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Expect the Expected

Expect the expected

My next door neighbor, Singh Sahab is a nice husband and family man, famous as an actively practicing cook and grocery shopper. A fortnight ago, his wife and kids had gone to their native place and Singh Sahab was enjoying a bachelor life. Last Sunday, while cooking lunch, he found that he had run out of tomatoes. The vegetable shop is less than 2 minutes walk from our house;  thinking that he will be back in less than 5 minutes, he didn't lock his house and went to buy his tomatoes. Nothing unusual happened and the guy was back in less than 5 minutes. Ten minutes later, he knocked at my door which was already open for my obsession with fresh air and asked me if I had taken his phone from his house. Before I could understand what he was up to, he had accused me of stealing his phone from his house. As per his argument, no other house was so close to his for the operation to complete within 5 minutes, no other door was open so no one else could have seen him going out. Amid the din, 10 of my neighbors came around and I was convicted of being a thief. The only relief of the day for me was that the poor guy whose phone was stolen and those sympathizing with him didn't do a third degree search of my house to find the phone. May be for them, I deserved to keep the iPhone in return for the insult I was given.

 ‘This too shall pass’ I kept on reminding myself for next couple of days. After an analysis of the political dynamics of my neighbors, their wives/kids and the power of Indian social communication system, I figured out that at least 50 of my neighbors would have known about my allegedly uncontrolled obsession with iPhone within a day.

Third day, just when I had started to realize that ‘This too shall pass’ was indeed a nice thing to remember, Singh Sahab rang my doorbell. ‘What has he lost now?’ was my first silent reaction. Singh Sahab asked me if he could come in. I was indebted to him for gifting me his iPhone, so couldn't say No. In the most subdued of audible voice, Singh told me that he had forgotten his phone at the vegetable shop and was sorry for what had happened on the other day.

A few seconds of babblings were exchanged and Singh left my house. I wondered if Singh had spoken in a bit louder voice, at least all the mosquitoes and cockroaches in my house would have known that I was not a thief.

For next one week, I campaigned hard in my neighborhood to wash the stains of iPhone-stealer off my forehead. Some of my neighbors showed a surprise at what happened on that day, some sympathized with me, some passed a measured 33% smile (just enough to be called a smile). But the passionate reaction I was expecting for being acquitted of all charges remained absent.

Soon, I realized it was just natural, being absolved of all charges was dear to me because I was an accused, why would anyone else be happy about it. I shouldn't be upset when people show a cold reaction to this news. Not only that, ‘the door was open and he stole his iPhone’ is much spicier than ‘No, he didn't steal it’.

I again evaluated the situation considering the channels of communication and dullness of my new status Not-guilty, concluded that a maximum of 20 people would know that iPhone was not so dear to me.

The rest 30 people still believe that I flaunt a stolen iPhone in office and on the weekends when I visit my friends. May be they have told their children also to stay away from me.

This, in many ways, shows how our media works when they target a certain group of people. When the first information comes out about someone accused of a wrongdoing from this group, make a big noise. Do chat shows, discussions for a week and remind people again and again that this person/group is guilty. Later, if the charges prove wrong after detailed investigation, don’t show it or show it for 2 minutes. This will ensure less number of people know about the acquittal and even those who see it will forget because the finding was not repeated. In short, for majority of people, what was shown for a week is truth.

The reverse is also true. When a person dear to media is accused of some scam, just ignore the news or show it for a little time. In short, don’t make it a big issue. This will ensure least number of people have it in their active memory.

We have numerous examples to show this, especially how Congress tried to stop Modi from coming to power, how anti-India, anti-Hindu forces work against the Hindu population of this country, in the guise of secularism.

1)      After the Gujarat riots, Arundhati Roy (the booker prize winner and sympathizer of Maoists, Kashmiri Separatists) wrote an article in Outlook magazine that daughter of Ahsaan Jafri (an ex-congress MP) was stripped and then killed by a Hindu mob. Weeks later, the daughter Nishrin Hussain appears in media saying that she had been in US and is very much alive. Arundhati quietly sent a letter to this family apologizing for what she had written, but what about the people who read her article in the magazine? Most of them still think Nishrin was stripped and killed.

2)      Right after Gujarat riots, Zee News interviewed them CM Narendra Modi who said that riots are spreading because of action-reaction. One community goes on rampage, in reaction to that, the other community goes on violence and so on. Zee news interpreted it saying that the riots are a reaction to burning of train in Godhra. Times of India, in its national edition, proclaimed that Gujarat CM is trying to justify the riots by saying that they are a reaction of massacre of kar sewaks. When CM office asked ToI which interview they were talking about as CM didn’t give any interview to ToI, ToI put a small apology somewhere hidden inside the newspaper, that too in Ahmadabad edition. So those read saw Modi’s interview on ToI national edition, they still think Modi tried to justify the riots.

3)      The sting operations done by Tehelka against Vajpayee’s NDA government are again a good example. When this scandal erupted, most of the people started believing that ‘all politicians are same, be it congress or BJP’ and in fact that was the purpose of those sting operations. When the courts started bashing Tehelka for the way it was conducted and it came out that Tehelka was getting crores after every such operation, this news didn’t find much time and space in mainstream media.

The above examples are specific to Congress-BJP, but on every aspect of life, be it politics, religion, social issues, environmentalism – every media house has a specific point of view, which is mainly based on who owns the company and what kind of people the top brass of the company is connected to. Then they try to spice up the discussion in favor of their agenda. Media has amazing capability to decide what remains active in our memory, what we perceive as good and what we think is bad. Of course the anti-India, anti-Hindu forces are stronger than pro-India, pro-Hindu forces and hence they have bigger control on media. The next Tehelka may not be far away, so stay tuned but don’t let it misguide you.

Author: Arun Kumar

Published: July 17,2014