Punjabi antenna
Asking for the Utopia
Randeep Wadehra

Randeep Wadehra
Randeep Wadehra

Like Heer and Jugni, the Challa folk song reverberates throughout the Punjabi countryside on both sides of the India-Pakistan border. Although there are many versions of this song, the ones sung by Alam Lohar of Pakistan and Gurdas Mann and Rabbi Shergill of India have become extremely popular. Recently, one watched on Zee Punjabi another version filmed on urban youngsters, with guitars etc as accompaniment. This contemporary rendering was pepped up with some western sounds. It may well become a hit among the college-going youth.

Since election news have more or less obliterated all else on the small screen, one has to revert to the scenario time and again. As usual, the major issues facing Punjab seldom found any worthwhile mention in the various electoral speeches. Most of the politicos preferred to get personal vis-`E0-vis their opponents. Like Sukhbir Badal trying hard to link the Patiala Peg with Captain Amarinder Singh’s lifestyle. Captain Amarinder Singh preferred to focus on the Congress rebels. Since he has the propensity for politically incorrect speech, PTC News gleefully latched on to his "katl-e-aam" remark and played it several times, along with the nikhedi (criticism) of the remark by several Congress rebels. Some sanity to the political discourse was restored with PM Manmohan Singh’s rally. But, again, PTC News focussed more on the sparseness of crowds than on the contents of the PM’s speech. Later on, BSP leader Mayawati’s rally too was covered and, for a change, we had a variety in perspectives, however skewed, on the small screen.

It appears that the PTC News is not very comfortable with any positive views aired in favour of the Sanjha Morcha. In its Chon Charcha on January 21, when the PTC News Bureau Chief mentioned how the PPP-led Sanjha Morcha has advantage in the Banga constituency, not only was he cut off but also not included further in the programme. Although the channel did maintain a modicum of neutrality by showing the snaps of various candidates in the poll fray, its underlying message was clear — the SAD-BJP combine is the favourite to win the elections. On the other hand, Zee News mainly focussed on the chances of the Congress, and gave prominence to the PM’s rally.

Last fortnight, Khabarsaar on Zee Punjabi examined the reasons behind health being ignored as an election issue, when more than 80 per cent children are anaemic and four to five kids die every minute due to malnutrition. A panelist suggested that politicians focus on visible achievements like buildings, roads etc because these catch the people’s imagination. Healthcare is "invisible" and, hence, does not figure in poll manifestoes.

In an earlier edition, Khabarsaar had focussed on Punjabi artistes’ political aspirations. Lots of reasons were put forward for the need for them to enter the political arena. Even the examples of Ronald Reagan and MGR were cited. But, the question is, where are the Punjabi artistes with comparative charisma, and the ability to govern? Hans Raj Hans has already burnt his fingers and the likes of Bhagwant Mann are hardly taken seriously by the voters.

In its social messages slot, Zee Punjabi had been showing children demanding a government that would provide good roads and sanitary conditions, fair enough. But when some of them started wishing for a corruption free, honest and efficient government, one felt that they were asking for the`85 no, not the moon, which has become accessible thanks to technology, but the Utopia.