The morning show has been turned into an exercise in hypocrisy and private advertising at public expense
After reading Robin Sharma’s ‘5am Club’ novel, which talks of the advantages of waking up early, I changed my morning routine from waking up late to waking up early, which has certainly yielded the desired productive results for me. But with the arrival of winters in Kashmir it is very hard to keep sticking to this habit, as mornings are very cold and one doesn’t want to leave the comforts of the warm bed till the sun peeps out of the fog. So, unlike summers, these days I tend to wake up a bit late and we huddle together as a family in small room for a cup of nun chai. While sipping a cup, we tend to keep our television set on, to watch the breakfast show “Good Morning J&K”, daily aired from the studio of DD Kashir. My father always talks highly about this programme as he has nostalgic memories associated with it. He often reminds us that while he was posted away from his hometown in Leh district for two years, this programme gave him the vibe of Kashmiriyat away from home, while for my mother, who keeps no interest in watching television, the show is for observing the dresses worn by the female presenters.
Personally, I’m not among the perennial audience of this show, but in winters I turn into a seasonal regular couch potato in the morning. Cutting a long story short, let me come to the point that made me pen down these lines. For the last few months it seems that the producer of this programme has been doing lots of experimenting with new hosts without any purpose in mind. Every day, new faces come and next day they leave. This experimenting has simply ruined the charm of this programme. It would have been better to have one or two presenters rather than constantly using new presenters once, twice or thrice a week and then throwing them into oblivion, never to return again.
The second paradoxical thing about this programme is that its anchors talk fervently about preserving Kashmiri culture, cuisine traditions, and language, but when it comes to practice, all these lengthy speeches fall flat to the ground. Let’s take the case of Kashmiri language: the programme anchors often communicate with their guests in Urdu, which no doubt is our official language, but majority of the illiterate population does not understand it, thus leaving the common audience, like my mother, in incomprehension. If you don’t practise what you preach, it makes no sense to be rhetorical about it on camera.
Coming to Kashmiri culture, I have been noticing keenly how a few male anchors sport the pheran during the programme, but by no angle it appears to be a Kashmiri pheran stitched by our local artisans. So much of fiddling has been done with this piece of cloth that it doesn’t appear to be a pheran anymore but more akin to the long coat worn by Russians.
The third and most grave issue which forced me to write this article is about the guests invited to the show. It seems this public platform of the government has been turned into a mouthpiece of corporate/ private players and nobody is questioning it. How can a channel running on taxpayers’ money be used as a platform by these small corporate bugs to advertise their products, for free? For the last two weeks the programme seems to be following a ritualised routine of inviting owners of private coaching centres as guests to advertise their coaching centres. It should never have been the case as the story of these coaching centres is a well-known one: these profiteering bugs flourish on the blood of poor students from whom they draw a hefty amount of money in the form of annual fees. DD Kashir, a government-run platform, is presenting them as messiah/caretaker of the student community, as if nobody knows what they really are. It seems DD Kashir has surrendered its moral and ethical duties of being a public platform before these private players. I request the producer of this programme to do a case study of a few coaching centres. Their owners have made an empire out of this industry, while students have turned from poor to poorer. Instead of prioritising the private sector, DD Kashir could invite artisans from the unorganised sector who are battling for survival to present their craft before the audience. We are indebted to people like kangri makers for keeping us warm in winters rather than these rich profiteers.
DD Kashir alone can’t be blamed for this. Just a few weeks back, the valley’s top bureaucrat was chief guest at a ceremony hosted by one of the elite coaching centres. The DSEK department is also to be blamed for not marketing their programmes and achievements by using this public platform the way it is used by private players. Keeping paucity of this newspaper space into consideration, I will rest my case on the optimistic note that the authorities will take cognisance of these grievances and address them, to avoid further disgrace to this institution.