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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Telescope: Political fodder

News channels seem bullish about the cow

Written by Shailaja Bajpai | Published: April 20, 2017 12:42:21 am
thane, mumbai, illegal cow trade, mumbai gau rakshak, mumbai cow transportation, thane news, mumbai cow news, mumbai news, india news, indian express news The gentle mammal almost rivals the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh for coverage. (Photo used for representational purpose)

They’ve really milked them, haven’t they? Cows. Did you ever see so many of them on television before? Staring at us with those soft, big, beautiful eyes, herded in trucks, wandering the streets or grazing in barren fields.

The gentle mammal almost rivals the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh for coverage. Actually, take that back: The latter wins easily, being on Hindi TV news channels, daily. No other chief minister, even a BJP chief minister, has received commensurate coverage, feted and toasted all the way: It’s all about “Yogi ke UP mein” (News Nation). On Monday, India TV actually did a one month report card on the UP CM: “Yogi ke 30 din — bade faisle” and celebrated how much he has achieved in such little time.

In fact, just one politician receives more coverage than the CM of India’s largest state — the prime minister. Arvind Kejriwal is also in the picture: After losing the bypoll in Delhi, he’s giving interviews, “tampering” with the truth about AAP’s defeat? (NDTV 24×7 and CNN News 18).

Back to the beloved animal. As you watch the cows, perhaps mooing over a fate they don’t control, you think that maybe TV news should ask them, “Aapko kaise lag raha hai?” I am sure if they are asked how they feel about all this unsolicited attention, they’d reply, we feel had.

Why? Because they are being used as a backdrop for a political drama, for stories on violence around cow protection, on demands for cow slaughter bans. And they’re on everyone’s lips as fodder for talk in the endless evenings of TV debates.

Otherwise, they’re discriminated against. Have you seen a cow show? There’s one named after birds — Chidiya Ghar (Sab TV). It’s about bird-witted human beings — but not after a cow. Snakes are everywhere: Icchadhaari naagins and wicked Naagin 2 (Colors). Sankat Mochan Mahabali Hanumaan (Sony) celebrates the monkey god, and, last week, Aaj Tak devoted a full afternoon show — Dharm — to “Jai Hanuman”. Why, there’s even a news channel,as you very well know, named after a carnivorous animal: That guy — guy, not gau — Bill O’Reilly has been making news on CNN and other media, as an accused in multiple sexual harassment cases. He’s a news anchor for Fox News.

And a Tiger named Shroff appeared on Extraaa Innings, Sunday (IPL, Sony Six), trying to kick a tennis ball for our edification. There are even cricketers with names like Crowe, Hogg and (Nathan) Lyon — clearly, the Australian spinner is no Spelling Bee — argh, there we go again. Why can’t there be a Spelling Cow?

We say we’re really bullish about the cow but doesn’t it seem like we simply cow-tow for political reasons?

Speaking of the IPL, are you enjoying Sunil Gavaskar’s new trim, straightened hair? Harsha Bhogle’s return to the commentary microphone in Hindi? Listening to ladies like Anjum Chopra do ball-by-ball commentary of what has always been regarded as a gentleman’s game? The Zoozoo ads which are really delightful? The cheerleaders — including a gent? What about the quiz during Extraaa Innings, where commentators are asked, “What does YOLO stand for?” If you’re Ajay Jadeja, you plead ignorance and age as an excuse for “not knowing”: “You only live once”. TTYL? Talk to you later.

And then, of course, there are the games where the ball soars as high as the temperature at each venue and throughout India. If you watched Sudarshan News’s programmes on how Sambhal was in danger of becoming another Kashmir, “Sambhal ko Kashmir banane ki saazish”, you will understand why the channel’s leading light, Suresh Chavanke, was arrested last week: The video telecast by the channel, allegedly showing Muslims “butchers” seemingly attacking (a cow?) in Sambhal and stone pelting, is hazy, unclear and of uncertain date, time and geography.

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