Dilli ka jawab nahin!
Thanks to such extensive coverage, Kesavan in Kayankulam, Kerala, knew what the trends were in Daryaganj at 10.42 am. So, are we in for an info revolution on TV when every civic /panchayat poll gets analysed nationally by experts,
asks AJITH PILLAI in a wacky new column
Sunday, Apr 22 11:05:20, 2012
Dipped in Witriol
Most Delhites believe that their city/state is the centre of the universe. This conclusion was arrived at post Independence when adapting the Copernicus/ Galileo construct a few presswallahs searching for a news peg over large shots of rum concluded that the planets (read the rest of India) had no choice but to orbit round the sun (Rajdhani, Dilli). This seemingly innocuous observation spread like wildfire and soon engulfed the entire nation. Interestingly, the `Delhi is of prime interest’ concept was analysed at length in a treatise by Joseph Henry Joseph, a lesser known Canadian scholar from Saskatchewan who spent nine years in the 90s in Delhi. His 650 page tome-- `Why Does The Nation Quake When Delhi Trembles And Its Impact On The Psyche Of The Royal Bengal Tiger and Flight of Pigeons ’-- would have created waves. But Random House, Simon and Schuster and six other publishers refused to publish it and the work lay buried in the Wascana Centre—a park in Regina, the capital of Saskatchewan province.
But that apart, the so-called, or what Delhities perceive as the national obsession with sadda city manifested itself on TV screens on April 17 when the municipal corporation of Delhi (MCD) election results began rolling in. National news channels devoted hours of live coverage on the fluctuating fortunes of the various political parties who had fielded candidates. In fact, on D-Day there were panel discussions with experts (the usual suspects who can hold forth on anything from politics to whether investing in expensive watches helps one gain time) who dissected every trend, every gain, every loss, every nuance in great minutiae. One channel (NDTV 24/7) even had a psephologist thrown in as a bonus!
Thanks to such extensive coverage, Kesavan in Kayankulam, Kerala, knew what the trends were in Daryaganj at 10.42 am. Tamol Bhattacharjee, New Alipore, Kolkata, was kept informed about how the JD (U) candidate was faring in the Govindpuri ward at 10.48. And Sangeeta Naik from Nashik, Maharashtra had such nuggets of information that only those watching TV would have had access to —the MCD elections saw 272 wards going to the polls with 17 parties contesting the elections. The voter turnout was impressive at 55 per cent and in North Delhi BJP made major gains.
All three have apparently told friends and acquaintances—one of them even confided (so goes the grapevine in Nashik)-- to her pet vineyard that in this knowledge age, useless information (also found in confusing and complex graphics in newspapers and magazines) have their uses in times of food for no thought shortages.
But why have news channels of late begun to give prime importance to civic polls in Delhi and to some extent in Mumbai? Well, the subterranean buzz (which registered 6.5 on the Gupshup meter with its epicentre at the offices of the Press Council of India) has it that a study by a new survey agency on the block –Easy and Nelson— convinced the channelwallahs that MCD elections must be covered with all earnestness. Tracking down Mr Easy Doesit and Ms Nelson Mandela-- her parents had a harsh sense of humour and never wanted their daughter to be traced through Google search since any attempt would only lead them to `the Mandela’. As for Mr Easy he never joined Facebook, has no e-mail account or mobile and still communicates through postcards. But the duo was the one who went all the way to Regina, Saskatchewan, to recover Joseph Henry Joseph’s tome which they hope the Election Commission will print for mass distribution.
But to get to the point, details of the Easy & Nelson survey --Delhi is India, India is Delhi—has been selectively leaked. The highlights of the opinion poll (covering 20 million adults, 2 million growing infants, 6 million trees and 30 million TV sets over a decade starting 2000) reveal the following:
§ 65 % were interested in the MCD poll results. (Those who fell into the `Don’t Know/Can’t Say’ category were not factored in).
§ 70 % otherwise polled were keen to have minute by minute by minute updates
§ 65 % per cent were all for TV debates since five experts /politicians shouting at each other was more entertaining than watching boring soaps.
(Incidentally, 95 % of those polled fell into the ‘Don’t Know/ Can’t Say category’. But they were non-Delhites or disgruntled TV sets and trees facing the threat of being felled).
As one would expect, the survey goes beyond Delhi. It concludes that people across the nation would like TV channels to give a vote by vote account of what happens when civic polls are held in Kozhikode, Salem, Warangal, Ranchi, Guwahati…
So, are we in for an info revolution on TV when every civic /panchayat poll gets analysed nationally by experts? Or will it be only limited to Diili and amchi Mumbai? According to Easy and Nelson if people can watch repeat telecasts of cricket league matches played in South Africa why can’t they watch live poll results in say the Cherianad panchayat elections in Kerala? Politics, they feel, like cricket is also a religion…