Most Indians who emigrate to the US have to constantly deal with questions from their self and from friends and family on why they choose to do so. It is a complex question that requires thought and nuance and the answers vary from individual to individual. For every day that one’s grateful for traffic-free commutes and non-stop electricity there’s the day when we’ve missed out on yet another family event. For every Superbowl party, there’s a quiz or wedding we’ve missed out on. The list is endless.
I was reminded of this constant debate while processing my Twitter feed in the last twenty-four hours. One of the things I am constantly grateful for in the US is I feel I have access to a much more advanced and nuanced media. Also, the people in power are just a touch more transparent and are held a bit more accountable. While this rarely makes a huge difference in my day-to-day life, it feels good to be reaffirmed on all that is right about the role of media and the responsibility held by people in power.
Take a brief look at this interview that CNN-IBN did with Krishnamachari Srikanth. Rajdeep Sardesai is the son of a rich former cricketer who got to his position within the media and has stayed there with little or no real accomplishments. Famous for being part of the paid media scandals and for fanning the flames of argumentative debate every night on TV, Rajdeep’s tone belies the innocuous questioning here. There is no context or analysis of the situation. There is just a sustained effort to play gotcha!
Srikanth on the other hand is the highly compensated honorary chairman of selectors at the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India). The BCCI is arguably the most powerful organization in world sport. To get to this spot and role of absolutely unaccountable power, Srikanth did not have to win the approval of anyone but a group of honorary mercenaries just like him. Srikanth gets to make more money than 99% of the world’s population, garners fame and benefits associated with his role, gets to put his kids and grand kids thru school, college and careers. He rarely has to face the media or fans who make the sport as popular as it is. And when he does give an interview like the one below, he tries to play the role of martyr who equates what he is doing to serving the nation (what an insult that is to people who really do!). He gives no visibility in to the process used to make arbitrary decisions and completely balks at the prospect of making tough choices for the here and now.
Does it ever occur to either man here that there’s a million people who’d do their jobs for free??
Then take a listen to Bill Simmons interview President Obama –
This is by no means a hard-hitting problem solving interview. But there’s a mutual respect, a respect for the audience and a banter that is so missing in most Indian media interviews. It also speaks of what’s possible here in the US! A sports blogger and son of a high school teacher gets to speak with a man who went from community organizer to the seat of the Presidency. Any chance this scenario will play out in India any time soon?
Neither interview purports to solve world problems but only one of these feels right. Bill Simmons is by no means David Frost. I just hope that some day more people in power in India are interviewed by more people with smarts. Indian politics, sports and movies needs their own Bill Simmons and an alternate media. It’s been way too long.