Doling out opinions across a wide spectrum of topics, without pausing to consider contrary opinions on a ‘debate’, Arnab Goswami has become the masthead of a kind of journalism which holds itself responsible for propagating its own self-serving absolute beliefs. The author here tries to question whether a layman, without all the melodramatic fanfare surrounding Goswami, can hope to be considered a conscientious nationalist.
It is undoubtedly true that, we must rise as a country to defend the armed forces who are sacrificing their lives for the nation and suffering for it on the tenuous IndoPak border. The Uri attack was provocative and barbaric. It was a bait to react. And of course India has by the surgical attacks. Against the backdrop of Pakistani artistes being debarred from India Times Now called for two ‘debates’. Now the signature ‘debates’, I feel are not debates but one sided bashing of people who do not subscribe to the views of the host, they are some of the worst ganging up and word bashing against people who they think are pseudo secularists. These two debates took place in the last week or ten days or so and one common factor among them were the filmmakers Saeed Mirza, Anupam Kher and Salman Khan among others. The moderator wanted to know why the Pakistani film makers were silent about the Uri attack and condemned roundly the Lahore attack, in which school children were killed. In the first place the question should have gone to the Pakistanis, but it went to Saeed Mirza, Salman Khan and others, who pleaded that artistes should be spared of the sins of others. However the moderator of the debate thought otherwise, made a drama of such protestations, roped in the father of a slain army officer and questioned raucously about the fidelity of the participants. Saeed Mirza became a soft target perhaps because he was unwell, and Anupam Kher coupled with him to find out why the Pakistani artistes were uncritical of the Uri attack. Of course they were silent, but one of them was almost coerced into a reluctant condemnation, holding on doggedly to his view that he condemns terrorism of all shades and hues, an example which the moderator upheld triumphantly.
It is an ominous sign that in the name of debates a moderator shouts, suppresses all other views and insults participants. His is the final word. He plays on incitement, frequently uses the word ” viewers” as if he is addressing a particular section, who are for him and then of course cleverly weaves in his supporters to buttress whatever claims the divergent speakers have. If this was done in the shape of decently accepting one’s point of view, it is acceptable, but it is done in the shape of ruthless decimation of views, profane attacks, if not abuses. The point is clear, he and his gang are the only ones who love the army and the country, the others are hellish enemies of the country and, of course pseudo secularists. Saeed Mirza was demolished and almost broke down like a crumbling house, simply because he had the temerity to say that ultra patriotism is not what he wanted, and repeatedly asserting that he supported the Indian Army, its sacrifices and all the causes it stood for.
The question is: Is Arnab Goswami the only conscience keeper of the nation and people like Anupam Kher? We are not sons of the soil? We do not have an iota of knowledge about the history of this great country, its martyrs, and those who sacrificed their blood for freedom? Come on, you are playing gimmicks, and taking a gullible audience, who love titillation of the senses for a long long ride. You have no right to insult and torment people who have attained more celebrity than you have, in case you think are a celebrity. I too love the nation, feel sad at the tragic way in which the sepoys were murdered- but have you raised one question as to what will happen to their families now? Is the ex gratia payment a magic solution to the tragedy? Of course political parties, why everyone, must come on a common platform to support all that is being done to support and further terrorist designs. But are you not also, on a divisive campaign, by pitting intellectuals and artistes against one another, by bringing in some of your personal friends to create sensationalism and emotionally black mail people? What yardsticks do you have for judging that they are less sensitive or patriotic than you? Can you question my credentials as an Indian? Politics being brought to the pedestals on the media which is supposed to be unbiased and dispassionate, is an onslaught and murder on the media. Grotesque and macabre indeed, cleverly dividing a nation with artful connivance.
Ananya S Guha