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Spicy Debates on TV
|by Seshu Chamarty|
As a child I was at my grandfather's house. That morning I was looking at the scene across the street. Women crowded the municipal tap point with their empty vessels. A free-for-all ensued as they were trying to collect the trickling tap water. A handful of their respective men folk was present just in case, to save the women from any blows or free their hair from the clutches of rivals. Empty vessels flew like missiles. Well, what fascinated me most was a verbal tirade traded, replete with choicest personal abuses and epithets I never heard before. Tired after getting physical, the dueling women let loose the sound bites. It was nothing but washing the dirty linen of those women who managed to collect first, from that tap. The interestingly infamous brawl is sure to humble the recent scandalous outburst by a politician targeting the rival parties. The digging of stories on the street went to the past generations, not to speak of the current progeny. It did not spare even the curious onlookers. Now, after 50 years, I found this tap point empty, with each household getting their own taps.
I came back to the present, to the TV debate. It is monitored by a vocal, suave and brainy media person shooting a well-rehearsed, simple and straightforward array of questions at an ensemble of apparently chosen heterogeneous party spokespersons. The topic is a controversial verbal barb let loose earlier by a particular party leader (not in the picture) that hits below the belt at a very personal level. The defending spokespersons in the studio gesticulated as though they never heard such a thing happened. The moderator insisted he expected either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and not anything beyond. Another familiar sharpshooter from the victim's party is attacking someone over phone with a barrage of epithets and innuendos that could make even the contentious remark central to the present debate sounding like priest’s blessing. The host kept on fueling the war with more of breaking news and the invitees on the other boxes pitched in with their own verbal force.
This free-for-all studio debate raised the decibels to a level of cacophony. I noticed no difference between the fight by the women at the tap point long ago and the TV studio debate. However, the participants are sitting ducks here, without any vessels to protect them, and so they only wag their mouths and a finger or two. In the end, the debaters successfully bared all the secrets and established the combined guilt of all political parties.
My wife rushed in, holding a pair of tongs from the kitchen. After a look at the TV screen, she wondered, was I watching a WWE fight. Finding no interest in the ruckus, she turned the volume down and returned to what was cooking. With every skeleton from the collective cupboards offloaded and measured threadbare, the talk-show host wrapped up, duly promising more in store for the next day, same time. These debates are pushing the TV channels’ TRP ratings and even turning popular than TV soaps even with all the growing domestic violence depicted in them.
Exchanging bad and un-parliamentary words has become fashionable. Some youngsters I see using the same at their teachers. Kids are seen belittling their parents openly, and some parents are encouraging this obnoxious practice as if it is new culture and saying, “Look, our kids are growing”.
Rather I wish the ire has to be directed at other sections that deserve our collective tongue-lashing. My bucket list include municipal ward councilors who do not care about the garbage left uncollected for days together, taxi or auto rickshaw divers who do not run their meters and charge as they wish, MLAs and MPs not bothered about the deplorable road conditions( despite one or more of their kind succumbing to fatal ends while in their government vehicles), queue jumpers everywhere, principals/headmasters being cruel towards the young, child labor employers, governments servants used to bribes, service and product providers shortchanging the customers, students ragging the freshly joined, eve teasers, littering public and violators of traffic, corrupt police, hospital authorities and rude shopkeepers. It is high time the myopic public stance is put to an end which of course needs some courage to pull up those abusing peace and order in our daily life.
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