'Here's a list of the things we should be reading more about in the media,' says Mitali Saran.
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
There's nothing quite like pre-election buzz, is there?
It's all very fast-moving and exciting, except that it's actually just a mesh of dissonance, provoked to drown out dull but important election issues with catchy but dangerous nonsense that can become election issues.
Then the buzz starts to rise until you're plugging your ears, holding your head, and caroming off the walls like a trapped wasp.
The key to preventing a nervous breakdown is to maintain your course in choppy seas, sort the wheat from the chaff, figure out what's important, and ignore the babbling rest.
Here's a brief non-exhaustive list of the kinds of things we read about constantly in the media, in no particular order:
1. Hardik Patel’s sex tape (Ed: The most boring sex tape in the history of sex tapes.)
2. Padmavati (Ed: The most widely unwatched movie in the history of cinema.)
3. Is Rahul Gandhi a Hindu and if so, how much of a Hindu? (Ed: Eyeroll)
4. People are vowing to protest against Aparna Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav's daughter-in-law, because she danced to one of the songs from Padmavati at a family function. They are planning to burn effigies of Aparna. (Ed: Facepalm.)
5. The PM was very poor. (Ed: But now he wears Bvlgari and That Suit.)
6. Are you patriotic enough? (Ed: None of your business.)
7. Bullet train. (Ed: Facepalm.)
8. Gujarat is being insulted. (Ed: See above)
9. Amit Shah was brought up simply, eating out of brass utensils while his sister ate out of silver utensils. He enjoys music, especially the mridangam, and adores his granddaughter. (Ed: I’m going to be sick.)
10. How the Caravan magazine story about the suspicious death of Judge Loya, is wrong and full of holes and thin and weak and who reads Caravan anyway.
Here's a brief non-exhaustive list of the kinds of things that we should be reading more about in the media, in no particular order:
1. The status of Aadhaar, which is slated to be heard in the courts but keeps being put off, even as the deadline to link it to banks, mobiles and so on looms ever closer.
If those hearings do not result in a stay on the government's directive to link it to everything including the kitchen sink, you can say farewell to your privacy and anonymity.
2. Unemployment, the jobs crisis, and the economy, hard hit by demonetisation and GST.
3. Widespread social and sexual terrorism directed at women and children, and encouraged by many public figures.
4. Alleged huge debt waivers for large companies at the expense of individual taxpayers.
5. Crony capitalism, including the nexus between government and businessmen wearing godmen/yogi robes.
6. Hazardous and largely unaddressed pollution and contamination of air, water, and food.
7. Escalating communal polarisation.
8. Assassinations of journalists and rationalists.
9. The failure of law enforcement to protect freedom of speech and expression, control violence, and stand up to political pressure.
10. Continuing untrammelled corruption.
11. Unreliable electronic voting machines
12. Government resistance to judicial oversight, as with the Rajasthan government's ordinance (defeated by the high court) requiring government sanction to order inquiries into public servants.
13. Dilution of the Right to Information Act, and veils retained over electoral campaign finance and political party funding.
14. Educational institutions bowing to unreasonable disruption and censorship by groups like the ABVP, and school textbooks saffronising education to the point of trying to erase whole prime ministers.
15. The judiciary treating an adult woman like a minor, annulling her marriage, sending her back to her parents, and appointing guardians for her.
16. The increasing militarisation of ideologically-motivated religious groups including children, as in Uttar Pradesh.
17. Audits of official accountability and competence.
18. Audits of how public funds are being used, and of the efficacy of various government programmes -- the Swachch Bharat Mission -- compared to the official rhetoric on efficiency and success.
19. The officially-backed strangulation of education, rationality and scientific temper in India.
20. The contemptible roll over of media, especially broadcast media, into government servitude.
21. Callous disregard for the environment.
22. How the Caravan magazine story about the suspicious death of Judge Loya throws up a lot of questions and needs to be formally investigated.
Voila! Focus on the important stuff, and the rest of the buzz will fall away.
You will hear only the clear, synchronised sound of large numbers of alarm bells.
Oops, looks as if the nervous breakdown might happen anyway. You're welcome.