A few days ago, a lawyer posted an audio clip on WhatsApp declaring he had given up his lucrative practice in a district court and moved to a remote village. He purchased a large piece of agricultural land and cultivated it. Now he has nearly 1500 grown-up trees that he had planted and is growing vegetables, fruits and other essential crops in the fields which meet all the requirements of his family. He claims that he is not only getting pure and fresh vegetables, but the quality of water has also improved resulting in getting pure drinkable water from his source. He has cattle as well to meet his needs.
The most impressive segment of the audio was that he has not installed TV at his residence and does not subscribe to newspapers even. He is not fed any nonsense dished out by TV or newspapers which is available in abundance 24/7. And needless to say he is happy.
On the other hand, we, the viewers and readers are end up watching the most ludicrous serials and news on the TV channels and newspapers. Most of the serials telecast on TV show intrigues by one or the other wicked character to embarrass the caring family. The script-writers take the viewers for granted. The characters in sitcoms and other shows star in ridiculous roles. The court and hospital scenes are depicted in a weird manner which shocks the sensitivity of the experts in the respective fields. The image of the police is distorted by presenting it as corrupt. The producers take the viewers for a ride and insult the intelligence of the public. The stories defy logic. The themes are shockingly unconvincing and incredulous. The term ‘willing suspension of disbelief’ had been defined by Samuel Taylor Coleridge as willingness to suspend one’s critical faculties and to believe something surreal; sacrifice of realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment. But the hotchpotch being served by the TV channels has crossed those limits also. Coleridge would be turning in his grave at this corrosion.
A friend, who was a senior officer of a premier intelligence agency in India, now settled in Canada also does not watch any news or television, neither does he read any newspaper. He is of the view that one gets distressed and keeps thinking of the state of affairs leading to the political turbulence. He states that the politicians and other sections of the society make tons of money by faking or staging news while the public wastes time evaluating and grumbling over what the politicians are up to. He believes TV shows only end up generating negativity.
The TV and newspapers encourage astrology, religious sermons, superstitions, and highlight miracles.
The Press which is considered to be the Fourth Pillar of the nation has lost the trust of the people and is rightly accused of spreading hatred and fear in society. People of different religions and castes who had harmonious relations in earlier times now look at each other with suspicion only due to the false propaganda and narrative put forward by the media. The news on TV and newspapers present a gloomy picture and the truth is that the press and TV channels are no more independent, bold and courageous. They are tilted towards one or the other political party.
If one is a Muslim and suddenly starts feeling unsafe in the country where one has lived for more than thousand years; if one is a Dalit and starts feeling insulted on every moment of life; if one is a Hindu and suddenly starts feeling that cows are being slaughtered everywhere; if one is a Jain and suddenly starts feeling that religion piety is being compromised; if one is a Punjabi and thinks all the youth are on drugs: just do one thing….Stay away from social media. Don’t watch news and stay away from debates on religion and politics. Just look around you at your friends who belong to different castes, communities and religions And you will find that you are living in one of the best countries in the world!
Jagpal Singh Dara is a retired civil servant now settled in Brampton