Joy and despair by numbers

Between the rail budget,the Union budget,and Sachin Tendulkar’s century of centuries,a few figures dominated television

Written by Shailaja Bajpai | Published: March 22, 2012 3:25:17 am

Between the rail budget,the Union budget,and Sachin Tendulkar’s century of centuries,a few figures dominated television

Who will you give 100 out of 100 to for their TV moment? To Dinesh T for refusing to budge from either the railway minister’s position or his budget for higher passenger fares? To Mamata di for once more showing UPA 2 that like Maggie Thatcher,“the lady’s not for turning” her back on her promises to the people? Or to Sachin Tendulkar who has scored tonnes of runs more than anyone else in the world?

Television went after each one of them like Virat Kohli did the Pakistani bowling attack,last Sunday. Trivedi was the star after his railway budget speech. He appeared on news channels dapper and erudite,a Shakespearean tragic hero with a “never say die” answer — he would not U-turn on the fares.

Alas,Mamata di cut short his heroics rather abruptly by sending out her faithfuls like Kakoli Ghosh who told news channels that in his hubris,Trivedi had failed to consult his leader,and that could mean only one thing — a falling star in our midst. He finally fell on Monday.

Mamata Banerjee is so relentless,you wonder whether her hubris will eventually lead to a similar fate. For most of the five-act play from last Wednesday to Sunday,she confined herself to a few choice soundbytes. That’s her style: long speeches for the people,nanobytes for the media. It was only after she emerged the victor that she sat back and savoured her triumph. During an interview to NDTV’s Barkha Dutt,Monday,she did not spare the Congress for all its perceived mistreatment of her,but she rebuked them as calmly as is possible for her feisty spirit. She even laughed about visiting Delhi and suddenly,the shrill schoolmistress was a gentle woman.

Sachin Tendulkar has only himself to blame if we spent more time admiring his new hairstyle than his 100 not-out on Friday when he took on the Bangladesh bowling and beat the Union budget to second place in the headlines. We’ve seen him score centuries a hundred times but a new hairstyle? Could be a first. There’s been ample opportunity to admire his straight bat and his straightened locks as news channels celebrated his century of centuries all weekend and gave us something to cheer about after the budget. Or,as Aaj Tak put it,“Sachin hasaye,Pranab rulaye”. The media exhausted all the superlatives in the dictionary and then some,on Tendulkar,so all that there’s left to say is this: we can watch Tendulkar bat any time,anywhere and for as long as he likes but we cannot listen to another debate on whether he is Don or Don 2.

Last Friday,the likes of Imran Khan,Ajay Jadeja (NDTV 24×7),Nasser Hussain and Sourav Ganguly (Headlines Today) debated the greater of the two greats and the answer eluded them as it has always done. That’s because as we well know,“Don ko pakadna mushkil hi nahi naamumkin hai”. Hussain tried to end the debate by saying “Tendulkar is today’s Don”. Time the media accepted it and stopped analysing batting averages.

Statistics should be left to those who study the budget. They did so on Friday before and after Tendulkar. It added up to a dismal performance by the finance minister,which is ironical — had you listened to the debates on CNN-IBN or NDTV Profit,Thursday before the budget,all the panelists were so optimistic that anchors Rajdeep Sardesai and Vikram Chandra were moved to say,“methinks you protest too much”. And so it came to pass: Friday,we were back to normal with almost the entire economic community united in their condemnation of the budget. Thank you,Tendulkar,for lighting up our lives.

Away from the arclights,BBC World turned the spotlight on that One Square Mile in London around the Olympic Games venues. It was oh so positive you’d think the British government,or that thorn in India’s flesh,Dow Chemicals,had sponsored it. The reporter was wonderstruck by the wonders that await tourists during the Games this summer. You couldn’t help but contrast this with the coverage of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi when the media showed us dog excrement in the Games Village. Not the media’s fault: London is almost ready for the Olympics while Delhi needed toilet training.

shailaja.bajpai@expressindia.com

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