50 Crore Tweets, Millions Of Comments On Social Media - Arnab Goswami Interviews Rahul Gandhi?by Vinta Nanda January 29 2014, 5:20 pm Estimated Reading Time: 10 mins, 48 secs
“The key to the future of the world,” he said in 1994, “is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known.” – Pete Seeger RIP
"That is what should drive everybody’s work today!” says a very dear friend to me.
Now let me burst the huge bubble that spells out not the success of channels alone, but the supposed victory for the Media and Marketing Industry of India which now boasts of huge numbers of responses to programs and advertisements that push ratings, and then raises the price of every second of promotion on Television as we begin to draw closer to the battle of the ballot, 2014.
What better way to start the season than to get RG to give his first ever 75 minute long interview on Television? And as we go to publish this piece, Times Now is milking the coup on the day after.
It was a Sunday the day before the promised news-hour, and I found myself in an unusual situation with a bunch of people I would rarely be seen with otherwise.
Forget the reason why I was with them but what I want to tell you, is something quite interesting.
This guy, whom I met for the first time and hopefully the last, was trying to impress me and told me that he was in the business of ONLINE REPUTATION MANAGEMENT. I was surprised. Even though I have known about the business, I had never been taken to its depths to understand what it was all about.
I was curious so this guy went on to tell me quite excitedly about how his company has thousands of millions of twitter handles and Facebook as well as other social media pages and how it is hired by the largest corporate and advertisers for promotions. He realized that I was intrigued so he continued with much delight to tell me that more than building a products or a persons’ reputation, what brings the biggest profits, is to destroy it.
I sat up.
Now I was more than curious. I became inquisitive!
I asked him if there were legit people who hired his company’s services to destroy others and when he named a few of his clients I was sent reeling with shock.
I was too much in a state of disbelief, and all that I could utter in that state of mind was to tell this fellow that what he did for a living and what he was so proud of was dastardly and no less than another form of terrorism.
Then he was taken aback and I think I silenced him when I told him that he and his kind could be compared to arms dealers, and that his clients perhaps likened to the Bin Ladens of the world.
But then our unscrupulous friend who was not so happy to figure that I wasn’t dazzled by his claims, on the contrary, quite disgusted, must have felt the need to justify himself so he told me that I am only one of those pseudo secularists of this world, who thinks that Bin Laden was a terrorist.
HA! Secularist! What has secularism got to do with my thinking that ruining somebody’s reputation and getting paid to do it, was an act of terrorism?
He said, unrelentingly and desperately trying to win me over, also to advocate credibility to his profession, that it is only now, today, that we consider Jesus to be God.
He then told me that at the time when Jesus was alive, there were many adverse perspectives about Him and although there was no internet then, there must have been so much unrecorded opinion which was against Him, much more as a matter of fact, than there was opinion in favour of Him.
So was he trying to tell me that Bin Laden would one day be worshipped as God? This man I had just met was thrilled. He told me that Bin Laden is already God for many.
I gave up.
I had had too much of him by then. While telling him that Jesus was a saviour of lives and not one who took them, I picked up my bag and left the table to go sit on another one, where I was fortunate to find some friends.
Strange that it was, I dived into my own comfort zone, imagining that by rubbishing that oaf I had ended the practice of ONLINE REPUTATION BUILDING AND DESTRUCTION, which had the power to demonize a saint and turn an angel to beast, and had dismissed the certainty that we were living in such times where people are fickle and in such times when the marketing of making or breaking reputations makes ordinary men and women swarm like bees around ideas of truth and lies that get floated in the channels of politics by the wealthy and debauched.
So in my first conclusion, the revolution we think that has brought the Aam Aadmi (Common Man) up to speed with the politics of our times and that which has made us believe that opinion is finally democratized, is as a matter of fact already an illusion and defunct.
I didn’t connect at the time, that Rahul Gandhi’s interview was scheduled on prime time on the very next night which was Monday, on Times Now, and that now here that I was enlightened with the claims of the man I never wish to meet again, I was going to see it very differently, through a prism of another kind of shame and evil that has befallen upon us in India.
So now that each and every person I know and don’t know has watched Rahul Gandhi’s interview on TV, and for all I know is watching it a second and third and fourth time over, the discussion about it is going to go on for the next two days, maybe weeks, because after Arnab Goswami, it is Rajdeep Sardesai ofvs and Barkha Dutt from NDTV, who are not going to let up until they have one each under their belt too.
The whole of India is abuzz going back and forth about what RG spoke and his critics are far more in numbers than those who were open to appreciating what he said. The entire media, marketing and communications industries are gone crazy over the number of tweets that this particular interview garnered, obviously more than ever before, and as the days take us closer to the elections this year, they have benchmarked the sales of more of these scripted delights to excite the Indian voter and viewer.
Do they care about who wins or loses? Obviously not!
They are raking it in right now, and that is all that matters! Here is a link to some of what the communication fraternities are saying about the success of the show! http://www.digitalmarket.asia/?email_id=192&user_id=0&demo=1&urlpassed=W3ZpZXdfaW5fYnJvd3Nlcl9saW5rXQ%3D%3D&controller=stats&action=analyse&wysija-page=1&wysijap=subscriptions
What bothers me is that not once, but twice over the course of an hour and a half, RG told Arnab that he should stop dealing with superficialities and asked Arnab why he wasn’t getting to the real questions about what his and the political party he represents’ vision for India is, what it is that he is going to do about various issues that stare at India if they are elected to lead the Government?
Both times Arnab categorically said that he was not interested in listening to another couple of RG speeches and that it was his prerogative as the interviewer to ask what he thought he should.
The online reputation management industry went into destructive mode the moment the interview started and this time I was watching it unfold because I was learned too. All arteries started to spam and there was one common thread to all criticism; RG has nothing to say, he has nothing to say, he is repetitive, repetitive, repetitive.
Then immediately after the interview Arnab got into a discussion with Vinod Mehta and others to analyse his conversation with RG and all of them laughed at the fact that RG had nothing more to say about the issues he mentioned, nothing beyond the fact that issues they are.
HA! You didn’t let him speak, you didn’t ask pertinent questions, as a matter of fact you refused to, and then you laugh at the fact that he never spoke? That’s funny!
Our media and its men and women are beyond doubt archaic and more than being biased, they are terrified! They will not dare steer away from the mundane and stick to the middle then they criticize. They don’t allow an interviewee to say anything which their list of contributors to paid media doesn’t want that the public should hear.
After this particular interview, I am convinced that there is no hope for us to have legitimate and meaningful debate even this coming election season unless and until we improve the quality and depth of the understanding of our media which unfortunately is the only estate that has access to the politics of our times.
It is the myopia of our mainstream media, driven by those markets of making and demolishing reputations, 50 Crore Tweets and Millions of comments on Social Media, that leads the narrow vision of our politics which we so helplessly hate and despise.
Rahul Gandhi stood up to a lot and was prepared for a lot more. You could see that. He kept repeating that it is the system that he wants to change, something each and every citizen of this country approves of, but wasn’t given one chance to explain what it is that he would do to empower people, women and the youth, to increase the number of jobs for the young aspirants of the country, to weed out corruption, to release fresh blood into the ailing arteries of a failing government. Arnab did not want to give him a chance to go into speech mode so, he explained, he did not ask Rahul what his plans were.
Why did not Arnab ask about health services, education, infrastructure and development? Why did he insist to repeat his questions about scams, AAP, Modi and things that we have heard over and over again and we all know there are no explanations for, any answers for?
Why the hell doesn’t he stop talking about the past and look at the present and future? Why doesn’t he let go or allow politicians to let go 1984, 1992, 2002 and Babri Masjid? Those were massive mistakes, huge setbacks, terrible and horrible things that happened in India, things that have left India scarred forever and things that there are no closures for?
But the present generation of young people of India had nothing to do with it, and it bears no consequence to their future.
Unless we are able to forget the former and throw light on what is forthcoming, the current will continue to be chaotic and the eventual will seem to be dark.
Let us get one thing straight. Until we do not talk about how the candidates standing for elections this year are going to address issues and solve problems, and until we do not allow them to talk about their idea’s for India, this poll too shall be arbitrary and undue upon the people of the country who will yet again be coerced to vote for contestants who are content to keep the country mired in controversies of the massacres of our recent history.
I don’t know if this interview was paid for by the Congress, or backed by its opposition/s. I don’t know if it was RG who had agreed to dole the channel its highest ratings ever by consenting to appear on this much publicized prime time hour on the one condition that he be given the right to choose what he wants to talk about and what he doesn’t or if his opposition set him up through a media that supports them.
With the knowledge of a thriving ONLINE REPUTATION BUILDING & DESTRUCTION INDUSTRY at work I do know one thing, and that is that the 2014 is going to be one more election in which the politicians, bureaucrats, corporate and the media, all in cohorts with each other, are going to get the better of the people of India.
When the industries of reputation building and reputation demolishing collide, the winner will be the one who paid more, and the biggest loser in this game, will be the Indian.