I wasn’t surprised when I picked up the yesterday’s newspaper this morning before occupying my throne to see first four pages with advertisements of companies which are making a fast buck these days. Thanks to the demonetisation storm. Out of which two pages were dedicated to another set of advertisements related to some luxury apartments being made by a not very well known real estate company. Not well known to me at least but the prices quoted appeared beyond my imagination, to the tune of one crore for a three bed room flat. Oops beyond my comprehension, assimilation and understanding. Well, if I had to spend so much for a pig sty, I might as well buy a hen’s coop in a remote place which will be more than the area of that project itself. Well, anyways my theme is not to bash the real estate people or the companies promoting e-wallets but to bash the so called paid media. A full page advertisement would cost the advertiser around Rs 60 Lakhs in a leading daily in Delhi to a crore in Mumbai. A pan India ad campaign can be availed at a rate of Rs 9000/sq cm. Good heavens and God save the common man from the news papers which is more of ads than news.
What surprised me that the main news was well camouflaged and hidden within the news paper as if it was of no consequence. Actually if you see the headlines that AMMA passed away had become of no significance to the news papers or in fact for the media. Every news channel was standing outside the Apollo hospital, as if they somehow had a means to see the soul of the departed leader leaving the hospital gates. Every channel was standing there as if to claim to inform India that she is no more. Each channel in the mean time had dug out all footage they had ever recorded on her. The research teams were busy digging out sound bites in which ever language she gave. Tamil interpreters were busy overtime translating every word she ever spoke into English and other languages. Every channel was running her old interviews etc, well; the whole nation was paying respects to the departed leader in some ways. No sir, not the media. Media was gathering TRPs and eyeballs. News papers were printing advertisements and making money. No one from the media was actually interested in her personality as such. That is my feeling and I am sharing it with you, right or wrong is immaterial. I found the media connecting with her for running their shows only. The news papers hid her in the ads and moved her to the tenth page where a very few go in today’s 140 character twitter world.
Though, I was not in direct touch with this lady but I started to admire her in my hind sight. The reason was she became the Chief Minister of her state six times. It is a feat if not a miracle. How she did it? How she managed it? How she governed? How she gave herself to her people, is a matter of awe for sure. I was in Tamil Nadu for a year from May of 1998 to May of 1999. What I could gather was that food was cheap, accommodation was cheap, non-veg was superb and there was no rowdyness on the streets. People were nice and friendly. People spoke in Hindi and you were not considered to be a stranger. Well, people still mistake me for a “Thambi”, due to the colour of my skin, and seriously I took a lot of advantage of this. Many of my seniors who became my pals gave me lot of lift as they mistook me for being a tamilian in NDA. Worst was as I roamed the streets of Coimbatore etc people used to start in chaste Tamil and I had to politely tell them “Tamil illay” (I don’t know Tamil). They used to think I am joking. Well, between what they thought and what they used to say; we used to finish our shopping. That is how I remember Conoor and Ooty. Lovely days, lovely times and lovely memories we had in the salubrious climate of that place above all the lovely friends we made there.
My apologies folks for drifting into nostalgia again. Last two days, I haven’t seen any channel covering the ATM queues, the banking woes or the farmer’s problems. I suppose there was a cricket test match which India won against some country, or was it a one day match. India has broken all ties with Pakistan after the surgical strike, but the Indian ladies cricket team played against Pakistan and won, was nowhere in the news. Why were they playing with Pakistan, when the men’s hockey and cricket team have refused to play with them? Why was most of the media sleeping or not covering it? INS BETWA toppled over became a head line for a few moments, but why should media be bothered as another ship is written off. The navy and the defence ministry will roll heads, isn’t it? Amma news needs to be on every channel, or else people will switch to different channels. The firing from Pakistan side along the LoC continues unabated, the counter terrorist ops in the Kashmir valley continue unabated, but media was busy looking into its TRPs. The news to cover the other martyrs’ suddenly disappeared in the background not even to find a mention in the ticker, because the CM of a state was being laid to rest. Every leader of political class was looking for an opportunity to give a byte, but no one bothered about the train accident victims. Suddenly India was made to forget the horrendous Kanpur train mishap. This is Media and its power to brainwash the common man.
Well, do I blame myself for my small attention span? Do I blame the commercialisation of both the print and the televised media? Or Do I blame the consumer of this media? Do I blame the owners of the media houses for feeding us what they think should be fed to the common man? Do I blame the anchors of news shows who more or less are biased and portray to play the devil’s advocate on our behalf? Well, there is one who used to do this show. Though he doesn’t have the two glowing horns, and the pointy tail he still looks and conducts himself like a devil alright. Do I blame the gullible janta for enjoying the “noise for more than an hour” on a news channel? Or, is it that every household has a “big fight” and it becomes a ghar char ki kahani to be enjoyed with a snack and a drink before having dinner. Or is it “we the people” who don’t see through this smoke screen media is creating for us. Or have we got used to being thrashed by the media “left right and centre”. I don’t know.
Well folks, my respects to Amma and may her soul rest in peace. My prayers for the people of Tamil Nadu, may they get a leader of even better calibre than her. But I want to state with utter disgust, that today news papers are just good enough to print ads and tender notices, and the most News channels are feeding us nonsense in high decibels. I have decided that I shall henceforth use news papers only for making my compost carbon rich, packing my shoes and cover household stuff. Also, I shall shift to country music to avoid the noise in the news which might be affecting my health if I continue to take the poison they are feeding me. I am going to watch the butterflies in my garden, watch my flowers bloom, watch the moon and the stars, see the waves of the sea splashing at my feet, watch the sun rise and set and enjoy the beautiful hillocks with the calm of the river flowing by. I will write what comes to my mind; I will do what will help me stay calm. Hey folks time now to switch tracks, anyone coming my way, I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!