Thursday, May 15, 2008

Jaipur Blasts

The tragic blasts inside the walled city of Jaipur has brought out the worst yet again in our private TV channels. A whole lot of talking heads have emerged out of the woodwork, everyone from Defense Analysts (how does one become a DA - is there a Bachelor's or Master's Degree for it 'BDA' or 'MDA'??), Anti Terror experts (again, perhaps with BAT degrees no doubt), out of work diplomats and the usual hawks from various Delhi 'think tanks'. NDTV had a mind numbingly boring discussion session at the Narain Niwas hotel in Jaipur where politicians of every hue, bureaucrats (mostly retired), intellectuals (what DD and AIR used to at one time call 'Buddhi Jeevi') providing the Government advice on how to prevent such attacks in the future. As expected the BJP MPs blamed the Central Govt. for poor intelligence and being soft on terror, the Congress MPs blamed the BJP state Government and the rest blamed everyone else. No content, no insight, no nuance, absolutely nothing. Times Now with Arnab Goswami lined up an impressive list of experts - Defense Analysts (again!!) both from India and Pakistan, a former head of ISI in Pakistan, G. Parthasarathy, former Indian ambassador in Pakistan, BJP MP Rudy all talking simultaneously and at cross purposes, but not for long since Arnab as usual did most of the talking. The nadir was of course plumbed by Headlines Today/Aaj Tak where an almost hysterical, breathless and over excited reporter kept showing a video that had been sent to the channel by email, purportedly showing the cycle with a blue bag strapped to the carrier. This was shown interminably while the reporter droned on about the email address and how it was sent immediately to the Intelligence Agencies (because they are a Responsible Channel) forgetting that an email address can be trivially spoofed. Aaj Tak decided there was no need to show anything else, this in their opinion being a scoop. At some point, he even got confused and said the terrorists had sent it only to them because (yes, you guessed it) they are a Responsible Channel. (This evening, NDTV gleefully reported that the video that was apparently sent to various channels has turned out to be a hoax, whatever that means since in any case the video had very little content). And so it goes. Not once did I see a balanced, nuanced, serious discussion of this issue. Almost makes you want to go back to the days of those stodgy discussions held on Doordarshan.

1 comment:

AMOK said...

Basu Ji, like you, many of us were upset by the blasts in the lovely city of Jaipore. I know, Jaipur, sorry. As you know, the purpose of private channels is to make as much money as possible, per unit time. Did they show any nice ads, interspersed with bombing news? Perhaps not -- but I am sure in some mind the motion picture is taking shape, to be released some years from now to avoid the charge of insensitivity.

That said, people watch the news with the question "can it happen to me?" first and foremost, followed by "thank heavens it did not happen to ME"! Eyeballs=money, which makes the world go round. Of course you know all this. CNN "News" has the same verbal diarrhoea with endless experts and non-stop commentary. The "off" switch is the best response.

As for DA/MDA/BDA -- this is anyone who will be credible in the eyes of the public. For example, you could come as the thesis DA ( he defended his thesis ...) and I could come as the Dubya Analyst, ie, running AMOK. These analysts have some comfort to offer, no cure. Besides, a balanced, nuanced, serious discussion on TV would arm the (pro-blast) viewers with a knowledge to thwart the cure.