Media Change is in the air. In a way it is frightening. Take any English newspaper and you would hardly recognise it, the way it is. The new lay-outs and page designing make all the difference. And it doesn'tmatter whether it is a provincial daily or a national daily. They are getting to be all the same, except that a paper like Hindustan Times is chockful of pages and is way ahead of others. But the get-up whether of the Goa-based Gomantak Times, the Nagpur-based Hitavada, the Mumbai-based The Free Press Journal, the Delhi-based The Pioneer or the Kolkata-based The Telegraph, it is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate between them. The approach is the same: colour, colour, colour; half-page pictures, accent on youth; society gossip; photos of the rich and the powerful, partying. Why blame Rahul Mahajan for what he had become? It is the media that is making the Rahuls. And it is the media that is corrupting the middle class young who have no one to provide them with leadership. Any high values that the young may be entertaining are destroyed by the media whose only aim seemed to be to pander to the rich and the powerful. In a daring article in Hindustan Times Barkha Dutt writing about the Pramod Mahajan (June 10) episode made a few powerful statements that long needed to be stated. She wrote: ?Pramod Mahajan's personality was a cocktail of contradictions, both potent and dangerous. What chance did his son possibly have to turn out any different??. Then she asked: ?But why blame him alone? To me, this is the larger theme song of not just the Mahajan tragedy, but also the times we live in?the demise of middle class values among those who make it big. New money seems to have obliterated the value of struggle as a virtue. Wealth has erased the need for a work-ethos…so children of rich parents no longer have to make it on their own…The rich and famous believe that money will provide the ultimate legitimacy and we end up proving them right Rahul Mahajan is merely his father'sson; a product of our times. Why are we surprised that he snorted cocaine and thought he could get away with it?? But if Barkha Dutt is sharp?and her column is worth its weight in gold?one has to read what Swapan Dasgupta, a BJP sympathiser who has not kept it a secret, has written in The Pioneer (June 4) that is even more relevant?and damning. Dasgupta is highly critical of the BJP which, he wrote, was so intellectually bankrupt that it elevated ? into a godly virture, qualities of expediency, sometimes verging on skulduggery into godly virtue?. He said that ?the deification of Mahajan was not an act of innocent simple-mindedness but was symptomatic of a larger rot that is destroying the BJP?. He averred that ?what we have witnessed in the BJP in recent times is the institutionalisation of duplicity?. Rot, wrote Dasgupta, has got into the BJP and he added: ?An oganisation can only redeem itself if it acknowledges that it is in need of redemption. It has taken the so did Rahul Mahajan controversy to bring out the extent of the rot. But surely things won'tget better if the BJP deludes itself into believing that coke is just the name of soft drink?. Almost following suit, The Hindu (June 8) said that ?it is raining scandal in the Bharatiya Janta Party'sbackyard sleaze, murder and now a suspected case of liquor-and-drug overdose?; however, the paper gave credit to the RSS for distancing itself from Rahul Mahajan. The paper said: ?It is a different matter that the RSS is in the forefront of an inner-party campaign for ?moral cleansing?. The command Centre strongly disapproved of Pramod'sfast-track life, a stance hardened by the ugliness of the flamboyant general secretary'sdeath and his son'sheadline-hogging travails. Indeed it was to please the RSS that a section of the BJP distanced itself from Rahul, projecting him instead as a protege of the party president. The irony is difficult to miss. Hand-picked by the RSS, Shri Rajnath Singh was thought to be the man to reform a party ?gone off course? under Lal Krishna Advani. In its two years out of power, a once- formidable party has lurched from crisis to crisis, unable to perform its role in the opposition and quite the antithesis of an organisation professing value-based politics. The malaise is too deep for many quick fix.? Indeed it is. But the malaise is universal. Discipline is breaking down in all parties, including the Congress. Arjun Singh is behaving irresponsibly, without even telling the Prime Minister that he was introducing reservations for SC/OBC/STs in education and elsewhere. Arjun Singh apparently considers himself a law unto himself. What did The New Indian Express (April 14) write about him? This is what: ?In one crafty stroke he (Arjun Singh) has sought to ingratiate himself to a sizeable vote bank, stolen the limelight at a time when he was being viewed as a spent force, moved closer to Left allies and re-enforced his claim for the Prime Ministerial chair, ostensibly upstaging Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee if Dr Manmohan Singh decided to call it a day.? And ?this in addition to the assiduous wooing of the minorities vote bank by taking on the BJP on matters like ?detoxification? of textbooks to rid them of ?non-secular content?. We live in troubled times. But we do not face up to life but instead our newspapers go for hype of entertainment. Just think of this: Football?and the World Cup?has been with us for a long, long time, and like the Ashes?in cricket?it was always taken for granted. Overnight the media decided that the World Cup had to be hyped and the English media especially went haywire. It was all unbelievable. Praise was showered on the game as of universal application and the front pages of our English papers looked like advertisements. Was all that hype necessary? And, let this be said, all newspapers were equally guilty. Entertainment?not values?is what the media is selling and the readers put up with it not knowing what else can be done. It is both sickening and disgusting. And entire country is being demoralised and its people destroyed because the media has decided what is more important is its bottom line and not its responsibilities to the people at large. The public has thus become a victim of the media'sgreed and so we have these characters in the world of films and politics who hog the headlines and never mind if people continue to starve and farmers continue to commit suicide?and the young resort to cocaine, heroin and god alone knows what else, because they do not know how else to spend their time and money. And our political paries have no vision. All they care for is how to stay in power. And at that they have neither scruples nor principles.