Anj — Hotel Taj: Icon of whose media?

Topic(s): India | Comments Off on Anj — Hotel Taj: Icon of whose media?

To read numerous interesting responses to the article please visit:
well said ( although Leopolds is a real dive wouldn’t have thought of it as
a hang out for rich kids) .. anyway still… glad that this writer voiced
this concern. Just came thru from Varsha Nair …thx .. anjxx
Hotel Taj: Icon of whose media?
Gnani Sankaran- *Tamil writer, Chennai.*
Watching at least four English news channels surfing from one another during
the last 60 hours of terror strike made me feel a terror of another kind.
The terror of assaulting one’s mind and sensitivity with cameras, sound
bites and non-stop blabbers. All these channels have been trying to
manufacture my consent for a big lie called – *Hotel Taj the icon of India.*
Whose India, Whose Icon ?
It is a matter of great shame that these channels simply did not bother
about the other icon that faced the first attack from terrorists – the
Chatrapathi Shivaji Terminus (CST) railway station. CST is the true icon of
Mumbai. It is through this railway station hundreds of Indians from Uttar
Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, West Bengal and Tamilnadu have poured into Mumbai
over the years, transforming themselves into Mumbaikars and built the Mumbai
of today along with the Marathis and Kolis
But the channels would not recognise this. Nor would they recognise the
thirty odd dead bodies strewn all over the platform of CST. No Barkha dutt
went there to tell us who they were. But she was at Taj to show us the
damaged furniture and reception lobby braving the guards. And the TV cameras
did not go to the government run JJ hospital to find out who those 26
unidentified bodies were. Instead they were again invading the battered Taj
to try in vain for a scoop shot of the dead bodies of the page 3
In all probability, the unidentified bodies could be those of workers from
Bihar and Uttar Pradesh migrating to Mumbai, arriving by train at CST
without cell phones and pan cards to identify them. Even after 60 hours
after the CST massacre, no channel has bothered to cover in detail what
transpired there.
The channels conveniently failed to acknowledge that the Aam Aadmis of India
surviving in Mumbai were not affected by Taj, Oberoi and Trident closing
down for a couple of weeks or months. What mattered to them was the stoppage
of BEST buses and suburban trains even for one hour. But the channels were
not covering that aspect of the terror attack. Such information at best
merited a scroll line, while the cameras have to be dedicated for real time
thriller unfolding at Taj or Nariman bhavan.
The so called justification for the hype the channels built around heritage
site Taj falling down (CST is also a heritage site), is that Hotel Taj is
where the rich and the powerful of India and the globe congregate. It is a
symbol or icon of power of money and politics, not India. It is the icon of
the financiers and swindlers of India. The Mumbai and India were built by
the Aam Aadmis who passed through CST and Taj was the oasis of peace and
privacy for those who wielded power over these mass of labouring classes.
Leopold club and Taj were the haunts of rich spoilt kids who would drive
their vehicles over sleeping Aam Aadmis on the pavement, the Mafiosi of
Mumbai forever financing the glitterati of Bollywood (and also the
terrorists) , Political brokers and industrialists.
It is precisely because Taj is the icon of power and not people, that the
terrorists chose to strike. The terrorists have understood after several
efforts that the Aam Aadmi will never break down even if you bomb her
markets and trains. He/she was resilient because that is the only way he/she
can even survive.
Resilience was another word that annoyed the pundits of news channels and
their patrons this time. What resilience, enough is enough, said Pranoy
Roy’s channel on the left side of the channel spectrum. Same sentiments were
echoed by Arnab Goswami representing the right wing of the broadcast media
whose time is now. Can Rajdeep be far behind in this game of one upmanship
over TRPs ? They all attacked resilience this time. They wanted firm action
from the government in tackling terror.
The same channels celebrated resilience when bombs went off in trains and
markets killing and maiming the Aam Aadmis. The resilience of the ordinary
worker suited the rich business class of Mumbai since work or manufacture or
film shooting did not stop. When it came to them, the rich shamelessly
exhibited their lack of nerves and refused to be resilient themselves. They
cry for government intervention now to protect their private spas and
swimming pools and bars and restaurants, similar to the way in which
Citibank, General Motors and the ilk cry for government money when their
coffers are emptied by their own ideologies.
The terrorists have learnt that the ordinary Indian is unperturbed by
terror. For one whose daily existence itself is a terror of government
sponsored inflation and market sponsored exclusion, pain is something he has
learnt to live with. The rich of Mumbai and India Inc are facing the pain
for the first time and learning about it just as the middle classes of India
learnt about violation of human rights only during emergency, a cool 28
years after independence.
And human rights were another favourite issue for the channels to whip at
times of terrorism.
Arnab Goswami in an animated voice wondered where were those champions of
human rights now, not to be seen applauding the brave and selfless police
officers who gave up their life in fighting terorism. Well, the counter
question would be where were you when such officers were violating the human
rights of Aam Aadmis. Has there ever been any 24 hour non stop coverage of
violence against dalits and adivasis of this country?
This definitely was not the time to manufacture consent for the extra legal
and third degree methods of interrogation of police and army but Arnabs
don’t miss a single opportunity to serve their class masters, this time the
jingoistic patriotism came in handy to whitewash the entire uniformed
The sacrifice of the commandos or the police officers who went down dying at
the hands of ruthless terrorists is no doubt heart rending but in vain in a
situation which needed not just bran but also brain. Israel has a point when
it says the operations were misplanned resulting in the death of its
nationals here.
Khakares and Salaskars would not be dead if they did not commit the mistake
of traveling by the same vehicle. It is a basic lesson in management that
the top brass should never t ravel together in crisis. The terrorists, if
only they had watched the channels, would have laughed their hearts out when
the Chief of the Marine commandos, an elite force, masking his face so
unprofessionally in a see-through cloth, told the media that the commandos
had no idea about the structure of the Hotel Taj which they were trying to
liberate. But the terrorists knew the place thoroughly, he acknowledged.
Is it so difficult to obtain a ground plan of Hotel Taj and discuss
operation strategy thoroughly for at least one hour before entering? This is
something even an event manager would first ask for, if he had to fix 25
audio systems and 50 CCtvs for a cultural event in a hotel. Would not Ratan
Tata have provided a plan of his ancestral hotel to the commandos within one
hour considering the mighty apparatus at his and government’s disposal? Are
satelite pictures only available for terrorists and not the government
agencies ? In an operation known to consume time, one more hour for
preparation would have only improved the efficiency of execution.
Sacrifices become doubly tragic in unprofessional circumstances. But the Aam
Aadmis always believe that terror-shooters do better planning than
terrorists. And the gullible media in a jingoistic mood would not raise any
question about any of these issues.
They after all have their favourite whipping boy – the politician the
eternal entertainer for the non-voting rich classes of India.
Arnabs and Rajdeeps would wax eloquent on Manmohan Singh and Advani visiting
Mumbai separately and not together showing solidarity even at this hour of
national crisis. What a farce? Why can’t these channels pool together all
their camera crew and reporters at this time of national calamity and share
the sound and visual bites which could mean a wider and deeper coverage of
events with such a huge human resource to command? Why should Arnab and
Rajdeep and Barkha keep harping every five minutes that this piece of
information was exclusive to their channel, at the time of such a national
crisis? Is this the time to promote the channel? If that is valid, the
politician promoting his own political constituency is equally valid. And
the duty of the politican is to do politics, his politics. It is for the
people to evaluate that politics. And terrorism is not above politics. It is
politics by other means.
To come to grips with it and to eventually eliminate it, the practice of
politics by proper means needs constant fine tuning and improvement.
Decrying all politics and politicians, only helps terrorists and dictators
who are the two sides of the same coin. And the rich and powerful always
prefer terrorists and dictators to do business with.
Those caught in this crossfire are always the Aam Aadmis whose deaths are
not even mourned – the taxi driver who lost the entire family at CST firing,
the numerous waiters and stewards who lost their lives working in Taj for a
monthly salary that would be one time bill for their masters.
Postscript: In a fit of anger and depression, I sent a message to all the
channels, 30 hours through the coverage. After all they have been constantly
asking the viewers to message them for anything and everything. My message
read: I send this with lots of pain. All channels, including yours, must
apologise for not covering the victims of CST massacre, the real mumbaikars
and aam aadmis of India. Your obsession with five star elite is disgusting.
Learn from the print media please. No channel bothered. Only srinivasan Jain
replied: you are right. We are trying to redress balance today. Well,
nothing happened till the time of writing this 66 hours after the terror
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