Once upon a time , not so very long ago , News was News covering the proverbial “Man Bites Dog” happenings of universal interest from North East West & South . Debate on the other hand , was debate & never did the twain meet .
News was serious business with Juthika Ratnam , or Devki Nanandan Pandey ( depending upon whether one was a Desi Firang or a Desi Desi in one’s close encounters with air-waves : short medium or long !! ) .
Debate then was debate , with astutely made points & counter-points in civilised seriousness interspersed with immensely witty , often scathingly euphemistic jibes traded between adversorial participants within narrow confines of time alloted by , & in language repetitively respectful to , the Presiding official.
Once upon a time , investigative journalism was the oligopolistic domain of the likes of “Indian Express” under Arun Shourie’s scathing Editorial Pen at the seriously sublime level , & of “Blitz” under Karanjia’s salacious demeanour , content-titillation embellished by the back page treat for lecherous boys & men : latter unmatched by anything I in my innocent years had seen barring 3-D images cleverly printed on Blotting Paper freely distributed by a certain trader called Earl Fuller who often brought the good stuff from Singapore on his business trips to meet Dad & his colleagues deep in the jungles of Assam . But that, as I often say , is another story for another day. For the moment , suffice it to say that while family elders had qualified by virtue of age to use the great invention of those times in writing instruments called the biro ( ball pen in modern parlance ) , I was still on a quill & an ink pot ( Parker Quink ) & had the first rights always on Earl Fuller’s naughty blotters .
And, once upon a time , Candid Camera was an outrageously funny ( ha ha- type & not the funny- peculiar variant ) & MTV Bakra was a must-watch flag bearer for a while.
Once upon a time , Governments used to fall at the electoral hustings on allegations of kick backs in mere 9- digits of the Indian Rupee , 21 of which would fetch a US Dollar & 32 a British Pound ( remember a certain INR 64 Cr story !! )
Having officially qualified as a senior citizen for additional 25 basis points on my hard-earned Fixed Deposits , I have often been ridiculed on the flip side for harking back to the old times with boring narratives of how things were once upon a time . That notwithstanding , I should like to hold my ground & hark back to how different things were once upon a time.
At the macro level candid camera , investigative journalism , titillation , & debate ( more appropriately slanging matches ) appear to have got mixed up in the electronic media’s 24 X 7 blitzkrieg , into an entangled mass of mediocrity comparable to Hangers in a disused wardrobe or Cut Springs in a hardware store . Parliamentary debates in the world’s largest democracy are few & far between . Presidential debates in the world’s oldest democracy have also been reflective of a degenerative regression to uncontrolled aggression. Have not watched ( on the box ; where else !! ) Parliamentary debates in the mother of all parliaments : may be what transpires in the HOC is no longer news-worthy or relevent to the boorish times we live in. Back home, there is thankfully a semblance of sanity in the OUTSIDER debates on Bloomberg with Tim Sebastian ( of Hard Talk fame ) moderating the proceedings with panache .
Thankfully , however , times change not always for the worse , as appears to have happened at the macro level : they do sometimes change for the better too , & have thankfully done so at the micro level of yours aye in recent times . How so !! my well-wishers might wonder . Is it his long term US visa that even NAMO has not been able to obtain , or is it his long term Schengen visa accorded in the Orange Carpet category ( those familiar with Dutch colours will understand ) . Is it a bird , or is it an aeroplane they might wonder in well meaning bewilderment. Such turn arounds & make overs are beyond words . The feeling of a rainbow wrapped around one’s shoulders is great . Specially when one is sitting atop a hill which , though dwarfed by mountain tops conquered by many, is nevertheless an improvement over the erstwhile plateau .
Detailing steals the charm of mystery surrounded by enigma shrouded in the unexplained . The unexplained shall therefore remain a mystery . May the good times last at the micro level : the macros can go to an unheavenly state & stay there for all I care !!
Cheers for now & atb