100 Crores Sounds More Than 1b.: Both Are Same

By Someswar Bhagwat

There are many ways of saying the same thing. And the same words have different meanings in different contexts, on varying occasions, in spoken with a change in emphasis or simply to different persons.

As a communicator I had conducted orientation sessions for senior executives where one of them is chosen to act as their CMD while the others pose as reporters. Then an analysis of his replies is given: what he had actually said., what was meant and the different ways it may have been understood. 

It is said a person has in reality three different identities: what (s)he  really is, what (s)he tries to pretend to be and what others think (s)he is. The third identity may differ for different people. An old axiom says “beauty of a thing is in the eye of the beholder”.
The main duty of a journalist is to understand and convey to the reader is correct meaning, the context and social implications of any event. 

India has achieved a landmark of a billion Covid vaccinations. This fact is seen from different angles. Admirers of the Prime Minister see it as a great achievement. A cartoonist said 100 crores and one billion both have nine zeros following one, but the former sounds more. An admiring editorial said it was several million less than what the US, with  less poverty and population (both major factors inhibiting the task) achieved. Most Opposition parties, which did their best to create vaccine hesitancy and fear,  see it as a failure or  achievement in spite of Modi and his ‘blunders’.

Anything he did was wrong. And if he did the exact opposite, they would have called it wrong too!  The  dynasty devotees criticised all that he did, and asked people to stay away,. They never posted pictures of themselves getting vaccinated —  to inspire their followers.  Some like Akhilesh Yadav called it a ‘BJP vaccine’ and asked the Yadav clan (most following him)  to abstain. No one has filed an  RTI  (Right to Information  Act)   application, which became more of an Opposition tool) to ask how many Yadavs got their ‘jabs’ —  commonly used ‘headlines’ for vaccination. 

A popular magazine OUTLOOK made a cover story with just words ‘Missing’ on the cover and saying a Covid strategy was missing and the country failed. Another, widely circulated INDIA TODAY, said Modi would take 12 years to vaccinate all. A news channel saud it would be 15 years before enough vaccine is could be made. Where they are hiding their faces in shame is not known.

100 crore vaccinations in just 275 days in a country with a per capita income of only $2000, ‘stuning’ to the IT cell of BJP propaganda machine, did not impress the ‘liberal’ media.

India’s top health expert Dr Devi Shetty was one of the very few with a constructive and positive approach. He called it a gigantic task and said  the government was doing a great job. He made some useful suggestions too.
So the newspapers and digital media today have as the main story just one topic: vaccination. What they all exposed was their own angles.  People read the newspapers or saw the TV channels not to know the news but  their  different stands. The news itself was expected and lacked any surprise.

For some it was a staggering 100 crores while for others it was just a billion, reducing a global pandemic to the level of a common cold, which “goes away in just one week if treated” or “lasts full seven days” if not. 

The choice is yours: either sugar coating which causes diabetes or cholesterol-inducing pinch of salt.


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