Breaking Down News: Oddly Even

Among the three big issues of the week, Delhi’s odd-even scheme hogged the limelight and the volume of debate generated on TV and social media

Written by Pratik Kanjilal | Updated: December 12, 2015 12:45:50 am
delhi odd even cards, delhi odd even scheme, delhi traffic, delhi pollution, delhi pollution control, delhi govt pollution scheme, arvind kejriwal, aap govt car scheme, odd even scheme fines, NGT, india news, delhi news, ncr news Ambulance between in Huge Traffic jam at NH 24 due kawarian in New Delhi on Monday. (Source: Express Photo by Prem Nath Pandey)

David Headley, Delhi’s odds and evens scheme and the National Herald fracas — three great stories fit to drive the media wild. But Arnab Goswami isn’t around to decide whether to lynch Headley or the people who pardoned him, so his channel is giving more attention to the Park Street gangrape case, and wonders if Mamata Banerjee will finally be shamed. The National Green Tribunal is less than enthusiastic about Delhi’s traffic scheme, while the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers feels that it will contribute to its members’ coffers, and it could all come a cropper in a matter of days. The Congress tactic on the National Herald matter is so baffling that Arun Jaitley sputters that this protest, too, is manufactured because it happens only in the House, not on the street. Meanwhile, serial hitman Subramanian Swamy has clarified to Rajdeep Sardesai that it’s the law that matters, and for once, one finds
him reasonable.

Among the three big issues of the week, the volume of debate generated on TV and social media about Delhi’s traffic curbs has done the needful – citizens are sure that action must be taken to contain pollution, and they are equally sure that the despatch with which it is being done violates several human rights.

The political stories of the last few days convey a sense of an ending. Sharad Pawar’s 75th birthday celebrations in Delhi, Baramati and Mumbai signal the end of his electoral career, and the beginning of higher ambitions. In Maharashtra as in Bihar, it is time for children to step up to the crease, and it is rumoured that Pawar seeks elevation to the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Getting Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh to share a stage with Narendra Modi, which was keenly noted by the media, was a crucial gesture.

It now stands proven beyond reasonable doubt that the India-Pakistan peace process can only proceed meaningfully far away from the raucous media of the subcontinent. Insecure about the forests of cameras which sprout around every pronouncement here, the national security advisors of the two countries fled to Bangkok to speak sub rosa. The talks, seen only in a pointedly low-quality cellphone photograph, seemed to have borne fruit. NDTV reported that the two countries will resume sporting relations with a short limited-overs series. This is as momentous as Sushma Swaraj’s visit — and the prime minister’s projected visit — to Pakistan.

But let’s wait and watch, as seasoned (and possibly pickled) editorial writers recommend. Now that the TV channels are seized of these matters, maybe it’ll all end in one gigantic prime time caterwaul. Times Now will trot out its collection of derelict Pakistani generals and mothballed spooks, the designated Christians who are ceremonially eaten by India’s lions on such occasions. The violence visited upon them must be far greater than anything they ever faced in the battlefield, while in harness. The Twitter trolls are on about how Narendra Modi was given the mandate for moving against Pakistan, not schmoozing with it.

And as always, defying preconceptions, the foreign news is even more exciting than the domestic flavour. Like, there’s the dramatic story of laundering from an undisclosed location is the US, which came out when a North Korean couple who run a laundry, filed a defamation suit in Seoul against three more defectors from the north for bad-mouthing them in TV talk shows. Ri Kang is married to Ko Yong-Suk, Kim Jong-un’s aunt — an uncle by marriage, in short. They were the boy’s guardians when he was in finishing school in Switzerland, and defected from there instead of returning home, fearing a power struggle. And indeed, the younger Kim finished off another uncle. Now, will another protectee saga unfold to rekindle Sly Stallone’s acting career? Or will some US publisher shoot for an autobiography that will make Sharad Pawar’s look as flat as last week’s soda?

In such things, location matters. If Ri and Ko were somewhere in Asia, the world’s TV news would not have picked
up their story. Meanwhile, other refugees from Kim in the first world have surfaced on English-speaking TV, to assure the world’s leader writers that the man is no laughing matter.

Location had also been a feature of a strange story from mid-November, when an airliner made an emergency landing in a Bulgarian airport after a bomb scare and prime minister Boyko Borisov brushed it off as a case of “a drunken Pole talking rubbish”. It was reported without comment all over the world, but there would have been hell to pay if the US president had said the very same thing. Or consider: Aaj Tak shows a paddleboat sent out to clean up a stretch of the Ganga at Varanasi for Shinzo Abe’s visit. Can you fancy something similar happening on the Thames? In such matters, it’s location, location, location.

pratik.kanjilal@expressindia.com

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