Even Outlook has celebrated Serena William's rump, Padma Lakshmi's cleavage and more. Almost every newspaper has plunged into the war of colour supplements. In a Hindustan Times (HT) story, "Who will dare to bare at LIFW (Lakme India Fashion Week)?", the reporter writes: "Last year, Jesse Randhawa walked out in a nipple-revealing top which Randhawa says slipped, but what a slip—this time's lifw promises a lot more transparency on the ramp and lots of T&A." (If you don't know what T&A means, read no further.) Shobhana Bhartia, vice-chairperson, HT, when shown the story and the accompanying photo of semi-nude models, said, "These pictures and language certainly upset sensibilities. A decision was taken that we shouldn't have such pictures as our paper caters to the entire family, not just adults. However, sometimes things slip in." When informed that some paper vendors in east Delhi had been instructed by families to deliver HT without the supplement, she asked: "Is that really true?"
….Says Bhartia, who has been trying to jazz up HT, with some success, "We want to develop a bond with our readers, especially the younger ones. We have the best analytical minds for our op-ed pages. We want people to grow with us so we have a mix of national and world news along with reporting from the mohalla (neighbourhood) level." ...The secret is out: the Fourth Estate, like real estate, is up for sale. It's the numbers, stupid, not the news. Most papers and magazines today work to the marketer's 3F formula of Food, Fashion and Fornication. The first 2 Fs, editors openly admit, is a part of success, the third one they say doesn't play a part. But how do you explain a news agency report about Madonna turning to spirituality accompanied by a picture emphasising her cleavage?
…But then the media's priorities have never been more stark and candid: feel-good "news positive" stories are in; and feel-bad stories have no place. Says P. Sainath, journalist and author of Everybody Loves a Good Drought, "While the total number of correspondents covering poverty at a national level is zero, the number of articles by journalists on the LIFW this year was 400. This makes for a 1:1 ratio between journos and buyers…. The average Indian remains unconquered by the cheap-fantasies mafia ruling our culture and media who want to seductively trap us in the Page-3-ness of Life. But how much longer must we suffer these daily brutish insults to our intelligence?
In case you’re still wondering what T&A is, it’s simply ‘Tits & Asses’. Something you can expect to routinely see in any MSM outlet. What you just read above wasn’t written by me and it’s not even new. These are excerpts from a decade old article on the “Dumbing down of India”, a cover story by Outlook in October 2002. The article is titled “Degeneration-X”. The emphasis on certain points is mine. I recommend that you read the full article. And yes, this is the same Shobana Bhartia who still runs Hindustan Times. This is the same Shobana Bhartia who passes off sheer nonsense written presumably by Vinod Sharma (VS) as editorial. There is no limit to the crap that VS writes but his latest one, “It was no mean feet” can even be termed Gutterorial. In one stroke he heaps scorn on both, people who are fat or obese and those in saffron clothing who are known as Babas or Swamis in Hindu culture.
In the article VS ridicules Nitin Gadkari for bending to touch Baba Ramdev’s feet. That VS is a spokesman of sorts of the Congress party and can throw mud at any opposition leader is not even an issue here. Of course, the great Shobana Bhartia did talk about sensibilities in that Outlook article, didn’t she? Does she really care or give a damn? Okay, let’s see what the foul-mouthed VS has to say:
“The cynical and the misled may have baulked at the sight, or may even have been shocked, that Mr Gadkari was actually willing to bend so low to extend political support for the Baba's renewed campaign against corruption, and show how pliant he is willing to be…. So next time you hear Mr Gadkari rambling on about how his mark of respect for those in saffron robes was in perfect harmony with our culture and tradition, do remember that something within him is dying to flaunt that slimmer waistline, in much the same way a spoilt child wants to flaunt a new toy. For one who has suffered the ignominy of having a stage collapse (under his watch, not his weight), there can be few better paybacks than to display the malleability of his muscles. We say there is fat chance that any political mileage will be sought from this humble gesture. Keep looking out for more displays of agility from those quarters though”. Shobana Bhartia cares for sensibilities!
The sly rant against an obese man is not in bad taste for Shobana Bhartia. Oh wait! It’s just a co-incidence that Gadkari is obese. What if Gadkari had lost both arms? VS would then had probably described how the fat man went out of his way to touch Baba’s feet with his head or shoulder. What’s the implication? Those without limbs are stupid and idiotic just as VS implies certain things from Gadkari being obese. Imagine, if Gadkari had lost both legs in an accident and were on a wheel chair! What would VS’ arguments be then? He would probably say “Here is a fat, lame man somehow trying to prove he is pliant by falling at Baba’s feet”. And, of course, Shobana Bhartia cares for sensibilities! Who knows if Gadkari had been on a debate with VS the guttermouth would have probably argued “What the hell do you know, you’re a lame man who doesn’t even have limbs”. Swell! You’re fat so you’re stupid. You’re lame so you don’t have brains. These are the sinister implications that VS is drawing from his rant. Have no doubts, Shobana Bhartia takes into account ‘sensibilities’ of readers. Bravo!
|Mr.Smirk, Stick to 3Fs and "Tits & Asses"|
Now let’s come to the Baba part. It is common knowledge that Hindus touch the feet of elders, parents, gurus and swamis. The Dalai Lama was enthroned at the tender age of 15 yet even much older people would touch his feet and seek blessings. Obviously, Shobana Bhartia and Vinod Sharma are lost to Hindu traditions. I don’t need to go into issues of all the people touching the feet of Sonia Gandhi or other mere mortals in politics or even the infamous “Madamji at your feet” ad. My guess is if VS ran into Sonia Gandhi he might consider it a privilege to touch and wash her feet as one TRS leader once proclaimed. Holy men, even if their secret evil intentions are unknown, are treated with respect. Let’s see, by his logic VS would have stinging comments to pass about Sita Devi who crossed the “Lakshman rekha” to serve a saffron clad Raavan. Maata, Pita, Guru, Devam is an old Hindu saying. They put parents and gurus even above the Lord. Ah well, these Hindu traditions must be stupid for Vinod Sharma and Shobana Bhartia and they can continue heaping insults on some of the most valued customs and traditions of our society. That’s HT sensitivity!
VS is not alone. In the ‘feet touching’ controversy as they claimed it was, there is the journalistic-bimbo Pallavi Ghosh of CNN-IBN who tweeted if this is how India’s going to get foreign investments. And yes, any Hindu tradition is always a controversy for NDTV. Not surprisingly HT, CNN-IBN and NDTV are all close relatives.
The best part is where HT claims they are No. 1 in Delhi. They even warn us: “Make no mistake, HT is ahead of the times” in telling us they are ahead of TOI in Delhi. Well, Ms. Bhartia, we get the message clear. And we also get how HT got there, it’s quite well explained in the first paragraph of this post. It’s going to be tough staying at No.1 though. So I have a modest suggestion, instead of rubbishing Hindu traditions and insulting physical attributes of people stick to the 3Fs and ‘Tits & Asses’. That’s what got you to No.1 in the first place and that in dumbing down India HT has managed to dumb-down its own credibility doesn’t matter.