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Black, white and read all over

I am a morning person, always have been. Late to bed, early to rise even on Sundays, for hundreds of years now. I get just two holidays in the year, August 15 and January 26.

Some years ago, I would arrive at your doorstep, no baggage attached. No glossy leaflets placed within my sheets — for some Dial-A-Pizza joint offering you discounts on their Mushroom and Olive eight-inchers. Or some builder selling you the promise of ‘Venice in the heart of Vashi’. You didn’t have to experience the Herculean effort of getting to my headlines, battling oddly sized, quarter-page ads.

 Illustration/ Amit Bandre

Of course, you could argue that it’s pretty masochistic to read today’s headlines — I can’t decide whether my journalists seem to either focus only on bad news, or whether there is just very little good happening anymore in the country.

There was an era when I felt proud every morning — I announced the nation’s independence, I launched Nehru, I promoted Netaji, I reported Indira Gandhi joining the Indian National Congress (it’s true, she censored me during the Emergency). But there was majesty about the country then. And there was eloquence — Atal Bihari Vajpayee with poetry flowing from his Red Fort podium, for instance. And today? I quote Narendra Modi misquoting history, I headline Nirbhaya and I report natural disasters.

The Rath Yatra, Ram Janmabhoomi and the subsequent riots seemed like blots on an otherwise positive horizon. But today? Rapes in rickshaws and ramshackle mills, Radia tapes, Rane’s kid going ballistic, thousands of crores of rupees being scammed, Rahul Gandhi’s gaffes, Rajnath’s counter gaffes.

Their rhetoric is so unimaginative, and political debate has regressed to pettiness. Politicians have morphed from greats to goons.

Narasimha Rao made his name introducing liberalisation. Vijay Jolly is making his blackening nameplates.

All I seem to report day after day is violence, vandalism and vicious attacks on women. Is this what Sardar Patel fought for?

I’ve often asked myself the question, can we retrace our steps?

PM nominees trade personal insults instead of electoral policies.

India has become an ugly, ugly country.

The disease, I sense is too cancerous.

Maybe I’m too idealistic, but we’ve shifted from a happy, harmonious country to a hate-filled one.

We once loved our country. Now we’re out to loot it.

The rose-tinted glasses have been replaced by blood-soaked ones. It’s what I see printed on my pages. And I’m powerless to stop it. I am merely the messenger.

Okay, I need to go, my editor calls. More bad news to be printed tonight.

See you tomorrow morning. You can pick me up at six am from your doorstep.

Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at rahuldacunha62 @gmail.com

The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper.¬†

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