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Farahnaz Ispahani's forthcoming book is on Pakistan’s religious minorities.
America needs its president to illuminate and lead, not sink into petulant aloofness
Now that the football World Cup is all but over, we will have to find something else about which to moan and groan, and bemoan. Isn’t that what you did when Brazil left a gaping hole in front of their goal and allowed the Germans to shoot into it seven times? Even German supporters must have felt tears of pity spring to their eyes.
Watching the news doesn’t make you weep. These days, it leaves you cold — yes, even in these oppressively hot and humid weather conditions. Cold and almost yearning for the good old times when the airwaves were overheated with the sound and fury of Narendra Modi, the self-righteous cough of Arvind Kejriwal and the importantly earnest Rahul Gandhi.
From the time Anna Hazare fasted on the Lokpal and Baba Ramdev dressed up in a woman’s clothes right before our disbelieving eyes to evade the police in the summer of 2011, till the general elections in the summer of 2014, TV news has been the most popular daily soap opera on the small screen.
Each day saw a new assault on the hapless and helpless UPA government — be it from Mamata Banerjee, Hazare, Kejriwal or Modi — the latter two throwing everything rotten at the Manmohan Singh government after the winter of 2012, when Kejriwal broke with Hazare to begin the Aam Aadmi Party and Modi won the Gujarat assembly elections. The gangrape of a young woman on December 16, 2012, assaulted our sensibilities and only added to the public outrage against the Central government, captured and capitalised upon by the news channels.
Television news thus became the arena for public disenchantment and political battles, where the Congress was battered and hammered (just like Brazil was on the football field, Tuesday) and each night we watched the spectacle with fascination, delight and sometimes even growing horror. Alongside the BJP, TV anchors led by Arnab Goswami harangued everyone in sight and even out of it — and didn’t we just lap it all up?
But now that the Congress and UPA have been laid so low and a new government has taken charge, TV news seems as flat as a three-day old open soda pop. No matter how hard Arnab G tries to give vent to his anger on TMC MP Tapas Paul for his appalling comments on rape, the fizz is just not there. Rajdeep Sardesai, who was also exercised by all manner of outrageous behaviour, is missing from the box and, while Karan Thapar (Headlines Today) tries to come to the point with razor-sharp questions, his efforts appear blunted.
Or maybe the fault lies in the viewer continued…