Monday, 11 March 2013

Only In India

Only in India you will find a bomb blast and its 16 victims stale news. Only in India you will find the budget something more important than a terror attack. Only in India a terror attack is forgotten after a week. I too was told I'd be writing on the blast for a week. For a week. A bomb that took 16 lives and injured over 100 people is worth a week of news for the media. I shall remember that for a long time to come.

The attack took place on  a Thursday, and exactly a week later it started fading out of news. The subsequent Thursday the budget released and when I  landed that day at Dilsukhnagar to give a report about the situation there, I noticed the reduction in the number of the OB vans. The number of photographers and reporters too had come down. I must admit I felt privileged that I could actually go very close to the spot without having to haggle with cameramen. But then that too got old and I started getting bored there.

I managed to get 10 by lines out of the entire week; the highest ever since I  started working, and it was quite an accomplishment for me as well. However the silver lining remained elsewhere and not in any of those reports. One of the victims was a man who worked at a tea stall opposite the building where the blast took place. The poor man lost his life while going to the toilet. Had he stalled for a few seconds his death would have been averted

When I met the tea stall owner, he started chatting. I was tired and ended up having three cups of tea and few biscuits. I think there was elaichi in the tea and I was about to complain about it. But I didn't, and when I gave the owner the money, he refused to accept it. One common notion about reporters in Hyderabad is that journos are free loaders, and that pisses me off very much, so I usually keep the money somewhere and leave when people don't take money from me.

So finally I kept the cash on his table, and the man came up to me and told me, 'You guys have done enough. His body has been sent back home and we got the money too. So please, it's okay.' It was then I realised that for once that there was some impact and the government was not so apathetic for once. I filed my report and left, but that one incident has made me a little stronger. Hopeful too maybe, because for as long  as we stick to the truth, hope is never lost.

I don't know what lies ahead for me, but now I know I will always write the truth. Even if I am in India, where we write the truth selectively. I will still write the truth (doesn't sound convincing isn't it?) nevertheless. That said, I still can't forget the smile on Mr. Mittal's face when the water board finally stopped giving him fake bills and gave him back his connection. It sounded funny, but the 64 year old man was so happy. His rounds to the water board from 18 years finally payed off.

His story was the second by-line I got since I started working. Between that and the tea stall man, I never felt like the journalist I wanted to be. I did learn about a lot of things, but it wasn't exactly the kind of thing I thought journalism would be. For all I've witnessed from over a year as a reporter, I wish that those who take up journalism thinking they can help society should be told about how things are, so that they aren't left disappointed.

And for those who simply enjoy the benefits of being a journalist; you've won. But somewhere inside, there are people who will still write the truth, and not for the sake of a deadline, or a by-line or simply for benefits.

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