In touch with tradition
Baljit Balli’s style of interview is conversational, which gives the show a drawingroom ambience
Doordarshan Jalandhar telecasts a show on Punjab’s history.
Last fortnight it described how the British, after taking over
Punjab, modernised the administration and systemised governance
— they replaced smaller parganas with larger zilas
as administrative units; jagirdari system gave way to
more hierarchical bureaucracy. The channel is a repository of
information on our traditions and culture. It regularly focusses
on our traditional arts and crafts.
telecast a show on the Patiala jutti, the footwear with a
royal past and, currently, fashionistas’ favourite —
something you learn from the lore narrated by the traditional
craftsmen of Patiala, who have been struggling against all odds
to preserve one of the disappearing arts of Punjab.
Noted for his
column, Tirchhi Nazar, in Ajit since 1995, Baljit Balli
had started his career as trainee journalist in Punjabi
Tribune. Now, this Shiromani Pattarkar Award winner and PU
graduate anchors a talk show named Tirchhi Nazar on PTC
News featuring people from different walks of life. Last
fortnight, Ujjal Dosanjh was presented. Apart from tracing his
career-graph as a politician in Canada, Baljit elicited an
interesting observation: Dosanjh averred that NRIs in Canada
unabashedly flout conventions while enrolling members to the
political parties there, attributing the phenomenon to the
cultural reflexes carried over from India.
While pointing out
the difference in political cultures of the two countries,
Dosanjh underscored the need for the system in India to be more
responsive. Baljit Balli’s style of interview is more
conversational than formatted questionnaire, which gives the
show a drawingroom ambience. However, contrary to what the title
suggests, the talks seldom become tangential, let alone
contentious. Wanted more bite in the bytes, please.
Culture, in its
social connotations, was the topic of discussion on Doordarshan
Jalandhar’s morning show wherein the principal of a reputed
women’s college went retro with a vengeance, like "jeans
are evil because they expose female body`85 our women are being
compelled to dance onstage to promote commercial
products`85" ignoring the fact that dirt — like beauty
— lies in the eye of the beholder. Sari and salwaar-kameez
can be as "exposing" as any other apparel —
depending upon how one wears it or how it is perceived by
and traditions form vital ingredients of our cultural identity;
but, we err in assuming that these are static concepts. True,
certain values like honesty, integrity and respect for elders
remain constant, but other values like unquestioning acceptance
of whatever is written in our scriptures or treating physical
appearances as non-negotiable need revisiting.
One is not
advocating brazen irreverence but a healthy skepticism so that
our generations do not wallow in stagnation. Blind faith warps
one’s intellect. Even traditions change as they must. For
example, the veiled woman is anachronistic in today’s world.
The ghoongat or hijab does not necessarily stand
for chastity; ditto for our traditional dresses like sari and
salwaar kameez. You wouldn’t become less traditional if you
wear modern apparel. For a working woman traditional dresses can
be quite cumbersome.
Not that the
esteemed principal had nothing reasonable to say. Her protest
against giving costly gifts like cars and motorcycles as
birthday presents to under-aged children is valid. As a teacher
her opposition to students carrying cellphones to
schools/colleges is understandable, especially in the light of
what our youngsters have been doing with these gizmos. The
misuse is not limited to messaging odd video clips, but now
these are being doctored and uploaded on porno websites as well.
However, she was eager to put all blame on parents.
Certainly, a line
needs to be drawn here. Although, to a large extent parents are
responsible for the spreading "cellphonitis," the guru
fraternity ought to do some introspection, too.