Mumbai attack: What did it change?

The heat generated by Mumbai attack seems to be settling down. Not that we are forgetting it so soon. No, we will not. It was indeed India’s 9/11 for a simple reason that the nation was hit where it hurts the most. This time the highest echelon of Indian society took the hit. No place remained beyond reach, none ever was. But the myth has now been decisively trashed.

Therefore, India is now trying to build a safe sanctuary for its elite and commoners alike because the attack has washed the distinction away. We now know better than ever that in the eyes of the terrorists, one man is as good as the other, one body as good as the other and the more the bodies, the better. Finally, there is someone who sees humanity through a single prism. It’s bad news on the face of it because the entire humanity seems to be under attack. But the flipside of the same is not all that bad. In their attempt to have a go at all, they just might have united ‘all’ against them.

The problem with ‘all’ is that they tend to unite under threat, but as the threat subsides, the unity withers nearly as quickly, whereas the huddle on the other side remains intact. In this clash, the side that holds up longer against the other will finally win the war. Clearly then, the war is going to be a long drawn one, and the victorious will take all.

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News and the biased truth

News informs the masses and assists them in making better decisions for the collective good. However, there have always been questions about all theories pertaining to collectivism. Some would argue that man is basically good by nature and being a social animal thinks in terms of the welfare of all while others would argue the opposite. Regardless of the view one subscribes to, it is inescapable that man is selfish either by choice or by default. And why he is selfish makes no real difference.

So, once we have concluded the inescapability of human selfishness, the only way to manage things and make the world a better place is to balance the interests. Human beings, being as reasonable as they are, understand that a clash of interest serves none. Thus, they tend to make peace and not war. But when war is in their interest, they wouldn’t shirk either.

This basic human nature does not leave any area of human endeavour untouched, be it politics or newsroom. In politics the collective interest is pressed hard and may culminate in a full-blown war and in the newsroom the same collective interest is pursued by not objecting to the war irrespective of the human cost it might involve. The press as shapers of public opinion would allow one kind of news and disallow the other side from showing up. Not that news is tampered with, just that some of it is not allowed. So, there is no tampering, only ‘selection’. And by virtue of this ‘selection’, news remains intact but the truth is tampered with. The wars are thus defended.

The impartiality of each piece of news stands above doubt, but our collective truth formed on the basis of such news eventually becomes questionable. And we become biased inadvertently.