Friday, September 30, 2011

Why so didactic?

This post originally appeared here.
What is the overwhelming feeling one is left with when one has just experienced yet another primetime TV news debate or has read a column by our star TV journalists? Does one feel having experienced a debate? Does one feel all points of views were expressed? Does one feel the moderator or the columnist was being impartial and trying to keep the debate balanced? Or does one get a feeling that we were being guided in a certain direction. That we were being instructed on what the appropriate questions ought to be and who was really guilty of some wrongdoing.
Surf through almost any of our top national TV news channels and you will witness a rather cagey debate going on shows with grand titles moderated by the leading stars of TV news industry. More often than not these shows are anything but debates. We get to witness some extremely sanctimonious sounding characters imparting lessons on morality to us. Apparently those watching these shows lack sound judgment and lack the capacity to evaluate facts on merits. Therefore the viewers must be helpfully guided in making the correct choices and ask the correct questions. This was on ample display during the Karnataka land mining report debate. If an aam aadmi is left alone he may ask such obvious questions. However they would be inappropriate, incorrect and morally wrong for the extremely sanctimonious characters have already identified where the guilt lies. To help guide the people we are presented with debates fixing responsibilities and lengthy, sermonising columns such as these do the trick. It is of course irrelevant that all this debate and column writing prejudges issues even before full facts are before us or appropriate procedures are carried out.
Curiously all these moral sermons, all these helpful moral instructions are invariably directed at a particular set of set of people while all this is deemed unnecessary when it comes to a certain other set of characters. Take all the recent happenings in our country and revisit the debates and columns around them and one cannot help but think our debates have become very didactic.