I glimpsed upon a handful of political debates, talk shows and celebrity interviews during the Indian elections in May 2014. While not new to me, certain things stuck me as issues plaguing the quality of journalism in India, especially TV journalism. While the majority of the common peoples view politics in an over-simplified, dramatic, polarized way, a small cream of the population, of which media is definitely a constituent, is more aware of how governments are run, administration happens and politics influences the outcome of day to day as well as things strategic. In my view, the media has the responsibility if not for educating people on politics, for not fueling the fire of ignorance. What you see on TV journalism is just the opposite. They pick politicians, speakers, debaters, experts, sycophants – and in every case the choice of people is such that they are not capable of critical thinking. While that is well known, my realization of late has been that they are not also capable of civilized talking. Debating is important to the intellectual growth of society. Debating requires that people don’t just talk, but also listen. Pause while others talk, wait for your turn, stick to your allotted time, don’t shoot the messenger, take good ideas even from enemies – these are fundamentals we have been taught since we were children, but it is sad to see even the journalists ignore these rules.
After the elections were over, Modi had taken his role as PM, Rajdeep Sardesai, a respected, well-respected journalist, conducted a talk-show with the idea of analyzing/ critiquing Modi’s choice of ministers against the different portfolios. To be sure, analysis of the ministerial crew from a meritocratic point of view, itself is a giant improvement for India. Rajdeep kept using the word “inclusivity” to mean the representation of states, castes, parties etc…in the choice Modi made of specific individuals. I watched a ex-PMO guy mention exactly what was going through my head – inclusivity has nothing to do with representation or identity politics. It has everything to do with the nature of policies, reforms and initiatives taken by the government. THEY will determine whether the government was inclusive or not.
Rajdeep, of course, promptly ignored the idea and went on using the word inclusivity he always did. Such is the state of Indian TV media.