Half the Battle

Television has become the arena in which every battle must be fought. Even real battles, with live ammunition. To take control of the Gaza narrative, the Israelis knocked out TV channels run by Hamas and had a Twitter offensive running parallel with the military campaign. But could it possibly dominate the developing story with so many channels in the fray? After the cease-fire, the legitimacy of Hamas may have gone up a whisker.

Meanwhile, the run of the country's most eagerly awaited revenge tragedy ended in just over 24 hours. By mid-morning Thursday, Ajmal Kasab had been shouldered off the stage by Parliament, which suffered yet another paralytic stroke on the very first day of the monsoon session. About that time a day earlier, many Indians were yet to learn that Kasab, the poor and not-very-smart kid from Faridkot who had become the face of all that is demonic, was dead and buried in an unmarked grave.

The day Kasab was hanged, NDTV 24x7's Left, Right and Centre featured PUCL General Secretary Kavita Srivastava, the BJP's Sheshadri Chari, RPN Singh, minister of state for Home, self-confessed "angry Indian" Harish Salve, former External Affairs secretary KC Singh and Shahzad Chaudhry, formerly of the Pakistani air force. Five Indians, one Pakistani, all talking about the execution. The Pakistani won, simply by being civil and sensible, qualities rarely seen in TV debate.

At some point in the din, KC Singh wondered if we "should be a shouting society or a participatory society." And a disembodied voice, perhaps Chaudhry's, said, "I can't sit through this," and, "I have to go now." Parts of the show were indeed hard on the nerves, especially the point at which Salve spoke of "thumping out all those guys" and accused Kasab of being an "illegitimate soldier". No such term exists in jurisprudence. Perhaps he meant "irregular soldier"?

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