The dumbing down of political discourse, the absence of issues, which concerned and sober citizens worry about in Election 2004, is the first casualty of a bloated electronic media gone berserk. You and I can do nothing about it since many of India's 650-million-strong electorate is looking for laughs, not enlightenment. And if your programming is geared to the lowest common denominator, it is inevitable that elections and entertainment will become synonymous.
Why do they do it? Why do politicians submit themselves to such indignity? Vanity, of course, is part of the answer. Seeing one's face on the screen is no doubt thrilling, and being told the next day by your colleagues and rivals that they saw you on the idiot box the previous evening is even more thrilling. Some politicians even believe they can project an 'image' exclusively through TV, which allegedly has a pan-Indian appeal. I think this image-enhancement business is complete nonsense since not a single viewer remembers what the sage politician has uttered. The words are forgotten even as they are spoken. Not surprisingly, no one ever says, "I heard you on TV", they always say, " I saw you on TV". Therefore, you need to look like Aishwarya Rai or Shahrukh Khan to make an impact in such a crazy medium.
It is vaulting vanity, then, which explains the present madness. I cannot claim to be a Mahatma Gandhi or a Mother Teresa when it comes to self-love, but I hope I know where to draw the line. Seeing my unmemorable mug once a month on the screen is more than enough for me.