"First we fell sick, now you are falling sick. At least one of you writes to us every day, with threats of beating us up or burning us alive."

JNU nationalism and TV NDTVs Ravish airs bulletin of darkness to bring light to viewers Image: Ravish/ screengrab from video
Flix Tuesday, February 23, 2016 - 20:10

All of you know that our TV is sick. The whole world of TV has contracted TB.

We are all sick. I am not calling others sick and myself a doctor. I too am sick.

First we fell sick, now you are falling sick. At least one of you writes to us every day, with threats of beating us up or burning us alive. Is the poison behind those letters actually coming from us?

I am no doctor. I am sick myself. My TV is sick.

In the name of debate, the everyday noise and shouting is either bringing you to light or taking you to darkness. You too must have been wondering.

It is through debate that we wanted to decide accountability, but in the name of accountability we are now indulging in finger-pointing. We are targeting others.

We started debates for clarity on issues, but instead the debate is leading to the death of public’s voice. Debate TV is killing the variety in the public’s voice.

We are trying to impose one voice. News-anchors who don’t have any limits to their own expression want to decide for you what the limit should be for your freedom. At times we have to ask you and ourselves this question – what are you watching, and what are we showing?

You will tell us that you see what we show you, and we will tell you that we show you what you see. In this game, there is someone who is number 1, or someone who is number 10 like me.

Someone’s at the top, and someone has failed. If TRPs is our destination, why are YOU our co-passengers?

Is TRPs your destination too? So, we want to take you to the dark world of TV news, where you can feel the noise, understand it.

Try and live the hope and fear that the clan of us news-anchors create every day. To get you to recognize the screams, to make you understand it, I am doing to take you to darkness.

And following this address to his viewers, for the next 40-odd minutes, NDTV India’s Ravish Kumar’s bulletin is bereft of the single most important element of TV – visuals.

There is just a dark and empty background, with words of impact, strong ideas, lofty ideals and a pacy narration.

With this, Ravish Kumar and his team have possibly created what will go down in the history of Indian news television as an important milestone - when the industry, finally fed up with itself, chose to look inwards, find its own faults, pointed fingers within, exposed itself and apologized to its viewers albeit with a sense of hopelessness that things will remain the same.

Or not. But what Ravish Kumar has attempted to do is be the signal in the TV debating noise, to be that flicker of hope, in trying to make us realize the damage that is being done to the nation’s psyche in the name of TV debates and news-anchoring.

Through his 40-minute powerful monologue, Ravish Kumar touches upon the most important issues dominating media space now, from the rancour and anger on TV to our misunderstood ideas of nationalism.

Talking about TV debates, he says - our job is not to provoke or incite, but simply ask, ask questions to those in power.

But TV anchors don’t do that, intentionally so, and they shout. “Is this how you speak at home, to your family, to your sister, to your wife?” he asks, “Do we get accountability by screaming on television?”

He also takes a dig at news-anchors who have been using the martyrdom of our soldiers in Siachen to further their political agenda, stating that in the name of soldiers, several others are being branded as traitors. Weren’t protesting members of the Army manhandled right here in Delhi? What happened to nationalism then, he asks.

He also exposes the hypocrisy of the BJP in having an alliance with the PDP, which even now believes Afzal Guru is a martyr.

How many anti-India sloganeers and Pakistani flag-bearers have been arrested in the BJP-PDP ruled Kashmir, he asks. He also talks about how doctored videos were aired in some TV channels, and then goes on to air the audio-clips of some of the most vicious comments made by various Hindi and English TV anchors during their debates.

He also airs audio-clips of the slogans being shouted at JNU rallies and anti-JNU rallies, effectively demonstrating that while people of JNU were fighting for their rights, those against them were fighting out of pure hatred. And why spare the online army of abusive ‘nationalist’ trolls?

He tells his viewers - if you know someone who abuses people online, and think they are right and that abuses solve anything, then go to them with your problems of price rise and flailing infrastructure.

Towards the end of the show, there is a bit of a dramatic overdose as Nehru’s ‘Tryst With Destiny’ speech is played along with a moving poem of hope on India and then an NDTV promo, but the larger message is one of crude hopelessness –we don’t listen to each other, we are in a colossal mess and we have no idea how to get out of it.

Watch the entire show here.

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