29 November, 2008

Mumbai Terror Attacks: Media and The People

The Mumbai carnage is nearing a catharsis but I'm still feeling sick in the stomach. The security forces have done the country proud but it would probably not be accurate to say that we have "won" in the true sense. The immense loss of life and property has left every Indian citizen emotionally scarred, skeptic and enraged- that pretty much serves the purpose of a terrorist attack. I can visualize terror honchos munching popcorn in front of their television sets and laughing their asses off at our helplessness and panic. Our "breaking news" thirsty attitude only serves to entertain them further.

The Indian media may have done a great job at covering and reporting the incidents but like many other media critics, I too feel that that should have exercised more restraint. I mean, what's with the footage of commandos landing from helicopters on rooftops on national television and the step-by-step operational and strategic details of the security forces being leaked out at the most sensitive hour? Might as well call up the wrong-doers and tell them "Ok guys, here's how we are going to attack you. Plan accordingly". These are not your typical filmy militant in pathan-suit who is unshaven, illiterate and supposedly misguided- these are educated young men in Versace tees and blackberries who very well know what they are up to!These are guys who shop with us in malls, spend their weekends in pubs like we do and are as tech savvy (if not more) as we are. If they can plan their attacks months in advance, is'nt it a given that they would have established a fool-proof communication network as well? With the kind of options that technology offers today, it hardly helps to cut out the cable networks. However, the media realized this but not before complicating the situation by a few degrees.

I really admire journos like Barkha Dutt but her insensitive questions to rescued victims like "What do you feel about the whole situation" really put me off and then she went yak-yak about nothing in a voice that compelled me to switch channels. The guy was held hostage for over 48 hours for heaven's sake. Give him a break! Further. when they run out of fresh "breaking news", they rope in stupid celebs with their inconsequential opinions to fill up the airtime. If men in uniform can sacrifice all they have, channels can surely afford to sacrifice their TRP's.

Indian journos are one of the most powerful forces in the country- they got to act more responsibly and maturely. After all, in times like these, they are the only ones who can keep the country held together. They are the ones who can spark up a revolution and bring about change. They are the ones who can effectively deliver a message and make India more aware. Get over the sensational and scandalous stuff guys, and get down to business! Isn't that what real journalism is all about? Don't just entertain, inspire! I quite liked the Arnav/Arnab Goswami abstained from dramatizing the incidents and got some relavent perspectives from international authorities but one wishes he would do away with his habit of butting in and allow the guests to speak. He was right in saying that gory details of the carnage only add to the panic and negative emotions among citizens.

Moreover, I fail to understand what people mean when they "condemn" the act of terrorism. Dude, do you have a choice? Politicians and authorities using weak words like "action will be taken", "condemnation", "investigations are still on" etc do nothing to assure the average citizen. Terrorists are not ordinary thieves or murderers- they are global pests and they should be treated like one would treat a plague epidemic. There's absolutely no room for mercy or prolonged trials!

The nightmare might be over but it should not be left behind. India should not "move on" but fight back with a vengeance. We have moved on for too long now- its time to kick some serious ass and strike before our blood cools down and we return back to a mundane existence. This is not the first time that our economy, democracy, heritage and people have been threatened. I sincerely hope that the people join hands to take "India Burning" to "India Shining" once again. Kudos to the NSG jawan who said "Nothing is too difficult for us"- the rest of the country should take it from here.

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