An Indian Agenda
What we have in today’s India is one-way Talk TV – where the anchor holds sway, where the same political faces are seen, where rational discussion and debate gives way to emotionally charged rhetoric outbursts and rhetoric. A symbiotic relationship has developed between the BJP and some of the leading TV (and print) channels. Traditional media no longer holds the government and the political leadership to account; they are all on the same side, acting as amplifiers and mouthpieces of the government. It is almost like India has spawned dozens of clones of Doordarshan and the Press Information Bureau. In their studios, there is no discussion on why India needed the world’s most stringent lockdown, why migrant workers had to suffer, why is China still occupying Indian territory, why the independence of institutions is being trampled, why jobs have gone missing, and why cronyism is on the rise. In return for its loyalty, media gets the oxygen it needs – advertising rupees and survival.
My belief is that this still caters to a small audience, and there is an opening for talk radio – where the listeners are as engaged and there is more information, analysis and education, rather than misinformation, entertainment and conspiracy theories. If there is a hope for holding leaders to account and changing minds, it can come from new independent voices. Talk radio hosts can be India’s salvation.
Here is an agenda for future Indian talk radio hosts:
- Focus on the future, not the past
- Make freedom and prosperity as the twin pillars for content
- Lay out the choice Indians have – stagnation or upward mobility, past or future, kakistocracy or democracy, serfdom or freedom, cronyism or fairness, wealth redistribution or wealth creation, poverty or prosperity
- Ask the hard questions: Why are Indians not rich? What will make them rich?
- Encourage debate, not diatribes
- Hold the governments (Centre and States) to account on economic matters
- Focus on the rules, not rulers
- Discuss the right role for government in our lives, business and society
- Given the lack of experts in government, articulate an alternative roadmap
- Help foster the growth of a new generation of political entrepreneurs
I think there are many people in India who want betterment for their families and children as their primary agenda. They do not want to get caught into civilisational debates about the past, but genuinely want a tomorrow that has more opportunities than today. They need their voices heard. They need a megaphone for their aspirations. Talk radio can be their voice and platform. The listeners can in turn provide the political entrepreneurs and foot soldiers for the revolution India needs. Talk radio can take up the responsibility that Indian media has abdicated. What India’s talk radio movement needs are pioneers willing to create a new industry.