Of late, Indian television has seen more experts than there is news to report. There are experts on subjects and then there are abject experts. There are those who are aligned to one political party and then there are those who are non-aligned to the subject being discussed. There are extremists on Indian news channels who would make the Taliban look angelic and then there are doves who would make pigeons look aggressive.
But there is a larger affliction that needs to be addressed: the one related to being able to make a point without clearing one’s throat or throwing something at the anchor. What is sadly lacking in India is the ability to hear great orators on television. We either see interrupters or the modern-day Vajpayees whose pauses say more than their words. So this is a list of people who would ordinarily bore us into surfing or switching off but inevitably they have a stranglehold on our remotes; that when these folks are on the box, even the remotes take sympathy on them. This list is personal and Outlook has indemnified me from any civil or criminal defamation suits since I already have my hands full with such suits. Please read them in the spirit in which I have prepared this list: an opinion that is personal and deeply honest.
Bore #1: Venkaiah Naidu: Of him I can safely say, he is probably the only human being who, when he opens his mouth, speaks in three languages—at the same time: in English, Hindi and Telugu, which while for national integration is good, but for comprehension, is terrible. So if he is speaking on the Babri Masjid, you might just think he is putting forth an argument for baby food.
Illustration by Sorit
Bore #2: Sanjay Jha: I have no idea what he does. But neither does he or at least that is what comes across from the many introductions that anchors give of him. The one thing I do know is he is the perennial unofficial spokesman of the Congress party and/or the First Family which many a time is the same thing. The beard is reminiscent of a brooder who has lost his way: both with intelligent innocence and a loss of any kind of coherence. He is a perfect watch the night before you have blood tests. He will put you to sleep without you having to resort to any pills.
Bore #3: Renuka Chowdhury: She is an amazing looking person on television. She will smile, roll her eyes, cock a snook, raise her eyebrows but never say anything substantive. She more than adequately makes up for the PM’s poker face and stubborn silence. The reason why I would classify her a bore is because you cannot see the same sections of the Ramlila (or for that matter Kuchippudi) every evening on your TV set! Having said that, she is more fun than most of the party spokespersons we have blabbering on television.
Bore #4: Smriti Irani: She was very good as the perfect bahu but then speaking on television requires a little more than being tearful at the drop of every TRP. She is boring because she is forever pontificating in a manner that seems to suggest that while she cares for you, she despises your very existence: much like what the average Indian bahu thinks of her mother-in-law in any case. She is dripping with affection one moment and then completely acerbic in another but I guess she still has to get out of the TV serial mode into a serious TV domain mode. It will happen. Give it time. She will be ready by 2025.
Bore #5: Madhu Kishwar: She is strident, militant and virulent. She’s also the only one who hits back at TV anchors with letters than by speaking on the programme itself. For, when she does, no one (not even her) can be heard because she is shrill and delirious with rage. On the many programmes I’ve been with her, I have cowered in the wake of her rage and uninspired anger but have never had the courage until Outlook gave me this unfettered opportunity!
Bore #6: Suhel Seth: This man, seemingly a marketing guru, seems to believe he is an expert on everything. Does winning school and college debates give him the right to air his opinion on every issue on every goddamn channel? Even though I know what he does, I still believe that while he is a treat to listen to for his oratorical skills, his repetitive appearances on the box are a tad boring. So my advice to him would be to cut out frequent television visitations and instead focus on becoming a journalist at Outlook.
(Suhel Seth is managing partner of Counselage India. He can be reached at suhel AT counselage.com)
Even in college debates, I’d admire Suhel Seth (The Abject Experts) for being such a glib, forceful speaker despite a complete lack of substance. Good to see he’s made a career out of it.
Dipto C., New York
Suhel thinks sarcasm and attempted humour pass for informed commentary. Actually, that needs some knowledge other than how to sell things for a commission.
Sharat Chandra, Kalpakkam
At least the guy had the good sense to include himself.
Arun Maheshwari, Bangalore
Shobha De, Suhel Seth, Arnab Goswami, Vinod Mehta...this is one clubby news channel.
Someone needs to tell Suhel Seth that he’s too old to compete for the Spelling Bee (The Abject Expert). His arguments are full of fancy words, but devoid of common sense.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
>> Three questions for Madhu Kishwar: Dilip D’Souza
Stupid questions and stupid article. No doubt it appealed to the resident hate monger.
Bore #5: Madhu Kishwar
Three questions for Madhu Kishwar: Dilip D’Souza
Her tweet last week: "Godse had serious differences with Gandhi & took full responsibility for his act. I salute his courage."
She truly has gone bonkers!
Someone needs to tell Suhel Seth...he is too old to compete for the spelling Bee. His arguments are full of fancy words........but devoid of common sense!!
I used to appreciate Suhel's oratory skill in college debates.
That is what this man, have in abundance.
Please have a look at above link.
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