The news this week…

The week’s focus has been on all things up in the air. From issues surrounding Air India not able to go full throttle, to India’s recent Visa row with Canada, to Kites flying quite high (as per Papa Roshan despite negative reviews and Hrithik pasting them equivocally on Twitter ), Mayawati’s reported wealth soaring 87 crores in three years, Spice Jet Airline’s tyre bursting on take off, a near collision averted between Jet Airways and Indigo and the boring press conference that the feeble Manmohan Singh gave the other day ( he was so inaudible and his answers felt like a soothing lullaby soothing enough to put us all asleep) feigning ignorance on Junior Gandhi’s ambitions. Amidst all this banter, there was an extremely significant event which barely made it to page ten of the major dailies and failed to hit the locals. It was more important for the media to interview the lucky survivors of the recent air crash and make them relive their moment of trauma a hundred times over. There was one channel which covered interviews of passengers who missed the fateful flight and harassed them with questions laced with so much of idiocy that the lucky souls sounded quite regretful for not being part of the action that day. No one remembers sixteen year old boy Arun Bajpaye who scaled the Mt Everest recently.  A feat meant to be lauded. We will always recall Edmund Hillary, but never Arun Bajpaye. Thanks to the media.A wonderful narration of my point of view by Mr Nandy.

Never has news been so short lived. The bigger it is, the quicker it dies. Something bigger or worse instantly replaces it. Saturday’s air crash is a perfect example. Screaming headlines on every news channel and round the clock coverage for an entire day ends up as an 8 column banner headline on the front page of newspapers and even before you know it, the event, the 185 deaths, the narrow escapes, everything becomes statistics. The terrible human tragedy is ready to be replaced by something else. The cycle of life, the cycle of news, the cycle of grief continues. Some call it fate. Others call it life. Perhaps it’s just business, the business of news.

This is not only true about tragedy. It’s also true about human endeavour. On the same Saturday as the air crash, a Delhi schoolboy, barely 16, scaled the world’s tallest peak, Mt Everest. It was an incredible event and made him the world’s youngest mountaineer to achieve this. When Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, his intrepid sherpa, climbed the same peak they were in the news for months on end. In fact Sir Edmund spent his whole life basking in the glory of this climb. So did Tenzing who’s still regarded as a legend.

Arjun Bajpayee was not so lucky. In less than an hour of his conquest, a 13 year old Californian reached Everest from the more dangerous North Eastern route in Tibet. Also the news of the air crash grabbed all attention. As a result, his story was reported on page 13 with tiny pictures of both Arjun and Jordan Romero, the Californian. Most people don’t even know that Arjun beat the record of another teenager, 18 year old Krushnaa Patil who had climbed Everest last year. In fact, 4 hours after Arjun, Mamta Sodha reached the peak as well. Earlier this month, two other Indians had also accomplished this feat. So, everyone got what Warhol once described as their 15 minutes of fame and then vanished into oblivion.  

This is news as we know it today: Instant and ephemeral. Before you know it, it’s gone. Whether it’s human tragedy, a terrible crime or a spectacular achievement, it’s fleeting. You have to grab the moment or you’ll miss it. Those who are currently travelling out of India and will be back, say, a week from now will possibly even miss the news of the crash. Even if they hear of it, they will miss its impact. If, like me, they read old newspapers on their return, they will cluck their tongues, move on.  This is not to say people have stopped feeling grief. Ofcourse they do. They also understand human tragedy and feel for it. There are more NGOs working to change the world today than ever before. But the nature of news has changed. So has the way we respond to it.

I read on Twitter people constantly complaining about the way news is covered and how journalists, particularly TV journalists, have become so insensitive to it. This could be true because this is a common complaint but can you blame a doctor for being less moved by death because he sees it every day in his workplace? In fact, it’s this very insensitivity that allows doctors to perform their duties with greater diligence and dispassion. You would find it tough dealing with a doctor who feels so strongly about your state of health that he scares the living daylights out of you. You need solutions in his job, not just compassion. Mother Teresa was so remarkable because she did not just feel for the poor and dying, as indeed we all do, but she kept that feeling aside and worked for them. That’s what a good doctor does. That’s what a good journalist must do. Sleeves are not meant to hang your emotions from. They are meant to be folded up while addressing the task that’s yours to perform.

As the nature of news changes, so does our response. We grieve too easily. We get angry too easily. We demand punishment too easily. And we move on too easily. The politics of news is thus easy to manipulate and Governments do it all the time. A crime happens or a terrorist strike and everyone’s instantly baying for blood. So what’s the simplest thing to do? Pick on anyone and hang the crime on him. Serious investigation’s going for a toss. Everyone’s running behind instant fixes. No one notices how cases eventually get thrown out of courts, how people are acquitted for lack of real evidence, how lives and careers are destroyed. When India loses the T20 World Cup, the first thing we demand is Dhoni be sacked. All his past is forgotten. When Yuvraj underperforms, we forget his amazing track record and want him hung and quartered for partying late at night.If we persist like this, I fear not only will the ends of justice not be met but also we will have no heroes left. Apart from those who know how to play the media.




39 Responses to “The news this week…”

  1. MonaLisa Says:

    🙂 🙂
    ‘Man’ factor from “Manmohan singh” seems quite missing….!lol….. Atleast the way you described sharmila..! yet to read entire post so be back soon again.
    Hope you feel better soon to turn your ‘squeaks’ into ‘a roar’.

  2. Sharmila Says:

    Nandy’s new book ” Again ” released, a collection of poems, cant wait to get my copy..

  3. Aishwarya Says:

    Hi Sharmila,

    I think it was SpiceJet that had a tyre burst…

    Hope to see you back in full form soon.

    Take care,


  4. Sharmila,

    What is wrong with your health? Are you still in India? Why are you sounding like a ‘Squeaky Mouse’? Why ‘Squeaky’? Why ‘Mouse’?

    Seems I am not upto speed.

    Your blog, however, indicates that the rest of the functions are intact. Very sharp and strong observations!

    Indeed, the private news channels feel like matinee shows. In fact I switch to DD News if I want to see what the government is actually doing. Its not enough but authentic and non-speculative. The only expert in the studio is the studio’s floor manager, who is always looking at the wall clock or catching flies…

    To make a point, here is what I wouldn’t mind seeing on a news channel:

    Good Evening viewers, here are the headlines for the moment. The following business was successfully completed by various ministries of the Central Governmenmt today:

    The Ministry of Finance has refused to grant any suo motu funds to loss making PSUs.

    The Ministry of Railways has announced that any losses to passengers will be recovered from the employees.

    The Ministry of External Affairs has decided to grant dual citizenship to all Indians settled abroad.

    The Home Minister has announced a Padmashree for all policemen who maintain law and order.

    The Law Minister has announced a Padmashree for Judges who settle cases within one month.

    The Prime Minister has reserved the position of income tax officers for people below poverty line.

    The President of India has called all State Governers to exchange information on the politics in each state.

    The Minister of Information has announced that media reporters found indulging in speculative public trials shall be forced to join the army and hunt for terrorists on the Line of Control.

    The Minister of Telecoms has awarded the 3G spectrum to a company owned by the oppostion leader L. K. Advani

    To be continued…


  5. Continued…

    All the parties have unanimously agreed to retract laws governing reservations in the name of caste, creed or gender.

    The Minister of Commerce has announced that the Law for Prevention of Monopolies Act shall be exercised against the Ambani brothers, Tata, Chabria, Singhania and Birla.

    The Ministry of Finance has declared that RBI shall not be allowed to print currency without a bill approved by majority in the parliament.

    The Prime Minister has declared that Property Rights shall be restored in the Constitution of India.

    The Minister of Agriculture has announced that good quality of farm produce is reserved for consumption within the country and shall not be exported to the USA.

    The Sports Minister has prohibited all elected politicians to occupy positions in sports councils.

    • What is the Minister for animal husbandry upto Reader? Will await your reply.

      • Reader – Monalisa corrected me, I should have said I sound like Manmohan instead of a mouse. the Mouse is a lot stronger.

      • I would love to hear that the Minister for Animal Husbandry has given the money from the Prime Minister’s Relief fund to forest tribes who worship and protect the animals, instead of giving it to NGO & filmstars for promoting it on TV!

      • I thought he would give it to the husbands of animals..:)

      • Sharmila,

        I still don’t get it. What is wrong with your vocal chords?

        I think, Manmohan Singh sounds more like Donald Duck than Micky!

        That lullaby he sang in the press conference put the entire nation to sleep!


      • Just down with a terrible sore throat and flu. I sound like Donald then..

  6. MonaLisa Says:

    That would be ‘A dream came True’ situation for almost all citizens/residents of India and non resident Indians too. 🙂

    • MonaLisa,

      Indeed, I am a hopeless dreamer.

      Stop me if you have heard this before:

      An architect, an engineer and a politician were arguing about whose profession is the oldest.

      The Engineer says, “It was I who made earth habitable for humans. I built roads, houses and all that you see which needed by humans.”

      The architect says, “I am older. I designed all of it for you. I studied the earth and I brought order to the chaos in nature.”

      The politician says, “Guys, stop flattering yourselves. Who do you think created the chaos?”


      • MonaLisa Says:

        🙂 🙂 🙂
        ‘Kill the Bill’. Do you think India is not worthy of Democracy !?
        Get a Dictator…! 🙂

      • India is worthy of only democracy. In fact, I feel there is no other form of governance that fits perfectly in our diverse environment.

        Its such an enormous sea of different cultures, a dictator wouldn’t know where to begin!

        Here is an example of how the diversity works.

        The Congress MP from Pune City is Suresh Kalmadi. He is from Karnataka!

        Kalmadi can never become the dictator of Pune. The poor chap doesn’t even speak Marathi!

        Now you may ask how do people vote for him! It happens only in India. People just don’t care who goes to Delhi. Their only focus is on the local politics!

        India, as a nation, doesn’t exist.

      • Reader – Bang on with this – Now you may ask how do people vote for him! It happens only in India. People just don’t care who goes to Delhi. Their only focus is on the local politics!India, as a nation, doesn’t exist.

        This is precisely the end result of reginal politics. Tamil Nadu is outstanding on this front.

  7. MonaLisa Says:

    I would differ however om 3G spectrum issue. Advani will put it on a sliver plate and gift it t Pak.
    No politicians,Industrialists or celebrities to represent any sports council. Put those impartials who knows ABC of sports and how to select & promote Real players & Athletes without turning sports into a business-a money minting machine.
    Loved that very vivid description of DD news channel. 🙂

    • One thing Advani will do for sure is he will change the name from 3G spectrum to IS spectrum – India Shining! Poor man always ends up with the wrong script! First the Jansangh, then the RSS, then the Babri Masjid and last the Varun Gandhi speech! If you look at his body language he seems like Alice in Wonderland, lost in the woods!

      • MonaLisa Says:

        Lol..! Alice in Wonderland it is ! Surprisingly He still holds higher position in his party. Think about the fate of that party lead by such leaders. I wonder party still exist. T here must be some other forces behind its survival.
        What is it about Jansangh and RSS!?

      • MonaLisa Says:

        I think if Advani keeps his mouth shut period, would be a great help to his party. 🙂

      • There is a long history to this party.

        Sometime in early 1920s a small group of people, Hegdewar and Golwalkar started a social commune. Children in the neighborhood would come together everyday and play games. Some disciplines were taught. All the hindu festivals celebrated togther. It became an extended family. The yonger ones were taught to exercise and handle basic weapons.

        This phenomenon spread across all the villages and states over the next 50 years. The organisation was named Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh – The RSS. It is a registered NGO.

        Politically it became affiliated to a party called Hindu Mahasabha which was recognised by the British Viceroy along with the Indian Muslim League. Hindu Mahasabha was lead by Savarkar, one of the accused in Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination, but not convicted. The Indian Muslim League was lead by M. A. Jinnah.

        The Janasangh was a party that was formed after independence by the same group of people.

        J.P. Narayan picked up a crusade against Mrs. indira gandhi after she shifted to Russian socialism. She nationalised banks, set up the RBI, removed property rights from the constitution and declared a state of emergency, after the Bangladesh war.

        J.P. Narayan got all the opposition together and founded the Janta Party. That one came to power but lost its way in the vicious cocktail of Gujarathi, Punjabi and UP politics.

        This gave borth to Bharatiya Janta Party lead by A. B. Bajpayee. L.K. Advani who was a RSS member (ditto Modi) became his second in command.

        Rest is current affairs!

        Whuuuuffff! Exhausting! What a mess…


  8. MonaLisa Says:

    You forgot Jinnah..!

  9. Video from the launch of Nandy’s ” Again” – Aishwarya, Tharoor, Anupam Kher, Gulzar, Chetan Bhagath at the event –

  10. MonaLisa Says:

    I think Dictatorship for few years might help India in terms of eradicating prevailing irregularities in the system. There be no bureaucrats, no clumsy and corrupt politicians or regional politics based on religion,caste & creed. One country one law for everyone. All are equal which means no capitalism…..err…Does it sound like socialism..!? I hope not… 🙂

    • MonaLisa,

      I feel, dictatorship is bad. It is terrible for children and old people.

      The villages in India are democratic in a way, if not for the irrational hold of religious disciplines.

      And the central government, in trying to distance itself from the bad practices, has lost its influence on the people.

      I still feel nothing is lost. There are a few bright spots that can be joined together.

      For instance, the bureaucracy is now left with only a marginal few South Indians. Once upon a time the corridors of power were populated by Palghat Iyers. Today there are more people from Bihar, Maharashtra and Gujarat – people who understand the strengths and weaknesses of their communities and are ready to go slow in the interest of unity.

      For example, today, I can walk into a collectors office in my state and discuss a project, or I can write to any secretary and expect a kind reply. This was not possible in ’70s or ’80s when there was a rampant growth of middlemen, touts and agents who were encouraged by the bureaucrats because they were not interested in locals. Most of them were planning to retire to Pondichery.

      Lets not lose sight of our destination. Dictatorship often seems attractive during frustrations. But we all know the outcome. I hope you are not serious.


  11. MonaLisa Says:

    🙂 Dictatorship would be an easy way out when Prime Minister is so meek and his remote control is in someone else’s hand. It needs just 5yr. plan to clean out all that clutter and we can handover the country in hands of A Guy Like YOU….lol…. wanna make a deal..!?? 🙂

    • On the contrary, I feel the conditions today are worse than those for which Mrs. Gandhi declared the state of internal emergency. The President should exercies the MISA 9Maitnenace of Internal Security Act). Actually emergency or MISA empowers the Police.

      A dictatorship empowers the Military.

      I would prefer the emergency.

      People like me are most unsuitable. I am a manager not a leader! I am claustrophobic!


  12. MonaLisa Says:

    Police in India are another example of corruption. It won’t serve any purpose at all. It might make the situation worse.
    Emergency is not an answer either right now. You need to clean up from Grass Root level or Weed will grow up again quicker than before.
    managers are equally important to manage the country and run it successfully. Lol…. you can operate it Remotely if you wish.. 🙂
    However for faster and better reform my vote goes to Temporary Dictatorship.

  13. MonaLisa,

    I think, this is the contradiction. You cannot ‘Vote’ for a dictatorship. And a Temporary Dictatorship is an anti-thesis.

    Dictators don’t ask for votes or public opinion. They are mean, saddistic opportunists who wait like predators till the prey is completely unprepared…

  14. MonaLisa Says:

    Yes it is contradictory thing. One can always vote for the right thing to do. My point is to Implement Pseudo Dictatorship to clean up the mess. Not to find an actual,real dictator and handover the country. It’s just an expression… 🙂

  15. Sharmila,

    The print media had played an active role in our freedom struggle and was effectively used by the leaders to educate and enlighten the masses of the oppression by the British Empire and their right to independence. Lokmanya Tilak, who was the first popular leader of the Indian Independence Movement, had founded the newspaper ‘Kesari’ solely with this intention. But can the same be said about our present day leaders and media?


    • Melwn – Thanks for bringing up Lokmanya Tilak here. A man i most admire and still do. A very valid reference here too. No one compares to this great man in the least today.

  16. Hello di,how is your health now?Couldn’t get to you because there were some issues with the internet connection.How is your health now?

    Saw the clip of Mr.Nandy and others.His thoughts were so unique.It seems you have delegated the responsibility of your blog to Reader.I am often confused that is it you blog or his haha!!!

    I heard about the young Indian teen ager,Arun Bajpaye on NDTV and also about the other one.And yes,there was absolutely no meaning in going to those who had survived in the fatal air crash.How would it have felt to relive that moment again?Its ridiculous on part of our media which continuously flaunts meaningless taglines like “Apko rakhe age” and “Zara sochiye”.I think its time for them to get ahead in being sensible and start pondering over their methods of presenting the news.But,would the really do so?No…..

    • Salman – A lot better thanks. Just been busy with a few things. Yes, the media needs to get it’s moral conscience in order! Re – Reader, enjoy his ‘lengthy’ views..:), he is most informative. I do not mind any number of comments,all comments are equally important.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: