‘The protector-in-chief who keeps India safe’

For most TV news consumers, Arnab Goswami is both a name and a phenomenon. But there are still large parts of the world to be conquered by Times Now‘s bulldog of an inquisitor. Here, B.V. Rao, editor of Governance Now, and former editor of the Indian Express in Bangalore and Bombay, explains the name and the phenomenon to a childhood friend who lives in Canada.

***

Dear Sharada

Sometime ago during a Googlegroup discussion you innocently asked: “But who is Arnab?”.

In India not knowing Arnab is against national interest. You are lucky you live in Canada. But if you don’t want to be deported on arrival on your next visit, you better pay attention to this complimentary crash course on the subject.

Arnab, as in Arnab Goswami, is India’s most-watched prime time news anchor and editor-in-chief of Times Now*. But designations don’t even begin to describe him or what he is famous for.

You must have heard about hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. Arnab is also a storm, a news-storm that hits India every night via his show, the “Newshour”. Nobody is quite sure how, but somehow Arnab gets to know the questions that the “whole nation” wants answers for, or the sinners the nation wants hanged before midnight that night.

In effect then, Arnab speaks for a “billion-plus people” each time he takes centre-stage.

I can’t say for sure if he took this burden upon himself voluntarily or if his employers made it a contractual obligation. Whatever it is, the fact is that Arnab has come to relish asking the most “simple and direct” questions to the most dubious people demanding instant answers to complex problems because the “nation wants to know” and it wants to know “tonight” as in right now.

That’s how impatient India has become while you’ve been away, Sharada.

***

The Newshour airs on weekdays from 9 pm and continues till Arnab’s pleasure lasts. Often the show stretches up to 10.50 pm. That’s actually “News hour-and-three-quarters-and-then-some” but I guess Arnab has not asked himself a “simple, direct” question: how many minutes make an hour?

That, or his primary school maths teacher is not his viewer. In which case it is safe to say Arnab speaks for a billion-plus minus one Indians.

You will see that at the altar of national interest it is not just the hour that is stretched.

About two decades ago, Dileep Padgaonkar was the editor of the Times of India owned by the Jains of Bennett & Coleman who also own Times Now. Padgaonkar had pompously proclaimed that he held the second most important job in the country after the prime minister’s.

Arnab hasn’t said it, but I think he disagrees with Padgaonkar on the pecking order:  it’s now the prime minister who holds the second most important job in the country.

Hence Arnab runs the show like he would run the country or like the prime minister should but doesn’t.

You see, Sharada, there’s an awful lot of stuff the nation wants to know by nightfall but our prime minister isn’t much of a talker. Arnab fills the need gap. He opens his show with a passionate agenda-setting preamble that spells out all the problems of the day and how he wishes to solve them. We gratefully receive this wisdom and call it Arnab’s Address to the Nation, a prime ministerial duty that has fallen on his broad shoulders because the real guy has abdicated it.

***

Let me tell you this, however. Arnab is a very reluctant power-grabber. It is not his intent to upstage the prime minister or make him look silly.

He gives the prime minister an entire day to prove his worth and gets to work only at 9 pm when it is clear that the latter can’t handle stuff.

He then solves all outstanding national issues of the day in just one 110 minute-hour of feverish debates where he grills the skin off the back of everybody who dares to stand in the way of India’s national interest.

He is unrelenting in his pursuit of the truth and doesn’t give up unless everybody has agreed with him.

“I am worried”, “I am concerned”, “I won’t let you politicise”, “I don’t agree”, “you can’t get away….” are some of the phrases he uses to suggest he is in complete control and that endears him to a nation starved of decision-makers.

Arnab hates home work. He wants to settle everything here and now, tonight. As a result, in Arnab country, there is no trace of the policy paralysis that has grounded the prime minister in the real country. Here you get resolutions, decisions, orders, diktats, judgements, justice and denouements all in one place, one show, by one man.

***

The only people paralysed are the subjects of his grilling and the bevy of experts he gathers around himself, not because he needs them, he doesn’t, but because it must feel awfully good to invite experts and out-talk them on national prime time.

Like confused baboons trapped in little boxes, the experts, who are neatly arranged around Arnab’s own imposing self in the centre of the screen, keep staring into nothingness most of the time.

Yes, you get the drift, Sharada, Arnab is the main dish here. The rest are just intellectual dips.

For most of their airtime the experts keep putting up their hands or calling out “Arnab….Arnab….” to indicate they want to make a point. Arnab is too engrossed in disagreeing with what he has not allowed them to say to care too much.

Some clever guests try to appeal to his Assamese roots by hailing “Ornob…Ornob”. He ignores them as well.

Nationalism, after all, is above parochialism. The cleverer among them have cracked the code: they just agree with Arnab in exchange for a little extra air time. These are usually the people who have paid close attention to Arnab’s Address to the Nation and picked up the right cues on what to say that will get them his benefaction.

It is tough to figure out why Arnab needs any experts at all because he knows the answers to all his questions. Times Now insiders say that more often than not he finds questions to the answers he already has. On his show, politicians can’t politicise, bureaucrats can’t beat around the bush, sportspersons can’t play games and lawyers can’t use legalese.

In fact anybody who is good at something can’t do what they are known to do, to the extent that even civil society can’t be civil, especially if it wants to get a word in sideways. Everybody has to be direct, honest, blunt and keep things simple because that is what the (one-man) nation wants.

***

Corruption, political expediency, opportunism, forked tongues, doublespeak, dishonesty and hypocrisy, are red rags to Arnab. He takes them head-on with the help of his reporters who keep throwing up “documentary” evidence ever so often to expose scamsters.

Usually this is a thick sheaf of indistinguishable papers that Arnab holds up threateningly. It could be a bunch of used airline e-tickets for all we know, but since we don’t, he waves the sheaf confidently in the face of the enemies of the nation and it is generally assumed he’s got some incendiary stuff in there.

Arnab’s problem-solving repertoire is not restricted to national boundaries. In fact, he is at his best when dealing with nations that have evil designs on India. The patriot in Arnab is best aroused when he is dealing with that evil, failed, rogue nation called Pakistan.

He deals with Pakistan like no prime minister has ever been able to or decimates it like no Army has ever managed to. Each time a blade of grass bends to the breeze on the LoC, Arnab breathes fire at Pakistan for trying to sneak in terrorists into the country. He lines up a battery of serving and retired generals of Pakistan and conducts the verbal equivalent of a summary execution.

Yet, the same generals keep resurfacing on Arnab’s show each time he feels the urge to have a Pakistani or two for dinner. This causes much wonderment among Newshour hounds on the masochist streak that makes the Pakistani generals offer themselves up as bait repeatedly.

So, it is assumed the money must be good. But since Arnab insists that Pakistan is the way it is only because the generals have sold their country cheap, it is unlikely he is blowing his budget for this routine cross-border target practice. Of course, left to Arnab Pakistan would have existed only as the largest crater on earth since the meteors wiped out all life on the planet. Yes, he would have nuked it many times over by now.

The Times of India, the country’s oldest English newspaper and the mother brand from the Times Now stable runs Aman Ki Aasha (Hope for Peace), the widely-acclaimed campaign for ending India-Pakistan hostilities.

Just as Arnab doesn’t seem to know of this campaign, the Times of India seems quite oblivious of the fact that the last time there was absolute peace on the LoC was when Arnab took a two-week holiday in early September. It could be the marketing genius of the Times group to milk the issue from both ends or it could also be that their internal boundaries are not as porous as our LoC.

Apart from conducting war exercises against Pakistan, Arnab land is eyeball-to-eyeball with China, exposes the double standards of America in almost anything it does and highlights the hypocrisy of racist Australia which loves the education dollars from India but not the brown students who come along with.

His blood boils so much when an old Sikh is roughed up by a bunch of racist women in the UK that he almost gets the whole of Punjab to rise in revolt against the Indian government’s inaction–even though there is nothing it can do as the gentleman is a citizen of the said country–or builds a tide of emotional revulsion against “inhuman” Norway for snatching an infant from his Indian mother’s custody for alleged physical abuse.

***

I can go on and on, Sharada, but everything good must come to an end and so must my Arnab eulogy.

So, in short and in conclusion, here’s what I have to say: Arnab is not just the editor-in-chief of Times Now. He’s India’s protector-in-chief. He is the guy who is keeping India safe while you are away on selfish pursuits. You are lucky you can get away by not knowing him.

For a billion-plus Indians,minus of course his maths teacher, that is not even a distant option. Because, truth told, Arnab is the best we have got!

B.V. Rao

***

* Disclosures apply

Photograph: courtesy Unreal Times

***

Also read: ‘Arnab Goswami is corrective to babalog media’

Three reasons Arnab Goswami should be PM

There’s a new ‘ism’ in town, it’s Arnabism

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32 Responses to “‘The protector-in-chief who keeps India safe’”

  1. Anonymous Guy Says:

    The author writes like a boring and jealous gasbag. If this is the alternative, it is not suprising that even the discerning among the middle class are driven to watch Arnab’s mindless but entertaining antics.

  2. C.M. Paul Says:

    Are you sure TOI is teh county’s oldest news paper… What about The statesman of Calcutta, which claism to be the direct descendent of the first newspaper “Friend of India.”?

  3. Kaushik Deka Says:

    If someone calls him Ornob, he will certainly ignore, It’s the Bengali way, Assamese will call him Arnab only…

  4. Deepak Says:

    Awesome!!! One of the best written pieces on churumuri till date.

  5. Vinay Says:

    Give me nationalist Arnab anyday, rather than the biased leftist Burkhas and Razdans and Pagalikas.

  6. Sanjeeva Says:

    It is not funny. Not a fair write up. Arnab is doing his job he is paid for. What do you expect? Put a question and suffer listening to endless, vain, hotchpotch, unconvincing justifications or explanations?!

  7. Milind Patwardhan Says:

    Fabulous! Hilarious! A must read for all news(hour) buffs

  8. Dattasree Says:

    This is brilliant. And we do sure know the man who keeps saying “Ornob, Ornob” (and waves his left hand in a circle and different shapes of arc) to get attention. Acute observation, Sir!

  9. Kamal Gopinath Says:

    Well written by BV Rao! But I am not much of a Arnab fan! He is anything but indepth! A tailor made Gasbag for TV! This is what I honestly feel!

  10. Abhijit Says:

    who is this anonymous guy? i hope it’s no the man himself… :P

  11. Shipra Says:

    I do watch news hour and am forced to change the channel often due to extreme shouting on the program however Arnab has my full support when he does not let politicians, activists , editors etc with bare faced lying that goes on in the garb of courtesy!!!!

  12. Vivek Says:

    People like the Author are the ones who look to create some presence by bashing anything that is current. If Arnab were to be a spineless journalist or host like many others, there would have been an article on why Indian journalists are afraid to ask questions and how we need to be bolder in our interviews. Maybe even compare them with some western journalists.
    While Arnab isn’t the solution to our problems, people watch him because he asks the questions that any Indian with a brain wants to…

  13. dr ramesh Says:

    B V RAO is INFOTAINMENT. What observation, what sense of humor, what articulation…..
    More artlcles of his should appear in churumuri.

  14. Suresh Kallianpur Says:

    He is good. No question about it, and also impartial. Only wish he had a voice muter to cut of the voices of those who interrupt or speak out of turn

  15. Jothindra Paranji Says:

    He gets so involved that I feel he will collapse some day even as he’s on the show!

  16. Subramanian Says:

    The secret of Arnab being the undisputed king of Indian news or current affairs based TV shows, is well-known. While he never lets anyone fully answer his most canny and well-researched in-advance questions (or traps!), more importantly, he always picks-up the most controversial topics (that none of the other news channels discuss), topics that matter to the common man and are usually extremely embarrassing to the unpopular ruling party.

    He is any day, a 1000 times better that the biased and shameless fixers in guise of journalists, Burkhas, Razdans, Pagalikas, Roy’s and so many others, many of whom will confuse the viewer if they are actually the anchors of the show or some corrupt party’s spokesmen!

  17. asha Says:

    While u guys are singing paeans of Arnab another secular Journo is on the run to Canada for raping a girl his daughters age. The said victim also happened to work as a journalist at the said secular Journo Rapist owned Tabloid magazine. No prizes for guessing who it is :)

  18. Al Visweswaran Says:

    I am sure Arnab’s Maths teacher must be very proud of his protege. A minister in Govt says Rahul is a visionary, A Times columnist who calls herself tenth pass, & so can write angrezi poetry (purported humor) and critiques Modi, and has an apt name Bachi. Surprisingly no one has mentioned about Congress News Network, which has devils advocate, & has the last word, and will I am sure somehow manage to get data just before the results are out to triumphantly declare the Congress (UPA) as winners, with the viewers in awe on the election results day. For this excellent foresight they will win hands down every coveted award for electronic media.

    We are a nation “of, for, & by” the perverts. Every media interviewer has both the question & answers and so has the mike for over 75% of the time. Yet the interviewees happily make themselves available for getting ridiculed and call the interviewer “my friend”!!!

    Methinks that only a provident ordained “pralay” would be able to get us out of the morass we find ourselves in…. But that will never happen as these Electronic media buffoons with support of the ruling elite of brand Gandhi -Nehru pedigree apparently & very intriguingly have GOD’s blessings that seems to ensure that no one will ever be able to spoil their show.

    Being an old man, I can only wish & pray that during my life time GOD wakes up & I am able to witness a perceptible “miracle” from HIM. It is beyond human capacity to change either the Arnabs or members of his clan or the corrupt dispensation that rules us today.

    Mera Bharat mahaan…….!!!!

    Viwesh

  19. Snehal Shah Says:

    If ever there was a Bharat Ratna for Humor, then there is another Rao who should get it ! News hour is the only show which can compete and probabbly beat “comedy with Kapil”

  20. Giridhar Joshi Says:

    Wonderful writeup. Hope Arnab has read this article. Apparently not because he has not changed a bit in his attitude and approach of self praise and belittling all others. Most of all he would never listen to others unless they are in line with what he wants to hear. God save Times Now.

  21. lucrativelife Says:

    Amazing lines. Amusing, cant help but laugh while reading this. Thoroughly enjoyed, I should add. I have once I watched, I only remember it vaguely (only for a couple of mins), got frustrated by the way show was carried and turned to something useful :-). All in all, thanks for this, post made me laugh all the way I should say.

  22. Truth Says:

    It is true that Arnab shouts a lot but he is also perhaps one of the very few Unbiased reporters in India currently. He is far better than Rajdeep, Burkha, Prannoy (James), Pagalika, Kumar ketkar, nikhil wagle etc assorted nehru gandhi dynasty boot licking commies

  23. Suma Says:

    It is sad that a lot of well-known politicians refused to come on Arnab’s most popular Newshour tonight. More than chickening out, many of them obviously have skeletons in their own cupboard!

    While it is clear that Tarun Tejpal will be definitely prosecuted for attempted rape (despite stealth protection from Cong-I), it is the pseudo Shoma Chaudhury who needs to be immediately arrested for:

    • Tampering with electronic evidence including hiding emails instead of turning it into the police.

    • Trying to cover-up the grave sexual assault, working to protect her colleague instead of the victim.

    • Helping the rapist while being fully aware of the criminal act

    • Attempting to strike a compromise with the victim for over a week

    • Accusing the media and questioning if it is the aggrieved party

    • Criminal intimidation of the victim with threat of harm, sacking from the job..etc

  24. Hasan Jowher Says:

    Excellent write-up. Undoubtedly Arnab has brought aplomb and gusto to TV news casting and debates.

    But, alas, anchoring is not what he does. He actually takes a position and then debates his way around to have it approved.

    I regard him Father Arnab GoSwami.

  25. Prashanth Says:

    good article.
    Arnab is much better than the sickular journos like burkha and pagalikhas of the world ..

  26. RajaSims Says:

    Amazing piece…..seriously hilarious “ROLFMAO”…..not that I wanna bitch or anything but in Assamese, Arnab is Arnab, only in Bengal it’s Ornob….

  27. akhil karanam Says:

    The only journalist I’ve ever come across in this country who has the guts and aplomb to rip apart unabashedly, shameless criminals who cannot rationally or logically justify anything that they do is Arnab.He takes a stand.Period.None of those other bastard journalists who eat shit for money have the acumen or the morale to do their duties responsibly!As far as this article goes, B.V.Rao is a hypocritic jealous loser…

  28. pkmr Says:

    I sold my t v set to a scrap seller long ago because of this arrogant brat………..!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  29. homi bawa Says:

    go nab where it hurts them arnab

  30. yash Says:

    “Because, truth told, Arnab is the best we have got!” Amongst the journos in India. So either Rao believes this is true or the entire article is the case of sour grapes. There are lots of journos who’ll not like him for the success he’s achieved. Also he’s definitely asking questions lots of people do want to ask. He’s definitely adding value by being there and doing whatever he is than not being there and not doing it. Some other journos being or not being there doesn’t matter. And still some others not being there is what people pray for.

  31. Tara Says:

    After conveniently and inexplicably lying low all these days while the hottest topic was of Asaram Bapu, Tarun Tejpal and other alleged rapists, the Congress-I spokesperson and senior lawyer called Mr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi (officially declared earnings are Rs 50 crore per annum, unofficial earnings are your guess) suddenly surfaces on all TV channels tonight (including the #1 show anchored by Arnab), now that the topic has shifted to routine things like Article 370, inflation, Modi, elections, development..etc. Incidentally, Italian Madam had herself appointed Mr. Singhvi as the Chairman of the Parliament’s Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice, until a sensitive and controversial CD surfaced and Singhvi reluctantly resigned.

    Public memory is short but many of us will not forget the revealing video, available on the web and social media, of a prominent lawyer associated with the ruling party, performing with a lady colleague in his own office!

    Well, very soon the Tejpal VVIP coterie will all be back in action on all TV channels….Shoma, Sonjoy Roy, Rahul Singh, Aleq Padamsee, ex-boss at outlook Vinod Mehta, Barka, Roy, Prahlad Kakkar, Anil Dharkar, Dilip Tahil..et al.

  32. C.Rajagopalan Says:

    I admire Arnab because he, like many Indians including me wants India to progress to its potential ( which is abundant ) but retarded by corrupt politician, terrorists supported by Pakistan. He takes them on fearlessly unlike other paid journalists, but maintains neutrality among parties which I am observing very closely.I pray to God to protect him from physical assault from any dangerous person he exposes.

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