Anchors on TV were supposed to be the most well-behaved and civil people on the show- bizz who invited experts on their programs to add value to the show by their inputs from the fields in which they specialized.But all that is part of the glorious history of Indian TV when it was in its infancy.
In print media too journalists asked the most embarrassing question after the guest was in his comfort zone.But that is changing there as well.
The TV etiquetes in India acquired its present confrontationist tone, as far as I know, when Karan Thapar joined Newstrack, the video brought out by the Hindustan Times.He said that his BBC training gave him that attitude, or whatever they call it.
Back to the present.Today when the guests are invited to panel discussions on various channels they are fully prepared for the ordeal they are about to face from the anchors.
Last week was pretty hectic for TV anchors, not just because of the news but also as they had to deal with issues that required them to provoke the panelists. Pakistan ambassador Basit had declared that Pakistan was announcing the suspension of talks with India,there was the smouldering issue of lathi-charge on students of NIT in Srinagar and then came the historical decision of the Bombay High Court to allow women to enter the Shanigram temple.
‘Times Now’ has by now already acquired a reputation for its noisy and loud new hour show hosted by Arnab Goswami but it appears his aggression is rubbing on to others, even someone like Ravish Kumar of NDTV who is almost a total contrast.In fact, when the JNU controversy was at its peak with raging disputes about the authenticity of the videos,Ravish came out with a video making fun of the hostile and loud anchors which included names other than Arnab.
Hence it was somewhat of a shock to hear Ravish Kumar losing his temper on a show on the NIT. This was all the more surprising because he was taking it out on student leaders Saket, President of ABVP and Shehla Rashid, the Vice President of JNUSU.
Ravish was enjoying the discomfiture of Saket as he kept on grilling him why as to why those who flew flags of Pakistan in NIT or shouted anti-India slogans were not being arrested.But when Saket turned back and taunted Ravish by asking why journalists were not going to Srinagar or writing about atrocities on students flying the Indian flag as much as they wrote on JNU, Ravish lost his cool and told him,“What is the problem with you people?Within minutes of the police action in Srinagar I have started getting abused on Twitter.Did I go to Srinagar?Did Rajdeep Sardesai and Barkha Dutt go to Kashmir?Why are they getting trolled?I know who is behind all this.”
Saket tried to deflect the attack by saying that journalists were not giving balanced coverage and some of them were acting like spokespersons of other parties to which Ravish shot back that he had spent 16 years in journalism and did not need lessons from him.
By a sheer co-incidence, on the same day on which Ravish Kumar threatened his panelists, Arnab Goswami’s reputation as the modern Mr.Bharat of TV which has already earned him a lot of ‘admirers’ across the border who have been bullied and humiliated by his gang of panelists stooped to a new low.
This was a discussion on April 7, when Pakistan had announced its decision to suspend talks with India. The panelists from Pakistan appeared very excited with this development because they thought they had humiliated India whom they held responsible for creating Bangladesh and fomenting trouble in Balochistan.
One of their panelists, Group Captain Sultan Ali told him,”Arnab you have been given a slap on your cheeks and they have turned red.”
To this Arnab gave a reply as if he was a reciting his Physics lessons of Class IX,”Either you suffer from myopia or hypermetropia or using telepathy to see that my cheeks are red.I can turn right and turn left to show you that my cheeks are not red.”
Barkha Dutt too displayed her impatience with the invited guests and panelists on her show, ‘We the People’-Role reversal at home, the final frontier, when Balki’s film ‘Ki and Ka’ was released. The panelists included the two stars of the film Kareena Kapoor and Arjun Kapoor, the director of the film, Kiran Bedi and writer Gurcharan Das, who is writing a book called ‘ Desire’ to prove that India was more liberal earlier than in modern times.
Even as some panelists said that they did not mind the role reversal, most of them, including Gurcharan Das insisted that women should not be too ambitious because they were burdened by other duties being born as women, Barkha Dutt made no secret of her impatience with such concepts.
She aggressively advocated her point of view that women were also entitled to have ambitions like men, to which some of the men sniggered openly.
But when one guest said that women are different because they had been endowed with qualities like patience, she said,”Sorry I have no patience” but fortunately this was said laughingly and she did not lose her temper like some other well-known anchors.
However the tendency to be on short fuse by anchors is catching on.The danger in this is that experts would think twice before appearing on these shows which would ultimately harm the dissemination of knowledge,which is the purpose of journalism.
By Amitabh Srivastava
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