Cool Buddies

New Age Gods [by Sharada]

Posted in Uncategorized by Ratheesh & Sharada on August 27, 2012

While we go about our lives attending to tasks that domestication brings with it, a seemingly inconspicuous monster grows in our living room, feeding on our curiosity to peek into the outside world. For most of us, reading newspaper or tuning into one of the news channels has become a routine ritual; for some others, it has become the single source of truth. A quick tour of one of our daily newspapers reveals that some of these “news” items can unravel a lot of hidden truths.

About unstable secretions:

“Latest studies show that over 40% of the women are affected by Thyroid imbalances. Hyper-thyroid and Hypo-thyroid are rampant among the urban population especially women lately.” There are several scientific reports appearing in newspapers indicating that Thyroid has become the most common ailment plaguing people, next only to Diabetes. Beside this, an advertisement for Thyroid diagnosis and treatment center that announces special discounts for women appears. So if you are underweight or overweight, it is recommended to get a complete checkup of your Thyroid levels (and start taking the drugs which claim to regulate Thyroid levels). This would mean almost 80% of our population needs to be checked for Thyroid, considering only a minority of people watch their weights closely.

Until very recently, most of us were not concerned about our Thyroid levels, in fact, most of us were not even conscious of any such substance in our body. We did not have doctors or advertisements pressing us to have our thyroids checked and coincidentally none of us suffered from any ill effects of thyroid imbalances. But suddenly we hear that our close friends, our neighbours, their relatives – all complaining about their Thyroid problem. If you happened to suffer from tiredness and felt you need to see a doctor, rest assured you would be diagnosed with thyroid deficiency and if you are very unlucky and end up in a hospital, you would also have to undergo some expensive tests – again to prove that you suffer from thyroid.

And these tests record just a marginal discrepancy, a discrepancy nevertheless and should be a cause for concern. A common brand of drug is prescribed for prolonged periods of time after which follow-up checkup is recommended.

Celebrity Fiascos:

Another news item that made it to the front page was that Aamir Khan had a baby created in the lab artificially with help of surrogacy. Does this have to be a front page news item? Undoubtedly, he is one of the most celebrated actors in our country (not sure about country, but for most, Indian cinema means “Bollywood”). But a closer look at the Advertisements that accompany this article in the same newspaper unfolds the agenda – clinics that specialize in IVF, Ads that calls the “normal” people who can be like their star too and have a baby through IVF.

For some of us interested in social and culture news, there is enough to tickle our interests. Salman Khan has an extended family that consists of a large population of odd-looking, hardly-related people who come from various cultures, religions and geographies. We never had to bother about this or wonder about their compatibility. But this year, it created a full page article with a very “loving” family photo of everyone wearing his brand of T-shirts and describing how they celebrate festivals and rejoice national integration. Does it matter? No! Not to a reader who is reading his morning paper. But yes, to the producers of his latest flick that was released in time for Eid, which required this “news” item.

And then, there was an unlikely news article which carried a story about Amitabh Bacchan being visited by the Kannada actors Shiva Raj Kumar and Puneet Raj Kumar at his residence. They presented him with a book written by Puneet about his legendary father Dr. Raj Kumar. And very soon, we saw an Ad of a jewelry store on television that showed a very “caring” relation between Amitabh Bacchan and Shiva Raj Kumar.

Politically incorrect?

Politics cannot be left behind. Some of us do not even know which party is ruling in some states. But now, thanks to newspapers that enlightened us, we know that Sunny Leone (If you are wondering who this is, you might have just arrived from Mars and would need to catch up) was invited to a party hosted by the state Govt. officials which created quite a controversy as the same Govt. had earlier ordered posters of Sunny Leone to be removed from buses. This was a major news topic for around a week in leading newspapers. You guessed it! Just in time for creating buzz about Jism-2.

These are what people are fed with in the name of “news”. If you want to know how the coal mafia has contributed to the vanishing forest covers of our country or how many prompt officers were “transferred” because they uncovered some truths or how our country’s relation with our neighbours are, you might be disappointed. Of course on days when you are lucky, you might chance upon a one-column article on these burning topics. But it is largely considered anti-publicity material and frowned upon by newspapers mindful of their reader bases.

Media is a persistent salesman:

We are being bombarded with information we do not need for the benefit of a few. We are being sold items for which we do not have use for to generate profits for a few. We are forced to form opinions about people, organizations or countries that we do not know of or care about. We are supporting “philanthropic” causes and are made to feel for strangers. We have started worrying about the health of organs we didn’t even know existed in our body.

All this while, we are feeling that our country is progressing; our media is doing a great job of bringing out even the most remote news to us instantly. We feel we are the privileged people and all our needs are taken care of. Above all, we get a false sense of security.

And while the common man is thinking that he is benefited by this great service offered by the media unaware of the fact that the actual benefactors are the corporates; they are the few rich and the famous that have started governing us and our lives. Of course, it is unbelievable; it does not make sense at all – how would these seemingly harmless Ads and news items have a hidden agenda (after all, it helped us a lot; we have access to limitless information now)? For the majority who believe in the news and Ads feel that they are empowered like never before. They are the masters of everything around them, most importantly they feel they are now in control – they have the ultimate authority to choose – to make decisions.

But what choices have we got? What decisions have we taken? Does choosing one brand over another make us more empowered? What we are choosing is “whole-wheat” biscuits over the normal ones (because we were told they are better?). We are now able to choose among 99 colors for our two-wheelers (amazing isn’t it? why settle for boring black and plain whites?). What we are able to choose is eco-friendly greenhouses over the conventional (non-green?) houses. Do these choices matter? Why are we made to choose among A, B or C. What about the other choices? What about the choices whether we need a house or not in the first place? What about whether we need to eat cereal or not? What about whether we require the commodity or not? No! There is no such question asked. The commodity is already “sold”. It is assumed and beaten into our heads that we cannot live without a particular product. The “news” articles have taken care of that part. Now that we are enlightened, we are being offered a range of products so we can kindly pick our choice.

What benefit does the news item hold for us? If we think deeply, does knowing about the seemingly “secret” lives of our celebrities make us feel more enabled? In what way would you be helped by knowing about an alcoholic problem of a dead film star? Wouldn’t it be rather beneficial to know about the drought conditions in our state and to know whether there would be shortage of food supplies in the near future? Wouldn’t it be good to be aware of any impending financial problems of our country or even the world so we are better prepared to face a crisis? Wouldn’t it be nice to know how our Govt. is prepared on avoiding a natural calamity, say for e.g. in flood prone areas? Or to know what are the advantages and disadvantages of constructing a dam over a river so we can influence a decision? Or to know how the rich evergreen forests are being destroyed and how this would affect us or how is this destruction related to our water problems?

But these decisions have already been taken. It did not seem necessary to consult us or even discuss these issues with us. After all, we are “common” men and women. We have entrusted the decision making to a few nominated candidates (who supposedly represent us). These are also considered “boring” or “un-sensational” to be published. The greatest decisions that affect us the most are taken for us by a few powerful people while we are busy choosing the color of our new car. While we are being convinced that we need the car, we are kept away from key decisions like the increase in fuel prices.

Do we feel better after sending an SMS to save the tiger? After all, it was Amitabh Bacchan who asked us to; he could not be wrong. Now we can be assured that the tigers are in safe hands. And we have done our bit to save them “you need to be proud of your SMS“. Things are better again; we can now get back to other topics like our thyroid problem.

Thou shalt get what thee seeks:

Think about it. We are being taken through this “tube” (someone aptly called the television a tube) which creates a world for us to see, to experience. It creates a barrier which cleverly sifts the news that matters from those which are harmful or useless (Swami Nigamanand went on a hunger strike to save Ganga and died after 73 days, but who cares?). It creates a world of illusion where you are the Kings and Queens; the world revolves around you. YOU are the most important person in the world. You and your loved ones need to be protected from the harmful surroundings; you deserve to be pampered and taken care of. The tube has no openings or windows to the world outside; it is not necessary. All that matters is whether you are steered towards the commodities; whether you are being a “responsible” consumer. And this can be a never ending tube; the products are limitless fueled by our “needs”.

All this could not have been achieved if not for our ever-obliging consumerism. As long as they have a market, the corporates will make every effort to sell, after all profit is what they aim at. We are only being fed what we like to be fed (at least the majority of us). Like a chimp which is given puzzles to solve that leads it to a trophy, we are being led, step by step in a programmed mesh that involves the Corporates, Government and Media. The lone crusaders who stand up against this setup are crushed and discarded; the corporates do not like to be contested. And while this happens, the rest of us are blissfully unaware of any such incidents as we sit in our beautiful web woven exclusively for us. We feel like a queen spider in the center of this mesh but too indulged in ourselves to realize that the web is a trap.

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One Response

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  1. planetnaveen (@NaveenCKulkarni) said, on January 16, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    Sharada,
    Very realistic and interesting points here.

    How can we ignore the strange reality that we are seeing the world through the lens of media. We react to what we hear/see/read.


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