The following narration provides how social media has allowed irresponsible persons to get away with mindless aggression that has no connection with issues at hand.
Soon after I posted a video conversation with political analyst Abhijit Iyer Mitra on Sep 2, 2020 (Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twz1wWTDuAk), I received the following aggressive email on Sep 3, 2020 at 10:17 pm from a person named Sanjeev Kulkarni with whom I had no prior association.
This is what he wrote:
Extremely bad interviewer. Put him again on the net and ask only questions. Interviewers should talk less only to get views of the person being interviewed. It was one of the most irritating interviewers (sic) I came across and had to exit halfway through. Let him write an article so that interviewer does not distract so much.
Since I take negative feedback very seriously, this is what I wrote in reply on Sep 4, 2020 at 11:31 am:
Why don't you interview Abhijit the way you think he should be interviewed?We will gladly post it on our website. Or would you rather we stop mailing you our interviews since they annoy you so much?
He replied on the same day at 9:06 pm:
Why not train your interviewers instead? How many comments you got under the video expressing displeasure at the interviewer? Have you checked that? Let Abhijit write an article instead of giving interviewers who are more interested in putting forward their views instead of asking the right questions. And your comment is like a batsman performing poorly and throwing his bat at the spectators - shouting OK, You Bat if you are not happy!You should actually write to the interviewer to change her style.
I was really puzzled by his repeated ordering that I should train the interviewers properly because I had done the interview myself. Therefore, I suspected it to be an orchestrated hit job. At 11:06 pm, I wrote:
I am surprised you have not registered that I am the person who interviewed Abhijit. Are you by any chance sending these outraged notes at someone else's behest without seeing the program? Anyways, since the admirers of Abhijit Ayer Mitra are very upset at my questions which they see as needless interruptions, I am going to post the UNEDITED version of this much longer interview so that Abhijit fan club can enjoy their favorite speaker in full blast. By the way, please note that I don't call them "interviews'. I call them "conversations'. For interviews in the style you like, I am sure there are many other platforms.Kindly allow our small humble platform to follow its own course.
I followed it up by another email a few minutes later at 11:12 pm:
Sanjeev Kulkarni ji,
You could not have watched the "conversation" (not an “Interview”) between Abhijit and me if you keep reiterating:"You should actually write to the interviewer to change her style." What is your problem? Can't recognize faces? Can't read the poster which says it's me talking to Abhijit? Something seriously amiss!
Not wanting to brush aside his criticism lightly, I watched my entire conversation with Abhijit on YouTube and did not find that I had overstepped my limits. I also checked to see if other “video conversations” had evoked similar hostility.
I was happy to find that we had received very positive and even admiring responses to almost every other video posted by me.Therefore, I decided to unravel the mystery behind Kulkarni’s negativity and continued engaging with him.
In the meantime, I posted the following three comments on the YouTube video in response to the Kulkarni led ‘Gang of Compulsive Trolls’—namely: Maverick Garad, Black cobra bite, MG, Atanu Mukherjee, Rahul Brahma, Purushotham VR, Abhishek Kumar, Manjunath, Vikas Shukla, Puneet Mittal, Ankit Pradhan, Tarun G, Akash Kumar, Kokuyo Camlin, Prajwal Sharma, Devil’s Advocate, Rakesh Kumar, Dipansu Choudhury, Seadog4227, Arun Sharma, Rohit Deshpande, Vi Tan, Saurav Jaiswal, Sachin Tyagi, Harsh Nathani, Mayank Bhadani, Xmen Origins, Prajwal Sharma, Ravinder Singh, Bivas Das, Indian Indus, Garam Samosa, KV, Vishal Bhagat, Insalubrious Dithyramb. All of them had posted identical comments. Some were even more rude.
Since the responses from those who actually watched the interview were mostly positive, I was determined to unravel the mystery. This is what I wrote on YouTube addressing the trolls:
- Since the admirers of Abhijit Ayer Mitra are very upset at my questions which they see as needless interruptions, I am going to post the UNEDITED version of this much longer interview so that you can enjoy your favourite speaker in full blast.
- Please note, I called this a CONVERSATION, not interview. A conversation follows a different pattern. I will also present you an accurate analysis of how many minutes I talked versus Abhijit's talk. I assure all those who had to suffer my questions--I have learnt the required lesson and will learn to be more deferential with people who have large and volatile fan following.
- After seeing all these angry comments, I went and saw comments to all other interviews. Not a trace of negativity of the kind I am witnessing here from Abhijit's fan club! If the interview is so bad, do you want to remove it altogether? This is a BIZARRE experience. Will henceforth stay away from people with volatile fans. Had I received similar reactions to all other videos, I would have taken the fire-spitting comments more seriously. But this seems like an orchestrated hit job.
I was surprised to find that no one responded to these rejoinders from me. Instead, there was stunned silence.
The next day, on September 5 at 10:53 a.m., Kulkarni’s next response was even more puzzling in its arrogance. He claimed to speak on behalf of his whole Gang of Trolls, not just himself. And yet, he half admitted that he had not seen the interview:
My problem was I did not check the names only the content (sic). Good that it was you. You must have read other comments under
the video too. So instead of talking about my problem address the crux of the issue. You are not thinking about what was wrong but who was wrong. You are seriously missing something which you should ponder over actually. And taking every suggestion in the right spirit for improvement will help you instead of trying to kill the messenger.
I was determined not to take offence in order to get to understand the dynamics behind the whiplash messages. At 11:33 am, I wrote:
Your explanation is not ONE BIT convincing.You seem to be doing a hit job at someone's behest. I can take any amount of criticism but in this case there is more to it than meets the eye. But never mind, read my comments in response to negative comments on Abhijit's interview.It should satisfy your gang.
He responded at 11:49 am with even more aggression and gratuitous nastiness:
Madhu, I think you are flattering yourself if you think there are many who will go extra mile for some conspiracy against someone like you and there is some big gang behind the comments. Most of the people won't even bother to put a comment even if they do not approve. You are lucky some bothered to spend some time to give 360 degrees feedback. Unfortunately, your personality is not developed for such things. If you are on any public forum, first learn to take the criticism in the right spirit. The comment is made in good faith. It is up to you to take for improvement or kill the messenger. Take it or leave it.
I responded at 12:12 pm:
Rest assured, I have taken your criticism seriously. I know very well I don't count for much. You can pull down someone only if the person is on a high horse. I have no such illusions or aspirations. (Emphasis as in the original). I live in my little corner and claim no more than freedom in my little corner. The personal attacks in your criticism reveal a lot. Now can we stop this back and forth? I have heard you enough. If you don't like what I do, best to stay away. Or has it become the goal of your life to batter and reform me?
Lo & behold, it is Kulkarni who suddenly came crashing down from his imperious pedestal with the following admission at 12:29 pm:
My sincere apologies. It was a case of sheer mistaken identity. I mistook you for someone I had crossed swords with earlier - a diehard leftist. We had fundamental differences and hence I was on 'take no prisoners' mode. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings or belittle your achievements. But the real problem was I was addressing to someone else and got it mixed up. Sorry, too little time for everything takes its toll many times. I will be careful in dishing out even constructive criticism in future. Regards,
This was a clear, though bizarre admission, that he never watched the video, had no clue how the conversation actually went and that he (and possibly his entire Gang of Trolls) was actually acting robotically on command to hit me, when their target was someone else.
Now my curiosity had taken another turn. I wanted to know the background of Kulkari. So I wrote to him at 12:43 pm:
Sanjeev, May I know who you are, now that you finally know who I am?And how did you suddenly discover I am not the same person you wanted to bash?
His response at 1:27 pm brought further mirth. He admitted innocently that as a hyper-active social media activist attending to 300-400 messages from group mails everyday, he had neither the time (nor the inclination?) to identify his chosen enemies and targets with minimal care. To quote his own words:
Madhu, The first inkling you (sic) must have got that I was addressing to someone else when you said "You could not have watched the "Conversation" between Abhijit and me (It’s not an Interview)--if you keep reiterating: "You should actually write to the interviewer to change her style." So I cross-checked on the internet if I was writing to the intended person. And I got completely different information than what I expected. So the best and honest thing to do was to apologize to you. I am active in many groups and daily get 300 to 400 emails,getting just a few seconds to decide whether to delete or reply. I rely mainly on memory and that is why I mistook you for someone else and realized the mistake rather late. Sorry about that. I am a share broker but have studied Philosophy (my father was a PhD in philosophy having a private library of several thousand books,which I used to read), Economics and interest in science and astronomy. I was in UAE for service and now work as share broker. Of course, astronomy to share broking to economics and international politics are a wide variety of subjects but I get a good response on the groups devoted to these subjects. I have my corner as you would say.
Only the well-educated and the well-heeled in India can afford to behave so irresponsibly. The ordinary citizens of India act aggressively only if someone harms or abuses them. But “cause-mongers” seem to hate and attack without cause, and without applying their mind.
A Reasonable Guess at the Real Target
I have a nagging suspicion that the real target of Sandeep Kulkarni’s Gang of Trolls was Madhu Trehan. She actually does what I was being wrongly accused of doing. Anyone who has doubts will enjoy watching this two part “interview” in 2014 (better to call it “brow beating”) she did with me in 2014: Can You take It Madhu Kishwar?
There was also another Two-Part interview done in 2013 by Madhu Trehan’s You Tube channel, News Laundry, where the host was one of her co-founders, Abhinandan Sekhri. The program was entitled: I Agree with Madhu Kishwar, even though there was not a whiff of agreement. Sekhri interrupted me so often that my head was dizzy throughout the grilling. You may want to watch the fun for yourself
You will also enjoy the comments Madhu Trehan got in response to these two interviews by regular subscribers of her own YouTube channel. I salute her courage in posting them unedited.
I am reproducing below in exact words a few of the over 800 responses without any editorial intervention. I have saved the several hundreds responses for my own record but dare not inflict on you the entire list:
- Nishit Desai: Madhu Trehan grape sours? Even if a seller wants to pay 1 crore for bananas, why should she have a problem with it??
- Ajay Kumar:Madhutehran = The frustrated soul
- Poornima Nair: It's high time we ask Madhu Trehan: "can YOU take it"? Very apparent that Trehan can't, to say the least. Trehan was just spewing venom all through out! I find it abhorrent, the way Trehan interviews Kishwar! Miserable standards!
- VivekRavi: Couldn’t have said it better.
- Michael Reasonata: This host is absolutely awful. The intellectual deficiency of the troll-looking host is huge compared to Madhu Kishwar. MK conducts herself very well despite the personal attacks from said troll.
- ArunRai: its funny how tehran calls kishwar arrogant and doesnt even realise her own arrogance and to add to it she clearly has an agenda against kishwar. and what credential and reviews is tehran talking about. the reviews which are sold an bought like candies. and lol tehran says lets not get personal and what are you doing yourself .shedidnt have to stoop so low. I am sure tehran has sold her soul to the devil. I am a fan of yours, but this, this is not why i started watching News laundry Its a shame that you were conducting this one sided interview
- Ravishingravi: Actually Madhu trehan looks weak in this one. She wants to really nail kiswar but struggling to come up with something.
- Subhasishpattanaik: Stupidity of interviewer.......worst interviewer in the world........a lots of respect to Madhu kishwar....I salute u madam..........
- Bhawani Shankar: I can't believe Madhu Trehan you just did it this worst. I mean common, read the comments below. She won it and you lost it.
- DS Yogi: What's the problem with Madhu Trahan? If Kiswhar is telling that she made story in her style then it is as it... Why so hue and cry? If she is making any story or documentary in her style and if somebody don't like that is one's choice.
- Shreekant Agrawal: When she says that it was research work why is MrsTrehan calling it interview again and again. I think MrsTrehan has disclosed that she's strictly anti-Modi or against anyone who's supporting Modi with facts.
- Sandeep Kumar: Is it interview or what? very bad :(
- Upendra Kumar: ohh Madhu Trehan - What a fall ..just 'coz Modi didn't turn up :)
- Indira Kumari: I like host otherwise but in this interview she is unnecessarily raising queries... it was Kiswar's work and she had all the rights to do whatever she wanted to do...in this interview she is behaving like Karan thapar
- Surya: madhutrehan that was a very biased and one sided interview....
- Gaurav Sharma:newslaundry .. what r u guys upto..crap.. time wasted
- Black mambo5: Here's a fun fact about NL: AbhinandanShekhri is co-owner of NL with 25% shares. Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodiya and AbhinandanShekhri co-founded an NGO - Public Cause Research Foundation. - Kishwar and others voiced against Modi the to do that Facebook Townhall thingy partnered with NDTV and NL. - Modi later on declined. - Trehan, Kejri, Shekhri got butthurt. (Kejri even keeps asking Trehan in that Event where is Modi, why'd he decline). Rest is history. Now you see why Trehan is upset and trying to remove her anger on Kishwar? :D Fooken whore!
- Vrajrulez: Very bad interview by Trehan. Modi he interview kya cancel kiyaaapAbhitakburnolpe ho.
- Def Ana: Your interviewer is biased, over confident and a bully. It is true as you will see from the comments below that many people do appreciate Madhu Kishwar's work which in fact she has done just for charity. The way your journalist calls it sub standard when an example of her own sub standard interview was being shot is humorous.
- Vishal Agarwal: I almost started liking news laundry before this interview. This Trehan lady needs to learn basic journalism. Maybe she's really old.. Needs to take it easy.
- GixxerFreak: I subscribed to newslaundry when I found her interviews to be tough, but still respectful and to the point. I am unsubscribing now, as I do not find their Interviews to be any different from the NDTV/CNN IBN/....
- VivekAchar: worst and very much personalized interview (really?) by Madhu Trehan. She and many media crooks (ndtv, cnn ibn newsX) are attacking MadhuKishwar because she is the one of the very few ppl who is talking some truth about Modi. And these guys suffering from Modiphobiacant tolerate
- PurvikaBhambhani: madhutrehan putting out a ludicrous arugumet . such an opinionated interview done by Trehan. unsubscribed:(
- Shubham Misra:haha! I sometimes check out the left's burnol moments from the past just for fun, and obviously NL has turned out to be a cringe worthy outlet. Probably got funded by some lutyen's media.
- TheCommsTech: Madhu the interviewer; would you let madhu the interviewee speak?
- Ashish Tomar: worst interview ever by madhutrehan and newslaundry. madhutrehan was clearly biased.
- Bhavin Tolia: Okkkkkk listen at 22:30 ... Madhu's attacking because she thinks Kishwar threatened to "kacchachabao" NL's abhinandan... lol, they should've talked it out before and THEN made a structured meaningful interview.
- Sunil Sachdeva:Madhuji the anchor why are you hackling her? You have no right to call her work as sub -standard. Stop judging.
- Gaurav M:Madhu Trehan you messed up this interview, please over come your prejudice and bias against madhukishwar. at least listen to her point of view
- AkshayPatra: Ms. Trehan when you ask a question, that is when you accuse your interviewee rather, as an interviewer you should have let the person on otherside of the table to speak. You didn't show even an iota of tolerance to listen to her explanations. Throughout the interview you interrupted and trolled her.
- Shantanu Rajendra Joshi: Biased line of questioning from the intro itself. calling madhukishwar a controversy queen is very stupid. i am un-subscribing this channel as it no more provides the unbiased and quality content that it used to give before.
- Rudraksh98: really bad interviewer.... maybe potentially good interrogator.
Over eight hundred more such comments follow in the same tenor. It is noteworthy that not a single person rose to her defense.