Credibility is the First Casualty, and an Expensive One!

The average reader, say the average Indian, is either most gullible or at a loss to understand what’s really going on! So many sides to every story, you are left only asking for more. Read between your favourite newspapers and see the difference. Hear your channels and note the different twists to the same story, or at best selective reporting on only what they consider is most important. I often switch on DD news for pure unfiltered reports on happenings of the day. In all the shifting sands of politics, casualty number one is the truth, and we never get to the bottom of it. Truth is a Truth, and Truth never Lies. And often when you bundle half a dozen lies together, you can hope the truth is somewhere in between. Sample some of the stories current in the last fortnight.

Why Elon Musk decided to stay away?

The more we think, the more uncertain it gets. For instance, why did Elon Musk cancel his much-hyped visit? It would have been some boost for the present government had he come, announced not one but two of his projects in India, with a few billion-dollar investments? Was he advised against playing into the domestic politics, postpone his visit to a time after the results are out. Why been seen as an ‘agent’ in the power game, when he is already a big-ticket player in his own rights? Or, did the negotiations between him and the government not reach a common ground? In the give and take, to enable the announcements, was there still too much of a divide, a yawning gap? There is also the chance that preparations were as yet half-baked, with many of the contours still undecided, like the site of the proposed plants, given the emerging dynamics among states’ playing suitors to foreign investments. That if it was not one state, the other state may derive political advantage? There are many open conjectures, even a truth told may not pass the public belief test, such are our times!

But that Elon Musk and India need each other, at this point in time, can be a game changer for both. Musk needs a new market for his EV business and India is wide open for him. India could do with more technology, especially his satellite and batteries businesses.

Is Kejriwal being denied insulin?

When truth be told, who will believe it? Is Kejriwal being decimated so much that there are attempts to ‘kill’ him in the prison? AAP spokespersons are at pains to say he is. That he is being denied insulin, so as to kill him. Does he want a private and personal doctor to attend to him, and is that permitted or not, under the rule book? Or, is he up to a new bag of tricks, now considered his trademark, to confound public opinion? Meanwhile, there is a report that he is not even prescribed insulin! Remember his cough when he was running for power? That cough looks behind him, now. He often visits the wellness centre for a ten-day break when he does not speak, rests his laurels. He does invoke sharp responses, he is either a favourite, or he is not. Not too many in between, either for him or against.

Is EVMs a reliable option?

This question crops up every time the opposition loses. There was no such clamour when the BJP lost in Punjab, Himachal, Andhra and Telangana. Fortunately, there was none either when the BJP won in Rajasthan and in Madhya Pradesh. But yet it crops up, as a bogey in advance, an expression of numerous fears. Allegations of rigging come up.

There are random but numerous insinuations of manipulations in electoral rolls, some suggesting large scale elimination of groups not considered favourable to a dispensation, depending upon which state is ruled by whom. All this makes one so utterly helpless, to believe whom, why and on what consideration?

Is the consideration only based upon what is our own individual perceptions, or what we simply want to believe in? That we get swallowed in by our own fears and hopes.

How good is our Data?

Every time a new data is released, domestically or from overseas, if it suits us, its good data. If it does not toe our line, we must either ignore or protest. Where are we heading? Data apart, we are best left to understand life around us. Like we can see and know, the car industry is booming, we can see numerous variants and new models being introduced, full page promotions, indicating the industry is booming. Roads are getting built, so are bridges and flyovers, we commute and we see. How are the poverty numbers? We see less beggars on the streets in the capital, if that be any relevant indication. Less, but not that they have left their preferred profession!

Social Media Fakes are Not any Help either!

Social media is not a help, in this case, has become a curse. It only helps sending messages as ‘desired’, with no impunity. These are meant to hurt, spread untruths, create confusion in the mind. If credibility was already at stake, here is confusion worse confounded. Despite all the efforts on channels, and chat boxes, there is no getting away from this. If we were to promote ‘ease in business’, this is one area where it could not become any easier!

Shifting Sands, as we enter in the Midst of 7 phases!

Now, that time is over, at least most of it, when shifting allegiance made the desired impact. Candidates have been named, the bigger alliances stitched, and seat sharing for both the principal political parties largely settled. In many cases, the new recruits have not been pressed into active engagement in their new avatars. At best, they have been marginalised, making opposition ineffective by that much. Be ready for some last-minute deviations, last minute calculations that suggest ‘if I am not making it, let the other not make it either’. Dumping of large scale votes is always the last option, and available to both sides.

Quality of public discourse is taking a downslide like never imagined!

We can say whatever we like, and get away with it. Some statements have no basis whatsoever, but we hammer them as known home-truths, without battling an eyelid. It is such open harangue, such unreasonable peddling of untruths that belie belief. Whipping up hysteria, mass whipping of opponents, do people believe in all these? One suspects they don’t or else there could be problems of law and order on the streets. Fortunately, we are not so vulnerable, at least not yet!

Is there a DRS like solution in public life?

This is perhaps a solution that we may never discover. In cricket, gone are the days when we did not know what was happening on the field. These were early days, when we only heard commentary on the radio. Then we could watch on small screens, that were indeed like 17 and 21 inches, in black and white in a hazy print. You could never make out, only guess where the ball may have hit. Then came these bigger screens, even closer to 100 inches, then we have the giant LED screens, in full colour and high resolution. So today, we can watch the ball inch close to the bat, see and feel and hear the snick, watch the replay a few times, and finally see with that if the ball had not been stopped, would it have hit the wicket? The same goes for balls stopped at the boundary line; did the fielder catch cleanly? Now what about these equivalents in public probity? What could be a DRS in public life? We spoke to a couple of seasoned, retired, but knowledgeable sources; none had an answer that could settle issues like the DRS does.

Scenario after June 4th!

Can the new dispensation after June 4th bring a new set of guidelines, that support probity in national life, that there are clearly set and defined pronouncements that clearly put every possible speculation to rest? If the ruling party gets a third term, this could be the best time for it to say we have the power to rule, no more of such doubts in public space, these are the new guidelines. And, should there be any other result, that too is a good time to make a fresh break.


Navin Berry, Editor, Destination India, over five decades has edited publications like CityScan, India Debates and Travel Trends Today. He is the founder of SATTE, India’s first inbound tourism mart, biggest in Asia.



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