Ranjona Banerji: Rahul G is back. Yawn

17 Apr,2015

By Ranjona Banerji

 

Given that the prime minister and chief newscatcher of India is away in foreign lands, Indian TV media found its dose of breathless excitement in the return of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi from… somewhere. He’s back after 56 days or 57 days or eight weeks or six weeks or the Indian Express told us this morning, 53 days. Many days obviously, but we are short on detail even there.  We don’t know where he went, we don’t know for how long and we just about vaguely know why: Introspection or some such political excuse. So much for all the Ws and Hs, once essential in the practice of nuts and bolts journalism.

 

What we got was a moving picture of a car window through which I at least could see nothing. In one newspaper this morning, there was a shadowy face worthy of a Dan Brown conspiracy theory but two very cute little doggies. The doggies were not named or identified so the reader is none the wiser on pointless trivia.

 

Some Congress party members burnt fire crackers in celebration and provided some anodyne sound bytes. Some BJP people sniggered. In short nothing unusual or newsworthy was on offer apart presumably from the fact of Gandhi’s return. With nothing to say, reporters egged on by anchors, speculated on what Gandhi was doing, could be doing, should be doing, might not be doing, would do if he was the reporter or the anchor or another person. We are indeed lucky they did not tell us he was eating breakfast, having a bath and so on. Or who knows, maybe any facts would have been more interesting than this piffle.

 

So there we are. Rahul Gandhi is back in India. Yawn.

 

**

 

There is an intriguing difference between city coverage in newspapers in Delhi and Mumbai. Mumbai newspapers are obsessed with crime, civic issues (this covers just about everything), infrastructure development (whatever’s left) and the green narrative. Politics takes a backseat. Delhi newspapers are obsessed with politics and its colleges. I read a whole page on some childish little fight in St Stephens College that was neither spicy nor exciting nor even that interesting. Who woulda thunk that the Dalliwallahs were so big on education? All right, I apologise. Having spent most of my life in Mumbai, I do know that when Mumbaikars speak education, they’re talking money. Not: my principal is so mean.

 

And for an outsider, it seems like crime should be a big Delhi thing…

 

The Delhi obsession with St Stephens College is odd, though. Why?

 

**

 

Prime Minister Modi is away of course but not forgotten. His tours of France, Germany and Canada have been covered extensively by all the new channels. If you think there has been any shortfall, blame it on the time difference. The Canadian media has also covered the visit, especially the uranium deal. Time Magazine has got US president Barack Obama to write a profile on Modi, surely a coup.

 

Indian newspapers however, have been more on the deals struck than the hoopla around the visit. I must here admit that I am sorely disappointed with the NRIs of Canada for not providing a song-and-dance show like their counterparts in the US and Australia.

 

Or maybe the evil media didn’t show it?

 

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