Justice Markandey Katju claims that 90% of Indians are idiots. Methinks the man is being far too conservative – the figure should be closer to 99%! Let me hasten to add that I consider myself as prime among this majority, and quite revel in it!
The first sign of an idiot, as Dostoevsky says in his novel of the same name, is that he unthinkingly accepts his fate. And we Indians are the very personification of glum acceptance of the inevitability of our `kismet’. We are, what Kamala Das beguilingly called, `fatalists on stone benches’.
The mirror of any society is – or ought to be – its media. Pick up any mainstream newspaper, and what do you find? Ayaz Amir, the Pakistani columnist, was once in New Delhi, and spent the entire morning going through every national daily from cover to cover. At the end of the exercise, he says, he was no wiser on what was happening around the world. He was, of course, fully updated on all the gossip that did the rounds of the corridors of power, and who was going around with whom in Bollywood.
The Times of India devotes over 80% of its space to advertisements, another 10 to 15% on inane gossip, and only about 5% to serious news. Full-page ads are now splashed across their front pages, I kid you not! Ravi Dugal, who has worked intimately with the Jains who own the Times Group, rightly says that news and editorial content is only meant to fill in the spaces left after the ads have been inserted!
The `Pune Times’ supplement is aptly described by my kids as a `potty paper’ – ideal reading on the pot! Check the item on the masthead - `Poonam Pandey is better than Bipasha, says Amit Saxena’! I tell you!! To make matters worse, they now have their front pages as `half pages’ (vertically sliced), which makes it extremely cumbersome to unfold while precariously balanced on the `throne’! Sid was so incensed with this inanity, he promptly dashed off an angry letter to the Editor!
As for the high decibel electronic media, they are no better than dogs with a bone. The bone of the moment is the unfortunate and tragic gang rape in Delhi. They will chew on it mercilessly till someone throws them another bone – then this story will be promptly dumped, and the other one gleefully snatched. The reporters in the field have no grace, no manners – they think nothing of shoving a mike into a traumatised victim’s face and asking him how he/she is `feeling’.
The anchors are so loud, so crass, so filled with outrage they make my stomach churn. And yet, they are the true STARS – just check the channel ads, where they preen themselves so shamelessly! So utterly full of themselves these idiots don’t allow the guests to get in a word edgewise. Rude in their interruptions, arrogant in their self belief and utterly crass in their manners. The Radia tapes exposed them so thoroughly, and yet the same faces continue to hog the airwaves, screaming and hyperventilating themselves into a state of near apoplexy!
Justice Katju is right. We are idiots, period. Maybe we deserve these nincompoops, maybe they only reflect our own inner self. Is there a glimmer of hope anywhere? I fear not…
Ek hi ullu kaafi tha, barbaad gulistan karne ko
Anjam-e-gulistan kya hoga, har shaakh pe ullu baithe hain..