Dec 102008

Two very different stories caught my attention today. Both are related to media coverage.

One was in the Indian Express by Rajat Sharma, of India TV, quoting a former Army Chief – who had come into the channel to advice producers & camerapersons on :

what precautions they should have taken while showing “live” action. My most important objective was to understand if news channels, in any way, endangered the lives of our commandos.

To my surprise, the former army chief was emphatic: “News channels did nothing wrong. Your coverage didn’t do any harm whatsoever to the commandos! I’ve handled action as a major, then as a full colonel, and finally as an army commander in anti-terrorist operations, and there’s nothing I could make out from the news channel about the strategy of our commandos.”

Frankly, I expected him to echo what some have been saying—how terrorists got valuable clues on the commando plan by watching our channels. But sample what he said: “Do you think that terrorists holed up in a hotel facing commando fire had time to watch TV?” A young reporter persisted. He reminded the general of the “widespread belief” that the terrorists were being briefed on their Blackberries by their bosses, watching our news channels. Promptly came the angry reply. “Anyone suggesting this must be mad. (Even) I could not get an idea about the action plan. Who has the time to look at TV and Blackberries when you are in the midst of gunfire?”

The second was in the International Herald Tribune, quoting Indian authorities :

And, perhaps most significantly, throughout the three-day siege at two luxury hotels and a Jewish center, the Pakistani-based handlers communicated with the attackers using Internet phones that complicate efforts to trace and intercept calls.

Those handlers, who were apparently watching the attacks unfold live on television, were able to inform the attackers of the movement of security forces from news accounts and provide the gunmen with instructions and encouragement, the authorities said.


Dec 102008

Yesterday, elections results in 5 states were announced. The Congress won three of them.

I wonder whether the disconnect between the media, the elite and the electorate is so much!

I truly respect the PM. I like this government – possibly because it is not in my face. But, i thought it was out of touch with the people – because everyone around tells me what a terrible, weak kneed Government it is !

However, i find it to be a decent government with decent policies. at least, at decent as Governments can get, which is not really saying much ! Hindutva terrifies me, and the Communists bore me to death. I would possibly support the BSP if I knew what they stood for ! social engineering as a plank is a vision – not policy !

Maybe the voters faced the same issues as I did.
Seriously, the thought of someone like Yashwant Sinha or Jaswant Singh in charge of the Economy at a time like this leaves me cold. The idea of someone like Modi in charge of Home or Defence; and someone like Advani in charge of the nation – send shivers down my spine. Forget their politics, but they aren’t particularly competent in terms of either the nation or security. Remember Kandahar? When a foreign minister of this country escorted a couple of terrorists to their freedom. Remember the Parliament Attack. Remember Gujarat – where 2000+ people lost their lives – even if you absolve Mr. Modi of direct involvement in their deaths, you need to appreciate the fact that terror was unleashed on the citizens of India under his watch, and he could do nothing! this is from a party strong on law and order & security. Ouch – i would hate to think of what would happen if they were weak on terror 🙁

And, it is too early for the BSP. They are very scattered in terms of policy. Hopefully by 2014, they would have got that into gear !

We essentially have four options in 2009. Don’t vote. Vote the Third Front, vote BJP or vote Congress. Typhoid, Cholera, Dengue or TB ?