Friday, August 26, 2011

THE Precedent!

On 23rd August, CNN-IBN asked:

At 10 pm tonight...Will Anna's protest style now become a precedent for the future?

A precedent? Really? So no one threatened and blackmailed the government with a fast unto death till date? Why go way back into the past, lets go to Dec 2009 when the central government announced a separate Telangana state by giving in to the KCRs demand. The resultant chaos because of that caving in by GoI, is there for all to see (well, except for these self professed national media). But back then, while the fast was on, the debate was on whether small states were good or bad, not whether fasting (and therefore blackmailing) was good or bad.

Curiously, when it came to the Anna Hazare movement, so far, the media has debated how their demand is unreasonable, how it will become a precedent, how the numbers are exaggerated, how negative energy is being created etc etc. And also, those protesting will break traffic lights argument also came into picture. If atleast 75% of those who marched on the streets, decide to follow traffic rules (even if they didn't earlier) that is a huge victory to this movement.

Karan Thapar interviews Arvind Kejriwal and Prashanth Bhushan. He starts bombarding them and questions how can they claim such massive support of people in lakhs, when a CNN-IBN survey says 24%, 42% blah blah blah. That CNN-IBN survey was done with 20,000 people. On any given day during the last 10 days, that was minimum number of people just at the Ramlila maidan in New Delhi. And we are not talking about thousands more in other cities. So for media, their 20,000 survey is the ultimate truth, but members of IAC (India Against Corruption) should NOT be enthused about the response they are getting in lakhs (which again Karan Thapar thinks are exaggerated!).

On August 16th, Anna Hazare was arrested. Ministers P.Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal and Ambika Soni addressed a press conference and were trying hard to justify the arrest. And then a gem of a question was thrown at them ( I am not able to find the transcript though). The journalist said the current outpour of anger is disgust not just with corruption at high level but even the common man has to pay to get things done. He has to pay for a passport, for a license etc. Has the government recognised this, and what steps are being taken to address that issue. In my opinion, that question summed up the correct mood. The answer was ofcourse long winded and generic.

What however was not debated threadbare, is this anger. We'd expect the media to discuss WHY there is so much spontaneous support. Why did people apply leave to their offices, moved out of their comfort zones to march on the street? Who are all these people who are braving the rain and sun, coming out to support Anna Hazare? Instead, what do we get? The Prime Minister himself has said that Anna has become a symbol of people's angst against corruption. Why then have we never debated the reasons for this angst? Why then did the media never ask the ruling dispensation of its failure to control this? As always, this was made to look like a problem of the entire political class and not of UPA alone. It is only UPAs corruption that gave fuel to this fire. To sidetrack that debate is naive. To sidetrack that anger, by citing legalese and rhetoric is disastrous.

Some of Anna's demands are unreasonable. However, what drove him to make those unreasonable demands? And why is there such an outpour of support for those demands? Ill - informed you would say? Then who will take the blame for that? The media which did not disseminate full information? Or just blame it on ignorance of the masses? First, you hype up the movement, then you say it is unreasonable. For a change, why don't you decide first?

In what have now become his trademark and famous "gnight" tweets, CNN-IBN's Editor in Chief, Rajdeep Sardesai, recently had this to say

was asked to wear an 'i am anna' cap in studio by a friend. had to remind him that journalism aint marketing! gnight

I was forced to go back to the "My Name is Khan" controversy days, when the entire English TV media wanted to us to buy a ticket and watch the show, to make a point about democracy and all that (strangely, that ain't marketing!). Here is a sample from the same Rajdeep:

to every mumbaikar: go watch mnik in the theatres, its a small, but important way of taking a stand.

Fellow blogger, Vivek, has in detail described IBN's wavering stand on the Anna Hazare issue. His blog is a must read on that topic.

When the MNIK controversy happened, there were only two sides (according to this English media). You are either with SRK or with the Shiv Sena. There is no third ground. It was impossible to get a third view across. I made an attempt, but in vain.

ok @bdutt .I believe in free speech too.I protest @iamsrk calling Pak a great neighbour.As a mark of protest I wont watch MNIK.Can you RT?

Now, since the media itself has problems with the methods Anna Hazare is using, they start debating:

Does voicing any criticism of Anna's movement make you corrupt and anti national? FTN 10pm

The impulsive and "only the present matters" approach of this TV media is getting so damaging, that pretty soon we will all rue for even watching them for so long! All they leave us is confused threadbare - not give us clarity.


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