CHANNEL SURF – TIMES NOW
Arnab’s panel on the Northern Grid failure made for some high-voltage drama.
When you get two pan-India power outages in two days you have every reason to be outraged and want some heads to roll. After all, these blackouts left trains stranded, miners trapped, the Delhi Metro hung in mid-air and immobile underground and almost 600 million people were without power (with an equal amount of useless tweets). And this was a made-to-order Newshour situation.
Newshour on Tuesday had a mega panel consisting of Capt Ajay Singh Yadav – Haryana Power Minister, Naresh Gujral – Rajya Sabha MP and Shiromani Akali Dal member, Renuka Chaudhary – Congress spokesperson, Siddharth Nath Singh from BJP, Gaurav Bhatia – SP’s National President of the Legal wing, Gopal Saxena – CEO of BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd, Harry Dhaul – Founder & Director General of The Independent Power Producers Association of India, and Consumer Expert Dr Bejon Misra.
Arnab must have found a kindred spirit in Dr Misra who seemed to be as angry as the host. Understandable, if he is representing the consumer. As he said, nobody listens to the consumer.
But the star of the show was of course Arnab Goswami. Angry and demanding answers for the “indiscipline” of states who had overdrawn power from the national grid and been allowed to do so because they were close to the Congress (UP and Haryana, he means you). Sample the following gems –
“Gaurav, take responsibility tonight”. (For what? He’s the president of the legal wing not the power minister) or “Did you feel as an ally you could get away?” (Not on Arnab’s watch you don’t) and “Onus is on you to prove your innocence tonight” (If not you’re doomed to an eternity in the Newshour studio).
Arnab may of course have a point with the lack of action against the overdrawing states because of UPA’s preoccupation with staying in power (no pun intended). But the fire and brimstone gets a bit too much. It also draws away from the fact that he did seem to have more research than other anchors, in the form of his famous and much-touted “facts”.
Sometimes though, Arnab’s belligerence is useful. For example, there was a moment when BJP’s Siddharth Nath Singh (is it just me or does he look a little bit like Amar Singh?) started waxing eloquent about how during NDA’s tenure when there was a blackout in 2001 their government had taken steps to ensure it didn’t happen again. Here Arnab stopped him and said, “Can we talk about now and not look at what you did in 2001 because then we’ll also have to look at why it happened in 2001.” It was a beautiful moment!
But let’s not get swayed. “The immediate issue here is indiscipline” and for that Arnab needed to “crack the whip” and “read them the riot act”.
Of course, the show had non-political panelists as well who were able to provide a calm, technical view point (apart from Mr Misra). Surprisingly, in response to Harry Dhaul’s reading of the situation, Arnab said, “the immediate reason for today’s collapse may not be ‘overdrawl’ of power”. WHAT? Wasn’t that the whole premise of the show? Is this the TV version of not letting facts get in the way of a good story? Later again, when Dhaul said that the grid is made in such a way that it takes into account overdrawing, Arnab kept insisting on the “indiscipline” of some states. The good thing about Arnab is that come what his panelists may say, Arnab will never shift from his argument.
Perhaps he shared the view of Mr Misra, who said that the consumer didn’t want “technical jargon” (which is true to an extent) and even got Arnab to say, “I understand your angst”. Woo hoo! We know who’s going to be invited again.
However, on a serious note, may be the consumer doesn’t want technical jargon in the immediate aftermath of such a blackout. It will help everyone though, in the long run if people like Dhaul, Gopal Saxena and Mr Misra were part of a show that dwelt on the hows and whys too instead of just a daily dose of blame-mongering by politicians.