Saturday, Nov 22, 2014

Blaming the question paper

What the nation wants to know is what Rahul Gandhi and his UPA team have done to “change the system”. (PTI) What the nation wants to know is what Rahul Gandhi and his UPA team have done to “change the system”. (PTI)
Posted: February 14, 2014 3:16 am

Rahul Gandhi cannot get away with wandering generalities on empowering women and changing the system

By any yardstick, Rahul Gandhi’s maiden interview did little to improve his image. Viewers were perplexed and bewildered by his persistent refusal to give a single direct answer to questions asked by an uncharacteristically polite Arnab Goswami. In a pitiable attempt at damage control, Mani Shankar Aiyar has vented his ire in an astonishing article (‘What Rahul wants’, IE, February 11). He begins by viciously attacking Arnab as the “most superficial anchor on English TV” and proceeds to call him banal, trivial and an imbecile. After heaping scorn on the anchor for one-and-a-half columns, Aiyar proceeds to extol the virtues of the panchayati raj, which have apparently been understood only by three Indians — Rajiv Gandhi, Rahul and, of course, Aiyar himself.

Aiyar, surprisingly, blames Rahul Gandhi’s media managers for having “chosen” Goswami for the maiden interview. Did his media managers ask Arnab to conduct the interview? Why did they fail to choose other, and presumably less superficial, anchors? Aiyar, who is frequently interviewed by other channels, was unfortunately not consulted. Rahul’s media managers must now make a careful survey of all Hindi and other regional language anchors. Only those who can “plumb the profound”, and hitherto hidden, depths of Rahul Gandhi’s vision, must be chosen. After all, the nation must know what Rahul really wants. Aiyar’s article in this newspaper will, sadly, be read only by the tiny English-speaking twittering classes and not by the broad masses that speak Hindi and regional languages.

Mani Shankar Aiyar, like Rahul Gandhi, has failed to understand the elementary difference between an interview and a lecture. Despite being repeatedly asked to give a specific answer, Rahul did not do so. If Rahul Gandhi is asked about his view on Narendra Modi and the Godhra riots, that question must be answered. Questions, even from a superficial, banal and imbecile anchor, at least deserve a brief pit-stop of an answer. The answer to a question about the Sikh riots in 1984 simply cannot be about the need to empower women and “change the system”. Aiyar’s anger reminds one of the student whose failure is sought to be justified by blaming the question paper.

To be fair, Rahul Gandhi’s interview did bring out his anguish over corruption in Indian politics. His role in scrapping an atrocious ordinance will help keep several criminals out of our elected assemblies. What Rahul wants, as came out sincerely in the interview, is to change the system that has “trapped the energy” of India’s youth, that is unfair to the people and has failed to empower women.

But what the nation wants to know is what Rahul Gandhi and continued…

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