Sunday, June 29, 2014

David Cameron's Diary

Dear Diary,

I’m still in my Vampire costume as I write this, soaked in that £25,000 bottle of wine that George was spraying us with.

He used up a whole case of it. Showing off.

He is an idiot, even though he is Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Like that Hungarian ass who was trying to do a line of cocaine on an open double-decker bus. Of course it kept blowing away, but he kept trying, saying “I can afford it!” Now he’s saying I fucked up relations with the EU! Or was it the Polish ass who said it. I’m so sozzled I can’t tell!

But to get back to George. He really is an idiot. Can you believe he bought a staffer to a strictly Bullers Only party, and a foreigner by the sound of him. Chabra or something.

Did you forget the rules, George? I said to him when he appeared with Chabra in tow at the door of Number 10.

No, but he’s writing a book about me, so he needs to know that I’m not just a policy wonk. Also, I needed someone to carry the wine, George said, leaving me aghast.

Wine wasn’t all Chabra was carrying. After a while, when we were in the middle of the “Vee vant Blood!” soft-shoe number, I saw him surreptitiously clicking away with his i-phone.

I sidled up under Boris to tell him what was happening. Boris was swinging from the chandelier and came crashing down when he realized what I was saying.

He dusted off the glass from his hair and said not to worry. He was quite drunk, but then he almost always is, so that’s neither here nor there.

I have powers as Mayor, he said. I’ll see our foreign friend loses his phone before he can do any damage. Give me a moment to call Scotland Yard.

That made me think of another bit of shit George got me into. Andy Coulson. The phone hacker at the News of the World. It was George who got me to give him a job as my Communications Director.

Why did you do that! I screamed at him when Coulson’s shit hit the fan.

Well I was just returning a favour, George said, quite unfazed. Andy put a lid on that story about me doing cocaine with Natalie Rowe, so I know he’s got his heart in the right place.

That reminded me William had said something kind about Coulson too. He was helpful in putting a lid on that story about William spending nights at a hotel “occasionally” with one of his male staffers.

And that in turn reminded me how Tony’s rumored affair with the Chinese Murdoch also had a lid put on it. Although it didn’t stay on for long, for Rupert found out and dumped the woman. He wasn’t going to keep her after he found out. Even if the other man was a former British PM!

Perhaps Andy was pretty effective after all. Although he never did anything about that cartoonist fellow who always draws me with a condom on my head. Well, I guess we can’t win every time. Maybe I can get him a Queen’s pardon.

I was just getting back in the swing of the “Vee vant blood” routine when that greasy Pole Sikorsky hove into sight and said “You really fucked up on Juncker! What were you thinking!”

I threw a champagne bottle at his head but missed. It hit one of the servers and knocked him out.

What do you mean telling the Press I fucked up, I screamed at him. Juncker’s a drunk, you know that. He has cognac for breakfast. What’s he going to do at the head of the EU?

Sikorsky grinned. Anything Angela tells him. It’s the truth. He flung a butter dish back at my head. I ducked and it bounced off a table and out of the window.

You think it’s a joke I said grimly. But if the EU doesn’t reform, we’re going to pull out!

Only the dumb fascists in Hungary believe that nonsense about reform, Sikorski said. The rest of us know you just want the EU to back off on banking regulations so you can continue laundering money.

Well, is that a bad thing, I asked him. Why do you think we’re all so rich? Where would we be without The City to launder all our organized crime money?

I’m rich honestly Sikorski said, proving just how dumb he is.

You can’t get rich honestly I said, letting my deep scorn show. Do you know how much money from international organized crime we launder? Eight to 15 per cent of world GDP, that’s how much.

Sikorski was impressed . How much is that, he asked.

About $4 trillion to $7 trillion every year, I said. You can’t make that kind of money without drinking the blood of millions of people. Why do you think the Bullers love the “Vee vant blood” routine? It’s what we do. What we’ve done for five hundred years. African blood, Arab blood. Indian blood. American blood. We drink it all. That's why the Vampire is our cultural creation, why the "License to Kill" is our national fantasy.

American blood? Sikorsky was intrigued.

Well, the Red Indians we massacred to begin with, and then all the wars the Yanks fought to save democracy! They’re like a bunch of hounds after a stuffed rabbit.

Sikorski was not convinced.

If you're making all that money, why is your Foreign Office writing to corporations to sponsor the Queen's birthday party?

We don't want the British people knowing about our black money, you idiot! If we're sticking them with all kinds of austerities do we want them to know we're making trillions on the side?

Then what exactly do you use the money for?

To run the world. Consider the ISIS take-over of Iraq. You really think 4000 of them are winning against an Iraqi army of 70,000 without our help? We’re paying off the Iraqi generals big time. Just as we greased the Taliban to power in Afghanistan. It leaves the Yanks mystified every time.

But why?

Sikorski is dumb as a post. No wonder there are so many Polish jokes.

It’s what I was saying, I explained patiently. We need war. Blood. With the developing countries rising so fast, we need to pull them down and safeguard our money laundering and drug trafficking businesses. We do that by creating conflicts all over Africa, Asia and Latin America. The Chinese are working with us. They need diversions too. War works every time. Hatred sells. Violence works! That’s the secret of our success. Always has been. That’s why Vampire parties have always been a Buller tradition.

Vee vant blood!

 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Intriguing Stuff on Television


There are many things that mystify me on television, and at the top of the list in the last few days has been the coverage of the Delhi University (DU) - University Grants Commission (UGC) face-off.

From what filters through the reports of breathless television correspondents and shrill studio commentary, it is clear the problem is over an attempt to convert DU's three-year graduate degree course into four years.

Beyond that, all is confusion.

The DU Vice Chancellor seems to be the villain responsible for the initiative, ostensibly to “please the Americans,” as one reporter put it.

The UGC seems to have opposed the move.

Today’s coverage began with both sides dug into those opposed positions, holding up for the third day the admission process of some 250,000 students to 50+ colleges in the New Delhi area. Protesting students filled the screens.

There was a flurry of excitement at a report that the Vice Chancellor had resigned, and then that he had not.

Then a DU Spokesman appeared to make a statement. He was given a split screen to make it. In English and then in Hindi he read out a compromise offering: instead of a four year course, students would be allowed to choose an Honours 3-year term.

While he was making the statement the other side of the split screen carried looped silent footage of a group of protesters outside a gated building, shouting and gesticulating amidst a melee of pushing and shoving.

A man with a bandaged head (or extremely skimpy turban) was shoved out of sight along a walkway.

A vociferous (but soundless) plump woman was dragged into the gated yard by a policewoman.

The Spokesman finished his statement and retired to his office, with television reporters hot on his heels.

He endured a barrage of shrill questions for a while then evicted the reporters from his office. As the doors closed on them, one complained of “threats to the Press.”

Over four days of coverage, I did not see a single attempt to explain what was at issue. If the DU Vice Chancellor was trying to “please the Americans,” what were his motives? Who were the protesters outside the gated compound? What happened to the man with the bandaged head and the woman dragged into the compound?

Amidst this surreal coverage, as I was flipping channels to try and find something that made sense, I came across a truly weird commercial

It had a hirsute character sitting in a club chair, looking as I imagine Bertie Wooster would if he went to seed.

In a dolorous voice he says he would “ban” the word “good” if he could.

Good is the enemy of Great, he says. “Would history have remembered Alexander the Good?”

"I want to go for Great!"

And what is that commercial selling?

Bajaj Finserv!

Why would a company that wants you to give them money to invest say it is against “Good?”

Well, perhaps it’s honesty in advertising.

If your money disappears altogether, you can’t accuse Bajaj Finserv of not warning you about their values.

(And by the way, Good is what most people define as Great. The Buddha, Jesus, Guru Nanak, Mahatma Gandhi, to name just a few examples.)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Shashi Tharoor's Diary

Dear Diary,

I really don't know why Mani Shankar Aiyar has his knickers in a twist about my praising Modi.

He is the Prime Minister, after all, and controls much jam.

And I like jam!

Call it the single hard and fast principle that has guided me through life!

At the UN, I always went where the jam was. Ask anyone.

Well some people might tell you I was just a British toady, but that's quite the wrong way to look at it.

The Brits control the jam at the UN. Anyone who tells you the yanks are in control doesn't know what he is talking about; they're too busy flexing their Super Power muscles to take care of jam.

So right off the bat, after Kofi Annan recruited me at the UN High Commission for Refugees, I let the Brits know I was really one of them. (And that is not far from the truth, considering I was born in London.)

It worked like a charm.

The Brits like bright Indians who like jam, and as the UN is filled with people guided by the I Like Jam principle, I did quite well there.

Of course, the UN also has some odd people who claim to have high falutin ideas about integrity and such, but they are generally considered a pain in the neck.

The Brits really ask very little of us jam lovers in return. Occasionally someone would call and ask a favor. Really innocuous stuff.  Like the Godfather asking a service of the undertaker.

For instance, in my books, they like some things to be fudged. Small things really. Like the toll of the Great Bengal Famine of 1942-1943. That's the famine they created in response to the Quit India Movement. They were really pleased that I wrote "thousands died." The generally accepted death toll is between 3 and 4 million, but I'm sure no one noticed, especially in India.

I was right. No one did. (Except that frightful drip Papa Menon, who mentioned it over coffee once. I looked at him quite amazed. He is so out of it!)

But I soon realized that Indian sophistication about history didn't carry over into matters involving jam. Instead of winking at what happened with me and IPL, everyone made the most awful fuss. Really uncalled for, I thought.

Luckily, I had Sunanda by my side, and eventually things worked out well.

Or they did until that Pakistani jam -- I mean journalist -- came to see me ... and that brings me to the second reason I'm praising Modi.

He doesn't just control the jam. He controls what happens to the investigation of the unfortunate Leela episode.

Mani Shankar Aiyar should get a life!
 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

God Save Hinduism from Ignorant Clots


The editor of “Hindu Voice” in Mumbai has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi advising him on “Simple ways to Hinduize Bharat.”

His 24 recommendations include:

1. Making “the slogans ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ and ‘Vande Mataram’ compulsory for every citizen, to ensure their absolute loyalty to India.”

2. Making “the singing of our National Anthem - Jana Gana Mana, and ending it with ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ and ‘Vande Mataram’ - compulsory for all candidates at the time of filing their nomination papers for MPs and MLAs.”

3. Banning “the word ‘minority’.

4. Bringing in an “Endangered Civilization Protection Act to save Sanatan Hindu Dharm.”

5. Giving “Moral Policing Powers to some of our Hindu Organizations.”

And so on, each more idiotic than the other and entirely against the spirit and tradition of the faith he claims to represent.

Recommendation 22 caught my eye as especially ignorant:

“Change the name of our Motherland to 'Bharat' by removing the ambiguity in the Constitution and the word 'India'.”

He seems to think the word India is a British creation.

It is not.

Arrian’s history of Alexander, written at a time when the Anglo-Saxon tribes were prancing around in animal skins, has a chapter on Indica.

India is from the same root as Hindu and Sindh, all derived from an ancient word for river.

Indians/Hindus are the People of the River.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Manipulating India

After our massive general elections impressed upon the world an image of India as a great law-abiding democracy, I waited for the dismal corrective, and sure enough, it came in the grotesque footage of two teenage girls hanging from a tree in a poor village.

It had all the ingredients that constitute the British-created international image of the country: caste discrimination, defecation in the open, callous police (drunk to boot), and brutal violence against women.

Coverage of the crime in our “elite” (read British proxy) media endlessly accentuated those themes, focusing entirely on the grisly crime scene and reducing all actors to stereotypes. There were no specifics about the alleged perpetrators, nothing about the drunk cops. (Were they habitual drunkards or did someone provide them with drink just on that day?)

The clincher was the news that the “United Nations" had "condemned the horrific crime.” It flashed endlessly on television screens for a whole day and hit the headlines in print. Not a single report I have heard/seen bothered to explain that there was no “condemnation” of any sort; a Pakistani journalist who is a veteran India baiter, had asked the Secretary-General’s green-around-the-gills Spokesman what he thought of the crime, and instead of answering diplomatically and personally he had said it was “horrific.”

The timing of the crime right after the elections and transfer of power, its odd coverage, and the UN angle, all indicate a branding exercise similar to those the British have pursued at every opportunity since 1947.

For instance, you will find it in all of the “Indian” novels that have won the Booker Prize, and in Slumdog Millionaire, the Oscar-winning movie made by a British director who completely refashioned the plot and characters of a novel written by one of our serving diplomats and presenting a loving positive image of the country.

You can correlate each of those examples to positive developments in India.

Salman Rushdie put Indian and Bangladeshi independence into a disheartening British perspective.

Arundhati Roy presented Kerala, the most socially progressive state in India, as dankly decadent.

Kiran Desai did a number on the Northeast of the country after a number of foreign-sponsored insurrections were defeated there.

And Aravind Adiga conducted a Jack the Ripper attack on the emergence of Bangalore as an international IT hub.

Slumdog Millionaire took aim at the "India shining" image of an emerging economic powerhouse.

The video of the hanged girls lacked only one ingredient of the stock image of India the British have spread globally: the Hindu-Muslim riot. But it was not altogether missing. It was a strong theme throughout the coverage of the campaign – and rightfully so because of Gujarat 2002 – but the BBC inserted it in a voice-over that drowned out our national anthem at the oath-taking ceremony. Every other channel, including CNN, carried the solemn and moving scene with music intact. (RT was too preoccupied with slamming America to carry anything at all.)

The most amazing thing about this continuing and largely successful manipulation of India’s global image is that most Indians seem entirely unaware that Britain is continuing its colonial era psy-war against Indian nationhood, right down to attacks on Mahatma Gandhi as a shallow hypocrite. All the “Indian” Booker authors dump on Gandhi, as do the “histories” of India that flow perennially from British publishers.

In contrast to Indians, the British are 100 per cent on the ball when it comes to controlling their own image. Their history books ignore Britain’s dominant role in the transatlantic slave trade and London has consistently deflected demands for apologies from its former colonial victims. It has strongly rejected calls for compensation for stolen resources and return of treasured art and artifacts. It has never admitted the horrific toll of death and misery that colonial rule imposed on every territory the British controlled. Instead of admission of guilt and contrition we have the campy violence of James Bond movies presenting murderous British policy as glamorous and sexy.

Not all of it has worked -- James Bond has become a ridiculous figure -- but the massive campaign of avoidance and lies has allowed the British to lecture countries like Sri Lanka on human rights, and to pretend that it is not stealing massively from the poorest countries in the world even as its Prime Minister appears on a panel setting global development goals. It is also the prime mover in the continuing manipulation of the world of Islam.

To understand that success we have to look to the evolution of the advertising industry in the 20th Century under the influence of the work of Austrian theorist Sigmund Freud (1859-1939).

Freud and his Acolytes

As the above-ground criminality of the British Empire submerged into organized crime in the decades after the Second World War, the advertising industry entered a new phase shaped by the thinking of a man deeply scarred by the vicious antisemitism of his time. Freud was skeptical of all religion, dismissing it as an “illusion” and a “form of mental illness.” In his irredeemably materialistic view, adults were no more than overgrown infants suffering from the frustration of their naive self-love and overweening egotism. The resulting “neuroses” made them putty in the hands of an experienced “analyst” (read manipulator).

Freud’s nephew, Edward Louis Bernays (1891-1995), was a key figure in fitting psychology to the arts of manipulating public opinion. He was born in Vienna but raised in the United States from the age of one, in an elite, close-knit Euro centric Jewish community. Working for the propagandist Committee on Public Information during World War I, Bernays was impressed by British success in mobilizing anti-German feeling where none had existed.

In two seminal books, Crystallizing Public Opinion (1923), and Propaganda (1928), Bernays set out his view that ordinary people could and should be subject to elite psychological manipulation and guidance.

That attitude was reinforced by the French theorist Gustave LeBon, proponent of “crowd psychology” and the “herd instinct;” and Wilfred Trotter, an Englishman who authored Instincts of the Herd in Peace and War and pioneered the concept of “group dynamics.”

Hitler’s publicity chief, Joseph Goebbels (1897-1945) was a fan of all three writers and his use of their concepts gave an entirely new meaning to the word “propaganda.” (Previously, it had been used mainly by the Catholic Church, which set up in the 17th Century the Congregatio de Propaganda Fide, the congregation for propagating the faith.)

After World War II Bernays set up shop in New York as a “public relations counsel” and worked for corporate clients like the American Tobacco Company, for which he ran a campaign famous for equating smoking with women’s liberation: one effective stunt was the “torches of freedom” parade, a group of lovely models walking around puffing on cigarettes.

Working for the United Fruit Company (later Chiquita Banana), Bernays branded Guatemala’s democratically elected president as a Communist, bringing on a CIA sponsored coup, a brutal dictatorship, and the original “banana republic.”

He saw that as “engineering consent.”

His tactics became part of the tool-kit of American electoral strategists who discovered they could mobilize voters of particular groups with utterly dishonest propaganda.

These antecedents are the dirty secrets of the advertising industry, studied and admired but not celebrated. The person the industry acknowledges as the “Father of Advertising” is a British Intelligence officer, David Ogilvy, who had, during World War II, "extrapolated his knowledge of human behavior from consumerism to nationalism” and suggested tactics successfully used by the American Psychological Warfare Board. (The quote is from a biography issued by the firm he founded, Ogilvy & Mather.)

After the war, Ogilvy built one of the most successful advertising agencies in the world, and by the time he retired in 1972, it was an international conglomerate, the Ogilvy Group. He returned to work a decade later to found what is now Ogilvy India. (Piyush Pandey, head of Ogilvy India, was consultant to Narendra Modi’s prime ministerial campaign.)

In the final decade of the Cold War, London-based WPP (for Wire and Plastics Products, the original business of its boss Martin Sorrel), began to buy up advertising agencies. He made hostile bids and took over two New York based giants, J.Walter Thompson and Ogilvy & Mather. Sorrel now controls the largest advertising conglomerate in the world and figures 366th on the list of the world’s Top Jewish Earners; his current wife is the public relations director of the World Economic Forum

Advertising in India

It is interesting to note that a part of WPP, Soho Square, produced the Voltas commercials that caricature Tamils.

Voltas came to Soho Square after giving up a nine-year advertising partner in 2009 and changing its agency twice more before settling on Bangalore-based Meridian in 2011. (Meridian changed its name and is now part of with Ogilvy's New York based boutique Soho Square.) Trade papers said the churn reflected the search for a strong “Indian” slant to its campaign.

What that means is a moot point. Unlike Western agencies, which have minutely detailed statistical analyses of audience preferences and responses to particular ad campaigns, Indian Mad Men fly in the dark`, guided by their instincts.

Many of them use White models and Western music in commercials because their instincts tell them that is the best way to “sell up” (i.e. associate products with a social demographic “superior” to the target audience).

Others seem to be guided by the “Oh it’s so cute,” responses of family and friends (the Vodafone “utch” and flipkart’s grotesquely dressed children.)

Yet others seem motivated by nothing more than a desire to subvert the social values of impressionable viewers; so much so, that one I noted earlier even forgot to mention any product at all.

A current nitwit example is a commercial starring a White woman biting into an apple and another bouncing her very ample breasts. I have been unable to locate the product either on the Internet or in stores; perhaps I’ve got the name wrong, but it flashes so briefly on screen it is hard to tell.

The offensive Voltas air-conditioner commercials fall into a category of their own: they do not "sell up" and are in fact, crude in approach and execution; they seem to exist purely to brand Tamilians in a certain way. Since I wrote about that, another commercial caricaturing Punjabis has aired, selling the app WeChat. It is as anti-national as the Voltas ad, for the same reasons. (WeChat is a Chinese product, and given the potential for misusing information collected from its users, any Indian who uses the app would have to be certifiable.)

To find out the reasoning behind the Voltas ad campaign I called up Deba Ghoshal, head of the company’s marketing department. After a few preliminary exchanges, when I asked about the thinking behind the "Mr Murthy" ads, our phone connection went suddenly bad. He asked that I email my question. I will send him this article and will share his response with readers.

Tailpiece

The freaky road accident that killed cabinet minister Gopinath Munde could be an assassination. If it leads to a promotion for General V.K Singh in the cabinet reshuffle to come, we can conclude that those who paid the piper during the election campaign are now calling the tune. BJP members of parliament will then have to weigh their loyalty to the current government against their love of a free India.

Meanwhile, can we have a judicial probe into Munde's death, please.