How to look at the government’s decision to telecast ‘Ramayana’ serial? There were numerous suggestions on Twitter urging Govt in this regard. On the other hand, soon after this announcement was made, the pseudo secular lobby in the country has begun to condemn it as an act of misplaced priority, at a time. When, it says, the whole country has been bogged down with the Corona pandemic and countrywide lockdown. Let us briefly examine the pros and cons of the decision.
The whole society cutting across classes is inside home. While the high and middle-income groups do not have financial problems to spend 3 weeks at home, there were grave anxieties about the poor. The government announced a 1,70,000 crore package which sought to address their needs through free or heavily subsidized food stuff and cash grants by way of Direct Benefit Transfer or DBT.
The real problem today for 1.30 billion people is to stay inside home. It is a grave challenge and could be very painful. At the same time, every citizen can do a national service simply by staying inside four walls of his or her home.
In such a piquant situation, this popular serial can render an invaluable service by encouraging people to survive the ordeal of home confinement willingly, cheerfully and with a positive state of mind. If this helps in any way in preventing the spread of the dreaded Coronavirus in India, it will serve as an unprecedented and unique experiment before the whole humanity.
The viewing is not mandatory. There can be no argument that it has been imposed. Why Doordarshan? Because even the poor families can afford to see it as much as others can. The incorrigible pseudo-seculars who see conspiracy in everything and may strive hard to discourage small sections from viewing it, can frustrate this noble attempt as vast majority of Indians may, in any case, stay put at home and thus contribute to a national cause.
There are some suggestions to the government, though. Ramayana has 78 episodes each of 45 minutes duration. It can be telecast over 4 hours in a scattered manner over morning (9AM), afternoon (1 PM), evening (5 PM) and night (9 PM) so that the programme may see India through the critical period of next 20 days at the rate of 4 episodes per day. The mass viewing may additionally impart a spirit of solidarity in the nation and that may be helpful in facing new challenges thrown by COVID 19, if any, unitedly. One more suggestion. Doordarshan may at the start of every episode urge viewers to sit keeping minimum specified physical distance from each other. This message can be reinforced at every interval and at the end so that this habit gets transformed.
At no other juncture of history of modern history such an opportunity was available to the government of any country to leverage the rich civilisational legacy to meet one of the most severe scourges keeping the morale of the people high. The government needs to go ahead and begin the telecast forthwith without caring for criticisms of the die-hard critics, who will criticise, all its action, any way!