WTF, Inc.

It must be the heat. I can think of no other reason for this outbreak of mass lunacy in the country.

Item: In Gujarat, six persons are hospitalised after attempting suicide. Their demand: that the cow be officially declared “mother of the nation”. (At which point, I presume, Bharat Mata will become the nation’s official grandmother?)

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The news in briefs

Ephemera continues to dominate our public discourse. After a day off from the internet, I get back to find that we continue to discuss issues of tremendous import. As, for instance, whether a BJP MLA actually beat a horse, or whether he merely led the violence that resulted in the maiming of a horse.

Here’s a bloke charging at cops doing their duty, with upraised lathi in hand, and egging on his followers. And this is what we are concerned with — whether there is any video to show that the stick in his hand actually landed on the horse or no?

Elsewhere, four men reportedly attempt to attack Kanhaiya Kumar who, in the court of public opinion, has already been tried and found guilty of crimes ranging from sedition, to being present at an event and doing nothing to stop it, to peeing by the roadside and then getting into an altercation with a lady passing by, who protested. All of which, amplified by hysterical coverage and social media amplification, provides sufficient justification for random patriots to attempt to do violence on his person in the name of flag and country. How can this possibly end well?

How can this possibly end well?

And while on kangaroo courts, TimesNow has reportedly been asked to apologise and pay a fine for its coverage of the Jasleen Kaur versus Sarabjit Singh controversy. Inter alia, the News Broadcasting Standards Authority says:

“Broadcasters cannot condemn as guilty persons accused of having committed a crime or offence when the matter is still under investigation or where the court is yet to decide upon the guilt or otherwise of the accused.”

And that is when, if you are not careful, you swallow a mouthful of hot coffee the wrong way. Really? “Broadcasters cannot condemn…”? What does the NBSA suppose happens every single night on prime time? One of the prime movers and shakers (on whom more here) even coins a term for it — “instant journalism”, the process where a cause is decided on in the morning, a verdict is determined on prime time, and society is exhorted to “act on it”, you know, like those four men at the JNU rally?

What woke the NBSA out of its deep dream of peace, anyway?

Meanwhile, a tried and tested pattern manifests again. At a private university in Mewar, Rajasthan, “rumours are floated” that a few Kashmiri students are cooking and eating beef. A scuffle results. Assorted — and unnamed — “Hindu religious groups” arrive at the venue and raise slogans. Thankfully, the police manage to defuse this particular manufactured crisis.

Never mind — tomorrow is another day; the same play from the well-thumbed playbook can easily be tried elsewhere.

Still on ephemera, I learn that a small town in Tamil Nadu is praying. Fervently. Why?

A bare-chested priest sat cross-legged in the temple of this farming village on a recent morning and recited all 1,008 names of Vishnu, the Hindu god, in the hope of soon receiving good news from the White House.

And finally, for now:

The Hindu has accessed the report of the JNU inquiry committee that looked into the incidents of February 9. It is interesting — both for what it says, and for what it does not say.

Anatomy of a newscast

Sunday levity:

Courtesy jcalamur on Twitter.