Can we pay attention to what’s put out?

09 Jan,2012

By Ranjona Banerji

 

There was an intriguing contradiction in the way Indians abroad were carried in the news in the last week or so. While the murder of Anup Bidve of Pune in Manchester and the ill-treatment of Indian traders in China got an enormous amount of coverage, the annual government mela for our brothers and sisters who no longer live in India was not treated with the usual fanfare. Does that mean that Indians who suffer when in foreign lands are newsworthy but non-resident Indians who return to visit us are no longer so valuable? Since the India story is now located in India, is the media now yawning about NRIs? I have no answers, but I find this trend interesting.

 

Meanwhile, our TV channels have taken their outrage about suffering Indians to new levels. US Republican presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman has been subjected to some racial abuse in the US for his adopted children, who are apparently Chinese and Indian. This had our morning anchors foaming at the mouth. Also, according to the on-screen updates, US Hindus were also very angry. Is this a new category of people, US Hindus? Does it include people of non-Indian origins who might be Hindus? So why would Indonesians or Nepalis (for instance) be so angry about the anti-Huntsman ads? What about followers of the Iskcon movement in the United States? Are they US Hindus? Are US Christians, Buddhists, Muslims and Sikhs (who might be of Indian origin) not bothered? What about the Chinese (regardless of religion or regionality)? Or all people concerned about racism?

 

It is a futile wish, but one still does occasionally hope that Indian TV channels paid a little more attention to what they put out.

 

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As expected, Indian cricket has been under the scanner with all the accompanying hysteria. I understand that journalists have short memory spans but still, don’t they get bored of jumping from one extreme to the other whenever things go right or wrong. Sack the team, sack the board, worship the team (to be fair, almost no one says worship the board!), are the predictable mantras depending on performance. Then it’s an inevitable battle between oldies and youngies – strangely, whenever the selectors lean towards one or the other based on media and expert advice, there’s usually a disaster on the cricket field.

 

Partly of course, the new belief (most prevalent in the new media) that India has to excel at everything it touches is to blame.

 

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The travails of Anna Hazare’s movement against corruption continue. The Times of India on Saturday had a front page story about Shanti Bhushan’s duty evasions and on the edit page, there was Shanti Bhushan lecturing us about corruption! The Indian Express on Monday tells us that Anna Hazare’s followers and friends (of the pre-Jan Lokpal variety) have been redoubling their efforts to point out that India Against Corruption is “100 per cent pro-RSS”.

 

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Mid-Day’ Mumbai edition carries a story about how the son of a former Mumbai police commissioner (RD Tyagi) has been accused of beating up customers to his beer bar and the Mumbai police have been slow in taking action. This misuse of power by the Mumbai police needs more exposure.

 

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