In the section covering the basics of reporting and writing a story, Reuters’s Handbook of Journalism says, “Direct quotes add color and strength to your story and prove you have spoken to someone who knows what happened…Listen for that ‘golden quote’—the one that will best illustrate the main point of the story.”
The golden quote is obviously rare and can only be mined out of an interview by a canny journalist and an interviewee who is either articulate or an idiot. Most of the time, we get brass quotes that we polish as well as we can using devices like paraphrasing in order to convince the reader it’s golden. However, if some of the city stories that I’ve read recently are any indication, then an interview with members of Mumbai’s police force is the equivalent of a gold rush.
For example, in a report about the increasing incidence of crime in Mumbai, assistant commissioner of police, crime branch, Praful Bhosale said, ”A few years ago when there were no air conditioners, people would leave their doors and windows open for ventilation. However, now with ACs, rooms are cut off from the world outside. Similarly, with surround sound systems of TVs, one could just scream to death, or worse be shot, but the neighbours would be busy watching their favourite show, unaware of the plight of others.”
By which we may conclude that to improve the law and order situation and prevent crimes like Pallavi Purkayastha’s horrific murder, we should get rid of air conditioning and televisions. If we had open spaces in the city, then we could have all abandoned our apartments altogether, pitched tents in parks and lived like a massive hippie commune. After all, walls do act as sound barriers, too. In the absence of which, we should try going the Amish way.
“Palande has strong willpower. One reason why he easily dodged scientific tests could be that he does a lot of yoga. He practices yoga for two hours daily and has been doing it for many years.”
Shockingly, the government has not called for the banning of yoga in general or, at the very least, arrested Palande’s yoga teacher. You can still see yoga programmes on television, which is, I think, tremendously irresponsible of the state government. Does it realise that this laxness is creating thousands, nay millions, of potential, impossible-to-crack criminals?
It begins with basic asanas, like the Downward Facing Dog and the Happy Baby, and before you know it, we’re doing pranayama and the King Pigeon pose and the police, with its drug tests and lie detectors, is helpless.
I was wondering if I could slip cartoonist Aseem Trivedi a teach-yourself-yoga book when he appeared in Bandra on Sunday for his hearing but decided against it because so far as this case is concerned, if anyone needs help, it’s the police. First, the Mumbai police sent a team to Kanpur to arrest Trivedi while Trivedi was in Delhi.
Ultimately, in order to ensure he was indeed arrested, Trivedi got in touch with the police and asked them where they’d like him to show up.
Trivedi, 25, has quickly shot to prominence because of his activism so it’s no wonder that he doesn’t want to evade the authorities. Back when Anna Hazare had a camp, Trivedi was among those who answered the old man’s clarion call and his reputation as an outspoken critic of the government began with the posters he made for Hazare’s rallies. On that occasion, his website was suspended. So he started this blog.
This time, he’s in trouble for having messed with the national emblem and depicted Parliament as the “national toilet”. Apparently, a cartoon, which has the three wolves in the same pose as the lions of the Ashoka pillars, offended a Buddhist named Amit Katarnawre. “As a Buddhist my religious sentiments were hurt by the cartoon that uses the Ashokan lion pillar, as Emperor Ashoka was a Buddhist,” he said. Except if there are no lions, then it’s not a lion pillar is it?
I’ve no idea how the charges against Trivedi make any sense or hold up in a court of law. If cartoons that mock mindbogglingly corrupt politicians and an administration that continues to distinguish itself with its ineptitude are punishable, then where’s the freedom of expression that is central to a democracy? Not that Trivedi is asking any such questions. He’s got his own agenda: he wants to see how the same law that the colonial government used against Indian freedom fighters is used by democratic India’s judiciary against a citizen.
Back in 1922, a lawyer named M. K. Gandhi defended himself in court when charged with sedition as defined by this same law with minor modifications. Gandhi in his much-quoted statement said, “I consider it a privilege, therefore, to be charged under that section. I have endeavoured to give in their briefest outline the reasons for my disaffection. I have no personal ill-will against any single administrator, much less can I have any disaffection towards the King’s person. But I hold it a virtue to be disaffected towards a Government which in its totality has done more harm to India than previous system…”
As quotes go, that one’s definitely golden.
Deepanjana Pal is a journalist and the author of The Painter: A Life of Ravi Varma. She is currently the books editor at DNA.Tags: Aseem Trivedi, Mumbai Police, The Definite Article, Vijay Palande