Friday, July 08, 2011

The amazing frivolity of English language Indian TV news anchors

Obama is on the Twitter. Why is it that Indian politicians are not on Twitter, on Facebook? Why are they so backward? Why does not prime minister Manmohan Singh not speak to television channels more? Why does not Congress president Sonia Gandhi do more press conferences? Such is the trivia of Indian television news channels' panels' late night political discussions. One of the well-helled politicians from Orissa had to tell the anchor in a very restrained manner that the personal computer and Internet penetration in the country is very low. And assure her that when the numbers of Twitter and Facebook users grow, politicians would follow suit. Politicians do not have the guts to tick off the television anchors. Their plight is understandable.
The question is this: if Obama does it why does Manmohan Singh or Sonia Gandhi have to do it? Will that make India as progressive a country as the US of A? What a false assumption to begin with. Twitter cannot be a means of political communication. At the end of the day, Obama and others have to go out and meet people, shake hands, look into the eye, hear angry and admiring voices, smile and hold back the frowns. That is what democracy is all about. Democracy cannot be a function of the TV studio.
There is an aggressive -- deliberately so -- anchor who asks anyone appearing on his show to tell the nation. The channel is not seen by the nation. Doordarshan has more reach. But that is the sales strategy. Pitch yourself high. But these sales pitches do not matter when there are serious issues to be sorted out.
The western media announced a Twitter revolution in Iran after Ahmedinijad's second presidential election win. It was an exaggeration which had to be dismissed with the contempt it eserved. Then they said there was Twitter revolution in Tahrir Square in Cairo or earlier in Tunis earlier this year. The western media is unable to see the actual people pouring out into the streets.
Twitter is fun. Facebook is fun. They could even be useful means of communication. But they cannot be the means of communication in a political democracy. They cannot replace the actual people. It is only in a distant dystopia that people will disappear and express themselves only on Twitter and Facebook or on blogs. Meanwhile, thankfully the real world of actual people still exists.
What this trivial talk on Indian television news channels of the English language shows is how hollow and wonderfully comic are the Englishwallahs in this country. Somebody needs to make fun of them again as Manoj Kumar used to do earlier in his movies of the 1960s and 1970s.

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