It was 6:30 PM in the evening, I was a bit delayed by the heavy-rush hour traffic and the few inches of snow that glazed across the east coast. Finally I settled down with my papad (I like my papad baked not stirred!) and the cup of green tea for the obvious reasons. I switched on for my usual dose of “Arnab Goswami” using my Roku that saves the previous night’s NewsHour (“sponsored by Xolo!”) for me. In a life beaten to boredom by the daily humdrum and the very organized and structured daily routine of the American “desi” life, the booming voice of Arnab, “the journalist with no political affiliations” was a welcome relief.
Arnab brought on a key member of AAP, Mr. Kumar Vishwas, who of-late was in the news for all the wrong reasons vis-a-vis his party, for praising Modi and then dilly-dallying, while trying to balance his own stature within AAP.
Arnab in his usual style was trying to understand why, the BJP had brought in Ms. Kiran Bedi and what the AAP made of the whole situation and how its prospects might be affected. Then Arnab tried to display a video of how Mr. Vishwas was cheering a jubilant Ms. Bedi while she was dancing on the stage by cheering her on, in front of thousands of spectators in the “India against corruption” movement. He brought up a couple of tweets posted by AAP and Mr. Vishwas and tried to catch him on AAP’s hypocrisy, wherein they first praised and worked with Bedi and now are criticizing the same person.
AAP’s Mr.Vishwas was clearly rattled and started defending himself and his party and finally went on to claim that Ms.Bedi was a BJP mole right from the beginning and how she would try and explain to the movements members that they should be targeting only the Congress and not the BJP during this movement.
Then Arnab stopped Mr. Vishwas and with all the aplomb and pomp, made an announcement, a sensational “disclosure” preceded by the ceremonious
“Happening now first here on Times Now, NewsHour!” The papad I was eating crumbled, succumbing to the sudden revelation.
“Oh Yes! Ladies and Gentlemen, this is going to be the biggest news tomorrow, we have got our headlines here!” roared Arnab with a somber look on his face, if there was any glint of mischief in his eyes like the one time the entertainingly confident, American returned NRI congress spokesman, Mr. Americai Naryanan (@americai), it was well-shrouded, given the gravity of the news he had “extracted”, at-hand.
Mr. Vishwas who until then was visibly shaken to Arnab’s cross-examination, but trying to put on a brave face of denial, like a child caught by his friends, for single-handedly munching his box of toffees without sharing them, was emboldened by the spate of things and went onto to the offensive, from being in the defensive. He further revealed how they did observe the pattern of how Ms.Bedi wanted to go soft on the BJP, and they did catch it early-on but left it best to the discretion of Mr. Anna, or something like that.
But Arnab wasn’t bothered and neither was I, he got his headline and Xolo got its money’s worth for the evening. I finished my papad, and the green tea had soothed my frayed nerves.
This was followed by the open-debate, wherein an AAP spokesman went on to praise Mr. Vishwas, and emphasize how important of a, and key member he was for the party, in-light of the astounding disclosure he made on Ms.Bedi and the purported turning-of tables onto the BJP. He was on a victory campaign like the in this kingdom of Arnab, until he met his nemesis, in the form an AAP turncoat (one of the other debaters) who was although mellow compared to the former in terms of his loudness, but did occasionally retort by telling how close he was to Mr. Arvind, “once upon a time” and took offense when the AAP spokesman was subduing his stature, and was also trying to convey to Arnab, about how he took offense to the fact that such a person was invited to Arnab’s show. It was difficult to believe that this particular gentleman was a journalist to start with, before joining AAP, as he rambled on continuously without giving the other debaters a chance to express their views. Arnab, finally chipped in to remind him that his nemesis, the ex-AAP party man had an equal right to be a part of the debate, as the AAP representative did. Then Arnab roared in his NewsHour Jungle and all the rest of the beings fell into place.
The debate then moved on to the BJP spokesman who wanted to ask AAP, if they indeed knew about the intentions of Ms. Bedi right from the inception of their movement, which they disclosed in terms of the startling revelation they had made just now, and if so, why they hadn’t taken any action then, rather than talking about it now, after so much time had passed. In other terms, he was questioning the manufacturing date and the expiry date of this so-called headline, especially in a country bombarded with 24X7 media, from left right and center, where the public memory span is so short with the cerebrum and the cerebellum preoccupied with the daily struggle for survival.
Finally the congress spokesman who did wait for his turn patiently, brushed aside all questions that the BJP spokesman raised about how his senior party functionaries were gushing about Mr. Modi, albeit in a somersaulting way. In his distinctive way he brought forth the importance of the extraordinary claim made by Mr. Vishwas and it needed to be thoroughly investigated as to the role of BJP in influencing the Anna movement.
Meanwhile, In some part of Yamuna Pushta, Delhi, in a fog-ridden evening being consumed slowly by the dark under-belly of the night, a middle-aged hawker whose face was etched by life, resembling the roads he took in his circadian routine of selling his wares, sipped his evening tea, enjoying his luxury of having the “English” biscuit whose ad his eye caught on a TV ad once. He did not want to think about the struggle he had to make tonight for water, like the one-third of the 17 million residents living in this colossal fabric called Delhi. There was hope somewhere hidden in him. Something will turn out for his good, things would definitely be for the better. It was the same country that thrust a person of very humble origins like him, to the role of the highest ruler.
As I researched on Google to look up for the name of a slum in Delhi for this piece of writing, my eyes blinked to the fancy colors of the great kaleidoscope called “India”. There was an ad of “Incredible India” showing the Monumental Taj with all its pristine beauty, besides which there was a woman doing yoga in the backdrop of picturesque mountains, like she was on a flying carpet. Underneath this, the popular travel website was talking about various guided tours through Delhi’s slums where the friendly slum dwellers would also show a dance, besides talking about their unbelievable stories of struggle and survival, all under the watchful eyes of a tour-guide, to the western tourists.
I should end my muse by saying that my article was purely reflective and satirical (occasionally) with no disrespect intended at any of the characters, names or events used. Personally, I am an avid follower of the NewsHour and very much like Mr. Arnab Goswami’s dynamism and very impartial conduct. On several occasions he has made highly analytical arguments and did raise very important angles in uncovering the truth.
But it is sad to see that, in spite of the very important role, the media has to play in upholding the values of Indian democracy, which it does to an extent, however sometimes gets lost in the din of 24X7 race for ratings, and the audience share within the world of an all-encompassing number of news outlets. While it is important to make all the voices heard, it is equally important to get the right content also, without being judgmental or sensational to the effect that it should altogether steer the direction of the discourse.
Instead of the various stakeholders being constantly egged upon to contradict, criticize and accuse each other, the discourse should be geared more towards actual issues of daily survival, how these parties would solve them, what are their plans for the various infrastructure, basic-need projects and how they intend to solve them. When would water reach the last person of Yamuna Pushta and where would the funds come from?
While the debaters were still shouting at each other to their lungs full, about what happened a few years ago, The man, woman and the child in the slum of Delhi were still thirsty. My attention span ended and I turned off the TV.
The writer can be reached on twitter at @theindianmuse. Currently a software architect based in Washington DC, a political aficionado with a very huge appetite for Indian politics and a penchant for writing.