Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Grow Up, India!

The recent Ronen Sen’s controversy has resulted in one day’s loss of proceedings in the Indian Parliament. The Indian Legislators are fuming over the sentences made by Ronen Sen (India’s envoy to US) in his interview to Rediff. It’s unbelievable that a diplomat’s opinions to media can fluster Indian Democracy so much that it has actually stalled its proceedings in the Parliament. Ronen Sen has even apologized but that doesn’t seem to satisfy our peevish parliamentarians.

Ronen Sen reportedly said:

“It has been approved here [Washington] by the President, and there [New Delhi] it’s been approved by the Indian Cabinet. So why do you have all this running around like headless chicken, looking for a comment here or comment there, and these little storms in a tea cup?”

He has later clarified that he was referring to his ‘media friends’ and not the legislators of India. And if you read this quote again, it indeed looks closer to referring to journalists than referring to Indian legislators. Such ambiguity in reference is NOT going to stop our undaunted lawmakers to make a fuss about it – so much so that, they thought it was enough to give themselves a holiday from work for one day. What a waste of time! And what a shame!

A note about media

Especially the politicians, who are quite conversant with how media works, should understand how these sentences indeed get misquoted and misinterpreted by the media. They should have known by now how some sentences can convey completely different meaning when put out-of-context.

From my personal experience, I can say that, ‘yes indeed, such things happen on a regular basis in the media reporting’. When Outlook Money interviewed me (the supposed achievement of mine being that I returned from US to work in India), they completely made up the story. They reported that I was working in Chicago- when, in fact, there was not a single mention of that city in my interview. I had never worked in Chicago, and not anywhere close to that place, and hence the appearance of that city’s name in my context is completely unbelievable. But yet, such unbelievable stuff happens with the media.

In another incident, in an interview to IT magazine I said, ‘In India, when a fresher joins a small startup company, he is considered a loser’. And the IT magazine quoted me saying, ‘In India, a person starting a new company is considered a loser’. There’s a huge difference in these two messages.

We need to live with the fact that media does indeed get the interviewees into such mess. Some errors, misinterpretations, misquotes are quite prevalent. We can be little careful, but cannot avoid them completely. Such guffaws are bound to happen. We need to learn to tolerate them and move on. Not stall the Indian Democracy’s one day proceedings in the Parliament!

Need to grow up

India has to grow up. Its people have to grow up. Its politicians have to grow up. We seem to be ruffled by every sentence a person makes about us. While we continue to riot in our Parliament and Assembly proceedings, throwing speakers, chappals, chairs, beating up each other, we get offended when someone comments on such behavior. Have a look at this video. Indian Democracy at work!

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