Chitralekha Gujarati issue dated 29th December 2014.
Watch “Editor’s Audio Note” on YouTube -
Polls in Kashmir
Amidst a muffled call for boycott and a few sporadic incidents of violence, Polls in Jammu & Kashmir have been by and large peaceful. The state has, in fact, witnessed a sudden spurt in percentage of voting. Is it owing to the Modi magic as is claimed? Or it is just a deceptive change, which would imply that the people of J & K have made up their minds to hand over the reign of power to the ‘tried and tested’ usual suspects?
It however needs to be conceded that the BJP and especially Modi have undeniably altered the political landscape of what is essentially a Muslim dominated state. Hiren Mehta visits the troubled state that has witnessed much violence, unrest and political uncertainty in the past few decades, and files this first-hand exclusive report. In the latest issue of Chitralekha he analyses the impact of the penetration of a new political player in the valley and how it may prove a game-changer.
This year’s elections in the valley assume special importance for two reasons: for one, after a long time, the boycott call has failed to have any impact on the polls. Though the separatists did give a call for boycott, it seems to have cut no ice with masses, as evidenced in the polling percentage. Even terror attacks have failed to deter the people as shown demonstrably by the people of Uri where the percentage of voting was 80%, the recent terror attacks failing to dampen the spirit of voters.
Secondly, the BJP’s entry in the valley and the Modi’s Mission 44 Plus appear to have its desired effect on the people of the strife-torn state. For all the brave rhetoric of the current chief minister Omar Abdullah, it cannot be denied that this year’s elections have become more exciting and edgy, thanks to the Modi factor.
The imprint of Modi’s presence is evident during campaigns also. Extreme cold conditions force candidates to catch the voters at their homes only, as people would return home early and the streets wear a deserted, chilly look as dusk falls. The candidates would hit the streets early in the morning to undertake a door-to-door campaign, surrounded by ubiquitous security men, address political meetings if weather permits and then meet voters at their homes.
Since the first J & K elections way back in 1957, the Congress and the National Conference have ruled the state alternately for close to three decades. The wide-scale rigging during the 1987 polls paved the way for terrorism to sneak into the state. After the most troubled intervening decade, the next elections were held in 1996 which witnessed a poor voting because of the boycott call issued by the separatists. It was the National Conference that came to power then. During the 2002 elections, Mufti Mohammed’s PDP (People’s Democratic Party), which is essentially a breakaway group from the Congress, formed the government with the latter. And in 2008, it was again the NC’s turn to form government.
And this is for the first time that apart from the triangular contests among the Congress, NC and PDP, the fourth political entity BJP entered the fray this year and has threatened to change the rule of the game. Not only has Modi addressed a few political meetings in the state, his face has become the most visible in newspaper ads and even on channels showing popular Pak serials.
The unexpected turn of events has apparently made the remaining three political parties nervous, as they find their cosy arrangements being endangered by the ‘outsiders’. In desperation, they resort to maligning Modi during their elections speeches. Even Separatists want to take no chance by giving the BJP the advantage of low polling, and have therefore withdrawn their boycott call. And this could explain why there has been a record voting this year. The PDP spokesman says that the local people want to keep the BJP out and therefore have voted in great numbers to thwart its ambitions.
The topical cover story carries interviews of two political heavyweights: Omar Abdullah who pooh poohs the Modi magic, whereas Sajjad Lone, the erstwhile separatist and now BJP sympathizer strongly states that the state has had enough of rhetoric, what it wants now is tangible development which only a visionary leader like Modi can deliver.
The cover story has encapsulated all vital and relevant information on the J & K polls you won’t find elsewhere. It also refers to a decisive role that the ousted Kashmiri Pundits may play in swinging the outcome.
Uber: Taxiing to Nowhere
After the much-publicized rape case in Uber cab, the radio taxi service has come in the limelight for all the wrong reasons. When Shivkumar Yadav perpetrated the heinous crime, his employer never suspected that the crime trail would ultimately singe them. When the police had a tough time locating the Uber office, let alone its top man, they were alerted. Since then, news about Uber’s callous indifference keeps surfacing.
In this story, Ketan Mistry and Sunil Mevada trace the history of Radio taxi that started with Meru in 2007, giving details about the various radio taxi services in operation in various states.
The ‘Wild’ Photographer
He is barely 17 but has already made a name for himself as a wildlife photographer. The Delhi-based Daanish Shastri has already pocketed the prestigious Sanctuary’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year-2014. His mom is a documentary filmmaker while his father is a Nature’s lover and both share passion for trekking. It would be a surprise if their offspring did not inherit these passions.
His parents being his source of inspiration, Daanish Shastri started using the SLR camera gifted by his mother. And this flagged off his never-ending journey into the wild forest to shoot the wildlife. He spent 35 days in the dense forests in the last 365 days.
Samir Paleja profiles this enterprising shutterbug who talks quite maturely for his age. And why not? He has already stepped into the world, few would venture into.
Vision in the Dark
It is a unique concept that makes you realize the plight of the blind and helps you empathize with them. The Ahmedabad-based Andhajan Mandal that helps the visually-challenged rehabilitate in life has created a theater that offers you a pitch dark ambience. A guide would accompany the visitor to negotiate the way in the darkness, but the experience does terrify some people who rush out immediately, not being able to bear and cope with total dark atmosphere in the theater.
Mahesh Shah’s report helps you have a glimpse into the world of the differently-abled people, for whom the only light is their darkness.
The issue also carries thought-provoking report by Ketan Trivedi on a journalist (Vipul Jani), who is convinced that helping the people on the ground makes a better sense than merely paying a lip service to their cause.
Besides the above, there are Political & Humour columns, Palak, Cardiogram, Pryiadarshini, new novelette chapter, Health Helpline, Jalsaghar and Mukhwas
Experts of various fields concur that in any language, these are the four toughest words:
It was my mistake..!!