Ranjona Banerji: Short on Details, High on Promises

26 Feb,2021

By Ranjona Banerji


In a normal world, the country’s media would either get bolshy at lack of clarity or at least attempt to provide full details of the Government’s vaccination plans for the general population of India. But since the Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar announced that the next phase for those above 60 and above 45 with co-morbidities, will begin on March 1, we have been extremely short on details.

(What the virus has to do with the environment ministry I am unsure, but it matches the holistic nature of the Modi School of Governance where no one knows who is about to do what. The Union Health Minister presumably is busy with publicity plans for more ayurvedic concoctions?)

Which are these 30000 government centres and 20000 private centres which will dispense the vaccines or is it the other way around? How much will they cost? How does one register? And so on. It maybe funny to some and typical laggardness to others, but it is no less important for all that. But no, there is so much other fun news to deal with than the bare bones of a plan due to be operational a weekend away. Pandemic fatigue, eh?

Instead, why not get distracted by a cricket stadium and a ruling party in permanent election mode. Propaganda ko vannakum. And some execrable attempts at Bengali from the BJP, starting with PM ji.

Piece together fragments of news, and you learn that this great CoWIN app does not work properly, that there is confusion over registration, that the do’s and don’ts are many and varied and really, no one knows enough yet.


The Government of Modi meanwhile has other important things to do. Like regulate Over The Top or OTT platforms. Earlier OTT used to mean when you went too far with something but we are now short of memory and irony so OTT means all digital and streaming content. Basically, if you forgive my contortionist puns, the Government of Modi has gone OTT on OTT. Reminiscent of the late Sushma Swaraj’s objections to sleeveless sari blouses worn by female newsreaders on Doordarshan and various forms of haute couture topless and bottomlessness on Fashion TV. From the Indira Gandhi School of Regulate, Regulate, Regulate, Censor, Censor, Censor, we have its best pupils to date in full flow. Don’t show this, tell us who said what, and so on.


Anyone who has spent any time on social media knows that the worst offenders as far as hate speech, threats of rape and violence come from the BJP stable. And we all know what will happen to them: Nothing. Basically, Twitter did not conform and comply and genuflect as it used to, so here we are.

As for online entertainment content, well, how dare it be even mildly adult for consumption by the world’s largest democracy which must be whacked by the nanny state a few times a day to be kept in order?


The farmers? Yes, they’re still out on the roads. Not coming to any TV screen near you any time soon.

Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist and commentator. She writes on MxMIndia every Tuesday and Friday. Her views here are personal



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