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BY VINOD MIRANI
India as a country has been making definitive changes in the way it works. Drastic laws are being planned and huge protests are being launched. As it seems, some vital and long overdue changes are being put in place. There are those who approve and there are the ones who don’t.
Earlier, as it happens in most democracies, these debates and oppositions were limited to Parliament. Yes, some protests did come out in the streets, but then the reasons were often justified.
Now, all sorts of opinions, accusations and oppositions, have started coming up on the outlets of social media, especially Twitter. And most vocal on social media seem to be some film personalities. It is not as if they take a stand against all the wrongdoings that happens around us or in India in general. None of the things they opine affects them directly or indirectly. In fact, when a matter affects the film industry, or one of them personally, they have nothing to say, for or against. A recent example is that of actor Payal Rohtagi. She was arrested and put in jail for nine days because she posted something against erstwhile Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. There was no protest from the social media coterie against this. Nobody raised the intolerance issue!
They are too busy worrying about national issues to spare time for fellow actors. In my column last week, I wrote about filmstars endorsing brands, and the idea was to convey that they don’t really help sell a product. Same is the case on social media. At times, it is also television where these film people get to air their views. But, television does not care to indulge smalltimers who raise issues, while the print media gives them space as and when. What happens is that, two sides take positions and that finally leads to mudslinging and name-calling.
Protesting is a way of life in a democratic country. However, this is about the film folk airing their opinions they can well avoid.
Suddenly, they become experts on just about everything that happens in the country, though what they demonstrate through their arguments is a total lack of knowledge as well as low IQ level. They always seem to be in a great hurry to react to everything that happens around them, especially what governments do. Never care to verify the details.
What has been observed from the posts of the self-styled experts on all the issues is that, their careers in filmdom are in the doldrums or are limited to an insignificant level. Only social media keeps them in the public eye — not that it amounts to much. Because, whatever little following they enjoy on Twitter never reflects on their box-office draw. Twitter following does not materialise in ticket sales at a cinema.
Talking of ‘following’ on social media, it does not actually reflect popularity. People follow to check on you, to counter you, abuse you or just as a pastime. Talking of ‘following’, can any of these create a following in real life and lead a crusade? The other day, Farhan Akhtar went and joined a protest meet at Mumbai’s August Kranti ground. Now, that is like boarding a running train, a photo-op.
Looks like Twitter has become the hotbed for venting frustrations as well as drawing attention. The print and the electronic media being what they are now, amplify the views posted on social media and takes them further to a larger audience. They plan their evening debates on Twitter posts! The problem with TV and print media is that they have slots to fill and, for that, anything goes.
There were occasions like demonetisation, GST, Article 370 and, now the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). And, soon as the Bill was passed in both houses of Parliament, the coterie got busy on Twitter. No matter what it was, no matter the details. They had to oppose it! The only place where their posts were acknowledged was on TV debates.
Major stars who matter — like Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar, Deepika Padukone — are among the most followed twitterati in the country from the film field. Why are none of these crusaders rated among the top? And, the most followed don’t get involved in petty social media posts. They know they can’t indulge in arguments with nonentities who seek attention. They also know there is nothing to defend from these crusaders.
However, there is one person, Kangana Ranaut, who always takes up the cudgels on social media for issues against the biggest of bosses of the film world. According to her, those who don’t react are cowards. That is not really true, every dignified and successful film personality cannot get into an argument with somebody on the basis of his or her posts on social media.
There have been a few dissenting voices from some actors like Aamir Khan and Naseeruddin Shah. Not on Twitter but in public. Shah, who played a man blowing up terrorists in “A Wednesday” in 2008, thought his family was not safe in India. If you read his biography, he is not even a first-generation Indian! Then there was Aamir Khan whose wife feared for her family in India! He lost some ad-assignments as a result. Earlier, he had joined forces with social activist Medha Patkar, suggesting the blocking of Sardar Sarovar Dam. His film, “Fanaa”, and the film’s producer (YRF) paid the price, since the film could not be released in Gujarat. I’m not sure if Aamir even knew the background of the project!
Eventually, he ended up making a fool of himself. He was anchoring a TV serial, “Satyamev Jayate”, based on social issues or injustice done to a common man. May be, he expected his standing up against Sardar Sarovar would further his image as a crusader for the deprived! At times, stars use such public platforms to promote their films. At most times, such ideas backfire.
Amitabh Bachchan was among the first to take to the Internet when he started writing a blog which he still continues. Writing a blog needs content and a valid topic. Not many who do the rabble-rousing on Twitter will do so because that would need elaborating on what they want to convey. On Twitter, it is easy because there is a limit on characters one needs to use, so no need to use brains.
The irony is those who cry about democracy being in danger and complain about freedom of expression enjoy all the benefits of both — democracy as well as freedom of all kinds. Save for a few, no wonder, filmstars turned crusaders are not taken seriously. (IANS)
As weather cleared up in Uttarakhand, Char Dham Yatra restored on Friday with more than 16,000 devotees resuming the pilgrimage from the Rishikesh camp.
According to sources, road leading to Badrinath has been repaired and helicopter service has also resumed.
Meanwhile, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami visited Dungi village and met families of people who were missing after the landslip incident, and consoled them.
Dhami assured them of all possible assistance. Two people from the village are still reported to be missing.
Pilgrims were seen leaving from Rishikesh Char Dham Bus terminal and Haridwar bus station for the pilgrimage since morning.
As per the state government, various departments -- Devasthanam Board, police are assisting the pilgrims.
Police Chowki Yatra Bus Terminal, Rishikesh, was announcing passenger-information via loudspeaker.
Free RT-PCR tests of pilgrims were being conducted at Rishikesh bus terminal.
Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board's media in-charge Dr Harish Gaur said pilgrimage was on in Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri, while for Kedarnath, helicopter service was also available.
Though the weather was cold in all dhams, thankfully there was no rain, he added.
Portals of the temple in Badrinath will close on November 20, Gangotri on November 5, while that of Kedarnath and Yamunotri on November 6.
Uttarakhand floods, triggered by a major downpour from October 17 to 19, have claimed 65 lives so far, 3,500 people have been rescued while 16,000 evacuated to safety.
Seventeen teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), seven teams of State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), 15 companies of Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) and 5,000 police personnel have been engaged in rescue and relief operations.
The state has already been provided with Rs 250 crore Disaster Fund which is being used for relief works.
To prevent spread of the diseases, the Central and state governments have decided to send medical teams to the affected areas.
Snapped power lines will be restored at the earliest, the government assured.
The state government said that as soon as alert for heavy rainfall was issued, the Incident Response System was activated at state and district levels, and pilgrims were halted at safer places. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: Uttarakhand, India, Char Dham Yatra, PushkarDhami, Rishikesh.
The Centre has continued the Naga peace talks with the Isak-Muivah faction of National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) leaders, but negotiations face roadblocks as the Naga leaders are adamant in their main demands for a separate Constitution and flag.
The sources aware of these developments said that the Centre was hopeful that a successful solution of the six decades-long peace talks would arrive at a logical conclusion, but in the recent statements, Naga leaders have accused the Centre of offering post-solution options.
Sources quoting the stand of Naga leaders said that NSCN's stand was loud and clear that it would not follow the forbidden route to the Naga solution that was linked to foregoing the Naga national flag and Constitution, which is the face of the Naga political struggle and identity.
The Naga leaders have also said that the Centre has been using divisive policy and flattery in the name of finding the Naga political solution when the matters heated up.
When the Centre resumed the peace process in September this year and sent the former special director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) A.K. Mishra as the Ministry of Home Affairs' emissary to the rebel outfit's chief negotiator and general secretary T. Muivah, he assured him (Muivah) that the peace talks would be initiated under the original framework signed in 2015, a source in the Naga rebel group said.
"Here we are talking about the Naga national flag and Yehzabo (Constitution), the two issues that are holding up the Naga solution under the ongoing Indo-Naga political talks in Delhi.
"The chequered history of the Indo-Naga political issue is clear enough before us, with accords and agreements that were never meant to be implemented in letter and spirit", an important office-bearer of the rebel outfit said while criticizing the governments' stand.
Accusing the Centre, he further accused the Centre of persuading the Naga people again to accept whatever is being offered to hurry up the Naga talks.
On the invitation of the Centre, the senior leaders of the NSCN-IM including T. Muivah arrived in the national capital on October 6 this year to hold another round of talks with the Centre.
Both, the Centre and the Naga leaders had indicated their keenness on resolving this long pending issue by the end of this year in an amicable manner.
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sharma, who is also chairman of North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), and Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio had been actively involved in the resumption of the peace talks and taking it forward to a logical conclusion.
Soon after the transfer of Nagaland Governor R.N. Ravi, who was appointed as the Centre's interlocutor for the Naga peace talks on August 29, 2014, to Tamil Nadu, the peace talks resumed on September 20 in Kohima when the Centre representative met the Naga leaders and invited them to visit Delhi for further rounds of peace talks.
The NSCN-IM and the other outfits entered into a ceasefire agreement with the Government of India in 1997 and over 80 rounds of negotiations with the Centre have been held in the past in successive governments. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: Nagaland, India, Constitution, Politics, Flag.
The series decider for the Test series between England and India will now be played at Edgbaston from July 1 next year, said the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday. India is currently leading the series 2-1 before the fifth Test at Old Trafford was cancelled hours before the start due to concerns over COVID-19 outbreak in the tourists' camp.
"The fifth match of the LV= Insurance Test Series between England Men and India Men has been rescheduled and will now take place in July 2022. The match, which was due to take place last month at Emirates Old Trafford, was called off when India were unable to field a team due to fears of a further increase in the number of Covid-19 cases inside the camp," said an ECB statement.
"With India leading the series 2-1, the concluding fifth match will now take place from July 1, 2022, at Edgbaston, following an agreement between the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)," added the statement.
ECB also said that due to the rescheduled Test, the white-ball series between England and India will now start six days later than originally planned. The T20I series will begin on July 7 at Ageas Bowl with Edgbaston and Trent Bridge hosting the second and third matches respectively on July 9 and 10. It will be followed by the ODI series starting on July 12 at The Oval followed by Lord's and Old Trafford hosting the second and third ODI on July 14 and 17 respectively.
"Ticket holders do not have to take any action as all tickets will remain valid for the equivalent rearranged matchday at their host venue. Host venues will communicate the new fixture details to ticket purchasers and the options available to them, including the timeframe for requesting a refund if they are not able to attend the new match day," further said the statement.
"We are very pleased that we have reached an agreement with BCCI to creating a fitting end to what has been a brilliant series so far. I'm very grateful to all the venues involved for the cooperation they've shown in allowing us to reschedule this match. I'd also like to thank Cricket South Africa for their support and understanding to allow these changes to be possible," said Tom Harrison, the CEO of the ECB.
"We would like to apologise again to fans for the disruption and disappointment of September events. We know it was a day that so many had planned long in advance. We recognise that accommodating this extra match means a tighter schedule for the white ball series. We will continue to manage our players' welfare and workloads through next year while we also continue to seek the optimum schedule for fans, players and our partners across the game."
"I am delighted that the England-India Test series will now have its rightful conclusion. The four Test matches were riveting, and we needed a fitting finale. The BCCI recognizes and respects the traditional form of the game and is also mindful of its role and obligations towards fellow Board Members. In the last two months, both BCCI and the ECB have been engaged in discussions and our efforts were aimed at finding a suitable window. I thank the ECB for their understanding and patience in finding an amicable solution," said BCCI Secretary Jay Shah. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: India, Britain, BCCI, Test Match, Cricket.