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As I was growing up I loved watching Hindi movies. During
the 1980s and 1990s, and perhaps before that too, there was a “Bahadur”
character in every other movie who always responded to his master by saying,
“Jee Shaab” in that typical Nepali accent. He used to say that while executing
a smart salute to the one calling out his name. He was a comical character and
used to play the role of either a watchman or a cook or a driver. He brought
the much needed humour to the show.
Today, journalists, and more importantly auto journalists have
reduced their stature to that of a Bahadur. They may hate to admit it, but
being a journalist for the last 30 odd years, I almost became a Bahadur of the
Hindi movies. In the field of auto
journalism in India today, you get to see all kinds of ‘Bahadurs’--
sophisticated ones, canny ones, dumb ones, street smart ones, rich ones, poor
ones, et al.
As the Editor of Motown India when I decided to quit going for
“junkets” involving new car launches, drives and rides, I knew I was stepping on a live grenade.
Saying no to junkets would mean that you will not be getting cars and bikes to
review at your doorstep. My fears have come true. In the last month or so, I
was just able to get the new Maruti Suzuki XL6 for a review. That’s okay by me.
I have found my happiness in enjoying life by doing things I love.
I remember when I was young I had a close friend who spent
most of his time gallivanting and doing nothing purposeful. One day, after
passing out of college when we were all together drinking beer at a pub,
someone asked him, “So buddy, what do you do these days?” He promptly replied,
“Not much, just FACS”. We gave him a serious look wondering what professional
course was it that he was pursuing. “Just Fu#@#ng Around the Country Side”. We
laughed our hearts out that evening.
I wish I could also pursue my FACS, but the fact is that I
have huge responsibilities back home and I have to adhere to those. But it was
to curtail my “Jee Shaab” way of life that I said no to junkets. But what
amazes me is that experienced and very senior auto journalists continue to
genuflect like a comical Bahadur before OEMs for every junket that comes their
way. Fair enough, who am I to find fault with their outlook towards life? But
the least they can do is to acknowledge to their readers and viewers that every
junket is thanks to OEMs. Give a courtesy line like, “Courtesy: XYZ company for
our air travel, accommodation in five-star hotel, food, wine and gifts”.
Start acknowledging, guys. It is time to give credit to the
OEMs for all their freebies. Agree?