Tele Evangelism in Doordarsan , At the expense of Tax payers money

published on October 5, 2009

Evangelism on DD is bad news

Priyadarsi Dutta – Daily Pioneer

It’s difficult to sidestep the evangelical burrows like Jesus Calls or The Prayer Show while browsing channels for your favourite morning entertainment capsule or news show on television. These are essentially ‘time shares’ purchased by foreign or inland missionary organisations from television owners with susceptibility towards Faustian pacts. But we could hardly burn their desire for revenue at the stake of unprofitable morality. It may be futile to argue that the visibility of the tele-evangelists increased since the UPA Government’s ascension to power in 2004. With its second coming in 2009, their clout is only likely to be bolstered. Private television channels are commercial enterprises.

Could the same, however, be said about Doordarshan? India’s national broadcaster is expected to reflect the Government’s laissez faire policy on religion. No other country reminds itself too often about secularism. Thus it is curious to see some channels of Doordarshan featuring tele-evangelists like Ms Joyce Meyer. DD Marathi, DD Punjabi, DD Gujarati, DD Assamese, DD Oriya, DD Malayalam and DD Tamil telecast her half-an-hour morning/evening shows ranging from once a week to daily.

Ms Meyer is controversial in her own country for her lavish lifestyle and financial non-transparency. What kind of financial dealing has taken place between Ms Meyer and Doordarshan is best left to one’s imagination. DD’s package is apparently meticulous, which includes dubbing and subtitling in the respective regional languages. This militates against the ethos and principles of constitutional secularism. Evangelism is not coeval with giving space to Christians. There is no objection to showing Christmas and Easter, interviews of their religious leaders, or discussing the pressing issues before the Christians of India. Many people would enjoy the serialisation of Bible, as Doordarshan tried to do in 1992, but could not progress beyond the story of Able and Cain.

DD Bangla (where Ms Meyer has no footing) telecasts an inspiring 10-min programme every morning titled ‘Amrita Katha’ (Immortal Words). It features, on rotation basis, scholars of all creeds — Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism — who discuss the moral and ethical message of their religion. But it’s not good news to allow evangelism, which has been at the heart of much social discontent in India, on our national broadcasting service.

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