Ranjona Banerji: The news that did not happen on TV

14 Aug,2012

By Ranjona Banerji


All day on Monday all that happened in India was that yoga teacher Baba Ramdev and a few thousand followers continued their protest against corruption and black money in New Delhi. That is, if you watched television. As the day progressed, political leaders attended the protest and gave speeches. That was it. The rest of the news day was in Shavasana – the dead body pose.


Not however, if you read the newspapers on Tuesday. Grains rotting in Gujarat, Haryana minister Gopal Kanda on the run after an employee’s suicide writes a letter saying that a suicide note is not admissible, the latest on the Mumbai violence, especially the provocative doctored videos on the attacks on Muslims in Myanmar, Sharad Pawar given the number 3 slot in the Cabinet behind AK Anthony, a woman researcher allegedly molested on the IIT Mumbai campus by a staff member and the end of the Olympics.


This is just a smattering of the news that did not happen on TV. There is more, though undoubtedly a lot of it is city specific. However, it would have been interesting to know how Delhi reacted to the traffic snarls created by Ramdev’s protests, whether people suffered or not, how many were affected and so on. TV sadly did not oblige.




Press Council of India chairman Markandey Katju has been mainly silent after his dramatic ascension to the throne. But now he’s popped up again. Strangely, it is not the media which is his focus. Rather it is West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who he had once lauded for her honesty and determination. Now he is appalled at her authoritarian ways after a farmer was arrested after he questioned the CM at a rally. Banerjee accused the farmer of being a Maoist.


Katju has also stated that Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev’s anti-corruption movements are “empty gas”.


He said: “Nothing is going to happen by Anna or Ramdev’s crusade against corruption”. The former judge said he was not justifying corruption but instead was pointing out that India was going through a “transitional period where there is no moral code”. His prophecy: corruption will continue for 15 years.


Presumably, we will all become moral after that.


* * *


What does one make of anti-corruption activist Kiran Bedi’s statement that the media spends too much time on “small rapes” (she then said she meant rapes by “small” people) instead of corruption? In Bedi lies a lesson for the media. She was pumped up for being India’s first female IPL officers and qualities were attributed to her which she never had. Once she was made into a heroine in the people’s eyes, it became very difficult to dethrone her. As a result of all that hype, she is now in textbooks and has won numerous awards.


Prolonged exposure to her during the Anna Hazare-led movement has however exposed her many short-comings. Now we know that amongst her other faults, she is also dismissive of rape. Some female role model.


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