Sad commentary on the media. One man’s death counted more than the lives of thousands. Misplaced priority? But who’s gonna tell that to a media sold to an idea, an ideology? Even the left-liberal couldn’t let go the opportunity to drop anchor and RIP Modi with Vajpayee. It was once in a death-time chance! And Kerala sank under the radar. Poetry with pregnant pauses became the signal-tune. Anecdotes became hard news. Headlines stood out in verses. Only poetry. An analysis for Different Truths.
It took a pyre lit to look at a province drowning. Atal Behari Vajpayee couldn’t have died at a more wrong time. National television news media couldn’t take eyes off the ex-PM. His poetry became the anthem, the lament of the dirge from God’s Own Country lost in the distance. Till Vajpayee hogged news-time, it was saturation coverage of the hearse and the horse leading the death march, not of water-saturated deathly Kerala.
‘Direct, O Lord, my God, my way in thy sight.’ That was the psalm from the Bible that went missing in the poetry sessions – the Kavi Sammelans – which replaced panel discussions. Of course, the ‘headlines’, and the ‘news bulletins’, did record the record rainfall in Kerala and Idukki Dam opening “shutters” but the misplaced priorities of editors-in-chief were in glaring display.
Death toll dramatically climbed, the urgency limited to Kerala – Malayalam television news channels. The Centre refused to be caught in the middle! Only the “national television media” could have effected a dramatic shift, informed Modi that talk of ‘federalism’ shouldn’t be only for public consumption and stump speeches.
Kerala asked for thousands of crores but Rajnath gave Rs 100 crore, a drop in the ocean. Now Modi has had a bird’s eye view and made an assessment. Emergency relief of Rs 500 crore is welcome but that’s not going to restore the grasshopper to life. Rebuilding and rehabilitation will take many thousand crores, upwards of Rs 19,000 crore, says Pinarayi Vijayan.
The Kerala Chief Minister has so far lead from the front, kept his cool and not gone off the cliff or the cuff to take pot-shots at the misers in Delhi, the stingy Hindutva votaries, maybe because God’s Own Country is religion-neutral, not Hindutva’s Own Country. Now, some Hindu-types are saying the deluge is Swami Ayyappan’s revenge for making a hue of ‘Men Only’ but that doesn’t wash even in washed out Kerala.
The problem was Reporter TV, Manorama TV, Asianet TV, Jeevan TV, Mathrubhumi TV and what-else TV have you, spoke a lingo that was hard to catch to the ears in Lutyen’s Delhi. Sad to say, but let’s face it, ‘national TV news channels’, especially the English-spouting, are notoriously Modi-fixated and if Modi had eyes only for Atal, there was no way Arnab, Rajdeep, Rahul and Bhupendra would have cut to close-ups of Kerala.
Sad commentary on the media. One man’s death counted more than the lives of thousands. Misplaced priority? But who’s gonna tell that to a media sold to an idea, an ideology? Even the left-liberal couldn’t let go the opportunity to drop anchor and RIP Modi with Vajpayee. It was once in a death-time chance! And Kerala sank under the radar. Poetry with pregnant pauses became the signal-tune. Anecdotes became hard news. Headlines stood out in verses. Only poetry.
All the while God’s Own Country drowned – dams opened sluices. Cloud bursts blasted earth. Mountains made rock-fall. Landslides and landslips happened along the way. Water washed away roads. Water laid open cracks. Water uprooted trees. Water entered homes – one storey, two storeys; rooftops turned into islands of refuge.
Where were all the rescue boats?
Now, with marooned people gathering rainwater in buckets to quench the killing thirst, bellies sticking to the spine, national television media have at last found their calling, which is not poetry-politicking but getting the politicians, especially the ruling ones – the likes of Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Home minister Rajnath Singh – to get off their backsides and lift people out of waterholes.
Today’s Kerala is a chain-link fence of shelter-homes and winch-hanging choppers hovering over islands of despair; the over 70 dams silent sentinels after the devastation they caused to the countryside and its network of highways with fury out of control.
The waters will recede, they have to, but when that happens there will be new worries left in the wake – waterborne diseases and such like. Hospitals are themselves crippled and will be on crutches. Medicines and safe drinking water are the desperate wants. Indian Navy ships are anchoring at Kochi with gallons of mineral water while jerry-cans used to store kerosene are being used to buoy make-shift rafts. There’s special place for Kerala in the navy man’s heart, he trains in Kochi to take on the ocean!
The problem for God’s Own Country is what’s called ‘Bombogenesis’ – “a rapidly intensifying area of low pressure” often called a ‘weather-bomb’ – originating from cyclone-country Odisha! A haboob – a thick dust storm of sandstorm – would have helped but this time there wasn’t even the ‘Petrichor’ – the distinct scent of rain in the air; to be more precise the name of the oil released from the earth into the air before rain begins to fall – to warn!
Photos from the Internet
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