By Shafey Danish (NVONews.Com)
There are times when I look at news website, and the stories there are not new. Followups, aftermaths, analyses dominate the pages. This is the time I believe that crazy news, the type that really has no business being anywhere near the headlines, does become the headline. Bored journalists must do something to justify their salaries.
Had there been no Anna, then this would have been a silly season in India. And perhaps Anna became such a big story precisely because there was nothing happening elsewhere. Look at the top stories today for example. PM calls Mamta, says Hindustantimes, to assure her of Teesta agreement. This Teesta by the way is the river Teesta, which makes it a whole lot less interesting than the one with Setalvad as last name. I wouldn’t even have seen the story’s summary had I known it was some river water agreement. Actually, it is not even about an agreement. The story is simple about the PM calling Mamata. And this non-story is right there at the top.
Then of course one of Karnataka’s Reddys have been arrested. (Reddy who? Of the famous Reddy brothers, the mining barons, the ex-ministers in the cabinet of BS Yeddyurappa, that’s who), but this too was anticipated. Ever since Yeddyurappa himself was forced to resign over the illegal mining scandal, it was only a matter of time that the net will fall around the Reddys.
What else? Lets see. Tendulkar is injured, Sonia is recovering. Iran has said something, so has Digvijay. Omar Abdullah has opined on Kashmir, some more leaks from Wikileaks are here. There was a scuffle at Mubarak’s trial.
In other words, the usual.
There are two stories that gives one some pause. One, the Wikileak cables on Mayawati, which says she sent her private jet to fetch her sandals. And the second, a piece on Anna Effect.
The sandal story is only slightly more revolting than stories of statues of herself that Mayawati has built from public funds. But here is the fuzzy logic. The sandals actually cost only Rs 1000, but the cost of fetching it by chartered plane went upto Rs 10 lakhs. She could have bought any sandal in the whole wide world with that kind of money. She could have brought an entire store full of sandals with Rs 10 lakhs, but apparently this did not strike Maya. One need not look further to find reasons behind financial mismanagement in many of the states.
The second piece is altogether more interesting. It lists action being taken by governments in various states against corruption. Janardhan Reddy has been arrested. UP dropped its defense of Awadhpal Singh, the Husbandry Minister who had ordered that his son be awarded contracts for building 14 hospitals without tenders. Bihar has confiscated the property of SS Verma, suspended IAS officer.
Tamil Nadu has recovered land from land grabbers and restored it to its owners. A BJP strongman exited crying from a Lokayukta court.
All good news. It is only when something changes for the better that you realize how bad things were formerly. Imagine Janardhan Reddy still as a minister, Verma getting away, UP government succeeding in keeping Yadav as a minster, imagine all the 415 crore worth of land in the hands of the landgrabbers and you will feel the shock and horror of our present system. These things – and much, much worse – are so normal that a break from them seems like the breaking of dawn. That was the good news, the bad news is that crimes of the same type are still happening.
The ones who have been caught are the point of the tip of the iceberg. But two things follow from here. One, the state agencies, not hobbled by politics, and with a little spur in their sides can actually make an extra Lokayukta redundant. And secondly, just if such things are still happening why is it that we have a dearth of news at all?
The reason, could be summed up in one word: TRP. For the print and internet media, it is readership and clicks respectively. Stories of corruption, of death and disease, of crimes, are simply not as interesting as who Shahid Kapoor considers hot. They don’t get as many eyeballs.
Thus while the farmers are still very much in distress in the countryside, that story has all but disappeared from the media.
Silly media, makes for silly seasons.