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Political Change in Times of 24x7 Television

Roshni Sengupta

Edited by Somnath Batabyal , Angad Chowdhry, Meenu Gaur, and Matti Pohjonen
Routledge, New Delhi, 2011, pp. 230, 795.00

VOLUME XXXV NUMBER 12 December 2011

In 2008, as America cheered and roared for change, Barack Hussein Obama, the son of an African father and a Caucasian mother, became the 44th President of the United States of America. Considering the blood splattered, radically disturbing history of the country, this indeed was a huge change. The world looked on in awe and wonder, hanging on to each word spoken by the man who many believed had irrevocably changed race relations in not only the United States but globally. Such dramatic political change seldom seen in the post-Cold War period made academicians and media pundits sit up and take notice of the subtle yet effective way in which real attitudinal change had taken place. In fact, hope and optimism grew to such proportions that warranted a President, who was simultaneously fighting two wars, to be given the Nobel Peace Prize in anticipation of a radical shift in future foreign policy. Today, the very future of our planet is at stake as we battle not only the reality but the abstract notion of change. At a recently concluded conference on climate change, the negotiations ended on a note not of agreement but stalemate on how much nations were willing to change in order to reverse the pattern of climate change. The last two general elections in India were fought on the agenda of change-change for the better. Interestingly, the results of the first one reversed the fortunes of the then ruling party and the second one brought the incumbents back to power stubbing the very metaphor of change in the face. As the voices around the concept of change grow louder and shriller, the examination of how much and to what extent the mass media is responding to political transformation becomes the need of the hour. A routine flip-through of the myriad news channels that dot the firmament of the Indian media industry is enough to understand the extent to which certain changes are taking place; a recent instance being the media circus that was played out on all channels, including the so-called elite, urbane, English language news channels such as NDTV 24x7, Times Now, Headlines Today, and CNN-IBN, concerning the standoff between the Indian Government and the gregarious crowd-puller, Baba Ramdev. One has to only watch the news channels with some degree of continuation to gauge the depth to which each of the competi-tors will plunge to go one ...

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