Letter by Jeroninio Almeida

Dear Friends, Readers, Subscribers, Supporters and Fellow Citizen Reporters/Editors,

Namaste, Asalaam Alaikum, Sat Sri Akal and Greetings!

As we get ready to relaunch Karma Dishoom our News/Views Portal after 6 years on 26/11/2020 (we celebrate this day as the Social Justice and Citizen Action day), I pen below some thoughts of our resolve and commitment to quality, credible News/Views features and columns and our dedication and ethical code to RIGHT every WRONG by WRITING against WRONGS & WRONGDOERS and also featuring , moJOSH Inspirator REAL HEROES who are RIGHTING WRONGS.

These thoughts by Gandhiji are the purpose and OUR reason for being at Karma Dishoom.

The function of good journalism is to read the mind of the country and give fearless and definite expression to that mind. The press is called the 4th Estate and is definitely a power. However, to misuse that power is criminal. The true function of journalism is to educate the public mind and not to stock it with wanted and unwanted impressions. The sole aim of journalism should be service. –Gandhi

Our core belief:

We at Karma Dishoom, believe in fearless, forthRIGHT, frank journalism and follow the principles and journalistic values of our mentors, voices of dissent, voices of conscience, journalists and writers like Gandhi, Bhagat Singh, Noam Chomsky, Anita Pratap, Cho Ramaswamy, N. Ram, and few other firebrand and intrepid journalists from around the world whose writing you will find in Karma Dishoom.

Genesis of iDishoom:

Way back in 2004, an elderly couple from a humble background, who had their roots in Bihar approached me seeking help and support. Their son who was a student at IIPM (Indian Institute of Planning Management), had graduated from the said institute but the degree was not valid and their son who was promised a job placement, did not get any placement despite being in the top 10 students of the institute. Along with several other parents, they had approached the Education Ministry but had got no support and then also approached The Times of India editorial that declined to do a story on their plight.

On further investigation, I realized that several people from the Education Ministry were on the advisory board of IIPM and also understood that the Times of India had investments in IIPM and hence carrying any story against them would never happen in mainstream media. Also due to cronyism and cartelism of media, other newspapers and magazines also were not carrying stories. This inspired me to conceptualise and create iDishoom in 2004 (now renamed Karma Dishoom) to promote investigative, inspirational and intrepid journalism to write against wrongs and wrongdoers.

The roots for Discovery and Storytelling of Unsung, Uncommon and Unheard Real heroes:

In 2003, when I launched THE JOY OF GIVING movement, I had the privilege and honour of meeting an unORDINARY, uncommon, unseen Real Hero called Mr. Dashrath Manjhi, whilst shooting with the Musahar community (Musahar means mice eaters and are so called because they survive by eating mice (rats) and suffer from chronic hunger since they are the poorest of the poor and considered as untouchables within the Dalit or Untouchable community) for our Joy of Giving docu- drama, where we mainstreamed the community for the first time in India Shining era.

Yes, this is the same Manjhi who is now popular as the Mountain Man after Ketan Mehta adapted the story and made a movie on him in 2015. My first meeting with Dashrath Manjhi, (where I learned about his grit and determination to cut through an entire mountain over 22 years with a small hammer and chisel, so that no one else died due to lack of healthcare like his wife died) inspired me to create the Karmaveer Puraskaar awards. Dashrathji also inspired me to become a storyteller and narrate stories of Real Heroes in a world that glorified mere celebrities as heroes. Hence besides exposing wrongs we at iDishoom also had other objectives to mainstream praiseworthy work being done by ethical organisations and real, uncommon, unordinary and unsung heroes.

Inception of Karma Dishoom:

We wanted to extend iDishoom (now renamed Karma Dishoom) as a platform for hard hitting public advocacy campaigns/reportage to gather momentum for social/cultural movements and a hub for public fundraising appeals for individuals who needed funding support to get medical aid, legal aid, education aid etc. Thus, was born iDishoom, the first PUBLIC ADVOCACY MEDIA MOVEMENT, with our simple logo of a hard-hitting punch tearing through a newspaper to give REAL UNBIASED NEWS in the era of PAID COMMERCIAL NEWS in print, electronic media and mindless, characterless RANTINGS disguised as NEWS on News-Channels to gain RATINGS. (Read Symbolism).

We launched at midnight on Aug 15, 2004 (our 57th Independence Day, as our new freedom struggle to create a VOICE FOR PEOPLE POWER and CITIZEN ACTION that enables us to uphold the freedom of press/expression and right to speech) and broke our first story against fraudulent activities perpetuated by IIPM promoter Arindam Chaudhari and on the other side the story of Mr. Dashrath Manjhi, an amazing man, who the world had never heard about till 2004. (Today this man who was first featured by us in iDishoom like several other unknown heroes, has several stories about him on the internet, was spoken about in Satyameva Jayate the TV shows and finally Ketan Mehta Bollywood movie was also made about his heroic deeds. Manjhi sir you truly are an inspiration and Karmaveer)

The aftermath:

After our first mailer went out with the IIPM story, all hell broke loose and we started getting several calls saying we at iDishoom are mistaken about IIPM and were told by people (several high-ranking people with vested interests) who called us, that IIPM is a very credible institutions with great promoters who are very reputed. I told people who called me that they are mistaken because we have the truth and hard evidence documented by the parents. People told me I was foolish and unreasonable to take on such a reputed brand and eminent powerful people, who have huge stature in society. I said to them that even in a flawed society like ours where we glorify criminals and wrongdoers, I am sure that TIME WILL TALK and expose the frauds of these so-called eminent people with such huge stature in society.

After that we got several threat calls from the IIPM office and their cronies but did not succumb to their pressures. Subsequently we also broke stories against Amity University, Vedanta, Sahara, Reliance, Monsanto (See more in Impact) and their promoters who again were so called eminent people with stature in society and we got similar threats and coercion to get our stories down from the portal. However, we stuck to our true stories and told them that once our story is authenticated and goes up on the portal, whether hell or hail, our story will never come down and the fight for the right will go on.

We have travelled a full circle to seek justice:

Today our journey at Karma Dishoom has travelled a full circle and we stand vindicated because several of these so called eminent organisations like IIPM (Arindam has lost his mask and people have seen through and know what he is all about now) , Sahara (Subrata Roy was finally in prison), Vedanta (Despite buying ET Business man of the year award, Anil Agarwal stands exposed with the church of England who disinvested 31% of their equity in Vedanta [London Stock Exchange] and there is a permanent stay on the 6000 acres of land Vedanta had usurped in Orissa) , Monsanto(There is global outcry against Monsanto and now people in India are also aware of the GM seeds that are harmful) and their promoters have been absolutely exposed because of consistent advocacy and activism.

I also believe like I always have that TIME WILL TALK and it is a matter of the TIME before the truth unfolds on the others also. Somewhere deep within, we all at iDishoom along with our subscribers, supporters and friends feel humble pride to have begun and led these crusades and are grateful for all your support. We must remember SATYAMVEVA JAYATE is our India’s mission statement and the real and only truth surely TRIUMPHS one day.

How we got hacked after several threats in 2013?:

In 2010, one of our citizen reporters after authenticating the story, uploaded a video from YouTube that gave a detailed researched account about how Monsanto manipulates GM seeds to sell their highly carcinogenic pesticide called ROUND UP. This video titled Monsanto- The dangerous food we unknowingly eat uploaded on YouTube in 2002 had just around 4050 views. After we uploaded the video on iDishoom it went viral and in less than a year, this video had over 3.6 million views. This video which was ignored by Monsanto while it was on YouTube, became a major concern for Monsanto who were still battling the GM outcry in India. We received calls from the Monsanto office and your editor at large was offered a sponsorship for one of our iDishoom events. I told them to take a long walk and not call me again. We were then threatened with dire consequences and legal suits but we did not relent. Next a lot of our associates and volunteers including your editor at large who were volunteers and employees of other organisations at that time, we lost our jobs because of the pressure by Monsanto on organisations we worked with. Then finally in late 2013 when nothing else worked, our website was compromised.

The Threats and Intimidation:

At that time, I had (I say this in the past tense since we no longer connected) a friend and business associate (will not name him as he also came under tremendous pressure, and let’s just call him Kamaal) who ran a software firm from Bangalore with his brother, while he was employed in a very senior position with Citibank in Washington DC. Kamaal whose software firm had designed our website and hosted us on their preferred server partner did this absolutely PRO BONO (without any charges or fees) and even spent money from his own pocket. In December 2013, Kamaal called me and requested me to get the Monsanto video off. This was after the site was inaccessible to our subscribers for around 5 days and I kept sending him frantic messages and mails. I spoke with Kamaal and explained to him how we cannot do that since we are committed to the public and cannot come under pressure from Monsanto. Kamaal said to me he understands my passion for the cause and that we are doing right. He also told me that Monsanto had put pressure on him through his employer Citibank who had made him block iDishoom for the interim and that he would immediately restore the site and explain things to Citibank and also file a suit against Monsanto for coercion and harassment. Within an hour the website was up again and remained up from 27 th December 2013 up to 12 th of January 2014, when it got hacked absolutely without any traces of the website or even the video on YouTube. After that Kamaal has never responded to my mails, calls or messages

and we were completely HACKED, COMPROMISED and VULNERABLE. In hindsight, I still appreciate all of Kamaal’s support and hold nothing against him for compromising iDishoom, because I understand the kind of pressure that Kamaal must have faced internally in his bank due to the coercion tactics and pressures brought upon him by Monsanto. It has been a difficult time for us trying to restore iDishoom again. But hey guys. WE ARE BACK and HERE TO STAY and take on the bad guys, like the Americans say.

Our vision going forward:

To conclude we promise you we will publish TRUE NEWS and ISSUES and will be relentless in our pursuit for justice and for the truth. In our spanking new AVATAR (Read more about Karma Dishoom mission), we at iDishoom shall be striving to add full value to readers and subscribers. It’s a long journey to regain our 13 million plus subscribers from over the years but I am sure we shall have great support all over again. As we re-launch now in Beta mode on 26, November 2020, I urge all of you to read OUR MISSION STORY & VISION and extend your support, because we need all your solidarity to rebuild and sustain this much needed PUBLIC ADVOCACY MEDIA MOVEMENT which is for the people, by the people and of the people.

Our Pledge:

Let us reclaim PEOPLE POWER and come TOGETHER AS ONE TO RIGHT EVERY WRONG. We look forward to all your blessings, support and solidarity like always. You all add strength to our shoulders and might in our pens.

Shalom and warm regards

Your editor-at-large and tough-nut Plodder

Jeroninio Almeida

Founder- Karma Dishoom and Author Karma Kurry Book series , moJOsh Inspirator Book Series, Mann Ki Baat and Jann Ki Baat book series.