Anil Thakraney: Wake up, Dilliwallahs!

17 Jun,2012

By Anil Thakraney


Ever wondered why TV studios identify their location as ‘News Centre’ (or similar words) instead of the city of broadcast? Well, they don’t want to declare ‘Delhi’, which is where most of the news TV headquarters are located. Because, I suppose, they desire to project themselves as being pan-India. And yet, they often find their Dilli bias hard to dilute, and it shows up again and again.


That’s exactly what happened with the breathless, 24X7, carpet coverage of the ‘Kaun Banega President?’ reality TV show. Ball by ball account, blow by blow detail was being dished out on the presidential race. Anchors and reporters just couldn’t conceal their excitement. It gets worse: Most of the coverage consisted of wild speculation and unconfirmed reports. This was like a gang of retail shop owners in Lajpat Nagar hectically discussing politics over aloo chaat and sweet lassi.


Now, when you live in Delhi, politics becomes a part of your DNA. That’s well known and it’s fine too. But that is certainly not the case with the rest of India. If a new government was being formed at the Centre, some of us non-Dilliwallahs would take part in at least some of the discussions. But so much gas over the selection of the President? An ornamental post that, at best, is a dummy designation, and at worst a parasitic ‘job’ for which we tax payers pay through our noses. Just for the record, in case it hasn’t occurred to my friends in the capital: Finance Minister to Rashtrapati is a demotion, a VRS scheme, actually.


I know that a whole lot of people in Mumbai disconnected from the news channels all of last week, as we were left with a feeling of alienation.

And I am sure this was the case in the rest of the nation too. Because we had more important things to worry about. (Like Mr Dhoble’s sensational antics in Mumbai.)


Dear Dilli news channelwallahs, please get this: You are not running a local city station. You are supposed to be running an Indian news channel. And you are meant to take into account the sensibilities of a billion desis. I know it’s tough, but a sense of balance and proportion is critical in this business.


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PS: Poor poor Rajat Gupta. He’s been convicted by a US court on charges of insider trading, and now faces many years in jail. The gentleman must be sorely regretting not having done his number in India. Here, he would be out on bail in a few months, and then would chill at home for 30 years. And if he was still alive when the conviction happened, he would file a clemency petition on account of old age.


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