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Monday, December 31, 2012

Arnab wins Bharat as 'nation wants to know'


By Swapan Dasgupta

It may sound flippant but if I was to name the Indian of the Year for 2012, my choice would be Arnab Goswami of Times Now. The reason has nothing to do with the fact I am an occasional participant on his Newshour debates. Nor is it connected with his hectoring style which I find enthralling at times and quite exasperating on other occasions. Arnab’s foremost contribution to the public discourse (at least the English language discourse which still sets the tone for others) is his unending search for what “the nation” wants to know.

The definition of his imagined community is important. Hitherto, the media was reasonably modest in its inquisitiveness. Its rationale for demanding answers was invariably couched in terms of either ‘viewer interest’ or, at best, ‘the public interest’. In projection the ‘nation’ as the inquisitor—and I notice that even in rival channels ‘nation’ is fast becoming a substitute to the more passive use of the ‘country’—Arnab has succeeded in doing something quite remarkable: he has successfully made ‘nationalism’ the core attribute for assessing public life.  

This is a remarkable feat. For long, the English language media was in real danger of being overwhelmed by a spurious liberalism, borrowed from the ethos of the New York Times, Guardian and BBC, and complemented by the insidious political correctness of the American campus. Those who subscribed to this ‘idea of India’ became members of a privileged club; those who persisted with alternative approaches were relegated to the fringes and barely tolerated. The defining feature of this ultra-liberalism was its profound intellectual arrogance and its characterisation of other perspectives as base ‘prejudice’.

In positing the ‘nation’ as the ultimate arbiter of the larger ‘national good’ and doing so with passion, verve and eloquence, Arnab managed to create a constituency of people who refused to be patronised by the superior assumptions of a handful of the ‘enlightened’. On issues relating to Pakistan, he refused to be cowed down by the mushy sentimentalism of the Aman ki asha pseuds and on China he ruthlessly questioned the ‘nuanced’ sophistry of the professional prevaricators in South Block. On corruption, he was single-minded in his determination to cut through the obfuscation and piffle. And on mundane political fights, he was both sceptical and irreverent.

It is not that on every issue he got the tone right. He didn’t. To me what was important was the yardstick of national interest he set for judging issues. In an environment where others were highlighting the values of cosmopolitanism, internationalism, liberalisation and oozing concern for the human rights of every extremist who sought the vivisection of India, Arnab re-popularised the validity of proud nationalism.

For helping India recover this eroding inheritance, ‘the nation’ must be thankful to him. He has been the best corrective to the babalog media.

There was an additional feature to Arnab’s discourses each week night that I find both amusing and encouraging: his polite insolence. India may well have a long tradition of being argumentative but in recent times this free spirit has suffered on account of an educational system that discouraged scepticism and promoted the inculcation of every form of received wisdom.

In the mid-1970s, just prior to the Emergency, there used to be huge hoarding on the inner circle of Connaught Place which proclaimed “The leader is right, the future is bright”. It had been put there by one of those disagreeable publications that existed on the patronage of the first families of India, Iran, Libya and, of course, the great ‘progressive’ bloc around the Soviet Union. The message was crass but it was an accurate description of what the rulers expected from the ruled: unquestioning docility.

That is the way Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, for example, sees the world. Why, he asked a TV channel, were the protesters still persisting with their gatherings on India Gate? After all, some of them had a midnight meeting with Sonia Gandhi.

Actually, he wasn’t being disingenuous. To a very large section of India’s establishment, politics is all about, first, bringing an issue or a grievance (preferably through an intermediary) to the proverbial attention of those entrusted with the responsibility of governance and plead for a solution. Then there is the process of waiting patiently and often indefinitely for the system to creak into action. The voting classes are not expected to be either insistent with their demands or insolent in their engagements with professional politicians. In particular, netas don’t believe in being buttonholed by a TV anchor and informed that the “nation demands to know”. 

At best, politicians don’t mind the occasional convivial chats with ‘reasonable’ people—just recall the you-gush-and-I-gush interviews that the Delhi Chief Minister gave to two channels last week after Sonia’s darshan left the nation underwhelmed. Arnab, unfortunately, is ‘reasonable’ only off camera. On air he becomes a voice of indignation, anger and even insolence. These are qualities which the little man doesn’t possess in abundance. He wants to kick the errant netas. Since he can’t, he is happy for Arnab do it for him.

Arnab didn’t create the hatred for the political order. He just helped the little man feel that a larger community of Indians shared his frustrations and his unwillingness to settle for the second-best. Full marks to him for helping India lower the bar of forbearance.

Sunday Pioneer, December 30, 2012 

33 comments:

Arun said...

Making a career out of judging and rating everyone?
Incapable of getting anything real done, unable to look inside and introspect, so end up as ELM clowns?

Anonymous said...

Brilliant article, superb and incisive analysis as usual! Fully agree with all points about Arnab as well as the rest of our "babalog media" who seem to have sold their souls to every single anti-India interest they could probably find, especially the Maino-led Congress.

Vivek said...

Justice Arnab Goswamy has to be little more calm and respectful. He first deliver the judgement and then force the panelists toe his line of argument (well it is his judgement).

Anonymous said...

That is not the point, it is about doing your job professionally and with passion. Arnab clearly enjoys his job and in doing so connects with me often. I wish we had more doers like him in a nation that has made a virtue of empty lectures.

My World!!! said...

very well said sir,Arnab is real person who dares to speak against all corrupt persons.he is quit emotional but he project himself a common man. not like karan thopar who help Kapil sibbal in interview.

Cancer Treatments said...

Arnab is exasperating at most times. If instead of taking sides, he just leads the discussion, it will be good for everyone. Instead, he takes one side or other and hits against the other side on most ocassions.

Anonymous said...

Advanced apology for being a bit crass with this analogy, but it's like saying the nation at large has an inherent "lust" which its tries to address by watching an "item song" of questionable nature. In that sense, Arnab G is definitely far from a pimp, but perhaps a bijli, munni, sheila, or at least a suited version of the notion?

On a sobering note though - interesting choice for the title on your part, Swapan sir, of someone who just appears to be a deeply insecure media creation that is too scared to face the raw scrutiny (of its own kind) of mediums like twitter.

Anonymous said...

excellent article...I hope some of the ndtv 24*7 anchor see this and get some learning out of this.This nation need more arnab goswami to strengthen the 4th pillar of our constituency.I am expecting u write some thing about Ravish kumar of ndtv india..i thing he is the hindi version of arnab goswami.But sadly no one takes on barkha dutt for her govt. biased approach.I am hoping someone will teach her a lesson in future.Looking forward to u attending news channels and make debates furious and fruitful.A Happy new year 2013...to one of my favorite political commentator Mr Swapan Dasgupta..

Anonymous said...

Advanced apology for being a bit crass with this analogy, but it's like saying the nation at large has an inherent "lust" which its tries to address by watching an "item song" of questionable nature. In that sense, Arnab G is perhaps a bijli, a munni, a sheila, or at least a suited version of the notion?

On a sobering note though - interesting choice for the title on your part, Swapan sir, of someone who just appears to be a deeply insecure media creation that is too scared to face the raw scrutiny (of its own kind) of mediums like twitter.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I fully agree with Swapanda. Arnab Goswami is doing a patriotic job in bringing up issues those concern the nation. He keeps the nation and the common man above everything. In the process he may be creating certain quarters unhappy but that does not matter.

Harpreet Singh said...

I always consider Arnab as running a Hindi News Channel in English.He has a preset agenda and want every panelist to agree to his agenda.Ninety percent of his showtime is taken by himself as he hardly allows anyone to speak specially the ones who do not toe his agenda.

Anonymous said...

Times Now team(including Arnab) are the extended PR team of congress. In matters where congress led government is culpable, they deflect any criticism directed at the core family.

Issues where the culprit is none other than the core family, they bore the audience to the point where people lose all interest in the case.

From the Vadra land case to the Indian Olympic Association debacle, the net result of Times Now report has been what?

Take the ban on Indian Olympic Association case. These guys went on and on about the need for sportsperson being represented in the managing committee. About the shame to the nation. About the humiliation to the sportsperson.
But not one time did they point out that proper government intervention could have prevented said ban/shame/humiliation. The government did intervene in the IOA matter, to bring back Kalmadi, Chautala, Bhanot and their henchmen. It is like allowing rapists to visit the victim alone to finish whatever business they had in mind.

Arnab did a good job that day. People got their quota of the words "shame" and "humiliation" and then slept peacefully in the knowledge that nothing has changed. Some may have even lit a candle with the sincere belief that it will scare kalmadi. Chautala and bhanot.

Anonymous said...

Arnab should be our next prime minister. He loves India more than his life. He is a true freedom fighter and deserves Bharat Ratna. Infact he should be declared father of youth India.

Anonymous said...

OMG ! GOSH !

Jay Pillai said...

Some where Arnab score much above all the other so called sophisticated hypocrites in the media
He has put all the parties on the dock..May be sometimes arrogant but has infact helped the country to find its voice to question the Monarchy in Delhi who ought not be questioned till date

Tarun Bhardwaj said...

I Agree.. I see 'netas' fearing his 'direct questions'

Anonymous said...

When you keep praising a thief as a most trustworthy and honest person, he may one day try to live upto that expectation of him. Arnab Goswami is no more a "nationalist" as I am Tom Cruise. In these fearful times of undeclared Emergency, anyone working to further dent the image of the Congress Party or UPA even based on their own acts of omissions and commissions earns their wrath forthwith. A true nationalist would have been hounded by the dynasty brigade and the very fact that Arnab's hectoring style continues apace means in the balance he contributes more to the dynasty's benefit than he takes away from their image, unlike NDTV and its stable of committed anchors who are shamelessly anti-Narendra Modi and pro-UPA and dynasty as are those from CNN-IBN. It is worth remembering that the label of nationalism suits those right of centre than those who hanker after the highly irresponsible tag of being internationalists from the Left-Liberal stable. Arnab Goswami's priorities are two-fold; improve the highly disputed TRP ratings of Times Now and covering his own flanks. We haven't forgotten what Arnab was upto by raising the image of Sanjiv Bhatt the controversial Gujarat police officer as a mascot of his channel to needle Narendra Modi. A true nationalist would have been more objective and non-partisan than Arnab has been so far. Arnab falls into the well entrenched media groove of reserving two slots for Modi. Its either "Setback for Modi" or "Respite for Modi." Today, in the public domain, Narendra Modi, love him or hate him, is a single pole in Indian politics versus all the disparate others jostling for space in the opposite corner. In order to get myriads of nationalists and patriotic tweeples on board, Arnab needs to rise much above his biases in order to be considered a nationalist.

Anonymous said...

I thoroughly enjoy his shows , only wish he keeps the guests count limited to managable since most hardly get a line or two to spk in the entire discourse.

Anonymous said...

Well articulated... I fully agree on what Arnav has done. His own news paper is puppet of congress. All other English news channel doesn't show the reality. I only see Arnav which raises voice of Aam Aadmi. But some time he become very aggressive on the issue that he doesn't allow others to speak what they feel. But overall I fully agree with Swapan sir..

Anonymous said...

Excellnt article. Let me add that the nationalist side of Arnab shot into the limelight during 26/11 attack by our 'peace loving' neighbours. He echoed country's sentiments on TV when others couldn't.

j k said...

He seems well prepared with the questions with the help of the people around him, they too should get the credit. I don't doubt the fact that he is the face of Times Now. He has a volley of vocabulary to articulate his thoughts precisely, but a little composure can do a world of good for him. On the topic, 'My Indian of the Year', I would choose the person who tried to help the delhi girl and failed. He showed courage, compassion and will to save the girl.

smiral patel said...

I Agree with you Mr. Swapan. Arnab always has national interest as a priority and nation takes the center stage on his News Hour. But i must say he supposed be calm & convincing while on show rather than taking them head on. I'm an avid watcher of his shows.I really appreciate you for writing on Mr. Arnab and he truly deserves to be Indian of the year 2012.

Smiral said...

Well said, when he fiercely bowls that direct questions to netas.

smiral patel said...

Yes, I'm agree with you Mr. Swapan. I likes when Arnab bowls that direct questions to Netas when they are without Helmets & bats. Arnab surely has national interest on priority and nation takes center stage on his News Hour debates. But I must say he supposed to be convincing rather than taking them head on.If all others fellows have seen his yesterday's News hour debate on Akbaruddin Owaisee, with you also joining Mr. Swapan, any one can say that he is the one who is working for nation unity relentlessly. I'm an avid watcher of his show and I really appreciate writing on him. He truly deserves to be the Indian of the year.

Anonymous said...

He has verbal diarroea..he is disgusting..

Anonymous said...

Swapan's observation on Arnab about driving passion in the minds of people is very true. Do not know how he is off the camera, but Arnab on the shows, is very passionate and truly reflects people's feeling and emotions.

AnandKumarrs said...

Good one ! Pls. read my blog post on Todays Super star Anchors - "DATV 24*7"
Thanks.

Neeraj Bhushan said...

I don't follow Arnab, nor his kind of journalism. I disliked this piece of yours and found it fit to be called a mutual admiration gossip. I would like to debate this with you, in your free time. If given a chance, I would infact ask Arnab...the nation wants to know if your salary is equal to the combined package of ur entire times now team!

mankuzhimurali said...

I agree with Swapan Das Gupta. When he is anchoring the Newshour, the newshour become active.

Gaurav said...

Arnab Goswami is one guy who hasn't sold out yet ....

Sushant Kumar said...

Beautifully articulated. I recollect my father saying while watching an Arnab Goswami news hour debate, "Why doesn't he file a case when he knows the sections, he knows the accused...". He is just doing his job. I totally agree with the fact that Arnab has helped another little man, another little family feel that a larger community of Indians share their frustrations.

Anonymous said...

For those who wrote against NDTV, Please note that it is actually doing a service to the congress. If you ask them, they will tell you since congress is ruling the nation, We serve congress. In other words, for us, serving congress is serving the nation.

Sayan Goshal said...

Love him or hate him, Arnab rules... Here is testimony to his success... www.nationwantstoknow.com People have started a new trend