CUT THE CRAP! My piece in Sahara Times August 7th, 2010

We are a nation over exhausted with discussion on the censorship of content produced and then broadcast on television and we’re a nation which despite endless debates has found no solutions.

We are a nation which thrives on rhetoric which is irrelevant to the reality and the content we produce follows the norm.

Let’s get one thing straight. There are no easy answers to the mess we are in because we first have to admit that we are the ones to have created it. The first thing we have to own up to is the fact that we have never respected the medium of television and therefore never acknowledged the power it pocesses, unlike in other parts of the developed world.

We are a country ridden with issues from child to women’s rights, archaic laws which require immediate updating, poverty, religious fundamentalism and intolerance, violence, unemployment and population, health, rural and urban exploitation, water and sanitation and list goes on and on because there are also sexuality issues, caste issues and so many others. There is need to sensitize our masses about everything from environment to parenting, whatever in the world you can perceive, but ironically, the very medium which has been the only tool to have given sense to change and reform in the rest of the developed world, is a medium which, as a matter of fact, has been mishandled to the extent that it has been often accused of embedding false values, hypocrisies and regressive social behaviors in an attempt to appease the mindless politics of our times, which in itself desperately need an overhauling.

An industry born roughly thirty five years ago, which has spread like wild fire because of its growth since the last twenty five, has yet not considered what its responsibilities are, because like every other industry that comes up in modern times in India without laying out an understanding and firm foundation to it, television too is one such which has grown to its mammoth size without authorities having given it any thought.

Censorship is as defunct as India’s governance. It is as much eyewash as any other aspect of our fast changing lives which requires a system to consolidate and hold the irrational and mindless development taking place everywhere in the country. We have to reconsider each and every aspect of censorship if we want that a medium as powerful as television which has the ability to alter behaviors and attitudes becomes effective.

Like America educated its people about its law and their rights through the immensely popular program West Wing, and gently helped young people understand parenting in a frenzied world through its highly entertaining program called, The Bill Cosby Show, every other developed nation has used the entertainment wagon as a carrier of a message which has helped it to leap forward with its agenda’s of modernization and emergence in the present world. India unfortunately has failed to recognize the huge potential of the world of entertainment to propel its own growth stands defeated when it comes to empowering its people with knowledge and helping them evolve faster so to be able to adapt to the demands of the twenty first century. On the contrary television has become a lucrative business of the haves who patronize the have-nots with the relentlessly inane sagas belted out week after week endlessly. In no way has the greatest machinery of information and communication helped its people to understand the complexities of present times and deal with their conflicts with a human approach during the times of a revolution of technology.

Censorship is the third stage.

The first stage is for the Government of India to accept the Industry of Entertainment at par with all other industries and legitimize it by giving it recognition and respect as well as release it from the clutches of a taxation which aims to destroy it.

The second stage is for the industry itself to admit to its responsibilities and be therefore manned by a resource of evolved minds that are sensitive to India’s problems. Just like the airlines cannot employ a pilot with weak eyesight, the industry must cease to employ people with a lack of sensitivity to the countries status and problems and those with a weakness for voyeurism and perversion.

Once these two aspects are achieved, the third stage is censorship which would actually be a non issue because the parameters would be set by those who understand India’s demographics. Imagine unregulated pharmaceutical industry doling out poison to consumers and being allowed to advertise it as healing medicine!

The final stage then would be the TRP which the medium will achieve maybe more than what it has managed to today, because where in the world is that society which does not recognize what is good for it and in its interest?

Where in the world is pornography acceptable in the mainstream?

Isn’t regressive and sensationalized content which endorses bias, be it gender, caste, economic or social, akin to pornography?