Ranjona Banerji: Switching subjects when the Budget is a bore

03 Feb,2017

By RanjonaBanerji


What do you do if you are a super-nationalistic journalist and the annual Budget presented by your favourite government in the whole universe turns out to be a lacklustre bore, full of half-truths, post-truths and dissembling?

Why, you switch subjects of course.


First option: Pakistan. Pakistan is the go-to place (no, no, we are not discussing where liberals and intellectuals belong for now) for TV journalists in search of a proper patriotic subject. The formula is simple: invite a few Indian handlebars, a few Pakistani handlebars, at least one fake R&AW agent and give the star anchor a whip. All the circus animals respond appropriately. They bluster and yell and take home fat attendance cheques at the end of it. The viewers also know what to expect, chief amongst which is to understand nothing but feel full of country-love zeal and fervour.

Mission accomplished.


Second option: Focus on “very important” issues like upcoming state elections. Conduct and/or get paid to telecast exit polls. Showcase these exit polls by much running around all over the studio brimming with excitement at your audacity at presenting something that may well be proved wrong but anyway the stupid viewer will never remember. Try as hard as you can to ensure that your favourite ruling party in the universe currently in power at the Centre is going to win “yuuuuge” like The Donald did.

If by any chance the exit poll suggests otherwise, use your star anchor status to obfuscate the exit poll results and produce various options on how and why your favourite may well win because there are so many other factors that rule the world other than your exit polls. Do not actually ever say this but drop some hints.


Third option: Discuss Donald Trump. There is enough fodder here for fun. But remember to give ample space to bigoted NRI organisations in the US to spread their prejudices. This is called being “objective” in TV-speak. Be careful not to mention Trump’s battle with the media. That is verboten territory for patriotic Indian TV journalists. After all, Trump called Prime Minister NarendraModi third or fourth or within the Top Ten of world leaders after becoming US President. Yaaay! We are so great!


Fourth option: Try and discuss the Budget but freely use the standard star anchor trick – do not allow anyone who has a contrary opinion to be heard. If the irksome guest does not listen to you, call in the ruling party cavalry or at the very least, shout, plead, implore, beg him or her to try and at least see things from the finance minister’s point of view.


Fifth option: Do not under any circumstances discuss demonetisation. It was not mentioned in the Budget, it was not mentioned by the chief economic adviser as a great achievement of the government and it has no bearing on life at all in India. Everyone is incredibly happy, even (or especially) the dead people and all is well. The prime minister said so, remember?


Additional Tips: Forget about the Jallikattu protests and other stuff which you concentrated on for days. The Supreme Court has said something? What is the Supreme Court?


Final Idea: When all else fails, try fancy dress. So Dr Prannoy Roy of NDTV runs around Amritsar in a red pagdi. Why? I mean, why?


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