Tim’s India

The Hardtalk man on why The Outsider, his new debate show on Bloomberg-UTV, is a case of “democracy in action”

Published: 14th August 2012 11:54 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th August 2012 11:54 AM   |  A+A-

Informative debate shows like We the People and the newshour offer different perspectives on social and political issues. The latest to join the club is the outsider on Bloomberg UTV, hosted by an expert at his game, Tim Sebastian. the founder and host of the Doha Debates and BBC’s flagship international programme, Hardtalk, Sebastian will encourage dialogue on issues faced in India like corruption and dynastic politics. The 13-part series will include politicians, businessmen and activists as speakers and Sebastian tells us why it is not inspired by Aamir Khan’s Satyamev Jayate:

Having experienced India at different stages as it has become the second-fastest growing economy, is there a memory you will carry with you?

His name was Madan Lal and he was (and probably still is) a shoe-shine guy in New Delhi. Forty years ago he took over his father’s spot on the street and sat there ever since. Revolutions in politics, technology, space travel, medicine—all passed him by. I was struck by the fact that even though he made only `100 a day, he was richer than hundreds of millions of his countrymen. But he was determined that the shoe-shine trade was going to end with him. “My son,” he told me with great pride, “is going to school.”

Comparisons with Aamir Khan’s show.

I think we’re trying to do something different—provide a platform where the audience can directly challenge politicians, hold them to account and discuss the issues that really matter to them. We work with the audience, give them fact sheets, encourage them to use facts to make their points. They’re impressive—the real stars of the show.

Some of the issues tackled?

Honesty in business, the safety of women in India, the future of dynastic politics, Kashmir and India’s judiciary.

You’ve been speaking to young leaders. How different are they from their counterparts elsewhere?

They’re very articulate, opinionated—but surprisingly open-minded. They have come to debates with one set of views and left with a very different mindset. We take a vote at the beginning and end of the debate and compare the two —there’ve been some large swings of opinion.

Debates involve the art of provocation.

Of course they do. But we don’t provoke for the sake of it. We’re looking for insightful discussions where people argue passionately on both sides of a controversial iss-ue. it’s democracy in action; you listen to different view points  and then make up your mind.

The outsider premieres mid-August on Bloomberg UTV. Timing to be announced .


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