For God's sake, this is Gandhi-country!
Every year we religiously celebrate the birth of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, thank him for the Parliament we have and the freedom that these MPs now have to use as they will and such is our luck, that many of these johnnies in Parliament now want us to be shacked again.
Not in physical chains tut intellectual ones. Another contemporary of Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore had exhorted for us to be led into a heaven of freedom where the head is held high and today we have a strange situation where some members of Parliament elected by some of us are telling us what to watch and what not to. These, by the way, belong to the same set of people, many of whose colleagues are murderers, rapists and child-molesters not to mention bribe-takers as was evidenced in the cash for questions issue. These are the same people who belong to a club which when it meets engages in slanging and shouting match of which help the cause of either nation-building or for that matter law-making.
Their ire is directed at a television reality show, Sach Ka Saamna (Face the truth) on Star TV. The fact that in a Budget Session, which should be discussing fiscal allocations and deficit management, they have both the time and the wisdom to rake this up as an issue is reflective of how facetious our politics has become! The fact that in today's economic climate they are happier discussing late-night television than day-chilling facts about unemployment and hunger deaths is proof of the seriousness with which they go about their business. I for one am not surprised by the behaviour. I worry about them and in a sense about our country. I worry even more that a fine and sensible lady like Ambika Soni, who did a fascinating job as
Tourism Minister and is now the Information and Broadcasting Minister, has chosen to send a show-cause notice to the broadcaster over something that is not just silly but trite as well.
The issue is not about freedom of what to show. It is about my freedom to view and if there are responsible broadcasters who are only creating greater avenues of entertainment, nothing should be done to come in their way. I find it abhorrent that my television habits now need to be either questioned or governed by people, some of whom have a dubious record themselves. Their business is to create a more equal India. Their business is to create laws, which will be equitable and just. Their business is to create an India, which sees no hunger and no malnutrition, and an India, which provides equal opportunities to all. Be it a Dalit or a Christian or a Muslim. That is their business. They have been elected to Parliament to advocate national cause not to create publicity for themselves on the back of something so trivial that it takes up precious time of the highest body of governance in this land. That is what I worry about. Parliament, many a time, has become a debating club rather than a serious decision-making body and by playing into the hands of such errant behaviour, you
will only endanger not just the institution but also equally the respect in which it is held by the average Indian.
In a strange way this is the truth that these MPs must have the courage to face up to and not worry about a reality show, which will only titillate but rarely harm. A far cry from the potential damage that can be caused to India by some dysfunctional MPs when they wallow in self-pity and morality: both alien concepts to these intellectual dinosaurs. The reality show that Parliament must perform has never been for years now which is why I guess their focus is on soft targets rather than concerning themselves with real issues for real people. The people of India and not just the feeble few who watch cable and satellite. The real challenge is being brushed under the carpet only because some of them are not quite up to the task.
That is the truth. Nothing more, nothing less.
More about Suhel Seth
Managing partner, Counselage