The landscape of the mainstream media has changed drastically since Narendra Modi was elected as the Prime Minister of the country in 2014. Things that were silenced earlier cannot be silenced anymore. With the advent of digital media, cultural issues of great import to the disenfranchised masses find their way through in the mainstream narrative as well. In this particular context, one journalist stands out head and shoulders above everyone else. We are speaking, of course, about Arnab Goswami.
Arnab Goswami has been at the forefront of the campaign against the drug racket in Bollywood. While others have been more circumspect in their criticism, the Republic Editor-in-Chief has not pulled any punches. While others have tried to provide a cover for the degenerate entertainers, he has proceeded to label them ‘Pudiya Gang’, ‘Pudiya Waale’, ‘Aafimchi’ (opium consumers) and other such terms of endearment.
Thus far, during the entire discourse over the whole Bollywood drug racket, the cultural aspect of the impact of the film industry has been largely ignored. Truth be told, the adverse cultural impact of Bollywood has never been discussed in mainstream media. There is good reason for this. The cultural values of top journalists and the film industry was largely the same. But that appears to be changing. And the person spearheading it is the most influential Indian journalist of his generation: Arnab Goswami.
Some might argue that he is doing it for TRP and TRP alone. It very well could be. But Rajdeep Saredesai could also have done the same for ratings. Rahul Kanwal or Barkha Dutt or anyone else could have done it but no one has. In fact, Arnab Goswami is the only journalist who has highlighted the culture war that has thus far been ignored.
During the Saturday night debate, Goswami thundered, “Today, I want to tell the fake Angrez of Bollywood, leave India cinema. The influence of Bollywood on our culture and traditions has been increasing. Attempts are being made to ensure that its influence on the next generation of the country goes on increasing. The way they speak, the way they walk, the way they dress, such mannerisms are being imitated.”
He continued, “Where is our mentality going? The dirty water that flows in the drains of the West, some people here consider it to be Gangajal. They are applying the dirt of the West on their forehead as Tilak. This is against our Sanatan Sanskriti and Sabhyata (Culture). The essence of Bharatiya culture is Sanatan Dharma but they do not recognise the importance of it. Kyuki inke rom-rom me Italy waala Rome basa hai aur hamare rom-rom me Maryada Purshottam Shri Ram basey hain (In their heart of hearts, it is Italy’s Rome that resides but Maryada Purshottam Shri Ram resides in ours).”
“Our worldview is inspired from Ayodhya, Kashi, Mathura of Sanatan Sanskriti. But theirs is derived from Rome and Paris. That is why they consider insults to Sanatan Dharma as an achievement. Those who come to India and spread vulgarity, consume drugs, they cannot summon the courage to do the same abroad,” he added.
All of this is quite unprecedented. Only a few years ago, it would have been unimaginable for anyone to assume that a mainstream media channel would be airing such views during prime time. And it was not just anybody voicing such opinions. It was the most popular journalist at the moment speaking his mind on the matter. And Arnab Goswami did not stop there.
He stated, “They consider drugs to be a cultural marker of high society. Damn the ways of your high society. Jisko nahi apne desh aur parampara par abhimaan hai, woh jeeteji mritak samaan hai (Those who do not take pride in their country and traditions, they are as good as dead). We have to strongly embrace Sanatan Dharma and shun Western culture.”
The debate featured authentic individuals who voiced conservative opinions. It is something that had never happened. Mukesh ‘Shaktimaan’ Sharma spoke out against advertisements that promote the destruction of the institution of family. Two Sadhus were also invited to share their opinions and Arnab Goswami treated them with utmost deference.
Arnab Goswami went to the extent of scolding a panellist for her lack of manners when she interrupted one of the Sadhus saying that it is against Indian culture. The Sadhus spoke on the war against our culture by vested interests and the manner in which criminals are being glorified in movies. It was also suggested that Sadhus are given a place in the censor board. And all the while, the Editor-in-Chief nodded his assent.
The Saturday night debate did reflect a breaking of a dam, a definitive shift in the Overton Window of the country. But Arnab Goswami has, for some time, paying odes to Sanatan Dharma on his show. Ahead of a debate not too long ago, he thanked “Adi Shakti Maa Kamakhya, Devi Jagdamba, Ishtdev Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh” for their blessings as a consequence of which Republic Bharat has been the top Hindi channel for a couple of months.
This is a significant development as it highlights the fact that now the difference between Arnab Goswami and others in the mainstream media is not just political but also cultural. And as a wise man once said, politics is downstream from culture. It could very well be that there has not been any personal transformation that Goswami has gone through, all of it is purely showmanship.
it could very well be that Arnab Goswami recognised that there is a wide market for the endorsement of Sanatan culture and he decided to capitalise on it. But that is irrelevant to the current context. The point of the matter is, the most popular Indian journalist is openly deriding western culture and exalting the Indian way. This has never previously happened in India mainstream media. It could open numerous avenues for others to follow suit which could usher in a new normative in public discourse. And that is all that matters.