May 19, 2010

The question we’re asking today…

Are television debates any good?

I keep wondering about the answer as I endlessly news channel surf everyday. I must confess that I’m a TV news channel freak and there’s nothing else that can get me hooked on to TV. But off lately I can’t help but think that perhaps a ‘serious’ prime time TV news debate is more idiotic than nothing being peddled as breaking news! I mean breaking news can end but a debate can be centered on anything. How many of us can recall the breaking news where Aaj Tak showed a car that, well…drove itself!?

What purpose does a news debate actually serve?

With the Naxals or Maoists or whatever they are being called now days making life hell for just about everyone the news channels are having a field day yakking about them. The other day I actually saw some ‘social activist’ of a lady whose name escapes me (and no it ain’t Arundhati Roy and no I’m wouldn’t shy away from naming her) smiled condescendingly when called a Naxal sympathizer. Arnab Goswami did point out that she doesn’t like being called that but her smile was too flagrant to be avoided. Now all this woman did was talk about the ‘genocidal’ attitude of the Indian ‘state’ and how the actions of Naxals, no matter how bad, couldn’t be compared to the nefarious ones indulged by the law of the land. For two hours across multiple screens everyone who had a tongue spoke some non-sense or the other and in the end a SMS poll informed me that all iz well.

Some times I wonder that such debates are just like the arguments I used to have with my ex-girlfriend. As our relationship was dying we would fight on things that actually didn’t make a lot of sense. She would say some thing totally opposing to what I had said and that was enough to trigger off an argument. We would meet at a point in the evening when she would get free, which may I add could be any time between 8 in the pm to 11 in the pm, and where she would get free, which may I add would be anywhere in the NCR covering a radius of 20 kms, and just start arguing. But the point that I’m trying to make is that we knew, at least I did, that we just had that 45 minutes to an hour long window and no matter what the issue it had to be resolved by the time I dropped her home.

I know you find this analogy extremely asinine but trust me I’m going some where with this theory.

So back to the argument. We would bicker; call names, huff (that would be me) and puff (which would be her as I had quit smoking) all inside the car. But the moment I took the final turn towards the destination things would change. A short period of silence followed till it was broken by a thoughtful sigh and finally one of us would say something filmy like ‘what’s happened to us…’ and then depending on who said that the other would say some thing equally stupid like ‘yeah’. And that was that. We would run out of time to argue so we would resolve the matter. Simply because the same intensity couldn’t be achieved the next time we argued. Did it work?

Of course not!

And that’s the point I was trying to make. Much like my car ride television debates try to get ‘solutions’ to ‘problems’ that have been persisting for decades in a matter of hours. Is it possible? The stupid thing about these debates is that no one takes them seriously. The usual suspects who throng from studio to studio and channel to channel have become so used to these put on debates that they could do this in their sleep. Once I saw Farooq Abdullah ‘live’ on three channels at the same time arguing with same person from the opposition! Hardly any surprise that everything looks the same on these channels, so much so that the guests even end up calling Rajdeep Sardesai ‘Arnab’ and Arnab Goswami is hurriedly addressed as Rajdeep.

No wonder serious debates don’t exist and hardly surprising that these jokers don’t want to debate in the Parliament anymore. It’s a lot like playing for IPL and playing for the country. Why argue in Parliament when you can do that from the comfort of your own home and, in some cases, get paid an appearance fee as well?

Ever wondered why politicians outlive most of us?

You think they have the power to do anything else once they are done ‘arguing’ for the day!?

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