I thought it was just me, but when some friends expressed their suspicions, I felt it was an interesting topic for my blog. There was a time, not so long ago when hosannas were sung in praise of the bold and unprecedented English press, but alas, over the past two years our English media seem to subtly have become biased in their reportage (I do not follow regional newspapers and TV channels, but I am sure they are no different).
Through a globally acknowledged thumping win at the political hustings, the NDA trumped (pun unintended) a behemoth which had lorded over India for close to sixty years. When India had its tryst with destiny to gain independence from the British our first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru showed us a lot of dreams. To be fair to him, he and a few Congress leaders after him, faithfully worked towards achieving many of those dreams, but could never realize all of their pledges. When Narendra Modi became our PM, he too showed us a lot of dreams. I honestly feel that he too is faithfully working towards achieving most of them, but the same old Congress party now terms his dreams as “jhumlas”! And all the friends that they have cultivated in the media over the years that they were in power, seem to be helping them propagate this notion through their newspapers and TV channels. I fail to understand how the same dreams which the Congress party could not realize in sixty years can be accomplished in two years! From the time Modi has taken over, there has been a noticeable (at least to me) shift away from actual reporting to trivializing matters. The first and foremost function of the national media is unbiased and intrepid reporting, while taking a strong and neutral stand on issues concerning the country. Editorial pages that I used to once admire and read with a lot of interest have now “allegedly” been reduced to an “alleged” combination of “alleged” scuttlebutt and tittle-tattle. It is now an open space for dirty mind-games with open sycophancy and self-aggrandizement through one-sided articles which have become the norm of guest writers in the Edit pages of today’s newspapers – a balanced article seems to have become as rare as a pothole-free road in Mumbai.
BJP has been around since 1980 and have always worn their “alleged” right-wing credentials on their sleeve. Even before they were part of the government there have been churls within the party who have been regularly pilloried not just in the press but by all sections of the liberal society, for shooting their mouths off and “instigating” the majority community. So there was no justification in the garrulous news reports that incidents of “religious intolerance” increased since they have been part of the government. In stark contrast to this, the barbaric and relentless massacre of Hindus in Bangladesh usually gets mentioned in the news as a casual afterthought. The JNU incident, which should have ideally been fodder for a few days, was hyped up to such an extent that it became international news, while ISRO’s remarkable record of launching 20 satellites in a single mission, gets just a mere one-day mention. A disgustingly insensitive and downright asinine statement made by a “hero” makes headlines while the deeds done by our defense personnel, who are our real heroes, get relegated to the inside pages (unless someone from the minority or dalit community is killed by their action). There are regular front-page news reports of the number of criminals from the minority communities incarcerated in our prisons, but not much about the stellar services rendered by people (irrespective of their caste or religious affiliations) during accidents and natural disasters. Raghuram Rajan’s resignation from the post of Governor of RBI was given way more importance than it deserved – when will we learn that no individual is bigger than the position he / she holds? Add to it the silly conspiracy theory being floated around that he was “fired” for not kowtowing to the PM. If you believe this “jhumla”, then you can also believe the equally silly theory that media houses are in cahoots with the opposition to bring down the incumbent government (you might then as well become a follower of our home-grown conspiracy theorist, Arvind Kejriwal). All this becomes grist to the mill for a few NRIs, who sit on their cozy armchairs and advocate untenable solutions for “poor Indians”. Anyone who questions or queries these opinions automatically gets labelled a “Modi bhakt”. Elbert Hubbard must have had the Indian media in mind when he said that an editor is a person employed by a newspaper whose business it is to separate the wheat from the chaff… and to see that the chaff is printed. What will it take for our media to transform into harbingers of positive news rather than purveyors of filth?
As I have reiterated through my blogs, if you remove religion from this world, it would become a much better place for mankind. But, of course, religion is the facile safety net that human beings have built around themselves to be used as an excuse to proclaim their superiority and promulgate their selfishness. Sir Richard F Burton hit the nail on the head when he said – the more I study religions the more I am convinced that man never worshipped anything but himself. Why is my idea of a prosperous India still getting bogged down by a Hindu having to prove his secularism and a Muslim his patriotism? Time to clear the cobwebs of the mind…