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Monday, December 29, 2008

The "Jarring Note"

There was something I found interesting and intriguing about Sunday's TV coverage of the Jammu and Kashmir. It seemed to me that both NDTV and CNN-IBN were united in describing the results from Jammu as a "jarring note". Barkha waxed eloquent about how the Jammu outcome would bring about regionalism and communal sentiment and even disrupt the political consensus. The CNN-IBN followed it with similar tut-tutting. I didn't find the two channels (at least during the time I spent watching) talk to any of the emerging players from Jammu. I can only presume that they were not deemed respectable enough.

Jammu recorded the highest voter turnout in the state--somewhere above the 70 per cent mark which is staggering by the standards of North India. If a high turnout election resulted in the Congress being defeated in the Jammu city and adjoining constituencies, the phenomenon is worth exploring. Yet, the verdict of the electorate was dismissed as "jarring" and "disturbing. Is it because the voters were Hindus? Would the response have been similar if, for the sake of argument, some out-and-out separatists had contested the elections and won from some seats in the Kashmir Valley?

The reverence and respect shown towards the separatist leaders who claimed they got it wrong showed the skewed nature of media even-handedness.

I have always refrained from adding fuel to the anger of those who insist that the English language media is inherently biased against Hindus. On Sunday I was inclined to join in the chorus and even contribute a jerrycan of inflamable liquid.

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