Re: Assessing public mood – Bill Kirkman

Reference: – Assessing Public Mood (Cambridge Letter column, The Hindu Online, Archive 17.04.2005)

Dear Mr Kirkman,

I read your article on the two incidents that affected Britain and the world in general recently. I should correct you that actually there were three incidents that gave something to the journalists world over – please don’t forget the forced death of Terri Schiavo. The media these days don’t show any common sense in selecting the headlines they are to feed the people. In the entire world, the media is becoming more and more gossip oriented. Those at the desks do not use their brains to separate the important news from the lower category ones.

In my opinion, the biggest and the most important news recently was that of Terri’s death. ‘Hearty congratulations’ to all those who tried to bring out the fresh and healthy debate of the importance of some necessary clauses in a person’s will. It has heated up a lot of debates; moral and scientific; on the tables, in front of camera and everywhere else.

In the case of the demise of the Pope, it is sad that such an influential man (though not everywhere) had disappeared from our vision. But I was totally astounded to hear about the three day national mourning officially declared in India. Then what exactly is the meaning of being secular? The Nation and its people should be broad-minded to accept all beliefs (of course, noble) but shouldn’t show any inclinations to any interest when it comes to taking such decisions. This can create an unhealthy and unnecessary practice among the religious extremists to ask for a national mourning when someone important belonging to their community dies. This shouldn’t be allowed, at least when claiming to be secular. Sending a contingent of officials is fine, but the other step was drastic. I learned about a similar step and the resulting agitation in France also.

On the issue of Prince Charles and his new spouse, I think it purely is a personal matter and morally the media shouldn’t show any over enthusiasm in it. In the European countries, these kinds of marriages in late ages are very common. The media should realise it to be a personal matter and should leave this to the couples themselves. It is the same media who killed his former spouse with their 20th century reporting! As I said, such marriages are very common in the European and American continents than compared to the rest of the world. These reportings are just like a handless man making fun of a one handed man. I can understand the anxiety of the media and the Britons, in someone from outside the royal family at some day becoming their Queen. But again it tends show the Indian journalism going along the same lines of the European journalism. The Indian media gave more importance to such a story which cannot be expected to make a big title in India. The story could have been reported in a single column in the International page of dailies with a photograph, but it wasn’t to be. All the dailies published the news in the front pages, consuming a lot of space. All the TV channels reported this wedding as one of their top 3 headline stories! The same media do not give any importance to any royal weddings in the Gwalior or similar royal families in India. Even the death of a former union minister in a plane crash was reported without much attention. Alas, India is still a British colony!

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