For the record

Full text of Tripura chief minister’s I-Day speech that he says was blacked out by Doordarshan, AIR

Manik Sarkar alleged that he had recorded his speech on August 12 but his office was informed on August 14 that he needed to ‘reshape it’.

Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar has alleged that Doordarshan and All India Radio had recorded his Independence Day speech on August 12, but informed his office on August 14 that his speech would not be broadcast unless he agreed to “reshape the content making it suitable to the solemnity of the occasion and sentiment of the people”.

An email from Akashbani Agartala, signed by the Head of Programme, AIR Agartala, enclosed a letter from the Assistant Director of Programmes (Policy) for Director General AIR informed Sarkar’s office that the decision had been taken in consultation with the chief executive officer of Prasar Bharati:

“The matter cited above has been considered and keeping in view the sanctity and solemnity attached with the occasion the broadcast is meant for, the CEO, Prasar Bharati, was also consulted and a collective decision taken at Delhi advises that the broadcast may not go with its existing content.

AIR/Prasar Bharati will however be more than happy if the Hon’ble Chief Minister agrees to reshape the content making it suitable to the solemnity of the occasion and sentiments of the people of India at large.” 

Sarkar has led a Left Front government in Tripura since March 1998. A statement from the chief minister’s office in Agartala said that the chief minister “clearly stated that he would not change a single word and described it as unprecedented, undemocratic, autocratic and intolerant step”.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist), of which Sarkar is a politburo member, has strongly condemned the refusal by the Doordarshan and All India Radio to broadcast the customary Independence Day address. In a statement, the party said:

This is a gross infringement on the right of a Chief Minister to address the people of his state on Independence Day. This act is reminiscent of the Emergency days and goes beyond as it seeks to gag the elected Chief Minister of a state. The Central Government is trampling upon the autonomy of Doordarshan/AIR and Prasar Bharati by such acts of censorship.

The Polit Bureau demands action against those responsible for prohibiting the broadcast. The Modi Government should stop treating the Prasar Bharati as a department of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

The following is the full text of the speech released by the CPI(M) and is reproduced here without any editing:

Dear People of Tripura

On the occasion of Independence Day, I convey my greetings and best wishes to you all. I pay my homage to the great memory of the martyrs of India’s freedom struggle. I would also like to offer my profound regards to those freedom fighters who are amongst us today.

Celebration of Independence Day is not just a ceremonial occasion. Keeping in view the historical significance and tremendous emotional attachment to this day for Indians, it has to be treated as an important ceremonial occasion for national introspection.

Before us on this year’s Independence Day are quite a few relevant. important and contemporary issues.

Unity in diversity is India’s traditional heritage. Great values of secularism have helped in keeping Indians together as a nation. But today, this spirit of secularism is under attack. Conspiracies and attempts are underway to create an undesirable complexity and divisions in our society; to invade our national consciousness in the name of religion, caste and community, by inciting passions to convert India into a particular religious country and in the name of protecting the cow. Because of all these people of Minority and Dalit communities arc under severe attack. Their sense of security is being shattered. Their life is under peril. These unholy tendencies cannot be harboured or tolerated. These disruptive attempts are contrary to the goals, dreams and ideals of our freedom struggle. The followers of those who were not associated with the Independence movement, rather sabotaged the freedom movement, were servile to the atrocious. plunderer and merciless British, aligned with the anti-national forces having decorated themselves today in different names and colours are striking at the root of unity and integrity of India. Every loyal and patriotic Indian must take the pledge today to remain committed to the ideal of a united India and to counter the attempts towards such destructive conspiracies and attacks. We must all work and collectively strive to ensure security of the Minorities, Dalits and preserve the unity and integrity of our country.

Today, the gulf between the have and have nots is speedily widening. Nation’s vast resources and wealth arc being concentrated in the hands of a very few. A large majority of our people are suffering from poverty. These people are the victims of inhuman exploitation. They are being deprived of food, shelter, clothing, education, health care and security of job for assured income. This is contrary to the aims and objectives of our Independence struggle. Our current national policies are squarely responsible for this state of affairs. Such anti-people policies shall have to be reversed. But words alone will not achieve this. For this, we need the deprived and the suffering Indians to arise, become vocal and to protest fearlessly, collectively in a ceaseless manner. We definitely need an alternative policy that serves the interests of the vast majority of Indians. To bring this alternative policy into reality, the deprived and suffering Indians need to take a pledge on this Independence Day to launch an economic, political and social movement unitedly in a broadway.

The mounting problem of unemployment has created a sense of despondency and gloom in our national psyche. On one hand. lakhs of employed are loosing their jobs. On the other hand, crores of unemployed youth are waiting for jobs, which is nothing but like a mirage to them. It is not possible to solve this gigantic national problem without reversing the national economic policies which work to strengthen the very small group of profiteering corporates, and without increasing the purchasing power of the common people of India. Hence, the students, youth and working classes will have to take a pledge on this Independence Day to launch a collective and continuous movement to reverse these destructive policies.

In contrast to the anti-people policies of the Government at the Centre, the State Government of Tripura despite its limitations has been pursuing policies for the welfare of people in all walks of life with a special focus on the downtrodden and to advance forward with their cooperation. This is a totally different and an alternative path. This path has been able to not only attract the people of Tripura but also elicit a positive response of the downtrodden people of our country. This is not being tolerated by the reactionary forces here in Tripura. Hence, conspiracies are being hatched up one after another by the enemies of the people to disturb peace, fraternity and integrity of the State. And at the same time attempts are on to disrupt the realm of developmental works. We need to counter all these unholy designs and isolate the reactionary forces. In this background, on this Independence Day, all the right thinking, peace loving and development seeking people of Tripura need to take a determined pledge to come forward and to work unitedly against such disruptive forces.

The CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury also condemned the move in a series of tweets:

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

Play

This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.