For a change, on Tuesday there was more news than the news channels could discuss or debate: a new reservations bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha, a debate on FDI in both houses of Parliament, a farmers’ rally in the capital, where former Army Chief V.K. Singh shared the limelight with sugarcane, an Indian couple found guilty of mistreating their child in Norway and Gujarat’s Chief Minister Narendra Modi projected as the BJP’s PM candidate, that too in 3D, like Life of Pi’s tiger, Richard Parker!
That’s not all. Breaking headlines were “America versus Modi” (Headlines Today), on Narendra bhai possibly shaking hands with Yankee Doodle Dandy, as well as the International Olympic Association (IOC) suspending the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), and the Election Commission’s view of cash for votes, sorry, cash transfers.
And so the TV debates reflected the plurality of news we all crave: at 9 pm on Tuesday, Headlines Today was pursuing Modi to the US, CNN-IBN IOC’s suspension of IOA, Times Now led with UPA-2’s “shopping” for numbers in the FDI vote, NDTV 24x7 was “Rubbishing FDI”, while Zee News was on the EC’s poor opinion of the government’s attempts to cash transfer votes into its own account.
The same happened on Monday, just in case you scoff at this as the exception or an aberration. Headlines Today was after VIPs who create traffic jams for the aam aadmi — not the party, silly, but you and me — CNN-IBN was voting on FDI in retail, Times Now was considering Modi as PM, while NDTV 24x7 was broadcasting its panelists’ reservations about well, reservations. Now, if only we had this diversity every week.
BBC World, which can happily ignore all the stories mentioned above, was preoccupied with a far greater issue (and the word is used advisedly): the acute morning sickness of the Duchess of Cambridge, which led to her hospitalisation. One reporter with some experience in the matter argued that while hyperemesis gravidarum, as it is called, was bad for the duchess, her child was not at risk. At the end of this 8.30 pm Tuesday bulletin, the BBC anchor introduced the prospective parents as children and as adults after they met, in a series of rosy photographs. Childish? Yes, but so is the entire British media when it comes to the royals.
We haven’t even found space so far to mention Ricky Ponting’s long final walk back to the pavilion of Test cricket and that last wave of his bat — goodbye. Which leads us back to the discussions, last week, on Sachin Tendulkar and his possible return to the retiring room, too. On Headlines Today, Sourav Ganguly listened to others argue for the imminent departure of India’s greatest batsmen and then said: if Sachin is watching this, he should not watch it. He should channelise his energies into his game. And so say all of us. We should join the Little Master in ignoring such debates.
Aamir Khan and his Talaash co-stars got prominent seats on news channels over the weekend. In the CNN-IBN interview, the seating arrangement from left to right (for the viewer) was Khan, Rani Mukerji, Kareena Kapoor. On Headlines Today, it changed: it was Mukerji, Khan and Kapoor. Notably, the two actresses lavished praise on Khan, but not each other.
Meanwhile, Zee was in the news for the wrong reasons as two of its editors were arrested. To cheer up the faithful, it telecast Zee Rishtey Awards for its actors, the channel’s answer to the Star Parivaar Awards.
Finally, this guy dreams of a Grammy, not Jeannie, his favourite place is Japan, his favourite TV shows are Smallville and Friends, and he can’t live without his laptop. Who is he? Justin Bieber, of course. Now, he doesn’t look old enough to be out of school, let alone contemplating marriage. He has a girlfriend, though, so Oprah Winfrey (Oprah’s Next Chapter, TLC) still thought it wise to warn him: 25 is too too young to be married, so rethink any such plans, okay? Okay, he replied, looking so cute, you wanted to buy him a new rattle.