Newshour on O P Jaisha: How does one agree to play the bad guy?

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Watching the Newshour on Times Now last night, I got the impression I was watching an episode of Tuesday Night Smackdown. Sure there were some similarities. The Newshour and Arnab Goswami are to news what the WWE and Vince McMahon are to sport. There’s clearly some sort of connection, but its mostly loud yelling more than anything. Like the WWE, Times Now reliably provides some popcorn munching entertainment. And then of course there are episodes when the story lines on Smackdown aren’t as tight and even the top drawer star’s moves aren’t nearly as slick as they can be. I can only assume the Newshour suffered one of those days.

On the face of it, it was a good topic for Goswami to rage over. The scars of Indian under-performance at the Rio Games are still relatively fresh and official apathy to a sportsperson’s plight is guaranteed to get the viewers blood boiling, TRPs soaring and Twitter hashtags trending. So #IndiaforJaisha it was.

The indisputable facts of the case were this. Indian marathon runner OP Jaisha had finished 89th at the women’s marathon event at the Rio Olympics. She collapsed on crossing the finish line and was hospitalised for dehydration. She finished with a time of two hours, 47 minutes and 19 seconds, which was 13 minutes below her personal best.

From this point on, the facts get a lot fuzzier. On returning from Rio, Jaisha had complained that lack of drinking water and refreshment facilities during the race had made her faint. She claimed that she had to run the race in 42 degree heat without water. Officials say that water and refreshments have to be provided by the organisers which they were. They added that if Jaisha wanted additional refreshments, she and her coach were meant to provide them. The drinks were then to be sealed in their presence and provided during the race. According to the AFI officials, Jaisha and her coach didn’t want those refreshments. Kavita Raut, who also took part in the marathon, concurred with the AFI’s version.