Thursday, March 26, 2009

Advani advocates

Today Advani challenged Manmohan to a live TV debate a la US presidential elections. While this challenge was blurted out more in fury at the criticism by Manmohan Singh of his essentially destructive presence in Indian politics, the suggestion in itself is a one I welcome and even hope will be realised this year. Based on the US TV presidential debates it is clearl to me that debates will not be any indication of a party or individual's capacity. All things popular are ultimately about the right rhetoric. If the masses are educated, then the rhetoric must come with a generous dose of teary-eyed elocution from a man with a university degree to appeal to the educated man's own sense of being intellectual. Anyhow, I still welcome live TV debate because a democracy is ultimately a popular system of governance and it is essential to keep the populace in the loop, to borrow an americanism. Although Indians will refuse to buy or be ignorant of condoms, they are all aware of and will save up to buy a TV. The reach of this device is incredible, and I think it is a powerful means for both sides to spread the rhetoric. Although there are TV ads, a 'special occasion' can attract the attention of a significantly greater audience than regular annoying ads. Take the example of the Filmfare awards in India or the Oscars. Like these events, with sufficient media propaganda, we can have the whole nation engaged in watching the event. The US media propaganda for instance has been so successful that people not just in US but all over the world watch the two noise-makers make noise in the noise-making event. And so, the live debate can form an important platform for rhetoric and get the people involved. This is critical. Besides, because it does have the title of a debate. Although the individuals contesting can say just about anything they want about the future, the past has to be cited(even if unverified) and the overall appearance has to be of a rational process of dialogue, to a reasonable extent. The benefit that this could have is to get the lesser educated masses thinking of the democractic process along rational lines instead of personal sops. Of course, it is a far fetched hope that one debate can make our uneducated masses see reason. But that is not what I expect. A human being has an instinctive capacity for reasoning, however primitive it may be. When he is bombarded for an hour or so with dialogue and debate on policies and reforms and such like instead of promises of sarees and lungis, I expect somewhere in that primitive brain a blob will shift uneasily and wake from its slumber. It will sense something wrong and wonder. That much is enough.

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