Intelligence reports indicate that Rajivji used to listen to jazz and Soniaji's favourite song is Abba's Mama Mia...
Then New York city mayor Rudy Giuliani pow-wowing with Generation Next on MTV didn’t set off any alarm bells in South Block. But with US Secretary of State Colin Powell also slated to chill out with young gals and dudes, the Indian establishment just had to sit up. "We are living in a globalised world in which one has to emulate a superpower like the US. If Mr Powell takes MTV seriously, we can’t afford to ignore the channel," a top MEA official spelt it out at a meeting.
But who from the senior leadership could India possibly field? L.K. Advani knows as much about Limp Bizkit as George Bush about Penaz Masani. Other senior NDA leaders are equally at sea with Metallica and Red Hot Chilli Peppers. The only possibility was Jaswant Singh whose baritone drawl (a hit at MEA press conferences) could be recorded and speeded up to sound close to rap.
Indeed, so concerned is the MEA with the "MTV business" that it was discussed at a high-level meeting of senior diplomats. One suggestion was that the Indian leadership could be showcased on MTV India with ease. It was argued that it is easier for our leaders to dig Indi-pop and film hits. "She may reflect the decadent west but at least Alisha Chinai is Indian and she sings in Hinglish," was a former secretary’s observation. The downside of this option was that MTV India is restricted to desi audiences in its reach while the international version goes out to all four corners of the globe. The consensus was that India must reach a worldwide audience.
"We have to seize every opportunity. India should be on MTV before Musharraf pulls off yet another PR coup. Also we must remember that these TV-wallahs might invite Sonia Gandhi. Intelligence reports indicate that Rajivji used to listen to jazz and Soniaji’s favourite song is Abba’s Mama Mia," a former ambassador once close to the Nehru-Gandhi family observed.
Familiarity with Now Music and Muzak was only part of the trick. The feedback from the Indian embassy in Washington was that to succeed on MTV one had to familiarise oneself with expressions like ‘cool’, ‘blast’, ‘dig’, ‘chilled out’, ‘awesome’, ‘tripped out’ and ‘vibes’. "One should not be alarmed if someone says we ‘dig’ India. A literal translation would cause diplomatic embarrassment. Also, 17-year-olds show respect by addressing elders including ladies as ‘man’. Such references may not go down well with leaders like Uma Bharati," said a coded report from Washington.
Finally, as a first step towards understanding the MTV culture, it was decided that bjp leaders should interact more with the youth. For starters, bjp leaders have been officially gifted a diskman and Eminem’s last CD which the MEA man in Washington reports has all the expressions that the young in the US swear by.
Published in OutlookIndia