Friday, May 29, 2015

Navel gazing

Ukraine made news around the world — except on Indian TV.

Police detain a protester demonstrating against the Russian military's actions in Crimea. (AP) Police detain a protester demonstrating against the Russian military's actions in Crimea. (AP)
Published on:March 6, 2014 12:08 am

On Tuesday morning, the TV anchor on Times Now was beside himself. Why, he wanted to know, was “VIP treatment” meted out to Sahara’s Subrata Roy, who, he told us every other sentence, had a “non-bailable warrant” against him? The Times Now reporter outside the Sup­reme Court, where Roy had arrived at lunch time, was unable to enlighten him.

But he did have many other delectable details: Roy had travelled to Delhi in his own luxury vehicle — an SUV, a Scorpio to boot — he was escorted by his henchmen, and he’d had the temerity to stay at a government guesthouse. This, the ­reporter suggested, had so incensed one Manoj Sharma that he had thrown ink at Roy for “duping the common people” (sounds like Sharma is an Arvind Kejriwal acolyte?). That was not all: Roy’s “stooges” then beat up Sharma. (A fact disputed by NDTV 24×7, which claimed that Sharma was roughed up by the police).

Listening to this account, the anchor was righteously indignant: why was the police not there to detain this man (Sharma)? Why did his “stooges” beat up this man? Where (for hea­ven’s sake) was the police in all this? Exactly, re­p­lied the reporter, ple­ased with the anch­or’s understanding of the situation, that is the question at this moment (roughly 1.30 pm) — where is the police? Where exactly is the police? Since neither of them seemed to know, Times Now returned to footage on Roy going partially blue in the face (with the ink) and to featuring the worthy Mr Sharma.

This is the quality of reporting on ­television news. Make of it what you will. By the way, there’s a new popular word on Times Now that other channels may soon adopt. On Monday night, the news channel discussed the “uber flats” near the president’s estate; on Tuesday, it was wondering at the “uber treatment” being accorded to Roy. Uber obscure is all we can say.

Momentous events are taking place in Ukraine, but they are apparently not crucial enough for our news channels to tear themselves away from the usual discussions on their favourite election triangle: Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi and Kejriwal. So it is good to be able to compliment DD News and Rajya Sabha TV for discussing the latest developments in Ukraine, Tuesday night.
Speaking of Rajya Sabha TV, it’s got what looks like a really informative and interesting series on the making of the Indian Constitution. Samvidhaan (Sunday) by Shyam Benegal is a dramatic reconstruction of how our Constitution was framed.

It has a good ensemble, led by Sachin Khedekar as B.R. Ambedkar and Tom Alter as Maulana Azad with actor Swara Bhaskar as the host who leads you through. Told in a series of discussions and conversations between the protagonists, the first episode was dramatic and simple enough …continued »

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