Jul 252006

Pardon the really bad pun, but i had a bit of television news induced diabetes following the wall to wall television coverage of the boy stuck at the bottom of a well. This was the dumb newscasters’ dream come true – what can pull at the heart strings more than saving a child in distress. No analysis, no indepth knowledge, nothing needed really. Fix the camera and talk around the visuals. 50 hours of live coverage on all news channels. The news equivalent of a soap opera – prince bahar niklega ki nahi. Replete of course with cutaways of people of various religious persuasions praying. The only thing missing was Lata Mangeshkar singing "Ai Malik Tere Bandhe Hum" "There is someone coming up from the well" exclaimed one anchor "let’s see who it is" – Excuse me, who can it be? Another one stated – "there is a crane standing there, tell us what it does" – Ahem – what do cranes normally do ( and i don’t mean the flying kind) Another one stated – sarkar ko abhi kya karna chahiye (what should the Government do). Government is not omnipotent (nor should it be). Is the Government going to go around covering every ditch that is built by every neighbourhood. Nobody asked the vital question – what was an entire society doing with a 60 foot uncovered ditch, when there are kids playing around. What the hell was the contractor doing, and where is the criminal liability of these people. Or don’t news channels want to mention this, in the fear of spoiling the picture of "happily ever after"! In a country where almost 2000 children die every day due to lack of sanitation,and 2.5 million die every year mainly due to poverty related reasons, the media could play a stellar role in ensuring that questions are raised, and answers received on why this is happening. But, for that they have to work hard. And, that in a 24 hour, instant khichidi news scenario – with the kind of staff that they have -? is not possible. Finally, I empathise with the family’s dilema, and appreciate the rescue attempts – but surely there was other stuff equally newsworthy that happened that day. 37 news channels, and no news to watch!