This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Subhrangshu Pratim Sarmah. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

How The “TRP-Driven Circus” Of Indian News Channels Pushed Me To Boycott Them

More from Subhrangshu Pratim Sarmah

By Subhrangshu Pratim Sarmah

breaking news
For representation only

Of late, I have almost stopped watching news channels. There was a time when for me the television was all about news, and news was the only element dearer to me on the so-called idiot box. But now following the principle of ‘Old is Gold’, the morning newspapers have resumed their roles like those loyal friends in college who would keep you privy to each and every information about the campus! If some information is needed at once, The Times of India or The Hindu apps come to the rescue. But what compelled me to take this stand?

It must be a general feeling of many amongst us that today television journalism is no longer the same as it used to be earlier. Except for the classic Doordarshan, everywhere it is not news- but all cacophony. Earlier we use to have news bulletins but slowly they are giving way to talk shows where every hour at night the anchor does all the talking and the poor panelists are made to listen – no matter whether their ears can bear the burden of the high decibel voice (read noise)! But to some extent, it is acceptable when we are sure that they are at least not compromising on their ethics and although tempted by revenue-driven goals are trying to bring a change at least through trending hashtags in Twitter.

The situation becomes totally unbearable when some others, without making any noise, stealthily and in a more subtle way try to inject partisan points of view into a viewer’s mind. Many anchors have turned out to be party stooges and often show their pro-party character, whereas being the 4th pillar of democracy they should have come out being pro-India. It is a pity that today we don’t actually get the news but rather some concocted views.

All these from the English media would not have stopped me from boycotting TV news had I not encountered another section of our media and mostly in our Hindi and regional languages that have shifted their focus from news to street entertainment. Before you are even able to read the headlines properly they will shock your senses with some horrific images of a haunted house, skeletons, and mysterious saints and of course, aliens! And as one of the leading journalists of India candidly confessed, it is not those discussions or news on global terrorism or gender equality that attract our rural, semi-urban or even urban audience but stories of snakes, goumatas and MMS scandals! Either you show a few ‘drunken girls’ from a local nightclub or a pseudo news item on a matinée idol’s love story and become the No.1, or soon shut down your channel with huge deficits.

But if you think this is the worst that could take place in the media – you are wrong. There is something more to the murkier side of our TV journalism. If you want to indulge in character assassination, then the channels are there for your aid. They will initiate campaigns and will find out several ‘startling’ about their personal life. If all these do not give them enough TRPs, the evening talk show aka media trial will feature some know-it-all panelists – having no connection with that person, who will offer their lofty suggestions which they expect the police or the government to follow. All this continues for a few days and suddenly that burning issue is nowhere in your television screens to be found. The reason: it completed its objective of vilifying the person’s character and fetched enough TRPs to remain ahead of other channels.

I feel astonished when the media without having even an iota of sympathy keeps on asking uncomfortable questions to a rape survivor’s family or the survivor herself. It was terrible when live media coverage of a 26/11 attack helped the terrorists to formulate plans.

But as soon as I turn to switch it off, my gaze shifts to media’s gallant role during the Jessica Lal case or Nirbhaya case. I feel proud at our media’s honesty in bringing scams after scams to light. I feel even happier when media reaches out to the flood victims of Jammu and Kashmir and helps them in connecting with their lost families. When stings remove the masks of our political bosses, media’s role is lauded beyond any doubt. So sometimes a few of these silver linings debar me from switching off the TV.

Media can and in fact must bring a change. But that lust for change should not be driven entirely by TRP motives. A famous saying rightly states that like harlots, the editors enjoy great power without much responsibility but it is also undeniable that there should not be any power without responsibility. The viewers are not fools. It may be possible to make an impact in the manner one views a story or news but ultimately it is his own insight which will help him to form an opinion. The channels by no means should bulldoze a particular point of view as the only valid one. The TRP driven circus has compelled many like us to boycott channels, but will it bring any change?

It is sad that today in India we don’t have a Christine Amanpour but the worst is that we don’t even have plenty of audience who could appreciate those kinds of sane and healthy talk shows and bring them ample no. of TRPs. Does it show any deterioration of our taste or that of our media houses? It is time to rethink our positions as viewers as well as journalists. Do we want to create a future India which would yell at one another in discussions? Or do we want to create a generation that would be able to appreciate news only when it would carry mindless bites about sex scandals? On the contrary don’t we want our youngsters to be socially sensitive, insightful, and assertive but at the same time respectful towards one’s undeniable right to express one’s opinion freely? It is time to break stereotypes than breaking news!

You must be to comment.
  1. Guru

    It is indeed TRP driven, which is why men get lynched in India after women's lies, but who cares. After all, it's just men and covering men's issues doesn't generate TRPs, only covering women's issues does.

More from Subhrangshu Pratim Sarmah

Similar Posts

By Shraddha Iyer

By pratyush prashant

By Rapti Mukherjee

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Read more about his campaign.

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.

Read more about her campaign.

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.

Read more about her campaign. 

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.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

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.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’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.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below