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Location: Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, United States

"It little profits that an idle king, By this still hearth, among these barren crags, Match'd with an ag├Ęd wife, I mete and dole Unequal laws unto a savage race, That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me."

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Spirit?? What spirit?

A casual perusal of news channels and newspapers over the past couple of days would tempt one to believe that the media was/were actually waiting -- even praying -- that Mumbai be deluged so that they can showcase to the world, the spirit of Mumbaikars. If it was not a Milind Deora, then it was a Zakka Jacob who took turns to bring to the fore the no-adjectives-left spirit and will of the poor inhabitants of the battered city.

Let's face it. Mumbai has been ravaged by rains, and people are suffering without proper access to even the bare necessites. The government machinery has been caught off-guard. No food, no power and lots of water - what can the people do?

But life has to move on. Rains can be a good excuse for not attending school (it never worked with my mom, though). But a large section of the affected populace MUST work to feed themselves and their dependents. No work, no food. What will people do? They will get out, they will work, they will struggle and toil because rain or shine, that is what they are supposed to do. They don't have the luxury of tapping an "I'm not feeling well" into their hand phone and heading off to nearest amusement park.

When Ahmedabad was rocked by the killer earthquake in 2001, the media praised the indomitable Gujarati will. Eight months later, they were glorifying the excelsior spirit of the New Yorker. When the tsunami gobbled up lives, the people of coastal Tamil Nadu were praised for their courage. Recently they shifted focus to the spirit of the Londoners.

I'm sickened because the media cannot (or wishes not to) sense the common thread in all these - it is called survival. "To survive" is not copyright protected by the New Yorker or the Londoner or the Mumbaikar. It is the most basic of all instincts. In a life which is so subtly controlled by things beyond our control, this is what makes us report to work every single day. Volcano, earthquake or tsunami, I have some mouths to feed - at least one. Not some media-devised snob value associated with living in one of the commercial capitals of this world.

After the 7/7 London blasts, I was speaking to a Londoner friend about how life was progressing, especially because NDTV felt that it was its duty to advertise that not a million Osamas can ever hope to strike fear in the heart of the Londoner. I paraphrase what he said,
"Look dude, what are they talking about? You board a bus or the tube, and you dunno if the guy sitting next to you is a human bomb. He looks like an Asian? Sports a beard? Looks furtive? Get the hell out of there ASAP. Isn't that what you'll do too? We aren't any different."
Very true, my friend. If London or Mumbai teach you to break bread with someone who is a terrorist and not be daunted by it, it's time we clarified exactly what "spirit" we are talking about.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Ashok said...

Bravo! You've pointed out a fine example why the TV is called an idiot box

8/03/2005 04:49:00 AM  
Anonymous gipsy said...

aisa hai friend, when a person falls down and is trying to get up, we rally around him /her and give a round of applause and cheer them up and call them ' sprited' . Though ' survival' is the main driver, the words like ' spritied fight back' will encourage a lot of others who are in problems, perosnal in nature and get some upliftment.

8/03/2005 05:51:00 AM  
Blogger Gokulakrishnan S said...

well said. Also sickening is the phrase "Mother Nature's fury". This covers for all our deficiencies, lack of disaster mgmt and wat not.

8/03/2005 10:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe the media was wrong, but you were uncharitable to those who came out and helped others.

8/04/2005 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger airanand said...

What you say is very true.. but it is also a given that this sort of news is required to keep up the morale of the people who are actually affected. It might have been overdone in Mumbai.. but I would say that it is a necessary occurence..

8/05/2005 04:57:00 AM  
Blogger Vijay Krishna said...

Yeah, I agree (in part) with Gipsy, Anon. and Anand. It is true that other people were helpful and aided in relief effort etc. To that extent, it is laudable. They are heroes, I salute them. But the media hype - plus how Asha Parekh was stranded, or why Amitabh Bachchan couldn't take bath, etc - good God! Trust me, even The Sun (of UK) wouldn't go so cheap.

8/05/2005 06:17:00 AM  
Blogger Sheks said...

the spirit here is the "spirit of journalism".

8/12/2005 06:02:00 AM  

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