Importance of cross-border media: My experience of Indian TV serials
by Shakeel Ahmed Shah
Whenever I think of India, I go back to my childhood – a flash back. Sitting at home in a remote area of Pakistan, I would wait for the clock to strike five. My favorite Hindi cartoon program used to be telecast on an Indian channel which I was availing via dish-antenna technology.
The name of the program was “Just Kids”. I am certain, a considerable part of my socio-intellectual grooming has occurred in the light of this program too. This program used to have two parts: first being the Simba-the lion king- Hindi dubbed, the second being “Bhalu sahib ki kahaniyan”.
That program was full of knowledge. It taught the lessons of being good to nature. It had the ingredients of courage, valor and sympathy at the same time. The program offered a wide range of learningabout many other things, including spoken Hindi.
Another interesting thing about these programs was that these were totally aloof from the religious thoughts and doctrines; rather they talked purely about scientific and natural information, and folk stories. Folk stories are a legacy of an entire subcontinent and they do not represent only a certain group.
This has been one of the learning points in my life which is in fact undeniable to admit. While coming high out from the religious, ethnic or any other divisionary stand, we can learn many things from one another: about each other and about the universal aspects related to humanity that comes out from an indigenous culture.
It is very commendable that Pakistan has made such channels available. The liberty of access to media is so wide that movies made in the other side of the border, which may not necessarily display a nice image of this side, have also been showcased in public cinemas.
This article is about one side of the fact, as it is about an individual’s experience which virtually represents many of his contemporaries’ experience about the same thing. This is about one side of the border. There is no certain idea about the other side. What has the other side of the border been experiencing in these respective aspects?
This raises a question – to what extent are Pakistani channels accessible to Indian children? Are they being equally regarded on both sides of the border? There must be parity. Balance is the essence when we talk about harmony and interaction between India and Pakistan.
There is less to talk about the existing balance, since the other side is unknown. This article indirectly also urges the other side to write about how far we are being accepted there, by this I mean how much of Pakistani media is available for the public in India?
Apart from the above questions, if we talk about the focus to be set, the requirement is to produce such items which feed this aspiration of harmony and peace. The need is to water the plant of friendship. Yes, I would not suggest a message that blurs the border between the two countries, rather a message that inculcates respect to the existence of both and peaceful co-existence.
Additionally, there is a need to recognize each country as just another country with human beings, instead of constructing and perpetuating stereotypes, something which the various media on both sides are also at times guilty of doing. Both the countries are different in many aspects, which are indispensable and do not necessarily need to be questioned or judged. They need to be seen as imperative for the integrity and existence of both. Giving a great amount of respect to these aspects is an authentic visa to a peaceful and friendly future. The various media have the key in their hands, and the future may as well depend on the direction in which they choose to turn the key.
Being a responsible faction of the civil society, they need to turn the key in the right direction – a direction that does not hurt the facts and a direction that leads to balance. At the same time, being a responsible part of civil society myself, I see it as my responsibility to talk in a free environ, to be more peaceful, to be more responsible and to be more balanced.
Shakeel Ahmed Shah is a founder member member of The Catalyst – TC (Pakistan) and core member of Aaghaz-e-Dosti