The Indian Weekender’s great debate between the two Kiwi-Indian MPs, National’s Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi and Labour’s Priyanca Radhakrishnan was able to live up to its expectation.
It was fiery, it was feisty, it was emotional, and to some extent, informational as well.
Although, evaluating one’s own work of creativity or art, is not in accordance with best principles of critical analysis, which is so important for maintaining the integrity of any media house.
But in the absence of a better means of reporting, we will take a shot at evaluating this event ourselves.
The debate, though planned at a very last minute, was highly anticipated among the members of the public, community leaders, and other political commentators in the community.
The Indian Weekender’s team had received a large pool of questions from the members of the public, and the best were selected within the purview of our editorial discretion.
The fact that two senior members of the caucus of both National and Labour Party made it a point to attend The Indian Weekender’s debate between Kiwi-Indian MPs signifies the importance of the Indian community in their respective election plans.
This is both acknowledged and appreciated.
The National Party was represented by Judith Collins, Minister for Ethnic Communities, Energy Resources and Revenue.
The Labour Party was represented by their former Leader, Andrew Little, and spokesperson for Ethnic Communities, Revenue and Transport, Michael Wood.
The debates are naturally expected to be a contest of ideas and issues.
However, when relayed live on camera to the audiences sitting in drawing rooms watching at their leisure, are also expected to carry some theatre and drama.
In that regard to a large extent, this debate lived up to its expectation for both, a contest of ideas and drama for the audience, though an opportunity for improvisation is always there.
Production wise, it was a great leap of faith for The Indian Weekender team, and undoubtedly the team had delivered a great product with a pleasant user experience.
Many viewers had personally shared their user experience where they had seen the live debate streaming on their television sets.
Seeing Kiwi-Indian MPs ferociously defending their ideas and attacking each other’s respective position in a television format might have been a novel experience for many members of the community in New Zealand.
In that sense, The Indian Weekender production team was able to create a decent user experience.
However, it was the intensity between the debaters which stole the show or rather created the drama to keep everyone glued to the screens throughout the debate.
Political representatives are supposed to be answerable to the public; provided questions are raised to them in a respectful and appropriate manner.
To its credit, The Indian Weekender took the opportunity to raise some serious questions to our both candidates followed by equally serious supplementary questions.
The probing supplementary questions were able to create some intensity and an aura of drama in the debate – a fact corroborated by many in the audience and the community.
“I can say for sure that was this was one of the best debates I have attended in a long time.
“It was intense.
“Congratulations to your entire team for successfully organising this debate,” Suneel Kuncha of New Zealand Telugu Association told The Indian Weekender immediately after the debate.
The debate had a clear focus on the needs and expectation of the Kiwi-Indian community.
“I would say that the debate was very precise and clearly focussed on the Kiwi-Indian community, which is good,” Vinod Kumar, President Hindu Council of New Zealand told The Indian Weekender.
To me personally, moderating this debate between two major Party candidates was an experience that I had thoroughly enjoyed.
It was a classic contest between logic and emotions, like the overall election environment where the National party is seeking the help of hard logic, policies and numbers around policies, and the Labour Party is generating emotions of empathy and compassion.
However, our candidates alternatively based their arguments on logic and emotions to sway audience and voters.
While Mr Bakshi used the logic of numbers and data to claim laurels of economic growth of the last nine years, including beating worst Global Financial Crisis and a surplus budget.
Ms Radhakrishnan used the logic of numbers and evidence overseas to put forward the point that why tougher penalties on youth offenders do not yield desired results and early social intervention was the most preferred means to containing crime.
Similarly, Mr Bakshi was a wee bit emotional in responding to a direct question of illustrating his contribution to the community so far in last nine years of his role as a List MP in the parliament.
Whereas, Ms Radhakrishnan was passionately emotional about the cause of homelessness, home affordability and other key issues.
The description is surely not exhaustive, and readers could watch the debate themselves on The Indian Weekender’s Facebook page and make up their mind.
I sincerely believe that there is a huge room for improvement in moderating such debates and delivering up to the expectations of everyone in the community.
The audience was lively and engaging, both at the event and on the social media, shouting out loud in support of their respective candidates, which is a good sign for the community.
“The Indian Weekender debate was a pleasant reminder that the Kiwi-Indian politicians and voters have both arrived. Such debates with huge social media viewership clearly show that the narrative is certainly changing for the Indian community in New Zealand," Ram Lingam Vice President - Indian Association of New Zealand told The Indian Weekender.