SARC Event: The Miracles of Pollywood

Conveners: South Asia Research Cluster (SARC), Wolfson College

Speaker: Shrenik Rao

Elections in India, aptly called ‘festivals of democracy,’ represent the democratic right of a billion people. The voting patterns -a sum of their aspirations, interests and beliefs- are determined by a complex set of factors that drive decision making in the world’s largest democracy. But throughout this process, the media have a big role to play in engineering elections - from providing 'psephological analysis' and 'opinion polls' to partisan propaganda based on caste, religion and political ideology.

With 2019 General Elections around the corner, the great Indian tamasha is about to start; media networks are gearing up and revving their engines to race ahead and grab a billion eyeballs. As political actors aspiring to control the reins of the world’s largest democracy engage in bizarre theatrics, a menacing drama unfolds. It’s blockbuster material - much needed for the news networks to boost their ratings, increase readership and make their balance sheets turnaround miraculously.

Despite such engineering, the biggest democratic experiment in the world stands out as a resounding success.

In his talk, Shrenik Rao, the Editor-in-chief of the Madras Courier, decodes the magical mantra that makes the great Indian election a blockbuster success.