Hunger for News: Current Affairs and the Indian Blogosphere

On the anniversary of DesiPundit, they ran a series of articles by Indian bloggers on different themes. I got an opportunity to guest-blog there and comment on current affairs and the need for constant news.

Here is the article. It didnt generate any comments there, hope it does here.

In a truly global sense, the only thing that happens every single moment and every single day is a change in current affairs. Be they those affecting individuals, groups, neighborhoods, cities or nations. In today’s day and age, with the constant flow of information over various media, the feeling of a true global village seems more of a reality….a virtual reality.

Nothing today is isolated. Every single action has ramifications that spread across borders and distances in patterns that one would never have thought of. Totally disparate events start to make sense. The cloudburst of 26/7 in Bombay and Hurricane Katrina havoc a month later and 8000 miles away are both results of the same global warming. Cheaper products in supermarkets make the American consumers happy. Until they realize that these products are “Made In China” and suddenly they start hating China and its cheap manufacturing labor force.

The stock market booms and everyone makes money, hand over fist. Till a scandal breaks out about accounting procedures and all of a sudden every accountant and his dog are viewed with a suspicious look. Computers get cheaper and people buy them like there is no tomorrow. But when they break down they call customer service, and then complain that the horrid person on the other end had a funny accent and did not even help him. Of course it would be so nice if the person who bought the computer took a little time to learn how to use one.

Americans lack the professionals they need. So they import them from other nations. We Indians lap up the opportunity and send people here in boatloads. The promise of a better more secure and financially viable future leads one to leave their country and land up in a foreign land. Most make it, some don’t. Sadly the dream painted is so rosy that entire businesses are based on keeping a portrait of that dream alive.

Educational institutions come up “promising the sky” but barely reach the “ceilings of the buildings” they are housed in. Some get away scot free. Others get hammered and are pulled up for screwing around with students futures. Film stars get ill and bring entire nations to a standstill.

Mainstream media becomes a very crowded and crazy muddle of players. Everyone worth his salt is starting a TV channel, a newspaper or magazine. In trying to come out trumps and become the leader, they shoot off the hip and filtering news from fiction becomes the main task of the reader. And the leaders in the field go about dropping standards and selling editorial space. Principles governing media are akin to those that rule the lives of whores.

Politicians jump in and out of coalitions with the same frequency as one changes clothes. The real people who want to make a difference either take the high ground or are driven underground by the elements around. Cricketers become demi-gods in a nation starved of heroes and fail to deliver just when u think they will. Leaders of the world are all born with the same gene pool, and only differ in skin color. Thus you have a stupid man leading the world’s “greatest” democracy while a brilliant man leads the world’s largest.
War becomes a byword for everything that cannot be explained by logic or reason. Terror is the most used word in a politician’s vocabulary. Human rights are violated, phones are tapped, people movement is tracked and life goes on. Religion makes the world more polarized. Those who believe in it allow it to cloud their reasoning. Those who don’t can’t understand why those who do what they do. A sure fire recipe for disaster.

Outsourcing becomes the mantra for two nations for entirely opposite reasons. One nation blames everything wrong onto outsourcing, and skews statistics to prove their point. Another nations relishes in the surge of outsourcing and coins a phrase “India Shining” as if to poke a finger in the former nations eye ! News today is delivered with a big dollop of opinion and individual analysis. There is no black and white. Its all gray….256 shades of it.

A big part of how I get my news is through blogs. The best thing about a blog is that I know it is someone’s opinion or analysis first and pure news only later. It allows each individual to express their thought processes mind set and hence creates a divergent pool of thought on the same topic. Hundreds of people voiced their opinions when an educational institution tried to hardball a blogger. More than 50 people wrote about the movie Fanaa. If only the last 49 had read the first one, it would have saved them the time and effort. This though is a classic example of how the world revolves today.

It allows every individual a lot of avenues to get information, news and opinion and make an educated decision and stand. About a year ago, while posting on my blog, I get a track back from another blog to an article I wrote. Not knowing who it was I check out the blog and it turns out to be some young upstart blog. Calling itself the “pundit” of all things desi, was a very lofty order, according to me. I was wondering if this was going to be one more blog in a million others starting up everyday. And as I always do, I add it to my bloglines reader.

Not knowing much about the blog meant not having very high expectations. However by a quirk of fate, I knew, it seems, one of the founders of this blog, from my days in architecture school in India. This got me more interested and I did keep a track of the blog, still not expecting it to last long. How many aggregate blogs are out there and how long can they sustain interest?

Only time and a million (or so it seems) posts show how wrong I was then. This new blog turns out to become one of the most beloved blogs in the desi diaspora. The contributors go out of their way to supply every reader with a best of “whats out there”.

DesiPundit succeeds in keeping a pulse on the current affairs of the nation and its citizenry around the world in the blogosphere. Frankly that’s a thankless job, especially if you also run excellent personal blogs as the entire DP staff does.

Blogging is an avenue for me to think aloud and share thoughts about things that matter to me, and concern me. Being away from India, it is also a way of focusing my thinking and energy on the current events in India. It is in this aspect that DP has been a perfect pit stop for me.

On their first anniversary, I feel privileged to encounter DP and its contribution in helping me keep abreast of the things that happen in every day life, and the lives that are affected by it.