B L Saraf
After a hectic day’s wear and tear it is quite natural that, in the evening, our urge is to go for unwinding and look out for some kind of recreation just to sooth the ruffled nerves and help physical body recuperate . As a measure of enjoyment and some kind of instrument to unburden ourselves we look to explore an avenue of amusement which, in addition, may add a fraction to our knowledge. To have them, a TV screen in the living room comes handy. But once switched on we rue the decision as the worst of both is in store for us. Move to the other channel and it is the story retold . Barring few, viewing a TV channel has become an ordeal – it is obnoxiously irritating and on occasions a nauseating feeling pervades. It is a bedlam, all over. Screaming, yelling and highly opinionated anchors pounce upon anyone who tries to make sense. Every sane voice is drowned and, unashamedly, only a pliable and designed voice is given the mike . For most of the TV channels sensationalism and the sectarian rubble rousing are the marketable commodities. And what a pity ! Majority of the viewing public buy them .
It will not be an overstatement to say that our society is comprehensively overtaken by sensationalism: thanks, largely, to the TRP hungry TV Channels and the political masters who want public attention to be deflected from the real issues people have to contend with. In the TRP race, for sure, truth and facts are the causality. This overdose of sensationalism has , apart from killing the truth, torn asunder our fragile society . Suspicion rules our minds . We tend to see and judge everything in terms of religion and belief . A highly polarizing content is freely and deliberately aired.
There used to be time, in not so in distant past, when both print and visual media would conscientiously avoid naming or identifying communalities or community members in a communal strife. That was the unwritten code well adhered to . We live in a time when to bolster the political game and increase TRP even a plain and simple commercial dispute, where parties belong to different faiths, is turned into a polarizing debate and days and days of precious time is spent on the bogus debates . More often than not, the divisive narrative has a political blessing . Things have come to such a ugly pass that students making to the competitive posts, on merit, are accused of having made it on the ” machinations of the community leaders where UPSC is portrayed as a conniving partner.
It is somewhat comforting that the Apex Court has taken cognizance of the matter and ordered stoppage of airing a blatantly communal show on a particular TV Channel . In whole of the winter protests against Citizenship Amendment Act and the NRC were used to raise the communal flame . Even spread of COVID was attributed to a religious function organized by a particular community and the participants , who had come from all over the world were dubbed as ‘ Super Spreaders , driven by a design.” It took courts in various parts of the country to debunk the theory and acquit them of the charge .
The country is going through very bad times . Corona virus is at the door of everyone of us. Any time it can sneak in and devour us in a lump. Things have reached a stage where it may be a survival of few and the death of many . In this situation , more than medical care (which is missing everywhere) people need psychological and emotional therapy . Instead of it, some of the TV channels do everything to pollute our minds, by prying on the weaknesses , so viciously as to set up one community against the other . Result; the sufferers are the disempowered multitudes .
To the utter misfortune of the nation , we have created a situation where hate speech mongers think hate makes them popular among the masses . By looking the other way, the state has, unwittingly, blessed the argument. It is the tragedy that a we have almost lost sense of making a right kind of distinction. This madness has to stop somewhere .
The Apex court has raised legitimate apprehensions on the role of some TV channels on fomenting the communal trouble. The blatantly communal program has been stopped from being aired. The court felt constrained to give a word of caution “Let a message go the media that a particular community cannot be targeted . We have to look after a nation of future which is cohesive and diverse .” The Court has suggested that a panel of apolitical experts be set up to help self regulating the media .
The nation has to think? How long will courts go on to correct the course which is essentially a job of the executive. These days everything has become rabidly political. Even the deadly COVID -19 has been turned into a political football where Centre throws it in the state’s court and states do the opposite. Result, thousands lay dead unattended. One has to understand that political issues are seldom settled by the courts. Too much dependence on legal instruments to solve political and social problems sometimes proves counterproductive. The issue of rabble rousing TV channels squarely falls in the political domain, so there has to be a political answer to it which only the state can provide. Once that is done the legal aspect will stand taken care of, automatically.
(The author is former Principal District and Sessions Judge)