Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Who is driving the National Debate ?

Within minutes after the release of the Congress manifesto the media was busy analyzing and trend spotting . As though proof were needed that our media reflects rather than guide, public discourse on elections and electoral prospects of various parties. In 2014 it still prefers to take its cues from poll pundits and manifestos of important political parties in the fray, rather than indulging in depth sounding down below, where the real voters looking for a new and more bankable order swim.
In 1947 we built a huge democracy around Gandhian ideology using structures created in the next decade by a Nehruvian State. Our news rooms treat these ideologies with a reverence we reserve for religious orders, and go on ignoring the obvious signs of decay in the pillars that make most manifestos worth less than the expensive paper they are printed on. For the media it seems, the narratives about the state of the nation and the voters' minds are still being shaped largely in the 'war rooms' set up by parties and funded by friends with deep pockets . We forget that one reason Delhi warmed up to the AAP and put paid to all pre poll surveys, was that in its story the invisible Aam Admi , struggling somewhere at the bottom made a personal appearance, and its message was driven by intelligent and fresh faces who were unafraid to say that things can not go on like this.
Rethinking for a nation our size is, ofcourse, a massive undertaking and guarantees both emotional and political fall outs . It is tempting to dismiss AAP's success as a byproduct of recession and Kejriwal as yet another go getter. But if one would listen to the young closely, from both urban and rural areas, one would uncover very different and often disturbing expectations and attitudes to electoral politics . This is not adequately reflected in either the party manifestos or our mainstream media who continue to tow the usual line , and so far it is only partially visible in the social media.   


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