Hazare rules. Absolutely!

12 Dec,2011

By Ranjona Banerji

 

Such tremendous excitement there was in TV land on Sunday morning. Anna Hazare and his band of merry anti-corruptionists were going to have a public debate on the Lokpal Bill, the perfidy of the Congress and the lies of the government and Hazare was going on a token hunger strike as well.

 

From 8.30 am, all other news in India and the world came to a standstill. Not even the tragedy in Kolkata could compete with this momentous event. First, we all went with Hazare to Rajghat, so he could meditate. In the irony-free world that is TV news, it occurred to no one that calling Hazare a ‘Gandhian” is a bit of a misfit. Gandhi, for all that he approved of abstention from alcohol, had never recommended public flogging for drinkers. That is just one example of course.

 

As Hazare sat at Rajghat, crowds gathered at various venues in India, to show their solidarity with this anti-corruption movement. Breathless reporters could not contain their exuberance at being part of such a movement. “If my cameraperson can pan the crowd, at least 200 people have shown up”, said the reporter. Elsewhere it was as many as 1200 people (compared to 200 that’s a lot!).

 

It took Monday morning’s papers to tell us that the biggest crowd was in Delhi (18,000) and Mumbai managed 4000.One newspaper even had the temerity to report on critics of India Against Corruption, something which TV finds very difficult to do.

 

Meanwhile, the rest of the world kept turning but you never would have known it.

 

**

The Times of India in Mumbai has decided to make an impact on Mumbai readers by taking up various issues with a massive first page edit marking its commitment to the city. Hindustan Times meanwhile continues with its own special reports focusing on various aspects of city life. This means that other city newspapers will have to step up their games.

 

The AMRI hospital fire may have vanished from TV on Sunday but the newspapers carried on with the stories and examined the shortcomings in hospitals across the country. Hardly surprisingly, the situation is almost universally dismal.

 

**

 

It was interesting to read about Delhi’s 100th birthday as the capital of India. (Although technically I think that’s 100 years as the capital as decided by the British. Delhi has had capital status in earlier times as well, if my memory serves me right.) Anyway, there has been some interesting writing about the old city, the new growths and migrations, the history, the quirks and the people. Delhi often gets short shrift compared to other Indian cities so this was a welcome change.

 

**

 

Absolutely: an adverb which means totally, completely, without exception, from absolute which means free from restriction, unadulterated, complete, outright. In which case, what does one make of the following conversation:

 

Anchor to reporter: “Give us a sense of what is going on at the assembly/fire/stadium.”

 

Reporter: ‘Well, MLAs have thrown chairs/ many people are dead/ India has won the series.”

 

Anchor: Absolutely.

 

I have nothing further to say on the matter. Absolutely nothing. Absolutely.

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