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Arnab Goswami: The Man Who Takes The Bull By The Horns

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By Joanna Shruti Sundharam:

Arnab Goswami, ‘The Hulk’ of television journalism, has brought in a new era of news reporting. The editor-in-chief of Times Now, the most watched English News channel is a formidable figure with an ironically calm face. Infamous for his abrasive style of moderating debates, aggressive demeanour, snide comments, and general disregard for etiquettes, he is the anchor of the prime time television show, The Newshour. While rivals on other news channels, choose a calmer, more diplomatic approach while talking to guests, Goswami chooses a rather impolite, aggressive, ‘no-nonsense’ stance, while interacting with the panellists on his show. He mocks, derides and out rightly ridicules dignitaries, politicians, activists, basically anyone who dares to have an opinion different from his.

arnab goswami

Accused frequently of hounding people on his talk show, Goswami believes “There was something deeply egalitarian and liberating about being able to ask a question.” The problem is that he doesn’t just ask a question, he repeats himself again and again and again until he gets a satisfactory answer. However uncomfortable the situation gets, Goswami never sugar-coats his words, or beats around the bush. He prods, mocks, and goes to unimaginable lengths till he is satisfied with the explanation. In the context of Indian bureaucrats and politicians who are highly evasive of tough questions, getting an answer is a commendable achievement. He holds them accountable for their statements and forces them to clarify themselves repeatedly as the nation watches.

In a recent debate, Goswami confronted Abhijit Mukherjee, Member of Parliament (MP) from Jangipur and the son of the President of India, regarding his statements made in context with the Delhi Gangrape protests. Abhijit Mukherjee landed himself in a major controversy when he described women protestors as ‘‘highly dented-painted’’. Later he withdrew the comment, and tendered an apology in public. On The Newshour, Goswami asked Mukherjee what exactly he meant when he used the words ‘dented-painted’ to which Mr Abhijit had only one answer “I have withdrawn that statement”. Personally, I feel that although Mr Mukherjee had taken back his comments, he must still be held accountable for making them in the first place. Members of Parliament cannot get away with such nonsense, and it was truly satisfying to watch Goswami grill him. This is the reason why Goswami is such a hit with the urban viewer. He asks the questions we want to ask; he is voice of the ‘common-man’ and makes the public figures answerable to us.

Journalism is about bringing out all the facets of an issue, without taking a side. Neutrality and accuracy are prerequisites for good journalistic pieces. According to Walter Lippmann, an American journalist who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize twice, “There can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and to shame the devil.” This is where Goswami’s style goes all wrong. Instead of allowing both sides of an issue to take equal importance, he forms an opinion in the beginning of the show and questions his panel based on that. He continues to face a lot of flak for being judgmental, polarized and biased on certain issues, and this is indeed true. The way he moderates a debate sometimes shows his partiality for a particular side.

So, although Goswami has got us answers, his methods are not entirely appropriate. The aim of journalism must be to bring out the truth based on facts and not opinions. Public figures must be answerable, not just in media rooms, but also in courthouses. So until there is a change in the overall system, Goswami’s style isn’t really helping. Shouting screaming, mocking can only get us this far, it cannot change the world.

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  1. Charumati Haran

    I have to agree with you that he does not remain impartial. It is very irritating when he tries to further his own viewpoint by asking pointed questions and directing debate in a particular way. It is even more disturbing to see him being rude to the panelists, not those who are accused like Abhijit Mukherjee, but others whom he has himself asked questions. He does not give them time to complete their answer but interrupts before they finish.

    But for all his shortcomings, he has shown guts by grilling the high and mighty and that is a VERY good thing.

  2. Karmanye Thadani

    This article hits the nail on the head. Well done!

  3. Rhea Kumar

    This is a very balanced article and I agree with you completely. Arnab is undoubtedly a competent journalist, and I agree with many of his views, but for someone who moderates debates on national television, he definitely needs to be more objective.

  4. rajat singh

    This man really brings out the reality and make it aware to all the people .

  5. Sini

    Love Arnab! In fact he is what journalism required. He reflects a human side that journalists try hard to bury. Journalists need not be impartial judges. They are required to probe. Everybody has an opinion. Journalists will have too. Arnab’s bias often reflects the common man’s psyche and that is where he connects with the audience to great lengths. Yes, those who have a different opinion from him may find him intrusive, but a lot of people wishing to grill corrupt or lying politicians feel immensely satiated after nonsense-doers are pushed to the corner. Yes, he is entertainment and often righteous entertainment at that! Hope he stays just that way!

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

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biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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