Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Are the TV debates worth watching?

Are the TV debates worth watching?
P. Deivamuthu, Editor, Hindu Voice

Recently, there seems to be a competition between Republic TV and Times Now on taking up Hindu causes and speak up openly for Hindus - Basirhat riots, Amarnath Killings, RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat ji being falsely implicated in “Saffron Terror”, BJP-RSS workers being brutally killed in Kerala, Pak terrorists being released by the UPA Govt. etc. This is what Hindu Voice has been doing for the last 15+ years. At least it has now dawned on them that Hindutva is Nationalism. Times Now even talked about Islamic Terrorism, although they have so far been holding the view that terrorism has no religion. This is a welcome step.

Generally every nationalist sits before his TV after returning from his work. The preferred timings are between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. The preferred news items are the TV debates that is broadcast live between these timings.

But now-a-days one wonders whether it is worth watching these TV debates at all, on any topic. Many times, there is a crowd of panelists, say even 11. Many times two or three people talk together, with the result that the viewers are not able to hear anybody’s views.
Many times, many panelists start giving lectures, not connected to the topics being discussed. Many go on non-stop, with the result that the audio has to be muted sometimes. And viewers are forced to shift from one channel to another, looking for meaningful and purposeful debates.

Another disgusting factor is the pitting up of BJP against all other political parties BSP, SP, CPI, CPM,  MIM, etc. - BJP being their common enemy. It is not a secret that BJP is the largest single party in the country today. It rules 15 states, and about 55% of Indian population and 66% of territory. How can the BJP be equated with these parties which are existing just on paper? They do not represent the people and do not hold power in any states (except CPM). They are being rejected by the people day by day. How can such letter-head parties be given equal status with BJP. Are these TV Channels promoting such non-existent parties, by calling them to participate in the debate and giving them more time than being given to BJP? One BJP spokesperson is being cornered by 5-6 opponents, which is atrocious.

There are some empty vessels (which naturally make much noise) being brought to live debate by TV channels - like Sudhindra Bhadoria of BSP, Ghanshyam Tiwari of SP, Alimuddin Khan (introduced as a political analyst, but fully supporting Congress. This may be a ploy by Congress, as the party has decided to avoid Times Now for exposing Vadra sleazy links and other scandals), Dinesh Varshney of CPI, Suneet Chopra of CPM, Asim Waqar of MIM, and a few others. They do not have any issues to corner BJP - like corruption, nepotism, favouritism, misgovernance, in-fighting, etc - but go on and on giving sermons, non-stop, raking up irrelevant matters during the discussion.  (When the demand for a separate flag for Karnataka was being debated, Alimuddin Khan questioned the separate flag for RSS! Such is their intelligence). They lack the basic decorum of an intellectual debate. It is just disgusting to listen to them.

For example, in the debate “ModiBaitersDefeated” held on 5th October 2017 in Times Now, at 9.00 p.m., both Alimuddin Khan and Ghanshyam Tiwari never allowed Dr. Sambit Patra (of BJP) to answer the anchor’s (Mrs. Navika Kumar) questions. Khan had the audacity to even question the decision of the Gujarat High Court. The moment Patra raised to answer, they both jumped in to the fray. Their intention was clear -  not to allow Dr. Patra to speak, so that BJP’s views do not reach the viewers.  They were intolerant and boisterous. 

Again, in the debate “CongAmethiExodus” held on 9th Oct. 2017 at 9.00 p.m. in Times Now, Shri Ratan Sarda (a RSS ideologue) had to walk out of the show protesting against the persistent provocation by Alimuddin Khan. Shri Sarda even said that in future he will never participate in a debate where Khan is present. After sometime, Shri M.R. Venkatesh (leaning towards BJP) also had to walk out, for the same reason. However, Dr. Sambit Patra held on to the debate, inspite of constant interruption by both Alimuddin Khan and Ghanshyam Tiwari. One needs to appreciate the forbearance of Dr. Patra and his gentleman-like attitude towards these rogues.

It is pathetic for the anchors like Arnab Goswami and Mrs. Navika Kumar/Rahul Shivshankar, to look on helplessly, when such panelists go on a talking spree, reeling out lies and canards. Why can’t they mute the audio, if requests do not help?

This is the attitude of all these persons mentioned above in almost all the debates. They know that they are losing ground to BJP. Their parties have been completely rejected by the electorates. Bereft of any issue to talk about against the BJP, they have become a disgruntled lot. So the next best thing they can do is to shout down the BJP spokesperson, using their lung power. They talk rubbish and enter into a slugfest. 

Knowing their attitude, one wonders why Times Now, Republic TV and other Channels call them at all for the debate. They are a nuisance value. They demean and devalue the nature of the debate.

I happened to watch a TV debate sometime back. The anchor gave 90/120 seconds to a panelist to answer his/her questions without any interruption. At the end of the specified time, the mike automatically goes off. Why can’t the anchors in Times Now, Republic TV, etc. follow this procedure? Is it too much to ask for?

In fact, in all TV debates, the intelligence input for the viewers is almost zero. Hence, they are not worth watching. With almost 4-5 panelists talking at a time along with the anchor, it looks like a fish market and not like a debating forum of intellectuals. A joke going around is that Arnab Goswami of Republic TV is contributing to Noise Pollution in the country! 

Generally, when the anchor starts talking, all other panelists should stop. But this is not happening. Why can’t the anchor warn them not to exceed their time limit or not to deflect from the topic? If they do not listen, why can’t their audio be muted? Why give them a free run - in the name of freedom of expression?

Now for the BJP. BJP has decimated almost all other parties in the country, for good reasons, as the party, under Modi’s leadership, is following true nationalism (Hindutva). Hence, more and more people are attracted towards it. No doubt, with Modiji as the PM (and Yogiji as CM of UP, and future PM after Modiji, in 2024) it is going to have a still bright future. Inspite of the lies and canards spread by the opposition and its spokespersons through the TV debates, people understand the good work being done by the Modi government. BJP is not equal but superior to all other parties, including the Congress.

Therefore, one tends to think that the BJP should not send their spokespersons to participate in these worthless debates. It is below the dignity of the BJP’s spokespersons like Sambit Patra, Nalin Kholi, Sudhanshu Trivedi, GVL Narasimha Rao, Gaurav Bhatia, etc. to come to a debate and answer silly and irrelevant questions from these non-entities. By questioning these tall leaders of BJP, these non-entities take false pride in being equal to BJP, which they are not. It is also hurting all sincere BJP supporters who voted for Modi raj, when BJP spokespersons take strenuous efforts to answer questions and objections raised by these nobodies. They are not worth it.

This suggestion of BJP not sending their spokespersons to TV debates may not be liked by the BJP, as it would amount to running away from public debates. In that case, the party must put up a strict condition to the TV Channel that the anchor will give them sufficient time to answer his/her questions, during which time all the other panelists’ audio will be muted. Further, they must demand more time to answer the anchor’s questions, compared to other panelists - say double the time. The TV Channels are bound to agree, as without BJP, the debate will lose its charm. Giving equal time to a National party which has an all-India presence and to a little known entity is grossly unfair.

I wonder whether the TV Channels call these rogue elements purposely. It is possible that they may be enjoying the boisterous debates, and may think that even the viewers too enjoy these free-for-all debates without any restraint. If they think so, they are quite wrong. Once these panelists start their political sermons, many viewers may sift to other channels or even close the TVs, as listening to them is purely a waste of time. People who are watching such debates are an intellectual class and they would not brook any nonsense from these panelists. 

Will the TV Channels make these debates meaningful and entertaining, so that the viewers get satisfaction at the end of the debate? Otherwise, they are likely to lose their TRP.