in Mumbai gets to know of what is happening in the world. Gets to interact with people and see videos/images. And that kind of makes them unhappy. Thy must not covet.

Same is happening with people living in villages and small towns. Apart from online, they get to travel to big cities and become grumpy seeing the lavish life there. I know it sounds a bit simplistic. But I feel envy is one main reason for the grumpiness which keeps building up inside and bursts into anger.

Google and Wikipedia have made people instant gurus. They know everything. What will this other person tell me that I don’t already know? We don’t like if we are called out for being wrong. We take it as an insult rather than getting to know something new. We better come to know from Google than out of discussion with fellow beings. This has killed the evening calm discourses.

I am not trying to come up with some solution to this anger. It wouldn’t be that easy given the convoluted society we live in. I can recommend finding small reasons to keep ourselves happy, respecting the wisdom of people around us and trying not to covet. What looks lavish comes with that much tension and hassle.

Written by arpitgarg

November 30, 2016 at 4:59 pm

Posted in General/Society

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धूमिल शाम वो

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थकी हुई सी शाम थी वो,
जब देखा था तुझको मैंने,
पागल सी, झबराई थी,
पर मेरे मन को भाई थी।

बात बात में गुस्सा होना,
कभी पूरा, या आधा पौना,
हर लहजे में तेरे लड़ाई थी,
पर मेरे मन को भाई थी।

आँखों में डाल आँखें मैंने,
जब दिल की बात बताई थी,
तू जरा भी ना शर्मायी थी,
पर मेरे मन को भाई थी।

पागलपन औ सनकपन में,
अपनी ही लत, अपनी ही हट.
दिमाग की तूने हटाई थी,
पर मेरे मन को भाई थी।

रोते रोते, हँसते हँसते,
आस पास, कभी दूर-दूर,
परेड मेरी करवाई थी,
पर मेरे मन को भाई थी।

हाँ ना में औ ना हाँ में,
कभी सुलझन, कभी उलझन,
सांसें मेरी अँटकायी थी,
पर मेरे मन को भाई थी।

राह कठिन, चाह अडिग,
कट ही गया, काफी रस्ता,
भूला ना धूमिल शाम वो मैं,
जब मेरे मन को भाई थी।।

Written by arpitgarg

November 30, 2016 at 2:57 pm

Posted in Love, Uncategorized

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The Era of Right Wing Populists

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trump_modi.jpgSometime back I called the current decade as the decade of right wing, across the globe. From Japan to India to US. But I would like to add a bit to my stance. It’s the era of right wing populists. Normally right wing politicians are known for fiscal control and anti-populism. The current crop of leaders from Abe to Modi to Trump are from right wing parties but the leaders themselves are populists. This mix of right wing and populism has lefts and liberals in a lurch.

What is to come in future is something to be seen, but I see some good at present. They are beyond the classical mold of right or left. Their parties are right but they themselves have no clear ideologies. They all like claps from the audience, hence populists. They shed the hardline approach of their parties and tread a middle path.

What this has done is broken the barriers. For long politicians in democracies has reaped benefits of a divided electorate. Liberals and Conservatives in US, Nationalists and Seculars in India. Political class likes to keep the people divided in these artificial silos. This fight helps them get elected over and ove. Due to this the Gandhi dynasty in India has prospered and so did Bush/Clinton dynasties in the West.

Modi and Trump, controversial figures in themselves have made people realize this division and how political class has benefitted from it. Don’t get me wrong, in destroying these old barriers, they have created their own. Hindus/Muslims in India to Black/Whites in US. We will have to wait and watch how it evolves.

Next question is, how does the right wing populism pan out. These leaders, since hard liners are able to take decisions which liberal/secular Govt. would never have taken. Currency ban in India to potential poll promises of Trump. In a sense right wing populists are able to take tough decisions. And it’s the decisiveness that people cherishes in them. In itself these leaders are tainted. But in toto they do what none dares.

As with other things, the effects of this right wing populist wave will be evident 10-15 years down the line. Maybe good, maybe bad. Currently we are in a transition era which comes once in a lifetime.

Written by arpitgarg

November 25, 2016 at 5:24 pm

Posted in Political

Tagged with , , , , ,

Donald Trump: Why pollsters got it wrong

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poll_wrong.jpgPolling (just like risk calculation in businesses) is as much a mathematical calculation as it is an art. You need to have the sense that few have to get it right. In last 10 years or so, it has become more of mathematical model than anytime before. Just like the 2007-09 financial crisis which brought to fore risk calculation model errors, similarly the current election result has brought to notice the polling model errors.

Trump campaign used to attack polls as fake and political hit jobs regularly. For my analysis I want to assume the intentions behind polls were pure. So why did they get it so wrong, barring a couple of polls (which can be owed to chance). I believe the polls had severe model errors, which didn’t took into account a lot of factors.

Just like 2007-09 when polls failed to take into account correlation risk across geographies, the polls failed to take into account the anger among the electorate. Also Trump was a new phenomenon, who was not someone one would like to say one likes, but was bang on message and policies. That created shy voters who did not admit to pollsters they were voting for Trump.

Polls also failed to take into account the contempt the main stream media had for Trump. So much so that anyone saying he/she supported Trump was bashed not just on social media but by mainstream media pundits too for being a bigot. I remember one of the Kardashians had to roll back on her comment of voting for Trump after the backlash. Would she have voted for Clinton? I very much doubt so. When bashing of a candidate becomes an acceptable thing and anyone supporting him is touted as a bad person by responsible people in media, it becomes difficult for one to admit the support anymore.

The anger, the shyness gave rise to the errors in legacy polling methods.

What polls also failed to take into account was the contempt for the media. Gallup poll which has tracked trust in media for last 40 years or so, found the trust to be the lowest in 2016. Two-thirds don’t trust media. And that same distrusting media was out to get Trump in full force. Media distrust fueled Trump support.

All these factors have to be modeled into polling methodology in future. The change election with a flawed candidate with an appealing message, the anger in the populace, the creation of shy voters and the bias in the media were few of the factors that broke the polls this year.

Hope the pollsters learn from these errors and evolve for better.

Written by arpitgarg

November 9, 2016 at 5:34 pm

Posted in Media, Political

Tagged with , , , , , ,

500/1000: A Modi political master stroke

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modi_1000_500.jpgA lot of us would be discussing the unprecedented move in recent Indian politics. I was born in mid 80’s and have not been witness to a full majority PM. Now I know what decisions look like when majority Govt is in power.

I would like to discuss the political aspect of Modi’s move to illegalize 500/100 currency notes. There are profound economic and social aspects too, but will discuss those some other time. Of late Modi was being questioned about 15lac rupees he promised to put in every citizens account. Given the man of high integrity that Modi has created his persona on, it was becoming embarrassing for him and his party. ‘Jumla’ excuse was falling short.

What Modi has done to answer all of the criticism is affirmative action. It’s not that Modi never took steps previously to curb black money. Jan-Dhan, Direct Debit, Income declaration, were some of the steps he took. But they were not that perceptible to general public, who voted for Modi in huge numbers in 2014. This current decision will be perceptible to all and sundry. Most of the voters will have to go to the bank to exchange old 500/1000 note. All of us will know that Modi has done something regarding black money. It is a perceptible action. No more talk of 15lac.

Hence I call it a political master stroke. With the Trump win today, the bull run of outsiders continues unabated, resulting in such out of the box decisions.

I personally feel that Govt. will recover much more than the 15lac per person that Modi promised. By the time the dust settles on 31st Dec, even a 10% non-return of currency notes, leads to huge profits for the Govt. Each note not returned due to it being black money, means that much earning for the Govt. I would like to see RBI calculations in Jan. Knowing Modi, we know those figures will for sure be made public.

Modi was given a presidential mandate, and his performance equals that.

Written by arpitgarg

November 9, 2016 at 3:54 pm

Posted in Political

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Tata vs Mistry

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tata_mistry.jpgWe haven’t heard the last of Tata vs Mistry. New revelations are coming out each day. Leaked emails, sound bytes, sources and what not. I don’t want to take sides here, but a bad image of India Inc is going out to the world. For investors looking to invest in in India, the feud is a red flag.

I was puzzled as to the manner of removal of Mistry (not the removal itself). Removal of a chairman is the prerogative of Board of Directors, which was well within its right. However the manner was puzzling. There was a report that Mistry was asked by Ratan Tata prior to the board meet to step down, but Mistry turned it down. There has been no clarification on this from either Mistry or Tata’s. Mistry, who has been a lot vocal on a lot of things, is conspicuously silent on this report.

I see a deep rift and a suspicion that Board members had with Mistry, so much so that they thought that giving Mistry 2 week notice might be detrimental. Maybe they feared sabotage. That can be the only logical explanation. Mistry has not covered himself with glory by badmouthing Tata Group. That’s not what grownups do. It is his conduct post the exit that makes me and a lot of us wonder. Outing privileged information is just not a done deal.

If you see the ouster as Chairman as a reputation loss that you need to salvage by going with a hammer after the organization, you were wrong to become the chairman in the first place. After all it’s a job and it comes with a threat of termination.

I think the issue here is that he was a Chairman with 20% stake in the company. He was not an employee but the owner. He was too rich for his ego to take the termination in right spirit. Any employee level chairman would not have done so. He/She would have been worried about the prospects of next job. But not Mistry. He doesn’t need to find another job. He is hell of a rich guy and has his reputation loss to take care of.

I urge Mr. Mistry not to wash dirty linen in public. It doesn’t suit the stature of ex-chairman of Tata Group. As this moment, his conduct since exit makes me believe his ouster was the correct decision.

Written by arpitgarg

November 3, 2016 at 1:42 pm

Posted in General/Society, Real Incidents

Tagged with , ,

I get why Arnab did what he did.

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arnab_gowami.jpgArnab Goswami has quit. I have been away from blogging for couple of months. But the suddenity of this news, made me come back out of the exile. People are having/will have different reactions to the story. For a lot, Newshour@9 was like a much needed fix and they are bound to have withdrawal symptoms. The much competitive news space will bring cheers to the rivals, led by News18 and IndiaToday.

I read a post at FirstPost, a right wing digital print of News18. The writer (Bikram Vohra) was puzzled as to the motives of Arnab. Did he do it for more money, ambition? The writer speculated that Arnab will fail just like Oprah, Joey and inc. Well first all Mr. Vohra, you will not get it yet. Maybe down the line, but not at present. Right now your ambitions might be to write to more articles for your employer, get more fame, get more money and maybe get a studio show(Or something similar). For a lot of us (you and me both), what Arnab has achieved would be the pinnacle of all what we wish to achieve.

In that sense your article makes sense. Your article is bang on for mediocres but not for pioneers like Arnab. Your article might be true for majority of normal people (who are good people), but not for the leaders (who are few). You quoted few examples who fell but at least they dared to jump. There are a lot more who would have fallen and a few who would have flown.

Mr. Vohra, for a mediocre like you (and me), making sense of Arnab might be tough. After all he left the job that was your (and mine) ultimate dream. What more could he want, you ask? The world, he answers. His contemporaries envied him, they would envy him some more. I get why Arnab did what he did. Hope down the line you get it too.

Written by arpitgarg

November 2, 2016 at 11:15 am

Posted in Media

Tagged with , , , ,

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