Glistening studios and fashionable anchors help create a wide choice of appealing evening current affairs programs to build on the day’s sensationalized headlines. Who needs to watch informative shows any longer?
Our evening entertainment commences at 5 pm as party representatives by current affairs program hosts gather to ‘debate.’ These debates will be as heated as they will be directionless, of course. Guest panellists will discuss what is unnecessary or irrelevant and be sure to do it with a degree of irresponsibility and lacking in constructiveness.
It is an unfortunate reality that these political shows are produced and watched as entertainment rather than serious or informed debate.
Sitting in square windows on our screens wearing ethnic attire and looking smart, each of the panellists sits ready to perform their act more or less according to the anchor’s playbook. We like our current affairs programs just as we like our food – garma garam and with masala (hot and spicy) of course. Anyway, if we like the actors, who cares about the storyline?
Dharam gurus squabble over doctrines. The maulvi will point the finger where he can, even everywhere. Spokespersons of political parties of course tow the party line – they must, if their future is to be any more promising than their reigning predicament. Dignified debate is rare and of course, feels good on the odd occasion we see it on television, but it probably isn’t great for business in more frequent doses.
Shallow arguments, inappropriate language and what better a little physical altercation make far more entertaining programs. With regular adverts in between and running across the bottom of our screens, we often forget the fact that it is debates like these that have greater commercial value.
Comparing these debates to parliamentary sessions would not completely be appropriate.
In parliamentary sessions, the speaker at least tries to maintain the decorum of the chamber. Unlike Lok Sabha speakers, erudite anchors contribute whatever they can to keep the show as entertaining as possible, disregarding the quality or dignity of informed debate. To that end, anchors will generally perform better when they are biased than when they appear independent.
They happily comply. At some point in the future, hopefully, such crude techniques will make these very same anchors less entertaining for the audience – after all, repetition can only be successful so far.
The one certainty with our televised evening political debates is that they will end without anything achieved or agreed upon. Why then should we expect an electorate or a future generation that is best informed to help solve our social, political, and economic issues or help India takes its place in the world as a leading nation?
What has been called the fourth pillar of democracy elsewhere in the world is truly something else in India – our media remains irresponsible and inclined to sensationalizing news with personal attacks, character assassinations and of course running off the basis of false evidence.
Representatives of the opposition are small in strength to raise their voices against poverty, atrocities, the farmers in distress, the unemployed, or the malnourished infants and their oppressed mothers or siblings enslaved in labour. Our prosperous media groups have intensified their commercial interests to the point where we should wonder, who now will lead the effort to make this nation a seriously informed one?