Fed up with the daily rancour, editors of various news channels told their underlings to hold fort at primetime one day and met to discuss a pressing matter.
Editor 1: This is getting ridiculous. I send my reporters to one protest, and the other starts. How are there so many people getting offended one after the other? Is this a relay race? Forget the nation, I want to know!
Editor 2: My reporters can only get to one group’s dharnas at a time. The other has begun to suspect that I am not secular enough. This has to stop. There should be an organised way to do this.
Editor 3: As always it is my woman’s intuition that has a way out of this. We need to get these people organised and come together on one platform so that they can coordinate their outrage and not compete with each other for airtime.
Various religious groups were called and so began a lobby unlike any other lobby. A movement unlike any other movement. One that would save the country’s sentiments and the time of beleaguered reporters and camera crews – and The Society of Hurt Sentiments was founded.
Saffron and green worked together, just like our freedom fighters had wished. TV channels pitched in and promised ready availability of TV cameras, even at short notice. Guest coordinators for “live” shows were asked to arrange for semi-intelligent crowds at any given time. Musclemen from party offices were put on notice that their services could be required at any time. They could hitch a ride with an OB van if time was short.
Stringers were asked to look for people with the following characteristics –
1. Strong lungs to shout at the top of one’s voice. The highest decibel levels would find pride of place on the nightly debates.
2. Well-developed arms to break window panes and hold placards for cameras, as and when required.
3. Thick skull, one which new ideas cannot penetrate.
4. And a big nose, to poke into every art gallery, cinema and drawing room discussion for a whiff of controversy.
It was not all work and no play for these poor souls. They would get free film screenings and an unofficial veto power for invitees of any art festival worth its salt. The more literary-oriented even got advance copies of books just in case they could find that one line that could corrupt and scar innocent minds forever.
Hence was formed a body that simultaneously provided TRPs for ad revenues and a shield for our fragile culture. One that saved reporters the trouble of going to look for stories and one that told the public what they should or shouldn’t think.
Artists and performers were not left out either. They could come to studios every night to decry the persecution of their fellow men and women. No longer did they need to suffer the trials of tribulations of the weather gods and have to face mobs in the searing heat – all for a greater cause, to defend an idea.
No one watched Bigg Boss anymore. They just tuned in to their favourite news channels. No more news to disturb anyone’s sentiments. Citizens went to sleep peacefully knowing that the next generation would not question them when they woke up. Many found gainful employment with the local branches of the Society and cottage industries of effigy-making and tyres for rent sprung up across cities. And all the editors could get back to the important things in life – walking beagles, tweeting about the rain and of course still asking questions on the nation’s behalf.
And someone said Utopia couldn’t be achieved. Bah!
Image by: Swarnabha Banerjee