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5

I have refrained from commenting on jallikattu for a long time, mainly because I don't have any real experience or concrete insight on the subject (yes, that does prevent me from making opinions known). However, after several debates, reading up, arguments and a lot of thinking, I can definitely say that a middle way needs to be found. A ban is not an answer and animal rights must be upheld to the best of our capacity (which can be considerable if we make an effort).

I think it is quite harmful to import PETA arguments against bullfighting and slap them onto Jallikattu for a handy halo of standards for animals. While I still am not expert enough to provide a "solution" that I can robustly defend without doubt, here is my thinking on several aspects of the issue.

What is jallikattu?

A youth hanging onto a bull during jallikattu.
A youth hanging onto a bull during jallikattu performed in Alanganallur, Madurai. Photo: Iamkarna

Jallikattu is a part of the celebrations of Pongal in Tamil Nadu, where youth of a village engage in a bull taming match, where a bull trained to buck them off is sent into the arena and the objective is to hang on to the bull by the rump, while the bull tries to buck them off. There are no weapons or rope involved and only bare hands may be used to hold on to the bull. Injuries to contestants are more likely (and prevalent in reality) than to bulls. If the bull succeeds in bucking them off, it wins, or the youth to hang on to the end wins.Like many other rites of passage seen in tribal societies worldwide, it is a test of the man's strength and skill in going barehanded against a bull. It is also a process of selecting the best bull for breeding. The event has been criticized due objections about cruelty to the bulls.

What is bullfighting?

A matador before the final strike at Plaza de Toros Las Ventas, Madrid, Spain 2005
A matador before the final strike at Plaza de Toros Las Ventas, Madrid, Spain 2005. Photo: Manuel González Olaechea y Franco

For the purposes of this discussion, bullfighting would be what is practiced in Spain. Another cultural tradition. However, in this, the bull is repeatedly "hooked" at the hump with lances and finally when weakened with loss of blood and pain and defeated, it is killed with a sword. The bullfight invariably ends with the death of the bull. In rare instances, a bull that fights exceptionally well may be spared the final strike (but not the injuries). There is no competition involved. It is a traditional "art form" slaughter. The bull's struggle to evade a certain death is entertainment. There is no option for the bull to escape the injuries or death, usually.

How is jallikattu different from bullfighting?

In case the difference is still not evident, jallikattu pits the strength of a 60 kilo man against a 400+ kilo bull and the bull has far more power and horns. It is by no means a fight that endangers the animals - though of course accidents are possible in everything involving reflexes. The worst a bull will usually come to is exhaustion and injuries. I don't think even PETA will dispute this. In contrast, in bullfighting, the animal is pitted against people with weapons, some of them mounted on horses. When bulls disemboweled more horses than bulls getting killed, they started protecting the horses. There is no question of allowing a bull to win, merely making a spectacle of its death. Whatever our stands on what constitutes animal rights, the factual dissimilarities are glaring enough that arguments for or against cannot be copy-pasted between the two as currently appears to be happening.

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Beyond this, I am looking specifically at jallikattu rather than bringing bullfighting into it. What considerations are there? What lives and livelihoods are involved?

The jallikattu bull

The bulls used in jallikattu are primarily from the kangayam breed of cattle. They are aggressive by nature and prone to attack. They are further trained for the sport, it is true, but these bulls are not preferred for work with far more docile breeds being easily available. They are, however good for breeding because of generations of stock selected for strength and reflexes. It is very common in rural societies for the males of herd animals to be castrated (horses, bulls, bullocks... even goats if there are more than one male!). The reason for this is that herd behavior dictates that males fight among themselves for dominance. This is natural behavior. Leaving the best of each generation with the temple as "public property" of sorts for all breeding needs of the village solves issues related to access or individuals maintaining their own breeding males (who will fight and do damage if they encounter each other). The jallikattu serves to identify the strongest stock for this purpose.

The ecology and economy of jallikattu

P. Muthukarupan of Sivaganga, Tamil Nadu breed bulls for jallikattu
P. Muthukarupan of Sivaganga, Tamil Nadu breed bulls for jallikattu. Photo: Aparna Karthikeyan, PARI Network

Where there is a feat of strength, you have a crowd of men to watch. It is easy for testosterone to dominate the narrative where the only thing visible about jallikattu is the fight or perhaps, due to hot debates on the subject, the question of breeding stock. But there is more to that. There are lives, livelihoods and the survival of an entire indigenous species tied in closely with the sport. Small farmers like P. Muthukarupan of Sivaganga, Tamil Nadu breed bulls for jallikattu. Their cattle will lose value. Jallikattu is an important area where indigenous cattle of India continue to be supported and preferred.

In a country where successive government policies have endangered indigenous cattle breeds, the sport not only provides robust and preferred survival to a few, it generates public awareness and interest in their well being and qualities. Two decades ago, P. Sainath's tragicomic epic "Everybody Loves a Good Drought" already described vanishing indigenous breeds as an established problem. The first section of the book "Still crazy after all these years - A brief introduction to the Indian absurd" sets the tone for a book that is relentless in portrayal of the gloriously hilarious and tragic mismatch between government policies and people's realities. The first story "Very few specimens - but a lot of bull" described the haphazard processes of introduction of "superior breeds of cattle" in Odisha that wiped out the famed Khairar bull in the Komna region.

This is a situation that has repeated all over the country in the name of increased milk production. In 2015, he reported the efforts to reverse such damage in Kerala with the dawning awareness that many Indian indigenous breeds are at threat of extinction. But many other pressures are in play. The holy cow is a big deal in India. There is increasing resistance to cow slaughter rendering non-milk-producing cattle a liability. This further reduces the demand for indigenous species, as their milk production is lower than the imported and hybrid breeds. Ironically, the indigenous cattle actually give much better returns in comparison witht he expense and effort that goes into maintaining them, vis-a-vis the more exotic breeds.

So far, jallikattu has protected the native breeds that are engaged in the activities from going the same way as the rest of the indigenous breeds. The jallikattu ban threatens to change that. But it isn't that simple either. The bulls bred for jallikattu are naturally aggressive, and most cow shelters don't want them - they wren't exactly bred to meekly accept marginal care and be no trouble! They can be aggressive and hostile and a lot of trouble to care for. With the restrictions on cattle slaughter, there won't be much help from those quarters either. There will be no real reason left for the survival of some prize breeds from India.

Of course, the question of survival of indigenous breeds of cattle is larger than jallikattu. I am merely noting that this will add another breed to the mix.

What constitutes animal abuse and where is the line?

Man and animals have coexisted for a long time. Man has harnessed and often exploted animals for daily needs. From eating chicken that are grown more like a vegetable than a bird to using police dogs for risky work like bomb detection or protection. Animals are leading less than optimal lives and facing danger, injury or death to enable our lives all the time. Horses have often been injured beyond recovery at the very young ages they participate in horse races. Bullock carts, ploughs, saddles have caused sores on livestock since time immemorial. Reluctant animals have been flogged to work, patient horses have stood amid exploding firecrackers in marriage processions. Not to mention the national assault on the hearing of dogs every Diwali. Sheepdogs work alongside their masters come snow or sunshine. Cows, buffaloes, goats get their teats pulled with varying degrees of gentleness and efficiency twice a day. The garbage of our lives overflows to kill countless animals, while our "progress" destroys their ecosystems. I am not trying to justify anything here. I am trying to create a larger picture of an interconnected system, where many species of animals often live in harmony with man. Often not even found in nature at all. Witness the silkworm.

Witness the story of "Shaktiman", the police horse who turned out to be a mare who broke her leg while at work on an aggressive protest. I knew that horse was dead, only a matter of time the minute I saw the hind leg broken. It is unlikely that the veternarians caring for Shaktiman didn't know it. A horse bears most of the weight of its body on its hind legs. The horse's hoof also has a spongy pad inside (not getting into medical technicalities) that help pumps blood back up to the heart when it walks, so it is also important for blood circulation in the body. A horse does not burp. Walking helps speed digestion, so trapped gasses escape as farts (yep, stinky). A horse with three legs can perhaps hobble briefly if the injured leg is a foreleg, because the hindlegs easily take up most of the weight. A horse with a missing hindleg cannot walk. And a horse that doesn't walk is a matter of waiting for the compromised digestion and circulation to fail, because there is no way the forelegs can compensate for the missing power of a hindleg. There will be terrible back pain from that enormous weight now being supported only on one side of the spine. The kindest "treatment" for her was a mercy killing. Yet she was subjected to a long drawn and painful death going through a political circus of journalists and prosthetics and what not till the inevitable happened. In the line of duty. Not just the injury, but the manner of death.

The need to bring in this kind of perspective is because a lot of people doing these debates have actually never come close to livestock. They have no idea of the realities of their needs, the threats they face or even their power. While the idea of an adult man hanging on to a bull feels remarkably threatening, the only power of a body most people know is human. How powerful is a bull?

Bull taming at jallikattu, Allangur, India
Bull taming at jallikattu, Allangur, India. Photo: எஸ்ஸார்

That is two people trying to wrestle down a bull at once. Very alarming. Two aggressive men? We are practically conditioned to think of this as unfair. But wait a minute. The bull has all four feet in the air and the two men, in fact, appear to be pulled up. What would the weight of the people have to be if two of them hung on you and you had to jump off the ground? That is what the weight of people is like to a bull. And you don't have to believe me. Please do a google image search for jallikattu to see if you spot pics that even remotely look like an overpowered bull. There are several of boys about to be gored, though.

Does wrestling with a 60 kilo unarmed man cause a 400 kilo bull any significant harm? I don't know personally. From my experience with horses, I can say even a 200 kilo filly cannot be overpowered without at least a couple of people, rope and serious technique. That is why the Spanish bullfights use weapons and that is why without weapons, the goal in jallikattu cannot exceed "hanging on". And trust me, hanging on is going to do little more than irritate a bull that can pull a few hundred kilos easy. That is my thinking.

But there are other serious issues. For example, injuries to tails, stories of bulls being fed liquor or sedatives to make them more aggressive. Man is a pretty cruel animal and a man in a crowd eager for a spectacle... Here is a good documentary about the cruelty to bulls to get them agitated. Please note, that this is a collection of recorded cruelty as opposed to a documentary on the standard practice. Many of these practices need to go. (The link to this film was kindly provided by Sachin Bangera, who works with PETA India. Thank you, Sachin.)

Frankly, I don't think the liquor is going to harm a bull any more than it would harm a person. People who do attend the fights say that it is glucose water for a burst of engergy and not alcohol at all. Rubbing irritants, injuring them and more will harm. Consulting with veterinarians on safety is important. Establishing an arena and disallowing unofficial street chasing is important. I think a lot of good could come out of creating a set of rules that must be followed, failing which the animal or youth could be banned from the proceedings. We already have laws against cruelty to animals for that. We do not need a ban on jallikattu to prevent cruelty. This would be more useful than putting everyone out of work. Competition and peer pressure would ensure better practices or loss of face and overall improve safety standards, like in any other dangerous sport. Substances that cannot be fed, blood tests in the event of doubt (or as a matter of course), protective clothing for participants, disqualification on holding tail, etc. Whatever. Seniors of the field must be consulted.

Which brings us to the bigger risk.

Convention on Biological Diversity

India is a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity, a global miltilateral treaty that obliges us to "develop national strategies for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity". While I have no legal understanding and no doubt it could be debated up and down the street, it does seem to my limited understanding that a ban on jallikattu that jeopardizes the future of the indigenous species used in it, violates the spirit of the agreement. And how serious is the risk? Very. From over a hundred indigenous cattle breeds in India, we have less than 40 left and those too are under threatas resistance to cattle slaughter increases and in turn increases the liability that cattle threaten to be. This makes people reluctant to own cattle altogether as well as prefer higher yielding cattle for their investment. Any move that reduces the utility of male cattle will add to the threat of extinction faced by our indigenous breeds.

Injuries and deaths of youths who participate in jallikattu.

These are actually more common than injuries to bulls. My views on this are twofold. The first is that best practices and preventative measures must be established where possible. The second is that like all sports with threat of life, the choice eventually must rest on the participant. If countless adventure sports are not banned, then jallikattu must not be either, on account of safety of participants.

This last, I am quite certain of. The rest needs debate. But more importantly, it needs debate that includes people who participate in the sport, instead of the same five talking heads representing "people like us" having an opinion on everything. People like us are conditioned to fear whatever looks darkskinned and sweaty and dirty and male and loud. However, our fears cannot dictate the practices of other people in another place in a shared country.

This article keeps getting updated as I add any important information brough to my notice. If you are interested in the subject, do keep checking back.

1

I Am Woman Part 1 || Part 2 by Hanna Imogen Jones

Many moons ago I made an unsolicited offer to the wonderful woman @Vidyut that I write a guest blog post about feminism. Since making that offer, my mind has, many times, been whirling with thoughts of “What to write?”, “Where do I start?” The offer I made has never been far from my thoughts, and it has always remained in my heart. It was just a question of arriving at how I would approach this task, and what elements of feminism I would focus on. This is, after all, a massive topic for discussion.

As a little bit of background for you, I have always been a feminist. For me, that term has always represented the quest for equality with men. Well, you don’t have to be a feminist to see that there is a severe gender power imbalance in the world – and that this has existed for aeons.

One of my earliest memories of expressing an opinion towards this – or anything else, for that matter - is of being a little girl of around three years old. I was present at a family gathering, and one of the female grown-ups (I can’t remember who) turned their attention towards me in the midst of the discussion and said something to the tune of “Well, Hannah, when you grow up, you’d better make sure you marry a rich husband, then, hadn’t you?” Little Hannah stopped, turned to the lady in question and replied, most seriously “Well, no. Why can’t I just make my own money and be rich?”

I remember stunned silence from the gathering of adults around me – and a big wide grin from my Mother, who knew her daughter by now. Don’t ask me where my response came from. I have no idea. I have no idea if I even possessed any concept of money. I certainly had no awareness of the gender imbalance within society. I suppose it just seemed like the obvious, logical response.

My path towards feminism / equality continued. I think this was something natural within my life. I had never felt inferior to boys. I had never felt superior either. I have simply always felt like an equal, with everyone on this planet, for that matter.

When I was eight or nine and in Junior school, I was the only girl that used to play cricket with the boys every playtime. I was great! I was the best wicket keeper in the school – and could catch the ball from anywhere. My reactions were fast, and once the ball was in my hands it was swiftly delivered to the wicket stumps or the correct recipient, usually resulting in the poor batsman ending up out of the game. The boys used to clamour over who would have me on their team. When the captain of each side stood up to pick their teams, I was often the first person to be picked!

The funny thing, when I look back, is that it didn’t seem strange that I was the only girl playing. I was simply another player on the field. It also didn’t appear to seem strange to the boys - that I was there amongst them. I remember nothing but respect from them, and actually if anything, they held me in great esteem for my skills and abilities. I was considered a valuable contributor. I was celebrated as an individual and as an essential component of the team. How wonderful! Perhaps the wonderful attitude of the boys reflected the fact that they too, by this stage in their development, had not yet ‘learned’ that men in society were considered ‘superior’ to women in so many ways. Perhaps nobody had yet told them that I shouldn’t be there as an equal amongst them – and as such, they treated me as an equal.

When I was seventeen, just before going away to university to read for a literature degree, my father presented me with a book that was to change my life! The book in question was ‘The Female Eunuch’ by the world-renowned feminist Germaine Greer. The reason my father had bought me this book was because Germaine Greer was at the time a tutor in the literature department of the university. I think he wanted me to read a book by the famous tutor, so that I could impress her. It didn’t exactly work out like that, as she never taught me and I only once came into contact with her, when one day we shared a lift. I remember that her energy at the time was so powerful and so intimidating, that I just squashed myself into the lift wall and didn’t dare to utter a word to her for the brief journey. She was not giving out ‘invitation to speak’ vibes, so I didn’t. This, looking back, might have been a good thing.

At age eighteen, I went on holiday to Spain. One day as I relaxed by the pool, an ‘entertainment representative’ from the hotel announced that a game of water polo was about to begin. Great! He said that anyone who wanted to play should get into the pool now, and so, with an internal whoop of excitement I immediately leaped up from my sun bed and plunged head first into the pool in readiness to play! I had been bored doing nothing but lounging around, so the prospect of some fun and sport was a perfect invitation. When I surfaced from my dive and looked around, I was amazed to find that I was the only woman who had gotten into the pool. “Oh well” I thought. It hadn’t been the first time. The teams were allocated and the game began.

The only thing I now remember from the game is this. The ball was thrown to my side of the swimming pool. It went over my head and a few metres beyond me. This was my chance! In the close vicinity of the ball, there was just myself and a man on the opposing team. We both started swimming like crazy to be the first to reach the ball. I got there before him. I took the ball in my hand, and raised my hand above the water to throw it to my team. Before I knew what was happening, the man had his hand on my head and was pushing me below the water, hard and with force. I lost the ball. But he continued to push me beneath the water. This was no joke. It was no light play in a holiday resort swimming pool. The man was almost twice the size of me. He was angry. I felt his anger and his aggression. I felt his rage and indignation. He continued pushing me below the water, now with one hand on my head and the other on my shoulder. I couldn’t breathe and fought to come up for air. By the time I came up spluttering, he had roughly pushed me aside with one last shove and was swimming away. Let that be a lesson to you. I got the point. No longer wishing to partake in the unpleasantness, I got out of the pool to recover and contemplate the incident.

Perhaps ten years or so ago I might have been playing cricket with that boy, in fun, in grace and in equality of spirit. Perhaps today, those boys whom had celebrated and championed my sporting prowess, would also be pushing me under the water, attempting to drown me because I had dared to compete with them as an equal. What had given this man so much anger, hatred and resentment towards me? What indeed, happens to some men to make them behave in such a way? Was he really so threatened by me? A forty-year old big strong man, threatened to outrage by an eighteen year old girl reaching the ball before him? Now that I think about it as I write this, I feel quite sorry for that person. He must have had so many insecurities in his life. Why did he possess this level of anger, of inferiority? Of having to prove his strength by force alone? I hope that he has now reached a place of peace. I hope that his violence has not extended to other women and possibly men in his life. I would guess that this may not have been the case. I hope that the others he has assaulted in his life have been able to assimilate his actions to the proper cause, and also find some empathy. It must be awful, to exist as such an angry, limited and challenged being on this planet.

Moving on. One day when I was around twenty, I had just finished playing a netball match. I cannot remember whether or not we won. After the game, a friend and I decided to relax and discuss the game together at the pub. We showered and dressed and went for a glass of water. No alcohol straight after the game – we were far too health conscious for that. We drank our water, finished our discussion and left the pub to walk the 200 metres or so to the taxi rank to go home. We began walking along the narrow pavement and saw that coming toward us, making their way to the pub we had just left, were two men. We all intuitively moved into single file in order to pass each other. I was in front of my friend. As we reached the two men and the one in front was just about to pass by me, I caught a funny glint in his eye. Before I knew what was happening, he grabbed my crotch in a sudden move. Grabbed it hard, and held his hand there. I smacked his hand away, spluttering out something like “What do you think you’re doing?” One look at his face told me to challenge him no further. It was late and both men were huge. They reeked of arrogance and there was ready aggression in their eyes. They continued past us on the path, laughing to each other as if nothing had happened. I stood there in stunned silence with my friend. This is such a cliché – but I felt dirty. I couldn’t wait to go home to shower again, which I did. Even in the shower, of course, I couldn’t wash away the violation that had occurred. What was I wearing? You may well ask. Jeans and a great big navy blue woollen jumper that almost reached my knees. It may as well have been a potato sack, it was so large and shapeless. Flat shoes. No make-up. The only flesh on show was my head, neck and hands. Had I asked for it? You tell me! Would the incident have been more acceptable if I was clad in a miniskirt and boob tube? You tell me!

Continued ...

Part 1 || Part 2

A lecture at University of Texas, Austin by P. Sainath, sponsored by the University of Texas School of Journalism, the South Asia Institute, AID-Austin and the Society of Professional Journalists UT.

Part 1 || Part 2 || Part 3 || Part 4 || Part 5

(includes some of the end of part 1 for continuity)

It never looked back. That was the breach point. The Composite Share Index of the Colombo Stock Exchange - the CSE - reached within 16 points of the highest - which was the year of its founding. Indonesia - the worst affected nation - quarter of a million people dead, the Stock Exchange is rocked by the earthquake and Tsunami but you know as the neo-liberal economists say: The building rocked, but the fundamentals were sound.

So the Stock exchange reached its great... every day it broke the earlier records for a week. Thailand and Malasia couldn't do that, because they had already reached their historic highs at that point, but they reached the highest within those five years when they had come to a top.

You know something guys, about unique buying opportunities, let me tell you, let me present to you a non-financial way of looking at this if you will. Here's something about unique buying opportunities: When there is incredible misery in the countryside, when hundreds and thousands of people go into bondage because of debt and many of them of course, take their lives in indebtedness, do you realize there is a unique buying opportunity for money lenders in the countryside to buy more young girls and cheaper for the flesh trade and trafficking that goes on in the world. It's a unique buying opportunity.

Try looking at it in terms of food in the same way. As the distress in the countryside has gone up, human trafficking has gone up all around the world. As the distress... I can see with my... you know...

In my own job, I'm a rural reporter. I spend between 270 and 300 days a year in India's villages. My home is in Mumbai, which is also home to one of the largest red light districts in the world. In the red light district called Kamatipura, you can see where the children have come from. The girls are really children. They are 12-13 years old. They have come because some granddad or father had gone into debt some years ago, and they are there.

The more the distress, the greater the drivers, pushing them from Kalahandi, from Telangana, from Rayalaseema, from Vidarbha... into the sex trade. Why don't you look at that as a unique buying opportunity? If you can look at the unique buying opportunity created by radioactive fallout in Fukushima as something nice, try... for me, morally, it's in the same club. It's not very different. Just look at the morality of this economics - that is the dominant economics of our time.

Back to the media.

You know the most expensive branch of the media... I've been a journalist for Last September I completed 30 years as a professional journalist. I've always noticed - in the last 15 years particularly, that the branch of the media - whether in television or in print, on which we spend the maximum money are the financial journalists.

My contemporary in Times of India, all he does is cover... you know there's a guy... in several papers ... He covers futures. That's all he does. Must be a wretched, miserable life, but he earns eight times of what I do, so I guess he's ok.

Now here is the most pampered, most highly paid branch of journalism. Did any of them give you an inkling of what was to happen in 2008. We have scrutinized the banks. We have scrutinized the insurance companies. We have scrutinized the government. We have scrutinized Congress. Have you scrutinized the financial media and how they helped you put your money down the tube. Telling you that things were never so good. Go back to 2008 before the meltdown. Three to four months before the meltdown, and read how well the world economy was doing.

No critical analysis. No introspection. After the meltdown, the same clowns are trotted out onto your television screens to tell you exactly what went wrong. After your money is down the tube. I think that programme has a nice name. Mad Money. It is completely insane. The star anchor of it and the conclusions. These were the guys telling you that the economy was doing better than it ever did!

Remember. Did the great world of financial journalism ever tell you that ENRON was as big a crock of shit as you could imagine in your worst nightmare? Did they? No, because Wall Street Journal and other columnists were writing speeches for Kinley at 25k a shot.

Okay?

Financial journalists were writing speeches for ENRON executives. You can read the Columbia journalism review on that, on how many of these guys were making money writing for... there's too much cosiness between financial media and the corporate world.

Come to India for a moment. It is now perfectly normal in financial journalism that a guy who is an assistant editor in the Economic times, for instance, okay? He joins Burrows and Welcome as a Public Relations officer. A year later he comes back as the associate editor of the newspaper. Two years later he goes as senior PRO of Glaxosmithklyne. Then he is back as senior associate editor. Then he is chief PRO of Dabhol, which is ENRON and one day he is the resident editor of the newspaper.

This is seen as perfectly normal - the seamless transition between journalism and the corporate world, because journalism is ... because the media, not journalism, is... The media are not anymore pro-corporate or pro-business. The are corporations, they are big businesses. They are worth billions and billions of dollars and if you want, we can get into the numbers regarding India. What kind of investments the country has seen in the media in the last three to four years in a little while from now.

Now, if you look at the links between the media and giant corporations, the organic structural links. You know about twenty years ago, we used to talk about media monopolies. And there were monopolies in the media. That isn't the case anymore. There may be monopolies in the media, but they are small parts of much larger conglomerates. Much larger conglomerates, and they are perhaps the ideological arm.

It's one reason my dears, that NBC cannot play up the story that General Electric paid ZERO dollars in tax last year. How many of you knew that? Did you know it from NBC? NBC can't say it, because NBC ... Firstly, the original parent company of NBC is RCA - Radio Corporation of America. Seventh biggest contractor, super parent of that granddaddy of that is General Electric - one of the biggest military manufacturers on the planet... now NBC can't go around telling you "Hey, my parent company didn't pay any tax dollars last year!"

Zero tax dollars by one of the largest corporations in the world. Here's the point, guys. The point is: The media have a structural compulsion to lie on these critical issues. They are too heavily invested in the market to ever tell you the truth about it. I keep telling my whizkid friends in Mumbai, because many of my friends are also corporate... heavily into the corporate world. I said whatever you do, don't invest your life savings on the basis of what the bloody newspapers tell you. You'll be dead. Quite a few of them were, in 2008, but anyway...

They have been given a second life since then. Again with public money.

Now look at the media narrative of the large, large political process of your time. How did we begin this talk? We began this talk with me asking you if you were aware that Egypt was the largest wheat importer in the world, the food prices in Egypt had gone up way beyond the budget of ordinary people in a nation which has one of the highest expenditures of food per capita in terms of your monthly income. 40% in Egypt as against say 17% in Brazil.

But you told me that this was not reflected in your media. Let me tell you what was reflected in your media. Twitter made a revolution, right? And Facebook mopped it up. Right? Helped by a few brave bloggers. People make revolutions, not technologies.

When I hear this kind of nonsense ... you know? These are tools. They help you. Of course they help you. When I hear a piece telling me the Maldavian Twitter revolution and understand that Maldavia has something like 70 twitter accounts. You know? I don't know how many it has, but it has almost nothing.

When I hear that people are coming onto the streets of Tehran, because of messages on Twitter and Facebook, all of which are in English, and how many of those people in the streets of Tehran are English speakers or visit English websites? Talk sense. Just talk sense.

Uprisings and agitations and revolutions are made by people.

The second thing they didn't tell you was that Egypt for twelve days was in what was virtually a general strike. After thirty years of suppression, the trade unions were out on the street in very, very significant numbers. Workers were on those streets. Nor did they tell you that more than 30% of these countries of the unemployed ... more than 80% of the unemployed in Egypt were people below the age of 30.

Don't you think these were things that your media needed to tell you? Don't you think it would have given you something more of a perspective if you knew these facts? How come you don't know. It's a Twitter revolution.

It was vastly entertaining for me to read in the newspapers, all the big corporate media reproducing Hillary's call to Egypt to reform. Do you know why it was entertaining? Because 6 months ago, the United States had praised Egypt for being one of the most serious countries about reforms and economic reforms, and the World Bank in its report of 2010 - they bring out a report called "Doing Business 2008" "Doing business 2001" Its report, "Doing Business 2010" says Egypt and Columbia were among the best and topmost reformers in economies in four of the last seven years. And those were the four years that led to your collapse.

It says - I'm quoting: "Top global reformers in four of the past seven years."

The World Bank has a knack for these famous last words.

There's another from India which I like even more - on "Water Privatization". This report is published 2 years and it says water privatization can be a very popular thing. As Mr. Chandrababu naidu has shown, the report is published - eight months later he suffers the biggest electoral defeat in the history of Andhra Pradesh. And the next two editions of the report still contain that paragraph despite my having had fun at their expense on the Edit Page.

They still continued to repeat it. And the other person whose electoral popularity was boosted by.. Chandrababu Naidu was one, and the other was Digvijay Singh in Madhya Pradesh, after whom the Congress has never been able to come back in Madhya Pradesh. Nor has the TDP been able to come back in Andhra Pradesh and it's very likely, those of you who are Telugu.. that the TDP will be third in teh next Andhra election. Third. If they're lucky. They'll be competing with the Congress for third place.

Now let's shift. This whole business of valorizing, lionizing those who undertake pro-corporate reforms and destroy the lives of ordinary people, how have you been reading what have you been reading, for instance about the European Union and the collapse there. These idiots in Spain and Greece, right? Lazy guys. They have these four hour siestas, they don't work.

Have you noticed how silent the ideologues are on the collapse of Ireland? Ireland was the star pupil of the neoliberal economic philosophy. The star pupil. Today, Ireland is down the tube. Very sad. that's a country I absolutely loved and have connections with. In 2007, when I was there, I was really frightened by the great joy and zest with which the Irish were celebrating their boom.

Now having seen 16 years of that in India, and having a good sense of what was to follow, I did try in the different talks I had in the universities to pour some cold water on that. In fact, their newspapers had the headlines - coming to age of the Celtic tiger. So in fact my talk at the Galloway university had been titled Asian tiger, Celtic kitten and... it didn't go down well. I wonder why.

[contd in part 3]