Ranjona Banerji: Chaos UnLtd on GST

04 Jul,2017

By Ranjona Banerji

 

The US media is fighting a bizarre battle with a bizarre president. Donald Trump recently released a GIF which showed him in a pro-wrestling arena fighting a person with the legend CNN as its head. Either one could treat this as a joke or as an extended threat by a head of state who sees every criticism as fake and fraudulent news. Perhaps Trump does have too much in common with Vladmir Putin and Russia after all?

Meanwhile in India, we are fighting over whether it is correct to protest about mob violence when you did not protest against Babar’s invasion of India, whether more mob violence happened in the past or in the present, whether anyone has the right to disagree with mob violence in the name of the cow, whether liberals are the scourge of the earth and only the bigoted rightwing have the right to speak and act and so on.

As a result, you even have newspaper editors quoting articles from websites run by pharma company employees pretending to be journalists to boost their idea – presumably – that because mob violence happened in the past you cannot protest about it now.

However other websites run by journalists and using all available data have evidence to the contrary. It’s a rum world where the media is blamed for reporting on instances of mob violence, of murder and beatings and arson and vandalism. If the media did not report on them, would India be a better place? Ignorance is bliss or Knowledge is power?

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The launch of the Goods and Services Tax with much midnight fanfare has confused the Indian media as much as it has the Indian market. While everyone is agreed that GST is a good thing, not everyone is convinced that the current form of GST is a good thing. Newspapers report chaos, TV shows us traders on strike, newspapers and TV have interviews with ministers and bureaucrats telling us that everything is going well and newspapers and TV have interviews with economists and former ministers pointing out what is wrong with this version of GST. Chaos is apparently a merry way of life in India.

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Indian subeditors as we all know pick up on certain phrases and run with them. We have all made fun of “air-dashing”, “wee hours of the morning”, “donned their apparel” and other such horrendous nuggets of miserable, clichéd, thoughtless, unimaginative ways to shorten headlines and blurbs.

I take great exception to the current term “rockstar” – which is apparently now one word – which is used for everyone and everything from a prime minister who meets NRIs to the Indian Space Research Organisation.

I understand the need to find a metaphor to “sex up” headlines. But as a long time rock music fan, I would like to point out that rock singers become stars when they perm their hair, perform ridiculous antics on stage, have manic energy often from various psychotropic illegal substances, have a complete disregard for the law and the biggest stars of all become legends if they die young in some dramatic manner. I would certainly hope this is not the subeditor dream for India’s space programme?

Unless subeditors are being incredibly subversive – which I doubt – when they call everything a “rock star”, I would humbly suggest that they find some other term.

 

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