AGNI-5’S test-firing triggered an unprecedented round of waffling on the idiot box. Various experts proclaimed that now India could hit any target in China. Rudimentary calculation would have enabled anyone to reach the same conclusion. We all know that still more time and efforts are needed to make Agni-5 a credible deterrent. So, why single out China and do a George Fernandez?
By an interesting coincidence, mainstream television featured two centurions. The nomination of Sachin Tendulkar to the Rajya Sabha elicited mixed reactions laced with doubts whether the scorer of a 100 centuries was elderly enough for the House of Elders. Then, there was Zohra Sehgal on CNN-IBN and Headlines Today, sprightly enough on her 100th birthday to look at the funnier side of life.
Another legend, Jagjit Singh, was featured on Colors TV wherein who’s who of the subcontinent’s music and film worlds paid tributes to the late ghazal singer.
The Dirty Picture failed to sizzle on Sony TV
But, not all was celebratory. The Dirty Picture failed to sizzle on Sony TV. Instead, 3 Idiots was telecast. The touted reason was: the movie shouldn’t be beamed into our sacrosanct drawing rooms at prime time. This, after 59 cuts were undertaken to obtain the UA Certificate; and Vidya Balan was conferred with the National Award for Best Actress for her performance in The Dirty Picture, thus acknowledging the artistic quality of her histrionics.
However, sex is not such a dirty word for our media pundits although they had turned up their supercilious noses at the Bhanwari Devi scandal. But when it came to the Singhvi sex CD tittle-tattle, they promptly organised talk shows, not to discuss ways and means for restoring probity among our political classes but to berate the "menace" that internet, especially social media, posed to individuals’ reputations.
Even the issue of judicial appointments becoming amenable to political influence was ignored. Justice Katju went from channel to channel (CNN-IBN, Times Now, Headlines Today, NDTV etc) reiterating his pet theme of regulating the social media. When pointed out that there is no technology available for the purpose, Justice Katju remarked that all this could be done "in the future".
But how? In reply, he held forth on the virtues of scientific research. Obviously, we cannot ban or regulate social media in India. Besides, various TV talk show ws have been exaggerating the social media’s power for creating mischief like communal riots in the country.
The cyber world has been doing more good than harm. When the mainstream media become complicit in odious activities in high places, the internet invariably comes in handy for revealing the truth as has happened in the Bofors case. A website, www.thehoot.org, has come up with revelations that are going to impact the public perception of the way crime in high places is investigated in our country. Moreover, it has redeemed Amitabh Bachchan’s reputation who was, now we learn, unfairly targeted both by the mainstream media and various investigating agencies.
Also, let us not forget the Wikileaks’s salutary impact on international diplomacy. Regulating the internet is technologically and administratively unfeasible and banning it goes against our democratic-liberal grain.