By M. Burhanuddin Qasmi
( The author is a Mumbai based freelancer and an educator )
How many television channels are there in India? Most Indians do not know the exact number, not very easy to know either; too many with regional ones. All channels are working for their bread and butter, and there is nothing wrong in it. Free press is a standing pillar in any democracy and TV media is, of course, a part of Indian press or media.
However, I generally do not watch TV channels for news or views because they have lost credibility, with very rare exceptions. I, instead, prefer newspapers, online portals and follow social media over present-day channels.
Today, pained by the heavy loss of our Jawans in Pulwama terror attack, 14 February 2019, I was surfing news channels, one after the other, to watch some real discussions or debates on Pulwama incidence vis-a-vis Kashmir to understand how such a big scale attack could have been possible by a terror outfit with our intelligence agencies clueless.
I was, as usual, disappointed finding all the hate machines were extra active with full on energy without much sane voices. I actually find it hard to cope with most of these noise polluting evil boxes which in guise of journalism, sell hate, enmity and hot chillies to us Indians. The horrible anchors who are sitting in some of these polished and conditioned ghost houses behave like Bhaais, in Mumbaikers sense, who actually forced us to be out of TV media, as consumers.
On the way, walking on remote set, from English channels to the Hindi ones, my eyes stuck at a new TV channel – Surya Samachar, where Punya Prasun Bajpai, a known face in Indian TV journalism, was interviewing his guest Shah Faisal, the 2009 UPSC topper and a popular Kashmiri youth icon. I took interest in that interview and decided to watch it.
To my shock, just after two or three minutes, there appeared that things were not normal at the end where Shah Faisal was speaking from. He abruptly stood up from his chair in between the interview, uttered something not clearly audible, smiled and took off his mike. The TV screen got changed and the anchor Mr. Bajpai later made it clear that he was interviewing Shah Faisal who was sitting in Hotel Ashoka, a famous star hotel in New Delhi from his channel’s studio. The interview began following due process of permission from the hotel, as the ground reporter explained on air, but later the hotel forced the reporter to stop it immediately.
Whatever the reason might have been, Shah Faisal was speaking like a wise Indian with enlighten arguments. The long-term solution lies in talking with our own Kashmiris, shutting up sane voices will take us no where. The hotel management and the channel owner may better explain why and how they were forced to air off an ongoing interview of a bright Indian.
It was my first experience with this new channel ‘Surya Samachar’. I happened to be there just today, 16 February 2019, by chance. Nonetheless, it was a good experience to share with you all. Following the Shah Faisal saga, the anchor – Punya Prasun Bajpai, began with his ‘Golmez Sammelan’ or Round Table Conference, talk show.
The title of the talkshow itself was a bit interesting to stay a few more minutes with the channel. The theme was also something I was looking for today- Kashmir: the way forward. I might agree or disagree with what the four penalists argued during their discussion on a very sensitive topic at a very volatile phase of time but I was pleased to observe cool anchoring and right selection of penalists.
All four participants were academians. They all are working professors in our reputed central universities in Delhi with handy know how about the subject matter. They discussed, agreed and disagreed but never shouted at each other. They were pained and saddened by the appalling terror strike at Pulwama in Kashmir, as they said, but were cool, composed and wise in their expressions and selection of words.
A large section of India’s television media became a part of problem. The senity is reducing each day which may cause permanent harm to this Nation. Most TV channels are like a murder of crows, crying high in the deep jungle and creating havoc to the nearby human inhabitation.
A famous Arabic saying when translated in English goes like: ‘The wounds caused by swords are inhaled with time but the cuts caused by words remain never inhaled.’