Thursday, 17 October 2013

Odisha diaries

What happens in Odisha stays in Odisha.

No, not as in Vegas. In fact, Odisha is as far removed from Vegas as Manmohan Singh is from Dolly Bindra. The thing is that media houses do not generally give a fuck about what is going on in the eastern state which is, at best, an algebra problem for most people. They just don’t know about it.

They can probably point it out on a map, and that is the best case scenario. If you attempt to collect details about the state from them, they would most likely do a Rahul Gandhi and start proclaiming that Odisha is larger than UP and Rajasthan combined.

Some have this notion that it is a part of the neighboring West Bengal owing to the linguistic similarities, or that a now-imprisoned-politician from another neighboring state once was at the helm of its affairs. True, both the states are absolute-and-perennial underdogs in matters of money and literacy, but that doesn't warrant such bullshit that both are one and the same.

Well, let’s get back to the media houses now.

News (although I have reservations about whether the crap doing the rounds on Indian news channels qualifies as news in the first place) channels disseminate information on Odisha so infrequently and on such select occasions that you can almost guess what’s going on.  The cause will most likely be one of the following:
(1) A natural calamity, probably a cyclone
(2) Puri Rath-yatra or the chariot festival
(3) A one-off ODI at Barabati stadium in Cuttack
(4) Missile test-launch in Chandipur

So, when some of the news channels reckoned that a sizable cyclone making its way towards the state, rekindling fear and apprehension harking back to ’99 when the infamous Super Cyclone had left the state fucked up beyond all recognition, was important enough to usurp the footage that had been reserved for a TV actress who was getting manicured, that was a moment to rejoice.

Odisha is like a back-up dancer in a concert who performs just next to the celebrity. He is at your face all the while, but you ignore him happily. 

No wonder that a celebrity fart in Mumbai has got more takers in the media than, say, the sorry tragedy of a teenage girl in Odisha who was raped and killed allegedly at the behest of a former minister, or a full-fledged coup to dismiss the CM . At best, an ephemeral headline is godsend, and the ensuing ecstasy beats that of the people who successfully grapple behind journalists to have their face shoved into the scope of the camera.

And this is no exaggeration. In fact, finding a needle in Laluji’s haystack is much less tedious than scouring the national news for something even remotely related to Odisha. That haystack, mind you, is huge, worth crores.

Even during Rath Yatra, news channels prefer streaming snippets of Narendra Modi sweeping the chariots of the three deities in Ahmedabad over disseminating news from Puri in Odisha even when the chariot festival traces its origin to Puri.

Strikingly enough, even the news regarding the change in name from Orissa to Odisha has promulgated really slow. Maybe all this is related to the fact that Odisha is politically somewhat stagnant and remains largely insulated from the vagaries of politics at the national level. 

It is one of those rare species that faces the ‘combined’ opposition of Congress and BJP. Both the parties are ridiculously marginalized here, and any random person would have better fortunes in the imminent Lok Sabha elections. Plus, Digvijaya Singh hasn’t made any effort yet to make a fool out of himself while ridiculing the Odisha CM. No political name-calling, hence nobody gives a shit.

And not just Odisha, there are loads of other states that lack a celebrity status. Like the north-east. People barely know the names of the states that exist in the far-east, let alone the ability to locate them. It’s like an attempt to locate your own itchy crotch in a Mumbai local, but ending up scratching somebody else’s.

Hence sporadic appearances in the home page of TOI website alongside links of hot videos and celebrity oops moments are reasons to rejoice for these states.

Even the unprecedented evacuation of people in droves failed to find a mention in favor of a senile idiot who wants to get hitched to Mallika's Americanized self delusion. 

May be this is a lesson in disguise. We need to better advertise and market our state. Modi has done that brilliantly.

So, let’s get down to work.

Promote anything that justifies the advertising outlay: temples, sand art, culture, our CM’s hold over the local language et al. Anything but not the local film industry. That will do more harm than good. Create FB pages instead and spam members.


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