Freaking News: Enough of Team Anna’s high-handed ways

22 Dec,2011

By Ranjona Banerji


There is no greater joy for the newsperson than when you can successfully create a controversy out of very little. So first you have a demand for India’s highest civilian award to be given to India’s great cricketer Sachin Tendulkar. This continues for some years and every time the awards are about to announced, we have breathless speculation on TV about whether Tendulkar is going to get it this year or not. Where TV goes, can the rest of the media be far behind? Experts and fans all have their say. I have no idea what Tendulkar himself thinks; I don’t even know if anyone bothered to ask him or if he deigned to answer. Tendulkar’s views are insignificant here. It’s all about we the people.


Now it turns out that sportspersons were never eligible anyway. So the law is changed to allow sportspersons and entertainers. And immediately, we are in the middle of another controversy. Whether sportspersons and entertainers are deserving or not, whether Sachin is deserving or not, should Dhyanchand get it before Sachin… here we go again.




MxmIndia is going into yearender mode, the results of which will be up soon. I am surprised to see that newspapers and magazines are waiting so long though – I would have expected precursors by now. The world has become so fast that usually we celebrate Diwali at Ganpati and Christmas at Diwali! Newsx is doing a countdown of the biggest news stories of the year, so look like someone somewhere has been looking at the calendar.




The situation in Egypt seems to be getting worse, as protestors continue expressing their outrage against the military establishment. Indian news however does not see the conflict in the Middle East as more than a story on the international pages and TV is hard-pressed to fit it in between Anna Hazare and Katrina Kaif’s childhood diet. I heard all about it this morning, I kid you not!




The fight over a version of the Gita being banned in Siberia gave TV a wonderful opportunity to pull out its ultra-nationalistic flag. But all interested parties have been foiled in fascinating ways. The Russian ambassador promptly damned the banning. The Yadav-run parties created a bigger ruckus over the issue than the Hindutva-based parties. And the Government of India stated that it had been on the case from Day One. Talk about destroying one more round of nation-wide hysteria.




We will know later today the latest on the Lokpal-Anna Hazare soap opera, so I’m leaving that till tomorrow. But here’s from an Indian Express edit on the anti-corruption campaign, “The point is, given what we know of them, Team Anna must not be allowed to set the terms any more. They do not own the cause of the Lokpal or that of integrity in public life. The upcoming debate must consider the bill on its own terms, without heeding the chants from Hazare’s crowds.”


I have a request to add to that sentiment: can the TVwallahs please not exaggerate the crowds and pretend that a gathering of 50,000 people is the same as 50 million?

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