Monday, June 10, 2013

TOI's idea of change is anarchist

The Times of India is (almost without doubt) one of the mightiest news publications in India has a huge marketing budget to promote the same idea to its readers. This, of course, has everything to do with the advertisment revenue that it earns from the four wheel full spread page and inappropriate placements of baby care products or food alongside captivating headlines that read like, "3 in 5 children in India are malnourished". But you know, that's all okay.
The Times of India is all about the latest in news and views of all current topics and burning issues that the youth especially like to be keyed in about. Never mind that the 18-25 age bracket know little about the depth of any issue, they must be given enough fodder everyday that energizes them enough to rant and be outraged about on Twitter and Facebook. Who wants to live in the adage of "old is gold" when it is small townish, slow, bureacratic and stuck in a time warp (as they targeted The Hindu in an ad war series last year that created much unnecessary furore) when you can wake up to The Times of India today.

The latest in their efforts to mobilize the country comes in their advertisement, 'I Lead India 2013 - I Will be the Change' where people suddenly pick up the chairs, couches and beds they were blissfully seated on and carry them while marching forward to build a collective bonfire. I, at first, thought this was an advertisement for Lori but even when they didn't throw ground nuts in the fire, it still didn't convey the message. Was the act of carrying your chair and burning it like having your cake and eating it? No. Or was it symbolism for getting off your behind and taking action rather than talking about it over tea and tweeting?
My problem is that TOI's wake up call comes at an imperfect time. The case studies of social media bringing people out in the streets of Tahrir Square, Jantar Mantar, Wall Street, India Gate are contemporary histories now. This isn't to say that they've been forgotten or that they haven't become user template guides to starting a revolution in your country. But whether it's respect to corruption in the system or rape of our women by the system and society, the revolutionary spark has come and gone.
For India, right now we're at that time of the revolution when follow up on the progress work of resolving the issue is critical. This, in fact, is the most challenging part since the onus to lead, self monitor and institutionalize the change in system against bureacratic resistance is mostly left to individual resilience. This is also the part of the revolution where groupies and social loafers are sieved out of the movement leaving the committed few to build the blocks.
Everyone can join a movement just like anyone can join a mob regardless of knowing what's really on the agenda (You could try speaking to a few of them in Gujarat). Taking to the streets and braving water bombs and tear gas shells is really the peak of the party but the actual hard work comes in the preparation to it and its cleaning up. The loud party, however, is the first critical step in taking everyone's notice to something that was paid little or serious attention to before.
But we've done that in the summer last to last year and just the winter that went by. Now is the time for the empowered individuals and bodies to continue to stand on their ground and sync their efforts towards this change.
The noise has been made TOI. So why are you still asking us to burn chairs?

1 comment:

  1. follow-ups & taking actions, requires time & effort....and they are highly unattractive to the masses. So i am not surprised why ToI or for that matter anyone is investing time & resources in it.

    I remember a video where a young man initiates a dance..he was looked upon as a mad man, till a second man joined which then made it interesting and finally the whole beach danced. The second man actually did the magic of instilling confidence in others, but he never got the praise.Same is the case here, nobody wants to work for nothing, everyone needs limelight.

    And again ToI, which sells news (not just ads) in the form of advertorials will be the last one to become the second man :/