[Photo courtesy Reuters]

You may have come across many India-centric blogs and other channels of expression brimming with reactions to the terror attack on Mumbai. So did I. From whatever little television I got to see in the last few days, it took a while before the sheer scale of the situation sunk in my mind.
As the mind-numbing horrors of twenty-somethings holding a city hostage flashed on the screen, I tried to make sense of what exactly was going on. The television media, of course tried to turn it into a circus of sensationalism in their run up to TRP points, with NDTV playing the nationalist card with their ‘war on terror’ campaign and other channels (I forget which) asking the NSG commandos how they felt while “gunning down the terrorists”.
After I got over the shock of irresponsible journalism, the question that haunted my mind after the episode was over was, ‘will they forget and carry on as usual? Will we forget and conveniently move on with our daily lives?’ With the history of terror attacks on this country, (and their respective aftermaths) the scene indicates that we just might succumb to our collective short-lived public memory. Maybe a bigger slap on the face of the Indian social system was needed to ‘shake up’ our bureaucracy, maybe.
Fingers have already been pointed at the ‘babudom’ and ‘netalog’ and the age-old handicap of red-tapism that prevents intelligence (and I pun here) from being effective in the largest democracy in the world, as they say. With a billion-strong populace, leaders can hardly afford to slack with what they are supposed to do, instead of being good at what they usually do best.
The way I see it, there are two ways, two timelines that can emerge out of this event. Either Mumbai will “pick up and move on” – another way of stating the fact that we will provide the ex-Gratia payments and sweep the darkest Wednesday of many years under the proverbial carpet. The other, rather idealised timeline predicts that the honchos of Delhi will finally pull up their socks and chalk out a ‘fool-proof’ measure, weeding out unwanted elements in the process. I use ‘fool-proof’ in quotes as it is a relative term, proportional only to the intelligence of terror outfits. As a good friend of mine put it so pointedly: “terror-outfits function on the basis of unpredictability: they always figure another way out.”
But then again, after the guns and video cameras have been put to rest, the nagging question that would remain would probably be in the lines of, “where do we draw the line, and say enough is enough?”
The way people’s lives have been played with in the past two days only shows the sheer insensitivity of the media-citizen-politician cycle - where we all share the blame of completing the fated circuit of consumption and production.
Responsible journalism had probably died out with Mr. Prannoy Roy’s fall from grace, to be reduced to the current brand of jingoistic rhetoric his colleagues are resorting to these days. From the events in Mumbai, one thing remains clear: the definition of the ‘last straw’ must be drawn up now, before we may have a chance to say, “not again,” and that, my friends, apply to all of us. More than terrorists, it’s the media I am afraid of these days.


Sarit said...

Awesome! Sad to be a part of this fraternity sometimes, we are guilty by association.

chandreyee said...

my heartfelt agreement.... except i wish when people say enough is enough they would also think of what the alternative can be... enoough is enough... so what next?? and why are we so caught up with the Taj...crying over its broken furniture and curtains... a place i am sure 90 per cent of the people in Mumbai have never been to... what happened to CST and Cama hospital??? do we know??? No... i guess the media is not concerened with what affects the common man... they don't affect TRP

Jayeeta Mazumder said...

Media-circus-ing does echo meaninglessness... When I watched Barkha Dutt on TV, asking a man whose wife was 'missing,' "What are you telling your children now?" I was shocked and had felt ashamed like never before.

GreyVitriol said...

One year on:
Things haven't changed much. The bureaucracy is still as slow, the Centre and the States as ineffectual, the Opposition as emptily vocal, and I'm still as stupid as I ever was.

The media, however, has become more irresponsible and less objective than before (following the American model). Pat on the back.

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