Archive for November, 2006

h1

Sham Jhoothmalani(?) aur Justiceca Hal(?) (Jessica lall)

November 12, 2006

I would like to say at the outset that whatever is written here is only in the context of Jessica lall’s case. One sparrow does not make a summer and therefore an entire life should not be judged by a single act. I would rather not name the concerned lawyer(CL) here though it is obvious whom I am referring to. Though I have been an admirer of his for the bold stands he has taken at times and his professional skills, in his latest avataar, an ordinary citizen is perhaps better off by not referring to him directly. I am not making a sweeping statement but only talking for this particular issue.

This has reference to articles on this issue written by prominent journalists Vir Sanghvi (Editor of Hindustan Times) and Barkha Dutt( NDTV anchor). While calling the CL a friend and lauding some of his past achievements, both have questioned his stand on the Jessica lall murder case. They have tried to convey that while some his past “Houdini” acts- rescuing people like Kehar singh (accused in Indira Gandhi murder case) and Professor Geelani(accused in the parliament attack case) were admirable extrications, Manu sharma who is the accused in Jessica lall simply does not deserve such a release from perhaps the finest criminal lawyer in the country. Here are the links to the articles:-

Barkha Dutt’s article- Ram and Manusmriti

Vir Sanghvi’s article -Lone ranger in white shoes

Another interesting article is by Namita Bhandare which states that even the CL’s family is unhappy with this decision-

Namita Bhandare-Devil’s advocate

Some views of Mr Vir Sanghvi are worth repeating:-

“Some weeks ago, in context of the Mohammad Afzal case, I wrote, on this page, that ordinary people believe that if a rich and powerful man commits a murder in full public view in the middle of Connaught Place , a smart lawyer shall still get him off- so unfair is our legal system. I did not know then that Ram would actually accept this brief and try and get Manu Sharma, a rich and powerful man accused of committing murder in full public view, off.”

“But my words now seem eerily prescient. Lawyers tell me that Ram is conducting Manu’s defense so “brilliantly” that he may well get him off. He has already found a sex angle and has told us that the real murderer was a Sikh. Perhaps, in a week or so, he will tell us that Manu was not even there and that Jessica was killed by Navjot Singh Sidhu/Rabbi Shergill/Manmohan Singh.(all of them)”

After all these years, saying that a Sikh killed Jessica is almost like saying that Kashmir is in the south and Kanyakumari in the North of India or should we say that the CL works in the film industry and Hema Malini is fighting criminal cases. It cannot even pass off as a sardar joke. The CL claims that he is not taking any fees for this- wonder whether that qualifies as a joke since Mr Sanghvi has also stated that this time the person whom the CL is defending is not somebody who is weak and poor and therefore defenceless.

At another place, Mr Sanghvi has stated that the tag of “smuggler’s lawyer” never harmed the CL despite his having defended an assortment of characters who maybe regarded as “murderers, smugglers, gang bosses and desi Mafiosi”. Ironical- One would be normally be inclined to think that a lawyer was supposed to protect the Rams from the Ravans if not for anything else than for the fact that he happens to be his namesake as also the fact that he happens to be “Maryadapurshottam”

In my lage raho Munnabhai post, I had given Gandhiji’s thoughts on a lawyer’s profession which are worth repeating:-

” As a student, I heard that a lawyer’s profession is a liar’s profession. That did not influence me. I had no intention of earning either position or money by lying.” “I have never resorted to untruth in my profession and since a large part of my legal practice was in the interest of public work, I charged nothing beyond out of the box expenses and that too I met myself”. “The true function of a lawyer is to unite parties driven asunder”.

Gandhiji was practical enough to admit though that “Truthfulness in the practice of a profession cannot cure it of the fundamental defect that vitiates it”

One cannot expect anybody to be as truthful as Gandhi was but does one have to go to the other extreme? Even while writing the Munnabhai post, I knew that Gandhigiri was a passing fad. This was revealed last week when the Times of India had headlines of “Gandhiriri gives way go Goondagiri” when traders went on a rampage in Delhi against the imposition of Ceilings of unauthorised properties. In practical life, things happen more in confirmity with the other movie “Maine Gandhi ko nahin mara” which conveys that Indians remember him more is letter than in spirit and that too during his death and birth anniversaries. From another perspective,while Munna(bhai) was cute, can the same be said of Manu? At least here, should we not follow the apostle of truth, our “father of the nation”?

Coimng back to the professional context, I had mentioned in the post how the so called professionals(in all fields) do exactly the opposite of what they are supposed to be doing which is so well expressed by one of the all time great songs of Hindi Cinema. In this context (CL), if the guardians of law behave like this, what is left for the common man? The song is worth mentioning again here:-

In the BMW case, when a rich man’s son got away scott free after bunping off several people with his car, it was mentioned that the practical situation could be described as “show me the man and I will show you the law”. The way things are happening, law seems to have become like a five-star hotel, only for the rich people. Mr Sanghvi has also mentioned the same case in the article and stated how the “justice was available only to those who can pay for it”.. My fahter-in-law is a non practicing lawyer and a jain who would not even harm a fly. Even he has expressed serious reservations about the law time and again.

One day after writing the post, it has come in the Times of India that in the context of implementing the Ceiling, the Supreme court said “”Those who govern should know how important the rule of law is. If there is no rule of law, there will be nothing left in this country”. This is obviously true not only for this country but all countries but should it also not all apply to all parties and not merely restricted to “Those who govern”. What matters eventually is the motives with which the law is implemented but not law-per se. I recently read on some blog how the domestic violence law could be subverted by women with dubious motives.

Mr Sanghvi has used the expressions “deeply flawed justice system” and “ how little faith people have in our legal system” apart from “unfair legal system” mentioned earlier. The common man is so scared of the delay in justice that the judicial system is seen as a remedy worse than the disease. Considering that Gandhi, Nehru, Patel and Jinnah were alll lawyers, they can be proud of the fact that lawyers had a pivotal role in making India Independent. Isn’t it a strange irony that in Independent India, the ordinary man feels stiffled by the law and is almost under siege by the judicial system? If this situation continues to prevail, people might start taking the law in their own hands the way it was shown in the movie “Rang De Basanti”.

One should focus on the brighter side- the Priyadarshini Mattoo case where there are hopes of justice after the recent verdict in the victim’s favor. There again, the day after the verdict, both the Lall and the katara families(fighting similar cases) while welcoming the judgment said that it was late. They feel the pinch because it is they who are fighting and have to go to the courts on a day to day basis. I am sure that the murderers in those cases too must be thinking of approaching the CL.

These cases have come under the limelight because of media and public pressure but there must be countless others languishing in courts because of delays of various kinds. I can remember annother all time popular song from yesteryear’s super comedy “Chalti ka naam gaadi” “ Oh Mattoo, tera tau hua lekin mera kya hoga?” . In the original song, it is not Mattoo but Manu and if the CL succeeds in the Jessica lall case, we can revert to the original song with a slight variation “ Oh Manu, tera to hua lekin justice ka kya hoga?”

Though both Barkha Dutt and Mr Sanghvi have written very well and the media as a whole has played a very constructive role in these cases(even if for their TRPs), one wonders wether the role of the media is that of a watchdog or a bloodhound? Everytime a prominent case emerges, there is a lot of noise about delay in cases but nobody does any follow up and takes the issue to its logical conclusion- why the delay?, what can be done to expedite justice and what is the latest situation? If everytime a Jesica lall has to happen to arouse the consciousness about delay in cases, all the noise about it whether by the mainstream media or the bloggers is nothing but a lot of intellectual masturbation. Even in the Lall case, why did the media wait for seven years and for the verdict to go against the victims? Why can’t the justice system be made faster as in the other great democracy- the United States.? Even in Tennis and Cricket, the follow through is given its due importance. Practical corporate management is impossible without “follow-up”. Why not get to the root of the problem and effect a lasting change?

Both the Journalists have described the CL as the “lone ranger” against injustice. In reality, it is the common man who is the “lone ranger” against the flawed judicial system. Barkha says “ Much is being made of whether media trials have substituted or, at the very least, weakened the judicial process. I disagree. “ She is absolutely right. In a country where the politicians are perceived as corrupt and the judicial system inefficient, only the media can save the common man’s skin . The common man in this context is more like that famous bespectacled character from R.K.Laxman’s cartoons- looking baffled but genuinely confused and helpless.

As for the CL, since he happens to enjoy the stature(more or less) of cricketer Sachin Tendulkar in his field, it’s worth repeating what Tendulkar said in an interview once “ No matter how big a player is, nobody can be bigger than the game ”. In legal lingo “ Be you ever so high, the law is above you” –here, I am talking from a laywer’s perspective . Purely by coincidence, I happen to be reading “Why pride matters more than money” by Katzenbach. Though I am only half way throgh the book, it seems to be all about sustained motivation in the long run coming from pride in one’s work and profession- it states that though money may entice somebody to join an organization, in the long run, it is only meaningful work and pride in performance in one’s work that motivates an individual towards individual and group excellence . The CL already enjoys an enviable reputation in his field and hopefully, this is only an aberration. Barkha has mentioned in her article that the CL does not have to do all this for money anymore and behave like a typical professional(all maynot be like that) which reminded me of an artilce I had written some years ago- Is money the god and profession the religion ? .

Mr Sanghvi has concluded the article by stating that the next time the CL claims to use his legal prowess for the national good to help the weak and powerless, all of India will laugh in his face. One should hope that it does not come to that. There are many of the view that as it is, we already have plenty of entertainment from some politicians.

It would also not be out of place to mention here that some artists have spent a lifetime of poverty despite being very good in their respective fields- Hindi novelist Premchand and Hockey wizard Dhyanchand among them. Others like the famous painter Vincent Vangoh and Shakespeare became posthumously famous. Therefore, Professional prominence should never be taken for granted. People in the wrong profession have described it as “Spiritual suicide” and “lifetime imprisonment”. Therefore, one should have the highest reverence for one’s profession as it sustains both emotionally and financially for a majority of waking hours.

{ Nobody is disputing anybody’s right to hire a lawyer or any lawyer’s right to take up a case. This is just an expression of concern(which I think the journalists too are doing) if a smart lawyer is misusing his smartness. It is also an appeal to his conscience)

h1

Umrao Jaan ya Umar Bhar Jahannum?

November 6, 2006

I saw Umrao Jaan today. Though the movie is slow and can be quite boring for people not so fond of Urdu poetry or dialogues, its an absolute must for Aishwarya Rai fans who was “omnipresent” throughout the film. Both Miss Rai and Abhishek Bachchan(who does not have much to do in the film) have put in good performances at par with Shabana Azmi who is in her element as usual. No point in comparing Aishwarya to Rekha in the old movie because with the kind of Rekhas(beauty)she has, performance can be on the backburner for some. Speaking for myself, I am a hardcore Rekha fan for both style(beuaty) and substance(talent).

More than the performers and the performances, some chaste urdu poetry and dialogues were quite spellbinding. One such dialogue in the film which Shabana Azmi says to Aishwarya Rai goes something like this

“Heere ko apni chamak nahin dikhti par jauhri uski Kadar karna jaanta hai”.(Maynot be exact) . This implies that a person may not know his own worth but a discerning coach/master may know enough to be kingmaker.

It reminded me of what I had read a couple of years ago- Current Chairman of Indian cricket Selectors Dilip Vengsarkar was then on a “talent-scout” mission among the small villages and towns of India to hunt for natural cricketers like Sachin Tendulkar and Kapil Dev. Much before that, former Test cricketer and member of world cup winning team Madan lal while talking in the context of coaching my son told me “ My years in International cricket has taught me one thing. Cricket is a god given gift. If I see a gifted child, I take interest in him. Otherwise I tell the parents not to waste my and their time and take their child wherever his potential lies” . Even for Tennis, the best player in the local club also told me that the coaches often know who has the potential but many times hide facts from the parents of the less gifted child to earn more. One wonders how far a proactive talent scout system can work in education as well.

(A week after writing this post, it came in an article on India today(featuring Vengsarkar) that cricketers spotted by the Talent Reasearch Development officers(TRDO) were groomed by the National cricket academy. Vengsarkar states in the article that there is no exceptional talent that can straightaway be inducted into the Indian cricket team. It reminded me of how Wasim Akram and Inzamam-ul-haq had been catapulted to International cricket by the then Pakistan captian Imran khan after watching them on Television. Akram as captain followed the same policy with Abdul Razzaq.More or less the same thing happened to Tendulkar. It may not work in all cases(Parthiv Patel) but at least the TRDOs can be there in all occupations)

I recently read somewhere that some recruiting firm was not satisfied with the quality of software engineers that were coming out of institutes. It reminded me of this post in which it is stated that only 20% of the total talent pool is good enough for India Inc.

Who educates the educationists?

The direct definition of Education is that it is derived from the latin word educere which implies to take out what is already in(and not blindly stuff in). Another interesting definition of Education is that “Education is whatever you are left with after you have forgotten whatever you have learnt”.

The above definitions imply that you are born with a certain innate potential. What does that imply? Well known motivation speaker, Mr Shiv Khera often says “ Winners do not do different things. They do things differently”. Though he says this in the context of attitude, I believe it is more true for aptitude for the simple reason that everybody cannot do everything differently. Another well known American consultant said that “You have to figure out what is uniquely you”. According to them, grand success depends on being able to identify if not pin-point what is it that you can do uniquely and exceptionally well. Each of the Pandavas being unique in their own way, one of the teachings of the Mahabharat is to develop your unique quality.

Natural talent often manifests well without any formal coaching. I played lawn Tennis for several years but was not satisfied with the backhand(bane of many racquet games). My younger brother got it right in the first week itself without any coaching in such a brilliant manner that many players complimented him. My wife is qualified in English hons but it is me, an MBA who has written articles and poems for magazines and newspapers. Similarly, she does certain business work much better than I do. My father does much better trading in shares than me despite not having any formal training in Technical analysis(graphs) which I have. I once worked in a company where the rise of one person was much faster than four others though all of them were from the same batch from the same institute.

John Adair, in his book, effective innovation while giving the example of a trained artist who excelled as an inventor concluded that “Engineering is just a state of mind. You do not need a vaste amount of knowledge”

All this clearly shows that talent(application) is more important than the tool(knowledge). Even the scriptures talk about it. Vedanta says that Sukshma( subtle, subjective) is more powerful than sthula(gross, objective). Vedanta also talks about each one to progress according to his natural inclination-Raja yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma yoga and Jnana yoga and further discriminate according to their states of mind –Rajsik, Tamsik and Satvik.. Many intellectual and spiritual stalwarts- Vivekanand, Osho, Krishnamurthy, Aurobindo etc have spoken of it. However one wonders how much the so called educational institutes follow it- imparting knowledge is not very tough but being able to spot innate talent is a different ballgame altogether. Following humotech is as if not more important than following biotech or infotech.

It would not be out of place to mention here what I read about the board exam suicides(which have gone up in the last five years) a few months ago in an article which suggested that the subject of emotional intelligence should start early in schools. One cannot disagree with that but maybe if true educationists were there, the children would know where their unique strenghts were and there would be no reason to commit suicide because of fear of blind competition. Competition ironically means “seeking together”. In any case, blind pursuit of knowledge instead of talent or application in the era of internet is plain stupidity.

Today itself, in the Sunday Times of India, dress designer Abu Jani ( Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla ) says “In 1886 we were treading uncharted waters. Neither of us possessed any design qualifications and we had precious little in terms of finances or infrastructure to invest into the grand vision we had conjured up for ourselves. What we did have in abundance was the dream and determination to turn it into a reality.”

Well, for every Abu-Sandeep who have the guts to follow their convictions, there are countless who do not know their hidden talents, their unique talents or their so called “dreams” and unless the education systems reforms, they are destined to live the life of Thomas Carlyle’s “ The person who has found his vocation in life is a blessed human being. Let him ask for no other blessedness.” Since a majority of time is spent on work it can be a lifetime of misery- “Umar bhar Jehanoom”(lifelong hell) which is the life of Aishwarya Rai in the movie.