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Saturday, May 06, 2006

Explain that!

Jug Suraiya- Amazingly sarcastic and hilarious! Writes brilliantly! This came in The Times of India today and I just had to post it!

In its list of 100 global notables, Time magazine has included Nandan Nilekani, the CEO of Infosys, describing him as the 'great explainer' or, in other words, 'explainer-in-chief' of Indian IT.

Which leads to the question: If Nandan Nilekani is Indian IT's explainer-in-chief, who is the explainer-in-chief of Nandan Nilekani who 'explained' him to the reading public by devising that definition?

And the answer, of course, is the Time journalist who thought of that tag to describe Nilekani. In fact 'explainers-in-chief' aptly describes all journalists.

The Latin 'tabula rasa' (literally 'scraped tablet') is what a journalist is: a blank slate on which anything can be written. Journalists cover wars, elections, cricket matches, scientific discoveries, natural calamities, stock market scams, epidemics, all the ceaseless jostling throng of events that we call 'news'.

In other words, it's the journalist's job to 'ex-plain' — to make plain, or simple — to the reader what is happening in the whirligig of the world, and why, and how. So does the journalist really know, really understand what he is 'ex-plaining' to his readers?

Certainly not. A journalist could write about a new development in the highly complex discipline of particle physics. Does that mean that he really understands that very complicated subject?

If he did, he would quit journalism and go become a nuclear scientist, a far more rewarding career, both intellectually and financially. Or take a financial journalist who reports on the stock market.

Does he have to be a full-fledged market analyst to do so? A smattering of knowledge certainly helps, but too much would be a liability not an asset to communication.

Instead of a 300-word journalistic report 'ex-plaining' market behaviour what the reader would get is a 5,000-word monograph so full of professional jargon that no one but another market analyst would understand it.

As an overall explainer-in-chief of specialist explainers-in-chief (like Nandan Nilekani) the journalist has to be a generalist (the two words even sound alike) sponge who soaks up all sorts of information which can selectively be squeezed out for easy popular consumption.

So what should one call someone who deals with other people's thoughts, sayings and doings? I don't know about other journalists, but I'd be quite happy to call myself an 'explainer-in-thief'.
-Jug Suraiya.

3 comments:

Anshuman said...

Nice one there. I've always liked his style of writing.Infact i bcame a fan since readin the Dubyaman cartoon series.Really hilarious.

raghu said...

ver does he write usually in ToI ... which page?
i was nvr a fan of dubyaman cartoons
dey ver way 2 predictable
come on divya switch of word verification... no spammers here ... n neway u can moderate those spams

Divya said...

Well he's got a regular column (Jugular Vein) in the Sunday Times, Editorial page.. though he writes Briefcase and other columns sometimes.. Dubyaman i didn't like much either.. but the way he writes, hats off! Hilarious!