Sunday, February 25, 2018
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tv channnels

Whither TV channels? This is the question that many of us are asking following the sickening and repetitive manner in which news items are covered. When any sensational incident occurs there is panic all over the country. And we see so much of it on the TV screen that we get used to it, get bored with it and a time comes when we do not want to see all that any more. We want to forget it. We take a look at other channels. Has the TV hardened us ? It would seem that the repeated telecast of the same pictures , the same shouts and cries, the same protests, the same assurances, the same resolutions to fight terrorism   churn our mind to throw us into a whirlpool of confusion. All this, and much more is repeated with such sickening monotony that all of it seems to be a nightmare, a bitter dream that is  best forgotten. Our nerves are deadened because of over-hammering by TV visuals and audio onslaughts.  If there is a case of abduction, rape and murder, the whole thing is shown a hundred times, the physical outrages are shown over and over again sending one’s head reeling in disgust  till all that, instead of arousing anger or pity,  becomes sickening, disgusting. It ceases to shock. People long for normal time; and when they see news channels telecasting normal bulletins, they feel so much relieved.


Recall the days when there was no TV. Senior citizens would remember the partition riots. Only newspaper pictures were available. The rest of it was left to the imagination of the readers. And one did not read the newspaper for all the 24 hours to repeatedly go through the same story, as the TV channels force us to do.. The newspaper was just read once; and not all items were read either. The main impression lingered in the minds of the readers. Something terrible had happened. Just recall the 1962  war with the Chinese. Then again remember the 1965 and the  1971 wars with Pakistan. There was no TV channel to incite or excite. There was no TV anchor to say that the Defence Minister had changed his clothes thrice within a few hours. The core of the news mattered. And volunteers rushed out of their homes to be available for social service organizations which were spearheading relief operations and conducting  fund-collection drives for the Jawans. The trains on the Railway stations, carrying our Jawans were being greeted by thousands of admirers on the packed platforms. The army-men were drawing deafening applause. Donations were coming in torrents.

Today you do not see all that. Why ? Because you  don’t want to be out on the road. You hear people saying that they are rushing homewards to watch the war scenes on their TV news channels. The Railway Stations have ceased to attract people to see the Jawans. The people stay at home to watch on their TV sets how the army men are conducting an operation to flush out terrorists – whether inside a house in Jammu and  Kashmir or inside the Parliament House or inside Akshardham temple. When war scenes from the front or reports of the terrorist attacks are brought live into your  bed-rooms, you might not be even interested in  waiting  for a newspaper because the TV reporter is talking to you from the spot round the clock. Our mood, our sensibilities, our temper  are all shaped by the news telecasts. If they do not move the cameras from the battle fronts, we stay with them. And when the staying becomes too monotonous,  with repeated telecasts  enforcing the law of diminishing  utility we lose all interest and go back to the ‘ Jodha Akbar’ thriller  or watch a movie in the cinema channels or just see the  ‘Balika Badhu’ show or  plunge ourselves into the world of Internet.No wonder, with the passage of time, all hue and cry against terrorist attacks dies down and life limps back to normal. The shocking blasts appear to be a scene from a movie, a TV horror show, forgotten as soon as the dust settles down. Soon enough the real characters merge with the movie characters.

That is why what we saw during the war days is missing today. In 1965 and 1971, the cities used to be alert and awake at night even when there was a blackout. Each citizen would turn into a sentinel, defending the country  through his major or minor contribution. There used to be a roar of support for the official machinery. When leaders made an appeal for National Defence Funds, people came forward to contribute whatever little they could. The affluent ones were seen donating their jewellery as well. Today there is no such alarm, no such awakening. We seem to be men walking in our sleep, as if dreaming the shocking events and not witnessing them.  Our minds have been deadened. Even for spiritual salvation  we rush to our TV  sets to watch the various Babas giving sermons, telling us about our stars, about our horoscopes, how we should  observe this festival or that – till one day we are shocked  to learn that one of the revered Babas has been implicated in some earth-shattering  scandal. The TV screen , the small screen, remains the same. It is the remote that turns it into a battle ground, a sports field, a  vast congregation  offering prayers  or protesting against the  Delhi or Mumbai gangrape  , a  naughty serial, a serious lecture, political potpourri .. Within seconds you see it all and then wonder : Is life as confusing as that?  It is like watching a painting of modern art – so confusing, utterly amazing, utterly benumbing, people lauding it without following it even a wee bit. We have been enslaved by the craze for the idiot box. That’s life today

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