Prof. Harikesh Singh
Varanasi: The sane communication should include three objectives viz. to inform, to educate and to conscientize the society. Media should permeate sanity and ensure the realization of these three objectives purported for building a harmonious nation, people and society.
Ultimate goal of deploying the media as medium between the transmitters and receivers is to build a well-informed society (better to say learning society) leading to an achieving society. Achievements of any society are not only the increase in econometric parameters like GNP and GDP. The sanest indicator of the people’s development should be understood in terms of Gross National Happiness (GNH). Now, let us have a brief review of the present status of the quality of communication especially the mass media and the preferred conversant, debaters or panelists on TV so that we as accountable intellectuals may discharge our moral responsibility of utilizing the mass media for broader imperatives of nation building. During the unprecedented corona crisis, the proper input and feedback should be authentic (fact based richness) and objectives. Is it so? And if not, what are the bottlenecks? How these bottlenecks may be removed? These questions if properly addressed, the communications may grow and become saner.
The small article aims at assessing the general perceptions of the knowledge, skills, and ideological clarity of the debaters frequently appearing on the television screens in the programmes of panel discussions. The coverage and catchment of television is more than any other agency in shaping, de- shaping and reshaping the opinions of the people. Hence, it is evident that what transpires in telecast has a long impact on the phenomenon of opinion formation. The moral responsibility of the mangers of the channels, directors and executives should have congruence in their objective-base clarity. A comprehensive audit is essentially required to evaluate continually whether the channels are serving the purpose (s) of attaining the desired goals of the sane communication?
This issue needs to be pondered because for the last two months especially during the prevalent Corona crisis and consequent upon it the decision of lockdown measures. The people have no other better choice to view the TV programme. Out of many TV programmes, the ‘Panel Discussions’ are there to critically analyses the causes and cures of the present pandemic. It is the most unfortunate scene on TV screens that there are spokesmen as advocates and staunch supporters of the trouble creators like Markaj and Zamayat associates. The panelists usually set aside the broader goals of sane communication i.e., apprise the masses of the facts and figures objectively. On one side, the media of today has been suffering from its own chronic aliment of “demassification” and simultaneously on the other side exhibiting unpleasant and irritating debates on any national issues. The situation has worsened to that extent that TV viewers en masse are feeling hurt due to the irritant debaters. It is not simply painful rather panic creating.
These irritant debaters are peculiarly a few ones and only these irrational irritants are invited as the experts of the debates, discussions, opinions and message giving shows on TV channels. It may be due to convenience of the executives of the channels or their easy accessibility in the vicinity of the establishment of the channel. One prominent reason of inviting the politicians or spokespersons of the political parties may be their ideological representation in the panels. Are the immature and irritant political spokespersons the only right people to analyze and conclude the debates? Many anchors are also so badly pre-occupied with their perceptions of the situation that they interrupt untimely and over reaction as if they are themselves the party workers. It is not only harming the show or quality of the programs rather it creates aversion, apathy and irritation among the viewers in general. Such anchors try to harass the national panelists also. The role of the anchor is only to moderate the panel the discussion by his/her intellect towards right track and regulate the program to a logically sound track for drying worthwhile conclusion and prescriptive recommendations.
An intensive analysis reveals that irritant debaters frequently coming on the TV shows have taken it granted that shouting loudly without loud thinking has made them popular. It may be a fact also that may be getting lot of applause for their irritating, antagonizing and irrational stand in the show. The main casual components of their such defective debates are immaturity, shallow knowledge, lack of impact analysis, ignorance about the serenity of the communicators, impatience, verbosity, incomprehension, thematic, incompetence, disinterest in national and constitutional perspectives etc. Here it is made very clear that neither all anchors nor all debaters are irritants. It is neither ideological commitment nor communal affinity that should dominate the debate. No strong mega-generalizations must be imposed by any debater or anchor. Quality and health of the debate must be ensured along progress of the debate. It requires exhausted homework of all possible intricacies of the issue (s) at debate with only and only state that the debate must conclude with clarity and cast impact on viewers to digest the communications for saner goals. The saner communication does not and must not have space and scope for anger, anguish, retaliation, allegation and counter allegation, lack of authenticity, narcissist affinity with ideology and communality, snubbing, scolding, defamation, etc. It must be borne always in the minds of the program organizers, anchors and debaters that media is for the purpose building the society with mindfulness along national and constitutional cardinal values.
Media holds people’s attention and, hence, its sanity yields rich patriotic dividends. The “people” or the “nation” first, must be the broadest motive and motto. National integration, mass welfare, social harmony, federalism, democratic ethics and ethos, productive citizenships, scientific temper, mutual understanding, appreciation of dissent, patient listening, inclusiveness, etc. must be the cohort of the sane communication, and that too in this period of crucial pandemic scenario. It is advisable that after the end of each panel discussion the feedback analysis of overall program and credibility index of each debater (s) and anchor must be assessed and accredited scientifically. Such scores of the credibility of anchors and debaters must be put on record for their continuance in such programs. No chronic irritants should be allowed to participate further, because their irritating behaviors on TV channels harm heavily the mental health of the people and create ingenuine, divide, distaste and derogation between and among the parties and communities which put country to the irreparable loss.
It would be advisable to prepare a cumulative index of the argument, language, posture, authenticity, nobility, and other parameters of the sane communication which we may term as Debater’s Index of Sane Communications (DISC). On the laid down criteria (parameters), the feedback may be collected, classified and carefully recorded. It would be better to ensure the reliability and validity of the DISC for its objective application. For this scientific task, an autonomous statutory council may be envisaged wherein the representatives from the prevalent bodies likes PCI, PTI, PIB, Prasar Bharti India, Press Guild etc. should be associated. This proposed umbrella organization may also devise, design, delineate and determine the Total Quality of Sane Communications (TQSC). For attaining and ensuring sane communication, media managers, executives, anchors, panelists , debaters must undergo courses orientation, refresher and recurrent education viz. learning, unlearning and re-learning. If these measures are implemented, it is optimistically expected that the media as a whole will regain its mindset (psyche) of okayhood (I am OK) and the viewers (clientele) will develop okayhood in its own collective mindset (psyche). It is the need of the day in our nation. Let us be proactive in this venture to ensure pro-people sane communication with zero bias or prejudice.
About the Author:
Prof. Harikesh Singh was Former Vice Chancellor of Jai Prakash University, Bihar; Former Head and Dean Faculty of Education of Banaras Hindu University; Former Head of Department, Department of Foundations of Education, NIEPA, New Delhi; Former Member, State Advisory Council on Right to Education, Government of Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow and Former National Vice President Acharyakul (founded by Acharya Vinoba Bhave)