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December, 2013:

Of media and Modia-II

(This is the second part of the year-end compilation)

May

Many skeletons — no, that is not a reference to Nita Ambani on botox — tumble out of the IPL cupboard as spot-fixing allegations involving players and team owners emerge in shameful profusion. Apparently, betting syndicate had paid huge sums of money to, among others S Sreesanth, to bowl badly.  The police, after breaking the lid off the matter, refuse to pursue it on the commonsense ground that anyone actually paying Sreesanth to bowl badly can only be terminally mad and as such no real case, as per Indian laws, can be filed against them.

 But the BCCI, the Indian cricket board, which has in place a strict code of conduct on such matters, moves in quickly, stops the tournament and  N Srinivasan — whose son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan who was seen to be managing Chennai Superkings was also seen to be involved in the scandal  —  announces his resignation owning moral responsibility, bans CSK from the IPL, asks Gurunath to face the law, orders a full-fledged enquiry by an independent agency into the murky affair,  requests top players of the CSK  whose names are talked of in the scam  to be not available for national selection till their names are cleared, and finally, in a terse official note, tells the world that if he did all these things probably the entirety of India will die of heart attack in total shock, and hence will continue as if nothing at all has happened.

Meanwhile, CSK proves Gurunath Meiyappan was only team luggage and usually travelled in the cargo section only. A photo of Fedex courier person carrying Gurunath is added as further evidence.

Many other things might have happened in May, but we didn’t hear any of them as the nation’s media doesn’t take its eye of the spot-fixing scandal and goes after it with committed gusto and, for its effort, the case has been resolved to the satisfaction of all with the guilty being assured of egregious punishment, provided the nation can actually remember the names of the players, apart from Sreesanth, were alleged to be involved.

June

The United States is accused of snooping on email and internet exchanges of ordinary citizens. But, in a quick response, Google asserts that it doesn’t see this as a rise in competition.

The nation’s Vice-President is called into action on an emergency official work. And he manfully rises to the occasion to attend to the insistently ringing phone at his desk, a task that is roughly the half of his annual quantum of work. It turns out to be a ‘wrong number’.

Major floods and rains create unprecedented destruction to life and property in the hills of Uttarakhand. The nation actually unites in relief and remedial measures. Narendra Modi, according to news reports, in a simple but effective strategy cancels the status of hill station to Dehradun.  With this smart step, the whole place becoming plains, and he is able to evacuate thousands and thousands to safety overnight. And by morning, the hill station status of Dehradun is restored.

The country’s forex situation teeters on the precipice with an RBI report sternly warning that ‘at current levels, the forex reserves are just enough to buy 12 iphones and 6 ipad minis’.

The official trailer of Sharukh Khan’s Chennai Express is released and grosses Rs.150 crore within 45 minutes of release. Nobody wonders as to how a trailer can make money. In general, nobody asks any questions on any film’s financial success.

In sports, fans are excited as some team beat some other team thanks to the effort of some player.

July

The UPA government announces a comprehensive 125-page long National Cyber Security Policy. The launch, however, runs into a small niggle with all the pages of the policy document being totally blank. ‘Somebody had walked away with the cartridge of the printer. We noticed it only at the end,’ a communiqué from the IT ministry later said and added that first recommendation of the cyber security policy would be to increase police security to the IT Ministry office.

A Standard & Poor report on Indian economy creates a flutter. The report, inter alia, points out ‘the Indian Finance Ministry with all its paraphernalia collects less as direct taxes in a year than it takes, say, Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar films to make on a weekend’.

J K Rowling comes up with a new work of fiction, in which all characters, in a major literary coup, are given pseudonyms.

In the Ashes series, Stuart Broad, who remains unbeaten, refuses to get back to pavilion even after the entire English team is all out and the Aussie batsmen had come in to take guard. ‘I don’t walk even when I am out. To expect to me do it when I am not out is staggeringly surprising,’ he says matter of factly at a press conference

In business news, Apple upgrades its flagship iphone with just a tweaked operating system and a functional new design. But Apple buyers, who are very discerning, refuse to buy the new offering saying that the upgradation is only cosmetic and there is nothing quintessentially different from the previous version. However, on reflection, they realise that if they had been so logical and sensible they would not have bought the previous version itself. On even more reflection, they figure out that if they had indeed been analytical, they would not have needed an Apple product in the first place. So they eventually go ahead and buy the newest version, satisfied that even if it is an old phone it is at least latest.

August

The country’s economy being in doldrums, the government orders urgent austerity measures. Following which, at the Independence Day flag-hoisting ceremony, the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is given only a dummy play mike to speak into. But luckily, nobody, including Manmohan Singh, notices it.

The birth of new State of Telangana looks imminent as the Congress and the Union government set in motion the necessary action plan for the same. Despite the inevitable backlash, the UPA decides to bite the bullet. And smart cookie Mihir Sharma, in a superbly articulated op-ed piece, citing Constitutional provisions brings to fore the important fact that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has had no role to play in the creation of Telangana.

At the World Athletics Championship in Russia, Usain Bolt wins an impressive double, both gold and silver in the same 100m run.

The film Madras Café is banned in Tamilnadu on the logical premise that it is totally wrong and misleading for a celluloid venture to have a hotel’s name. ‘The film can be screened provided it procures a restaurant licence,’ a local court ruled. In a related development,

Mihir Sharma reviews Ship of Theseus, but shrewdly snubs Narendra Modi by refusing to take his name even once in the review.

September

Raghuram Rajan, the man with the face of a Hollywood star, is appointed the RBI Governor. His appointment is welcomed by leading economists including Shobhaa De. She summed up his appointment the best. ‘For the economy to look good, it is imperative that the economist looks good. With Raghuram Rajan at the helm, Indian economy will not only look good but also acquire a strong sex appeal. Money, they say, is a turn-on. In which case, the rupee, with the new RBI governor’s sign, will be the nation’s aphrodisiac.’ Milton Freidman couldn’t have bettered that.

Syrians rise up in revolt against the country’s military dictatorship headed by Bashar al-Assad. Initially the protests are peaceful. By which we mean for the first couple of hours. Otherwise it is violent all along. The American government, which has solved all the problems in its country and has a lot of time in its hand, steps in and warns the Syrian government to get its act together.

A traffic jam, dating back to MGR administration, clears in the Guindy area of Chennai.

The government clears the air on the Aadhaar card confusion saying that all those who have obtained it may not need it. All those who don’t need it, may perhaps have obtained it.

October

The Nobel prizes are announced. There is a major surprise, the odds on favourite Malala is pipped at the post and the Nobel Peace prize goes to a truly well-deserving group, a section of fans of music director Ilayaraja. The Nobel citation chattily read: ‘thanks to these guys, there is everlasting peace in the world. It is a different matter that internet forums have become nasty. But that is a small price for global calm’.

In a fresh scam to hit the UPA government, a stadium built for the Commonwealth Games is reported missing.

Through a much-needed Constitutional amendment, Parliament decides to pardon the dress sense of Vidya Balan.

The BJP unearths a major scandal involving Arvind Kejriwal. He is said to have, on a train journey, travelled in lower-berth when he had a reserved ticket only for the upper-berth.

Actor Ajith, ever the straight talker, candidly confesses to 10 different publications that he hates giving interviews to the media.

November

The BCCI to mark the historic occasion of Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement from international cricket, grants Test status to St. Xavier’s School (against whom Tendulkar and Kambli had notched up a record partnership) and announces a farewell series against it for the Little Master.

And Tendulkar’s last day at the Test match… forget it, there are certain things that cannot be, and should not be, made joke of. This was undeniably one.

Tarun Tejpal, the Editor of Tehelka, is alleged to have raped a young reporter in his publication in an elevator at a hotel in Goa. When the reporter brings the issue to the notice of Shoma Chaudury, the managing editor of Tehelka, the latter, as befitting a firebrand feminist, does the most practical and lawful thing in the situation: She orders a quick enquiry into the elevator company.

As part of the promotion for the film Dhoom-3, the film’s hero Aamir Khan is appointed the Vice-President of the country. Nobody notices anything amiss.

Nation worries over national holidays falling on weekends.

December

In a brilliant piece of existential journalism, Cobra Post, in a sting operation, shows a dark room. ‘It is a sting operation on the pointlessness of sting operations anymore, the media outlet said in a press release.

Rahul Gandhi, in a plucky show of grassroots democracy, starts playing Farmville with UP farmers. ‘There are two Indias,’ he later tells Parliament. ‘One with Facebook account. And the other without that’.

Kamal Haasan’s Viswaroopam 2, is expected to be the first Tamil film in which the dialogues will be completely in Afghani. ‘Language, in itself, has no language,’ Kamal said on the sidelines of a FICCI summit.

Director Shankar sues Arvind Kejriwal for copyright violations of his film.

Supreme Court, class of 2013, becomes eligible to participate in the reality show Big Boss.

Narendra Modi, ok, by now you know how it works: <insert your Mihir Sharma joke here>

The year ends with much hope as economic recession ends, and for proof economists point to the longest Crank’s Corner written in recent times.