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Body language of the Varna media

by Chandrabhan Prasad

Politicians, usually, lack a sense of shame or remorse. When they were made to wait outside, while the general negotiated with Hurriyat leaders, Indian politicians didn't seem to mind and instead, argued that a head of state has "schedule constraints" to keep in mind. But what about the Varna-media?  When our editors lined up like school kids to shake hands with the general and breakfast with him, why didn't any one of them get up and say that the Mukti Bahini didn't target innocent people but only the Pakistan Army.

It is grossly incorrect to compare their action with that of the jihadis, who target civilians as well?

The just failed Agra Summit quite beautifully depicts the character, competence and concerns of the Varna media. Coverage of the summit overshadowed the coverage given to the Gujarat earthquake. Was Musharraf's coming to India a "national calamity" like event? Who is responsible for this hype? Who asked TV channels to shift their newsrooms to Agra and accord over 36 hours of live coverage to the summit? While the Indian government stayed more or less silent, the media turned the summit into a sort of national celebration, which finally turned into a sort of national mourning! What was the media expecting from the Pak President?

Why didn't the media clearly tell the nation the following: that the day the Pak CEO declared himself "President", and the Indian Government did not withdraw its invitation to him, his mission of legitimising his position was accomplished. The Indian government also, in its urge to establish the NDA as a fairly "secular conglomerate," accorded the dictator full honours. Thus, the Vajpayee Government's agenda, too, was accomplished. "Will the Indian government now withdraw its invitation to Musharraf?" This is what a Dalit friend of mine curiously asked me when Musharraf made himself President. "Why?" I asked. "You know, had Indira Gandhi been at the helm of affairs, she would certainly have withdrawn the invitation."

Now, the general has gone back, in all legitimacy, and is also busy legitimising the jihadis as "freedom fighters" - which means Kashmir will burn even further. He, in fact, came as a spokesperson for the jihadis and the Varna media busied itself presenting him as a possible messiah of peace! Why didn't media people, part of the profession because of their "merit" and "competence," do their homework properly and have at least a little idea about Musharraf's past?

The general, while offering our greedy Varna editors a free breakfast, reminded them of the 1971 war and the conflict in Siachen. Those trying to decipher his body language should instead, have remembered that during the Siachen engagement, Musharraf was commanding the Pakistani brigade. Thus, the Siachen fiasco was for him, a "personal" humiliation. During Kargil, he was Chief of Army Staff, and thus, he underwent personal humiliation for a second time. And which Pakistani ruler can forget 1971! The only way Pakistan can restore its national pride is by separating Kashmir from India, if not annexing it altogether.

Back home, on the other hand, which Indian leader can survive after offering Kashmir to Pakistan or by making any concession on Kashmir? Particularly at a time when an arguably "nationalist" Government is at the Centre? Then, why did the Indian media join in the celebration of "peace in the offing?" Why didn't the Indian media, from day one, predict a failure of the summit and paint the events emanating from both sides as classical political gimmickry?

What about the body language of media persons and even more so, what about their minds? Didn't we notice an enormous amount of personal triumph in all those who got a chance to ask Musharraf a question? Didn't we notice excitement, and look at the way they carried their cameras and notebooks? Needless to elaborate, the Chatur-Varna mind is easily attracted to brute force, it appreciates the cult of violence. This is civilisation. Aren't most Hindu gods and goddesses heavily armed?

And about peace? The number of Dalits killed in caste violence in India may not be less than the number of people killed in the Valley. But has the Indian media ever paid similar attention to the question of internal peace, where over 20 crore Dalits, many times more than the combined population of J&K, are subjected to brute violence, segregation, humiliation, exclusion and discrimination? Has the Varna media given the same attention to the forth coming UN-sponsored Durban Conference on race-based discrimination, from where the "caste" clause was omitted because of opposition from the Indian Government?

The Varna media has greatly enhanced the face value of militancy and legitimised the cult of violence! What do they seem to be telling Dalits and other aggrieved groups? "You will not be heard till you persist with democratic methods!" Isn't there a need to discipline the media, the sharpest vehicle of the Varna mindset?

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