Pots and Pans have a great history about them. We can’t live without them and they aren’t just things in the kitchen. Toddlers and kids find endless joy and banging them all the time. Pots and Pans have been used to celebrate the New Year and people bang them to even keep evil spirits away. It would have been nice if evil could really be kept away with just pots and pans. In the small narrow alleys of many old cities in India people use pots and pans to warn the arrival of police during agitations. Last year the Argentinians had their own TeamAnna moment when their citizens agitated against corruption; crime and inflation (see pic). And what did they do it with? Pots and pans, of course! After all, in the global village there is something indeed that unites all of us. Pots and pans create a lot of noise, draw a lot of attention and numb our heads. There’s even a family song about “Singin’ in the kitchen, bangin’ on the pots and pans” (Youtube) which was a chart hit.
Recently on Twitter an interesting question came up about our panellists on nightly news debates. Many didn’t know that these panellists are not “free”; they are “paid” to appear on TV channels. Everyone, from Swapan Dasgupta to Pooja Bedi, all are paid for appearances and their views on TV. Let me caution you. There is nothing wrong or unethical about this. If SwapanD writes for a column for a newspaper he would be paid for it, so would a Shobha De. They can, of course, volunteer a free-appearance. The exceptions to payments are usually spokies of the govt and political parties. These spokies usually turn up to defend their party positions on debates. This could also be true for others who are “defending” allegations against them. But they too can be paid if there are featured shows like ‘The Big Fight’ on NDTV. This is not true for interviews. For instance, Kanchan Gupta’s Twitter account was listed to be blocked last year by Sibal & Co. So when he was interviewed by some channels on the topic he doesn’t appear as a panellist but as one being interviewed.
All our TV channels have a database of panellists. Let me explain. Supposing a channel is doing a debate on politics the ‘booker’ (the guy who books the panellists for the show) types in “Politics” as a search-term into the database and up come Vinod Sharma, SwapanD and so on. You type “Woman” and you would probably get Ranjana Mukherjee, Pooja Bedi. How would you ever learn to even outrage unless you’ve heard Pooja Bedi? You type “Anything on Women” you are guaranteed to get Mamta Sharma of the NCW. You search “Elections”... Yeah you guessed right, you’ll get Yogendra Yadav & Co. You type “Islam”; you will likely get Zakir Naik and Shah Rukh Khan. You type “Expert on everything” you’ll get only one name: Suhel Seth. You type in “Gujarat & Modi” … Oh that’s a very long list and the specialists run into thousands to be listed here. You type “Unwanted” you will definitely get MediaCrooks! That’s the way it works and it’s as simple as that. We do owe much of your current-affairs education to all these panellists.
Then there are other shows aired on TV which are from a programme held elsewhere. These shows too employ panellists and speakers. This is where the usual TV host or anchor gets lucky. He or she too gets paid like a regular panellist and the guests get paid even more handsomely for their appearance and their lecture. This pic is from the HT Summit 2012. See the nice guy on the left? And the nice guy on the right? Both get paid for this appearance. The wonderful part is that these guys can be paid with YOUR money. So next time you run across such a show on TV, the least you can do is watch it since you’ve indirectly and unknowingly paid for it already. (Read about HTSummit2012). So you see, even if you missed out playing with pots and pans as a child or never banged those in an agitation, you’ve lost nothing. You get it every night on your TV.
If you think all panellists are greedy and appear only for money then that’s being very unkind. All of them have other professional pursuits from which they earn enough and don’t depend on the panellist’s fee for survival. Do some people have enough motivation to appear on a TV debate without a payment? Absolutely! Recognise the faces in this pic? All of them are champions of justice and the fight for justice needs no other motivation; especially when it comes to Gujarat and Narendra Modi. Most people have no idea the sacrifices these panellists make and the suffering they go through for you. Yes, they run into Arnab Goswami frequently and that takes a lot of courage and sacrifice. So let’s not be under any impression that a panellist’s life is easy. They also run the risk of their agenda being exposed if their opinions and utterances turn out wrong and their targets are not met.
Take Shabnam Hashmi, for instance. Till the other day she claims she was being chased by TimesNow for debates and appearances. They even sent her pick-up cars. Turns out her outfit called ANHAD operates from a premises given to a Planning Commission member (read Pioneer article). Now, that’s not legal and may have consequences. She claims she operates from a “Garage”. Wow! The late Steve Jobs has indeed inspired many, hasn’t he? Shabnam quit all her govt posts after the Gujarat elections and now refuses to appear on TimesNow. That guy Modi may have won the elections but imagine the loss to humanity. We have lost a panellist! You can read Shabnam’s sob-story here.
I sometimes wonder why parents started giving pots and pans to their toddlers. I am no exception. For all the noise and hell they raise, these pots and pans seem to be a sure way of keeping the little ones productively employed. These childhood habits are difficult to let go. So now we have our panellists doing all the work. They create hell and all the noise and they’re lucky. They even get paid for it. Nothing you hear on TV is free. Nothing!