Friday, January 28, 2011

Message to media. Stop screwing up India's growth story

I am really angry. I knew this would happen. It had to happen....sooner or later. With the kind of scare the media has created over the last few months, today's story is not surprising. FIIs (Foreign investors) have started deserting India and the stock market has tanked to its lowest level in the last 5 years. Give it some more time and it will scale a new low shortly. Each one of us is responsible for allowing these irresponsible journalistic practices to continue.....because we dont speak in one voice against them.

Nothing has changed in India in the last 6 months. If anything, the economic scenario has only become better. India continues to be the flavor of the world. It continues to remain the 2nd fastest growing major economy. It continues to remain politically important to the world (especially the US and Japan) as a counter-weight to China and future heavy-weight in its own right. 

Nothing has changed fundamentally. However, as I mentioned earlier, if everything is going on smoothly, its terrible times for media. In a world when everything is going smoothly, people start ENJOYING themselves. They stop WORRYING. So they switch away from news TV to GECs. And this is what the news TV guys really hate. The newspapers are already facing heavy attrition in readership. Daily readership of newspapers has been falling drastically with every passing year. The young (confident, happy.....) are not interested in newspapers because they do not worry. Do you now see the plot? TV news channels and newspapers want to sensationalize so that they can get your attention back....

The growth story of India is being killed by media. And worst of all.....its being done under the garb of doing good for the country. After all, on the face of it, the media has been responsible for unearthing so much corruption. Every day, there are scams in the papers. One 80 year old family friend of mine was saying yesterday that the scams are all worth more than a lac crores. Really? Irresponsible journalism has made people believe that the 2G scam was worth 1.7 lac crores. I know my friends in media will say that they did not create this figure....that was done by the CAG. But media is responsible for trusting the CAG and not applying common sense to the subject. I have already argued in two of my posts before that the 2G scam was nothing like its made out to be. It was of a far smaller order.....maybe a few thousand crores. Its the same story with the other scams. The CWG scam was made out to be worth 70K crores.....that bullshit. It was no more than a few hundred crores....or at best a little over a thousand crores. But in today's times, a small scam with hardly attract attention. So make it look bigger than it really is.

I have already argued in the past that India has always had massive corruption. Its been a 10 or even 15% story since the beginning. Since at least the last 50 years. And probably for more than a few centuries. During the British era also, Indians were corrupt (whoever could be). So what's surprising us so much? I agree totally, this should be cleaned up. But is this the way to clean up corruption? Throw the shit around in the air so that it falls on everyone and everyone feels demoralized. Will that remove corruption? Or should one have handled it with more sensitivity? Its a failing that ALL of us are equally guilty of. Then why is media pointing out to corruption in this style and making it appear that its a new phenomenon? Why is media aligning with the opposition parties in this? Are the opposition parties not corrupt in states that they rule??? Just look at corruption in Karnataka. Isnt there more than adequate corruption WITHIN media? Havent media outlets been held guilty of playing power brokers themselves (Neera Radia tapes)? Havent they been accused of charging money to print political stories?? Or to hold them back?? Then how come we allow media to point fingers at others when they are themselves part of the racket?

The real truth is that EVERYONE who has power in India has abused it. In the past, it was the feudal lords who abused power. Today, that list starts with politicians and bureaucrats. It then extends to ALL government officials who have any power at all. So cops, IT sleuths, Customs officials and in general most government officials.....including sadly the morgue in a hospital when you go to pick up the dead body of a relative. The trick here is that they must have POWER. Hence having more laws is so important. More laws give more powers to the officials. Now you understand why there are so many laws in India? I recently told someone that the recent decision of the Maharashtra government to increase the fine for rash driving, drunken driving etc in Bombay would increase the standard of living of the cops. If you have to pay Rs 2000 for rash driving rather than just Rs 500 (say), the bribe to escape the charge will also increase proportionately. Maybe this is the equivalent of the 7th pay commission. The list then expands to include even private enterprises who abuse power. Media is foremost in this. ALL media outlets abuse power. ALL media outlets use their political connections to achieve financial gains. This is a well guarded but still well known secret. Even the most venerable of government institutions (so called "independent" institutions) are corrupt. The judiciary is accused of being part of the same racked by many. The CAG is equally driven by political compulsions.

Today, we have made it impossible for anyone to govern India. Which sensible person will want to rule India if the media and public at large dont even give him a chance? There ia huge political score that is being settled against Manmohan Singh. India has never had a cleaner and more smart PM. And that's why I hold all of us responsible for creating this fear psychosis. For derailing the growth story. For not giving this good man a chance to do good. We have not acted against the irresponsible behavior of media. We have lapped up TV stories which are totally unfounded.....and motivated them to do put out more such crap. We have lacked the confidence to believe in our own growth story. If India's growth goes down, WE ALONE will be responsible.

So put a stop to all the rubbish. Organize street protests against irresponsibility. Against abuse of power. Demand accountability from media as well. If you dont do that, prepare yourself to live in a poor India for the next 100 years and to see India losing its path. Losing its rightful position in the world. I sincerely hope, the citizens of this country are more responsible than the media has been.

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