If Donald Duck is not a threat, why is Hanuman?
It seems like banning things is the only form of productivity we have mastered so far. A resolution calling for a ban on Hindu cartoons was proposed in the Punjab Assembly last Tuesday.
Those calling for the ban should, for a second, try going back to their childhood. They might find an idealistic time, when they had an unsullied and vigorous imagination. Even ignorant old grannies understand the importance of stories for the young mind. They would narrate stories of kings, princes, dwarves, magicians, palaces, far away wonderlands, jungles and mysterious dens, while children lay next to them, eyes wide with amazement.
What adventures are available to our children today?
I talked to children from the lower middle class, which forms the majority of the population. For these children travelling for fun, picnicking and access to imported books and CDs are unknown. Television is the one escape they have. What do they get to see there? Chota Bheem and Hanuman.
Assuming that MPAs are correct in their belief that these cartoons are promoting Hindu culture, what can we do? Ban TV? Children watch news shows, films and dramas intended for adults, which may harm them too. Is that okay? If not, is denying them a chance to watch anything an option? I assume that is considered more “culturally safe.”
Is the government doing any better?
Do these MPAs recall when the government last provided children with suitable entertainment options? Private channels won’t spend money on children’s programming, because it lacks commercial value. Our national TV channel has a few, very low quality children’s programmes, that are time-fillers rather than well-thought out shows. In the absence of quality programming, one is forced to nostalgically recall PTV shows like Ainak Wala Jin, which ruled the hearts of children in the nineties, not necessarily because of the quality of the show, but because it offered imaginative characters.
We grew up watching Tom and Jerry and Donald Duck. Did that westernise us? Our children are fervent fans of Spiderman, Batman, Superman, and Power Puff Girls. Would banning these cartoons make our children more patriotic?
Banning is always only part of problem and never a solution in itself. If our leaders ever awaken to real concern for what our children watch on TV, they have to come up with quality programming for them to replace “culturally misleading” Hindu cartoons. Our children can either get Hanuman, or be left to stare into the black void of cultural paucity.
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