Dipped in Witriol
Taking a cue from TV channels and newspapers who came out with their assessment of the government’s performance, the I&B ministry commissioned the mother of all surveys on the media. The rather elaborate poll conducted by the internationally renowned pollsters, C-for-Yourself (CFY), had a sample size of 100 respondents from the 18-55 age group (that’s if they didn’t lie about their year of birth) spread across seven cities, seven small towns and seven ice cream outlets located at several points on the national highways. To add a new twist non-humans were also included among those surveyed —ten whales and loan sharks from the Pacific. Yes, those unique denizens of the deep who read Indian papers/magazines (particularly editorial comments) and TV channels when the currents carry them to rather shallow waters were also interviewed. Also, unlike all other surveys, in this one, respondents were allowed to express their views rather than respond to a set questionnaire.
Well, we must admit that we would never have been aware of the survey and its results but for the fact that someone in the ministry dispatched it to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy (KKR). Marked “For KKR’s Eyes Only” a copy was couriered (by mistake) also to Shah Rukh Khan, since he is the owner of the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), and was made available to us on the promise that we wouldn’t write about SRK being caught lighting a cigarette at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium, in Jaipur.
But, you may wonder, what is Chief Minister KKR’s link to the survey? Well, the I&B Ministry took notice of him after the rather good effort he put in masterminding those raids on the Sakshi media group owned by Congress rebel Jagan Mohan Reddy. “Starving the company of government ads was a bold step but we must ask KKR to study our survey and give his valuable suggestions on muzzling the media,” was the recorded observation of one bureaucrat. As a result the findings of the poll were sent post haste to this KKR too.
He immediately called old friend--cricketer turned politician Mohammed Azharuddin-- for an emergency secret meeting at a Hyderabad hotel. They checked in disguised in burkhas but once inside their room changed into cricket flannels and padded up and wore their thinking helmets. For those who didn’t know, the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister was an enthusiastic wicket keeper batsman in the days of his youth and even captained Azhar before he turned big time and started wearing Tissot watches.
It was, however, Azzu Bhai’s turn to shower praise on his former skipper. “Well, KKR, some of the boys rung up and said that you managed very well with Sakshi though it was a flat wicket.” Kiran Kumar Reddy was so pleased he wouldn’t have minded a punch. “Azzu Bhai if the boys praised me then I must have done well. Did Sachin also say I was good?” Azhar did not respond but changed the subject to the survey. Which was just as well -- the juice of the story was after all in the findings. So let’s also share those with the reader:
1. Do you think the media needs to be more supper(essed)?
60 %: Provided the dinner includes all regional diet options and free drinks
20% : Why not have a whale of a time…
10%: Don’t Know/ Can’t Say (DKCS) -- (represented by the support staff of C-F-Y who figure in this slot for all the agency’s surveys.)
2. Was Andhra Pradesh CM Kiran Kumar Reddy justified in acting against the Sakshi media group?
60% : He couldn’t have acted against the Times of India, could he ?
20%: Sonia Gandhi wanted him to do just that.
10 %: Is Andhra Pradesh in the Pacific and do loan sharks have any rights in Vizag?
10%: DKCS. Did we ever say we know?
3. What should the government do with leaders who walk out of TV studios like Mamata Banerjee did?
60%: Set up a finishing school that teaches leaders to complete shows and not walk off in a huff.
20%: Give them a chance to re-reshoot the show
10%: Sponsor a holiday for them to play with dolphins
4. In your view what would happen if Arnab Goswami of Times Now raises his pitch any higher/shriller?
60%: He will break the sound barrier and would be talking before actually speaking.
20%: He might be used as a special effect voice in heavy metal albums
10%: He should chill out among the big sharks and whales
10%: We don’t watch Arnab and we don’t care.
5. Who should be Arnab’s co-host?
60%: Barkha Dutt and Sagarika Ghose. They can shout at each other with Mani Shankar Aiyar and Cyrus Bharucha joining them to give the viewer’s a break.
20%: Get Aman and Asha to say a few things about Times Now.
10% : The big fish. A sharkie can scare even Mr Goswami
10% : We DKCSs’ should be given a chance.
6. Who are Aman and Asha?
60 %: Aman lives on the pavements outside the Jung office in Pakistan and Asha is a mythical figure who can be seen near the Times of India office on Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg in Delhi.
20%: Amar or Asha kaun? Did they take part in Kaun Banega Crorepati?
10%: Asha, according to the seaweed-vine is the good, bad and Akeli
10% : Why do you ask us DKCSs?
7: How do you rate the media’s overall coverage of events?
60%: The coverage of the IPL and the entertainment industry was good. Since this is a government sponsored poll should we even talk about the UPA?
20 %: No comment
10%: We learnt that India is a happening party place.
10%: Please, give us a salary hike.
8: Is corruption an issue and how well has the press handled it?
60%: We are still to get our cut, so no comments.
20%: Lot of newsprint has been used to cover it.
10%: There was always something fishy about it.
10%: Anti-corruption begins at home.
9 . Is it right for the government to allow senior editors to fight in public against each other?
60%: That’s better than the Big Fight on TV
20 %: If they agree who will be the aggrieved?
10%: Whales and sharks have disputes when we hit intellectually shallow waters.
10%: Hey, don’t make us a DKCS lot all the time.
10. If a newspaper carries a story about an 800 strong alien ant formation from Ant-Rax, a celestial body 200 light years above Kapurthala, launching an attack and taking over India would you believe it?
60%: Yes, because it would be more entertaining than reading about what Pranab Mukherjee is doing to stabilize the falling rupee.
20% : Did they really travel on vehicles that travel 2000 times the speed of light developed by our rocket scientists?
10%: There are no ants since whales and sharks don’t wear pants!
10%: Once again DKCS-ed!
The survey will be circulated among all Congress chief ministers. But you have heard it from us first. Because, as Arnab Goswmi often says, the nation deserves to know…