Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Brilliant articles by Shourie on Indian Politics and media

Found some old articles written by Shourie in the Indian Express,

(How the Indian media has mis-handles important issues and glorifies gossip)

"They drew even sharper attention to an incident that had occurred just three weeks earlier. For as long as anyone could remember, there had been a statue of the Buddha — well inside Indian territory. Local inhabitants used to go up to it — pray, make their offerings. The local commander of the Chinese troops had told Indian soldiers that the statue must be removed. Our soldiers had pointed out that the statue was well within Indian territory, and so there was no question of removing it. The Chinese had come, and blown off the statue..."

‘But what did the NDA do about the incursions?’ another member of that clutch demanded. First, the head of the force at the border has spoken about the incursions that have taken place this year, in 2007, I pointed out. What could the NDA government have done about them? But assume that incursions were taking place then, and that the NDA government did nothing. Does that in any way become reason for not doing anything today? Please do have some mercy on our country, I said. Here is China claiming our territory; here it is, having begun that well-rehearsed series of steps which precede a grab. Are we going to divert ourselves from that reality by the usual ‘tu-tu, mein-mein, NDA vs UPA?’"

‘But are you sure about the facts or is the BJP indulging in its usual fear-politics?’ the anchor asks. But why don’t you ascertain them from the two MPs who represent the area? I respond. Better still, why don’t you send your own correspondents and photographers to the area? I inquire. We will, we will, I assure you. I was just making sure...

In any case, look at what the ambassador of China has himself said, I remarked. Remember, just days before Hu Jintao, the Chinese President, was to come to India, the ambassador declared, right here on Indian soil, that Arunachal is a part of China...

‘But maybe he was saying it for rhetorical effect,’ said the anchor.

Rhetorical effect? I skipped a heartbeat. Is the Chinese Ambassador also running after TRP ratings like the TV channels? Would an ambassador say such things just for effect? And that too the ambassador of China, of all countries? You mean an ambassador, you mean the ambassador of China of all countries would claim the territory of the country to which he is accredited, that he would lay claim to an entire state of that country for rhetorical effect? I asked."

(On how Hindus are being forced to become violent)

There is a real vice here. The three great religions that originated in Palestine and Saudi Arabia — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — have been exclusivist — each has insisted that it alone is true — and aggressive. The Indic religions — Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism — have been inclusive, they have been indulgent of the claims of others. But how may the latter sort survive when it is confronted by one that aims at power, acquires it, and then uses it to enlarge its dominion? How is the Indic sort to survive when the other uses the sword as well as other resources — organised missionaries, money, the state — to proselytise and to convert? Nor is this question facing just the Hindus in India today. It is facing the adherents of Indic traditions wherever they are: look at the Hindus in Indonesia and Malaysia; look at the Buddhists in Tibet, now in Thailand too."

(An especially good article on how the media fabricated data on the nuclear deal to get public support for the congress)

But that was not the end. Polishing up the deal further, the Hindustan Times informed its readers that by 2050, an astronomical “200,000 MW of nuclear energy can be produced”. We would presumably have more reactors by then than the whole world has today. As my friend T.C.A. Rangachari once said, “Jo hyper-bole so nihal.”

This has been one of the main strengths of the government over the past two years — the utter innumeracy of our media exceeded only by its utter willingness to put out anything. “Killer amendments dropped, India’s concerns taken care of,” the papers proclaimed — when, in fact, as even the most cursory glance would have shown, each and every one of the clauses was very much a part of the Act. “Objectionable clauses non-binding,” they proclaimed — when, in fact, neither our government nor that of the US was able to furnish any list of which clauses were binding and which were non-binding, and, of course, the Act itself made no such distinction.

But the enthusiasts had a ready reason for not studying the Act! “Laden with numbing bureaucratese and legalese,” The Times of India declared on its front page, in its — what else should one call it? — “analytical report” of the Hyde Act on December 9, 2006, “littered with sections, sub-sections, clauses, sub-clauses and footnotes, it has enough statements, caveats and requirements to make heads spin”.

How much easier then to just concoct! For it isn’t the precise figure that propagandists count on remaining in the mind, nor the precise assertion but the general impression — in this case, that the nuclear deal will light up the bulbs, that the concerns which had been expressed have been met. How much easier to abuse: those who were pointing to the provisions of the US legislation were charged with being “obsessed with clauses and sub-clauses”, to be “anti-deal jihadis”. And to put out stories, ‘Advani softens’ ‘Rajnath says if concerns met...’ I had attended every single meeting of the BJP leaders at which the nuclear deal was deliberated upon. At no meeting at all had the leaders felt that either new evidence or new argument had surfaced which required that the assessment be changed. And yet, ‘BJP softens...’ And this after written statements were put out repeatedly over the signatures of the principal leaders themselves."

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