World of India!: CurrentAffairs: Too loud for comfort ? e

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CurrentAffairs: Too loud for comfort ?

And the award goes to....

While watching a television programme yesterday my wife remarked as to why the people in the debate that was being telecast (Rajdeep Sardesai, with some panelists) shouting so loud? She had a point. They WERE loud and it wasn't as if the loud voice was only in intervals when the debate got a bit scruffy. They were all consistently loud throughout the show, talking as if the audience was slightly deaf. At least at home we could turn the volume down, but what about the hapless studio audience?

This is not an isolated observation. A vast majority of our debates on T.V are heated and panelists and participants try to shout each other down, rather than debate the issue. And I am not even bringing up what happens in our Parliamentary debates yet.

Contrast this to debates on any of the 'Phoren' channels and the difference couldn’t be any starker. Try this a few times....keep the volume of your remote JUST enough to hear a debate on any Indian channel and then switch on to a debate on the BBC. All things being equal, you would need to pump up the volume. I once witnessed an Israeli and Palentinian journalist who were arguing with such ferocity that they could have killed each other, BUT, in a tone that was only slightly higher than the usual conversational-remarkable.

The difference doesn't stop in the tone of our voices. We as Indians tend to argue from the heart. If it is George Fernandes's incarceration that’s being discussed, his alleged "selfless" public service and "spotless" 50 yrs of public life is likely to be more passionately talked about, rather than the facts of the case (which is did he take a commission out of a defense deal). Sonia Gandhi's "Indianness" (or the lack of it) and her family's "sacrifices" are talked about more fervently than the threads of the latest issue which concerns her. Our anchors too seem rarely able to pin the debate down to their key points, when the participants go gallivanting all over endless irrelevant flags over the course of the debate. Perhaps it’s due to the deference we have been trained to show to age, position, money, women, amongst a score others . Seldom do we see an anchor/interviewer that is relentless and, more impotantly who argues consistently from a rational standpoint, to conquer these barriers and attack the issues headon. Usually, the tendency is to roll of slippery generalizations and clichés rather than stick to your guns and hammer the nail on the head. The exception to the rule, Karan Thapar, who anchors an aptly named show, called 'Devil's advocate', on CNN-IBN. But even he can be too loud. Sagarika Ghosh, who although always argues from the head, is a woman in a hurry and 6 times out of 10, completes the sentences of the interviewee and after doing that even sums up what he (or rather she) said for him, before slipping the viewers into a break, before anyone knows what’s hit them!

My role model for an anchor? Tim Sebastian who used to anchor 'Hard Talk' earlier. Relentless, rational, hard hitting and a voice which is several decibels lower than the average Indian anchor. Even the current presenter, Steven Sackur is quite good. In India, of course, we have the rare gem of a presenter Prannoy Roy who, although a Bengali, knows when to shut up and has a nice, gentle tone, a meliflous voice and a probing analytical mind to boot.

Come to think of it, its time India had an award for the best presenter/anchor. After all, this is one award ceremony space that’s yet to be claimed by anyone. "And India's best anchor for the year 2006 is....".I can just imagine the sponsors stampede to throw money on this one!

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October 18, 2006 6:18 AM

I too am a Pronnoy Roy fan- he has finessse, sophistication and an elegance which few can boast of.

Even in day to day life, one gets to see so many verbal conversations degenerate into arguments when emotions become strong and rationality goes out of the window. Barkha Dutt is very good the way she conducts we, the people.    

October 18, 2006 11:20 PM

This is a cultural difference.
We are a country of bright colors and a bit loud (note Bollywood). Everything doesn't need to be muted to Western standards...although I agree that shouting on top of each other could hardly achieve anything.    

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