With the New Year eve two days away, there is plethora of “free gifts” offers from shops big and small. Smell of a festival is an occasion for the offer. I wonder if there is any “paid gift.” If we have to pay for it, will it still be a gift? When we receive a “free gift,” we have already paid for it in many ways.
In the 6th National Conference of Association for Democratic Reforms, held in Bhopal in April 2010, eminent professionals and leaders elaborated with evidences how the trend of paid news is corrupting the election process. “Paid news harming democracy itself, says Press Council,” as reported by Hindu on 02 Nov 2010. Prof. Kartik Hosanagar of Wharton School shared with me how a senior VP of a reputed newspaper proudly told him that most of the news printed in his paper was paid news. When a publisher prints something for payment, it is not news – it is a propaganda. Gains to the publisher are money and for the one who pays could be political, financial, power or any such. It becomes difficult to trust what is reported. Still, many of us quote confidently what gets reported, like I have quoted Hindu in this paragraph.
Many devotees visiting Jagannath temple at Puri want to “Feed the Poor” as a ritual. There is no empathy or sympathy to the hungry – so long as the ritual is performed and the resulting blessings of the god are appropriated to the devotees who have spent on the rituals. If there are no poor hungry souls willing to partake the offering of food, the devotees feel cheated. In seasons, the hungry people to be fed are booked in advance. The hunger for reward in the form of god’s blessings can be bought with money, thinks the so called devotee. Such devotion is fake. Friends and family members may consider him a devotee and he may believe himself to be one. It is like scoring high in an examination by copying .
Those who worked in nationalised banks when Janardhana Poojary was a junior minister in the Ministry of Finance from 1982 to 87 would remember the Loan Melas (carnivals) of those days. Bank managers were given quota to distribute loans to the poor, who were pressurised to create the need in the poor to take loans. The banks did not hope to recover the money thus reimbursed from the coffers of the nation. The people who signed for the loans got a fraction of the amount, the rest having leaked in to the corrupt system. When an amount is lent without the confidence of recovery and borrowed without the intent of repaying, how do we call it loan?
Wishing that in the new year a gift would mean a gift, news would be reliable, and funds (created by the hard work of some citizens) would be valued and respected.
Happy New Year!
Tail Piece: I started this series of blogs on 20 April 2011. Putting my thoughts to written words has helped me in improving my thought process. This is my 55th blog, which could be the last in this year. I shall continue to reach out regularly with posts here in the new year.