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A good bit of thought goes into framing the front page of a daily. One is confident that this, of all the scenarios imaginable in a media house, must be the case. Faith is of the essence. And with such faith can Her Bovinity be far behind? With the front page of national dailies providing a generous helping of bovine brilliance, innovation, infrastructure, and public policy must now chew the cud. As monsoon approaches the subcontinent, the tales of human genius, must take a backseat. Having skid on bovine slush intermingled with a mildly acidic first shower, the likes of ISRO, NASA, ICRISAT, IFPRI, WTO, WIPO, AIIB have missed the night bus. Pages 8-9, 13 or 16 seem fit enough for their brilliance. Coursing through a sea of fire, and bathing soaps, one reaches these pages. The soap has made the reading cleaner of course. A few Juangs here, a few Sikhs there, Dalits, all cleaned up. The eye now adjusts to the news of a young Indian boy who has launched the smallest satellite in the world at NASA and named it after our very own missile man Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. True to the size of the satellite, the area on the page it occupies is miniscule. Kalam SAT has been given its due, and in size too. Perfection.
A page later there is news of Team Indus. Not the Indus that gave us the word “industry”? The average reader is intrigued. Grid by grid, the bovinely mapped India of rhetoric is found ceding itself to unchartered territory. Representing India at the GLXP, Team Indus has been the guiding flame for Chandrayan 2’s lander mission. Between the politics of lynch and libtardisms, one discovers a sudden loss of absurdity. This is followed by well informed articles on DMH-11, Open skies policies, India’s forays into solar power, Ease of doing business, National Innovation Index, NIIF, core industries, Ramsar and Montrieux. All in a day’s set of broadsheets, delivered in the wee hours of morning. Travelling from cover to cover of a newspaper is an act that may vary from anything between manual scavenging to stimulating active dopamine secretion. Like the sight of a juicy beef steak, it may take you up or bring you down.
I was once seated at a Café where a wall read “Good stuff requires patience”. Leafing through the news of India’s swelling foreign exchange reserves on page 13, I realized much like good food, good news comes with patient readership. While the front page beamed sirens of the ISIS, and the old limelight hogging Taliban, page 12 talked of the Garland road, the Salma dam, and the outcomes of the Heart of Asia Summit. The contrast lies in the understanding that the areas of effective function of all of the aforementioned are the same. Hydroelectric friendship and terrorism cohabit the Chishti Sharif district of Herat. Yet in race for the haloed front page, sensationalism is bovine. Television debates follow suit. Armed with a bovinely insular front page view of the country and its achievements, Gen Y chews on a lean endosulfaned patch of outsourced jobs, while briefly searching for that elusive “sunshine” news. Relegated to a subaltern spot in the rapidly growing world of furious infotainment, ‘sunshine’ news has limited outreach. It is no wonder then that studies continuously suggest that social media negatively affects the psychology of a young adult. The furor of nauseating, caustic outbursts on the internet is a by-product of the misbalanced picture of society that the news presents. Mind numbing talk engulfs regular conversation. While most young readers in a hurry glance through the front page, only a few take the time to read the rest. News on television is no messiah either.
But maybe, the youth does not follow traditional news media at all. With India being one of the fastest growing markets for smart phones in the world, they may all but read the old school broadsheet. As the waiter approached me with a steaming cup of coffee, I put down the newspaper, rolling it up neatly.
“Do you have WiFi?”
“Yes Sir. Let me connect it for you.”
I placed my mobile phone on the table, flooded with news updates. Sipping on the coffee, I glanced at the first headline—“Will not ban cow slaughter if we are elected in Meghalaya”. Some things never change.