Book: Newsman: Tracking India in the Modi Era
Author: Rajdeep Sardesai
Publisher: Rupa Publications
Pages: 234; Price: Rs 500
In the year 2002, Narendra Modi, the then Chief Minister of Gujarat, had offered his resignation post-Gujarat riots. It was announced to the media by Late. Jana Krishnamurthy, who was the President of Bharatiya Janata Party at the party’s National Executive meet held in Goa. It was during that time I first saw Rajdeep Sardesai, standing with the boomer (mike used by a reporter for audio-visual medium of journalism), right opposite the BJP head office in Goa’s capital Panjim. I was covering the National Executive meet for The Free Press Journal, Mumbai.
In the year 2017, I saw Rajdeep for the second time that too in Goa again in the wee hours, waiting to board a flight to Mumbai from Dabolim Airport. In these 15 years, lot of water has flown under the bridge. Modi is now the Prime Minister of India and Rajdeep, the Consulting Editor of India Today Television. And as we often say, that once a journalist always a journalist, I could not help but straight away turn to page 198 of Newsman (Tracking India in the Modi era) where one of the most heard voices in journalism writes about How Modi ‘Managed’ Media.
Any news is good news, irrespective whether it projects you as a hero or a villain. What it ensures is that you are constantly on the minds of the people. There is no iota of doubt that in today’s era of branding, ‘Brand Modi’ is the populist one which none can ignore, not even the author. In the past four years, according to author’s observation Modi as Prime Minister has been literally everywhere from being lauded by NRIs in New York’s Madison Square to spending Diwali with soldiers in Siachen and, more recently, taking up ‘fitness challenges on social media. Not a day has passed when he hasn’t been in the arc lights.
The book makes an interesting read, keeping in mind the 2019 General Elections. Rajdeep opines that the template for 2019 is being set by the embryonic ‘Modi versus all’ narrative. And while defending his fraternity on several counts, he also does not hesitate to highlight the existing divide between the newsrooms openly brought to the fore with regard to the ongoing political debates.
If Modi has used Mann Ki Baat to reach out to the masses then Rajdeep has conveyed his Mann Ki Baat through this book to the readers and more so to fellow journalists. In an attempt to do so he has ended the book with a prayer for better India. We can only hope that his prayers are answered sooner than later.
Till then we can continue to rest our belief on old Hindi catch phrase Hamam Mein Saab Nange, a closest of which in English means ‘All Cats Look Grey in Dark.’ With an optimistic approach like Rajdeep, I’m certain that the darkness shall fade away one day highlighting the true colours of both, political class as well as of those who belong to the Fourth Estate.