PERSPECTIVE
Finally, a TV debate in Punjabi on West Asia
Why do regional channels not debate global political happenings?
- kanwar manjit singh
Why do regional channels not debate global political happenings?



FOREIGN AFFAIRS RELATED programmes seem to be an anathema on regional language news television, and most likely, it is because the received wisdom in the world of television says that people are more interested in local non-stories than earth-shaking geo-political happenings.

Unfortunately, no one has tested that in any empirical study.

So while people in Punjab are being served a surfeit of programmes on farm suicides, there is little discussion about the place of farming as a profession in the emerging new world order.

The argument seems to be that Punjabis do not want to engage with what's happening around the world. 

Therefore, it was a relief to watch the recent episode of DALEEL with SP SINGH, featuring an in-depth and freewheeling conversation with Qamar Agha, a well known and well regarded expert on West Asia. 

Qamar Agha is an independent analyst who has written for the last several years for various papers and news channels in India and abroad, and routinely participates in TV debates and discussions on South Asia and West Asian affairs. 

He specialized in international politics from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi; taught "government and politics in the Arab World” to MA students in Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi; was associated with the Center for West Asian Studies, JMI, as Visiting professor and before that, he was visiting faculty at the School of International Studies in JNU. He has also been a UGC fellow at the Centre For West Asian Studies at JNU. 

He has travelled to many countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and America.

For the people of Punjab, where even vernacular newspapers devote little space to foreign affairs and television almost none, a programme covering the entire gamut of issues from shifting of the US embassy to Jerusalem, the killings along the Gaza border, the role of other Arab states, the Iran Nuclear Deal, the North Korea shenanigans and the world of Donald Trump came as a breath of fresh air.

The conversation focussed on how the Gaza Strip is home to two million Palestinians and is effectively the world's largest open-air prison. It would have been better if it were not left to the audiences not fully cued into the politics of the Middle East to Google and find out how Israel was created, how the Gaza Strip was severed from West Bank and East Jerusalem, or how all these came under Israeli occupation after the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. 

Gaza was part of the historic Palestine, suffered ethnic cleansing, was captured by Egypt during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, remained under Egyptian control until 1967 till Israel seized the remaining Palestinian territories in war with Arab countries. 

Israel now controls Gaza's airspace and territorial waters, 42% Palestinians in Gaza suffer from poverty, the youth unemployment is at 58%, and 80% people rely on international aid, mainly food supply, as per the World Bank. 

More than 60% of Palestinians in Gaza are refugees. More than 90% of Gaza's water is unsafe for drinking. No one has ever driven more than 40 kms in one direction.

IRAN DEAL

The Iran arms control agreement, was signed in July 2015 but Donald Trump has pulled out, imposing sanctions once again. The Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, EU signatories are trying to salvage it. Trump objected that deal did not cover Iran’s ballistic missiles program and some aspects of inspections regime and sunset clauses. 

NORTH KOREA

North Korea wants to get rid of sanctions, build up its economy and retain its n-arsenal but President Trump’s tightening of sanctions and his trademark belligerent rhetoric did change the equation. It led to some nice Olympic diplomacy and a North-South summit meeting.

Now, Kim and Moon are talking peace and Trump and Kim are set to meet.

If North Korea halts nuclear and missile testing, including short-range missiles, and its production of plutonium, then China and South Korea will ease sanctions and Kim will get what he always wanted -- legitimacy of being treated as a world leader. 

Anchor SP Singh did touch upon Pakistan and Kashmir, though devoting some more time to these issues would have done justice.

It is time news television in Punjabi understands that it needs to nurture audiences with more information and discussions on global politics.
 
On May 26, the Indian Express wrote in its editorial: "With the Iran deal off, and the renewed turmoil in Palestine over the US embassy’s relocation from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the talks with North Korea were to be Trump’s big opportunity to make history." True, and it is time to say the same in Punjabi, on Punjabi television, for Punjab's audiences who do not cue into the world through English news tv.

There was a time when the international peace movement was fought as much in the streets of Punjab's villages and towns as in Washington DC. Since then, a lot of Punjabis have gone to foreign shores, but our connect with foreign affairs hasn't kept pace.

It's time to move beyond green cards and H1B visas and IELTS talk. It's time to tune in. Those who tuned into the Daleel programme featuring a conversation with Qamar Agha would have realised that. Our point? We need a thousand such programmes. 
 
Watch Video: You can watch this episode of Daleel with SP Singh featuring Qamar Agha here.
 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

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