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It’s been NamosteTV since we last met. Last Thursday, it was Na-no-lynching speech at Sabarmati Ashram; on Friday it was Na-yes-GST, live from Central Hall in Parliament; by Monday, it had become NaMosteIsrael (India Today), a day before the PM visited the country and by Tuesday, TV news was waving “Shalom Namo’ste” (NDTV 24×7) greetings along with the Indian and Israeli flags. Why TV news cannot simply say, “Modi in Israel” like Times Now did or “Namaste Israel” (DD News), and spare viewers the spelling bee games, is a mystery for Maigret to solve once he’s done on BBC First (Zee Café).
Many news channels sent senior reporters/anchors to visit Israel and get the all important interview with young Moshe, his Indian nanny Sandra and if they were lucky, Moshe’s grandfather. This done, NDTV 24×7 spoke to university students, India Today to a lawyer and a journalist, Times Now revisited Chabad House in Mumbai — a target of the 26/11 terrorist attack — drones flew in and out of Hindi news channels, ABP informed us that Albert Einstein was asked to be the first president of the new country and CNN News 18 spoke to Israel’s “new convoy” to India. Sorry, don’t usually pick on spelling errors but couldn’t resist.
And since we are on the subjects of trivial pursuits, pause and consider the meaning of “Exclusive”. Padmaja Joshi’s interview with Moshe, telecast on Wednesday was labelled “Exclusive” (India Today); technically, that is correct: Joshi’s chat with the young boy was unique to the extent that no one else could have had the exact same conversation. However, by then we had already seen and listened to Moshe interviews on other channels so this was no scoop. As to the meaning of “Super Exclusive” which is used frequently by Republic, well, once again, we’ll leave it to Maigret, although this is probably beyond his powers of detection too.
The best aspect of the live broadcast by an Israeli TV channel of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu welcoming Modi at Tel Aviv airport? We could hear the leaders speaking to each other and during the introductions to their officials.
If Modi’s Israel visit was “historic” (CNN News 18), so was GST. And to be fair, news channels did whatever it takes in the great scheme of things (aka gst) to explain the new tax regime in a way that would not tax our brains too much — from interviews with ministers, explained with ministers and finance officials to economists, chartered accountants, traders and flow charts of how much what would now cost. If you still didn’t understand, put it down to the nature of the tax slabs and your (limited) powers of comprehension. TV news really tried.
For instance, last week News State explained how and why tennis balls and badminton racquets cost more under GST in Uttarakhand; Tuesday, ABP showed how restaurants bills varied from state to state depending on their previous VAT charges, as well as the state of the Bhilwara textile industry — it’s in the ICU, said the reporter, ventilator next.
Modi’s speech against lynching and President Pranab Mukherjee’s on “mob frenzy” Saturday, had at least one convert: Zee News on Sunday evening discussed both issues and asked hard questions. Zee News? Well, well, well. Now, that must rank as an exclusive.
It was heartening to hear Times Now say categorically that it was against the lynchings and in sympathy with all “Muslims” who were victims of such barbarity but worryingly, The Newshour debate on Thursday was more about the #NotInMyName protests being organised outside the country in Karachi, London, etc., than the protests in India and the reasons for them — surely, it ought to have been the other way around?
Meanwhile, a word of praise — yes praise! — for Mirror Now and in particular anchor Faye D’Souza and The Urban Debate which is broadcast at the same time as the other usual suspects. Anchors, ahoy: D’Souza has a few lessons for you. She is calm but critical and seldom raises her voice or asks fully phaltu questions like, “Are you an Indian?” (Times Now). She conducts the debates with great aplomb — remember her firm but composed reply to Maulana Abbas who asked her to wear underwear on her show — listens to her guests and doesn’t allow it to descend into chaos. You are actually better informed at the end of the debate than before it began.
Now, why can’t others be like her?