Goodluck Guru, a cheerful presence in the mornings of India News watchers, had astrological tips this week on how to conceive a son. This quest is wholly illusory, while tips on how to conceive at all would be much more useful, after the toll that pollution and stress are taking on human sexuality. But the prime minister’s speech on Teacher’s Day reminded us, among other things, how deep our gender bias runs.
Narendra Modi used the word balak (boy) to refer to children at least three times more often than balika (girl). And balika found utterance much later. Mind, he’s an excellent communicator who is alive to the political importance of women, and who had broken with Independence Day tradition to foreground the need for toilets for women students.
Modi’s “Extra Class” (NDTV India’s logo) or “Modi ki Pathshala” (NDTV’s English logo; yes, the channels swapped languages) was excellent spectacle, and the anecdote about him sneaking into weddings to staple men and women together by their clothes was brilliant. But there was something slightly uneasy-making about children from all over the country being wired up to a broadcast system. The interactive Q&A, where children from off-track places like Bastar, Leh and Tinsukia called in, felt artificial. Too few of the questions sounded spontaneous, and far too many were clearly rehearsed.
The success of ISIS in recruiting a handful of Indian youth has spurred Al Qaeda into marketing itself in South Asia, with Ayman Al-Zawahiri releasing a video that travelled faster than a nude celebrity cache. Since the marketing drives of such organisations generally feature the shedding of innocent blood on a spectacular scale, Goodluck Guru’s thoughts on repopulating the subcontinent after ISIS and Al Qaeda have played their tournament could be interesting. Meanwhile, Times Now asks, “Has India’s worst fear about terrorism via Pakistan been confirmed?” But fortunately, its hawks don’t go all the way and ask: “Shall we nuke Isloo?”
Aajtak Tez is going deep into the exhausted theme of the NDA government’s 100 days, evaluating its performance ministry by ministry, but not exactly minister by minister. The track record of the Home Ministry dwelled on the promotion of Hindi, the crackdown on NGOs and apparently giant strides made in the evolution of a strategy against Maoism. However, there was nothing about Rajnath Singh being cut down to a rubber stamp, which is an open secret that has found its way into print.
Paradoxically, in comparison with such promos, the government-affiliated channels do better. Doordarshan News has been asking repeatedly, ever since the Sensex punched through the 23,000 mark, if the bull run is real and sustainable. DD actually does a good job in business news. They have the Nikkei, Hang Seng, S&P, Nasdaq, the whole shebang, and they don’t shy away from telling you the bad news when they tank. Which private business channels routinely do.
Or consider Lok Sabha TV whose discussions, being lower decibel than those on private, corporatised channels, are actually comprehensible. Difficult 100-day questions are being asked there, too. Wasn’t black money supposed to be hauled back out of Zurich as a priority? And does Narendra Modi’s Jana Dhana scheme offer real inclusion?
For that matter, doesn’t the fast-track gubernatorialisation of former chief justice P Sathasivam feel like real inclusion by the present government, several news outlets wanted to know. And they wanted to feel included, too. So Sathasivam spoke excusively to Times Now. And less than half an hour later, he liberally gave another exclusive to NewsX. The ether was positively shuddering under the weight of so many exclusives featuring the same human seen in the same balcony, somewhere in Erode. Somewhat erodes the meaning of exclusive.