Paki-Bashing – Why are we wasting our time??
I have stopped watching television. I cannot. I find it unbearable – especially the sight of some of our smarty pants news anchors wearing their prejudices so blatantly on their respective sleeves . Night after tiresome night, we are subjected to these talkathons during which we get our retired military analysts, our social scientists, badmaash politicians, over- talkative former editors, smug current editors, official party spokespersons, legal eagles, supercilious and shrill opinion makers…. in other words – the usual suspects – banging on about the latest crisis. The debate rages – from jung to jung, especially if the anchor has also managed to ‘pakdo’ a Pakistani politician,but at the end of an hour of gassing, nobody remembers nor cares what the original topic was. Sadly, however, everybody can invariably tell who scored most of the brownie points through the tedious proceedings – our chatur-chalaak neighbours, of course. Most of them are far better looking, for starters. And better dressed, too. Our guys (especially the senior journos from Delhi) show up in ancient tweeds, peculiar caps, or mufflers and World War - style overcoats , which they refuse to remove even inside temperature-controlled studios. Pakistani commentators, on the other hand, are nattily outfitted ( sooooo Savile Row!!), do their homework, are armed with convincing arguments, supported by authentic-sounding facts and figures. Their accents and presentation are way more polished, and somehow they always end up making our lot look like turkeys. Underdressed turkeys, at that. Howcome the neighbours , who are perpetually on the offensive, are rarely challenged or silenced by Team India?? Howcome, our aggressive, gelled hair anchors who think nothing of letting locals have it, turn into purring pussycats while throwing questions at the official ‘dushman’?? Is it to show how ‘fair’ we are…. how objective, non-partisan and rational?? If that is the thinking behind all the hot air, then it is a complete waste of viewers’ time. Which is why I no longer watch…. not after what Mumbai endured . Not after the obvious and blatant lies we were fed on television.
It is time to grow up. 2009 is already here. Going eyeball-to-eyeball with Pakistan (on television debates), is not helping the situation. If anything, we are looking wimpish and apologetic, as minister after minister makes the same meaningless noises, while those guys get away with quotable quotes about non-state actors , reactions to actions and other boasts , which frankly, sound terrific when delivered with such aplomb from across the border on apna channels. Viewers feel like yelling, “ Shut up , you guys. Kuch kar ke dikhao. Doomb mat hilao,” to our dheela chaps. Sometimes, we do manage to get an intelligent perspective, generally from an academic or defence strategist. But since that person is not a media ‘celeb’, nobody pays attention – except the very people who should not be in the loop about the chinks in our armour or even our future plans, in quite such an upfront manner. Nothing is a secret these days… there are eyes and ears everywhere. Even so, when panelists are discussing war – WAR, for Chrissake – a modicum of discretion isn’t such a bad idea. One of the main media flaws while covering the Mumbai terror attacks was the absence of discretion, which in retrospect certainly seems to point towards lives lost because tv reporters blabbed away, revealing more than was needed. Even after that horrific experience, we continue to use those mikes as weapons of mass destruction, with a shocking absence of sensitivity in grim situations.
In the first week of a brand new year, every columnist wishes to write an upbeat, cheerful column, highlighting the more positive aspects of the twelve months ahead. This was my desire as well. Come on, De, I said to myself – stop being such a party pooper. Unlike Suketu Mehta, who claimed he was ready to put on his dancing shoes and jetlite it to Mumbai to drink a beer at Café Leopold right after it was partially destroyed by the terrorists, I am still in shock ( but not in awe). I can’t stop sulking. I can’t control my seething rage. It can’t get any worse than it already is – I mean, look at it this way. It is election time… of course, there will be maar peet, looting, cheating, murders, kidnapping, lynching, extortions, horse trading, poll rigging – the works. The fun has already started. Everyone knows how it plays out. This election will be about caste and nothing else. So, be prepared. Criminals are already in the fray… there will be several more by the time the last ticket is handed out. Big Brother ( do I need to spell out which one I am referring to?), will be watching, advising and monitoring this one closely. Really, really closely. The neighbours will also be there, tongues hanging out to see the farce as it unfolds. There will be violence and deaths . Mayhem and manipulation. It may turn out to be the bloodiest election in India’s history. But so what?? We are still a democracy,darling! We can criticize our netas and report all this - LIVE – the ultimate reality show. Wow! Imagine. Rahul Mahajan and Sanjay Dutt campaigning – that’s how open a society we are – even they, with their records have their constituencies. There are more scoundrels waiting in the wings. Isn’t that something?? Meanwhile… bechara Kasab. Uski haalat to dekho! Let’s hope he gets a fair trial, so we can show the world our great judicial system and how it works in our great democracy. Our enemies are just trying to demoralize and malign us. Ignore them, yaar! We know the truth – Hum sab chor hai. Jai Hind. Have a great year. And don’t forget to vote !