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FREE MEDIA MATTERS

During the campaign for the 2014 parliamentary elections, besides the Congress and the Gandhi family, the target of a section of the BJP leadership and its front organisations was the media—both in terms of controlling it as well as viciously rubbishing it. This two-tack approach revealed itself, first, in manipulating the visual news media, which manifested itself in extensive coverage of BJP political rallies—creating an impression in the mind of the public about the inevitability of the imminent change. Social media multiplied its impact.

BRINGING BLACK BACK

Once you go black, you never go back. But, jokes aside, where is India’s black money? It’s in Switzerland and other tax havens — we were informed by those agitating against the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s criminal lethargy in bringing the moolah back from abroad. It was claimed that the amount stashed away was so colossal that it could literally rid India of its poverty, and also transform all of it into a bustling Shanghai. Some conservative figures put it at about $1 trillion, while the liberal estimate hovered at just over $16 trillion.

CHANGE IS LIKE A CRUMPLED FACSIMILE

F or several weeks now demonstrators in Hong Kong have been occupying one of the few open spaces — Central — in densely built Hong Kong. Their demand is for genuine democracy, as promised by the government of China at the time of the takeover in 1997. Hundreds of thousands of young people are squatting on streets, wielding umbrellas as shields against tear gas or other strong-arm tactics of the police and pro-Beijing thugs.

BIZARRE, THE NEW NORMAL

On July 17, a scheduled Malaysian Airlines aircraft, MH 17, that took off from Amsterdam’s Schipol airport, was shot down over war-torn Ukraine. This was the second time in six months that an airline’s aircraft had met with such a tragedy. In March, another Malaysian aircraft, MH 370, disappeared into thin air. In spite of naval fleets from six countries scouring the Indian Ocean in what has become the largest and most expensive search mission in history, its wreckage remains to be found. But the disappearance ended up triggering a million conspiracy theories.

RIOTS WERE NOT ACCIDENTAL

Months after they fled their homes because of the communal flare-up, many of the displaced victims of the Muzaffarnagar riots returned to their villages to cast their votes. With transport being taken care of by the administration, the refugees told the waiting crew of journalists —who wanted to know how it felt to be returning to their old homes — that they cast their votes and immediately returned to the camps.