The curious case of Rajdeep Schwarzenegger

It was a moment of euphoria when the whole of India, and a significant little bit of the US, were looking with expectations at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s US visit, especially his address at the packed hall of Madison Square Gardens. The limelight was supposed to be on Modi and what he is going to speak. Top-billed as a mega event, almost everyone had India's Prime Minister Modi gestures while speaking at Madison Square Garden in New Yorklanded up for the glitzy event, all agog to hear the man speak. This was supposed to his moment through and through.

But just like Jayalalitha’s conviction had overshadowed his UNGA address, there was another event which almost did the same to the Madison Square address. Just an hour before Modi took to stage another news broke out, that veteran editor Rajdeep Sardesai had been assaulted by a mob at the venue.

The script was so jarringly repetitive, saffron fanatics hitting out at people who ‘disagree’, trying to muffle out the voices. The sad part was that this was happening in America. As, you could hear Rajdeep say, “Something and some people don’t change”.

Not surprisingly, the news was picked up by many, people were tweeting, retweeting and belabouring the conduct of the so-called Modi Bhakts, and there wanton acts. There were aspersions being thrown of how sane and sensible voices are being progressively silenced under the new regime. It was indeed a shameful event, something we all should be ashamed off.

Suddenly Rajdeep, who was just another media star in a star-studded affair in NY, was now trending and popular. By a quirk of fate, he had stolen the limelight from Àrnab Goswami, Barkha Dutt and Bhupendra Choubey, all of who were diligently trying to cover the event and raise the stakes. By their wanton act the Modi Bhakts had given the Modi baiters a good chance to draw the attention away.

But then, as the dust settled on the matter, and the time progressed, conflicting stories started to emerge. You know there, were these small mobile clips, where Rajdeep could be seen exchanging blows (rather trying to) than just receiving them in Buddhic acceptance. As time passed, there were more clips and more testimonials that hinted at a bigger story that what one got at first measure. Continue reading

An Open Letter to Rajdeep Sardesai

Dear Rajdeep,

I write this to you neither as a great fan of Indian media that you have come to represent, nor a disbeliever of what the Fourth Estate is capable of, merely as a common Indian who is intensely perturbed by the way things are. Let me also state here, that this letter of mine is in response to a note that you addressed to Anna, wherein you raised several points on the current campaign against corruption. First up, much like Anna, TV channels deserve quite a bit of credit for making the current agitation successful. Were it not for all the news channels that are hell-bent on outdoing each in the 24/7 coverage, Anna wouldn’t have been half as effective as he is now.

In fact, your admission in the letter, that news-channel like yours did not much co

ver Anna earlier as “Ralegan Sidhi is a long way from Delhi”, was quite telling. I have so far grown to the notion that reporters and editors follow news, where it is, not give weightage to them based on personal convenience. I guess that could be a justification as well for why news channels like yours have only given lip-coverage to Irom Sharmila, who has been fasting for the past 11 years, just because Manipur is far away from Delhi. I guess, if any crusader wants the press to pick up his just cause, he will now have to set up shop at Delhi.

Team Anna realized that to get the attention of news channel, he will have to land up in Delhi. In fact, isn’t it quite obvious, that even though the government was ham-handed and brutish the way it wound up the Ramdev agitation, the channels lost interest, once he was carted away to Dehradun. Not surprisingly, in the initial days, the government was very keen to not only evict Anna from the Ramlila ground, but Delhi altogether. It knew how the Indian media functioned; out of sight – out of byte.

One of the funny things in your mail to Anna was your reference to the Marathas as a community, talking about how after the 3rd Panipat Battle in 1761, Anna has “taken the national capital by storm”. The analogy was completely erroneous, considering that the battle in 1761, was fought between two kingdoms or principalities, of which one was alien to this land. This is not a battle between two ideologies or person (in fact, even the prime minister has been emphasizing the same time and again), it is against a common evil, namely corruption. Second, by dubbing Anna, as a Maratha, I felt you were trivializing the whole movement. He is not a Maratha battling it out for Marathas or Maharastrians as Sadashivrau Bhau was fighting for the Maratha Confederacy. He is an Indian, fighting for an issue close to all Indians, from the very top in J&K to the very south in TN.

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