Television

The line between supporters and fanatics has blurred, says Dilip Cherian

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To quell the raging Rajdeep reaction, it seems PM Modi moved swiftly by getting a story out that emissary Adani called to say sorry! While its right or wrong, true or false arguments prevail, Rajdeep became a symbol of something, a fabulous place for any TV journo to be, brand enhancing and truly a victory for Image Managers on either side.

But then, it’s still sad, that it’s not only Hong Kong’s protestors, who are not the ones taking to the streets. The Modi lovers at Madison Square Garden sadly had closet protestors amidst them too! Clearly, this is also the season for violent expressions of distaste and distrust, and Rajdeep Sardesai was just unlucky to be a kind of lightning rod. Provocations and partisan videos aside, clearly something was very wrong amongst those gathered to greet and preen for Modi in New York City that fateful day. And its best, it’s now put to rest!

But a basic malaise seems to have spread even further and Modi may not quite know yet. On a live television channel in New Delhi a former diplomat commenting on the excitement over Modi’s US visit lapsed into the totally unparliamentary word of “tuttoo” to describe Manmohan Singh’s relationship with the United States. A shocked anchor groaned visibly on screen, other guests were similarly aghast, but apologies were not quite forthcoming! The regrettable Rajdeep incident, too, had several up in arms against the treatment meted out to Rajdeep, but, significantly, many others who have been defending the mob’s actions as well. And it’s good that Modi’s minders put their word out too – in a manner of speaking. Clearly, the line between supporters and fanatics has blurred considerably even as the line between the “us” versus “them” perception has deepened and widened.

Clearly, between the protestors in Hong Kong facing the wrath of an obdurate Chinese administration and the voices that seem to assume that Modi would support them in a similarly enthusiastic manner, the message that comes through visibly on television screens in a variety of ways is of a new aggression, a new violence, and that unholy suspicion that silencing the enemy is probably what the New Age mantra seems to have become.

(These are purely personal views of India’s image guru, Dilip Cherian who is also the consulting partner at Perfect Relations and a former editor of Business India and of the Observer newspapers. He is a columnist and business analyst and indiantelevision.com does not subscribe to these views.)

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