Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Pleasures of Judicial Activism and Blogging

The cash for votes sandal is back to haunt the UPA government. Thanks to judicial activism. Based on a PIL, the Supreme Court has swung into action and the Congress brigade is scurrying for cover. Sometimes you wonder about the timing of terror attacks in this country. The blasts happen in Mumbai, lives are lost, and the next thing you know Digvijay Singh is mouthing the usual rubbish about Hindu terror to hog headlines. The BJP is always a poor second when it comes to political machinations and one of their blithering leaders called a press conference to attack Singh. Tamasha time for politicians of all hues as usual! The silver lining is, this time the media has refused to pay ball. At least not to the extent they have in the past. The spotlight continues to be on Amar Singh and his aide who’s behind bars now, saddled with bribe allegations.

None of this augurs well for Manmohan Singh and his government. You don’t need an astrologer to tell you that with all this going on, he may not survive the full term. But the soothsayers are predicting doom for Singh in any case. So is he going to blame the stars or Sonia? Only time will tell. All we can be happy about is the culture of PILs that has come to rule the roost. It has made you and me, who don’t belong to the ‘elected representative’ groups, or the police or the armed forces or the media, powerful. The government of the day has to watch out for not just the opposition but also the aam aadmi who can get it to its knees by filing a single litigation. This augurs well for a robust democracy. The more the checks and balances, the more accountable those in power are going to be. The whistle blowers are free to join the party. Their time has finally come.

Just like us bloggers. We are influencing public opinion like never before. Not only have we caused coups and revolutions in countries with totalitarian regimes, but we have also got the media worried. Seriously worried at that! I read a column last Sunday by a journalist who was sounding very distressed about what blogs and bloggers are doing. According to her, we are all irresponsible, rude, nasty and not accountable.

Is that right? Surely no blog I have come across is as obnoxious as Arnab Goswami when he gets on to someone’s case. And as for bloggers writing reviews and reports without attending an event or watching a movie /reading a book, there is many an illustrious precedence set by media professionals.

Legend has it that the brilliant English writer Ruth Rendell who writes excellent psychological thrillers and murder mysteries became a bestselling author after being sacked from her job as a journalist. She played truant on a day she was meant to cover an event. The event was cancelled at the last minute but Rendell made up a story about it and sent it to her editor. You can well imagine what happened after that. But a happy consequence of that unfortunate incident was that Rendell discovered her story telling powers.

As a professional writer, who is regularly asked to write columns, reviews and opinion pieces for leading publications, I was dubious about blogging and kept away from it for a long time. It was while holidaying with my family in Rajasthan last year that I discovered I was being an idiot. I did a lot of surfing while there and came across some extremely interesting blogs and more importantly some very well regarded writers from all over the world blogging.

We encountered racism from the Indian staff of a five star resort in one of our stops. I was livid about the incident. Imagine paying good money only to be treated like second class citizens in your own country. I knew I couldn’t write about the incident for any of the magazines and newspapers published in India. Even if they had published that piece of mine, it would have been without the name of the resort as they wouldn’t risk losing the advertising revenue. A single, tersely worded blog post had the owner of the resort sending me an apology letter. I owe that victory to blogging.

Blogs and a blogging site have played a big role in the success of my latest book. Blogadda did an in-depth interview and I consider that to be the best interview anyone has ever done with me. They also got ten bloggers to review my book and they were all really well written pieces. Much better than the reviews carried by mainstream magazines. And I am not saying this because the reviews by the bloggers were positive. Some of them were fairly critical whereas the verdict by the magazines and the newspapers on the book have been all positive.

At a time when journalistic standards all over the world are plumbing new depths because of the Murdochs and NOTWs, a well researched blog post is a treat to read, unfettered as it is by editorial and establishment pressures. Of course media professionals would get rattled by this phenomenon as it challenges their fiefdom. But that shouldn’t worry the bloggers.

I am all for judicial activism, blogs and bloggers. So should you be if you believe in freedom of speech. And also back the idea that in a democracy, the common man is the most powerful.

Keep blogging.


  1. That's very encouraging.

    I was very upset with a cartoon depicting two dogs. One said, "I used to blog. Now I have returned to barking."

  2. Good for the cartoonist. Obviously he is one of the canines and understands their language :-)

  3. Great Post. Most people think, people blog because they have nothing better to do. When a blogger takes a stand on an issue, its because most mainstream media (newspapers and magazines) wouldn't dare touch such an article because of a fear of the backleash it would generate.

    @ Alka.. though I didn't see that cartoon, it sure was in a bad taste.

  4. This is so true. Thank you for this motivating post. I am going to continue blogging. yaay!