Saturday, October 01, 2005

Watching News For Entertainment

Vasu Reddy from Chicago
7th April 2005

Only recently we acquired the pleasure of viewing two Indian channels on a 24/7 basis. Being a Telugu home naturally we subscribed to Gemini and Teja Television channels along with the dish network. The experience of subscribing to the service and getting service installed it self is an entertaining experience, but the value of these channels is immense when you watch these Indian channels. As a late acquirer of the pleasure of subscribing to these channels, I allowed my little experience of about five weeks to reflect on the entertainment value of the highly priced service.

The daytime soap operas on American television probably continue to enthrall the audiences for generation’s prior and generations to come. I still remember the afternoons being packed in the common room where a television was available, when the soaps were on. People were glued to the television, and nothing happened for a year or so but the audiences closely followed the twists and turns of the daily drama. In the 80’s I was an avid watcher of the primetime drama called “Dallas”. Watching the weekly drama was not just entertaining but something dramatic. The weekly wait for the hour long show was well rewarded with the predictable events that seemed melodramatic, while taking a great deal of tension away when you finished the hour. I think I might even contemplated on guessing what could happen this week. Although I don’t think I started watching “Dallas” when it first came out I am sure I was one of the avid followers of the drama. It was an experience I no longer can describe. Coming back to my current experience of watching television, the brief latest muse is nothing like watching “Dallas”. It is predictable and entertaining. First comment on this is that the news is not live in the USA homes, although the screen says it is live. For that matter all talk shows and or news shows say live but they are at least 12 hours time delay to provide the USA audience their daily fodder of news, movies, music, talk shows and serials (soaps).

The reason I elaborated on the “LIVE” is that after the first one day cricket match between India and Pakistan that India won (I knew this from scanning the Internet and knowing Sehwag and Dravid scoring centuries), Teja made some comments on their nightly news. As usual the comments were about the ground, the respective team captains comments on their team’s upcoming performance and the weather report for the match. Although about 12 hours behind the LIVE label on the television.

My Favorite Television Watching Session

Around 8:30 PM each night and repeated with the same 30 minutes news on Teja Television is the most entertaining part of my watching the news in Telugu. Although I admit the news half hour is no longer the same entertainment since the assembly sessions ended for the Andhra Pradesh state. First thing that entertains me is the language that is used on the assembly floor. Fir those of my readers who do not know the current political background in the Andhra Pradesh state, the current ruling party is Congress and the opposition party is Telugu Desam. There are a number of smaller parties who have won seats in the assembly including TRS. Dr. YS Raja Sekhar Reddy is the Chief Minister of the state representing congress and Mr. N. Chandra Babu Naidu is the leader of opposition party Telugu Desam. Congress came into power about a year ago, by winning margins and replacing Telugu Desam, which was in power for about nine years. Forgive my political history of Andhra Pradesh, as I am at best spotty with it.

The daily assembly sessions were presented in short segments, so they capsulated news presented quite intense personal attack each day by the opposition and challenged by the ruling party. Both leaders were on the assembly floor (they were most days when I watched the news during the sessions) and were part of the verbal exchanges. Not surprisingly no matter that was relevant was allowed to come up on the floor by the opposition party, that has a couple of senior leaders who constantly cribbed and challenged every aspect of the ruling party’s agenda.

As a deviation I made a list of things I thought I would follow if I ever became a politician:

If I am in Power

1. Pretend that everything that you do is only for the good of the people.
2. Anger is not a good emotion when you are already in power. Pretend to be above board even if you are really pissed off at the comments being made at you and your family and friends by the opposition.
3. Make sure that the people remember the promises you made by attempting to keep them on the agenda.
4. Do good things for at least your own districts.
5. Don’t fear the opposition party’s remarks as if you remember you made the same comments and they did not stick and you won.
6. You did something right or did something to convince people you deserve to be the ruling party, so do the good things you promised when the budgets and time allows them.
7. If the same party you belong to is also in the center make sure enough central leaders come to your state as it is unbeatable to get big powers who don’t speak your language come to your state and say lots of good things about you although in a language most commoners won’t understand.
8. I think you definitely must look like the winner as long as you are in power so the opposition looks like they are crybabies when they complain. Simply respond with a smile or let the public know you are there as they want you there and the public was democratic in throwing the opposition out.

If I am in Opposition

1. Never allow any issue that has any bearing on public needs to come on the floor. It might help the ruling party.
2. All things you did right must be wrong as you are out of power. So, even the most progressive aspects of the new government must be obstructed.
3. Make sure you raise the stink on the new governments major projects by blaming them for nepotism, grating favors and political anarchy.
4. Make sure any personal holdings you have acquired are accounted for and legally protected. Otherwise give them to charity.
5. Put really smart guys on television so they make no sense to common folks by speaking in English or some other foreign language that no one understands including the TV anchors. The TV anchors are really always in the opposition, as they want the dirt to keep their 30 minutes of coverage live everyday. If you are really smart and you do the people’s work when would you find time to talk to someone who is wearing sponsored clothes and has no idea of politics and asks you subjective political questions and expect you to answer them.
6. When you make noise on the assembly floor share that with your fellow politicians so you won’t be the only person asking irrelevant questions that are fully avoidable.
7. Walk the Gandhi path, as it will always work to follow the nations father. If nothing people will give you sympathy if not votes.
8. You might want to be nice to some one in the ruling party just in case you want to change parties.

Going Back to Entertainment

Both parties really yell pretty hard and address their rhetoric to the speaker, yelling “adhyaksha” meaning president of the house in my translation. That gentleman must have gone mad everyday, as no one seems to care for quorum or manners. They simply yell their hearts and speak out of turn. Sometimes even the chief minister gets interrupted while he is explains the issue or debating the opposition. The opposition leader specialized in walk out with his party every single time he has no more yelling or debate left to counter the ruling party. I must assume that the ruling party or the majority did not care much as they pass the laws or budgets with simple majority, and the opposition was taking early lunch break or had something more important than finishing the daily sessions. This walk out business is wonderful as they simply go away and don’t have to sit and listen to the ruling party really do some good work for the people. It will not help the opposition if the ruling party really does the good deeds for the people, and walk out supposedly is a form of protest that is lodged against the wishes of people, where are the opposition is taking time off from people’s work.

I have to say a few words on the speaker. This gentleman was a handsome and well-attired politician. But he never got heard and spoke to the yelling and screaming members with as much decorum as possible reminding them of the rules of the house and behavior that befits the house. He spoke English and Telugu very well, and I wonder if the speaker’s job is worth keeping for a full five-year tenure if this year’s exhibition is going to continue every year. I seem to like him, as he seems to be coolly reminding everyone of the rules, but no one seems to care. God Bless Him.

I was sad when the assembly sessions ended at the end of April and thus ended up recounting my entertaining sessions during the brief time I had the pleasure of the Indian channels. I also was full of pointers for both the ruling and opposition parties on their exemplary behavior in public. Lastly I think the TV channels need to find capsulation of them into a daily serial as the viewers will enjoy the daily drama of yelling and screaming while the parties are away and not in the assembly.

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