Every year on October 2, we religiously pay homage to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and thank him for the freedom, which our politicians are using any way they want to.
So much so that many of these johnnies in Parliament now want us to be shackled again; not in physical chains but intellectual ones. 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, child-molesters and bribe-takers. These are the same people who belong to a club which, when it meets, engages in slanging and shouting. This doesn’t either help in nation-building or, for that matter, law-making.
Their ire is directed at a television reality show, Sach Ka Saamna on Star TV. The fact that in the Budget session, which should be discussing fiscal allocations and deficit management, MPs have both time and wisdom to rake this up as an issue, reflects how facetious politics has become. The fact that in today’s economic climate they are happier discussing late-night television shows than day-chilling facts about unemployment and hunger deaths is a proof of the seriousness with which they go about their business.
I, for once, am not surprised by their behaviour. I worry about them and, in a sense, about our country. It worries me 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 also trite.
The issue is not about freedom of what to show. It’s about my freedom to watch. If there are responsible broadcasters who are only creating more avenues of entertainment, nobody should 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 that sees no hunger and no malnutrition, and an India that provides equal opportunities to all.
Politicians have been elected to Parliament to advocate national cause and not to publicise themselves on 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 has become more a debating club than a serious decision-making body.
In a strange way the truth is that MPs must have the courage to face up to and not worry about a reality show, which will only titillate but rarely harm. The reality show that Parliament must perform has never happened for years now, which is why I guess MPs are focussing on soft targets rather than concerning themselves with real issues for real people. 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.
Suhel Seth is Managing Partner, Counselage India.