Thats how pink floyd would have penned their lyrics now if the ‘Wall’ were to be released in the present era. First it was a once in a year thing, then years became months and months then became weeks and weeks finally ended up becoming days.  Yeah, not a day now passes without some “sting” operation or “caught on cam” news. Though it is clear these so called news channels air them only for TRPs (ratings), there are certain people who would dare to defend them and argue about their “service” to the society. Well, finally they can all shut their mouths tight now. You should be aware by now of the sting-gone-wrong operation, if not, I congratulate you on refraining from current affairs, thereby bringing oodles of joy into your life. I’m just gonna write a short intro here, you can go ahead and read the whole story if you wish. Some days back a hindi news channel aired a sting op supposedly showing a delhi school teacher pushing her students into prostitution. Though it is clear now, that the teacher did not push her students in to flesh trade, the piece did push the channels ratings. On a side note, a mere 100+ people (read Mob) gathered outside the school and started with their usual job of pelting stones, Molotov cocktails, burning scooters, buses and whatever they could find. Others, who dint have time for rioting, nonetheless felt outraged for almost 5 minutes and then immediately switched on to their favorite saas-bahu serials. Though I wasn’t able to watch the original news, I got the full impact of the situation the next day when it made it to the papers. I could just imagine how it would’ve been the day before on the TV. Following is just a mere speculation of the events that might have happend when the story broke out. It would’ve started out as a “breaking/flash news” splash on the bottom of the TV, first just the text, with big bold fonts screaming for attention. Then the presenter would’ve broken the current boring news item by saying, “We take you now to a story thats just breaking…” and would’ve introduced us to the video with the almost compulsory tag-line, “This is a LiveTV exclusive”. And they would’ve kept playing the video over and over till more sponsors called up to fill in the unsold last minute ad secondages, and the rest is a well known story. The reporter would’ve been happy because he got his “story” aired and a fat pay check in his pocket. The network overwhelmed with joy since it has a boiling controversy in its hands now and thus a promised future till …say, next week (after which another couple of more stings would have to do the job). And the public, my dear socially conscious public, would’ve felt betrayed that an “institution” such as a school and a teacher, who is most revered after mama/papa and before god in hindu mythology, have degraded to such lows. Given its normal life cycle, the whole matter would’ve faded from anyone’s memory in a matter of days, but this one case was unlike anyother. Somedays after the sensational sting op, it emerged that the whole story was faked, framed by the reporter, his friend and another individual who wanted to get back at the teacher. I will not waste time in explaining what happened, please read about it here. But then again, come rain or shine, its always spring for the news channels. And now every OTHER news channel had its share of the pie, and those big bright fonts began flashing again on the TVs. The socially conscious public were again angry as they now felt betrayed that they’ve been made to believe a big white lie.

  Now, I have to tell you, i’m no fan of hidden cams at all. To me it is THE most disrespectful tool in the hands of a reporter. There’s nothing investigative in using hidden camera to find out the truth about a person instead of having the courage to fight him/her face to face. The whole practice seems very unethical to me, devoid of the true spirit of investigative journalism. It all looks like a dirty get-rich-quick scheme, except here you get rich by upping your networks rating. People like Upton Sinclair and Ida Tarbell would be tossing in their graves if they ever come to know about this dishonest and immoral system of reporting. If ever you are going to gain credibility as an honest journalist, your gonna have to do with a mighty pen and a brave heart. This conduct shouldn’t be the enforced at all, but has to be come from within every reporter. I was actually relieved to see the Indian broadcast ministry not take this seriously and try to introduce any code of conduct for journalists, they’ve now infact left it to the discretion of the networks (is this for worse?). The govt seems to have only grown used to all these sting ops after the tehelka tragedy and others that followed. But it wouldn’t be long before the dirty broadcast ministry would happily introduce one if there’s no change in the way networks use sting ops to hunt for ratings. That would only lead to many real reporters and journalists being jailed using the new law for reporting about corrupt politicians. The only way to discourage them is by not watching them, sending feedbacks to the network asking them to refrain from staging stings. I was an avid reader of warfornews(link not working now), before it was closed down by the big bosses of two well know TV heads. I loved the detailed descrption of the drama, the scandals and the stories about what goes on inside a news network, though i dint like the way they published company emails. If only they could have come out of hiding and used ethical practices, i’m sure they’d reached a better audience and would’ve gotten a louder mouth. Anyway why lament about the past? The point is, warfornews detailed how the news networks plan sting ops. They set targets, sit in boardrooms and debate whether it was prostitution week or corruption week. Funny eh? Yeah that’s your news network. I should infact suggest that you go and watch this movie, network,  and see how much of it is relevant today.

The one thing good about hidden cams is that, in a socialist and corrupt country like India, it could be a powerful tool in the hands of an individual (the reporter is exempt in this case, since he has special powers granted by law that the ordinary individual doesnt have, though press freedom in India is now where close other coutries). But, if the individual does manage to record his ordeal on a cam, to whom does he go? To the network? Who’d gladly pay for the rights to his tape and then use it to pump ratings*. May be he could publish it in his blog or something, but how many people here have net at home, and how many read blogs other than check mail and orkut. So the bottom line is, “Is there any real use for hidden cams then?”

*NOTE: Pumping ratings is nothing bad at all, actually speaking I would like to see people bring down ratings of sting ops instead of the network somehow magically refraning from this unethical pratice. Hey if it sells, they will always keep selling it, nothing wrong with that at all.

Advertisements

This is going to get a bit philosophical, so those of you who can’t exercise their grey matter can gladly avoid it and may be look at some lolcats to pass time. Something great happened today,  something that made made me think for a while. Earlier tonight, I had just finished reading some existential literature when I immediately had to goto the loo to answer a very important call. Just when I opened the door, I saw a cockroach looking for whatever it could find for its dinner there. My fear and disgust of them had long been gone, not sure when, but I can say with pride that I am no more afraid of those creatures. Some say the cockroaches can outlive us in case of a nuclear holocaust. Some even say that even when you cutoff a cockroach’s head, it can live for a week or so and dies only of hunger and thirst. This I believe has earned them my respect because they are nature’s great survival machines. Anyway, coming back, I knew I had to drive it out if I wanted to piss peacefully because I still dont like the idea of a cockroach crawling over my foot, that just gives me the creeps. I’m fine when its at a distance. Killing it was out of the question, I cannot in any sense do any harm to the harmless cockroach just minding its way, looking for a meal, surviving, one day at a time. So I had to scare it away to its dungeon. This is when the broomstick usually comes in handy, I just took just one small twig out of it and tried drive it away, you know just give ’em the scare so they wont be bothering you for the next 15 or so minutes. While I did scare the little fella (i’m just guessing its a guy), it accidentally fell into the water closet. It was a dreadful site to see the roach almost submerged, with just its two whiskers and one foot hanging out, holding on to the closet with a firm grip supporting its whole body. I wasn’t alarmed at the sight but I dint know what to do. I just dint have the heart to flush down one of nature’s successful “design”. So I took the same little twig and put it inside the water closet and like that dramatic scene in cliffhanger, I lent my hand, though not directly, to the struggling roach. That was all it needed, the zeal and excitement with which it climbed up the twig really amazed me and I could only imagine the how the roach must’ve felt being brought back to life from the brink of death. After that, he quickly ran off to his secret dungeon feeling pumped up with adrenaline or whatever roaches run on. After that I sat in peace and began to wonder about the cockroach’s struggle for life.  As you all should know by now, the loo is just one of the two places where all my thinking is done, the other being on my bike, when I ride it. But actually most of the thinking happens in the loo, I dont know if its the stink that drives to me think about something else, or the closed space, or you know the leaky tap that goes like a metronome counting away the time, thereby setting you in motion or something else. So I began to ponder as to why the roach in the first place held on with just one of its limbs, supporting its full weight, and NOT letting go. What prevented the roach from killing itself? Does it find any meaning in life like some humans do? I came up with possible 3 answers

a. The whole episode of drowning is itself such a pain, and since every organism is programmed to combat pain it just held on to it as long as it could. But how did the roach know drowning was pain? I guessed it could’ve been from a previous experience or just plain instinct. b. Survival could’ve played an important factor. Animals (which includes us) are not programmed to just let go or kill ourselves everytime we are faced a difficulty, we are programed to fight it, struggle with it, find out all the possible ways to deal with a life and death situation. If this were not the case, people would just end up killing themselves without struggling, whenever they were hanging off a cliff, or when by accident, they fell into a pool and hence they would not survive and produce off-springs.

c. On a more philosophical note, could the roach be possibly attribute a meaning to its life like humans do? Survival of human beings and his subsequent rise to the top of the pyramid can be attributed to man’s thinking that life is meaningful and has a purpose. Could it have possibly thought, “is this going to be the end of me? Was I born for this? Shouldn’t I hold on till some door opens?”. Though not so vividly as humans, but you know like how roaches might “think”. At this point I am obligated to ridicule myself for the common notion (not fact) that ROACHES DO NOT THINK, but how are we sure that they cannot?

 Here, in the case of an insect, I’m always inclined towards choice (b), though (a) is also a possible solution (but ‘a’ is just an offshoot of ‘b’). But nonetheless the last option (c) is what is keeping me awake so late tonight. Let us delve little deeper inside the roaches mind and in the process dig a little of ours too. But first, lets get the basics right. What is thinking? Is it just the firing up of neurons in the brain that happens in most of the species or is it more than that? What exactly forms a thought and is it confined only to humans? Questions google could answer, very subjective though, but I want to think it out on my own. Could the roach possibly “think” there’s a meaning to life? Not like us humans do but more like associating a happy state (such as eating, mating etc) with purpose in life . With such a little brain, I dont think the roach would be upto the mammoth task of giving a deep meaning to life like we humans do. Only humans can attribute so much meaning into life and define a purpose for it when in reality they are fooling themselves because the hard fact is that life in reality is utterly meaningless. Let us suppose that roaches could “think”, even though not vividly as humans. The roach could very well find meaning in life by associating life with happy states of being with its mate, reproducing, eating and wandering around, that sure is reason to live. But come to think of it, nothing comes easy for the roach, lets take mating, its not like the roach meets Mrs.Roach in the bar and they both hit it off from there. In the insect world, there’s competition for everything, from a mate to your dinner, everything should be fought for. And we all know fighting is a struggle, so why go through the whole routine of fighting for your mate, your food, taking care of your off-springs? (though not like humans, they atleast have to provide some form assistance for their offsprings to survive initially) Why not just let go off the hold and it’ll all be over quickly? Could it possible realise the freedom of dying? . The freedom from constant everday fight. Or is the roach so narrow-minded (or programmed that way) to see only the events that could follow immediately. Like, if it lets go, it dies a miserable death and it doesnt know what happens if it dies, whether its going to be happy or not (happy is defined by the roach as a state of NO struggle) after it dies. To the roach the next event of drowning, which is far more painful than the everyday struggle, is good enough to hold on and wait for something to happen.
  In conclusion I think that, though most likely the whole episode is answered by option (b) and to an extent (a), option (c) which is an answer that could never be proven false could also hold true (because we really cant’ say that ROACHES DONT THINK, We wont know unless we become one) . This just leaves me with one big question, “WHY do we (or the roach, though not known for sure) attribute a meaning to life?”, has it been born out of choice (b), that we are programmed to think life is worth fighting so that our species survives better? Or do you really think there’s an inherent meaning and purpose to life? Like service to god or to lead a prosperous and purposeful life and leave a rich legacy behind. If you ask me, I have to say there’s no purpose, and we’re all commanded by our “Selfish” genes to make the most out of our lives so that they (the genes) could live on forever in your children, your children’s children and so on.