AAny channel that interviews two senior EU ministers in a week is worth watching. If these ministers are the Union’s Home Minister, Amit Shah, and the Union’s Foreign Minister, S. Jaishankar, it deserves to be taken seriously.
Serious enough for all channels to air Shah’s interview.
And more seriously than the news channels which relayed every second of the court hearing on Aryan Khan – “Bail or jail?” “(India today) – and who should have wiped the egg from their faces, after Ashish Mishra was arrested by Uttar Pradesh police in connection with the deaths of four farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri last week – remember how TV news channels went out of their way to sympathetically interview him and his father (Union Minister of State for the Interior, Ajay Mishra) and make fun of his possible involvement in the incident ?
So say a big and warm welcome to Sansad TV which made a worthy entry about a month ago, without the kind of promotional fanfare we saw for the recently launched Hours now Navbharat Where Good news today (GNT). This is a two-in-one Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha TV that looks like it came out of Doordarshan Studios, but has a range of programs that deliver more information and knowledge in a day than news channels. In a week.
And with shows hosted by MPs Shashi Tharoor and Priyanka Chaturvedi, former MP Karan Singh, bureaucrat Amod Kanth, former diplomat Vikas Swarup (author of the novel Questions and answers, which went on to become the Oscar winner Slumdog Millionaire), or experts like Dr Ambrish Mithal (respected endocrinologist) and Maroof Raza (strategic affairs expert), it’s a sight for sore eyes. Honestly, wouldn’t you rather watch them than Navika Kumar, Arnab Goswami, Rajdeep Sardesai, Ravish Kumar, Sreenivasan Jain, Anand Narasimhan Anjana Om Kashyap, Rubika Liyaquat, Sudhir Chaudhary or Rajat Gupta and Amish Devgan?
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Two chairs and a table
Of course, the likes of Swarup or Hemant Batra, who presents a show about the laws that “shaped India” on Sansad TV, may lack polite and ease in front of the camera, but they more than make up for it in their sincerity – you feel they are the genuine article as the news anchors always seem to be playing the comedy.
Let’s be clear : Sansad TV is not BBC. But it’s not Doordarshan News Either, although he has his appearance – the production values are pedestrian and he bows to the powers that be: he broadcasts live any speeches made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, important ministers and, of course, the President of Rajya Sabha, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and President of Lok Sabha, Om Birla.
Most studio sets consist of two chairs and a table in the TV studio – with a flowerpot or the occasional vase as an accessory. Inexpensive and better, it serves the purpose of broadcasting a series of studio interviews and talk shows.
The channel cannot claim to be a news channel because it provides information in spurts. It’s best described as a cross between a talk show and a news article – a Sunday magazine that you can browse and find something that interests you.
Si Tharoor interviews celebrities in ‘To The Point’ (artist Anjolie Ela Menon this week), Chaturvedi addresses other MPs (Rita Bahuguna or Gomati Sai from BJP) in ‘Meri Kahaani‘, while Singh talks about religion and faith in’Ek Sang‘ and Kant looks at infrastructure in “Transforming India” – this week saw him deal with atomic energy. As for Swarup, he presents ‘Diplomatic Dispatches’ where Jaishankar made an appearance.
There is also Abhivyakti on different art forms – this week saw Birju Maharaj on kathak. And Dr Mithal presents ‘Healthy India’, where he invites other doctors to advise you on ailments large and small. I watched the episode on diabetes, which didn’t surprise you with some surprising revelations but reminded you of the things you should and shouldn’t do.
On ‘The Defenders’, Raza invites guests to address national security questions: Is India equipped to handle a two-theater war? Besides Batra’s legal spectacle, there is the explicator on the law, ‘Kanoon ka Paatshaala‘.
Read also : PM Modi launches Sansad TV, says important chapter has been added to Indian parliamentary system
Simple but not simplistic
Since the channel is there to present and promote Parliament, there is a plethora of programs devoted to parliamentary and assembly debates, past and present – the excerpts here are too brief – written parliamentary questions, bills that have recently passed (‘Know Your Bills’) and government policy debates – the ‘New India Debate’ goes to universities to discuss issues such as Swachh Bharat or the new education policy with the next generation.
Want to get to know your representatives better? Well you can but not sure ‘Aapke Sansad‘- the show follows MPs to their constituencies but is essentially a public relations job, which salutes the many contributions they have made without pointing out the shortcomings – but it is Sansad TV so what are you waiting for? Visited Mathura with Hema Malini and watched her morning routine and city tours. Hmm.
At ‘Samvaad‘you can meet chief ministers – met Basvaraj Bommai from Karnataka and Manohar Lal Khattar from Haryana.
Apart from Parliament, there are other internal shows, like “Love You Zindagi” which brings you personalized lifestyle advice – how to fight insomnia (practice yoga, idiot) – “Vibrant India”, which is kind of like “Love You Zindagi” ‘So I don’t know what the difference is – I saw an episode on how to cook sattu. “Smart Kheti”, as the name suggests, features farming practices from across the country – growing bananas in a village in Bihar, for example. And so on.
Sansad TV doesn’t splash, but it doesn’t make noise either. It does not innovate, but it does not create artificial conflicts either. It may appear to have more BJP members than other parties, but this reflects the makeup of Parliament.
Granted, he has a relaxed and boring old-fashioned character that would dismay CGI television aficionados today.
But the average and ordinary viewer can take comfort in it, because although its presentation is simple, it is not simplistic – if you listen carefully, you learn from it. Which is more than what can be said for most of the TV news.
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