Television news. Anarchists. Special Status for UP! And that man-who-wants-to-be-Pradhan Mantri so baaad. Sherna Gandhy takes them on.
Almost everyone I know can't bear the shrill dramatics that pass for prime time news these days.
Some of us put up with the smart-ass presenters and brainless panelists for some 10 minutes max.
If rumours of a major channel going through some sackings and restructuring are correct, the public's disgust is having some effect.
Recently, I read a defence of this type of -- I hesitate to call it -- journalism. The defence consisted of a comparison to -- of all things -- Doordarshan!
The apologist for today's version of news coverage explained that those who criticise the current shouting matches and pompous presenters are stuck in a time warp and are unable to understand the 'powerful new changes underway'!
What those who prefer news to be news and not a Shakespearean comedy and tragedy rolled into one, are missing, is that the shouting, insults, incoherence and total lies is all so vibrant; it is democracy in action; it is bringing the aam aadmi closer to their leaders.
If the leaders only knew how idiotic they appeared to the aam aadmi, they would probably never step into another studio. But who's to tell them?
Not the purveyors of this brand of broadcasting who actually believe they are engaged in a noble mission -- that of empowering us ordinary folk! Yes, I kid you not.
Not only are we 'aspiring to buy designer shoes and emulate the powerful', we also 'want access to news that truly empowers ordinary lives.'
Since at the end of these 'empowering' debates not a single person in the audience is any better informed of the issue being fought over, nor have we gained a single insight worth gaining, I can only assume that Ms Journalist lives permanently in the cloud cuckooland of the TV studio. Or she has been ordered by her bosses to give a boost to a sister media entity that has got more than its share of flak for the airs it gives itself.
Hamid Ansari has hit the nail on the head.
Since politicians have an aversion to the truth, especially when it involves them, the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, took instant exception to the Rajya Sabha chairperson's despairing remark ('Every single rule, every single etiquette, is being violated. If the honourable members wish the House to become a federation of anarchists, then it's a different thing').
Anarchist, Jaitley said, is a term that is unparliamentary.
Those of us with much better manners than our parliamentarians would instantly respond that there are few things as unparliamentary as the behaviour of our parliamentarians inside the House on several occasions.
Procedures and decorum are thrown to the wind, everyone shouts, marches up and down, prevents others from speaking, and wants only his or her own voice to be heard.
In fact, any true anarchist would probably consider it an insult to be compared to an Indian MP.
The only thing that is not phony about Narendra Modi 'reaching out' to the Muslims is the hard fact that in order to get the position he is salivating for, he will have to 'appease' -- to use his party's favourite word -- the minority community.
A man who cannot bring himself to say straightforwardly that, yes, he is sorry for the massacre that took place in his state (even if he doesn't take responsibility, an aversion common to leaders of all parties), and who is seen in all sorts of strange headgear to appease every other grouping, but can't bear to don traditional Muslim headgear, is not 'altering course' as an editorial in one of our big dailies urges us to believe.
Even less is he experiencing a change of heart.
He is merely being ruthlessly pragmatic by paying lip service to a community whose numbers he now thinks he needs if he is to take his revenge on the country for turning its back on him post 2002.
The only thing that distinguishes the BJP from any other party is its communal agenda. That is what appeals to those who vote for it.
And while Narendra Modi has undoubtedly added another and far more appealing plank to that agenda by positioning himself as the messiah of development and good governance (without spelling out a syllable of either), there is no way he or the party can jettison the communal agenda and still have a distinct identity.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee managed it, but Modi comes nowhere near Vajpayee's stature.
So, like everything else, it just comes down to who you can promise the most number of things to.
To industrialists, free run of the state to do what they will; to Gen X as it is called rhetorical speeches about change and strong governance which none of these supposedly bright young minds have the wit to question; and now some unspecified -- reaching out -- to the Muslims.
Thus he hopes to reach the 272-plus number that he needs to be what he is itching to be, our next Pradhan Mantri.
Special status for Uttar Pradesh!
The state that is headed by a young man we were informed would be the new messiah after stepping into the shoes of his experienced papa in the best Indian dynastic tradition.
With the energy of youth and the experience of old age guiding it, this was one backward state, we were given to believe, that would shake off its medieval present and enter a more modern future.
Instead, here are Samajwadi Party members of the Rajya Sabha calling for special treatment for the state, which usually means just one thing -- more monetary assistance from the central government.
Most of us would read that as an admission of failure. If you can't make do on the income you generate, you are either a very bad manager, or a spendthrift. But such logic apparently does not apply to governments that routinely overspend.
You will not get Akhilesh Yadav's government to admit that it needs special treatment because he doesn't know how to govern and is running the economy into the ground.
He is just copying Nitish Kumar, another man hailed as the saviour of a backward state -- Bihar -- when he was elected chief minister eight years ago.
He is said to have actually wrought many improvements and Bihar is said to be gradually but definitely losing its label of being a certified basket case.
Yet, Nitishji too wants special treatment.
Of course, with a general election not too far off, and the Congress-led government on a very, very, sticky wicket, it needs as many allies as it can grab, so all these potential allies may actually get the 'special treatment' they demand.
Nobody can call India a poor country.
It is a country where money is simply mis-spent in the most blatant manner.