Be forewarned these ramblings are views masquerading as news.

Voices Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 05:30
By Shruti Pandalai Be forewarned these ramblings are views masquerading as news – hey, just in case the nation wants to know! Methinks..ie as the “aam admi”, there is something surely wrong with the attention span of us mango people. Every day the churnings of this nation leave me more baffled. Have you not felt this? As the common Indianisms’ go – “are we really like this only?” One day we are celebrating the winds of political change in the capital sticking our thumbs out to the ‘corrupt’ Congress and BJP and praising the courage of Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi party; next we are lamenting on how people like him are running a “mob-o-cracy”. Not that one is a fan of either, but the point is how fickle are we? Are we questioning the lack of ideology or policy frameworks and the weakness of the only anti-corruption agenda topped with the theatrics; or are we simply finding that the people’s revolution (that we so loved) is getting too cumbersome – with the dharnas and metro shutdowns meddling with our routine. “We want to care – but hello we have a life! It’s not like things are going to change overnight”; says this junior colleague, who last December was proudly flaunting her vote for AAP. Sigh. **** Cut to January 26th 2014, I am elated to have secured seats to the Republic Day parade and has me trussed up on a cold January, Sunday morning at 6 am. We (my husband and I) dutifully go park our car in the allotted parking lot, wait patiently in line to be led to the designated buses that drop us off to the stands where we again wind our way around serpentine queues to ensure we are seated in our stands before 9 am. It was too organised to be true and just when I was about to be impressed by the efficiency of the Indian system, cold icy winds jolted me back to reality! As soon as we reached the gate – a stampede broke out as the resigned delhi policemen told us, “sorry, but the seats got filled up by VIPs and their families!” Decorated officers broke decorum and flouted rank, bureaucrats puffed up their chests and threatened the cops, the public tried to break the barricade and got lathi charged. Nothing worked, not even the hysterics. As we watched the drama unfold, one old cop looked at both of us said, “Why did you even bother, should have watched it on tv. Why are you ruining your Sunday? Hindustan mein yehi sab chalta hai.” Long live the republic! – I suppose.. **** In my current avatar as a wannabe policy wonk, I have to sit through some interesting and very many torturous expositions on India’s strategic culture and vision. Many luminaries here are very kind to break the ice with (comparatively) young me, either by poking fun at my former editor-in-chief or criticising the state of the media. Yet some of these very same people are on panels of the very frothing editors, they lament. So should you blame the messenger? Yes partly because the message is getting dumbed down by the minute, but how do you circumvent the numbers argument? The Foreign office figures indicate that Indian interest in world news is 70% related to the US, 15% to Pakistan, 10% to China and the 5% features the rest of the world. An editor once told me that investing in a foreign policy show was a waste of time since it would be an extension of “UGC classroom programming” ie no one will watch it. When our vision is so myopic, why do we get so hassled when that 5% of the world does not endorse our aspirations for a seat at the UNSC.? Are we the people really interested in how India conducts its foreign policy? Or is it each issue to its politics?- for SL there is Tamil Nadu, for Bangladesh there is West Bengal and Assam , for China there is Arunachal and the north east. Pakistan of course comes with its own baggage. Even when we quiz Prime Ministerial nominees on national prime time on their vision for their nation – it is the clever sound-byte taking pot shots at the opposition or a corruption scandal, the conduct and influence of Indian foreign policy is rarely debated. Foreign office decisions are often criticised as adhoc, reactive and sitting on the fence, but really when one is so overwhelmed with the domestic, who is looking at the external? How does one then reconcile these global aspirations of an emerging India simultaneously with the pure lack of interest in the rest of the world?*****I was stuck in a lift in Mumbai with the talented actor Shabana Azmi and her lyricist screen writer husband Javed Akhtar, the power couple from Bollywood, after a noon show of the newly released Highway. I was telling my sister how uncomfortable I felt at the audiences hooting and laughing during a stoic scene where the young heroine recounts her horror as a 9 year old being subjected to sexual abuse by her uncle in her own house! Just then Javed saab said loudly “ We should not make such sensitive films for these audiences – such imbeciles- they deserve the slap stick and innuendo filled tamasha” – not a soul in the lift sniggered after that.****Well if nothing else frightens you, the guests on popular Bollywood Director Karan Johar’s coffee show should. Most of these ‘youth icons’ don’t know who the current prime minister of India is.! ****“But I guess..we are like this only” (Shruti Pandalai is a television journalist and a foreign policy analyst currently on a research fellowship with a think tank based out of new delhi. These views are personal and do not represent any organisation. When not trying to achieve global domination for India, Shruti loves all things satire, travel and is a dessert slave. Send her feedback on @shrutipandalai) The opinions expressed in this articles are the personal opinions of the author. The News Minute is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability or validity of any information in this article. The information, facts or opinions appearing in this article do not reflect the views of The News Minute and The News Minute does not assume any liability on the same.

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