Indian television

Channel surfing: I tried to take a break from the news and ran into Pahlaj Nihalani

Seeking a respite from the headlines? Non-news programming can be equally confounding.

Let’s face it, sometimes the news gets too overwhelming, too OTT, too loud, too much. It’s probably true what they say about appointment viewing going down. We’re all so much happier “snacking” on the news in more palatable chunks online. The likes and shares are a barometer of public appetite, though you might be forgiven for thinking more of us are invested in fashion faux pas, the lifestyles of the rich and famous, Kim Kardashian’s latest disrobing, or the listicles that abound.

Or we’re just suckers for clickbait.

In any event, sometimes news fatigue does set in. It’s so much easier to look away from apoplectic anchors and multiple heads bobbing on the screens, soothe your soul and calm your fraying nerves with the fiction on offer. The thought is that you’ll catch up on everything online anyway or understand things better and more in depth the following morning with your regular newspaper. (Once interest in newspapers also fades, one is in dangerous territory.)

So what’s on, you wonder? Full-on blasts from the past are my go-to. I have watched one of my all-time favourite movies, Stardust, instead of the news at least three times, marvelling each time at the creepiness that Michelle Pfeiffer brings to the role. And how delightful is Robert de Niro as the campy pirate Captain Shakespeare? Not to mention the utterly delectable Charlie Cox playing Tristan and Claire Danes as Yvaine. Like anything Neil Gaiman-based, this one’s a magical ride, and guaranteed to take your attention away from the gloom and doom (and noise) that prevails in the real world. I have to say, I’m also a sucker for My Cousin Vinny, and can watch some of those scenes with Marisa Tomei and Joe Pesci innumerable times.

But it’s not as though watching TV – even if you record it and skip the pesky ads – is entirely stress- free. In fact, it can be downright confounding if you’re watching the shows you enjoy, and want to watch regularly. Forget Game Of Thrones, which is probably near-impossible to understand with half its dialogue cut and its scenes (nudity and violence) censored. I am routinely surprised to find random names and words bleeped out of even regular TV shows, such as Jimmy Fallon, Steve Colbert and some of Jimmy Kimmel. In one show, the name of an American politician on Kimmel was bleeped out. I couldn’t even deduce who it was! It makes zero sense to me.

Play
East India Comedy’s comedy spot on censorship on Indian TV.

Is this some sort of paranoia that’s crept in?

Possibly not, as a friend at Star once told me about the sheer volume of complaints that comes in to the channel based on objectionable language to content. Clearly some of you out there prefer the nanny state approach to adult TV consumption.

Here’s hoping the fall-out of the Udta Punjab controversy, which has equal parts elevated and lowered the discourse on censorship (elevating it to the judicial level and lowering it given the basis of objections from the censor board), has some sort of positive ripple effect or at least triggers more conversations on censorship. The Bombay High Court’s observations that the Central Board of Film Certification need not be overly critical are more than welcome. And let’s hear it for the phrase it used “Let the public decide”.

I don’t understand why we can’t have a system whereby adults watch uncensored programmes on channels that they pay to subscribe to. Monitor the children watching, by all means, parents! But what’s the deal with monitoring adults? Who said we need uber-adult supervision? What’s the corrupting effect that bad language might have on the average denizen of Delhi, I ask? (For one, it’s hilarious to think that anyone can teach Delhiites better gaalis than we already have.)

But sure, I only mean loosen the shackles within reason, if that makes you comfortable – this isn’t a call to anarchy!

In the meantime, I’m going back to my tried and tested staple diet of 20-odd years ago, F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Though it’s highly unlikely that on the 200th viewing of the 300th re-run, or whatever it is, that there’s an episode I will have missed, some of that light-hearted humour still gets me. Every time. Switch on, switch off, laugh, repeat.

Amrita Tripathi is an author and recovering news junkie. She has previously worked for CNN-IBN and The Indian Express. At times, she may have a glancing familiarity or more with the news players mentioned.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Making two-wheelers less polluting to combat air pollution in India

Innovations focusing on two-wheelers can make a difference in facing the challenges brought about by climate change.

Two-wheelers are the lifeline of urban Asia, where they account for more than half of the vehicles owned in some countries. This trend is amply evident in India, where sales in the sub-category of mopeds alone rose 23% in 2016-17. In fact, one survey estimates that today one in every three Indian households owns a two-wheeler.

What explains the enduring popularity of two-wheelers? In one of the fastest growing economies in the world, two-wheeler ownership is a practical aspiration in small towns and rural areas, and a tactic to deal with choked roads in the bigger cities. Two-wheelers have also allowed more women to commute independently with the advent of gearless scooters and mopeds. Together, these factors have led to phenomenal growth in overall two-wheeler sales, which rose by 27.5% in the past five years, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM). Indeed, the ICE 2016 360 survey says that two-wheelers are used by 37% of metropolitan commuters to reach work, and are owned by half the households in India’s bigger cities and developed rural areas.

Amid this exponential growth, experts have cautioned about two-wheelers’ role in compounding the impact of pollution. Largely ignored in measures to control vehicular pollution, experts say two-wheelers too need to be brought in the ambit of pollution control as they contribute across most factors determining vehicular pollution - engine technology, total number of vehicles, structure and age of vehicles and fuel quality. In fact, in major Indian cities, two-thirds of pollution load is due to two-wheelers. They give out 30% of the particulate matter load, 10 percentage points more than the contribution from cars. Additionally, 75% - 80% of the two-wheelers on the roads in some of the Asian cities have two-stroke engines which are more polluting.

The Bharat Stage (BS) emissions standards are set by the Indian government to regulate pollutants emitted by vehicles fitted with combustion engines. In April 2017, India’s ban of BS III certified vehicles in favour of the higher BS IV emission standards came into effect. By April 2020, India aims to leapfrog to the BS VI standards, being a signatory to Conference of Parties protocol on combating climate change. Over and above the BS VI norms target, the energy department has shown a clear commitment to move to an electric-only future for automobiles by 2030 with the announcement of the FAME scheme (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles in India).

The struggles of on-ground execution, though, remain herculean for automakers who are scrambling to upgrade engine technology in time to meet the deadlines for the next BS norms update. As compliance with BS VI would require changes in the engine system itself, it is being seen as one of the most mammoth R&D projects undertaken by the Indian automotive industry in recent times. Relative to BS IV, BS VI norms mandate a reduction of particulate matter by 82% and of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) by 68%.

Emission control in fuel based two-wheelers can be tackled on several fronts. Amongst post-emission solutions, catalytic converters are highly effective. Catalytic converters transform exhaust emissions into less harmful compounds. They can be especially effective in removing hydrocarbons, nitrous oxides and carbon monoxide from the exhaust.

At the engine level itself, engine oil additives are helpful in reducing emissions. Anti-wear additives, friction modifiers, high performance fuel additives and more lead to better performance, improved combustion and a longer engine life. The improvement in the engine’s efficiency as a result directly correlates to lesser emissions over time. Fuel economy of a vehicle is yet another factor that helps determine emissions. It can be optimised by light weighting, which lessens fuel consumption itself. Light weighting a vehicle by 10 pounds can result in a 10-15-pound reduction of carbon dioxide emissions each year. Polymer systems that can bear a lot of stress have emerged as reliable replacements for metals in automotive construction.

BASF, the pioneer of the first catalytic converter for automobiles, has been at the forefront of developing technology to help automakers comply with advancing emission norms while retaining vehicle performance and cost-efficiency. Its new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility at Mahindra World City near Chennai is equipped to develop a range of catalysts for diverse requirements, from high performance and recreational bikes to economy-oriented basic transportation. BASF also leverages its additives expertise to provide compounded lubricant solutions, such as antioxidants, anti-wear additives and corrosion inhibitors and more. At the manufacturing level, BASF’s R&D in engineered material systems has led to the development of innovative materials that are much lighter than metals, yet just as durable and strong. These can be used to manufacture mirror brackets, intake pipes, step holders, clutch covers, etc.

With innovative solutions on all fronts of automobile production, BASF has been successfully collaborating with various companies in making their vehicles emission compliant in the most cost-effective way. You can read more about BASF’s innovations in two-wheeler emission control here, lubricant solutions here and light weighting solutions here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of BASF and not by the Scroll editorial team.