Of A Biased Media, Yakub Memon And Baby Crows!by Vinta Nanda July 30 2015, 11:29 pm Estimated Reading Time: 11 mins, 20 secs
So as I walked into the elevator that would take me to my apartment on the 7th floor after work last evening, in walked with me a lady well over 75 years of age.
I know her well because we have both been living in the same building for years and we exchange pleasantries every time we come across each other.
‘The President has rejected Yakub Memon’s mercy plea,” she said, half as a question and the other half was an affirmative statement.
“Not yet,” I said to her, “It’s the Ministry of Home Affairs,” I told her, “that has rejected the plea for mercy as yet, and now the Home Minister Rajnath Singh is on his way to Rashtrapati Bhavan, to meet the President and convince him that as the final authority, even he should reject the plea.”
“The Governor of Maharashtra has given his approval for Yakub’s hanging”, she then said to me with another round of finality in her voice, “they have started making preparations for his hanging tomorrow morning in Nagpur jail,” she said.
“So you want Yakub Memon to hang, is it?” I asked her.
By now the elevator had reached the fourth floor where she was going to step out of the lift and as she left for her apartment she said with complete satisfaction, “He should be hanged!”
The liftman Shukla, smiled and his eyes crinkled as he spoke next, “Bechaari, vidhwa hai, akele rehti hain (poor thing, she’s a widow; she lives alone),” he had no clue what had been exchanged between us; or so I thought since we had been speaking in English, but he continued, “aap Yakub Memon ki baat kar rahe the na (you were talking about Yakub Memon, right)?”
I said, “Haan, Kyun (Yes, why)?”
“Usku toh bahut din pehle phaansi lagna chahiye tha. Chalo koi baat nahin, kal subah subah khatam ho jaayega (he should have gone to the gallows years ago. Never mind, he will be finished early in the morning tomorrow).”
Thankfully, by now I was at the seventh floor, so I smiled at him shakily and let the lift door shut behind me and suddenly felt secure as I entered my house and when my big black dog Charlie greeted me leading me straight to the shelf where his chews are kept so I could give him his customary daily treat.
The media is everywhere, people are the media as they consume it on the move and carry news and information as casually as they carry shopping bags or laptops on their shoulders, I thought to myself.
I had barely settled in when my sister returned from her regular evening walk and before I could even say hello, she said, “the sad truth about us is that it is from India that the world has adopted non violence; our civilization emerged from the basic premise that taking a life is not any human beings right. Christianity and Islam went against even abortion after adopting the idea from Hinduism, and today, isn’t it ironic that it’s the Hindu’s who are so ecstatic over the hanging of Yakub Memon?”
I had nothing much to say to her, so she continued, “The Jains,” she said, “The real believers don’t even wear shoes for fear of killing worms and insects by mistake, they’re vegetarians, most of them!”
“Well, the lawyer in all debates on TV, defending the State for the hanging of Yakub Memon is a Jain. His name is Hitesh Jain,” I said to her.
“That’s what I mean!” she said as she trundled off to do her own thing.
They don’t eat flesh, yet they do enjoy the spectacle of men being taken to the gallows, the bloodshed during riots and the chaos after terror attacks, the endless visuals of disasters and misery that follows; even crime fiction as our ratings tell us over and over again, I thought to myself.
And I knew that the rest of the evening was going to be about the hanging of a man, an accomplice, a co-conspirator of the worst terror attack India has ever seen, way back in 1993; amidst an atmosphere created today by media, in which opinion is divided; where the majority is not just for hanging Yakub Memon, but over excited about it.
Yakub Memon was the brother of the mastermind, Tiger Memon, who now finds refuge in luxury and comfort with Dawood Ibrahim, the super Don, in Pakistan, they say.
He was in knowledge of the conspiracy and left a day before the attacks in 1993, for Pakistan and was later lured back along with his family to India, and ‘cultivated with the promise of Justice’, in the words of the ex intelligence chief who spoke in various debates on TV in the recent past, a man who was led the investigation; and Memon apparently cooperated with authorities and helped them with crucial evidence that revealed to them the most important and deepest truths behind the dastardly act.
“Bharat Mata Ki Jai! (Long Live India!)!” Was the cry of the crowds outside Nagpur Jail, now having been turned into a fortress guarded from hundreds trying to break past cordons and get closer to the event in which Memon was to be hanged many hours before the scheduled time was to come.
Every evening now is about one thing or another that gets the whole country, the entire nation talking, jumping, excited, ecstatic and divided?
It’s about India v/s Pakistan, on the cricket as well as battle fields; about Hindu’s v/s Muslims; Christians v/s Hindu’s; Secularists v/s Right Wing; Left v/s Right and so on every single night, and television takes over from where you leave off at the end of your day before you go to bed every night.
It was only yesterday that I read about a survey carried out recently in which it was found that 80% of Indians have lost faith in media and that 70% believe that Prime Time News has become chaotic and meaningless.
It is a relevant read here http://trak.in/tags/business/2015/07/20/80-lost-faith-mainstream-media-70-prime-time-debates-chaotic-meaningless/
Well sure, but ironically, everybody seems to be watching it round the clock because Prime Time has become All The Time, Real Time, Throughout The Day & The Night, On Twitter, On Facebook & On Every Other Mobile & Still Media, At Every Single Hour and simultaneously news gets passed around through word of mouth as it remains consistently unchanged, except for the main actors sometimes switching roles!
I am slowly beginning to realize that my opinion doesn’t matter anymore. Nobody’s does.
Its about what is entertaining; about what is popular, what captivates the attention of millions of people and keeps them talking about a topic until it changes.
We live in an overpopulated country filled with a diverse set of communities and the masterminds behind the several content streams excel in the art of swaying audiences to their tunes; one day leading them to group in collectives against each other, and on another day, polarizing them in their entirety.
They can draw the attention of millions towards what they want or take their attention far away from where it should be, with one headline or just one breaking news; and events are organized and calculatedly coordinated to assist the waves that build themselves up to becoming storms; they are methodically articulated by those who control the minds, sentiments and the ideological leanings of masses.
There was a terrorist attack in Panjab just the other day and newsrooms across languages targeted to splintered demographics sat ready with the usual suspects, sets of debate artistes who have become faces so familiar that you often mistake them to be your neighbors; to discuss how terrible it was what had happened. Just then our most popular and respected Ex President, APJ Abdul Kalam, collapsed while giving a lecture to students at a Management Institute and was declared dead a short while later.
The same set of people who were about to attack the present Government about its policies and practices, went into mourning within seconds, and began to reminisce their encounters with now the late President, on all Indian television channels in all Indian languages.
The attack on Gurdaspur, a city in Panjab, the loss of lives, the messy way that the counter attack was handled by our Policemen who ‘still’, after 26/11 and various other encounters with terrorists, don’t have bullet proof vests to wear, and who carry the most archaic and defunct weapons to confront infiltrators who have crossed our porous borders armed with AK 47’s, were completely and conveniently forgotten.
It is three days now since then, and there has been no mention of the heinous crime upon innocent people and about our inept police force desperately awaiting training and equipment.
And the funeral of our respected Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam is scheduled for the same morning in Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu, on the 30th July 2015, when Yakub Memon is going to be hanged in Nagpur, Maharashtra. Ironically, 30th July apparently also happens to be Yakub Memon’s birthday.
A State mourning for APJ was declared for seven days! It didn’t last even two. The State has moved on; so has the news and peoples sentiments.
“We’re living in dangerous times,” said my mother as we watched TV later last night, and heard extreme opinions coming from journalists, politicians, activists, lawyers, retired intelligence officers and Tu Kaun Main Khamkha’s (a terrible translation of the last bit would perhaps be like this – Who are you? I’m Just Like That Only!)
And when I asked her why she felt like that, she said, “Amidst all this din, there is no way that we can ever know the real thing, and when such a time comes when the truth is clouded, terrible things happen. At the time of partition in 1947, it was the same as it is today. Nobody knew what was really going on.”
“You don’t have despair Mom, these are time of hyper communication, there is too much flying around,” I said to her.
“I’m not despairing,” she said to me. “I’m worried for all of you! Those were also times of hyper communication.”
“Yes, but there was no TV, no internet in the days of partition,” I retorted.
“You don’t need TV and internet to spread hatred and to create communal tensions. It happens through word of mouth and flames fly from small, what you would imagine to be insignificant events. Those who set people ablaze with anger and rage are well organized and they premeditate events. Your media is just the final outcome of cold blooded planning that takes place among anti social elements on the ground.”
My media? It is you who is glued to it all the time! I thought to myself but she continued, “I had gone to Amritsar last year, and was shocked to see how pictures of assassins and traitors were being worshiped at the Golden Temple, and I was thinking to myself about what was going on; about what patriotism is about today? I was wondering about the present concept of nationalism. Are those who divide people on basis of religion, caste and ideologies, nationalists? Or are those who bring diverse communities together to live in harmony, nationalists?”
“Lets talk about the baby crow Ma!” I said to my 83 years old mother.
We have a baby crow that was born in a nest built by a Mommy crow on our windowsill.
We have been following the story of the Mama Crow since the time it started building its nest and have followed it through while she lay three eggs, of which one finally hatched to give birth to a baby crow who struts around on the scaffolding outside our windows these days.
I remember when Mama Crow had laid eggs, I had asked, how long it would take for them to hatch generally to everyone who was around.
I remember everyone who was around dived to Google on his or her smart phones to find out how long a crows egg take to hatch.
And I remember, how our housekeeper Leela who was also around walked in and said, “Baees Din (22 days)!”
I asked her how she knew and she said, “murgi ka bacchha baees din mein ande se paida hota hai (a chicken is hatched out of an egg in 22 days), Darjeeling mein hamare ghar pe hum log murgi paalta hai (at home in Darjeeling we keep chickens)!”
Meanwhile all the Googlers came back with the same answer from Wikipedia. A crow’s egg takes anything between 20 and 30 days to hatch!
Our baby crow was born in exactly 22 days!
So much for media, information and communication, right?
Leela, who cannot read or write and has grown up with little or no access to healthcare, education or information, always, has all the answers.
Are we missing something here?