Be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny. (Hamlet, 3.1.129) – Shakespeare.
NDTV and CNN-IBN simply couldn’t have expected events that unfolded. When a carefully cultivated line of thinking and campaign goes terribly wrong it leaves one wondering which way to jump. Throughout August 17 as the Anna Hazare stalemate continued NDTV could only think of calling it a ‘circus’. Barkha Dutt kept tweeting about Alice In Wonderland and how this is all mad. Her late evening programme sported the tag line ‘protest or blackmail’ and an hour prior, Nidhi Razdan started her Left, Right, Centre by once again calling the event a ‘circus’. I couldn’t help laughing at the irony. When Barkha Dutt rushed to Egypt and Libya she didn’t find those events to be circus or the world of Lewis Caroll. To Rajdeep Sardesai’s CNN-IBN, of course, must go the credit of inaugurating mud-slinging season. When a prominent news channel like CNN-IBN undertakes brazen mud-slinging it starts emboldening the forces and faces of calumny. The three stooges that were the faces of Congress in the entire Anna Hazare episode pretty much reflect the combined faces of calumny spurred by some in the TV news media. Rajdeep and Yogendra Yadav would be delighted to know how their recent opinion polls confirm everything they are seeing on the ground now. Oh yeah, if elections were held today the UPA would be voted back to power! That's what they would have you believe. And, of course, their poll suggested that only 28% believe UPA is corrupt. Will the truth ever set these media dealers free?
|Faces of Calumny|
Things didn’t go wrong on August 16. They went wrong on the night of June 4 when a peaceful crowd was lathi-charged in the middle of the night. I had then written that ‘Chidambaram, Sibal and Soni were the ones to have hatched the Anna arrest. But the people already knew that by now. What is worse is having a PM who has more or less abdicated his responsibilities and received a severe pasting from opposition leader Arun Jaitley.
The Congress and many in the media have tried desperately to spin these events as ‘parliament v street legislators’. Even that has failed. If the intellectuals in the media haven’t realised yet that no matter what Anna or Baba or Bedi do, they simply cannot make a law, the ordinary people are under no illusion. The best they can do is fast, agitate and protest. After the murder of journalist J. Dey did the media not demand special protection laws? Did they not demand that crimes against journalists be made ‘non-bailable’ offences? Is that not demanding laws that they want? The laws that Anna Hazare demands may be different but it’s not different in principle. He just seems to have more determination and the will to die for it. Fact is, journalists were demanding special privileges whereas Anna is not demanding any special privileges. But, that’s OK, people demand all sorts of things.
The most striking feature of the debates on TV is that people like Mahesh Bhatt, Nandita Rao, Rahul Kanwal question the wisdom or intelligence of ordinary people. I’m not kidding, here’s a tweet from Rahul Kanwal:
Quite certain protesters don't understand finer nuances of Anna's bill. Doesn't matter to them. They're livid with Govt over corruption.
Finer nuances? Alright, I can laugh but the media morons wouldn’t understand nuance if it kissed them in broad daylight. What they hide is that the crowds are just as angry with the media as they are with the politicians. I can safely vouch for the fact that there is not a single lawyer or constitutional expert who knows everything that they talk about. What they talk about is a common-sense stand that they take. These opinionated egos of media might be under the impression that every MP even reads every bill that is passed. Ordinary people just have a boiling point. They keep watching the crimes of those in power and when it reaches a crescendo they will come out and fight. They don’t need to read law books before coming out on the streets as some of our stupid media dealers seem to desire. And a man like Mahesh Bhatt believes without cameras the Anna Hazares would disappear. Without a camera it is the Barkha Dutts, Rajdeep Sardesais, Sagarika Ghoses, Rahul Kanwals, Arnab Goswamis who would have had to choose a different career and would be consigned to the bin of the thousands of unknown journalists. Bhatt’s statement is like an idiot cursing the very gift by which he earns his livelihood. Same goes for the media dealers who claim protests would die without the camera. This is the same belief that leads them to believe that they are indirectly the most powerful law-makers in the land. An offence they accuse the street protesters of.
Rahul Kanwal shouldn’t assume people on the streets are dumb. If he offered them a choice to listen to a moral sermon, between Anna Hazare and Barkha Dutt, I’m certain even Kanwal knows who they’d pick. And Hazare isn’t the cacofonix on TV screens every night. All said and done it is not Anna who has lost his sense of decency. The media should ask the PM if he has lost all sense of decency and let loose his ministers to take the actions they did. I doubt you need a constitution or law to tell you what common decency is. After all, the Ten Commandments didn't include rape or child-abuse. Common human decency helped us learn that.
In all this, conspicuous by their absence from the media are M/s. Hit and Run. Yeah, both Digvijay Singh and Rahul Gandhi must have run out of silly statements. The media must be dearly missing the crumbs that this duo is used to throwing at them. Tarnishing RSS doesn’t seem to be paying anymore. In Gujarat, Gandhi is a name used to refer to the corner-shop grocer. That’s because Gandhis are traditionally grocers. There is a reason why Gandhi cared to understand ordinary people. The Gandhi-grocer is the one who interacts with ordinary people almost every minute of his working day. That someone like Rahul walks around with the name of Gandhi may not be his fault, but there is a reason why he has a severe disconnect with the people as does the media. And the most stunning comment on the man came not from his detractors but his ally in UPA-I. It was Brinda Karat of CPM, who for the first time sarcastically used the term ‘prince charming’ in parliament to describe the white-wash that the Congress attempted to make in the bungling of the Hazare incident. The Congress and media attempt to credit Rahul Gandhi with diffusing the crisis failed miserably. We had one great Gandhi who is now in heaven. We don’t need fake Gandhis in our parliament.
The PM who stupidly talked about ‘skeletons’ before the current parliament session is now warning Anna Hazare of consequences. His lack of decency and miserable failure as PM is embarrassing for the whole nation. When he indirectly condones the sacking of the nation and then lets loose his forces of calumny the nation looks for leadership. In the absence of a leader they found one in Anna Hazare. In less than 12 hours they have made him a national, and probably international, hero. This is a time to be humble. If the PM cannot find his own conscience then a Janlokpal bill will not be the only thing that the protesters will demand.