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Court, live

Author: Shailaja Bajpai
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: May 2, 2013
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/court-live/1110254/0

And why is Nigella Lawson speaking Hindi?

Viewers would be well advised to take their dose of daily television news in the morning, not in the evening. If they follow this unsolicited advice, they will get more news than views, which is why they watch TV news, isn't it? Or is it?

Thus, Tuesday morning, the Supreme Court's anguish over the CBI sharing the draft status report on the coal block allotment probe with the law minister and two bureaucrats was relayed to us even as the respected judges spoke. Updates flew thick and fast every minute and the news just got worse and worse for the CBI and the UPA.

The news channels and their anchors conveyed the SC's opinions in colourful language: "Coal fire scorches UPA government", stated NDTV 24x7. "Supreme Court ne kaha, yeh kya ho raha hai?" was India TV's summation. "This is the most embarrassing moment for the UPA government in nine years,"' said the CNN-IBN anchor. "It's not looking good for the government," agreed Arnab Goswami, who obviously thought the news was bad enough to require his presence during the daytime live telecast.

DD News, meanwhile, in its 12 noon bulletin on Tuesday, reported the SC's strictures but said these were aimed at the CBI. Other than seeing "difficulties for the government increasing", the report stressed there were "difficult days ahead for the CBI". It seemed from the DD News report that UPA 2 and the CBI were separate entities and that in this instance at least, the investigative agency was autonomous of the government — even as CBI chief said, "I am not an autonomous body!"

DD News then devoted itself to the opposition walk-out in Parliament before the Finance Bill was passed without debate. A Congress MP was interviewed bemoaning the opposition's attitude, but we did not hear the viewpoint of opposition parties on the matter. When DD News quoted the BJP's Ravi Shankar Prasad, it was on his party's demand that the PM resign and the law minister be removed. So is DD willing to accept that like CBI it is not an autonomous body?

The government and the CBI are not alone in feeling the summer heat. TV news has kept the fires burning on atrocities against women. Not a day goes by without frequent reports from across the country on rapes, violence against women and the men who commit such crimes. Thus, even as the government was sweating it out on Tuesday, the news of a 4-year-old girl dying in Nagpur after having been raped was making news. NDTV India described the girl's tragic end and then reported an incident in Shamli, Uttar Pradesh, where a teenage girl was molested and then set on fire. The increase in reports of such cases begs the question: have cases of molestation/ rape increased, or is the media choosing to focus on them?

Emotional Atyachaar (Bindass) is clearly focusing on men who mistreat/ dupe women and women who fight back. In last week's episode, a girl discovers that her boyfriend is involved with his teacher and that he had used an edited video clip of her giving him a "guilty pass" to be involved with other women. Enraged, she confronts them, slaps the man and walks out after exposing him to the teacher, who also proceeds to slap him. In every episode, a man is found guilty of such trespasses and then humiliated by the girl. Maybe this will help teach girls to be a little more careful before entering into relationships, and boys the consequences of deceit. But even as we applaud Emotional Atyachaar for such exposes (however prurient they are), we wonder at the need to ask during the episode: "Have you ever found your teacher attractive?"

TV commercials are doing everything — and more — to make men look attractive. Notice the number of ads for deodorants for men. Not nearly as many for women. Hmm. Also, do we really need these ads to equate deodorants with enhanced sexual appeal (as they all do), rather than basic hygiene and good grooming?

Lastly, what has happened to Nigella Lawson (TLC)? Why is she speaking in Hindi? She's completely lost in translation because you cannot translate her brand of sensual cooking into another language, quite apart from the fact that she doesn't sound like Nigella Lawson at all. TLC seems to have gone Hindi, and we are all the worse for it. Shouldn't there be two language streams so that viewers may choose between them?

- shailaja.bajpai@expressindia.com

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