The world’s largest ‘cultural’ organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Organization) recently met with the minister responsible for what is probably, in real terms, the world’s smallest ‘culture’ ministry, the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. Under Khaki shorts, size does matter. The big tell the small, what’s what.
Guest post by MANAV BHUSHAN
Assaulted as we are by the deafening cacophony of India’s 24-hour news channels (183 of them, as Manav Bhushan tells us below), there are some of us who for a long time now, have simply refused to appear on TV “debates”, to give them sound bytes to be seamlessly incorporated into their endlessly looping mindlessness. Essentially, we have exercised a politics of refusal – we will not add to the din. At a recent meeting on media ethics at the Indian Women’s Press Corps, I had expressed a fervent desire that every single 24-hour news channel should shut shop for one week while they went into deep introspection – one week of blessedly blank screens, one week of healing quiet in which people could once again learn to listen, to remember that there can be more than 2 or 3 sound-bytes through which to capture the complexities of the world in which we live. MANAV BHUSHAN makes a more radical suggestion below – that we exercise the only power we have under capitalism, our power as consumers, and exercise a week-long boycott of a news channel for specific reasons, to force drastic changes to its policy and style of functioning. “In an age where each channel depends more on our TRPs than we do on any one of them, we hold enormous, albeit unrealized power,” he says. Over to Manav:
In a speech delivered at the Reuters memorial lecture in November 2012 at Oxford University discussing the Indian news industry, Prannoy Roy candidly said that ”Indian news is currently in a race to the bottom”. He further added that upon comparing the average TV viewership in India (1 hour) to that in the US (5 hours), one is led to the utterly dismal conclusion that this race is far from over. Of course, this is nothing new, and anyone who has followed the ‘debates’ (if you can call them that) on the extremely unfortunate incidents at the LOC can testify that the shows conducted by Arnab Goswami and Barkha Dutt were less news and more war-mongering. In fact, the brutal truth about the flourishing news industry- which has gone from one state-run news channel to 183 independent news channels in just 25 years- is that many of its members are in the business of blackmail, of selling sex, violence and are prepared to go to any lengths for the sake of advertising revenues. And there is a difference, though subtle, between advertising revenues and television rating points (TRPs). Continue reading A crumbling fourth pillar, and the forgotten politics of boycott: Manav Bhushan
The Congress Party will use the occassion of Ambedkar Jayanti tommorow to reach out to UP’s Dalits. Commenting on this, NDTV says, “Mayawati, who knows a thing or two about appropriating the Dalit legacy, is going on the offensive as well.”
Appropriating? Hello! You mean to say Rahul Gandhi is a Dalit and Mayawati a half-Italian, one-fourths Parsi and one-fourth Kashmiri Pandit, trying to pass off as an Allahbad Brahmin and collecting Dalit votes on the side?
Of course there will be other memorable celebrations, but they won’t be as ‘news-worthy’.
Gnani Sankaran is a noted Tamil writer who lives in Chennai.
Watching at least four English news channels surfing from one to another during the last 60 hours of terror strike made me feel a terror of another kind. The terror of assaulting one’s mind and sensitivity with cameras, sound bites and non-stop blabbers. All these channels have been trying to manufacture my consent for a big lie called – Hotel Taj the icon of India.