The ‘idea exchange’ program of Indian Express seems to be primarily a marketing activity. So ‘what sells’ is given due (and some may feel undue) weight when selecting people who participate in this ‘exchange’. Also, one common grouse (at least from my side) is, the participants are treated as if they are fragile. So incisive/investigative/interrogative questions are mostly missing.
But let us start from the selection of participants. For the last week’s interview, full marks must be given to Indian Express for selecting three nodes of a triangle for this interview. Posing more or less the same questions to them, the internal posturing and contradictions come to the fore almost automatically, like litmus paper changing color.
Of course, an almost deferential treatment given to inane utterances and lack of digging down further irks. For example, when Bidre states “I’ve been to Kashmir several times, I understand the situation there well..”, any inquisitive reporter worth her/his salt should have jumped with the question “does being some place several times equates with understanding the problems there”? Further, when he states “I am very proud of the democratic set-up of our country”, one should have shot back “Do you agree that what happened in Patiala court complex is undemocratic and should be unequivocally denounced”?
But looking at the overall nature of journalists in print media these days, such questions are noticeable by their rarity, not frequency. So one has learned to live with it.
All in all, this interview is a must-read, because it brings the three divergent views together to give a reader three-dimensional perspective.