Let us face it: The media lives by the day. Today'sfront-page lead story becomes history the next day and is totally forgotten the day after. No one asks: What happened about the story that was hyped up on Day One.
The controversy about reservations has died down and one can rest assured that reservations as originally conceived would be implemented without anybody being any wiser about it.
For about a week our front pages played up World Cup as if that was a matter of life and death. And now it is conveniently relegated to where it truly belongs; the Sports Page, Ganguly is forgotten and so, in due course, will be the fate of Sachin Tendulkar. Gavaskar was wise; he did not wait to be marginalised. At the height of his career he decided to call it a day and is probably now earning more money as a cricket commentator than he would have if he had stayed on only to be booed out.
And whatever happened to the Indo-US Nuclear Agreement? The story is that scientists have been asked to shut up and do as they are told. They have shut up all right. This is democracy in action.
Overnight Shashi Tharoor made it to the front page. It was unwise on the part of the Government of India to nominate him as its candidate for the Secretary-Generalship of the United Nations. That post should always be reserved for an outsider. Naming him as its preferred candidate by the Government of India was a mistake. It sets off internal conflicts within the organisation that it can well do without.
Or take the story about Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose having died a natural death in oblivion decades later in the Faizabad district of Uttar Pradesh. Netaji reportedly was living in disguise as a sanyasi under the name Gumnami Baba. That is so much out of character for Netaji that one can only laugh at these stupid stories. One of his closest associates was S.A.Aiyer who was originally a Reuters correspondent in Rangoon, later joined the Indian National Army and became Netaji'sInformation Minister. After the war was over, Aiyar was repatriated to India, was briefly tried and released and the Government of Bombay(Mumbai), under, Shri B.G.Kher, appointed him as Director of Information and that was when I first came to know him. He was very much my senior but we became friends and I edited his book entitled, if I remember a right, Unto Him A Witness.
Aiyar often described to me with tears in his eyes of Netaji'sdeath. He wasn'tfooling. He had full information as to what happened from first hand reports. I lost the autographed copy of his book over the years but I have no doubt that Netaji died in the aircrash and was later cremated. Netaji was such a strong personality that there was no way that he could have hidden his identity. And were he alive, Jawaharlal Nehru would not have stood a chance to become the Prime Minister, Gandhiji or no Gandhiji. Such was his hold on the hearts of the Indian people. That is why I am highly sceptical about stories occasionally put out about Netaji, though that good man would anyhow have been dead these last twenty odd years. That is why I am equally sceptical about the story of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas. Forget the Gospel of Judas over which so much has been made by the National Geographic magazine.
Did it need Judas to identify Jesus to the Roman soldiers? Jesus was a well-known figure. He was moving around in Palestine and must have been a familiar figure. Palestine is not India. And Jesus was not moving around in a Mercedez Benz or a Maruti. Most of the time he was walking and must have been a familiar sight to almost every Palestinian. And at any time and in anyplace, even among hundreds surrounding him, were a Roman soldier to ask who among them was Jesus Christ, I am sure Jesus would have said it was he.
One is reminded of a story about Mahatma Gandhi recounted by Ian Henderson Douglas in his biography of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. Gandhi was on this way home but was wanted by the police who had come at night to arrest him. As recounted, this is what happened: The police officials arrived at midnight accompanied by thirty men with readied guns. In the darkness it was impossible for them to make out Gandhi anywhere or guess where he might be hiding.
At last some one pointed out a little white bundle in one of the sheds and some one wondered whether that belonged to Gandhi. In the midst of the confusion the leader of the national movement was sleeping like a baby, absolutely certain that the Lord would take care of him.
The British police officer awakened the sleeper and shone a flashlight into his face and said: ?We have come to arrest Shri M.K.Gandhi.? ?I am Mohandas Karamchad Gandhi? answerer the little figure politely, adding, ?I am at your service.? The poor British official did not know what to do. He said: ?Please get your things ready. We will give you the time you need.? ?I am ready now?, said Gandhi, indicating the small bundle on the floor, ?that is all I need?.
There was no need for Gandhi to ?hide? from the police and on being questioned he immediately identified himself. One can'timagine Jesus wishing to hide and even among a thousand people were a Roman soldier to ask who Jesus was, one can imagine Christ walking up to the soldier and identifying himself. That is why one feels a little sceptical of the story of Judas betraying Jesus. This is not meant to raise a controversy and if the church says Judas betrayed Jesus, it is none of anyone'sbusiness to question its faith and mythology. There was then no media to record the events and even if there was one, one can be assured that there would have been half a dozen versions of the same story.
But may it be suggested to the UPA Government that in the matter of the deferred Indo-US Nuclear Agreement the more the transparency, the better for all concerned? The Indo-US Nuclear Agreement is a major event and overnight, as it were, the scientific community has gone into the silence mode. That is somewhat eerie and suggests that something is going on that calls for explanation. The media, too, is not asking questions. We have gone through one Emergency. Let it not be said that the government wants to hide something of which some scientists are fully aware of but are prevented from speaking out about it openly. India is a country on the march. We could do with help from the US but we should know under what conditions that help is offered.