[MJR] TV leads to early onset of maddening rage

15 May,2012

By Ranjona Banerji


Sometimes, television viewing can be seriously injurious to health. On Monday night, I tried to wade through TV discussions and only landed up with all the signs of early onset of maddening anger which soon developed into full blown rage. And I didn’t even venture further than two channels – Headlines Today and Times Now.


On Headlines Today, the discussion was about the decision to ban all cartoons in textbooks. The guests were all having hysterics, the anchor – Rahul Kanwal – tried to say that vital airtime should not be wasted this way but the panellists were having none of it.


This makes one wonder whether this format of prime time discussions on the news of the day is working any more. Night after night, we watch these so-called experts descend to the worst examples of civilised behaviour. Nothing fruitful is discussed as a result.


One panellist could not even distinguish between a political cartoon and comic books. The first was not suitable for children apparently while the second were Archie comics and all that are fine she says. Clearly she has not read too many comics or cartoons – regardless of the unintended hilarity of her arguments. All I know is that her first name is “Kakoli”, since the channel never repeated it after that.


Cartoonist Suthir Tailang also gave up after some time, the gentleman from the Bahujan Samaj Party just yelled incessantly, the comic lady continued with her routine and the anchor ended the whole farce.


* * *


On Times Now, we shifted to another dimension. Editor in chief Arnab Goswami decided that the government had to step in to save General VK Singh’s reputation as the army chief edges closer to retirement. This is in response to a Press Trust of India story about how some official in the Cabinet secretariat is apparently going to be blamed for leaking the army chief’s letter to the PM about India’s lack of defence preparedness.


The panel was full of former army officers, both them and their moustaches bristling away about how the army was all good and everyone was all bad. Where do they get their accents from by the way? Sometimes they sound like London meets Ludhiana or Kota meets Kanada or more likely Billy Bunter in Bundelkhand. Forgive me, I’m just more used to Salman Khan’s Mumbai meets Manhattan. Do you think they teach accents at the IMA? I concentrated on their accents because it was impossible to understand what they were saying. But anyway, they all went off on their own tangents with India demanding answers and the country wanting to know every two minutes.


The only voices of sanity were Kumar Ketkar, editor of Divya Marathi and KC Singh, former ambassador to UAE. But since they did not join in the general outcry to save the army chief, they were shunned. Ketkar was roundly castigated for suggesting that VK Singh was “hobnobbing with Anna Hazare”.


In all this, no one asked (or dared to ask) why the government should save VK Singh’s reputation when the general himself had scant concern about it during his date of birth fight and especially after the spanking he got from the Supreme Court.


Anyway, by this I had burst a few blood vessels and could not even watch Jon Stewart’s Daily Show to restore my equilibrium.


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