Consumers – we are built to believe that any “offer” is a good offer. We like the end-of-season sales even if it means buying not-of-season clothes, we love buying that iced tea just because it has a free shaker and not because we need it. That’s us. And this consumerism has spilled on to the Indian media on a heavy-duty basis. Long time ago. Our dear darling media loves taking one issue and trying to fit as many issues – related or not – that can latch on to it. And now we are one step ahead, we have gone international!
While watching the coverage on the Scottish referendum here in UK, I remember saying in jest to my husband how the reporting back home would have so much more masala and high-pitch sensation on an Indian channel. As if to prove my point, Rajdeep Sardesai did what he did, just when I thought he couldn’t out do himself.
Hang on. I know many are infuriated by the “heckling” at Madison Square. If no one else, I would have been the first to support him. I grew up admiring this guy and my journalistic aspirations were catalyzed every time I saw him reporting passionately. This adulation dwindled over time. But that’s another story.
When I first saw a partial clip of the incident outside Madison Square, I thought surely the crowd must have instigated him enough to make him get physical and use abusive language. He is human after all and is bound to react. I was tempted to post my opinion on social media – but I wasn’t getting a full picture anywhere. Clipped vidoes, one-sided opinions, first-hand witnesses – all spoke from one angle. No complete picture till I saw the videos posted by guruprasad.net. And then it all made sense. And caused shame.
Let’s think logically – if you are at Madison Square to cover Narendra Modi’s address, what would you typically ask the crowds outside? Top of my mind, I am thinking “What would you like Mr.Modi to address in his speech today?”, “Do you follow Indian politics as an NRI?”, “Do you think the Modi government will deliver what they promise?” or “As a person of Indian origin, do you see yourself going back to India or doing something for India?” Instead, what came in is a barrage of crassly framed questions and quotes from an economist on the pooja culture of Indians in America and how they want to pose in front of cameras but don’t do anything for their country. Now, now, now. You can ask the crowd anything and you are allowed to have an opinion. But if you were so concerned about the contribution of NRIs towards India, hire a studio in US/UK/Australia, call people from different industries and cities, and ask them whatever you desire and quote whoever you wish to unabashedly. Instead, you try to maximize out of an event by asking unrelated questions to a crowd and instigate them unnecessarily. Crass but well played on TRP and social media!
I don’t know if this was orchestrated by sections of the media, I don’t know if the people got into a mob frenzy. All I know is that I wanted to hear what Mr.Modi wanted to say to the people in America, but I got my doze of unwanted masala free!