06 Dec 2019

Yes, Arnab, we are a “shameless bunch”, പക്ഷെ ലജ്ജ താങ്കളിൽ നിന്നും പഠിക്കാനില്ല!

By: Web Desk | Saturday 1 September 2018 3:24 PM IST

Idukki flood- janayugom


Jaykhosh Chidambaran (90 lycean)

This is not something I would ordinarily write on a public page, but times are such that if not now, when?

My friends and acquaintances in and from Kerala have played a huge role in shaping my way of thinking, which is the only thing I am proud of having achieved in this lifetime so far. I was introduced to this brand of the argumentative citizen when, in my master’s class in Manipal, I studied alongside a group of Malayalis, many of them men (who can be sexist, stubborn and insufferable at times). In their company, many of us developed our critical thinking abilities and learnt to voice our opinions without fear of censure. We were studying politics, culture, society and media, and there was so much to be understood. To have come from a sheltered background where you were expected to follow rules without question or argument, could only make you conform or suffer isolation if you rejected that way of thinking. This was an entirely new experience: discuss, debate, disagree, but stay friends at the end of it. Heated exchanges took place in class, which would carry over outside the class, and then at the mess over lunch, then at Side Shack during tea and at Press Cart during breaks between classes. It was beautiful.

It took me a few years after graduating from Manipal to understand what made a majority of Malayalis this way. They carry a unique identity that no other regional-linguistic community can lay claim to. It is not just language that binds them, but also the values of critical thinking and political debate. Some of the most creative work I have had the good fortune to experience comes out of this narrow strip of land.

It isn’t surprising why, though. Kerala was an entrepôt for ideas along with traded goods, since ancient times. The Muzuris port in the Malabar traded with Romans, Persians, Greeks, Egyptians etc. Later, spice trade forged strong links with Arab and Phoenician traders. Those who don’t understand the attention that Kerala has received from the Gulf countries are not familiar with the historical links between them and Kerala, which predate the formation of India.

It is through Kerala that the world’s major religions entered the Indian peninsula in ancient times: Judaism, Christianity (in various denominations), Islam, which found followers in Kerala. The arrival of these philosophies fostered a form of syncreticism that grew organically and which continues to sustain, in a way that the rest of India should learn. There is perhaps no other state in the country that can set an example for India’s claim to diversity like Kerala can. And this diversity forms the bedrock of its identity as much as does its language.

The Malayali people fiercely protect their right to think, their right to believe, and their right to voice an opinion. Through indefatigable efforts at creating a culture of public debate, they have developed a reasonably common vision for their state. Labour rights, land reforms…

No voices are distinctly heard in any large Indian fish market. It’s a vibrant and dynamic place though, where noise predominates rational discussion. Amidst the cacophony and pandemonium, the fish merchant, by virtue of years of vocal training, manages his decibels to supersede the public chatter. If there is one place that marks a striking semblance to a fish market dynamics, through its tone and timbre, it’s Arnab Goswami’s Nation Wants to Know at Republic TV!!

Fish merchants do work for profit and are vociferous but compassionate souls without any malicious intent. Even if they arrive at least on a diluted consensus on the price; lest a full consensus, the transaction is done. But here is the conspicuous difference in an Arnab show! While a fish merchant opens his trade without any preconceived notion, Arnab has a premeditated agenda, often prejudiced and conforming to the slanted political discourse of his promoters and their cronies.

Ever since language was invented by human beings in their evolutionary journey, its predominant social function was that of communion. Listening is an integral part of that process. But by some inexplicable program of nature, the panel discussion participants in an Arnab show never listen, because they are constantly interrupted by the anchor himself, whose faculties are, unfortunately ill developed for listening to a full sentence. The consequence is nothing but an ever increasing crescendo of white noise and confusion which, the hapless viewers are forced to endure!!

According to conventional journalistic principles and media ethics, only the news should be presented, undiluted and objectively to the general public. It’s in the domain of the viewers after listening and exposed to a variety of view points to form their own conclusions and deliver judgement about the topic of discussion.

The days of such unbiased reporting are over, especially in an Arnab show where he screams, heckles, shouts, retorts hysterically by throwing counter questions, humiliates and by frequently interrupting anyone voicing dissident views. He resorts to aggressive tactics like ad hominem remarks so as to subject the diffident panel to his ulterior motives.

The entire nation knows where his parochial loyalties lie now after adorning the helm of Republic TV, given his promoters political affiliations. Instead of the firebrand journalist he was,committed to social causes, champion of pluralism and exposing political scandals, he has shamelessly reduced and disgraced himself into a spin doctor of the ruling right wing radicals, whose realpolitik manifesto is a homogeneous, ultra nationalist Hindu nation.

As a result, topics related to micro and macroeconomic policies of the incumbent BJP government, directly affecting the common man feature less in his news hour debates. The demonetization fiasco, chronic unemployment and decline in industrial and manufacturing output, soaring petrol prices, farmers suicides, lynching of Dalits by Sangh Parivar hooligans, threats to secular democracy and pluralism, alarming depreciation of rupee are not national issues to his Channel.

He is more concerned about cultural nationalism, whether Congress party is playing dirty politics in Kerala flood, whether it’s proper for Navjot Singh Sidhu to hug a Pakistani army chief, church conspiracy against a paranoid Modi, Zakir Naik’s antinational hate campaigns, casting couch, why cow is a holy animal and mother to cow worshippers to the validity of chanting Bharat Mata Ki Jai etc etc. And he claims to be a serious journalist!!

His personal integrity and professional ethics are questioned when his erstwhile employer Times Now have lodged a court case against him for stealing intellectual property. An FIR was also filed against him for abetting the suicide of an interior designer in Alibaug over non-payment dues.

In a latest episode of his hysterical rants, he slammed the people of Kerala, suffering from a worst natural disaster in over a century as “shameless bunch” begging and distorting facts on financial aid from other sovereign nations, especially the UAE. It’s quite unfortunate that he is ignorant of the basic difference between voluntary aid and begging. He is convinced that Keralites have tarnished the image of India as an economic power, self reliant on finance!!

This is interesting when 400 million people of India don’t have a choice of what to eat for daily meals but whether to eat!! And India’s current GDP per capita is 126th in the world. Also for him, it doesn’t come under the definition of shameless when in India, there is open defecation,when people are murdered for eating beef, cows being worshipped as mother, drinking cow urine, honor killing is still rampant in rural communities,when western media reports ridiculous comments by BJP ministers including the Prime Minister on ancient Indian scientific accomplishments.

Is he frustrated with abysmally low performance of BJP in Kerala? Doesn’t he know that the Human Development Indices of Kerala are at par with West European nations? And most of the non-economic factors like literacy, primary health care, education, infant mortality ratio, sanitation and hygiene, political awareness etc are the best in the country? And can boast as one of the best workforce in the world?

Or is he completely unaware that Keralites believe that a dog barking at the Sun, causes no harm…?

His stature is now of a petty politician than that of a dignified journalist.

He is case study of what journalism ought not to be…

The nation wants to know his real agenda…!!


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