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Freedom Of Speech Not Freedom Of Mischief

Are TV studios police stations? Are TV anchors investigators at the Guantanamo Bay Camp? Are the TV host not supposed to ask all their questions politely? Are TV anchors active politicians? Can the TV stations claim to be independent while freely indulging in political propaganda? Are the hosts on TV programmes the only all knowing intellectuals in the world? Can they legitimately profess knowledge of all branches of human knowledge like religion, philosophy, politics, economics, leadership, governance, corruption, investigation, jurisprudence etc.? Does it enhance the stature of the TV anchors if they interrogate their guests by applying third degree torture methods, pronounce someone guilty, force them to accept the guilt alleged by the host and also pronounce judgement holding them guilty on the spot at the very spur of that moment?Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Mischief

Watch the Indian TV programmes. Read the newspaper editorials. Soak the regular columns. The above questions will arise automatically. Currently they are all busy about a film called “PK”. One set of people are angry at the inept portrayal of gods and goddesses in the film, but the TV hosts are angrier so much their shouting has not abated even after 72 hours of 24×7 humbug. They are shouting in the name of “creativity”. But who is not creative? Isn’t the Devil the most creative? Aren’t the TV anchors the most creative? Do they think their guests are also creative as much as themselves, if not more? Do they think that the viewing public is not entitled to the same freedom from nuisance as they demand for films or other genres of expression? Is it not the right of the viewers not to be bombarded with vulgar, obnoxious, pervert views on matters of serious attention like religion, philosophy or culture? Are social & cultural mores and behaviour patterns insignificant for these TV hosts? Who are they to decide what is good or bad for the viewers? What measure do they adopt to judge the goodness or badness of any issue, programme or discussion? They misappropriate to themselves the authority that even the seats of higher learning hesitate to arrogate to themselves. These anchors treat their viewers as if they are school children deserving of caning, spanking and beating of the headmaster to fall in discipline. What kind of freedom do these media journalists espouse for society when they themselves don’t live upto it?

Contrast the hue and cry of the Indian TV journalists about PK with The Interview. It made Sony to suspend its showing in picture halls. Is that not acceptable in the name of attack on freedom of speech and expression? But neither the CNN nor the BBC had such clumsy and offending 24×7 debates on TV condemning everybody left and right on violation of freedom of speech. It seems to possess the potential for freedom of mischief and those affected threatened to create greater mischief. So it made a better commercial sense to go about it sensibly. The Indian TV and Newspapers can learn a few lessons from other channels in the world which operate in an environment for genuine freedom of speech or creativity. First be creative. Get creative. Produce the works of your creativity. Don’t indulge in vulgarity of painting silly pictures of gods and goddesses or saints and sadhus and sanyasis. Plagiarizing western subjects for free and presenting them as your own creativity makes for third rate production, whether it is freedom of man-woman, woman-woman, man-man  relationships or any perversion or women’s rights or freedoms of other kinds. Those creative in these subjects will find the heights of achievement of ancient thinkers on these subjects in India also, provided they undertake proper research on any such subject. Yesterday I happened to witness a panel discussing “live in relationships” and felt like writing on the subject to say that India has been practicing such forms of marriage for long in some sections of the society and some regions. So, unless “creativity” produces novelty, it is no creativity but theft of others’ matter, content and ideas; which is their intellectual property over which they alone have the property rights and not anybody else.

Let it be made absolutely clear: media is “industry”. It places its commercial interests above everything else as any commercial venture should do. It has the added advantage of blackmailing its target. In India it is no secret that the journalists are the most pampered class- rather they were before Narendra Modi entered office of the Prime Minister of India. They are almost out of business since news is already on the social media platform before the media has the opportunity to disseminate it. It has caused a severe business meltdown for many media houses. Consequently they devote their air time in unnecessarily debating non-issues, exaggerating insignificant matters and downplaying real issues calling in-depth analysis. In the process domain of decency is regularly violated, disturbing the balance of responsibility of different stakeholders in the news industry. When the TV shows talk about the film PK, they call it Amir Khan film, instantly igniting communal feelings intentionally, because the Gods & Goddesses belong to the Hindu pantheon whereas Amir Khan is a Muslim as his name suggests (but truly a secular person), though Amir Khan is neither the producer nor the director nor even the script writer of the film (who all are Hindu perhaps). But for the mischief of Hindu & Muslim sought to be invoked by TV anchors here, nobody would have even noticed what the film is about! Is this not criminal irresponsibility on the part of the TV industry & its editors/anchors/hosts? Should they be allowed the privilege of stoking hatred among different communities in the country, provoke the youth and irritate the elderly, who are sick of half-educated people debating serious subjects in a casual but provoking way? The CNN hosts don’t do that even on police shooting casualties or civilians killing policemen on duty or threats for screening The Interview; the BBC hosts don’t scream at airlines while discussing air tragedies like the MH 370 or Air Asia etc.Can Indian TV shows compete with them professionally.

I have appealed to the Prime Minister of India to get the recordings of such TV shows of the past 72 hours to see if the common citizen can be saved from the freedom of mischief enjoyed by the TV channels.

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