Friday, May 27, 2011

Not Entertaining Enough

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his African counterparts successfully completed the Second India-Africa Forum Summit in Addis Ababa, setting the stage for enhanced cooperation between India and Africa. While India enhanced its overall line of credit to the continent and in particular decided to take up a much-needed railway between landlocked Ethiopia and Djibouti, African states resolved, for the first time ever, to hasten the process of UNSC reform come the UNGA gathering later this year.

Unfortunately, the domestic media in India completely and comprehensively ignored the Summit altogether. Chile most channels devoted their entire time either to IPL or the silly IIT-IIM slandering match between Jairam Ramesh and Kapil Sibal, NDTV chose to devote almost all its time to the militant attack on PNS Mehran in Karachi. No reporter from so-called national TV networks traveled with the Prime Minister's official entourage despite the important diplomatic event that the Summit constituted.

The reason for this abject neglect is plain and simple - Africa does not entertain the Indian middle class. News channels today thrive on that entertainment value to bring in the eyeballs; intelligent conversation hardly matters. So, when Barack Obama made an open-ended commitment to support India as a permanent member of the UNSC without any timeline attached, the media made a huge victory march over it. But the fact that African states - whose support is essential to reach that magical figure of 128 at the UNGA - have agreed to speed up the process did not even get a mention!

Fortunately, our print media was more mature. The Hindu's Siddharth Varadarajan covered the whole event from Addis Ababa. Even the ToI gave the event some coverage. While our print media definitely has some maturity, our electronic media has miles to go.

No comments: