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Lalit Modi,Obama and Australia

One of them would be that Barack Obama didn’t watch NDTV 24x7 interviewing Lalit Modi.

Written by Saubhik Chakrabarti |
June 6, 2009 1:46:22 am

In this uncertain world,some assumptions are still safe to make. One of them would be that Barack Obama didn’t watch NDTV 24×7 interviewing Lalit Modi. But if he had,Obama,who was interviewed by BBC a few days later,may have thought this: Gee,who’s this guy Lalit Modi,some kind of real big time hotshot,because in the world’s largest democracy,a premier private broadcaster was not so much interviewing him as happily basking in his glory,and I,the President of the United States,was given such a hard time by the state broadcaster of a small European country.

IPL was always an intriguing sports/entertainment/business concept that,after two good years,exhibits the potential of being a paradigm-creator. It looks like a good thing. But that hardly means Lalit Modi,an intriguing entrepreneur,should be interviewed as if IPL’s success ends all serious questions. In cricketing terms,NDTV’s interview was a gentle full toss,accompanied by the bowler’s best wishes for the batsman.

How proud does it (IPL’s success) make you,the NDTV reporter asked Modi ever so nicely. That’s a pretty odd question for any journalist to ask of any newsmaker. Little wonder then that Modi looked so serene,so calm and so relaxed as he responded to that and other gentle interventions from NDTV. Actors in pre-movie release soft interviews — another odd TV news practice — have been given a harder time than NDTV gave Lalit Modi.

TV news can be as perplexing when it gets angry. In bulletin after bulletin,when attacks on Indian students in Australia were in headlines,CNN-IBN’s on-screen news caption asked whether Australia was racist. I have the following naïve questions. Why didn’t anyone pull that caption out after it was broadcast the first time? How can a national broadcaster put up a question that in effect asks whether another country should be condemned? How would Indians respond if Western broadcasters put a similar question up after a few bunched-together incidents of violence against Western tourists?

But I gave up asking questions after I saw Times Now describing a Melbourne demonstration by Indian students as India fighting back. India fighting back! What can you say to that?

Down under and downright racist,asked CNN-IBN on Face the Nation,and I steeled myself. But,and this is not a small but a big mercy,the chat actually produced a few sensible points,notwithstanding the ex diplomat-panelist finding a link between Australian cricketers’ sledging and a few Australian malcontents’ violence.

Watching the Beeb quiz Barack was particularly pleasurable after all this. It was a near-perfect interview,with the BBC journalist getting tougher as the interview progressed,making the Great Articulator work at his answers.

In this uncertain world,some assumptions are still safe to make. One of them would be that Lalit Modi knows,as we all do,who Barack Obama is. But just suppose he didn’t,and he saw the BBC interview,Modi might have thought who’s this guy,he can’t be some kind of a real big time hotshot,they are giving him such a hard time.

saubhik.chakrabarti@expressindia.com

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