Why is India full of hypocrites

The great hypocrisy

The Mumbai attacks and Gnani Sankaran's Indian television

After flipping back and forth between four English-language TV channels during the last 60 hours of terror in Mumbai, I feel a different kind of terror: cameras, sound bites, and incessant talk are being used to attack my mind and emotions. All these stations are trying to get my approval for a big lie called: Hotel Taj Mahal, the symbol of India.

It is a great shame that these broadcasters felt it was simply unnecessary to cover the other symbol that was first attacked by the terrorists: Mumbai's historic train station, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST). The CST or VT (Victoria Terminus) is Mumbai's real landmark. Tens of thousands of Indians from Uttar Pradesch, Bihar, Radschastan, West Bengal and Tamilnadu have streamed through this train station to Mumbai for years, where they became Mumbaikars and built today's Mumbai together with the Marathas and the Koli.

But the television stations ignore this fact, just as they ignored the more than thirty bodies lying on the platforms of the CST. No barkha bun1 was there to tell us who these dead are. Instead, she bravely argued with the guards in the Taj to show us broken furniture and the destroyed lobby. Not a television camera appeared at the state-run JJ Hospital to find out more about the 26 unidentified dead. But they broke into the battered Taj one more time, albeit in vain, to get a snapshot of the corpses of media celebrities.

In all likelihood, the unknown dead were migrant workers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesch who arrived at the station by train and did not have a cell phone or tax card with them that could have been used to identify them. Even 60 hours after the bloodbath at the train station, no television station had bothered to cover the events there in more detail.

The broadcasters conveniently overlooked the fact that for the Aam Aadmis - these are the normal people in Mumbai who struggle to get by on a day-to-day basis - it is completely unimportant whether Taj, Oberoi and Trident Hotel take a few weeks or so Stay closed for months. Rather, what bothered them was the fact that buses and suburban trains didn't run, even if only for an hour. But these aspects of the attacks were not reported. At best, such information flickered across the screen as scrolling text, while all cameras remained focused on the real-time thriller that was taking place in the Taj or Nariman Bhavan.

The fuss that the TV stations make about the Taj cultural monument (the CST is also a cultural monument by the way) is justified by the fact that the rich and powerful of India and the world gather here. The hotel is a symbol of power, money and politics, but not India. It is the symbol of the financiers and swindlers of India.

Mumbai and India were built by the Aam Aadmis who come through the main train station every day. The Taj, on the other hand, is an oasis of peace and exclusivity for those who wield power over the crowd of workers. In the Leopold Club or in the Taj, a Jeunesse dorée meets who would simply run over the Aam Aadmis sleeping on the ground with their land cruisers, as well as the Mumbai mafiosi who finance Bollywood starlets (and terrorists), as well as political intrigues and industrialists.

The Taj was chosen for the attack precisely because it is the symbol of power and not of the people. After several attempts, the terrorists realized that Aam Aadmis will never give up even if their markets and trains are bombed. They are tolerant and tenacious, because this is the only way they can survive.

Tolerance is one of the words that the TV experts and their godparents are particularly excited about this time. Why be patient, enough is enough, came the message from Prannoy Roy's transmitter2 on the left wing of the spectrum. The same indignation comes from Arnab Goswami3 expressed in the right transmitter, whose hour has now struck. And how should Rajdeep4 stand behind in this race for audience ratings? This time they rant unanimously against tolerance. And they are demanding immediate action from the government to combat terrorism.

Whenever bombs went off in markets and on trains, killing and mutilating Aam Aadmis, the same broadcasters extolled tolerance. No sooner had it hit them than the rich revealed their weak nerves and refused to be tolerant. There was great shouting that the state should intervene and protect their wellness oases, swimming pools, bars and restaurants - just as Citibank, General Motors and their ilk scream when their own ideology leaves them empty safes.

The terrorists have noticed that ordinary Indians are not intimidated by terror. Anyone who has to struggle every day against government-sponsored inflation and market-sponsored exclusion has long since learned to live with suffering. The rich of Mumbai & amp; India Incorporated are now facing suffering themselves for the first time, just as the Indian middle class first faced human rights abuses during the State of Emergency in 1975 - 28 years after independence.

In times of terror, television broadcasters do not shy away from trampling on human rights in their reporting. Arnab Goswami asked with tremolo in his voice where the human rights lawyers had gone and why they weren't applauding the courageous and selfless police officers who were risking their lives in the fight against terrorism. The counter-question should be: Where were you, Arnab Goswami, when these officials trampled on the human rights of the Aam Aadmis? Have you ever had a 24-hour non-stop report on violence against Dalits and Adivasis in this country5 seen?

It was certainly not the right time to build a social consensus on illegal interrogation methods in the police and army, but people like Arnab never miss an opportunity to speak to their masters by the mouth. This time the chauvinistic reflex came at the right time to get all kinds of uniforms off to a clean slate.

The victims from the ranks of the special operations forces and the police who died at the hands of unscrupulous terrorists are undoubtedly deplorable. But in a situation where not only muscles but also brains mattered, they were, unfortunately, completely in vain. Israel was not wrong when it noted that its citizens died here because the operations were poorly planned.

Police officers Karkare and Salaskar would not have died if they hadn't made the mistake of getting into the same vehicle. And the terrorists would have held their bellies with laughter if they had seen the chief of the naval command on television, hiding his face behind a transparent cloth, saying that his elite troops had no idea of ​​the structural conditions in the Taj, which his men were watching tried to free. The terrorists, however, as he himself admitted, were very familiar with the location.

Is it so difficult to get a floor plan of the Taj Hotel and thoroughly discuss operational strategy before stepping into the property? Every event manager would do that before installing his 25 audio systems and 50 surveillance cameras somewhere for a cultural event. Couldn't the owner of this venerable hotel, which is supported by a powerful machine, have presented the plans of the building to the government commandos within an hour? Why is it that only terrorists have satellite images and not government agencies? With an operation that was known to take time, an extra hour to plan could only have improved the performance. Victims are always particularly tragic when they are handled in an unprofessional manner. But the gullible media, in the midst of their patriotic waves, forgot to raise any of these questions.

After all, they always have their favorite whipping boys on hand - the politicians, those eternal bogeys of the non-voting, rich classes of India. The Arnabs and Rajdeeps eloquently got excited about Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and opposition leader Advani, who came separately to Mumbai and even in these crisis hours failed to bring about a joint gesture of solidarity. What hypocrisy!

And why can't the broadcasters merge their camera teams and reporters in such a national emergency and share the images and sound bites with each other in order to offer broader and better coverage? Why do Arnap and Rajdeep and Barkha have to point out every five minutes in times of a national crisis that this little bit of information is running exclusively on their station? Is this the right time to advertise your own station?

But if so, why shouldn't politicians also be able to address their own voters? Isn't it the duty of every politician to make politics - his politics? It is up to the voters to evaluate this policy. After all, terrorism is not outside politics either, it is politics by other means.

In order to contain and eliminate it, decent policy must be given the opportunity to fine-tune and improve. To denigrate all politics and politicians only helps the terrorists and dictators, who have a lot in common anyway. And the rich and powerful often value terrorists and dictators because they are easier to do business with.

It is always the Aam Aadmis who fall by the wayside in such exchanges of fire and who are not mourned - the taxi driver who lost his entire family in the bloodbath at the train station, the waiters and chambermaids who lost their lives in the Taj and all of them Month do not earn as much as their guests squander in one evening there.

P.S. In a fit of anger, I sent a message to all of the broadcasters after 30 hours of coverage. After all, the audience is constantly being asked to comment on everything that is possible and impossible. My message was: “I am sending you this message in pain. All broadcasters, including yours, should apologize for not covering the victims of the CST bloodbath, the real Mumbaikars and Aam Aadmis of India. It's disgusting how obsessed you are with the five-star elite. Take the print media as an example. ”No broadcaster cared about it. Only NDTV's Srinivasan Jain wrote back, “You are right. We will try today to strive for more balance. ”Until now, 66 hours after the attacks, when I am finishing this text, nothing has changed.

Footnotes: 1 One of the most prominent journalists in India. 2 Well-known media figure, founder and head of New Delhi Television (NDTV), uncle of the writer Arundhati Roy. 3 Editor-in-chief and news anchor of Times Now. 4 Rajdeep Sardesai, head of CNN-affiliated station IBN-7. 5 Dalit are casteless, so-called untouchables; Adivasi the descendants of the Indian natives, members of ancient tribes. Above all, these two groups form the poorest class in India.

Translated from the English by Robin Cackett

Gnani Sankaran is a Tamil writer, theater director and filmmaker, www.gnani.net.

Le Monde diplomatique, January 16, 2009, by Gnani Sankaran