Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Crass, low-level and hooliganism to the core.

The following blogpost was carried on the website FirstPost too :). 
I have written in the past too, how Rajdeep Sardesai (and the channel he co-owned) have lied and spread lies about Narendra Modi. However, what transpired over at the Madison Square Garden at New York takes lying to an entirely new different level altogether! 

I think there are three very distinct angles that we will need to discuss here:

1. The crass and low-level journalism of Rajdeep Sardesai in New York
2. The hooliganism of Rajdeep Sardesai in New York, and the response of his fraternity. 
3. The famous "eye witness FB account" that the fraternity of Rajdeep Sardesai shared massively. 

The crass and low-level journalism

India Today released an "official" video in which Rajdeep was heckled (as if heckling is a nasty crime). In an attempt to gain sympathy, they have unwittingly exposed the low-level journalism their high-level journalists resort to! Let's focus on the first part of the video. Rajdeep, taking a very demeaning tone, is seen posing many questions to the crowd gathered there. One of his first comments - "My worry is that the moment I ask them to be noisy, they will start with Har Har Modi, Ghar Ghar Modi". It just beats me - why should he be "worried" if the crowd (that is assembled to listen to Modi) praises Modi?!

And then very soon he comes to his agenda - Modi won 31% of the vote! First - that is an absolute lie. The NDA won 38.5% of the popular votes cast. That's a whopping 7.5% difference this guy is ignoring. But for a guy who ran a program called "Billion Votes" when there are only 800 million eligible voters, it's too much for us to expect that he values numbers well. He asks the crowd a loaded question, which when listened to carefully means this - "Modi doesn't answer my question, atleast you do it"! 

To a response that 1.25 billion people are with Modi,  here's the question he posed: "There are number of people who opposed Modi. What would you like to tell those who are still critics of Modi, who believe that Mr. Modi has to answer certain questions that he has still not answered" The youngsters there gave him a befitting reply - "Before elections, we may be divided. But after election, it is one Prime Minister (for all 1.25 billion people)". Not happy with the intelligent responses he has been getting, Rajdeep changes tack and asks if anyone paid to come to the event. Again not happy with the boisterous NO, he goes back to asking "Can one man change India?" to which he got another befitting response - "If one woman can loot India, one man can certainly change India"!

But this is just a prelude. The sickening part of the journalism starts at around the 4th minute. He first asks the crowd, "Will you go back to India?" as if that is the only measure to show appreciation of Modi. And then comes the killer question:

"Many people believe that the Indian American Community, the Indians here talk a lot but don't do anything". 

One person from the crowd shouted "Who are these many people"? To which Rajdeep quotes Jagdish Bhagwati (as if he is many people) and repeats the question multiple times "Why doesn't Indian American Community do more for India?" And he taunts the crowd with "Comon, answer me". It is a shame and pity that Rajdeep uses such a tone to demean the hard work of so many private individuals assembled there. Please watch the video to see how he stresses on this question so much, and in a tone unbecoming of a visitor. If you think this is some "contrarian questions" that a journalist is posing, here's a tweet that Rajdeep RT'ed on the same day:

"Very cute! Migrated willingly to USA, won't come back & yet chiming: "I love my India." Is their India Real or Imagined? Ancient or Modern?"

Why does Rajdeep and their ilk look down upon these people, who have made a choice to pursue other (and perhaps better) opportunities abroad? Is it their belief that you lose right to think about your country once you leave it for earning your bread and butter? 

Also, why preface *your* view with "many people believe", "number of people think"? I have written earlier too on this "many people" logic here - why can't you pose a question just like you want to ask, instead of prefacing it with "many people"? I, for one, am keen to ask Rajdeep a question on these lines -"Many people believe you practice gutter journalism" and would love to hear his response! 

At around the 5th minute, the "heckling" starts. Rajdeep takes us to the miniscule crowd that is now shouting "Rajdeep Murdabad". Perhaps they got riled that he is questioning their love towards India? He tells them, "I will ask you a question. I will ask you a simple question" but never gets to asking the question! And out of nowhere, he suddenly asks the crowd "Did Modi teach you to behave badly? Did America teach you to behave badly?". Whoa - what kind of crass and crappy generalisation is this?! Narendra Modi is the Prime Minister of India - like him or not, give him the respect he deserves for that. 

The hooliganism of Rajdeep Sardesai in NY and the response of his fraternity

Immediately after this, Rajdeep went to town saying he was assaulted, pushed etc. And then this 11 second video surfaced on the net. The video showed Rajdeep in a scuffle with another man. From the video, it was not clear who started the scuffle, so Rajdeep's fraternity (as is their wont) concluded that Rajdeep got assaulted first! And then they went to town. 

  • Siddarth Varadarajan: "Just saw shocking YouTube clip of Modi Bhakts attacking @sardesairajdeep in NYC. Media, political parties must condemn this intimidation.
  • Namita Bhandare: "Assault of one journalist is an assault on entire press. Editors Guild must seek an apology fm the organisers."
  • Shiv Aroor: "Saw it frame by frame. The assaulter belongs to a prison cell"
  • Sunetra: "We journos are meant to ask provocative sometimes obnoxious questions, not warm fuzzy ones. Intimidation ain't gonna work #RajdeepAttacked"
  • Barkha Dutt: "Shocked to hear about attack on @sardesairajdeep. unacceptable to settle disagreements in this manner. Condemnable"
  • Suparna Singh of NDTV:"  @sardesairajdeep shameful attack.  We at NDTV stand with you. (And here she gave the link of their article) 

There are many more, but I chose only a few to highlight the response based on the 11 second video. It was conclusive enough for them to "Stand with Rajdeep". Infact, Sunetra went one step forward and said that they have the right to ask provocative questions but no one should get provoked. The provocative question here, by the way, was this" "Why don't you do anything for India?"

After a few hours, this 28 second video clip was uploaded to youtube. It is crystal clear from this video that it was Rajdeep who first manhandled the person after calling him an "asshole". I watched the video 3 times just to make sure it was Rajdeep who attacked first. Entire fraternity went silent. Namita Bhandare and Sunetra think this is not conclusive enough proof now, and we need a fuller video! I have asked Suparna Singh if she plans to update the NDTV article with the latest 28 second video; she responded back saying they don't plan to update any more videos because there are so many of them floating around! How convenient really!  Shiv Aroor doesn't tell us which video he watched "frame by frame". 

Rajdeep Sardesai then tweets this: 

"First, Kick and abuse while I am on cam asking questions, then release video selectively. Rule of the mob."

The official video released by India Today when Rajdeep was "on cam asking questions" does NOT show us that he was being kicked and abused. Why is Rajdeep not releasing the video where he claims he was "kicked"? Where he claims he was "abused"? He pompously also announced this earlier in the day: 

"Glad we caught the idiots on cam. Only way to shame the mob is to show them. "

But guess what - he hasn't shown the mob to us yet! If he means that those who shouted "Rajdeep Murdabad" are the "idiots on cam", then surely Rajdeep must learn to take criticism in his stride (as none less than Amitabh Bachchan once advised him!). The guy whom Rajdeep manhandled has posted his account on the blogosphere. He claims to have called Rajdeep as Newstrader number 1, and that got to Rajdeep who in turn called him an asshole. Amusing how Rajdeep thinks that he can accuse an entire community, right in front of them, of "not doing anything" for India but the same folks should not call him a "newstrader"! 

It was shocking to note this boorish and uncouth behaviour of Rajdeep Sardesai. Coupled with fact that he did not release any video to support his claim and the monstrous silence of all those from his fraternity who "stood with rajdeep", it was beginning to dawn upon them that they have been caught red-handed. 

The famous "eye witness FB account"

Confronted with such clear video evidence, and bewildered on how to react, the entire fraternity now started taking solace in an "eye witness account" posted on Facebook. Even Congress spokesperson Ajay Maken retweeted this account. 

Rajdeep Sardesai himself tweeted that we all read this account. This eye-witness account refers to an incident that happened way after all of the above happened. He says Rajdeep was surrounded by a mob who were hurling the choicest of the abuses and yet Rajdeep kept his calm and kept smiling. This happened for nearly 25 minutes according to him. There was pushing and shoving and ofcourse abusing again. The account says: 

"Despite my repeated requests to stay away from Rajdeep, the mob continued to shout pro-Modi slogans right in front of his face to instigate him"

Why does the eye witness think Rajdeep will get instigated by pro-Modi (who is now the Prime Minister of India) slogans? What kind of instigation strategy is this? By asking us to read the account, is Rajdeep also endorsing the view that pro-Modi slogans get to him? Is that why he said at the beginning of that India Today video that he is "worried" crowd will start "Har Har Modi"?

 Here is a 3 minute video that was posted on youtube about this incident. There was zero shoving and pushing in those 3 minutes. The very fact that Rajdeep was there for ~20 minutes without getting hurt meant that there was no pushing. It is in this video that Rajdeep declares that "kuch logo ke paas paise aate hai, class nahi". There were questions floating around though - "why are you afraid", "what about cash for votes" etc. If this is abuse, then I really pity the fraternity. 

There are other eye witness accounts floating around that talk about the boorish behavior of Rajdeep too (Example 1 and 2) – guess what, the fraternity will not talk about them!


Many fellow tweeters commented that if this is the kind of propaganda the newstraders are capable of, when there is strong evidence available against their argument, then imagine what they are capable of in the absence of such evidence. It is a pity that this fraternity wants to rake up non-issues at every available opportunity. It is a shame that this fraternity resorts to "whatever it takes" to deride Modi - now even actions of some random supporter on ground is because of Modi. 

It is a sad reflection on this fraternity that they pursue an agenda and don't like to own it up fully. The agenda in this instance was to discredit not just the Prime Minister of India, but private individuals of India (or Indian origin) and their hard work in trying to live a good life. It is appalling and beyond belief that an entire fraternity can lie, stick to it, and even discredit those putting the truth out there. This is a very very scary side of the English TV media. 

Either Rajdeep Sardesai and his fraternity must release the video in which he claims he was "kicked while on cam" or apologize to their readers/viewers for wilfully misleading them, yet again. This incident will go down in the annals of the TV history as one of the most disgusting acts by Rajdeep's fraternity. 

Tailpiece: Rediff ran a story that claimed Gautam Adani spoke to Rajdeep on behalf of Modi, to tell Rajdeep that Modi is upset. Gautam Adani denied this. Yet, rediff is sticking to this ridiculous story. The Prime Minister of India has far better things to do than think about the likes of Rajdeep. 

Update: Rajdeep Sardesai finally accepts to have been the one who got violent that day. Something he could have done on day 1.