Ranjona Banerji: Don’t bother, Indian analysts… let Time do it

11 Jul,2012

By Ranjona Banerji


The Indian media has taken a round beating here. Day after day, print and TV criticise the government and politicians. Columns, analysis, debates and discussions focus on the weakness, incompetence, “policy paralysis” of the current government. Does anyone care or pay attention? Of course not – unless the criticism comes in cartoon form about a person or issue long dead.


But an article in the Asia edition of an American newsmagazine criticises the prime minister and the whole political community goes into a frenzy? Let us not be unfair to Time magazine, but the fact is that no one considers it to be a respected analyst of Indian politics. Nor indeed is the magazine the powerhouse it once was. Now if the Economist were to get so seriously critical, since it is known for its carefully considered views, then you might want to sit up and take notice.


Time’s “crime” is to call Manmohan Singh an “underachiever” and ask whether it is time for him to move over and let someone else become prime minister. This made the Congress jump to his rescue and the BJP to behave as if they’d won Uttar Pradesh.


The Congress then looked back at an old Time article which had said Atal Behari Vajpayee was “asleep at the wheel” as prime minister. This was supposed to shut up the BJP as the same newsmagazine had also criticised them. Sigh.


The BJP however could point out that Time’s tally is still higher since last year the magazine appeared to favour Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. Then the Congress can point out that Modi did not make it to Time’s poll of the greatest people in the world or whatever because of negative voting.


And so we can go on and on about the various articles and activities of a barely read newsmagazine and the political classes can carry on doing even less than they do normally.


As for all you analysts in the Indian media, why do you bother? Clearly, no one pays attention to all your criticisms and opinions. Congratulations are due to Time for having successfully upstaged the entire Indian media. Henry Booth Luce would be happy.


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