I happened to have a daily in my hand. ‘You wouldn’t mind if I read out a few examples of that from today’s newspaper?’ I volunteered.
‘It’s very hot today, isn’t it?’ he remarked.
I could give half-a-dozen examples like this. The point is that, by and large, with a few regional, national or local variations, human values are more or less the same everywhere in the civilised world. There is no place, for instance, where honesty and hard work and bravery are not prized, and where the best minds are not agreed that life has a higher purpose than mere existence and superficial enjoyment.
Indian values? Indian values are universal values.
We next come to the question of what effect the satellite invasion of India has had on these values. But first to recount a bit of history: It was in 1992 that the Star TV channel launched the satellite invasion in India. It was soon followed by Zee. Numerous other satellite-based television services cropped up, all of which were uplinked from locations outside India because the government had monopolised the right to uplink from within the country. Does all this have any connection with human values in India? Yes, it has.
There was a period in Indian television history when everything shown on television was monitored by the government. In other words, TV in India projected just one viewpoint—the government’s. If the spirit of democracy is a modern Indian value, this was totally in opposition to it.
The technological developments of the 1990s overhauled this system in a jiffy. Suddenly millions and millions of people all over the country were spoilt for a choice of channels. Sitting at home they could view a variety of programmes from all over the world. These were of all kinds, of course—the good, the bad and the ugly, and people chose according to their own inclinations and proclivities.
In Shakespeare’s play Macbeth there are two good friends, Macbeth and Banquo. On the face of it, both are very virtuous. There are also three witches, servants of Evil. They are greatly interested in Macbeth but practically ignore Banquo because, with their secret powers, they are aware that Macbeth has a great hidden capacity for evil whereas Banquo is clean inside. The question of who watches which programme on satellite television is somewhat similar: the good are drawn to the good, the bad to the bad, and the ugly to the ugly.
If children need to be protected from certain programmes, that is something that the parents and elders of the family must work out among themselves.
In conclusion, while defending satellite television and its impact on our values, I would like to quote Mahatma Gandhi: ‘I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides, and my windows to be stuffed. I want the culture of all lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible, but I refuse to be blown off my feet by any of them.’