Monday, December 5, 2022
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I am Neha Bazdan, not a Harvard professor but this is how I am a victim

"If we can turn rapists into saints and drug peddlers into high profile politicians, what is a little phishing scam? We are the White York Times. Just like the intellectuals in India turn Mughals into reformist, progressive kindhearted fluffy rabbits, we will turn you into a star journalist in Modi's India who is so oppressed that she cannot even verify credentials before agreeing to job offers."

Hi, I am Neha Bazdan. I had a long career doing secular news anchoring for India’s most secular news channel, the Mughal Delhi TV or MDTV. Before some uncouth RSS men came to Delhi and took away all the charm and secularism out of the beloved city, we were all having a gala time. We had all built a career slamming those same RSS men after 2002. But alas, 2014 happened and unsophisticated RSS men grabbed power by polarising the country.

After 2014, all the Hindu Nationalists became hyper-active. They were everywhere. They were all over social media. MDTV was called a fake news channel! Imagine their guts. They even called me out. The Hindu Nationalists are like locusts. No matter how many of them you block on Twitter, they keep creeping into your TL, pointing out flaws in interviews, ‘exposing’ hypocrisy, finding out faults in every news coverage.

See how they troll me. I am one anchor who has always asked bold questions, even to Obama. So what he ignored and humiliated me, I did ask my question. I have also asked questions when the Centre decided to change the default setting on AC temperatures. That is what a journalist is supposed to do, they had told me when I joined MDTV. Nobody said anything about applying a little brain before asking questions. How was I supposed to know about remote controls and ACs? But Hindu Nationalist trolls kept pointing out that the default setting can be changed. Misogynist mansplainers, all of them.

I was so desperately looking for a job because MDTV was in a coma. I was smart. Have you seen how beautifully I speak English? With a smile on my radiant face and confidence of a true blue MDTV anchor? I never grimace, like my senior Ghavish Kumar, who has been suffering from severe constipation since May 2014. I am just pretty. I knew I could land a super fancy high profile job. My friends Monia and Sriyanka kept telling me there is a great demand for secular Indian journalists who can do brave journalism against the tyrant Modi government, especially in foreign publications.

If that noodle-haired Fana can write for Washington Post, why can’t I be a star anchor for CNN? But I had had enough of anchoring. I wanted to be a professor. So when that beautiful email came, telling me that Harvard was looking for a professor of journalism, I knew I was just born for it.

I felt like flying. It was going to be great. Imagine Neha Bazdan, the pretty, smart Harvard professor, who will teach journalism to future Pulitzer winners. This was even better than an exclusive Rahul Gandhi interview. The Hindu Nationalists BJP trolls will just burn. The words were like sweet music. They first told me I am invited to a seminar. Then, if I am interested, there is a vacant teaching position.

Did I have any reasons to doubt? None at all. It was not like that time when I accidentally downloaded a link from that Nigerian guy or sent money to Mrs Karen for a security deposit so that I could claim that 5 billion dollar inheritance. It was a teaching position, at Harvard. Why would I be suspicious?

The phone calls were very exciting. They were very interested in my work, my style and my brave journalism of worrying about genuine issues like AC temperatures. The person at the other end sounded vaguely like a Pakistani, but he said he is a middle-eastern immigrant working in the Boston area.

I promptly told MDTV that I was quitting and announced to everyone on Twitter that I was going to be a Harvard professor. My friends were happy, the Hindu nationalists were burning with jealously and many of my politician friends wished me good luck.

Being a professor at Harvard is not a small thing. I was invited as a speaker at various events. It felt so nice to see my photo introducing me as a Harvard professor in their communications. Sadly, it all came crashing down like a bad dream. It took me a year to realise that the tickets are never coming. The professorship is never happening and there was no Harvard position for me. There never was.

I was so heartbroken. I had thrown away a 20-year-old career on TV and the humiliation, oh the humiliation. Those who were pretending to be my friends, even my political friends could not hide their glee. The Hindu nationalists celebrated, calling me a fool and a bimbo! That Right-Wing site OpIndia wrote 7 articles on me. It felt so sad.

Then I got another phone call, from the headquarters. Not MDTV headquarters, but you know, the real headquarters! I don’t need to spell it out, right? They said I will have to talk with another set of people, from the White York Times. I was so angry, I said no. I was done talking to random Abduls from Karachi fish market who claim to be Touseef from Boston. But White York Times was not bluffing, they came to meet. They said the media can do anything.

“If we can turn rapists into saints and drug peddlers into high profile politicians, what is a little phishing scam? We are the White York Times. Just like the intellectuals in India turn Mughals into reformist, progressive kindhearted fluffy rabbits, we will turn you into a star journalist in Modi’s India who is so oppressed that she cannot even verify credentials before agreeing to job offers,” they said.

“There will be a stellar article claiming hi-tech investigation into the shameful phishing scam that targeted one of India’s most prominent news anchors. There will be top class PR and who knows! A book deal may follow.” I was glad that Biden’s USA is so much better than Modi’s India. White York Times was doing brave journalism. I asked If I could join their team. They changed the subject.

I nodded in agreement. White York Times was all I needed. As we talked and discussed the fine details of the proposed article, we applied a lot of brain. We will have to admit the Pakistan link, they explained. But the secular in me was furious. That will be Islamophobia, I declared. The secular in me was hurt.

They said it was going to be hard. A BJP spokesperson herself was almost scammed by the same people who scammed me and unlike me, she had actually reached out to Harvard and had alerted them about it.

I sat on meditation and focused my mind on Nehru. I prayed to him for guidance. I begged him to show me a way to blame Modi for it and not Pakistan, or my own stupidity.

Nehru heard my prayers like he always does. He appeared in my dream and asked me to consult Mr Power from Maharashtra. Mr Power is in power nowadays and is very happy. When I reached out to Mr Power, he said, “Beta, maintaining secularism is very important to preserve the secular fabric of this country. Back in 1993, I had invented a bomb blast to show that it was not just Hindus who were targeted. There were 12 blasts, but I had added a blast from my own imagination to make it secular blasts.”

I had my solution. I promptly brought my brand new iPhone to call and tell the guys at the White York Times that they will have to add secularism to the investigative article by saying the people who targeted me for this shameful scam were Hindu Nationalists who support the BJP.

“But Neha, it was Abdul from Karachi”, they insisted. But I was adamant. Finally, they agreed. Their article said the people who scammed me on Twitter maybe, possibly, kinda sorta, be pretending to be Hindu Nationalists that support BJP and Modi. That will be enough for now.

As a victim, and as an anti-Modi journalist, I will be given ample publicity for falling victim to a scam. I was assured that with careful handling and proper coverage, a book deal might follow. Not bad. If Fana can claim she is being tortured by the Modi govt while sitting on her giant fluffy sofa inside her plush Mumbai house and can get op-eds in WaPo, why can’t I peddle my victimhood? Fana never had a job. I had to quit a nice, well-paying job over this scam. I am a genuine victim here.

Any trolling, or the vaguest of social media comments, will be called attack and torture by PM Modi’s agents. It is just about how we handle it, WYT convinced me. I have followed the path of Nehru and Mr Power. I am a soldier of secularism and I will fight till the end. So what I never bothered to ask enough questions to the scammers, I will keep asking questions to the Modi government about cooler settings and microwave settings next. I will fight against the RSS agenda and I will get rich doing it.

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Sanghamitra
Sanghamitra
reader, writer, dreamer, no one

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