The problem is the TV

And yet many people want us to believe the genesis is something else

Dateline SRINAGAR

ARJIMAND HUSSAIN TALIB

In December 2011 when this column wrote “Who wants the dirty TV?” and argued that Kashmir needs to control its TV content, not many people were impressed. Today, all that needs to be re-stated, with a far greater emphasis and urgency.
The horrendous acid attack on a Srinagar girl on Wednesday has shaken Kashmiri society just like Amanat’s tragedy in Delhi shocked the world. But the element of momentary shock is not enough. Shock often comes with a sense of denial. And denial blinds people from realities. In such an environment, it is also normal for people to take up wrong causes. We must recognise the genesis of our problems without blinding ourselves to our personal biases and likes and dislikes. 
Societal violence has been rare in Kashmir, if not completely absent. But we are going too far now. We must act fast now to restore the cherished beauty and the quality of the famed Kashmiri life.
So where do we start from? The first thing we must do is not listen to ‘genderists’, who are trying to make us believe that it is a case of ‘gender violence.’ If we have our ears and eyes open, we will appreciate the seriousness of societal crimes happening in Kashmir today. Suicides, drug abuse, alcoholic abuse, domestic violence, marital crimes, crimes against children and what not are rampant in Kashmiri society today. Our once-stable family unit is crumbling. What happened at Parraypora in Srinagar is just one manifestation of that.
The second – and the most important - thing that we need to do is do some mind mapping of our youngsters. As we just scratch the surface, we discover how profoundly the television (TV) impacts their cognition, emotions and actions. And it is not only the youngsters. Family dramas have changed what psychologists would call the chemistry of cognition and behaviours in our homes. Practices and ideas that were alien to Kashmiri culture are now part of our lives. No one is immune. 
In the era preceding the 90s, TV had a limited penetration in our homes. The content was rather inconsequential to impact culture and behaviours in a significant manner. Such is the content and the power of TV today that it is the strongest factor in influencing the lives of children, adults and even the elderly to some extent. And please do not exclude women from this influence.
Today India happens to be one of those countries where the TV content has transcended all the acceptable limits of decency, morality and ethics. There is hardly any content segregation based on age and gender. Every act in the TV sector today in India is profit-driven. Ethics, values and cultural sensitivities don’t seem to matter. The results are for all to see.
Government regulations in India on TV content are either inadequate or are unable to stand to the power of money and influence. As such common drawing room family viewership has become impossible. And this situation demands a collective social audit and some degree of censorship in Kashmir.
The Parraypora incident may not be entirely TV-inspired but one is tempted to ask wherefrom such an idea actually comes from?
For a social movement that will regulate our home TV content it is the parents first who must be ready for sacrifice. No parents should expect discipline from their children and societal crimes to be minimised if they are not inclined to embrace TV censorship at home.
Some people amongst us remain averse to the idea of TV control. One of the reasons for that is the absence of decent avenues of entertainment and socialisation in Kashmir today. TV remains perhaps the only “entertainment avenue” as traditional socialisation has been lost to hollow modernity. A social movement for change needs to re-invent Kashmir’s traditional entertainment avenues and socialisation.
I am also aware that many ‘modernists’ would dismiss this idea of censorship altogether. But they are ignorant of the fact that child and family-sensitive TV viewership is practised even in some of the most modern societies, including in the West. There are standards for TV viewership. Even China revised those standards in 2011, and took some drastic steps to cut TV content which was seen impacting family and social values there.
For a social movement to take roots, it is time for Kashmir’s civil society, including business, religious and social leaders, to meet and chart an agenda for action. A consensus must decide our TV content conforming to our social sensitivities and sensibilities.
At the end of the day we need a list of channels meant for children and adult viewership in our homes. We need to act now and act tough. Failure to act would mean a social doom.
The columnist is a technical consultant in international development and a Contributing Editor with Greater Kashmir    

Lastupdate on : Sat, 5 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 5 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 6 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST




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