Sensationalism and trivialisation are two shortcomings of the media today which need to be curbed and LK Advani feels that the curbs must be self-imposed. He is asking for the impossible. At a recent convention of the India Media Centre held in Ludhiana Shri Advani referred to the restraint excercised by the US media in the aftermath of 9/11. The American media, to its eternal credit, never showed pictures of bodies and about death and destruction. But what happened in the aftermath of the Sabarmati Express tragedy in Godhra? Rioting took place; people were killed and the television media, especially, showed pictures of the dead bodies, and everybody knew where they lay and in which particular locality, all of which was to lead to more killings. Our television media is beyond redemption. There is no way the media will change; curbs have to be imposed; the Press Council must be provided with executive powers which presently it hasn?t. Editors have been known to thumb their noses at it. Photographers don'teven have the decency to respect the dead. The Free Press Journal (November 8) reported the ?unruly behaviour? of photographers during the cremation of BR Chopra. His son wanted privacy and requested the photographers ?with folded hands? to stay away from the pyre, but they would not listen. They not only clicked pictures but loaded them on the net as well. That, one supposes, is media prowess. The same day the Free Press Journal reported that Amar Singh owns assets worth Rs 33 crore. This, apparently, was disclosed by the Samajwadi Party leader while filing nomination papers for a Rajya Sabha seat. Was he born rich? Did he achieve riches through business practices? The subject should be drawing the attention of Tehelka but obviously this matter is of no concern to it. Rs 33 crore is not exactly a small sum though it could be chicken feed to some one like Amitabh Bachchan. It is time Amar Singh wrote a book on how to be a millionaire. That should add to his inestimable fortunes. The media wouldn'tdare to take on Amar Singh in this matter. But there are other things that the media can get interested in such as what is happening in India'sneighbourhood. Time was when the Indian media had no one in the Far East; there was no foreign correspondent in Japan; no one to tell us what is happening in Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia. Even now there is no one there, not even in China which is on its way to become the Asian United States. But remember this: The Hindu (November 13) had an op-ed page article on Yunnan. Does anybody know where Yunnan is? For the reader'sinformation, Yunnan is a Chinese province that is geographically proximate to India. Recently the Governor of Yunnan visited New Delhi and The Hindu had the good sense to publish excerpts from remarks made by the Governor of Guangdong. He made some wise statements. Thus he said Yunnan is seeking to make friends with India, to aid partnerships in development. It is difficult to believe it but Yunnan expects unbelievable millions to come as tourists. The Governor made several important suggestions none of which received any attention in the Indian media. It takes hardly two hours to fly from Kolkata to Yunnan, which imports $ 100 million worth of mineral products from India. Shouldn'twe know more about it? Or take another story, this one, too, reported by The Hindu (November 12). On October 15 clashes broke out between the armies of Thailand and Cambodia over a disputed medieval Hindu temple tract. Why did an idyllic Hindu temple have to suddenly erupt as a casus belli between two Buddhists countries? Does anyone in India care? The trouble is that though culturally India has much in common with the South East Asian nations (including Indonesia) it hardly cares to boost relations with them, as if they are of no consequence. There has been much talk about India looking eastward, but that is only for the record. The coverage of East Asia is so abysmal that one wonders whether anything exists beyond the Andaman Islands. The Indian media couldn'teven care much for Japan. Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh visited Japan in mid-October but the coverage of that event?let alone coverage of the country and its people?was hardly anything to be proud of Indo-Japanese talks resulted in the issuance of a Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation cementing strategic ties between two of the biggest maritime powers in Asia. Not anxious to raise eyebrows in China the Japanese and Indian Prime Ministers took pains to deny any ?targeting? of China even if Beijing may not be convinced. Japan wants security obviously from China and as recently as in March 2007 it had entered into a similar agreement with Australia. But the Indian media seemed little interested in such matters, even when Japan announced that it would give $971 million in 2008-2009 to four projects in India: Chennai Metro, Hyderabad Ring Road, Forest Management and Energy Saving projects for small and medium enterprises. Agreed that $971 million is not a large sum. But it could be the beginning of more inter-state cooperation. In any event do we have to ignore Japan, especially considering China'shostile attitude towards India? What should be a pleasant surprise is that little Qatar has promised to invest $ 5 billion in India and even Oman too seems willing to invest $ 1.5 billion following the Prime Minster'svisit to these places. Of course there is no Indian labour in Japan whereas according to latest statistics there are some 50 lakh Indians working in the Gulf countries. For India it is important to have a leg in the Gulf countries, but reticence is marked about how these 50 lakh live. The remittances from Indians living in Oman and Qatar average about $ 800 million, no small sum. Meanwhile an interesting event took place that also went unnoticed. The Times of India (October 14) had reported that some 5,000 dalits were expected to embrace Buddhism in Bangalore on October 30. Then there was silence. Did they indeed embrace Buddhism? If they did, was it not an event to be recorded? Apparently conversion to Buddhism is no news, in part, one suspects that many believe it is not ?conversion? in the accepted sense of the term, considering that Buddhism is taken to be a part of Hinduism, and also not alien to Indian tradition. But consider what mayhem would have taken place if 5,000 dalits had embraced Islam or Christianity! Dr Ambedkar was wise. His advice to dalits to accept Buddhism was his outstanding contribution to the cultural history of India.