Weaving Illusions Since 1980’s.

There is this one thing that gets all the attention, no matter what the situation is, especially in every Indian home. Yes, that ‘thing’ I am talking about is the idiot(‘s) box!

The health issues caused by sitting in front of it is an issue by itself. The negativity it spreads is another one. How does it affect an Indian family? Well, those Indian soap operas can kill the humanity in every human being who watches it. The addiction to television can make one forget reality. And for a country like India, forgetting reality is not an option. Spending more time on T.V also means lesser interactions and stuns social development of adolescents. All the things mentioned above are just one end of the spectrum that is always highlighted, which we don’t intend to repeat, at least in this post.

Ever since its introduction in Indian homes, trust me, it has done more harm than good. Gone are the days when we rely only on Doordarshan (Government Owned) for news and entertainment. Today, Indians have access to about 800 channels. We have it all, from regional channels to national channels and the international ones like BBC. News channels, entertainment channels, educational channels or the sports ones, you name it, we have it.

If Mr. John Logie Baird was alive today, he sure would be stupefied by the state of affairs. What must have been one the most useful inventions ever for humankind in the field of mass media and communication, has today turned into something that is merely a goldmine.

The Indian channels essentially run programs to have a high TRP(Television Rating Point). Sometimes you cannot stop thinking that they care for nothing other than TRP. Lately I had the privilege to attend an international event, which had come under huge criticism from the Indian media. Amidst all the chaos(or that’s what the media kept saying) I made it a point to go to the event and that opened my eyes as to how exactly the media worked.

The amount of negativity that was being pumped was amazingly high. During my journey to the venue, I realised how the media had corrupted many minds. The aunt sitting next to me enquired why I was making this journey and I told her the same, and she asked “Are you seriously going to attend that event? I am all against it!” I told her the other side of the story. She listened keenly but maybe it wasn’t enough to undo the brainwash mission that the media had undertaken (and quite successfully at that) for about two weeks. It made me think about all the “paid news” stories that I had ignored in the past. It also made me think how much of what we hear is true. I wondered if professional ethics had become nil in this industry, which caters to a population of 1.2 billion.
I have never been a fan of The T.V(and will never be one!). Switch on the T.V and check a local channel , I almost assure you (especially if it’s a weekend) a movie is being streamed and god bless you if its not a dubbing of a english or tamil movie. Now you move on to the news channels ; local news channels especially in kerala are only worried about what the political leaders’ are doing, who is conspiring about whom, and moreover they keep replaying the third rate comments one made about the other. There could be people dying, diseases spreading but they will simply turn a blind eye to all that.(If anyone in the media is reading this, Boss we don’t care what they say, rather let us know what they are doing(or not doing) for the nation.) Now we switch on to national ones. Every Indian knows what happens in them, there is always the mediator who is screaming as if the entire nation is deaf, and then there are 5 to 6 politicians and other eminent personalities who are supposedly debating, but mostly all they do is not letting the other person speak or make an important point. Every time I see this, it reminds me of the “proper parliamentary behaviour”, The youth are watching , Ad by The Hindu. All those people, who switch on the T.V to see a particular show , especially educational or historical (basically the useful ones) the message you are most likely to see on the screen is “No signal” or “This channel is locked/ not subscribed”. Moving on to entertainment ones, there is always a reality show to watch. There might be no original ones but you might have the “Indian version “ of almost every other American reality show being aired. Oh, I nearly forgot those Saas-Bahu serials! You can catch them in between 7-10 pm in almost every other Indian channel.

Sensitivity is something the Indian media does not understand, privacy is something it does not respect especially ,if their targets are victims of an unfortunate event and specially if the victim is a common man. Their immaturity was for the entire world to see, during the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks. They live telecast the entire episode just for TRP’s sake. For them TRP was more important than the national security. They shamelessly highlighted The Delhi rape case and kept nudging the victim’s parents to give them interviews. They have continously failed to do their duty or support any social cause. If only they had pressurised the Government to act on important issues, make trial’s faster, take up the issue of women’s safety and national safety and keep their promises instead of what they are currently doing.
All in all, Indian T.V is more about quantity over quality, TRP, monetary and unhealthy competition. It is knowingly or unknowingly corrupting minds, killing productivity and being used to influence people in a way that is scary. Moreover it is incredibly addictive because it provides high voltage drama. For Indian channels its all about playing with the emotions of the nation, it feeds on the uneducated, the easily influencable and the emotionally vulnerable.

Sometimes one cannot stop wondering if the media people themselves watch their shows, cause it carries so much negativity. Sometimes you cannot stop wondering if the people in the industry feel guilty, if they have sleepless nights because what they are doing pricks their consciousness.
At the moment, only way we can nudge them to be more honest is probably by not supporting them. That is the least we can do to catch their attention. Atleast when the TRP goes down, then may be they will ask their veiwers what they actually want. For a country like India it is essential that the media maintains atleast a minimum standard of integrity as the masses rely on them for crucial information and social development.