Punjabi Antenna

No time for tradition
Randeep WadehraRandeep Wadehra

LAST fortnight Punjabi television featured interesting discussions on such topics as cyber crime (Masle, PTC News), the multi-media culture’s effect on children, and materialism’s impact on human relationships (both on Khabarsaar, Zee Punjabi).

Most of us are familiar with such alluring deceptions as the "Prize Money Emails" and the "Nigerian Syndrome," to which quite a few educated persons in the region have fallen victims. Presently, the menace of cloned ATM cards is on. A resident of Mohali, who had lost hefty sums to theft through cloned ATM cards, described on the sets of Masle how he watched helplessly as his bank account was being pilfered. By the time the police could take action, it was quite late.

An expert on the show gave tips on how to protect one’s bank account. Obviously, the relevant technologies ought to be upgraded, and a very alert and efficient detective set-up is needed for preventing/solving such crimes. More obviously, our laws should be amended and enforced in such a manner as to deter this white collar crime.

Grandmothers have become redundant, and parents and children are hooked on to soap operas and cyber networking
Grandmothers have become redundant, and parents and children are hooked on to soap operas and cyber networking

There was a time when parents actively participated in their children’s education — be it revision of various lessons or doing homework. Grannies/mothers would narrate bedtime stories/parables from folklore and mythologies to kids. This provided children with a healthy value-based entertainment. More importantly, since the family stayed connected, the parents could monitor their curricular as well as extra-curricular activities.

With the advent of television, out went the traditional story-telling sessions. Grannies became redundant, and parents and children got beholden to soap operas and cyber networking. Insidiously, alien thought processes replaced traditional values. Internet has made it possible to access academic as well as other information easily; the traditional method of writing your own notes by referring to textbooks and source books has become defunct.

All this was discussed on Khabarsaar which, in a subsequent episode, also dwelt upon the manner in which materialism is destroying traditional relationships — a discussion that was riddled with quite a few controversial observations. For example, SP Singh frequently referred to the "IMF-World Bank culture" having damaged human relationships in Punjab.

This equating of two international institutions with crass materialism existing in our society is an escapist’s attempt at finding alibis. We were never innocent of mercantile instincts, albeit tempered with socio-religious values. Therefore, avarice was never allowed to dictate one’s obligations towards family and the society at large in the days of yore. Today, we — without any prompting from outside — have discarded our traditional values. It is absurd to hold IMF-World Bank culpable for the changing socio-economic-cultural paradigms.

Earlier, Masle and Khabarsaar had dealt with environmental degradation. Although most of our experts are quite good at conducting postmortems, they are hardly ever able to foretell the consequences of a developmental effort.

The poisoning of Punjab’s water, soil and air had begun with the onset of Green Revolution, we are being told now. Why could no expert at that time foresee the disaster potential of the unbridled use of chemical fertilisers, insecticides, fungicides etc, not to mention the injudicious exploitation of precious water resources? Now that the damage has been done — immense though it is — what remedial actions are being taken, pray? Politicking. Diseases like cancer, tuberculosis, hepatitis etc are fast spreading both in the urban as well as rural areas, thanks to the all-pervading pollution.