I was watching Arnab’s news hour today where he was talking about VIP behaviour in India and how they need to behave. It was trial in the media, transposing the national anger onto himself and most importantly making sure everyone agreed with his point of view !! I like Arnab – he started out well by fearlessly asking difficult questions on our behalf to important public figures but he has lost his way along the way…. Maybe the heady power of seeing a politician struggle to answer his question or some clueless expert agreeing with him has made him feel he is the answer to all the ills that plague India.
A week back I watched Tim Sebastian conduct his debate program “The Outsider” on the topic of “India is not the place for women”. He had the same challenges that Arnab does – panelists who want to make a point and a live audience asking questions and a topic that is touchy and tough, our female infanticide rate can shame God, leave alone Man :(. The debate was conducted civilly, he would give a warning when the speaker had one minute left and he was better prepared than the panelists and not once was he out of control. Another outstanding thing was, he was merely conducting the debate, he asked questions to both sides, but he never offered an opinion. He didn’t even pronounce a verdict, it was a poll that decided the result. Tim also spoke the least – he didn’t write a novel where a few words sufficed.
Arnab has to learn a few things if he has to stay relevant. He needs to stop forcing his opinion on the panelists and the public. He needs to allow people to respond in full. He needs to stop interrupting. He needs to bottle up his personal biases and throw them away – I want to hear the true expert speak, not what Arnab wants him to say, but what he wants to say. He also needs to stop seeing ghosts where there are none – like today when he said Goni was trying to threaten him. I don’t think Goni even had the thought of threatening Arnab. Unfortunately Arnab is not as important as he would like to believe he is. The only two times I have seen Arnab behave himself – one, in his interview with Rishi Kapoor after “Agneepath” released, when he allowed Rishi Kapoor to say whatever he wanted to without interrupting and second, when he interviewed Jayalalitha. Arnab stayed respectful right through that interview. So he can be civil and be normal when he chooses to be. Wish he learns !! If he doesn’t, he will soon be relegated to being one of the panelists on some innocuous chat show ….
All of us are just as indispensable as a fist out of water ! Arnab is a good mirror for many of us – we need to ask a few questions of ourselves as well, do we railroad our friends, co-workers, family into accepting our beliefs and ideas ? Are we constantly refusing to listen and interrupting the other ? Are we seeing reality for what it is, not through the color of our biases ? Good questions !