Citizens' Issues
Street fighting in Bengaluru-reflective of bigger issues...

The larger issue is, of course, that there is very much another Karnataka out there which is not anywhere close to what Bengaluru would have us believe. Especially with the stoppage of most mining and allied activities, there are parts of Karnataka which are now labour exporting areas, because there is simply no work or food. It is said that these are the truths that are coming out on the streets of Bengaluru, reflecting the frustration of realities, in more ways than one
The violence in Bengaluru on Friday would not surprise most people who are aware of what is really happening in and around Karnataka lately, especially if one can be or choose to be a dispassionate observer, and comment freely as well as frankly. In matters pertaining to the media and legal professions, this is difficult, as words have to be chosen carefully and at the same time truth can not be permitted to become a casualty. The option of taking sides, or keeping silent, is also not acceptable.
Opening disclaimer-like in many other states of India, I have very good friends going back decades who I visit regularly in all parts of Karnataka and relatives by marriage as well, who are also fairly well distributed across the state. At some time or the other, I have driven across most of the state, or taken a train, or used buses, or gone up and down the coast on boats and ships.
First things first, then-on a larger canvas, my friends in the media need to realise and accept that on the ground, their often rowdy presence, especially when it means huge big commercial vehicles also known as "OB vans" for the television media, spewing smoke from gensets mounted and operating without any adherence to local and national pollution and design regulations, is a disgrace to civilised behaviour and increasingly a menace as well as hindrance to day to day life. I have taken the liberty of seeking an opinion on this from three people who were and are senior camera persons for television news channels, and they tend to concur-especially when modern day field camera and transmission equipment can easily be carried around in a simple knapsack or backpack.
Next, the issue of "paid news" as well as "advertorials", especially but not only in context with elections of all sorts, has now reached a point where for many people, the media person on the street is often not much more than a front for a collection of advertisements. Or a representative of some sort of commercial or political interests. If that is the case, then it makes no sense at all in providing this sort of a fraud media the privileges and preferences available for what many of us hope will be the true media of the unbiased reportage and opinion/analysis sort.
Finally, this is not the first time that the media has had to face the wrath of what can be called its constituency-people who read newspapers and watch television. The episode with Barkha Dutt in Delhi is still fresh, and the fact that it was sought to be covered up by the rest of the media despite enough reportage on the Internet, is also noticed by people. In a day and age when the dividing lines between the PR and lobbying lot is crossing over to the media, much of what is known as media now needs to stand in line like the rest of the world-especially those in commerce. Otherwise, please provide the same facilities extended to the 'media' also to every small video and game parlour shop, and also to every internet cafe-and that is not an unjustified demand.
While in this specific episode in Bengaluru it appears to be a confrontation between lawyers and the media which went totally out of control, on the old simmering issue of a traffic incident, the deeper point here is that lawyers are also part of society, and it is nobody's contention that suddenly out of the blue triple riding on the roads of Bengaluru has become such a serious issue, that it leads to an escalation of the sort that causes a city to come to a halt. For people like me who are keen observers of traffic discipline all over the country, it is wide and clear that Bengaluru's famed civic sense has certainly dropped from its glory days, and one reason is the absolute mayhem and traffic chaos on Bangalore's roads.
Did lawyers alone cause this overall drop in Bengaluru's status? In any case, one has to take the word of the police and the judiciary that a proper investigation as well as follow-up action will take place, which is much more than what the media in India has done about any sort of introspective correctives or public steps to see that such incidents do not happen again.
But what is not being brought out in the reportage on the incident which appears to have Bengaluru, poster city of India's great technological excellence, to its knee are the following points:

  • The main issue itself, of a mining controversy which has implications running into a scam of many thousands of crores of rupees, seems to have gone on to the back-burner. It is not as though the mainstream media was not aware of this scam in the past, so what is it doing lately to try and redeem its tarnished image in this specific scam, the great all-India mining scams?
  • The simple fact that in the world of corporate lobbying, many professions are now in direct competition, and it does appear as though this battle, dirty at its best, has now come on to the streets. Could it be that this incident was the outcome of such a rivalry, since it does not appear to be improbable, as different power structures jockey to acquire pole position in this form of commerce too?
  • Finally- why is the television reportage on the incident so obviously one-sided, when it is amply clear that all parties to this riot and worse were violent and caused major harm and damage? The news of the death of some people, especially policemen, should cause others to have taken steps to control the proper and true broadcasting of news.

The larger issue is, of course, that there is very much another Karnataka out there which is not anywhere close to what Bengaluru would have us believe. Especially with the stoppage of most mining and allied activities, there are parts of Karnataka which are now labour exporting areas, because there is simply no work or food.
It is said that these are the truths that are coming out on the streets of Bengaluru, reflecting the frustration of realities, in more ways than one. And there, let it be said, lawyers are more aware of and exposed to ground truths and realities than any amount of media will even begin to understand.

Time to understand that, especially in undeveloped parts of so-called 'developed' states.

(Veeresh Malik started and sold a couple of companies, is now back to his first love-writing. He is also involved actively in helping small and midsize family-run businesses re-invent themselves. Mr Malik had a career in the Merchant Navy which he left in 1983, qualifications in ship-broking and chartering, a love for travel, and an active participation in print and electronic media as an alternate core competency, all these and more.)



K B Patil

5 years ago

For long, the younger lot of lawyers behave like the old headload workers of Kerala. There have been many instances of violence in the court premises which are not reported in the national media. Now, in January, the lawyers sat on a dharna on one of the most critical roads of Bangalore city from about 10 am to about 5 pm. In case of such agitations by other groups (farmers, students) earlier in smaller towns, the police had resorted to lathicharge, firing etc. So, the public is very miffed at this. However, it is also a fact that the main cause of the dharna (a young lawyer badly beaten up for carrying two others on his two wheeler) was totally neglected by the media. Also, you now have 5 Kannada news channels. So, to grab eyeballs, almost all the channels are resorting to sensationalising everything. So, in India, everyone is shielding one of his own. Politicians shield each other (example - porngate which the former CM says is no crime at all since everybody watches porn!!). The media should have asked him one simple question: Would he be willing to eat food in his toilet? So also, lawyers are not willing to concede to any mistakes and the media is taking a holier than thou attitude. I think it is a defect in our genes which makes us unwilling to admit to making mistakes and to atone for it.



In Reply to K B Patil 5 years ago

Dear KB Patil ji, thank you for writing in.

Your points are well taken, thank you.


R Nandy

5 years ago

You have pointed to some important issues and have tried to see the the recent confrontation in a larger social perspective.But,I don't think there was any relation between economic disparity in Karnataka and the recent confrontation.
There was an earlier confrontation between the lawyers and the police in which a lawyer was manhandled by the police.Police high handedness in not new to Bangalore and there have been multiple instances of it in the past reported in the media and social networks.So,the lawyers grievance might have been genuine.But,they overreacted and created inconvenience for the public.The media had only projected the public inconvenience.The police could not take any action as the home minister Mr Ashoka felt that this will further aggravate the situation.But,this might have been interpreted by the lawyers as an administrative weakness.
They might have planned the attack on the media keeping in mind this show of weakness.The judicial probe might throw more light into the issue.I don't think the media can be blamed in this episode.Though locally I hear that the media gave as good as they got and probably justice has already been done ;), Indian style.



In Reply to R Nandy 5 years ago

Thank you, Nandi ji, for writing in.

I am kind of keen to see what kind of self-correctives those in the media choose to try and apply to their own, too.



5 years ago

Whatever be the argument by Veeresh Malik, his article fails to justify the brutal but preplanned attack by lawyers who had stockpiled weapons like stones, bottles, flower pots, etc., in advance in the court premises. The perpetrators of the preplanned violent attack need to be identified and punished appropriately so that similar incidents in future is not attempted. It also appears that these lawyers seem to have been supported by politicians who were caught on camera while watching pron films. All these things shows the deteriorating law and order situation and the bankruptcy in the thinking of Lawyers and politicians to take on the Media who are keen to expose the politicians misdeeds to the unsuspecting 'aam admi'.



In Reply to sundaram 5 years ago

Dear Sundaram, thank you for writing in.

As far as the investigation and prosecution as well as eventual judgements are concerned, I would choose to believe in the police and judiciary, who have stated what they plan to do.

What, however, does the media plan to do as a corrective? Frankly, what sort of credibility does any form of reportage on this episode have, in the face of this, please?


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Raising overseas investment cap depends on current account: RBI

“The issue is that we are a capital scarce country and our current account pressures are increasing and there are demands on the forex reserves for how much further liberalisation we need to do and that is something we need to keep in view,” RBI deputy governor HR Khan said

Mumbai: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Friday said an immediate hike in the cap on overseas investments by corporates depends on improvement in current account, reports PTI.

“Any further liberalisation (of overseas investments by corporates) can take place perhaps after current account condition improves,” RBI deputy governor HR Khan told a meet on Outward FDI here last evening.

The current ceiling on overseas investment by companies and individuals is 200% of their networth. Enhancing the limit will enable domestic companies to go in for larger acquisitions abroad.

Corporates, on the back of a firm $300 billion forex reserves, have been lobbying for a higher ceiling on their foreign investment, to the tune of 250% of their net worth.

“The issue is that we are a capital scarce country and our current account pressures are increasing and there are demands on the forex reserves for how much further liberalisation we need to do and that is something we need to keep in view,” Mr Khan said.

The current account deficit is projected to widen to 3.6% of the gross domestic product (GDP) from 2.7% last fiscal, according to the latest estimate by the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, which also projected that trade deficit is set to shoot up to $175 billion this fiscal on the back slackening exports and increasing in-bound shipments.

Current account deficit reflects the inflow and the outflow of foreign currency. It occurs when a country’s total imports of goods, services and transfers is greater than the country's total export of goods, services and transfers.

Pointing out that money flow, both inward and outward, has to be balanced, the deputy governor said as of now the inflows are not commensurate with outflows.

“If money does not come back how much more can you liberalise (for outward flow)?” Mr Khan asked and pointed out that the country is facing a current account problem along with some emerging vulnerabilities from the external sector.

Outbound merchandise shipments have been petering out of late on the back of the sovereign debt crisis in the Eurozone as well as the yet-to-be-revived US economy.

On Thursday, the commerce ministry data showed that January exports grew a paltry 10.1% to $25.4 billion, while imports grew at a faster rate of 20.25% to $40.1 billion, leaving a trade deficit of $14.76 billion in the month.

From a peak of 82% last July, exports slipped to 44.25% in August, 36.36% in September and to a poor 10.8% in October.

For the cumulative April-January period, exports aggregated $242.79 billion, showing a healthy growth of 23.47%. But imports during the same period stood at $391.45 billion, an increase of 29.4%, widening the trade gap aggregating to $148.66 billion.

On the liquidity condition, he said, more open market operations are not ruled, saying “all options are open”.

When specifically asked whether there can be some measures to ease liquidity even before the scheduled 15th March mid-quarter review, Mr Khan just repeated “all options are open”.


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