Union health minister A Ramadoss has generated yet another controversy by virtually charging four chief ministers and as many as 150 MPs of lobbying with him for the "powerful tobacco industry"[...]. Speaking in Chennai, he said: "Four CMs and 150 MPs have met me to tell me that they don't want anti-smoking advertisements and labelling of products. Seven CMs wrote to me pleading for the beedi workers and one CM met me three times regarding this."for the next few hours, and a couple of days, the channel tried its utmost to present the news as a major issue that you should be concerned about, and the presenters went on to tell you every few minutes after they were finished disclosing to you the latest on other critical issues such as vengsarkar's writing commitments, the bachchan family's tirth yatras and so on...that the minister was refusing to divulge the names of those wicked politicians who had tried to sabotage the passing of an important piece of legislation..and the minister was still refusing to divulge... well, they were trying as i said, doing everything but standing on their exquisitely manicured hands, to stir up some indignation in our constipated souls..
When TOI contacted Ramadoss, he refused to identify the chief ministers. However, he said: "Where is this country heading towards? Are the lives of 1.1 billion people not more valuable than the livelihood of 30 lakh beedi workers from this kind of work? The powerful tobacco lobby is going all out to ensure the warnings don't appear."
to check whether their efforts were working, the channel also asked viewers to respond to a question that went something like- do you think ramadoss should disclose the names of the politicians? they also said something about national interest and other prurient interests etc., actually, it'd have taken the reporters/performers not more than a couple of minutes to discover who the politicians were if they had checked their own or the toi's or indiatimes' archives. and found this:
In a day and age when encouraging smoking is politically incorrect, political parties in the state as well as Congress president Sonia Gandhi have become champions of beedi smokers, thanks to the electoral compulsions triggered by the Karimnagar byelection scheduled for December 4.and they'd have also found a lot more news coming in from chattisgarh, madhya pradesh, bengal and elswehere about how bidi workers were agitated, and agitating, over the directive. and then they would've found out about how mps from several states had made representations to the health minister and even the prime minister about their concerns..they'd have discovered that there are around 8 million beedi workers in the country, and not 3 millions as the minister says, working, and dying young from, long hard hours with virtually no health or other protection at wages ranging from 20 to 50 rupees a day. most of them are women and young children from obc, dalit and muslim families. and the reporters could've given up their search there. 8 million lower caste, marginalized families- how can so many and such kind of people be stitched together into a powerful, but largely elusive tobacco lobby? would dilute the dramatic interest, right? i mean a small group of dapper suited, mysterious, corporate executives lurking in the shadows of the corridors of power and 8 million families living in neighbourhoods even your maid would find ugly- who'd you cast as mogambo? no mogambo, no story. the channel, you'll notice, has lost its interest in the story. they did check their archives, perhaps, eventually. what does it all mean? it means that politicians are good listeners and presswallahs are bad readers and worse screenwriters.
In the eye of the storm is the recent central directive which made it mandatory for 50 per cent of the beedi packet wrappers to be covered with the statutory warning sign.