Sunday, February 5, 2023
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Nitish Kumar to Shrikant Tyagi—TV news has no time for patriotism. But Amitabh Bachchan, CWG do

Weren’t you looking forward to archival footage, documentaries, and informed discussions on India’s Independence on TV news? Tough luck.

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There are cakes, pastries, and mithai in the colours of the Indian national flag at a sweets shop in Lucknow (Good News Today); in Bhopal, a cruise ship is decked out in saffron, white, and green balloons along with the Tricolour fluttering in the breeze (India Today); and in television promos, Indians are urged to hoist the national flag at their homes, so that this weekend, it would be ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’.

If this is insufficient to bring the ‘Indian’ out in you just four days before the 76th Independence Day or make you spring to your feet and rush out waving the Tricolour, shouting ‘India! India! India!’, then we have just the man to ferret out the patriot in you: Arvind Kejriwal.

Every day, every hour, on each and every news channel, he appears with his toothy grin delivering a speech that is worthy of being delivered from the ramparts of the Red Fort, if, indeed, he were the Prime Minister of India. Since he is not in that august position, he is doing the best he can by flooding airwaves with his advertisements of himself, and, of course, his fellow countrymen: “Ab Bharat rukega nahin…(India won’t stop moving forward now)” he proclaims, as hundreds of school children fill the screen. Kejriwal finishes off with the patriotic trinity: ‘Vande MataramBharat Mata ki JaiJai Hind!’ (Just how much is the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi spending on these advertorials? Why not give ‘revdi’ instead?

What’s selling on TV

Is your soul unmoved by his rousing clarion call? Are you, even now, despairing of this great nation as you watch TV news tell you that it took at least eight teams of the Uttar Pradesh police to catch the ‘Gaali Baaz Gunda’ (ABP News), that ‘Goon Neta’ (India Today) – Shrikant Tyagi – who led them a merry dance for four days before being arrested in Meerut?

By the way, did you notice how the senior police officer had to politely request him to remove his mask during a live TV broadcast?

Were you dejected by the sight of the ‘paltu’ Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of Janta Dal United as he deserted the BJP and walked across the road (or aisle) to Rashtriya Janta Dal leader Rabri Devi’s house and tied the Mahagathbandhan knot — once again, in what an NDTV 24×7 anchor dubbed as a ‘bloodless coup… a political surgical strike…’?

Nobody would blame you if you are not exactly bursting with national pride as you watch these antics on television news and feel unable to sing ‘Saare jahan se achha, Hindustan hamara…’ as it plays across channels in other government TV promos broadcast to celebrate 75 years of Independence.

But don’t worry, be happy: Help is at hand. And it comes from two different sources: the Commonwealth Games (Sony 10 Sports) and the latest season of Kaun Banega Crorepati (Sony).

It’s strange but true that till now, television news has been so consumed with the day-to-day affairs of the nation that it has had no time to dwell on such an important milestone in India’s history – 75 years is no mean achievement. You would have thought that at least a week before 15 August, news channels would have been celebrating it – just as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has exhorted us to do.

Weren’t you looking forward to a remembrance of things past – archival footage, documentaries, and even informed discussions on India’s Independence and how it was achieved?

No such thing.

In the absence of any patriotic fervour from TV news anchors, who see themselves as the cheerleaders of national pride – isn’t it Republic TV that says it puts the ‘Nation First’– we had Indian sports heroes at the Commonwealth Games, and KBC with actor and host Amitabh Bachchan, his guests, including actor Aamir Khan, Sena Medal winner Col. Mitali Madhumita, Kargil War hero Major D. P. Singh (Retd), to shout out loud, “Garv se kaho, hum Hindustani hain!”

The Indian flag was unfurled at the CWG 61 times — 22 times for a gold medal. Sunday and Monday were gold letter days as India won the top spot several times each day. From P. V. Sindhu and Lakshya Sen in badminton to Eldhose Paul in the men’s triple jump, and many others in between, India’s athletes made you sing ‘Jana Gana Mana…’ proudly.

Made you feel good.

Also read: More cricket, no chess — India’s sports channels are hurting national pride

On the hot seat

Next is KBC, where a dapper Bachchan in a black bandhgala (oh dear, isn’t ‘black’ getting a bad name these days after the Congress wore black clothes at its nationwide protests last week?) began season 14 of the quiz show with a patriotic poem: Hum woh veeron ke vanshaj hain.

The first episode was all about being a proud Indian from the moment Bachchan introduced Aamir Khan as a perfectionist for whom the ‘nation comes first’. This happened amid calls for a boycott of his film Lal Singh Chaddha releasing today as it happens.

Then there was the choice of the courageous Madhumita and Singh as his two guests; later, boxer Mary Kom and India’s football captain Sunil Chhetri would occupy the hot seat. Many questions were related to India’s freedom movement, Independence, and the sound of ‘Vande Mataram’ rang out from the audience with the Tricolour everywhere – it was all about loving India.

Now, that’s more like it.

Do we need TV news or government advertisements to rouse our patriotic feelings? Not really. Still, a little show-sha doesn’t harm anyone…

Views are personal.

(Edited by Humra Laeeq)

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