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THE IDIOT BOX RULES

Vinod Kumar Binny, Yogendra Yadav, Kumar Vishwas and the new chief minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, are all sounding like their predecessors even as they trot out explanations for the questions that are being asked of them. The manner in which they are conducting themselves in the public domain is shorn of transparency. That very little has changed is evident from the fact that the AAP leaders are busy passing the buck and mouthing predictable responses. Ego clashes, greed for office, an inability to deliver on populist promises — these traits have returned to haunt the people. Power cuts, which had reduced considerably over the past five years, are back. All hell is bound to break lose in a couple of months when everything falls apart. The promised cuts in tariff are totally unviable in economic terms.

The men and women who were angry and frustrated with the maladministration and corruption of the Congress-led UPA regime will be on the rampage again when they would go back to a time that witnessed 12-hour power cuts. The electronic media which were leading the charge, as it were, for the Aam Aadmi Party, cajoling citizens to join the movement, are shame-faced today. They are being compelled to report on the immature and tacky operations of the AAP.

Television news programmes have become farcical. The lack of research is evident as reporters are unable to put any perspective on what they are reporting on. One often feels like hurling something at the screen in profound frustration. The glib and intellectually anodyne editorial inputs reflect the dangers posed by half-truths and simplistic positions on important national issues.

Juvenile reporters need to be informed, put through some sort of training in general knowledge, and then be given a microphone. Reporters pontificating on Operation Bluestar clearly had no idea of the entire Bhindranwale episode and its aftermath. Nor did they have much idea about either Margaret Thatcher or Indira Gandhi. It was depressing to see them perform mindlessly as they addressed India’s new generation. Politics cannot be meant for, by any stretch of imagination, reporters who have to file a story that is one minute long. Inane questions and absurd surmises based on one-line responses embarrass the mind and soul of India.

Poor show

It is important for the media to be far more intelligent in this age of information in a country that has a burgeoning middle class which is desperate to connect with the outside world within the subcontinent as well as with the world at large. They serve dollops of substandard information that is dangerous in a country that is transforming itself. The small screen has an enormous impact on viewers of all ages and across cultural and geographical barriers. It requires editorial direction that is strong and free, succinct and liberal. It requires intelligent structuring of programmes. It requires accessing a wider spectrum of participants in the endless dialogues that tend to become monologues by those who can shout louder than the others on the panel. It requires anchors and presenters to do solid background research that will enable them to put forward complex and dynamic questions. It needs to be injected with intellectual stimuli that will excite and open closed, predictable minds. It needs some humour. It has a hugely important, non-partisan role to play.

To announce that Sachin Pilot’s appointment as the PCC president of Rajasthan is an instance of too little too late is absurd, to say the least. Surely the young leader has a professional political life beyond the general elections of 2014. He may win the state back five years later. The carriers of such news and views surely lack a trained mind.