Reality Bites: Chai with China or Tea with Xi  

We need to cope with several shades of journalism besides yellow

Reality Bites: Chai with China or Tea with Xi  

Rupa Gulab

Warning: Keep a jumbo pack of tissues on your lap when you watch CNN.

I cry like a baby and blow my nose a lot when they call out US President Trump’s ridiculousness—they have no qualms about categorically stating that he’s a liar. You cannot blame me for getting emotional when the media speaks truth to power—I vaguely remember Indian journalists and public intellectuals used to do that too, but oddly enough, only when the Congress was at the Centre. There are different categories of journalists and columnists in mainstream media today.

Category A: They firmly believe that the Congress is still in power (it’s all a devious conspiracy, deep state, etc. shhh), and courageously attack them daily without bothering to waste any of their outrage on the atrocities of the BJP. Even though there is so much to get furious about, like the dehumanisation of minorities, communal claims of UPSC “jihad”, new Nazi-like state laws to stop Muslim men from marrying Hindu women, the economic blockade to punish Punjab, China’s land grab, the collapse of yet another bank, the sinking economy, oh I could go on for pages!

Category B: They concentrate on praising the Dear Leader, and paint charming pictures of him. I now have this strange sort of creature in my head: a red-eyed, barrel-chested superman (apparently, he never sleeps) wearing glittery Bollywood bad girl clothes, with accessories like hats, granny shawls, designer shades, and parrots adorning his arms (along with splatters of icky parrot poo). This is the man they idolise, gosh. I’d rather stick to dull old Tom Cruise.

Category B thinks the Dear Leader is so awesome that heads of far more powerful nations go out of their way to impress him. His speech at the BRICS summit on 17th November inspired a celebrated journalist to tweet the following, “When PM @narendramodi was addressing #BRICSSummit today, President of China Xi Jinping tried to impress Modi by drinking tea.”

Oh dear. I have never impressed anyone in my life. I know this for sure, because I don’t drink tea. Neither have I ever felt remotely impressed while watching people drink tea. Maybe there’s something dreadfully wrong with me?

Now, I willingly concede that it may be unfair to judge a writer by his/her tweets because of twitter’s word limit. The journalist, let us call him Mr Sanjay Bragta, can redeem himself by writing a lengthy article analysing the manner in which Xi Jinping drank his tea to impress the Dear Leader. Was it respectful because Xi did not make vulgar slurping noises? Was Mr Bragta enchanted by the way the tea cup was held or by the genteel manner in which Xi mopped his lips with his hanky after he finished the brew?

Mr Bragta should also include rules on how we must drink our tea in the presence of the Dear Leader too, just to reassure him that we hold him in high regard. The article must have a paragraph that lists other beverages, and how we should drink them to show the Dear Leader that we’re awestruck. This is very important, because while it may be considered posh to drink tea with a finger sticking out, it may be misunderstood as a rude gesture when you’re drinking cola. Seriously though, I would dearly love to know what Mr Bragta was drinking and smoking when he tweeted that (not tea, for sure).

Category C: is made up of worker bees who spread government propaganda. Take the Dear Leader’s expensive Central Vista vanity project, for example. There aren’t merely environmental reasons that the government can and will scoff at. India is heading towards a recession kicked off by demonetisation, there is a COVID pandemic, vaccines are required for all, period.

So naturally Category C is now churning out articles on the joys of the Central Vista project, why we absolutely must feel patriotic about it, stand to attention and sing the national anthem when we see architectural plans for it, et cetera.

Finally, there’s Category D that spreads communal hatred and lies 24x7. While sickeningly nasty, journalists at these media houses are the ones who help you save lots of money because you really don’t want to buy anything from companies that advertise on these channels and fund communal nonsense.

Why, I just lost one kg because my favourite chocolate brand showed up on one of those channels.

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