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- https://plus.google.com/.../posts/Ezp6KsasZWh5 hours ago - SAARC Crumbles Under Modi's Nose Coverage of Modi at SAARC shows all that's wrong with TV news by Sandip Roy Nov 26, 2014 18:40 IST 263 Comments ...
Coverage of Modi at SAARC shows all that's wrong with TV news
Narendra Modi to do another of his veni vidi vici international trips.
This one was particularly symbolic vis-à-vis its timing. The SAARC summit was opening on the anniversary of the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai. The alleged mastermind of those attacks is still roaming free in Pakistan. Modi had been tweeting about combating the menace of terror and uprooting it from the face of humankind today. With the him and Nawaz Sharif sharing the same platform, the stage was set for some high-octane drama.
Except it never happened.
Sharif talked about disease, unemployment, malnourishment, poverty, illiteracy. Everything but terror. Modi did bring up the “horror of the terror attack” of 26/11 but so briefly if you blinked you would have missed it. He did not link Pakistan to the attack, chose not to shame it in Kathmandu, and made no demands of it at all, opting instead to just say we needed to combat terrorism and transnational crimes because a prosperous SAARC depends on security. More bromide than brimstone.
And he was perfectly right to do so.
Modi wisely kept the focus on all of South Asia at SAARC instead of turning it into an Indo-Pak spitting match. If anything it’s the media that needs to be ashamed for whipping up completely self-induced hysteria about the grand smack-down in Kathmandu. The electronic media made no bones about the fact that it did not give two hoots about anyone at SAARC other than Modi and Sharif. When Sri Lanka’s Mahinda Rajapakse spoke, the channels that did not go to ads, simply muted him out and turned to their correspondents to rehash Sharif’s speech. We were treated on the split screen to visuals of Sheikh Hasina’s lips moving soundlessly while a correspondent pontificated on what Modi might say in his speech. It was not just disrespectful it actually underscored why as Modi lamented moments later there was so much “cynicism and skepticism” about SAARC. If the media does not take SAARC seriously and treats its heads of state with such cavalier disregard, why should its viewing public care?
But Narendra Modi clearly takes SAARC more seriously than the myopic Indian media. Modi deserves full credit for giving a “South Asian” speech and trying to acknowledge the problems besetting the region. And unlike what the channels would tell us it’s not just “terror factories” in Pakistan. He brought up the problems of visas between the countries, how goods had to do quite a parikrama before coming from one to the other, how our internal trade was low, how Indian companies invested billions abroad but less than 1% in the region.
SAARC which is 30 years old has certainly not really lived up to its promise. All “unions” have their problems.. Each one has states who are suspicious of bigger states in the region and their agendas. And though Modi said we were not just “paas paas” (side by side) but also “saath saath” (together), some states worry that together is actually a euphemism for being swallowed whole by Big Brother. Modi’s speech was aimed as reassuring them. He was not saying India was not the Big Brother just that India was a Benevolent Big Brother.
“India has to lead and we will do our part,” he told the audience. And then he listed the many things India would do for the region – from 3-5 year business visas to funding for a SAARC regional supra laboratory for tuberculosis and HIV to quick turnaround medical visas to India to e-libraries for the whole region to disaster management expertise.
But for the Indian media the only question it cared about was whether Modi had put Sharif in his place. If he did, it was more of a cold shoulder rather than a frontal attack. He didn’t mention Sharif by name even as he thanked Nepal’s Koirala as the host, wished Sri Lanka’s Rajapakse good luck for his upcoming elections and congratulated Afghanistan’s Ghani for his recent victory. When he talked about South Asia coming together he mentioned India and Bangladesh planning stronger road and rail links and energy cooperation with Nepal and helping Maldives with its need for oil. Just as you thought he would bypass Pakistan entirely he slipped in one mention about bus and train contacts between the two countries. It was the only time he even mentioned Pakistan by name. While the channels were salivating about what he would say to Sharif, in the end we had to read volumes into what he did not say.
The media having whipped up the hysteria had to make do with the crumbs it got. A television channel which had excoriated Nawaz Sharif for talking about “cross border information sharing” and not mentioning the “terror factory on its soil” kept playing that one little clip of Modi remembering the terror attack as evidence that the Indian PM did “rake up” the 26/11 issue.
“What a BRILLIANT speech by Prime Minister @narendramodi at SAARC summit. You make me feel a PROUD INDIA Mr. Prime Minister. Thank You. ☺” tweet-gushes @AnupamKher.
It was indeed a good strong "South Asian" speech. Modi struck the right balance by bringing up 26/11 but not trying to earn easy domestic points by making that the focus of his speech. But here’s one thought. If Manmohan Singh had given the same speech and spent more time talking about giving out visas and spending money on polio instead of demanding answers from Pakistan about 26/11, would he have been hailed as a leader or excoriated as a spineless chuha?
But Modi is more fortunate. He can dream big and be hailed as a statesman not dismissed as a dreamer.
“The future I dream for India is the future I wish for our entire region,” he said.
If SAARC were Akhand Bharat, Modi-ji could easily have been its Pradhan Mantri.
Source: First Post
Modi, Sharif maintain distance at Saarc summit
Though there is no "structured" meeting scheduled, a brief exchange of pleasantries was expected between Modi and Sharif.
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