Friday, March 23, 2012


Year 2500

Vikram climbed the tree and brought the corpse down. He carried the Vetal on his shoulder and started walking.  Vetal said,” Hey King Vikaramaditya, I will tell you a story. At the end of it I will ask you a few questions. If you do not know the answer, I will remain your captive. On the other hand if you know the answer but keep quiet, your head will burst into pieces.

Vikram had handled this situation many times in the past. Being an intelligent King, he always knew the answer and the Vetal always escaped.

Veta started the story. “Long, long ago there were communal riots in a State. Around 1200 died during the riots. Surendar was the Chief Minister of the State at that time. This story happens 10 years after the riots.”

“Sir…today is the 10th anniversary of the communal riots in the State when 1200 people were cruelly massacred under your Chief Ministership….Do you have any sense of remorse?” Pradeep was interviewing the Chief Minister at his residence.

Pradeep looked satisfied with his last and the most direct question. Audience will be obviously thrilled. He had been asking one tough question after another and 
Surendar, instead of his usual contemptuous style had been giving quite conciliatory replies.  This episode of ‘Face the Mass’, his prime time news program is going to be a TRP topper. The wrinkles in Surendar’s forehead convinced him that Surendar did not have any answer and that he was going to fumble.

Surendar looked straight into Pradeep’s eyes.  He remembered that Pradeep was a young reporter with India 365 Channel at that time. He was giving a minute-by-minute blow up of the riots. Standing in the riot affected areas, he was raising tough questions for the Chief Minister and the administration.

Surendar was just 6 months into the office and was too inexperienced to control the riots. Pradeep asked for Surendar’s interview. Surendar did not have answers to any of Pradeep’s or anyone else’s questions. He declined Pradeep’s request.
CNN and BBC picked up Pradeep’s footages and relayed. Overnight Surendar became a villain and Pradeep a hero.

Violence continued unabated for 3 days at the end of which 1200 people were dead.

Surendar contemplated for weeks on the core cause of the riots- Momentary anger could have triggered the violence. But how did it continue for 3 days?  There should be something deeper. One community felt that the other is privileged economically while the other perceived that the former controlled the poll outcomes and thereby held political clout. He concluded that the long term solution would be to improve the economy and make politics more transparent.

Pradeer accused him of complicity in the riots. Several NGOs picked up the same and filed cases against the Chief Minister and his government in the Court.

Surendar commenced a massive program to provide electricity to all the villages in the State.

Media encouraged police officers of the State to speak against Surendar. One or two of them promptly obliged and shot into limelight.

Surendar provided drinking water to all the villages.

An NGO took up the case of a girl whose family was killed in the riots. The alleged victim told the court that the NGO tutored her to give false evidence. Supreme Court indicted the NGO. Media alleged that Surendar Government had terrorized the victim to change her story.

Next Assembly elections were announced. Surendar started campaigning.

Pradeep conducted an opinion poll and concluded a total rout of Surendar’s Party. His opinion poll was well received by the viewers.

Surendar won the elections with 2/3rd majority. Statistics revealed that both the communities voted for him. He then set about cementing the roads in all the villages of the State.

When the High Court of the State dismissed many of the cases against Surendar, Pradeep and the rest of the media alleged bias on the part of the Court and asked for transfer of cases to another State.

Surendar converted the State Highways into four lane highways.

Supreme Court appointed an Investigation Team to look into the complicity of Surendar in the riots. The Team found him innocent. Pradeep and the media questioned the credentials of the members of the Investigation Team.

Surendar invited business houses across the country and globe to invest in the State which they did in lakhs of crores of rupees.

Based on media reports, several foreign governments denied visa to Surendar. He could not travel to developed countries to solicit investments.

Surendar simplified the procedures for investment in the State. Land allotments for projects were made in record speed. A big business house which found it difficult to invest in a distant State shifted its project to Surendar’s State.

Forced to accept the fact that the State was growing fast, Pradeep and the rest of the media argued that economic development would not wash way the sin.

Surendar undertook reconciliation fasts in various parts of the State aimed at bringing both the communities further closer.

Pradeep promptly called it a publicity stunt aimed at gaining sympathy.

Surendar ensured that there was no communal riot in the State afterwards. His formula had worked- since the economic condition of almost all the communities improved, since corruption was weeded out, since politics became more transparent, both the communities did not indulge in violence. One of the countries which had denied visa to Surendar appreciated his governance!

Surendar was shaken out of his flashback by Pradeep’s reminder. “Sir….I am waiting for your response. Do you have any sense of remorse?”

“Pradeep…Let me tell you a short story. Once, a saint and his disciple were about to cross a river which was overflowing. There was a beautiful girl on the river bank waiting to cross the river. Since the river was deep, she requested the saint to carry her on his back. The saint obliged. The girl got down from his back on the other side of the river and the saint-disciple duo continued their journey. The disciple was quite disturbed. He could not digest that saint carried a girl on his back! Seeing his concern the saint enquired him as to what was bothering him. The disciple voiced his concern. The saint smiled and replied “I dropped her on the river bank but you are still carrying her in your heart.” Pradeep… do you get my….”

“So Mr Surendar….just as the saint carried her on his back….though for a short time….you agree you encouraged the mob….”
Surendar heaved a sigh.

“That’s the final nail, viewers….Chief Minister Surendar accepting his complicity in the massacre of 1200 people…..” Pradeep faced the camera and shouted at the top of his voice.

“Pradeep….,” called Surendar.

Pradeep turned back and was shocked to see a pistol in Surendar’s hand. “Oh…no…”


Having concluded the story Vetal asked the inconvenient questions. “Oh King Vikramaditya….If Surendar worked on a long term solution and succeeded in ensuring that there was no communal riot, why did Pradeep not appreciate? Who was biased- Surendar against a particular community or Pradeep against Surendar? Was Surendar right in finally …….”

Vikram, being an intelligent and compassionate king, gave the right answers. Vetal climbed the tree.

PS: You are most welcome to differ from me, disagree with my views, call me biased, question my facts or dismiss this post as too simplistic, motivated. Of course you always have the pleasant option of concurring with me


  1. There is no denying 'Surendar's' governance credentials. I am yet ambivalent about his role in the riots...that is more a reflection on the perceived lack of independence of the investigative machinery..thanks to which even an innocent politician cannot conclusively prove himself innocent in the eyes of the public.

    I'd however have preferred a less dramatic end to the post. Something on the lines of 'Surendar went on to win the next election. Dogs may bark but the Caravan goes on!' Your title 1201 and the end is open to the interpretation that Surendar admits to the other 1200, tacitly...which does not go with the tenor of your post.

    1. Thanks Suresh. Very useful, meaningful suggestions indeed.
      I can understand your point regarding less dramatic end. But I deliberately made it dramatic to show the frustration.
      Regarding the tacit acceptance, I have also pointed out that Pradeep catches him on this. Pradeep, epitomizing current day journalist has a way with words. He would like to catch some phrases which political leaders are careless to control rather than looking at the spirit.

    2. Actually I meant your ending where it appears that Sureandar is saying '1201..'. Since the 1 is a killing by him and if he says '1201..' it seems as though he is admitting to the other 1200 as well...maybe u can think of removing the quotation marks.

  2. Great post as usual, sir. Plus you made it extra interesting by adding 2 stories in one post.

    I'm still wondering what answer King Vikram must have given. Him being compassionate, did he support Pradeep or agree with Surendra's action?

    1. Glad you liked the post. I leave Vikram's answer to your imagination.

  3. Isn't it obvious? The media is biased against the opposition party.

    The riots were a result of the godhra train thingy...

    1. It is. Media is biased either on account of ideology or on account of egos some leading media personalities. This post addresses the 2nd possibility.

  4. grt sir
    the way of explanation is very nice

  5. Nice presentation. It's good to get your view point. The problem with India is we have so much corruption that we are not ready to even take court decisions without a pinch of salt. Here, it is fairly easy to influence court decisions. And this is responsible for some sections of the society still being suspicious though the state economy seems to be improving at a fast pace. Coz if there is any truth in the allegations, in my honest opinion, the CM doesn't deserve any glory. Even President Gaddafi is credited with a lot of development activities in Libya as well as the African part of the world. But that doesn't change the fact that he was a dictator and committed grave crimes.

    1. I respect your views and agree to the extent that "if there is any truth in the allegations, the CM does not deserve any glory". It is 10 years now. Media, NGOs and Civil Society groups have been given the longest rope- committees, High Court and Supreme Court. They have not been able to prove anything. In fact court has passed strictures against some social activists who have done PILs.

      The argument of influencing Court decisions, in my opinion reflects too much of pessimism. We have seen how courts have handled 2G cases, CVC appointment case, CWG and Adarsh scams. Judiciary at higher levels still has lot of credibility. (Guj High Court has upheld the appointment of Lokayukta though many feel that the same is technically incorrect. We can not say that the judgement has been 'bought'.)

      Libya had only oil reserves. Gaddafi monetised the same which was the reason for development. In the case that we have, real development due to innovative government policies has taken place.

      Thanks once again for putting forward your views.

  6. Interesting point.. And yes, one goes into a catch situation.. Assuming the CM was involved, but washed it away with a penance of ensuring that it never happened again.. Should we forgive him? Or should we castigate him till the end of eternity, knowing fully well that he is on a path of redemption, but we will not allow him to..

    1. Thanks. You are taking a balanced, matter of fact view. I was trying to argue that the assumption of involvement itself is incorrect.

  7. Amazing story sir...
    The media's role and hype in this country is flawed to the core. I sometimes think that the media people give impetus to the blood-wars, to riots, to opposition abuses...
    The government here lacks leadership. And of course I may be wrong, I am just a kid in front of those people with power.
    Amazing sir, the whole essence of the nation in one little story...

  8. You have raised some pertinent questions through brilliant story telling.....As far as convicting the powerful goes, it is almost impossible to touch top political personalities ...The case will continue for decades. It is said, a politician does not come to an end unless the end comes to him.

    1. Glad you liked the presentation. Regarding judiciary, I have faith in its integrity. I feel media, NGOs and Civil Societies need to substantiate their charge.
      BTW I like the sentence '............... unless end comes to him."

  9. Loved every bit of this post! Including the riots thing was humorous too!

  10. We lived in India, New Delhi in fact, for 5 years so I know what you are writing about. My daughter loved India and so did I, we miss it so much. I studied Bharat Natyam for 5 years under Guru Dakshinamurthy who was from Tamil Nadu. I often make idlis and dhosas here in Rome but my daughter complains that they are not so good as the ones in India:) I am a new follower and I will tell my daughter to follow you as well.

    1. Thanks Francesca for your views. Good to have you here.

  11. dear mr harihar, i am glad to note that still there are people who do not want to give up goodness of mankind . thanks

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