The medium is the message. (McLuhan). Express your views on the role of the medium like television that becomes a strong for those who run the affairs of the State.
When McLuhan posted famously, in the 1960s, that ‘the medium was the message’ he was reminding people that they often tend to focus on the obvious, missing out the more subtle changes wrought in society and culture by a new innovation. TV is certainly new to India, but one of the unintended consequences of the traumatic events in Mumbai (26/11) was that the medium of television indeed became the message, as it provided a handy vehicle for the public to vent its disappointment, anguish and outrage at the manner in which they felt the ‘powers-that-be’ had let them down. ‘Enough is enough’ was the spontaneous outburst of their angst and anger as caught by the television cameras covering the horrendous happenings. The messages ‘deliver or disappear’ and ‘perform or perish’ were not lost on those who were at the helm of affairs, both at the State and Central levels. People may hold different opinions on the role of television sending out live pictures of the terrible time that both the hostages and people at large had to suffer, but one thing that came out very candidly was that the country was no longer in a mood to hear platitudes but was demanding action tangible and credible that could secure their lives anywhere in the country.
The people were shocked to see a handful of terrorists holding the entire country hostage and those entrusted with the responsibility of keeping the perpetrators at bay, shamed at their utter failure to prevent the outrage. In such a trying and tormenting situation, like a diligent delivery boy, the medium of television, that is known more for its live performances, reality shows, soap operas, news and views et al, delivered the most meaningful message to the ‘corridors of power’. The message had its desired effect on the political class. Heads began to roll, though not too many. A new more stringent Anti-Terror Law was passed and the National Intelligence Agency created. Besides, Multi Agency Centre (MAC) was activated so that all loopholes and communication gaps between various intelligence gathering agencies could be removed.
In the tragic events of 26/11 (Mumbai) people discovered the potential of the medium of television, both as a message and a messenger. This new found power should be taken a little further. In TV (and to a lesser extent in news papers) the people of India now have a medium, not mean but monumental, which can not only carry messages far and wide but can also serve to unite the masses in a common cause. Since we live in a democracy, and know that politicians are indispensable to democracies, we should evolve an instrumentality to ensure that our politicians comply with some minimum levels of propriety, and perform the functions for which they have been elected. Surely that instrumentality is the medium of TV, the carrier of message for now and future.