The Hindu! Take a bow!

Positivity! Where art thou? Hope! Where art thou?

The country is debating Mr. Aamir Khan’s statements at ‘Ramnath Goenka Awards for Excellence in Journalism’. Irrespective of our political leanings, I am sure most of us would agree with at least one part of his statement where he says something to the effect of – “We are afraid to open the newspapers every day”  Indeed, we are!  

Print media got the act wrong somewhere in trying to compete with the electronic media, not realizing that they have a very different game to play. It should concern us when a newspaper gives space to Twitter and Facebook updates of celebs instead of giving voice to so many offline, excruciating agony-tweets of society that suffers every day at the hands of wicked bureaucracy, corruption, red tape, and mal-governance. It should alarm our publishers and editors even more when they have become mere jackals chewing on the carcasses of information broken or debated by the electronic media.

However, even the darkest cloud can sometimes have the proverbial silver lining. That’s what today’s edition of The Hindu is. Today i.e. 27th November 2015, I was smiling while reading through the contents of the daily for I was pleasantly surprised to find my paper deliver on what I expect from it – meaty content with a supply of information that enhances my understanding of the society I am living in. The front page wasn’t painted with an advertisement. The headlines quoted what was originally said without giving a personal spin. A section covered in points Congress’ argument and BJP’s counter argument on GST bill. A positive news for clearance of RTI backlog initiative in Karnataka comes in. A picture of Madame Smita Salaskar, wife of Martyr Vijay Salaskar paying homage to the braves appears on the front page.

As has been my wont, I flipped to the edit pages. I was not disappointed. In ‘Perspective’ appears a piece titled ‘Cult and Conscience’ by Vamsee Juluri who presents a rational approach to understanding Mr. Aamir Khan’s statement by hitting the nail right on its head. When a person of Aamir’s eminence makes a statement, it carries weight all across the globe and that’s why such people need to be more careful with their words. What could be worse than the ambassador of ‘Incredible India’ turning the campaign into ‘Intolerant India’? As rightly pointed out, if the reference points were the 3 incidents of communal disharmony and violence, it couldn’t have been farther from rational thinking. The incidents are under investigation and all of them occurred in the states ruled by Non-BJP parties. Unfortunately, in our zeal to target Mr. Modi for everything, we have completely absolved the state governments from their perceivable failure at maintaining law and order in their states. It is important for the people who can debate without hurling abuses at the opposition to come to the fore and speak out with poise. That’s what Mr.Vamsee Juluri has done.

Nistula Hebbar in her piece talks about the shift in BJP thinking after its loss in Bihar. Titled ‘Lowdown for party high command’, she has very clinically discussed the confusions that might be clouding the BJP’s think tank in the aftermath of the humiliating defeat in Bihar. The fact that everyone is getting a hunch of imminent change in the party leadership and why Mr. Shah might have to change his gears to change the outcomes of his efforts in future elections have been rationally brought forth without any personal mudslinging.

One of the most informative pieces in today’s newspaper has been written by Vijaita Singh in ‘World View’ who talks about an unseen side of our society. This is a must read because in all the noises of negativity, we have long forgotten acknowledging our heroes who go about their duties incognito. The role of ITBP (Indo-Tibetan Border Police) in the wake of 2013 Uttarakhand floods has been described with aplomb. Much of the news channels woke up to the disaster only when the defense forces had to join the relief operations but it was the ITBP that was handling the relief operations till then and later as well. So much so that at a point they were also told to carry out the cremation of the dead bodies. Why is the article significant? 7th pay commission has been recommended and there is nothing for these heroes in there. ‘The 9.8 lakh force is feeling left out’ (as put in the article) and hence, the article gives a much needed voice to their demands. A very balanced view has been taken and we have been shown how they are often treated as poor cousins of the defense forces. The most tragic information for me was the fact that a CAPF (Central Armed Police Forces) personnel is not accorded the status of a ‘Martyr’ (Shaheed) if he is killed on his battlefield. The payrolls are inferior. Are we not getting intolerant about all the wrong reasons in our country?
Aah! Whattaday! Mr. Happymon Jacob who teaches Disarmament and National Security at the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University tells us about the crumbling of the European dream and how the entire continent today is confused with its wars and individual benefits and losses that come thereby for each country. The predicament of Schengen Agreement in the wake of emergency in France, his personal experience in Paris in the aftermath of Paris attacks, the political crops being harvested by Mr. Hollande, the danger of extinction of liberal values of France due to the spoils of the Islamic State have all been spoken with a perspective I largely agree with. I found the narrative well-informed and very positive. The countries affected by terrorism today must be careful against any knee-jerk reaction that would further alienate the already castigated communities.

Our Editor too had interesting things to talk about in today’s edition. The situation of Kashmir valley has been discussed without playing a blame game. The write-up resorts to style of positive dialogue and solution proposition to prevent any mishap in the valley. The youth today in the valley shall decide the nature of the state in future and they must be engaged in constructive work of nation-building. This article stands out because it is not preachy, it is not condemning. It is a straightforward suggestion to the Government to be conscious of its choice of actions in the valley.

The development in Argentina has been spoken about in the 2nd editorial piece. The story of the victory of Mr. Mauricio Macri, the Mayor of Buenos Aires in the presidential elections over the ruling Peronist party’s Daniel Scioli. The development is significant because the incumbent has been ousted after 12 years of rule and the mantra of “21st century development” found greater acceptance than “21st century socialism”. The article is not one-sided and has also given due credit to the ruling party for several of its initiatives and also counted their miseries due to global slowdown. Don’t miss this article if you have not picked up your newspaper yet.

There are several other positive developments. One in which the Shiv Sena has distanced itself from the party’s Ludhiana unit’s announcement of a reward of 1 lakh rupees for slapping Mr. Aamir Khan. Shiv Sena is an example of tremendous confusion between the party’s ideology and the commanding family’s personal preferences and interests. Ghulam Ali’s concert was protested on the ground of his hailing from Pakistan; a week earlier than that, Aditya Thackeray was addressing a function where Rahat Fateh had performed. Paradox – you just found your definition!

Maharashtra plans free swine flu vaccinationsFuzzy logic to optimize water use in Dams for irrigation and electricity in Karnataka33% quota for women in paramilitary forces, Kerala scientists develop saltwater-tolerant paddy,Tirumala’s e-hundi becomes a hit – I am smiling at the end of my reading today. India looking at a historic win and South Africa trying to solve the Great Indian Spin Track do add to my sardonic pleasure. Bend it like Ashwin’, Proteas!

I am delighted with The Hindu for today’s edition and I am writing this to tell them that. They must know what their readers want in their newspapers so that I don’t feel afraid to pick up tomorrow’s newspaper. Mr. Aamir Khan, you can safely pick up today’s The Hindu. It shall surely allay some fears.
Newspapers have an opportunity to calm our nerves, give some time to our thoughts to settle down, content to go to the depths of our mind that a TV debate can’t touch, sleep over a piece of article, deliberate on the nuances and form informed opinions. Most of the newspapers have fallen prey to the populism cult and have become a carrier attached to the engine of TV media that only parrots the driver’s line and direction. In this heavy smog, today’s edition of The Hindu shines bright. I hope they keep doing that.

It would not be out of place to reminisce a few lines from Late Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s poem whose birth anniversary falls today.

क्या हवाएँ थीं कि उजड़ा प्यार का वह आशियाना
कुछ न आया काम तेरा शोर करना, गुलमचाना
नाश की उन शक्तियों के साथ चलता ज़ोर किसका
किंतु ऐ निर्माण के प्रतिनिधि, तुझे होगा बताना
जो बसे हैं वे उजड़ते हैं प्रकृति के जड़नियम से
पर किसी उजड़े हुए को फिर बसाना कब मना है
है अँधेरी रात पर दीवा जलाना कब मना है!

P.S. To The Hindu – Kindly avoid publishing articles of Mr. G Sampath. He is gifted with the power to amplify negativity, insensitivity, and intolerance with a dash of ignorance of his self. Just kidding! I can ‘tolerate’ his articles if you take care of the other ones.