channel surfer
Of Didi, Modi & Zardari
Randeep Wadehra 

Randeep WadehraPakistan President Zardari’s visit was news television’s major faux-event recently. Nobody in the media, including the World View’s (CNN-IBN) panelists, was sure about the visit’s political or geostrategic utility. Various news channels focused on one issue: Hafiz Syed, as if his arrest would resolve all India-Pakistan disputes. It is really amazing how our news TV presents quasi-issues as core issues.

How yesterday’s rebels become today’s tyrants! News TV was awash with Mamata Banerjee’s "bizarre" diktat that TMC workers should avoid marital alliances with CPM workers. Are we witnessing the rise of neo-supremacist/exclusivist ideology?

Earlier, the Didi cartoon episode featured battering and arrest of a Jadavpur University don for privately circulating the caricature, which was discussed on News Hour (Times Now). One always thought cartoons were a mature polity's symbol. Remember Nehru’s message to Kesava Shankara Pillai, the father of Indian political cartoon, "Don’t spare me, Shankar", but today’s politicians are regressing into juvenile intolerance.

Mamata Banerjee’s bizarre diktat did see much condemnation
Mamata Banerjee’s bizarre diktat did see much condemnation

Rajdeep Sardesai’s interview with Shekhar Gupta (CNN-IBN) was absorbing for its cuts and thrusts. While responding to Rajdeep’s charge that his newspaper had acted as the "Establishment’s" surrogate by front-paging the army units’ movements. Shekhar looked uncomfortable; his assertion that the paper felt duty bound to bring the said information into public domain can’t be gainsaid; but, perhaps, there was room for editorial discretion?

Meanwhile, on Insight (Lok Sabha TV), Major-General Ashok Mehta asserted that, for the fear of corruption charges, neither middlemen can be eliminated nor defence preparedness compromised with; the priorities should be right.

Has Modi become politically stronger within the BJP? The Buck Stops Here (NDTV 24X7) evaluated Modi’s political status after the recent court verdict, and the SIT’s clean chit to him. While it is true that Modi is the current Mr Invincible in Gujarat politics, he has yet to acquire a national-level status of substance.

Our TV channels’ constant focus on him goes contrary to the media’s supposed distaste for politics of intolerance. One would rather see the hitherto spasmodic attempts at reconciliation being given the much-needed boost through meaningful talk shows.

Just when the Russian-built Koodunkulam nuclear power plant was being primed for generating electric power, the anti-nuclear lobby got into protest mode. When Sri Lanka's Energy Minister Champika Ranawaka lodged a protest with the IAEA, News Hour telecast a full-fledged debate, which eventually deteriorated into trading motives and innuendoes that barely fell short of insults. We were informed that Sri Lanka was retaliating against India’s anti-Sri Lanka vote in the UN.

Nevertheless, if the anti-nuclear lobbyist was vociferous in opposing the very existence of the "dangerous" plant, the pro-nuclear debater described it as one of the safest in the world. But little was added to one's knowledge except that there’s a Banerjee Report that’s being kept under wraps.