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About Amit Varma

Amit Varma is a writer based in Mumbai. He worked in journalism for over a decade, and won the Bastiat Prize for Journalism in 2007. His bestselling novel, My Friend Sancho, was published in 2009. He is best known for his blog, India Uncut. His current project is a non-fiction book about the lack of personal and economic freedoms in post-Independence India.




Bastiat Prize 2007 Winner

Recent entries

Love and Loneliness

This is the 58th installment of Rhyme and Reason, my weekly set of limericks for the Sunday Times of India…

Bye Bye Love. Hello Indigo

This is the 57th installment of Rhyme and Reason, my weekly set of limericks for the Sunday Times of India…

House of Khichdi

This is the 56th installment of Rhyme and Reason, my weekly set of limericks for the Sunday Times of India…

Shruti and DD at the Bastiat

I’m overjoyed that two good friends, Shruti Rajagopalan and Devangshu Datta have made the shortlist for the 2017 Bastiat Prize…

Theft and Violence

This is the 55th installment of Rhyme and Reason, my weekly set of limericks for the Sunday Times of India…

25 April, 2011

Media Time and Real Time

In an excellent short essay, my friend and fellow Yahoo! columnist Girish Shahane writes:

The crises of 2011 have underlined how media time stretches real time. The duration of an event in the public mind is a function of the total length of all broadcasts about that event. The relentless focus of cameras and commentators can make rapidly evolving circumstances appear to move at a glacial pace. Consider this: it took nearly half a year after Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, for the first bombs to rain down on Iraqi troops. Kuwait was overrun on August 2, 1990, and the American-led response, Operation Desert Storm, commenced only on January 17, 1991. Few people accused President George Bush of reacting too slowly, but then the twenty-four hour news cycle was in its infancy, and real time matched media time fairly closely.

When the US itself was targetted on September 11, 2001, its response was, naturally, quicker. The assault on the Taliban regime commenced 27 days after the World Trade Centres were destroyed. The reaction to the current Libyan crisis unfolded at much the same pace. The first major protests in Tripoli took place in mid-February, and Operation Freedom Falcon began on 19 March. In that time, both the Arab League and the United Nations, organisations not celebrated for decisiveness or alacrity, passed resolutions authorising military intervention. I cannot think of any purely internal disturbance or civil strife that has elicited a concerted international armed response in a comparable span of time. Yet, President Obama was censured for ‘dithering’ and ‘dilly-dallying’ by critics on the Left, Right and Centre (Sarah Palin, John McCain, Joseph Lieberman, Eliot Spitzer and Christopher Hitchens among them). By the end of March, pundits were mourning the failure of air strikes to dislodge Colonel Gaddafi, and either urging stronger action or questioning the entire operation. In real time, they came across like petulant children in the backseat of a car asking, five minutes after leaving home, “Are we there yet?”

Read the full thing. I also loved this sentence:

It might seem the Indian government acted quickly to defuse the Anna Hazare threat, but that was only because the solution involved appointing a committee.

You can check out other recent Yahoo! columns here. One that evoked much controversy recently was Aadisht Khanna’s masterful “The Homeopathic Basis of Astrology.” Much joy.

Posted by Amit Varma in Journalism | Media

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