MEET THE INDIAN-AMERICAN AT CENTRE OF US MOVE TO REPEAL NET NEUTRALITY RULES

The article originally appeared on India Today on 15 December.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the telecom regulator of the United States of America, has repealed a landmark law the country passed in 2015 to ensure net neutrality in the US and Ajit Pai, a son of immigrant Indians, is at the centre of the debate. He heads the US FCC.

Pai is a Republican, the same party as American President Donald J Trump, and was made the FCC chief in January 2017, the same month the Trump administration took over the White House.

The FCC, the US equivalent of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), has voted in favour of repealing a 2015 law enacted by itself under the Barack Obama government. The FCC is overseen by the US Congressional chairs and currently, like the US Congress (the American equivalent of Parliament), the Republicans are in majority in the FCC, a fact that helped the proposal moved by Pai score a 3-2 victory. Incidentally, Ajit Pai was appointed a commissioner in the FCC in 2012 by then president Barack Obama.

The move by Pai, whose FCC bio states that “consumers benefit most from competition, not pre-emptive regulation and regulators should be skeptical (sic) of pleas to regulate rivals”, has sharply divided America with critics saying repealing the net neutrality law will kill the spirit of free internet.

Critics argue that the repeal plan will benefit only few big telecom players who wield immense power over the flow of internet and telecommunication channels. Opponents of the repeal bill, named Restoring Internet Freedom Order, say it will effectively shut down or marginalise small players and will start a rush of predatory discriminating practices where one telecom company will try all to disadvantage a rival company’s data flowing through its cables.

And above all, internet users will be the ultimate losers with their freedom to get unrestrained access to all content and data gone, the critics add. Net neutrality, they say, ensures that no service provider will speed up or throttle a particular service because of its business interests.

IN INDIA

India has also been through this important debate. The country saw a major controversy over services such as Facebook’s Free Basics and Airtel Zero plans. These differential pricing plans were alleged to be discriminatory in nature as they would have given preferential treatment to content and data of a particiular telecom company or internet service provider (ISP).

Citizens here were up in arms over this and a public outcry forced the government and the TRAI to initiate consultations on building a framework to ensure net neutrality in the Indian market. And, its outcome has been positive so far with TRAI vouching to uphold the principles of net neutrality in recommendations it released last month.

Ajit Pai’s move is threatening to undo that in America, the world’s largest free market for the internet. Pai’s move has also unnerved the internet’s founding fathers Tim Berners-Lee and Vinton Cerf and many other internet pioneers including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Mozilla’s Mitchell Baker.

They wrote an open letter to US Congress calling on it to cancel the proposed vote yesterday. They called the repeal plan flawed and an imminent threat to the internet.

But Pai was unnerved. He tweeted this morning to let the world know that there would be no change in his plans, “U.S. @SenateMajLdr supports @FCC plan to restore Internet freedom, saying our Internet economy is the “direct result of a bipartisan desire to create an environment of advancement-one that utilized a light regulatory touch.”

Ajit Pai’s parents were doctors. His mother was from Karnataka and father from Andhra Pradesh. They migrated to America where Pai was born in 1973 in Buffalo, New York.

A graduate from Harvard and University of Chicago Law School, Pai’s law career includes assignments mostly with the US judicial services and the US Congress in difference capacities as well as stints with private corporations like Verizon Jenner & Block.

©SantoshChaubey

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AJIT PAI, SON OF IMMIGRANT INDIANS, IS AT THE CENTRE OF US NET NEUTRALITY DEBATE

Ajit Pai, son of immigrant Indians, is at the centre of the raging net neutrality debate in the United States. He heads the US body which regulates the internet in America, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). He is a Republican and was made the FCC chief in January 2017, the same month the Trump Government was inaugurated in the White House.

The FCC, the US equivalent of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), is bringing a proposal to repeal a 2015 law enacted by it under the Barack Obama Government. The FCC is overseen by US Congressional chairs. The repeal plan is slated for voting today and analysts have projected that it would be approved. Incidentally, Ajit Pai was appointed a commissioner in the FCC in 2012 by Barack Obama only.

The move by Pai, whose FCC bio* states that “consumers benefit most from competition, not pre-emptive regulation and regulators should be skeptical of pleas to regulate rivals”, has sharply divided America with critics saying it will kill the spirit of free internet. Critics argue that the repeal plan will benefit only few big telecom players who wield immense power over the flow of internet and telecommunication channels. The repeal bill, Restoring Internet Freedom Order, will effectively shut down or marginalize small players and will start a rush of predatory discriminating practices where one telecom company will try all to discredit its rival company’s data flowing through its cables.

And above all, the people will be the ultimate losers with their freedom to get unrestrained access to every content and data gone, something that is at the heart of net neutrality which aims to ensure level playing field for every content, every data flowing through communication channels, be it by the world’s largest service provide or a start-up.

India has also been through this important debate. We should not forget the controversy generated by moves like Facebook’s Free Basics and Airtel Zero plans. These differential pricing plans were discriminatory in nature as they would have given preferential treatment to content and data of one telecom company or internet service provider (ISP) over the other. People were naturally outraged at this and their mobilization forced the government and the TRAI to initiate consultations to build a framework to ensure net neutrality in the Indian market. And its outcome has been positive so far with TRAI vouching to uphold the principal of net neutrality in India in its final recommendations on the issue that came out last month.

But Ajit Pai’s may undo all that in America, the world’s largest free market for the internet, and a sort of role-model for the world. And Pai’s move is supported by a lobby of few powerful companies including Verizon, one of America’s biggest telecom services providers and Pai’s former employer, as many media reports* suggest. A Guardian report* writes that Pai is adamant to move ahead with his repeal plan in spite of “members of the public across the political spectrum, be it Democrats or Republicans, supporting the net neutrality rules as revealed in the many polls*.”

Pai’s move has also unnerved the Internet’s founding fathers* Tim Berners-Lee and Vinton Cerf and many other internet pioneers including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Mozilla’s Mitchell Baker. They have written an open letter to the US Congress calling on it to cancel the proposed vote today calling Pai’s repeal plan flawed and an imminent threat to the Internet. But Pai, too, is unnerved. He tweeted this morning to let the world know that there would be no change in his plans, “U.S. @SenateMajLdr supports @FCC plan to restore Internet freedom, saying our Internet economy is the “direct result of a bipartisan desire to create an environment of advancement–one that utilized a light regulatory touch.”

Ajit Pai’s parents were doctors. His mother was from Karnataka and father from Andhra Pradesh. They migrated to America where Pai was born in 1973 in Buffalo, New York. A graduate from Harvard and University of Chicago Law School, Pai’s law career includes assignments mostly with the US judicial services and the US Congress in difference capacities as well as stints with private corporations like Verizon Jenner & Block.

©SantoshChaubey

INTERNET’S FOUNDING FATHERS CALL ON US CONGRESS TO SAVE INTERNET FROM TRUMP’S MAN

The article originally appeared on India Today.

Tim Berners-Lee and Vinton Cerf, the founding fathers of the Internet, have written to the US Congress to save the Internet from the disastrous consequences of a proposed repeal of a Barack Obama era law on net neutrality that ensured level playing field for all content and every sort of data by ensuring stiff regulations for the Internet service providers (ISPs).

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), under the Barack Obama presidency, had adopted the net neutrality rules in February 2015 and enacted it in a law in June that year. The law gave the US government sweeping power over the network providers to check the discriminatory practices with the content flowing through their channels.

Here, in India, we are going through the grinding of that process and thankfully, after over a year of consultation papers, public comments and meetings, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) last month decided to uphold the supremacy of net neutrality in India.

Now Ajit Pai, son of Indian immigrants and a Republican, who was made the FCC chief by US President Donald Trump in January 2017, is bringing a repeal proposal to that landmark law which is scheduled for voting on December 14.

But the reports that the proposed repeal plan is expected to be approved have worried the proponents of a free internet accessible for all, and the letter by the founding fathers of the Internet reflects that sentiment.

The letter addressed to the Democratic and Republican chairs that control the FCC says that “the FCC’s proposed order is based on a flawed and factually inaccurate understanding of Internet technology” terming the proposed Restoring Internet Freedom Order an imminent threat to the Internet, “The FCC’s rushed and technically incorrect proposed order to repeal net neutrality protections without any replacement is an imminent threat to the Internet we worked so hard to create. It should be stopped.”

The letter has urged to US lawmakers to cancel the proposed vote. The open letter that is signed by 19 other internet pioneers including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Mozilla’s Mitchell Baker and Internet Achieves founder Brewster Kahle, alleges the FCC headed by Pai is acting in haste ignoring exerts’ comments, over 23 million pro net neutrality comments by public and against the established practice, has not held even a single public meeting to discuss its proposed repeal order.

The open letter also alleges that the FCC didn’t bother to investigate and explain to people the flaws of its online comment system “including bot-generated comments that impersonated Americans, including dead people, and an unexplained outage of the FCC’s on-line comment system that occurred at the very moment TV host John Oliver was encouraging Americans to submit comments to the system.”

BELOW IS THE TEXT OF THE OPEN LETTER SIGNED BY THE INTERNET’S FOUNDING FATHERS AND PIONEERS:

We are the pioneers and technologists who created and now operate the Internet, and some of the innovators and business people who, like many others, depend on it for our livelihood. We are writing to respectfully urge you to call on FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to cancel the December 14 vote on the FCC’s proposed Restoring Internet Freedom Order (WC Docket No. 17-108 ).

This proposed Order would repeal key network neutrality protections that prevent Internet access providers from blocking content, websites and applications, slowing or speeding up services or classes of service, and charging online services for access or fast lanes to Internet access providers’ customers. The proposed Order would also repeal oversight over other unreasonable discrimination and unreasonable practices, and over interconnection with last-mile Internet access providers. The proposed Order removes long-standing FCC oversight over Internet access providers without an adequate replacement to protect consumers, free markets and online innovation.

It is important to understand that the FCC’s proposed Order is based on a flawed and factually inaccurate understanding of Internet technology. These flaws and inaccuracies were documented in detail in a 43-page-long joint comment signed by over 200 of the most prominent Internet pioneers and engineers and submitted to the FCC on July 17, 2017. Despite this comment, the FCC did not correct its misunderstandings, but instead premised the proposed Order on the very technical flaws the comment explained. The technically-incorrect proposed Order dismantles 15 years of targeted oversight from both Republican and Democratic FCC chairs, who understood the threats that Internet access providers could pose to open markets on the Internet.

The experts’ comment was not the only one the FCC ignored. Over 23 million comments have been submitted by a public that is clearly passionate about protecting the Internet. The FCC could not possibly have considered these adequately.

Indeed, breaking with established practice, the FCC has not held a single open public meeting to hear from citizens and experts about the proposed Order.

Furthermore, the FCC’s online comment system has been plagued by major problems that the FCC has not had time to investigate. These include bot-generated comments that impersonated Americans, including dead people, and an unexplained outage of the FCC’s on-line comment system that occurred at the very moment TV host John Oliver was encouraging Americans to submit comments to the system.

Compounding our concern, the FCC has failed to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests about these incidents and failed to provide information to a New York State Attorney General’s investigation of them. We therefore call on you to urge FCC Chairman Pai to cancel the FCC’s vote. The FCC’s rushed and technically incorrect proposed Order to abolish net neutrality protections without any replacement is an imminent threat to the Internet we worked so hard to create. It should be stopped.

Signed,

Frederick J. Baker, IETF Chair 1996-2001, ISOC Board Chair 2002-2006
Mitchell Baker, Executive Chairwoman, Mozilla Foundation
Steven M. Bellovin, Internet pioneer, FTC Chief Technologist, 2012-2013
Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web & professor, MIT
John Borthwick, CEO, Betaworks
Scott O. Bradner, Internet pioneer
Vinton G. Cerf, Internet pioneer
Stephen D. Crocker, Internet pioneer
Whitfield Diffie, inventor of public-key cryptography
David J. Farber, Internet pioneer, FCC Chief Technologist 1999-2000
Dewayne Hendricks, CEO Tetherless Access
Martin E. Hellman, Internet security pioneer
Brewster Kahle, Internet pioneer, founder, Internet Archive
Susan Landau, cybersecurity expert & professor, Tufts University
Theodor Holm Nelson, hypertext pioneer
David P. Reed, Internet pioneer
Jennifer Rexford, Chair of Computer Science, Princeton University
Ronald L. Rivest, co-inventor of RSA public-key encryption algorithm
Paul Vixie, Internet pioneer
Stephen Wolff, Internet pioneer
Steve Wozniak, co-founder, Apple Computer

©SantoshChaubey

RIGHTIST, LEFTIST OR CENTRIST, YOU MUST FEEL OUTRAGED OVER GAURI LANKESH’S MURDER

A democracy can survive and emerge stronger only if it learns to get along with differing ideologies in a symbiotic relationship where ideologies, too, understand the importance of coexistence, be it rightist, leftist or centrist or so on. That brings accountability in a system driven by people while a continued streak of an ideology and its dominance, on the other hand, is detrimental for a democratic set-up.

And that is why everyone must come forward to denounce the dastardly act of gruesome killing of Gauri Lankesh, a senior journalist who epitomized what journalism was conceived as and what it means – a pillar of democracy and thus our societies.

Journalism is meant to give voice to the millions of silent majority in a country like India; journalism is expected to be an effective check in the wheels of development in a democratic society like ours; and journalism is designed to be a tool to spread not just information but also ideas in a developing economic like ours where the majority is still quality illiterate and under developed.

So, a journalist can be a news gatherer, an information disseminator, an activist or a crusader. It all depends on interplay of circumstances and yes, personal choices. And the ideological environment that he or she dwells in plays a central role in this shaping up of role (and opinion).

Gauri Lankesh, who never accepted government advertisements for her eponymous periodical to maintain her independence, was a fearless journalist who would speak her mind, right or wrong we may go on debating. But she was busy doing the kind of journalism that journalism expected her to do….something that we can say cause based journalism…irrespective of her personal inclinations.

If she was killed for that, we should see this as an ominous sign for the health of our democracy, the signs that have been here for long – with killing of journalists, rationalists, activists and whistleblowers like Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, MM Kalburgi Satyendra Dubey and S Manjunath and so on. The list is long.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), 27 journalists have been killed in India in the line of duty in last 25 years. Half of them were working on corruption stories. And no one has been convicted in any of these killings.

The annual report by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is even more disturbing. It presents more comprehensive data according to which between 1990 to 2016, 101 journalists and mediapersons were killed in India. Globally, 122 journalists were killed in 2016 including five in India. In 2017 so far, 25 journalists have been killed including Gauri Lankesh in India.

And the conviction rate has been nil or abysmally low, organizations like the Press Council of India and the Press Freedom have said in their detailed reports. The Press Council of India, in fact, has demanded that the government should enact a new law to ensure safety of journalists.

Yes, we have a robustly functional democracy that is surviving well for the past seven decades but it has its own inherent flaws that have put shackles in its stride to become a stronger, mature and model democracy like America, most of the European countries and other western nations are.

They could travel to achieve so much because they learnt to develop an ecosystem where different ideologies coexisted and thrived, something where we have been failing. And Gauri Lankesh’s murder, like every other such case, reminds us again that we are still suspended in that mode.

Being a rightist or a leftist or centrist is not an issue. Every ideology has its good and bad elements and followers. The question is of balance and interplay of ideologies in a democratic set-up that ensures accountability in every level of administration and governance.

The countries that progressed to become model democratic states saw healthy development of economy and society because ideologies respected each other when it came to change of guard. Something that in turn ensured accountability and thus their growth and development, minimizing democratic flaws and autocratic features like corruption, nepotism, one-party rule, opaque systems, administrative apathy and so on.

©SantoshChaubey

DONALD TRUMP THREATENS TO BAN WHITE HOUSE PRESS BRIEFINGS AFTER ROW OVER FBI DIRECTOR COMEY’S OUSTER

The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is bit modified and extended.

US President Donald Trump has indicated that he may do something unthinkable again, after trying to ban Muslims from some countries and immigrants from the US in which he miserably failed. He has threatened to stop the White House Press briefings all altogether, a tradition that has been in place since 1929 when the first White House Press Secretary George Akerson was appointed by President Herbert Hoover.

With a barrage of tweets, he is doing his favourite pastime again, i.e., media bashing. But what is important that he has gone a step further and has suggested that he may stop the White House press briefings all together and would instead prefer to send written handouts.

Donald J. Trump‏Verified account
@realDonaldTrump
The Fake Media is working overtime today!
5:23 PM – 12 May 2017

Donald J. Trump‏Verified account
@realDonaldTrump
As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy!….
5:29 PM – 12 May 2017

Donald J. Trump‏Verified account
@realDonaldTrump
…Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future “press briefings” and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???
5:37 PM – 12 May 2017

His latest flashpoint with Media is the way his press office has dealt with his unexpected firing of James Comey, the FBI Director. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, deputy Press Secretary of the White House, first said that Comey’s firing would not affect at all the investigation into the Russian meddling in the US presidential election. Then she said that Comey’s removal would hasten the investigation and the White House decision was shaped by it.

But all this has been dumped by Donald Trump himself who has said he fired Comey to ensure that the Russian meddling investigation is done “absolutely properly” and Comey’s firing may, in fact, ‘lengthen the investigation’. Also, before it, several White House officials sent out messages that Comey’s firing was for mishandling the email leak issue of Hillary Clinton and was, in no way, related to the investigation into Russian hacking.

Now that is a lot of fodder for any country’s media and the way Trump’s White House mishandled the James Comey firing affair, it has swept the US media. Many US senators have vocally criticized the decision, terming it an attempt by Trump to affect the FBI investigations as it may prove that Trump was benefitted from the Russian meddling in the US presidential election last year. The White House’s moment of humiliation was further added by the comments of the acting FBI Director who praised Comey and said the agency had full faith in him.

Donald Trump’s press wing, under his Press Secretary Sean Spicer has seen wide criticism and therefore humiliation because of its inaccurate briefings and the harsh language used by its spokespersons including Sean Spicer.

Spicer, in fact, began on a wrong note in his very first press briefing when he termed Donald Trump’s inauguration as the most watched of all US presidential inaugurations so far, something that he was forced to retract very soon. The list of his controversies is long including the one where he messed up his wisdom with inaccuracies and misplaced comparisons when he said that ‘even Nazi Hitler didn’t use chemical weapons while speaking about Syrian chemical attack’, something for which he had to issue public apology.

And this White House press wing and its Press Secretary and other spokespersons have to speak for a president who himself has given rise to series of controversies ever since his inauguration on January 20 this year, be it his divisive rhetoric, his immigration and travel ban order or the Mexican border wall or Obamacare repeal or pulling US out of international trade deals or threatening strategic military alliances like the NATO.

©SantoshChaubey

PAKISTAN MILITARY FINALLY ACCEPTS DAWN LEAKS INQUIRY COMMITTEE REPORT, JOURNALISTS BEWARE!

The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is bit modified.

After a meeting between Pakistan’s prime minister Nawaz Sharif and its army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa today, it seems the issue of Dawn leaks has finally settled now. According to media reports in Pakistan, its army’s public relations wing has issued a clarification that the Dawn leaks issue is closed chapter after it found the action taken by the government on the inquiry committee’s report satisfactory and withdraws its earlier tweet that had rejected a notification issued last month by the Nawaz Sharif government over action taken in the matter.

The Dawn leaks case refers to a front page story by the Daily Dawn’s columnist Cyril Almeida’s last October, quoting government sources, on rift between Pakistan’s civilian and military establishment over crackdown on Pakistan’s terrorist groups active in India and Afghanistan. The article had further written quoting government source that this dichotomy was forcing Pakistan to a diplomatic isolation. It had caused quite a stir in India’s volatile neighbourhood and had seen a standoff between its all powerful military and Nawaz Sharif’s government that threatened to snowball if something was not done to appease it.

And the action was swift. Official rebuttal were issued. Almeida was banned from travelling abroad. Pakistan’s information minister Pervaiz Rasheed was forced to step down pending an inquiry, a move that has been endorsed by the inquiry committee that was formed in November to investigate the matter. This is the only addition to the notification issued today otherwise contents of both notifications are similar.

No one knows and nobody will probably ever know what transpired in the top-level meeting between Sharif and Bajwa as the contents of the inquiry committee report that the government has decided not to make public. But its outcome is exactly opposite to the Pak army’s earlier stand after the Sharif government had announced last month its follow-up action to be taken on the inquiry committee report.

After the Sharif-Bajwa meeting today, the Ministry of Interior has issued another notification, that looks more or less same, as the one issued last month and was rejected by the army saying it was not as per the recommendations of the inquiry committee report. On April 29, Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor had tweeted expressing Pak army’s displeasure over the Dawn leaks report. After today’s development, the tweet has become infructuous.

Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor‏Verified account
@OfficialDGISPR
Notification on Dawn Leak is incomplete and not in line with recommendations by the Inquiry Board. Notification is rejected.
3:22 PM – 29 Apr 2017

Nawaz Sharif has accepted the recommendations of the Dawn Leaks Inquiry Committee and has issued directions of disciplinary action to be taken against the daily, its editor Zaffar Abbas and its reporter and columnist Cyril Almeida. The notification issued by Pakistan’s Ministry of Interior also says that “the Dawn Leaks Inquiry Committee recommends that the role of Daily Dawn, Zaffar Abbas and Cyril Almeida may be referred to All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) with a direction to take disciplinary action against them.”

Besides this disciplinary action, the inquiry committee has also emphasized on the need to develop “a code of conduct for print media especially when dealing with issues related to security of Pakistan.”

The Dawn leaks report has cost another high profile person his office. Nawaz Sharif had to sack his Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs, Tariq Fatemi, for leaking information of the high level civilian-military leadership meeting. Also, disciplinary action has been recommended against a the principal information officer of Pakistan’s foreign ministry.

©SantoshChaubey

WOULD TWITTER REMAIN SAME, OLD, FREE TWITTER?

Selling Twitter makes business sense for its promoters. The San Francisco based company was formed in March 2006 and went public in November 2013. But Twitter is yet to make profit. According to a Reuters report, the total accumulated loss of the company since its inception comes around $ 2.3 billion and Twitter has not showed any profit since it went public.

But Twitter is just not any other social media or information technology Company. It has become a powerhouse of news, views and information. Any big news is usually broken on Twitter first, be it Osama bin Laden’s death or Prince William’s engagement or many other such developments. Even back home in India, the whole nation was waiting for Nawaz Sharif’s UNGA diatribe and India’s first official response on it came through Twitter only. Narendra Modi had announced his sudden Lahore stopover on Twitter only. There are countless such examples – India or elsewhere.

The another aspect of Twitter that is goldmine of news and views is that people, especially those who matter, tell their anger, frustration, irritation, joy, happiness, sorrow and what not through Twitter. Sometimes a controversial tweet becomes the biggest trending news of the day. Sometimes a tweet becomes the most direct message to tell your problems and grievances that potentially reach across the spectrum.

In that sense, Twitter has become more like a mainstream media outfit – with the obvious benefits of social media – there are no restrictions, no gatekeeping, no censorship – and these are really free. Yes, there are exceptions and government poaching but then where aren’t they? The good thing about Twitter is that it has fought such censorship attempts vehemently.

If we see Twitter sale in that context – the natural question that comes to us is – “would Twitter remain the same, old, free Twitter after it is sold to some big behemoth with multiple business interests across the countries?”

Don’t we know how big businesses lobby with governments and do compromises to keep their operations growing?

©SantoshChaubey

FIRST FORTUNE, NOW TIME: NARENDRA MODI’S ADVERSARIES GET SOME FODDER!

Two globally accepted power-lists, published by Time and Fortune, two highly influential magazines, both from the stable of same media house – ‘Time 100: The 100 Most Influential People’ and ‘Fortune’s World’s Greatest Leaders’ – have one thing in common this year – and it will lead to many headlines and analyses, not only in India – but even in the international media.

Narendra Modi is absent from both of them – while he featured on both of them last year.

What does it tell?

We are bound to see debates and discourses on this prospect.

‘Time 100 Most Influential People 2016′ that came out today is the 2nd list of the year after Fortune’s List of ’50 World’s Greatest Leaders’ which came out last month and featured Arvind Kejriwal, and since then Arvind Kejriwal and Aam Aadmi Party are busy taking credit for a successful first year in governance, including the much controversial ‘Odd-Even’ scheme of traffic rotation.

TIME 100 MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE (2016)
2015 LIST

In 2015, Narendra Modi was featured in ‘Time 100 Most Influential People 2015’ list under ‘Time 100 Leaders’ category and Barack Obama had written a piece on him titled ‘India’s Reformer-In-Chief’.

This year, in 2016, though there are six Indians in the list, including Raghuram Rajan, a globally renowned economist and RBI chief, who is certainly not on the best terms with the NDA government, there is no Narendra Modi. Other Indians include Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Flipkart founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, actress Priyanka Chopra and tennis player Sania Mirza.

His absence becomes more noticeable because the important names from the last year’s list, i.e., Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Hillary Clinton, and Angela Merkel, are there in this year’s list as well.

Time 2016

FORTUNE’S WORLD’S GREATEST LEADERS (2016)
2015 LIST

Fortune’s ‘World’s 50 Greatest Leaders’ list came out last month. It was topped by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. Amazon’s is the pioneer and the world’s biggest retailer of the e-commerce segment and is poised to the take top spot in India. Delhi’s chief minister and Narendra Modi’s arch-rival Arvind Kejriwal is the only Indian to feature in the list (ranked at 42).

That is not a big deal but it becomes important when we see that Narendra Modi was featured at quite high on this list in 2015 – at 6th spot. Okay, even Barack Obama is not there. But then, he was not there even last year. So, it many depend on the criteria for short-listing used by the magazine. But again, there are many from the last year’s list who feature in the list this year as well.

Narendra Modi’s political adversaries would certainly exploit this as a fodder to munch, a trend of prime minister’s waning popularity. And it couldn’t have come at a worst time than this – today, when the Uttarakhand High Court dealt a body blow to the BJP led Union Government by setting aside the President’s Rule in Uttarakhand – using some tough and acidic remarks for the Union Government for sabotaging democratic norms – a historic decision that every democratic soul would love to see ratified by the Supreme Court when the Centre approaches there.

Fortune 2016

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

NOW ‘A KANHAIYA KUMAR UNBECOMING OF A JNU STUDENT’: HOW WILL IT FURTHER MUDDY THE WATERS?

An assistant professor of the Delhi University, who is also a former student of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, has come out with an open letter addressed to Kanhaiya Kumar, the arrested and out on bail JNU Students Union president, slamming him for his recent ‘reincarnation’ and his ‘for women’ views expressed on the International Women’s Day terming him a ‘false revolutionary’ and misogynist.

And after reading her letter you can feel why she is so outraged – that why she cannot be dismissed.

And the way her Facebook posts with her complaint letters and this letter by the JNU proctor finding Kanhaiya Kumar guilty of the offence, using harsh words against him, and imposing fine on him, have gone viral is emblematic of a trend that is witness to the rise of the social media and how the mainstream media picks threads from it.

This trend picked out Kanhaiya Kumar from obscurity to put him into the nation’s conscience in a matter of few weeks only. And social media, well, can be his rapid undoing if he doesn’t read the path cautiously now.

Because anything and everything related to Kanhaiya Kumar and JNU is under intense scrutiny now and it is just the matter of days when something hostile will go viral like this revelation by a former JNU student has gone. She had written her first post on Kanhaiya Kumar on February 16, attaching hand-written copies of her complaint, but obviously no one took note of it. Also, the nation’s sentiment was more or less with Kanhaiya Kumar and JNU then.

She wrote her open letter on March 3, in the morning and Kanhaiya Kumar was released on bail later in the evening. He delivered a terrific speech that night in JNU that he termed was accumulation of his experiences in the jail. And so how could’ve anyone noticed this open letter then and there, even if it was very pertinent?

But after this, Kanhaiya Kumar started derailing, like an immature student, devoid of pensive thoughts (though still with difficult words). And so, anti-Kanhaiya Kumar images (and words) started finding inroads – with people now open to listening to the other side of the story.

And when she posted yesterday an unsigned version of this letter from October 2015 – letter that castigated Kanhaiya Kumar finding him guilty of obscene behaviour with a female student – it picked up threads – and went viral today when she posted the signed version of this letter.

KanhaiyaKumarDiscAction

This is the classic way the social media works – doing and undoing – making and derailing.

Let’s see how this big revelation, that is clearly anti-Kanhaiya Kumar, further muddies the waters. Any attempt to stonewall it or confront it with verbal bravado will only help those who openly opine against JNU.

And for us, the common folks, the loss of another promising leader – it is nothing new – especially after the Aam Aadmi Party experience in Delhi.

Here is the Facebook link of that assistant professor from DU and that former student from JNU.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

TO THE POINT ON THESE JNU ROW DEVELOPMENTS

The JNU row has become the talking point of the nation. The controversy is spreading like a wildfire now – from Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi to Jadavpur University in Kolkata to University of Hyderabad to Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi – almost across India – and if something concrete is not done – it may soon engulf the nation.

And when and if it happens so – it may upset many equations – apart from destabilizing the society – because we must not forget that even a China could not control students from coming together and organizing a Tiananmen protest that resulted in the Tiananmen Massacre – one of the most horrific and most talked about dark chapters of the 20th Century.

There has been intense buzz and every related development makes for news headlines. There are versions, counter versions and more versions. There are claims and counter claims and there are related developments.

And in all this, one development stood out for its plain speak with highly effective, to the point imagery – on presenting some ugly faces in this row – of goons in the garb of people next door and of Delhi Police – clearly on the back-foot here – by making a ‘big something’ out of almost nothing and the way BS Bassi – the Delhi Police Commissioner is reacting, Bassi is sounding more and more empty.

The Telegraph’s front pages of February 16 and February 17 are right at the point in capturing the essence of the developments in the ongoing row.

The February 16 front page has a cover story talking about BJP MLA OP Sharma and the unruly mob of lawyers who were worse than goons who attacked supporters of Kanhaiya Kumar, the JNU Students Union president who has been arrested for allegedly participating in a seditious meet, and journalists including women journalists – in the court premises -and that too in India’s national capital.

The Telegraph 16 Feb

Its headlines ‘The Patriot’ with ‘riot’ in red colour hits right chords. Yes, we cannot allow anyone to abuse law like these bunch of lawless lawyers and OP Sharma did – even if we knew ‘how law would take its due course’ in dealing with these goons.

The February 17 front page was again rightly and very sensibly headlined ‘The Thought Police’ – on Delhi Police and its ‘now controversial’ chief Bassi. Bassi has clearly failed here – himself and us.

The Telegraph 17 Feb

People had thought he would be the first Delhi Police Commissioner in many years to have completed his term without a major personal controversy – until this JNU row happened. We don’t know what are his reasons to act so – but his attitude has raised unanswered questions – and he has consistently failed to justify his ‘discriminatory’ stand – on coming down heavily on Kanhaiya Kumar – and on conveniently ignoring the goons in the garb of lawyers – and OP Sharma – when everything happened in front of press cameras – when the Delhi Police filed the sedition case against Kanhaiya Kumar on a video clip from a television channel.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/