Sunday, December 6, 2009

Going to a Sarkaari PC

As a journalist, I get to go to many press conferences (PC). But I find the sarkari ones the most amusing. I went to one such PC the past week. Here's what happened.

As against in a typical 5-star hotel banquet room, this one was held in an auditorium. There were many visitors, but hardly any journalists. Or so it seemed. So many guests There was a large stage where the dais was there and as typical as a government way of working, the dais was quite large; around 6 odd people were slated to address the PC. In a private-company organised PC- much like their lean style of working- you'd find only about 2-3 people on the dais.

The guests arrive, most do with their entourage. But they don't go to the dais straightaway. The emcee takes the stage, welcomes the guests and then one by one starts calling out the names of the people who are slated to sit on the dais. People applaud as if catching a glimpse of Sachin Tendulkar. The room is full with people; sarkaari PCs seldom run empty. I am told that's probably because most of the seats are occupied by company employees. Ah well, that could explain why so many people were in suits and boots.

The game starts. The emcee begins by thanking (so profusely you'd think the world goes around thanks only to the people on the dais) one and all that 'matters'. No sooner that the people get settled on the dais than they are unsettled once again. The lighting of the lamp. Very Indian governorship. A big stand with many lamps is placed either at the edge of the dais or just below it. The chief guest lights the lamp amidst traditional Indian classical music being played in the background. Massive photo opportunity. I remember my childhood days when newspapers used to carry pictures of such lamp lighting moments of many events, every second day. The chief guest takes time to smile at the camera at the same time he lights all the lamps; and there are plenty lamps to be lighted, so more photo opportunities. Cameramen scramble to get a glimpse of this historic event.

The game continues. 'Respected and honourable members of the dais' are back in their seats, adjusting their suits, buttoning or unbuttoning (as the case may be) in a very dignified way after an accomplished task, as they settle down. Now, comes the token of appreciation. Flower bouquets are presented. One by one, pretty ladies come and present the bouquets to the 'respected and honourable members of the dais'. Mind you, this is a sarkaari PC- grounded with traditions- so the ladies are clad in sarees. This is not a Kingfisher Airlines PC or anything! More applause. As each 'respected and honourable member of the dais' gets presented with a flower bouquet, there's a huge round of applause.

The PC now starts and one by one, each member gets to come on the podium and gets about 5 minutes to speak. They speak, thank people before they begin their speech, thank people after ending their speech, talk to journalists, answer their queries, give one-on-one interviews to TV channels and then they go away. We return back to our offices with quotes and start writing our stories for next day's edition.

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