[Reader-list] The smell of war

Ravi Sundaram ravis at sarai.net
Mon Oct 8 17:35:44 IST 2001

Finally, the bombs have fallen on Afghanistan.

Everyone knew this was coming and when the bombing actually began, there 
was a surreal sense of a madness we are falling into  I cannot think of any 
country in the region that will remain unaffected. As the multibillion 
dollar planes (one B-2 bomber costs 2 billion to build) and  missiles drop 
their deadly cargo on Afghanistan, daily life in South Asia is fraught with 

In Delhi police are everywhere, with more roadblocks, more security checks 
of ordinary people (or, anyone with a beard). The security state has been 
formalised. Today the Delhi policy took out a large advertisement in the 
newspapers effectively banning all demonstrations without police permission.

The media, particularly the television channels are an interesting case to 
watch during times of crisis. There have been many emails on this list on 
the CNN footage during the crisis, but it will be interesting to look at 
our own version of the media empires.

Take the main English television news channel  the Murdoch-owned Star. This 
channel stood out for its shrill support to the regime during the Kargil 
war and the Pokhran bomb blast.  After September 11th, the channel feted 
the views of the political/cultural elite, which is aggressively 
anti-Pakistan and pro-US, only to revert to a confused, resignation of the 
new scenario (where Pakistan is now a front-line state with the US).

But wait. Once the anti war demonstrations pick up, you shall see 
yesterday's liberal television hosts aggressively attacking dissent, 
skimming over the massive repression going on in the country under the 
pretext of the ban on SIMI.

During times of crisis the division between the media empires and the 
regime evaporate, the 'national' interest takes charge.

As I write, a friend tells me that three student activists were arrested in 
Delhi for distributing anti-war leaflets.

Remember, Bush promised a long and painful war.

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