Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
I was watching a TV channel that boasts of the promptest possible presentation of how voting is going on.
A freelancer was commenting live on the goings-on in various booths. The reporter on the field was asking the voters outside the booths as to whom should they prefer this time. And each of them was saying that whosoever candidate would serve the people better shall be his/her choice. This means, to the voters thus interviewed no party was preferable and notwithstanding which party a candidate belongs to, his/her personal reliability would count. But, when asked to comment on this scenario, the person in the panel insisted that, the election this time will be party-centric and never person-centric. This was a discernible conflict between the voters in the queue before the booth and the person in the studio of the TV channel procured for the day to comment.
This is not a stray case. TV channels in Orissa are engaging unpaid and substandard panelists to discuss public issues including the election. The Channels have made a lot of noise pollution in every home and hotels in the matters of the ongoing elections. But not a single voter has been guided on how to vote with informed knowledge. No discussion has been conducted on which political party belongs to which political economy and how credible or not are the election manifestoes of rival parties vis-a-vis that of the candidates. The TV channels could have served the democracy as a powerful medium of political education at the time of the elections, but they have failed.
The channels are commercially exploiting non-political freelancers that do not have the necessary knowledge to deal with the subject. These substandard fellows do not demand any money for the time and talk they give. Appearing in a TV screen is for them their best achievement. And, therefore, instances galore that such fellows often cultivate the channels to participate in a panel discussion.
No wonder, such fellows are often seen in the Channels participating in any topic that the editor may give priority to as if they are born masters in every subject!
Nobody bothers about what the sycophants in political attires say in the TV discussions. But, when a non-political person, such as a journalist, takes a seat in the panel, people pay attention. But the people seldom find any noteworthy debate, because these freelancers are not equipped with the necessary knowledge to enlighten the viewers.
Unless a person in a panel is fairly paid and accountable for what he says, panel discussions in TV channels shall remain mere oral acrobatics.
Serious cogitation is called for on this subject.