ACCORDING to DNA (June 2) the UPA government’s Report card was presented at a function held in the Prime Minister’s residence but “no reporters were allowed at the event, though photographers were allowed to briefly shoot the event”. That sounds silly. The UPA Government’s “Report to the People for the Year 2009-2010” surely is of interest to the entire country, and not just to the UPA leaders? The DNA reported that presenting it “a humble and proud” Prime Minister spoke of the challenges ahead, even as he listed his government’s achievements. One has had no access to the Report and any comment on it will have to wait. But against communalism and terror the Prime Minister, reportedly had some tough words to say. How one wishes the Prime Minister will also take some tough action! It is increasingly becoming difficult to take him seriously.
This year is the 35th anniversary of the imposition of the Emergency, but, strangely enough it has so far gone practically unnoticed. Understandably Freedom First (June 2010) which was the most vociferous critic of the Emergency when it was enforced and had to shut down has rightly drawn the attention of its readers to that sad event. More, the point has been made that the role played by the late A D Gorwala ICS and his highly respected little journal Opinion has never been adequately publicised. Opinion was not a printed paper. It was a unique 2-page back-to-back cyclostyled ‘paper’ that was held in considerable awe in its time. Gorwala fought for the citizens’ fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression. But that was exactly what Indira Gandhi wanted to suppress.
But Gorwala deserves more than just a reference. He deserves high applause, considering the times in which he lived. The saddest part of it all is the new generation probably couldn’t care less to know about the Emergency.
Read the pages of Hindustan Times, The Telegraph, The Asian Age and look at the pictures and one will know the character of today’s dailies. What counts is Fashion, Social Events and pictures of models in all their semi-dressed glory. Like our government, the Media has no vision for the future. It is more fun to blog, to get to know Facebook, My Space and Twitter and what they have to say, or are saying. The New Media is for the elite, not for the common man. Individuals like Shashi Tharoor sought to make use of it. But almost overnight, it seems Twitter has lost its attraction. Most Indians seems more comfortable with their mobiles than with anything else. That was pointedly said in an editorial in Education World (May 2010). According to the edit, over half the people of India-545 million-own mobile telephones while only 366 million have access to toilets and safe sanitation!
Noted the journal: “It is a telling indicator of the warped priorities of post-independence India’s Soviet-style centrally planned economy”. The reference to “Soviet-Style centrally planned economy” does not hold water, but the fact remains that Indians want to talk, talk, talk, no matter how relevant the talk is. It is true as much of the common man, the aam aadmi as to the elite to which Tharoor and Modi belong.
The Internet is still an upper middle class news source. But it is said that at Rs 500 to Rs 700 monthly cost, Internet will become accessible to at least 100 million urban users. But just calculate how much the user must earn to spend Rs 500 monthly on the Internet. Still, according to a study conducted in 2005, there are about 17 million regular users with casual users numbering about five million. 22 million would be more than the populations of several European countries like Belgium and Holland put together. That is India. No wonder the United States wants to improve its strategic links with India. It knows what it wants.