Rupa Gulab on why our TV news channels look like wildlife channels

Indian news channels have recently become like wildlife channels: we frequently see footage of a hyena pack, salivating and cackling hysterically while circling its prey

Representative Image (Social Media)
Representative Image (Social Media)

Rupa Gulab

Indian news channels have recently become like wildlife channels: we frequently see footage of a hyena pack, salivating and cackling hysterically while circling its prey. The pack’s current prey happens to be the chief minister of a state (let’s call her Blue Riding Hood as the colour red makes her see red). At a rally during the elections, the leader of the pack announced that 40 of Blue Riding Hood’s rats would join him. She rightly called him out for that remark: “Aren’t you ashamed? You claim yourself to be a protector of the Constitution? In spite of being in a Constitutional position, you are violating it.”

The leader of the pack, however, had no shame, and Mother Nature is to blame. Scavenging is what comes naturally to hyenas, and sure enough, after the election results were out, over 50 of Blue Riding Hood’s rats were cackling in his den. They hadn’t been dragged screaming and kicking: a few tasty morsels here and there enticed them in. Besides, some of the rattiest rats were known criminals who wanted what the hyena pack promises every new entrant: clean chits that will make them as pure as Ganga jal.

After the coup, the hyenas started hounding the shocked and weakened Blue Riding Hood in earnest—they were determined to huff and to puff and to blow her government down. They’d run after her and yell ‘Jai Shri Ram’. While these three little words may sound innocuous, they’re sharper than claws. The papers had already made us gasp with news about a young Muslim man who was thrashed and forced to say Jai Shri Ram in Gurgaon. A few days later, a Pune doctor visiting Delhi was accosted by a bunch when he was on a morning walk around Connaught Place and was ordered to say it as well. His skin and bones were left intact because his religion ticked the right boxes.

In case you’re wondering, ‘Jai Shri Ram’ isn’t a warm greeting when it’s thrust on you: it’s a sinister mantra and they repeatedly jeered it at Blue Riding Hood. Unfortunately, she’d lost it by then and what followed wasn’t a pretty sight. Think headless chicken responses like screaming blue murder. Ridiculous, considering that Blue Riding Hood always has protection unlike ordinary citizens! With her guards around me, I’d have cheerily shouted back ‘Heil Hitler’, ‘Jesus loves you too’ or even ‘Whoops, your fly is open’ to shut them up. The good people of twitter offered many comeback lines to Blue Riding Hood, but she ignored the play-it-cool advice and the cackling of hyenas continued till she flung them into jail. Not a good move for two reasons: 1.

This is a democracy 2. Hyenas enjoy whining and playing the victim card. They’ve extremely peculiar creatures, as you may have noticed.

For a while the hyenas were silent, muttering darkly to themselves while looking for interesting morsels to entice new rats in other parts of the country. And then, a wonderful thing happened: a few doctors were attacked by the relatives of a patient who died and the hyenas started cackling again: opportunity, hooray!

Things got even better for the hyenas when the doctors went on strike. Blue Riding Hood did her charmless headless chicken act once again. Instead of clucking tenderly like a mother hen, she went into wicked fairy tale step-mother mode and ordered them to stop whining and start working or else.

What stood out most was the fact that the hyena pack made it seem like doctors weren’t slapped around in other states. The good people of twitter stepped in again with many reminders: Why, even one of the pack’s star MPs had thrashed doctors at a private hospital in Karnataka for not looking after his mummy.

The hyena pack played deaf and shouted louder. Even worse, some pompous doctors started feeling like God, and made us retch. Take Dr S.P. for example: he started a petition that said people who assault doctors should be treated like terrorists. Seriously? He needs help, if you ask me.

Blue Riding Hood and the doctors finally had a cosy heart-to-heart, and all is well again on that front. Be warned, though: the hyena pack will find fresh reasons to attack Blue Riding Hood daily, and will huff and puff till they blow her government down.

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Published: 23 Jun 2019, 6:00 PM