Comment: News media must black out netas at Uttarakhand

28 Jun,2013

Representative picture courtesy PIB of the IAF rescue helicopters at Gauchar airport, in flood-hit Uttarakhand on Wednesday, June 26


It is indeed sad to see several dead and many injured as rescue operations are still on in Uttarakhand. What rages us is the game of one-upmanship between political leaders in grabbing camera time and the importance our news vehicles give to these visits. We present the comment by our Editor-at-Large and senior journalist Anil Thakraney on the issue which would normally appear as Hard Knocks on a Friday. – Editor


By Anil Thakraney


In the entire television din over the role of politicians on the Uttarakhand disaster, Prasoon Joshi made the most valid point. (Prasoon, if you are reading this post, I would urge you to take part in the tube debates regularly, we need a few sensible voices out there.) While the others were heatedly accusing the netas of seeking photo-ops during the tragedy, Joshi said the media must consider WHO is providing them with these photo-ops. Very true. If the media stopped covering these opportunistic politicians, they will immediately vanish from the scene.


The defining neta moment so far was the two Andhra politicians exchanging fisticuffs at the Dehra Dun airport, as they fought over who would fly with the ‘cargo’. And no, the cargo in this case wasn’t medical supplies for the victims, but those people who had been rescued, and were anxiously waiting to be flown back home. Absolutely pathetic. And then there is Pheku and Pappu busy scoring brownie points over each other, and the many chamchas defending their actions. At least half of the media time and space gets spent on these jokers. What a bloody waste!


My humble request to colleagues in the media is this: For the Uttarakhand news, take a firm decision not to provide any coverage whatsoever to the visiting politicians. Not only are they unable to help in any way, with their shenanigans, they come in the way of rescue and relief operations. And there’s no keeping these hyenas away, they will come to feed on the dead, it’s in their nature. Emotional situations like these give politicians a cool opportunity to win more fans, or so they believe. Let’s deprive them of it. And let the entire media effort be focused on the victims, the rescue and rehab. And on the jawans who are doing all the hard work, these brave souls who are putting their own lives on the line so that maximum number of people can be saved. I want to see their faces, I want to hear their voices, I want to know their stories. And this is what the media must provide us.


Net net: Let’s make Uttarakhand a template for future disasters. No spotlight on any neta. Let it only be about those who matter, and those who do the real work. That done, no politician will ever arrive to disturb rescue operations. Once the oxygen supply (cameras) is cut off, they won’t see any point of jet-setting in. Good riddance.


Anil Thakraney is a senior journalist and commentator. He is also Editor-at-Large, MxMIndia. The views expressed here are his own. He can be reached via Twitter at @anilthakraney



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