Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A lesson in writing

Came across this article, about clean water legislation in the US... I'm not writing about it because the law or the environment interests me, but because I like the way this piece is written.

Look at how the writer begins on a personal note... he's talking about grandmothers!

"The great comfort of visiting the Supreme Court is that nothing ever changes there, so there is nothing to see..... Duck in to "watch" an oral argument, and you have that cozy familiar feeling of visiting your grandma: Close your eyes and you know just where the porcelain ballerina is, which is why today's visit feels like a trip to grandma's, except for some reason the couch is on the roof...."

By the end of this paragraph, the reader (speaking for myself) is won over. At this juncture, the writer could go on to discuss the most irrelevant law on earth, but the reader would listen; because our sensibilities have been softened up, made receptive.

Then, just as swiftly, the writer goes on to explain, in very simple terms, what the law is about, and what the crux of the present legal argument is.

How I wish people wrote about laws in such familiar, easy-going ways, in India. I have not seen many legal correspondents describe the ambience or debate the procedure of the courtroom.
How much do we really know about the Supreme Court? Our apex judicial body is a stranger to us. Words like 'judicial activism' are tossed around. There are interviews with newly-appointed and outgoing Chief Justices... or with retired judges heading special commissions of enquiry (which I cannot understand, by the way; you retire because the government believes you can no longer perform as well as you used to, right? Then, how is it that the most serious crimes - genocide, state-sponsored human rights' violations, multi-crore scams - are entrusted to the care of these retired people?)

Our newspapers and magazines carry reports, true (well, some of them are true), but...
but where's the texture, the sensousness of the report? Where's the person behind the column, and the persons he/she's coming across, writing about? I see journalists in newsprint. But where have all the writers gone?


Calvin Thomas said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Annie Zaidi said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tweets by @anniezaidi