One billion Indians denied US visas!

– Areas of India effected by the great blackout of July 31

If you want to be a nitpicker, you can point out the fact that these Indians have not actually applied for a Visa, which kinda makes this headline misleading.

BUT! That does not mean they don’t CURRENTLY have a visa. THEREFORE this headline is accurate-ish.

After all, this kind of logic seemed to make perfect sense to the bright Indian media who touted the headline – 600 million cut off!

Now this headline kinda makes sense if you consider that the rough population of North + East + Northeastern India is about 620 million people.

However, here is fun list of things that headline assumes –

1) All 600 million North, East, Northeastern Indians have any power at all (they do not)
2) 600 million Indians have power all the time (they do not)
3) This condition 600 million Indians usually do not experience (they do so regularly)  
According to the government’s own census, some 300 million Indians do not have any access to electricity EVER. Not that day, not today, not tomorrow. NEVER.

But why should the media let that fun fact stop them from making sure those 300 million are counted with the rest of us, it’s not like the media is expected to tell us like it is or something.

(Though I am willing to let go of the fact that all Indians suffer load shedding – scheduled daily power cuts – because I agree it doesn’t happen at the same time across the country)

And while I am as tolerant as anyone else, I cannot help but have some reaction when I see headlines that declare – India plunges into darkness!  – for a power cut that happened at 1 pm in the AFTERNOON.

– THE SUN STILL SHINES AT THAT TIME…GENIUS

It was especially hilarious to watch haplessly breathless reporters, whipped up to frenzy by their editors, racing around the streets to stop passersby and breathlessly demand that they tell their horror story.

And what were the answers they usually got?

“We are used to X hours of power cuts every day.”

Oh yeah, that’s right.

In states like Jammu and Kashmir, Bihar or Jharkhand, eight to nine hour rolling power cuts are a day-to-day business.

Indeed, in Delhi suburbs like Gurgaon, if they had 16 hours of continuous power during the day for two days back-to-back, then THAT might have caused a bigger reaction.

My personal favourite has to be the NDTV journalist who spent five minutes telling us how this college girl next to her was stuck in the platform and how it was all a big tragedy.

When she finally managed to get the microphone over to the college student, this was the conversation –

“What will you do NOW?”

“Oh I called my dad, he will come pick me up in sometime. Until then, what else is there to do? Few of my friends and I are just going to hang around on the platform…”

“…Right…err…”

(Hint: Know your audience. At 2 pm in the afternoon, there are NO college students anywhere in the world who are desperately trying to get home at any cost.)

Now I am not saying the outage did not cause a world of suffering to hundreds of millions of people. That is bad enough. Why does our media have this desperate need to make everything bigger?

It’s not like an elephant will seem bigger if you call it a pachyderm. It’s an elephant. I know how big it is. All you achieved was make me stop looking at the elephant and wonder what the hell a pachyderm is.

“watch out for that pachyderm!” “what?” *THUD* “I meant Elephant…never mind…are you alright?”

The people who were truly stuck were the Indian Railways. Hundreds of trains carrying tens of thousands of people halted and could not be restarted for several hours. But people waiting in trains in the middle of nowhere was not thrilling enough to send reporters to apparently.

Now you can dismiss this as simple sensationalism to drive home the scale of the blackout. And I have been accused of trivializing what was a major event because I am cynical bastard.

Now I do not contest the bastard bit, I firmly deny I have anything against sensationalism – so long as the right angle is being highlighted, not the retarded one.

Was a pointless (but easily tweet-able) headline with a random number out of their behind the best or most accurate angle?

Why didn’t they focus on how LITTLE effect the whole affair had on the day-to-day lives of Indians?

The effect was small because the Indians are always prepared for power cuts and are generally unused to EVER having an uninterrupted power, never mind being cut off by two days of cuts.

But that angle admittedly doesn’t have the same ring to it. Because from that view the headline would have to be –

Power fails across country. Indians unsurprised.

Not quite as Tweet-able.

Side note:

Here is a headline that is at least vaguely based on some truth –

Power Minister put in charge of internal security after great black out; Terrorists decry move, say all challenge has been taken away

1 thought on “One billion Indians denied US visas!”

  1. Fair enough. People in the developed world, even Indians in the cities, forget that a lot of India has never had power. They plunge into darkness every night. Nicely written.
    Your last line is tweetable.

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