Friday, June 3, 2011

Najam Sethi and the Indian electronic media

I introspected, wrote with feeling, recalibrated my words, soaked them in linseed oil and finally decided to let them go. Here's my latest article in Dawn Online. It's about the Indian electronic media and a Pakistani phenomenon called Najam Sethi.

Belligerence with a mission

This piece was written before Saleem Shahzad was brutally tortured and murdered by the Dark Side that thrives inside Pakistan. It's awe-inspiring that Pakistani journalists keep writing bravely, despite such terrible consequences. I saluted Sethi in this article, but in reality, that salute goes out to every Pakistani journalist of his ilk.


  1. I am an American born in India to a father born in Lyallpur (now Faislabad) Pakistan. I have followed Pakistan with ever increasing "passion".
    I follow Public Opinion in the country by watching their talk shows and what is more important - the public reaction as expressed by their comments.
    I recall in the Early days of Najam Sethi's show - the negitive feelings that gradually moved to neutral & today I would venture to say he is considered credible and reasonable by large numbers of viewers.
    He is an opinion maker & serves his countrymen by bringing them the news - telling it like it is.
    I too have often wished that there was a show such as his in India & in America. I consider watching TV in both countries mostly to be a waste of time because you get so little for your investment - Time !
    Guru-Shishya Batman-Robin call it what you may I think it's a great format. Of course it helps that he has a great personality & speaks 3 languages that matter in Pakistan with ease.
    A show that has a lot of potential will be Arif Nizami as soon as a good Shishya/Robin can be found.
    M J Akhbar is the only name that comes to mind for a show like Najam Sethi's. A younger Khushwant Singh could have done a great job - keeping the interest of his viewers alive with his jokes.

  2. I read your piece with interest.
    To champion and talk about unpopular causes or express views on issues that are not in line with establishment is risky enough even in a democratic India where we have considerable freedom to express notwithstanding the hassles one may be put into at times subsequently but it is really a daring thing to in a political set up like Pakistan.Hats of to people like Najam Sethi for speaking their minds.

    Most media in India areowned or biased in favour of some party or the other but there are still one or two who tend to address the issues objectively. I agree with you that the debates in Indian media is monopolised by the anchors and we often find the distressing spectacle of more than two speaking simultaneously.I would like to have an additional format where the main speaker talks uninterrupted for 15 minutes followed by a two others for 5 minutes each with a reply by the main speaker.It can be on controversial and unpopular issues with speakers chosen properly

  3. A,
    I didn't know that Pakistani gradually warmed up to Aapas ki baat. Thanks for that info. Other than MJ Akbar, I'd suggest Mark Tully. His books on India are erudite and full of insights. And for all practical purposes, he's Indian. Unlike other Brit writers, he writes about the country with a sense of belonging. What do you think?

    Parthasarathi sir,

    It is a daring act, isn't it? Brave judges and braver journos have a major role to play in Pakistan in the coming years.
    I also like your idea of having a different Subject Matter Expert for each show. An affable anchor could provide the common thread.