Thursday

Indian Media



Being laid up in bed with a bad back is no fun - take it from me. You would have thought TV would be good time pass at least. Heck no! It pains me to see mediocrity thrive on tv. What is the overt difference when you watch NDTV Good times and Travel and Living? Both channels are top quality - one macro and global, the other more niche. Both appeal to the Indian mindset. My daily fix however are the sports and the news channels.

How are the news channels any different? The reason I say channels is because my print consumption is minimal (its either the internet or the tv) – print has too many facets of paid news today that it has lost its credibility with me!. So are our news channels balanced in their point of view, responsible and truly deserving of the fourth estate status?

I think our media is at best biased, sensationalism driven, and skewed towards the political affiliations they carry! Especially dangerous for the young minds in the nation who tend to easily get swayed by the ra-ra they hear on TV

But as I say this I am going to get a little contradictory too and say our media, despite many flaws, display many strengths too. Its perhaps the same need for viewership that keeps them ra-ra-ing about themselves as much equally for subjects that resonate with viewers: Racism, Politics between India and Pak, S Tharoor and his girlfriend, Ipl and Politics and the bid drama, model commits suicide, some celeb’s marriage etc etc

The even bigger advantages to my mind of our media is that they keep the corrupt politicians in check – not just the politicians also the bureaucrats, policymakers, educationalists, goons, dons etc etc. All our Polity is completely dictated in its moves by the mood on TV as a litmus test. Depending on how much attention an issue receives in the media dictates next steps very often.

In this clamour for trp’s and the din created by many channels are we forgetting the poor? The sick and ill? The old? The uneducated? Don’t they form a large portion of our universe? Who will give them a voice? Not our Polity! Not the voting system. Not the haves and the rich! So who? The only one that can indeed elevate them to a level of dignity is the fourth estate –our media - but barring an odd tv network group, is anyone else even interested in addressing these people or their plight or solutions to uplift them?

Our media is powerful. To influence opinions, swing moods, sway sentiments. But are they balanced in their reporting? I’d have to admit it’s a 50:50. Lots gets said and done in the heat of the moment but unfortunately there isn’t enough sustaining power! Some TV channels even mirror the unparliamentarian embarrassing squabbling, outshouting, yelling, accusing behaviour on TV making each of us realize what a undignified, unruly, uncouth lot we are! While some talk shows pretend to be intellectually driven other channels openly show favoritism and jaundiced personal views to either throw a panelist out of a debate by openly scorning him or slant the debate

If at times talk shows don’t end up becoming a platform for a blame game then the next attempt is to pre judge and hold people accountable before the law runs its course! O pls don’t take this to mean I am complaining- I love the 9pm Arnab News hour for its theatrics as much as I love the NDTV Big Fight – both offer popcorn entertainment and I’ll be lucky if at times I go away feeling and wishing the debate had continued a wee bit longer!

I think the Media folks are very astute. They have their fingers on the pulse of us viewing audiences. They know our need for exciting reporting (read entertainment) and they tailor to it. If we challenge them for more authentic, more right brained reporting - we will indeed receive it because we have the talent and the caliber of people who can deliver it. The point also is do we want good stuff? Are we ready and hankering for it? Or are we merely fence sitters who just like the rest of the nation love nit picking?:)

Wednesday

Do you care beyond YOU?



When was the last time you took it slow and easy? Sure, we have things to do, not much help, so many priorities, so little time, run here, do that, get there so on and so forth - but if we drive any faster will we have really busted the traffic and got to our destination by saving lots of time that would make a difference? If we honked incessantly would we have managed to clear the track to zip across and save lots of time to make a difference? If we had rolled down the window, abused all the wrong doings of the auto driver or the BEST bully or even the handcart guy would we have reached our designated place by saving time to make a difference?

Sure sometimes there are emergencies and those occasions may demand pace and hurriedness. But everyday doesn’t, you’ll agree? So if this hurry and speed isn’t about saving time, then why are we all in such a hurry? Everyday simply requires lot of patience, forgiving and a sense of humour-and life is not just bearable but pretty much satisfactory too.

I have now (more often than not) learnt to drive and soak in the multitude things on the track- watch the peanut seller on a traffic jammed highway sell moongfalli to the many cab and autowallahs but never approach my car, I have watched young brats selling paperbacks by mischievously pointing to ‘Ways to slim in 30days’ , have watched the palm trees gently sway against the billboards under the dull street lights and at times at night have tried to unravel if it is part of the billboard design or a real tree in its natural landscape casting its shadow on the resort ad on the billboard; When I consciously slow down to turn into the road that leads me home (despite it being wide like an airport tarmac) -I await the people crossing my path without honking once to allow them passage and in turn they hurriedly make way for me too- what a beautiful silent give and take takes place :) I then softly glide up to my gate where the 2 street dogs are always lazing – I roll down my window, look at them indulgently, have a telepathic conversation with them, allow them to slowly get on their paws - take their time to stretch and amble away from the car before I turn completely inside the drive way.

Well most days I do sincerely watch out for the passerby’s rather than speed past and spray them with rain water slush - there may be some days when some of the activities mentioned here get overlooked because of some nagging worry or frustration; but more often than not I try to remember to be patient, to be tolerant and more than anything else be appreciative of my haves versus those without:)

Like His Holiness the Dalai Lama says - We need to try and solve problems in a spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood, in a spirit of reconciliation and compromise. I try to do my bit. Do you? Who did you watch out for today? Did you smile today?:)

Sunday

Things I dislike about cricket


Things I dislike about cricket now that the World cup football is behind me

1. Footballers play in the thick of heavy rainfall and snowfall-why is it that a cricketer on the pretense of bad light can walk away half day?! Their fat salaries are paid by the people who have braved the rains and even sacrificed their earnings to come watch the game- so play you cricketers, complaint less!

2. I tend to dislike cricket as it is governed by administrators! Those handful of cricketers who are part of the Admin are so lackluster that clearly their existence on the panel is to justify legitimacy. As if! Remember David Ogilvy said the consumer-(in this case the cricket fan) - is not a moron. She is your Fan! So pay attention to the sport and on getting too smart you risk losing your fans!

3. I understand sports give a huge fillip to a nation. People are awesome proud in Spain today am sure. But does cricket have to become ‘we the BCCI are the richest of them all’ or ‘Mere pass Sachin Tendulkar hai” What is this dumb superiority inferiority complex all about. It’s only a game people. Be proud by all means, be aware of the fragile line that can make us arrogant and disliked the world over

4. The football world cup was an intense one month affair. The Wimbledon or Olympics get done in 2 weeks - why does cricket feel like an epic played over episodes and weeks and months?! Lets see some good intense hi caliber games and close it early. That way our ‘dil will maangae more’!

5. Despite the late hour telecast I struggled to stay awake to watch the football matches, never did I miss a single game (barring the opening game that is) – and yet with the long drawn out cricket affair, despite us being a cricket hungry nation - we cannot make the games enticing enough? Cheer leaders don’t do it for us!

6. Yes trp’s and revenue models are a must for TV telecast- but does that mean you gotta shove ads in every square inch of time? ! Do you realize we watch tv for the matches and not for ads - worst nightmare is when you squeeze an ad just in the thick of a tension filled point in the match or overplay your dumb ads and we lose to see a wicket is lost or a massive shot is played.

7. I like Sidhu- even think he is funny at times. But do we need commentators that jabber jabber so much during commentary- can we not keep it focused- don’t tell me the obvious- I can see, remember I am watching and not hearing alone!

8. You have technology in cricket unlike football. Yet you fail miserably in taking fair decisions. Perhaps we need complete technology next in places of umpires who turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to all that is wrong and incorrect on the field?!

9. Ahh my pet peeve- the managers of cricket are unable to get the red or the pink or the yellow Test match ball manufactured yet! Always defective and cannot be seen right under the flood lights right?!:) I mean are we in the 21st century living cutting edge creative solutions or are we back in the stone ages? Move on or you will be left behind.

10. IPL is a good thing that has happened to cricket. The governing body pls read my lips. Don’t screw the game because you have personal axe’s to grind with each other. Keep your petty politics aside or play your politics before or after the matches not during!

11. And finally learn the art of ‘short is sweet’ While you may put up the IPL and win the hearts of the public don’t convert a speaking opportunity to make a speech on famedom and fiefdom please.

Wednesday

Discrimination


What is the cause of discrimination? Why are we discriminated against? Why do we discriminate ourselves?

At a very basic level I think it is about superiority versus inferiority, have versus have nots, black versus white- whenever there is a comparison and one comes away feeling more advantaged there is discrimination. Take some instances: speaking rudely with the maid or security guard, throwing attitude in a restaurant if the reserved table is not available on time leading to angry voices creating discomfort for other diners.

Of course discrimination is about prejudices. In the power equation it is these prejudices that lead to wielding influence. To suppress and oppress. To inflict physical or emotional hurt. Or simply be insensitive or unthinking. Think of the time when an aunt simply turns up at your doorstep without any prior call to check your convenience? She may be welcomed but the situation causes you to resent her unconsciously. Or think of a wedding reception queue for dinner, when some few willful brash people cut across the queue to fill their own plates. Or in a holy place when an obviously rich family gets a direct entry from the side gate into the sanctum sanctorum while others wait patiently for hours for their turn.

Look at instances from everyday lives – A young talented recruit is made to run around tasks because the boss is stamping with authority. Differences in work load, pay scales are manifestation of the same discrimination. One ‘follow’s a fair skin person more closely as good looks soften up senses, average to ugly looks bring on negative emotions. People often slip into their mother tongues despite being aware of others presence who may not understand the same language – this is done most consciously with an intent to seclude

It’s our bags of bias’s and conditioning since childhood that manifest itself as discrimination. O and not to forget the age old discrimination of man versus woman! Gender bias is the stiffest of them all. Ever seen how wannabe Romeos size up girls on the road or at a railway station? Is that discrimination or wat? Lets not hide behind words as lack of courtesy or upbringing because deep inside it is rooted in discrimination

The reason I started writing this piece is because I heard that a columnist in the Time magazine wrote something inflammatory /discriminatory against Indians (living in NJ) and omg all Indians are up in arms against that American journalist. It makes headlines on prime news hour on tv. Well, ahhemm does his wrong make us feel more superior? More vitriolic? Or do we hide behind his faults to shield our own guilt at being discriminatory ourselves? Under the same guise don’t we inflict more hurt and more biases of our own?

The more diverse world we live in today, the more should be the tolerance, humility and courtesies. The more should be a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood. Ethnicity, age, gender, wealth have since long been used to advantage to oppress. Perhaps the real advantage will be if we could create common platforms, common values and common active advantages that benefit a larger group of communities than individuals. If we practice humane behaviour in our daily existence –if we treat others with the same respect we’d like to receive ourselves we will create awareness for inclusion, commitment, harmony and integration in the true meaning of the word. Practice it, preach it, encourage it- that is the way to un-condition our world and create better opportunities to live fulfilled lives.