Breaking news

News channels vie with one another to be the first to give sensational news. They whet viewers' appetite with a blurb, 'Hitherto unrevealed twist at 8 pm'. Breaking news consists of scams, more scams and some more scams - all involving astronomical amounts of money and big names - either in politics or sports or films or high society. Channels brag that they are the first to bring the expose to their gossip-loving viewers. They delve into the private lives of people, not sparing anyone or any minute detail. An enquiry or panel or commission or committee or board consisting of prominent names will be set up to probe the scam. Whether anything concrete will emerge from these is anybody's guess!

Molestations will occur. Honour killings will be rampant. Accidents will happen. Trains will derail. Bridges will collapse. Floods will cause havoc. Drought will do its share of damage. Dengue and chikungunya will be on the rise. Prices will rocket. Farmers will die. Shooting at railway stations, airports, malls, concerts, schools will become the order of the day. All is grist to the mill.

News channels will show clips with gory details and bloody scenes. Experts will mouth platitudes and thrash the matter threadbare. Then something else will happen and the news channels will resume screaming, the old issue forgotten and left inconclusive.

Social degradation and moral fibre are at an all-time low. But there are still people with principles and a sense of duty. Let me narrate a simple incident. It was Christmas Eve. There was festivity in the air. The whole locality was brilliantly lit with twinkling lights around the trunks of trees (those that escaped the vandals!) and on their branches. Stars were up on rooftops. Only our house had one miserable light, all others being switched off to conserve emergency lighting. I didn't notice that we didn't have power until dusk fell and the lights went on in the neighbourhood.

I phoned BESCOM. There was a prompt answer. The person who took the call wanted our address and contact number. When I gave them, he said it would be attended to soon. 'Soon' is a loose term and I thought I would wait for sometime and remind the department again. But no such thing was necessary.

Within a short time, a BESCOM van equipped with a ladder and three men arrived. They examined the meter and found nothing wrong with it. Next, they looked at an electric pole near the house. They had a brief conference, probably discussing strategy. Then, the youngest of the three shinnied up the electric pole (ignoring the ladder) and tore off a large offending poster.

Lo and behold! The lights came on! I was delighted. The senior asked to check all the power points. They were functioning perfectly. I told him so. The team wished me good night and sped off without expecting any reward! TV channels, please note and publicise.

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