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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Breaking Down News: Round and Round

The games in the education ministry are confusing. Is the mind playing games with itself?

Written by Pratik Kanjilal | Updated: July 18, 2015 2:18:07 am

Vyapam remains a blockbuster, running to packed audiences in various media for the third week. Bollywood has a fine tradition of breaking up the action with little comic interludes or lively dalliances around trees. More or less on those lines, the Vyapam plot has been leavened by a ghost story, as CBI spooks move into a haunted house in Bhopal.

Apparently, it has been haunted by bureaucrats and politicians who refuse to leave, and Zee and Headlines Today have descended upon it gleefully. The bungalows of Lutyens’ Delhi see a lot of such dhartipakads but since MPs generally relinquish their digs when death intervenes, no one is chasing them with cameras.

This evening, Srinivasan Jain will take on “Modi Sarkar’s Mind Games” — NDA II has the worst ever education minister, is at war with institutions and so on. There are so many games afoot and the outcomes are so confused that sometimes, one suspects that the mind is playing games with itself. The fundamental challenge before journalists has broadened. In order to pass muster, reporters used to find answers to the five Ws: Who, what, when, where and why? Then they popped around the corner in search of refreshments. But in great game country, the fundamental question about reality is too broad to be asked with a single word. It requires a phrase: “What the hell is going on?”

The Newshour demanded to know: “Is Pak incapable of diplomacy?”

Indeed, why did a drone made for shaadis and spectacles hang dubiously in the skies, clouding the sudden chumminess between the heads of government of the quarrelsome neighbours of the subcontinent? Who put it there, the Chinese? They made it, according to the markings. But since they make almost everything, it means nothing.
And meanwhile, the most intriguing question remains unanswered and, indeed, unasked: is this all the Pakistanis could do to exact revenge for the two carrier pigeons captured for spying on India? It’s all in the air, and the foreign secretary has fallen back on the old stock phrases which have defined the relationship between the subcontinent’s military powers, like “unprovoked firing” and “effective response”. Since he’s a diplomat, he didn’t say, “befitting reply”. That’s reserved for politicians.

NDTV ran a bizarre what’s-going-on sort of story about a Delhi woman who forced herself upon an auto-rickshaw driver while her roommate filmed the outrage. In an unusual departure from norms in reporting sexual crime, NDTV released the names of alleged perpetrator and alleged victim. Roles have been reversed and gender stereotypes smashed in this unusual incident — who would have thought an auto driver could be reduced to a sex object? — but an incident, by definition, involves a victim, whose name is customarily withheld.

The image of the week has to be Greek PM Alexis Tsipras receding from the camera with his jacket flung carelessly over his shoulder. While it was supposed to represent the IMF being flung aside, it’s perfectly normal to fling jackets off at 33 Centigrade in shade, the temperature in Athens.

And the quote of the week, which has been dying to burst forth from the womb of time since the last election, when the prime minister announced his vital statistics, is Rahul Gandhi’s promise to shrink 56 to 5.6. In Jaipur, his attack on Vasundhara Raje was not half as engaging, though. He said that the Congress had fought British officials who were remote-controlled from London, and it’s still that way in Rajasthan. “A hundred years later, they still press a button over there and we jump.” And it was time to hit the button on the remote, and move on.

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