Anil Thakraney: Media needs to go beyond Durga

07 Aug,2013

By Anil Thakraney


Must say in the beginning, the media ODing on this lady called Durga Shakti was getting on my nerves. An IAS officer from Uttar Pradesh has a run-in with the state CM, toh bhaiyya main kya karoon? What has it got to do with me, and indeed, the rest of India? I assumed this was yet another case of the politics-obsessed Delhi-based journos going berserk over a localized story, unmindful of its irrelevance to the nation. Truth is, I am more worried about the huge pothole that’s sprouted near my building, one that almost demolished my car the other day.


However, after I decided to (reluctantly) pay some attention to the story, I realized this is a bigger game, it’s about the clash of politics and bureaucracy. The media has decided to stand up for Ms Durga, and in principle, I support it. From what one gathers from the media reports, here’s an honest officer being victimized by her bosses. And a campaign for Durga will motivate the rest of the IAS officers in the nation, or so one hopes, though I am afraid nothing really will come from this. Because the hard reality is this: just as the netas, a majority of the babu class in India is corrupt, and the rot has sunk deep into the system. In fact, the two often collaborate to screw the nation. And to be fair, often the babus have no choice in the matter because the netas decide their destiny; if an upright babu fights against the system, he/she gets promptly suspended. In such a pathetic scenario, a media campaign for one officer doesn’t appear to be a game-changing idea.


Therefore the media effort must instead focus on a structural change, one that will have a long-term impact on the nation. The idea should be to achieve greater autonomy and more power for the bureaucrats, so that they are armed with enough teeth to put checks and balances on chor netas, to stand up to them. I have no idea how that can be done, that’s for the experts to figure out. Perhaps one of the large media companies can set up a forum with these experts to arrive at possible solutions. And then put pressure on the political class to make it happen.


And that shall be the real deal. If the media’s focus is only to get Ms Durga re-instated in her job, then the whole exercise is a waste of time. I’d rather the media worked harder on how to make the lethal pothole down my road go away. For good.


PS: Really cool resignation letter. Hope creative people in the desi ad world write such witty letters when they quit. They should, after all there’s no client or client servicing exec around to punch holes. 🙂


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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