Sunday Reading–Artivism In The Age Of Capitalism- #SJ #Aamir Khan


by-Samvartha Sahil–

In a recent article on Satyameva Jayate (SJ hereafter) one of our important film, TV and theater artist B. Suresha brought in the argument of the visible and invisible connection between commerce and art and on how the control of commerce over art can limit art and also corrupt and dilute it.

When the strings of art is in the hands of commerce, whichever art may it be, how much ever concerned the art is and has its heart in the right (rather left) place finally its concern and artivism will be playing within the framework of commerce (read capitalism) and all its concern will be, in one or the other way, benefiting the larger capitalist structure. Else why would the capitalist structure even bother to hold the strings of art in the name of artivism.

What actually makes such associations quite limiting and also dangerous is that the art, in the name of artivism, will not be able to survive of its own and the commercial interest becomes more important than the very artivism of such art.

With all respects to the concern of Aamir Khan and all those who are watching the show, we should not let the question on how Aamir Khan, with so much of advertising, Ambani and corporate interest intertwined with SJ will be able to raise some of the most inhumane issues of this country- say caste discrimination/oppression, demand for reservation, khap panchayat, communalism etc- in his show? One show on caste discrimination and a call for mass support for reservation will make Aamir Khan a villain in the eyes of most of the viewers. One show on how monopoly of Reliance can ruin this nation and the capital flow for the show will vanish- or make the show itself vanish. Or let Amir give us one show on NBA- a movement with which he has identified earlier- and speak of the problems associated with the popular model of development. Will he and his show have the same number of audience the following week? The point here is not whether Aamir Khan is concerned or not but how these associations and negotiations chain one! He may not be able to speak of NBA, even while having his heart with the movement, because of the fear of losing TRPs.

This association between commerce and art, thus, lets art be concerned and speak about all those issues which, if spoken, doesn’t harm its commercial interest. So what happens as a result is that the structure of world, which in itself is very oppressive and needs to be fought, remains untouched. Moreover it keeps benefitting from such programmes too.

Have not people like Sainath, Kalpana Sharma, Harsh Mander, Arundati Roy, Anand Teltumbde spoken about burning issues to us? The fact that we require an Aamir Khan- with an aura of being a star- to wake us up speaks about the thick skin we have developed. This is a sort of moral illness. May be the world which we have constructed for ourselves is not a thick skinned one and – to use a marketing word- “good packaging” is required to take the message. But it becomes important to see what is happening to the message itself when it is sealed in a plastic cover?

This moral illness of our times is something which artivism has to cure. We the people, with this moral illness, who are a part of this larger structure and also benefiting from this structure, amidst our busy life strengthening the status quo and this larger structure for our own benefits, feel satisfied about our ‘sensitivity’ about ‘burning issues’ of the world by watching and speaking of some socially relevant issues. This is like personal/ individual CSR. It is, forgive the language, a kind of moral masturbation.

One should remember the recent Idea and Samsung advertisements which showed that ‘like’ buttons on facebook can change the world, bring a revolution, and awaken a generation. It may be speaking about how facebook can help in raising questions and bring about awareness. But the bottom line is “buy idea 3G” and “buy samsung”. Worse it takes activism and artvism from the real to the virtual space. SJ is not very different from this because it again is playing within the framework of an oppressive system, with its close association with commerce, which surely is benefitting capitalism.

One problem with SJ (and also the column by Aamir Khan in The Hindu) is that they sound very much like a moral science class. Bringing up issues and discussing them and thus opening the eyes of the people to the issues and also awakening them are fine. But what makes one turn skeptical about it is the moral high position that Aamir Khan seem to assume for himself. One wouldn’t become so skeptical about it the research team of SJ was to come and narrate these stories.  When SJ becomes more of an Aamir Khan show and not a programme which speaks of reality as it really is, there are all reasons for one to be skeptical about it as one has all reasons to be skeptical about all such works where an individual’s aura eclipses the work. In the narratives narrated by Sainath, Kalpana Sharma or Harsh Mander (for example) we do not see their individual personality casting its shadow on the issues they are raising.

It can be argued that Sainath, Kalpana Sharma or Harsh Mander has not been able to penetrate to the larger mass and mass consciousness the way Amir Khan has done. But how can we ignore the difference in the issues being raised by Sainath, Mander, Roy etc and Amir Khan? May be there is a need for the former to invent newer methods of speaking. Possible. But SJ does’nt become an alternative for the former.

That does’nt mean that SJ does’nt have any right for existence. To think that though within the framework of a capitalist system it is raising questions and trying to bring in a difference from within is to just have imaginations and not an imaginary. Like there is poverty of morality and poverty of sensitivity there exists also poverty of imagination. We have been tied by imagination and have not been able to imagine the imaginary to bring in a new form of activism and artivism.

Read more on his BLOG HERE

Aamir Khan, The Ambanis And Medical Ethics


Vidyadhar Date 

28 May, 2012
Countercurrents.org

Dr Ravi Bapat is the man Amir Khan should have featured in his television programme on health issues Satyameva Jayate telecast on May 27. Dr Bapat is also much nearer home , in Mumbai. Dr Bapat is committed, has a long record of serving the poor in a public hospital and he has written about the importance of public hospitals and corruption in the private sector in two books.

Social commitment and medicine run in the family. Dr Bapat’s father Dr Dinkar Bapat removed 400 doctors from the employees’s state insurance scheme on charges of corruption when he was its director in the sixties. He conducted raids and found that some doctors ran bogus clinics and gave bogus certificates.

He got so fed up with the corruption that he sought a transfer and wrote an article on the decline in the morality of doctors in Mumbai.

So what Amir Khan highlighted was important but by no means new. For example Dr Bapat points out on page 165 in his more recent book Post Mortem that if a doctor takes a seriously ill patient hurriedly for an operation, it is likely that the patient is already dead but all operation charges will be recovered from the family.
Hysterectomy is the bread and butter of gynaecologists and appendix of general surgeons. Many of these surgeries are unnecessary, he says.

Dr Bapat’s book Ward No 5, KEM, published six years ago, is published in Marathi as well as English and the more recent is Postmortem which is in Marathi and deserves to be urgently translated into other languages.

God forbid if a major calamity strikes Mumbai because we are weakening our public hospital infrastructure, warned Dr Bapat in Ward NO 5, KEM. .

It is only in the last few years that the craze for private, expensive hospitals and private medical colleges has begun. Formerly, prominent political leaders regularly took treatment in public hospitals. Members of the Bal Thackeray family including wife Meenatai used to get treatment in the municipal KEM hospital. Dr Ravi Bapat recalls this in his book .

The book reads like a novel because it deals with such a wide variety of characters. Nowhere else can a doctor get such experience as a public hospital. Ravi Bapat has treated all sorts of people from senior politicians to gangsters, artistes, sportspersons and social activists.

In 1983 when Bal Thackeray’s ailment could not be diagnosed, Bapat examined him, stopped his homeopathic treatment, gave him new medicines and restored his health. One needs to make it clear that Bapat is not at all close to the Thackerays. Far from it. He was very close to many activists and leaders of left wing trade unions during the more militant days of the sixties and seventies.

Bapat’s father and wife too studied in G.S. medical college of KEM and as a student he got guidance from such stalwarts of those days as Dr A.V. Baliga, G.M. Phadke, Arthur D’sa , B.N. Purandare and P.K. Sen.

Bapat is troubled by the growing privatisation, commercialisation of medicine. He has seen it all from close quarters as a practising senior surgeon and later as vice chancellor of Maharashtra university for medical sciences. Doctors are so busy chasing money these days that they are putting their own health at risk, Bapat says.

Many doctors have a long record of dedicated social service and many are brilliant writers. The foremost among them is A.J. Cronin, who did pioneering work in the field of occupational health among mine workers in the U.K. and his writing was responsible for the much lauded British health service. More recently, Dr Atul Gawande, a U.S. born son of a doctor couple, has done pioneering work in the profession and on writing on it. However, the profession also has been lampooned for its downside. I remember a Sanskrit proverb Yamaraj Sahodar which says a doctor is like the elder brother of Yama, the god of death, Yama only takes your life, the doc takes both your life and money.

Way back in 1978, the book Chloroform, written by Dr Arun Limaye while losing his battle against cancer, questioned various aspects of the medical profession. The book was published by Granthali. It was a landmark book and Limaye’s premature passing away left a void.

The irregularities and crimes of multinational pharmaceutical companies are regularly exposed in the Western media and literature but so little notice is taken of these in India. John La Carre’s novel The Constant Gardner shows the crimes of the MNCs which included the murder of a British diplomat’s wife in Africa because she is a committed campaigner.

Amir Khan’s programme is good and many decent people are connected with it. But it is completely marred by the exhortation by Mrs Nita Ambani of the Ambani Foundation and there arises a very big question of credibility.

She talks of taking India from darkness to light, from ignorance to knowledge, from dependence to self reliance and so on. While she speaks softly, the import is extremely arrogant as it seeks to project the foundation as the solution of all of India’s problems. Even an election campaign speech has more credibility.

The Ambanis are simply using a good programme to brighten their extremely controversial image. Of course, there is no shortage of collaborators in the media trumpeting for the Ambanis.

And an Ambani-sponsored programme on health issues seems extremely odd considering the record of the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani hospital at Andheri though it belongs to the rival Anil Ambani group. Just read the damning report of the auditor and comptroller general presented to the Maharashtra legislature recently.

That apart the programme and much of the discussion elsewhere on health issues is too focussed on big hospitals, doctors and treatment. The more crucial issue of prevention is generally neglected. It is much more important to provide clean drinking water, air and nutritious food and basic health services to the masses than to build expensive, high tech hospitals. But hospitals bring more publicity and strengthen the vested interests in the medical corporate complex.

(Mr Vidyadhar Date is a senior journalist and author of the book Traffic in the era of climate change. Walking, cycling, public transport need priority. datebandra@yahoo.com)

Aamir’s Satyamev Jayate- Copied ? You Decide


, TNN | May 7, 2012

Aamir Khan‘s TV debut yesterday, which was preceded by months of publicity, culminated in a controversy with the band Euphoria alleging that the chorus of the show’s 22-minute anthem, Satyamev Jayate, had been lifted from the band’s decade-old song Satyameva Jayate. While Euphoria’s lead singer Palash Sen said all the TV show’s team had to do was ask him for their song to be used, composer Ram Sampathrefused to comment.

I was shocked: Palash

For the last few days, Palash Sen has been receiving calls from many of his fans who told him that the tune of the anthem of Aamir’s show, Satyamev Jayate, was the same as Euphoria’s song, which was also called Satyameva Jayate.

“The trailers and the anthem of this show have been running on television for quite a while, but I had not seen the videos. When I heard it, I was shocked. In 2000, Euphoria released its second album Phir Dhoom, and one of its songs was named Satyameva Jayate. And the chorus of composer Ram Sampath’s version of Satyamev Jayate is exactly the same as the chants in our song. They’ve basically used the same refrain. Jo baaki ka gaana hai, that has different words and tune. But the mainstay of the song – the chorus – is ours. Which is why I’ve sent a legal notice to them,” says Palash.
He adds, “It was the first Indian non-film song that was composed on the thought and phrase of ‘satyameva jayate’. We used to play that song extensively at our concerts about a decade ago. That song is not as popular as Maaeri (from the same album) because we did not make a video for it. But I believe that is the point – if one takes a 12-year-old song and picks up its chorus, most people won’t know about it, barring a few passionate fans who instantly recalled it and called me up.”

I’d have given permission

“They could have asked me and I’d have agreed at one go. I wouldn’t have asked for money. I would have just asked for a small credit to the band for the song,” says Palash.

“A lot of times, I see Euphoria’s tunes, catch-phrases, etc, in many Bollywood songs, but since that was not full-fledged copying, I didn’t raise any objection. I admire and respect Ram, and I remember how he fought for copyright issues when his own song was lifted and used in Rakesh Roshan’s Krazzy 4, hence the shock is even greater. The problem is that today, in the industry, copying is so frequent that people don’t even care about the original contributor’s objections.I want the audience to hear Euphoria’s Satyameva Jayate and decide on their own,” says Palash.

In 2008, Ram was involved in a similar copyright controversy, but back then, he was the one accusing the Roshans of not giving him credit for the music of Krazzy 4. He ultimately won the case and got 2 crore as compensation.


No comment: Ram Sampath

When contacted about Palash’s allegations, Ram Sampath, composer of the anthem for Aamir’s TV show, said, “I don’t have any idea about what you are saying. Nobody has said anything of this sort to me yet. So, I refuse to comment.”

Ditto: channel

When we spoke to Star India, they refused to speak on the matter. “No comment”, said the official spokesperson. Another official, though unwilling to be quoted, told us, “We don’t deny that we have received a legal document on this. But before we take any action or revert on this, we’ll check the authenticity of the allegation. We will not simply accept what someone is shouting from one corner of the world. We need some time.

YOU WATCH BOTH VERSIONS AND DECIDE