Anil Thakraney: An unconfident nation

23 Jan,2012

By Anil Thakraney

 

Media ODing on three news items last week caught my attention. And it made me feel, both, confused and agitated. Confused, because the relevance of these stories eluded me. And agitated, because they show a nation of crores of people in a very poor light.

 

First, the media going ballistic over Oprah Winfrey. Big time Indian celebs behaving like crazed fans and fawning over her like wannabes. And excitedly uploading their smiling pics, in the company of the exalted lady, on Twitter. The grand finale: Fisticuffs between Oprah’s bodyguards and some journos in a small town. Hello, what’s going on? The lady is just a talk show host, that’s her ticket to fame. So she’s made a little brand of herself, but she’s still a talk show host. Would Barkha Dutt, our own chat show girl, evoke such hysteria in America? I would be surprised if they noticed her on the streets of New York City. And after all the brouhaha, Ms Winfrey has sworn never to return to India. When will the Indian media learn to get some balance in its reportage.

 

Later in the week, journalists lost their heads when it was learnt that the notorious mischief monger Salman Rushdie wasn’t going to make it to the Jaipur Lit Fest. And the breathless coverage gave me a huge jolt, I thought a tsunami had hit the Thar desert. Who really cares if Rushdie arrives or not? He keeps coming and going, in any case. Would the Lit Fest be a disaster in his absence? I can assure you, the one person who must be quietly sniggering over this media tamasha is Rushdie himself. This is exactly the sort of stuff he covets; it keeps him in the public eye.

 

Then there was that collective outrage over the juvenile comments made by the BBC’s Top Gear host. On our loo habits. And this made the media lose its knickers. Oh, please!

 

I don’t know if this has occurred to our content heads and editors, but this ‘phorein’ fixation after over 60 years of Independence is showing not just our media badly, it’s projecting India as a very unconfident and slavish nation. Let’s move on, people. Enough of ass licking these buggers. Let’s look inward, we have many problems of our own, and they need urgent attention.

 

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PS: Happy that at last historian Ramchandra Guha has created his own website. It’s a collection of his best essays, apart from other stuff. Quite valuable. Because Guha isn’t just a columnist, his views give us glimpses into this nation’s past and present. It’s a treasure trove, really.

 

Link: http://ramachandraguha.in/

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