ByÂ Neeraj Ramachandran:
Of late, Rahul Gandhi has pretty much become Indian media’s favourite whipping boy. “Why not?” we say, “We all want our own local George Bush, don’t we?” The latest episode of the tooth and nail media-bashing of the gaffe prone Gandhi scion, quite ostensibly illustrates this. So what did he do this time around? Well, he went to Punjab, broke bread (Makkey di Roti, to be precise) with the Punjabis and then he went to a public rally, proclaiming that seventy percent of the youth of Punjab are addicted to drugs.
With all this negative media attention, especially when his party is already finding it difficult to conceal the blemishes in the wake of ‘2G-gate’, ‘Coalgate’, ‘Vadra-gate‘ and the likes, one wonders if it’s time for the Congress to be shown the last of the gates- “The out of politics-gate”. There was a time when politicians could say anything and get away with it. Now, the youngsters armed with tablets, PCs, iPhones, Facebook, Twitter et al make sure that the slightest hint of a faux pas by a politician is viewed and ‘liked’ by everyone falling within the six degrees of human separation. It is clearly not the best time for politicians sans the gift of the gab.
Now that the guffaws and peals of laughter have subsided, our collective conscience is forced to examine if Rahul Gandhi’s statement had a hint of truth in it. A survey conducted by the Department of Social Security Development of Women and Children, reveals that sixty-seven percent of the rural households in Punjab have at least one drug addict. The sad thing is, far from letting go of their self-righteous aura, the politicians of Punjab are busy playing the game of political one-upmanship. That the cross-border trafficking of drugs from Pakistan exists, is a well acknowledged fact even in the upper echelons of the government, but given the relaxed pace at which the authorities like to function, any punitive measure hasn’t borne fruit till date.
This is when the fundamental flaw in media reporting comes into the public view. These days newspapers are reporting more and inquiring less, as a result of which, all we get to know after reading them from cover to cover is “who was killed” and “who said what” rather than “why it happened” and “what can be done”. Having been diverted to that end by the media, the public was so busy in lampooning Rahul Gandhi that no one paid attention to the real issue. The press has been rightly called the ‘Fourth Estate‘ of our vibrant democracy, which has the capacity to create a giant and also to kill it.
On the flipside, Rahul Gandhi also went overboard in stating the statistics which caused the furore in the first place. For someone who is billed to be the country’s next Prime minister, he presents a really appalling picture. Legislation is a very serious business, as it has the capacity to change a million lives, for the better and for the worse. In that light, our MPs look shockingly incompetent owing to their messing up with facts and figures. All this, when in a different corner of the world, an eloquent President and an articulate challenger engage in a battle of words, their each gesture, each wink of the eye, closely examined by body-language specialists.
Why isn’t it shameful for us that the only time we notice the body language of our MP’s is when they are involved in a physical brawl in the parliament? Why isn’t it shameful for us that, a country which produces the most number of intellectuals in the world has only a handful of them involved in active politics? Are we actually so lame as to be waiting for the classic ‘prince charming on a stallion‘ to come to our rescue? Whatever be the case now is the time to get up and do something about it.
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