A few days ago NDTV's Prannoy Roy was doing the 9 O' clock news, and one of the channel's senior anchors, Vikram Chandra, was reporting from New York. The subject was the financial metldown in the United States. Roy was trying to calm the Indian fears about the economy.
He tried to say that it was just a crisis of confidence, and once it is restored, everything will be alright. One of the persons they were interviewing was Bharat Jhunjhunwalla,a share-broker. He was clearly and loudly saying that the American investment bankers were stupid and they played it all wrong and they should not have been allowed to do what they did. But Roy was more keen in instilling confidence in the viewers that the Indian economy is doing well, and that the US crisis is not such a bad one. It seems to be something naive -- this refusal to call a spade a spade.
The top American investment bankers have behaved in the mosr reckless fashion, and that is what every sensible American observer is saying now. But Roy and the English-speaking Indian middle class that he represents just cannot accept that there can be anything wrong with American capitalism.
A little later in the evening. when Vikram Chandra, and the channel's senior business editor Shivraj Thukral were doing a special report on the economy, they were again playing the same game of turning their eyes away from the mess. Chandra was sayig how Times Square in Manhattan was so wonderfully normal, and how the LCD tciker showing the share prices was beaming over the street and how people were still interested in that.
Again, one of the persons they were interviewing, Shankar Sharma of First Global, was crying out aloud that the American investment bankers were just stupid. But Chandra and Thukral just would not listen to the view. It is quite comical as to how NDTV tried to put on a brave face for the sinking American financial sector even as the Wall Street giants were falling by the wayside.
Neither Roy nor his colleagues questioned the approriateness of governmental intervention to save the folly of private players, and whether it is right to use tax-payers' money to bale out reckless gamblers because that is what Lehman Brother, AIG and others have been.
It shows that intelligent Indians are too afraid to ask unconformable questions about the American system - whether it be the economy or politics.
When Hillary Clintn and Barack Obama hit out at the windfall profits of the oil companies in the midst of rising oil prices, the NDTV news reports just skipped the issue. It was too distasteful for them.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
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