Once an issue becomes a mainstream news item in India, you can be sure every major religious group, political party, student organization, and celebrity will have an opinion on it. After the Shiv Sena, it’s now the All India Minorities Front’s (AIMF) turn to freely express their views on Orkut while living in democratic India.
What are odds that the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) will not be the next to express their views from Gujarat?
How does one issue become mainstream? Well, one of the TV channels has to take the bait, and the rest will follow. The print and electronic media will then aggressively offer the right platform for everyone to get their views miscommunicated, taken out of context, and misquoted. Competing with a dozen other news channels and newspapers, the one creating the most sensationalism and misunderstanding will win the most eyeballs, goes the wisdom. There will be talk shows with pundits, and opinion polls, and public talks shows.
In all this brouhaha, two things happen. Not only is the true issue misrepresented to various extents and typically blown out of proportion, but other significant newsworthy items are all but ignored.
How many of you recollect tomorrow’s British PM-to-be, Gordon Brown’s high profile visit to India? No? Not surprising, because the Indian media never knew of anything else happening in the world apart from Big Sister Shilpa Shetty in Big Brother!
Not only is this phenomenon unique of India. For e.g., in the US, the retirement of Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman was relegated to the background over more important stuff like celebrities being jailed for drunk driving.
While US Cable TV was obsessed with drunk-driver-celebrities (DDC, a long wanted title):
“President Bush skipped the final session of the G8 Summit, Vice President Dick Cheney needed to have his heart pacemaker replaced, and NASA’s Space Shuttle Atlantis prepared for launch!”
In India, it’s Cricket Coach Controversy, Big Sister abused on Big Brother, the AAA (Abhi-Aish-Amitabh) wedding, Big Uncle kissing Big Sister, so on and so forth. Too much coverage, too many opinions, too many mountains out of molehills. When this happens – and its happening with increasing frequency – I need a break. To regain my sense, rejuvenate my capacity to reason, to make this world meaningful again.
Then I listen to Kumar’s Nirguni Bhajans (or read this review) , or Mozart’s 40th in G Minor. Watch Ek Doctor Ki Maut, (or read this review by my friend, Asuph), or dream of taking a yacht cruise like Gail Wynand in The Fountainhead. What can you do? Escape to the Himalayas by reading my Spiti Travelogue! Just kidding…though I do that too, sometimes!