Our finger‘print’ everywhere

It is quite frustrating for a self-styled political ‘calumnist’ to be pushed into a forced sabbatical, particularly during poll time when professional, patriotic and personal calls of duties beckon. The mental pain is much the more when it is your arms, the deliverer of wisecracks and wisdom via the keyboard, that are the target of fate. Indeed, whoever used the metaphor ‘hands are tied’ to describe helplessness was not exactly being metaphorical but quite literal!

Ideally, I would have loved to blame the enemies of press freedom for my plight but by no stretch of imagination can a few invisible drops of water on marble floor qualify under that contemptuous category. Nor can I accuse a well-meaning Ortho of humbling me by recommending folded hands for four weeks, a stricture I just violated, in my eagerness to ‘reach out’. And since I am a hands-on guy and not a ‘dictator’, if you see what I mean, I remained, er, sort of, hands-off, before the violation, that is. I have no clue on what the the readers felt about the pointless (always?) blanks, but to me the ‘hand’icap had a flip side. The insatiable reader in me had a very revealing and rewarding time that the fall was almost a windfall.

This is a unique election not just in terms of the watershed political changes in the offing or the voter numbers at stake. I am looking at the polls through the prism of my profession and I can say with pride that print media has made history, sensational history. Across the English and linguistic Press, the coverage has not only been extensive but in-depth. This is no mean feat considering the distances in the terrain, density of the constituencies, diversities of the regions and divergence of the issues involved. Technology, competition, voter accretion and reader appetite ensured that not a single news stone was left unturned and not a single trivia pebble left unpicked. Yes, there was saturation, sometimes sans satisfaction, information but no enlightenment. But aren’t we a discerning nation now? So, from sublime to ridiculous, and the prominent to the piffle, you had it all, whether you wanted it or not. A resounding clap is quite in order for this mammoth news gathering exercise that is not always profitable.

There are several party affiliated media houses. But the fraternity outside that familiar spectrum is itself huge. There are also the usual suspects, experts and the regular columnists with their usual ideological baggage, including the one you know who has been missing for a couple of weeks. But this election has thrown up a completely new army of writers and analysts, young, fresh, bold and radical, who have virtually carpet bombed the journalistic arena. I am spoilt for choice to name any one but I can say that they have been prolific, profuse and profund with perspectives and presentations that instantly fossilise the wornout verbiage and outdated ideas of a gen still in sway just a few pages away in that very same newspaper! That these wannabes have managed to survive the onslaught on articulation by gadgetry grammar and also managed to squeeze time for quality research between tweets redounds to their commitment and concentration. Minus the bias of being a player myself, this new gen turned out to be great teachers to this ‘humbled reader’! Cheers and thanks!

This is not to suggest that there are no chinks in the rolling cylinders of the print. But from the point of view of this industry the current elections have been nothing short of a great revolution. This has also to be seen in the context of the constant necessity to keep pace with social media and television, ephemeral media that vanish in their own glares. Still many TV channels, blogs and sites carried some wonderful and pathbreaking articles that ensured you don’t think and write the same way, unless you want to be ‘retired’! A simple pearl of wisdom: Writing narrows your knowledge; reading expands your ignorance. And we know the latter is the measure of the ocean, while the former can hardly fill the hand, broken or otherwise.

But it was not reading all through. In between, there were bouts of TV with all those noisy breaking news, free-for-all debates and the latest poll forecast. And when I had to watch in a lonely, locked room Arnab Goswami performing the last rites on screen for a politician who is actually a sure winner, and watched by dumbstruck panelists who had become impromptu mourners, I realised the ultimate torture of possessing immobile hands: Not being able to reach for the remote!

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Jawahar T R