Flight of Foreign Fancy

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A number of recent events stand as evidence of our constant need for approval from foreign media. Nisarg Kamdar delves further into this national obsession

While replication is considered to be the best form of flattery, merely plagiarizing without application of one’s mental prowess is plain cretinous. The syndrome seems to be fast overpowering a major section of the Indian media and consumers. While the foreign media industry has for ages wielded a disproportionate amount of influence on our internal functioning, this recent ass worshipping borders on servility and obsequiousness.

Who’s the Underacheiver?
Take the recent Time magazine cover, which managed to raise a storm. Hours of television programming and oceans of ink were devoted to analysing a cover labelling Manmohan Singh as an ‘Underachiever’. Senior ministers elevated it to a pedestal by issuing rebuttals, which is surprising when juxtaposed with their contemptuous dismissal of incisive and indicting reporting by national magazines. The juvenile tit-for-tat from the Outlook Magazine points to the importance awarded to insipid commentary as long as it originates from the Western Hemisphere.
The one with Narendra Modi on the cover was interpreted as a stamp of approval and his supposed eligibility for the high post of India’s Prime Minister. What baffles me is this constant craving for approval from the foreign media at the expense of the public at large.

Why do we require all our prime ministerial candidates to be vetted by those who at best have a passing interest in our country?

Why does an op-ed in the New York Times send the government and the media into a tizzy, while informative and erudite commentary back home rarely rises beyond a passing mention?

How difficult is it grasp that the media of every country functions with the aim to promote the interests of the country rather than with the interests of India at heart?

The Economic Coma
Unfortunately, it is not just the political class that seems to base its decisions on portrayal by foreign institutions. The Indian media too seems to have joined the bandwagon.Rather than choose to chart out an independent path based on enlightening commentary and protecting the interests of the proletariat, it seems to have lapsed into a coma, parroting western thought and economic policies adopted by the international media.
The verbose breast beating which lines our dailies is cringe worthy. The absence of critical analysis and rational thinking is apodictic. Stories seem to be based primarily on commentary by the international media rather than a fact based observation on the travails of India.
In the absence of indigenous andingenious thought, India has been bulldozed into following half-baked ideas, which have in turn fuelled this great disparity between the masses in the country.
The media, along with the executive, the legislature and the judiciary are the four pillars on which democracy takes safe refuge. In many ways, it is the most essential ingredient of any democracy. Its malfunctioning can be catastrophic for the country. As a bastion of free thought and guarded scepticism, the inability to preserve free thinking has been manifested in a decaying and regressive society.
Abhishek Karandhikar, second year engineering student offers an acerbic take, “With an economy down in the dumps, increasing distrust in our markets by foreign investor, and a collective feeling of not belonging to the ‘developed world’ and failing to compete with China, our media, which almost essentially is a political entity now, is clinging to the 15 minutes of fame we get for free.”

Social Sector
The majority of the country is aware of some of the diabolical and egregious social diseases that persist and perpetrate in India. It is more or less a defining theme of our Sunday newspaper spreads and that infected portion of our body which we have chosen to severe rather than cure.
But with alarming regularity and tedious predictability, there is a chorus of outcry the moment a Guardian decides to take up the cudgels in the fight for social equality. Responses range from defensive retorts and inability to swallow the truth to sympathetic tweets and Facebook statuses. Rarely does either translate into ground level action.
The trouble is why do equally erudite, if not more, reports armed with incisive statistics and illuminating facts in local dailies not arouse the same urge for change which a Guardian report my initiate?
Should every fact be reinforced by the supposed purveyors of journalistic ethics for it to finally register?

‘Meaningful’ Cinema
Unsurprisingly, the entertainment industry and its offshoots have been caught up in the same rot.
Rather than cater to the audience, serve up intelligent produce replete with takes on Indian idiosyncrasies and home grown ideas, they are designed to educate and entertain everyone but Indians.
An award at the Cannes Film Festival is all what matters, not the content or lack of that. Somehow, in this age of claptrap nonsense, scheming PRs have managed to categorise anything which gets an award at an international film festival as ‘offbeat’ and ‘meaningful’ cinema, when there is far better regional and national programming, who choose to avoid climbing on to this gravy train .
The idea that anything endorsed by a chimp sitting in Paris is far better than local produce is defeating, degenerate and regressive. Unfortunately, most Indians fall for such silly marketing exercises, in turn failing to appreciate and enjoy far better quality entertainment just because they weren’t rubber stamped by the likes of the Wall Street Journal.

Free Thinkers
A country is defined by its idiosyncrasies, its peculiarities and it’s tough process. Unless we break out of our feudal mind-set, I fear that we still remain imprisoned and our cognition still incarcerated, 65 years after gaining independence.

Stories seem to be based primarily on commentary by the international media rather than a fact based observation on the travails

Volume 2 Issue 3