Ranjona Banerji: How Republic mimics real life in India…

16 Jun,2017

By Ranjona Banerji

 

Unlike our Patriotic English News channels, who vowed not to discuss the progress or results of an early India-Pakistan match in the Champions Trophy (although they did discuss why they were not discussing it), I made no such promise not to watch Republic TV.

In fact, for two nights, I blundered in just to see what actually goes on. Not that I am any the wiser but this is what I understand. The Mirwaiz, a religious head and political separatist leader in Kashmir, congratulated Pakistan for defeating England in a semi-final match. This caused incredible anger on television and immediately massive studio fight clubs were held where many people bashed each other verbally.

Last night, India defeated Bangladesh in the other semi-final, which meant India would play Pakistan in the final. Times Now and Republic TV were still frothing at the mouth at the Mirwaiz’s tweet and now wanted to know how he would tweet if India beat Pakistan in the final. “Just shut up” shouted one man to another, the other man kept talking but no one could understand what he was saying, the anchor (okay, okay, ArnabGoswami) also kept talking but the context was difficult because he kept naming people who were supposed to speak but I have no idea if they were actually also speaking or not mainly because I recognised almost none of the 30-40 people on the panel.

In a way I suppose Republic TV does mimic real life in India. For those who understand Mumbai, it was a bit like being stuck in a Virar local and trying to get off at Borivali and being unable to navigate your way through the angry screams of commuters. Luckily the TV remote allows a quick escape. So I went to Times Now. Here Navika Kumar was shouting at the Mirwaiz, who was not there in the line up of “guests”, about how he would tweet if India defeated Pakistan. Other people were also shouting but in all the resultant din, one could not tell if they were shouting in support of her, India, the Mirwaiz or the Wonder Woman movie.

So I took in some peace and quiet at Wion. Here two people were discussing the India-Bangladesh cricket match. I assume since Wion is part of the Zee network and Zee has patriotically decided not to show India-Pakistan matches, that was the last discussion on cricket for Wion. Anyway, it was too quiet to really hear anything when you are used to cacophony.

On CNN-News18, they had a proper cricket discussion going with experts like Kishore Bhimani, K Srikkanth and AyazMemon and three anchors. The experts all agreed that India was the superior team. The anchors sounded like little boys in India all of whom are cricket experts from the age of two.

Republic TV incidentally, on the day before the England-Pakistan semi-final was furious with the UK for not sending tycoon Vijay Mallya back to India to face trial for some serious loan defaulting. In fact, Goswami wanted India to cut off ties with the UK to teach the UK a lesson. Surely a threat which is going to make England absolutely white with fright? I see immediate moves to send Mallya back, don’t you? I mean who would take on Goswami when in full patriotic flow?

Therefore, if the Mirwaiz has supported England during the England-Pakistan semi-final, he would be equally guilty of treason.

Meanwhile on Twitter, Rahul Kanwal of India Today TV was very clear that patriotic news channels like his could discuss results/get excited about an India-Pakistan cricket match because the rules of patriotism are very clear on cricket matches. If it is a bilateral tie between India and Pakistan, then you cannot have anything to do with that cricket match. But if other countries are also playing, then you can be part of Pakistan matches, because the tournament being ICC-mandated means Pakistan’s terrorist attacks on India can be ignored. The power of the International Cricket Council is therefore never to be doubted or questioned.

 

**

 

In some act of madness, I then shifted to CNN and BBC to see what was happening there. No one, just no one, was discussing cricket matches or patriotism. With disgust, I picked up the remote and watched WALL-E instead.

 

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