Daily Archives: 2 August 2007

Handicapped street vendors die for TV cameras

We have heard of staged photos. We have heard of photographers who arrive early making it difficult for those who come later to shoot a scene. But this?

Lucknow: Five of the twelve physically handicapped street vendors, who had downed poison on being egged on by television crews that assured them that the “act” would fetch them the district administration’s attention, have died.

The rest lie in critical condition at Varanasi’s Sir Sundar Lal Hospital. Mahesh Gupta, secretary, home department, said that two people have been arrested and an inquiry is on. The vendors, were protesting an anti-encroachment drive in the city’s Gurubag area on Tuesday.

Two self styled leaders, Namo Narayan and Ravi Banerjee,  representatives of two TV channels, are believed to have told the vendors that they would have a  chance of being heard if they put on a “suicide” act.

District Magistrate Leena Kumari, has come down on the media. “The vendors had been in talks with the authorities and were satisfied with the alternative sites offered. The  decision to commit suicide did not come naturally.”


‘Sloppy thinking leads to sloppy writing’

George Orwell wrote in “Politics and the English Language” in 1946 that our use of the English language “becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.” Dennis Dutton provides a couple of examples, and explains why:

Exhibit A: “This book was instigated by the Harvard core curriculum report in 1978 and was intended to respond to what I took to be an ominous educational reform initiative, that without naming it would delegitimate the decisive, if spontaneous, disclosure of the complicity of liberal American institutions of higher learning with the state’s brutal conduct of the war in Vietnam and the consequent call for opening the university to meet the demands by hitherto marginalised constituencies of American society for enfranchisement”.

Exhibit B: “The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways, to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and the rearticulation, brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure, inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony, as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power”.

Read the full story here: Sloppy writing breeds sloppy thinking