[Reader-list] "Is India really a big nation, which behaves small?"

Rakesh Iyer rakesh.rnbdj at gmail.com
Tue Sep 15 17:17:19 IST 2009

Dear all

I think one of the biggest bogus creations in India today is the very
character of the Indian mainstream media, which cares no hoots for all the
wrongs they commit in the name of 'freedom of speech'. When a Yakoob Qureshi
or a Varun Gandhi or a Mamta Banerjee says something which undermines the
character or ethics associated with the freedom of speech and expression
vested in the Constitution, at least the media and we all can criticize it,
and moreover it is portrayed again and again to prove that it's wrong. What
about our media itself though, which commits graver wrong-doings and which
never get reported at all, and their ideological moves as well? Who is going
to stop that?

Several examples can be taken to look at this issue in detail.

1) Let us start with Indian cricket. I still remember the days when Saurav
Ganguly and his tiff with Greg Chappell was considered the biggest matter of
India, as if both these individuals were more important than the Prime
Minister of India or even the other people of India. What was shameful was
that an objective analysis of the entire situation was hardly missing. While
the newspaper media did present some objectivity in their reporting, or at
least presenting the views of such people, our TV media was just resorting
to sensationalism. What was even stranger was that when our selection
policies are questioned, the media attacks cricketers, while the Board is
hardly talked about. What about that? Isn't and shouldn't the Indian cricket
board be accountable? Now even Modi has become the chief of a state cricket
board. Do chief ministers and a Union agricultural minister (or other union
ministers) have the time to run a sport which is a passion in our country
and requires huge time and effort, both on infrastructure and human angles?
Isn't it time to analyze such issues?

2) The next example coming to my mind is about culture. When the Mangalore
pub attacks took place, what had to be condemned was the fact that it's an
infringing on the freedom of a woman to go wherever she wants to (for that
matter, any human being has that freedom and should have it). Moreover, she
can do as she wants, and if somebody feels it's not wrong or improper, (as
long as it doesn't infringe on the freedoms of others), then one should
explain it provided she is willing to listen it out, which too is in her
hands. The beating was and should be condemned by any means.

What next came out was disgusting. Instead of focussing on women being
insecure and their rights and freedoms going on a toss, we shifted onto a
debate of culture, where tradition was pitted against modernity. Anything
modern was taken to be synonymous with development, while anything tradition
was taken to be anti-development. What a shame! Even Gandhi, if he were
alive, would have disapproved of it.

There couldn't be an objective discussion even on whether culture and
criminal activites should be dissociated or associated with each other, and
what can be done to solve such crimes. Neither was there an objective
discussion or debate as to how come modernity only is development? After
all, our ancestors didn't have as many water problems as some of our cities
have, thanks to the huge system of tanks and wells constructed in the
normally parched regions of the country. Yet, they are not developed,
whereas we are developed!! Brilliant indeed!

What kind of development is this where only people who believe in certain
things are considered people whereas others not believing in them are to be
discarded or not cared at for all? How is that similar to the attitude of
Nehru, who asked tribals to make sacrifices in the name of development (read
making dams) or even the VHP bandhs announced on the Valentines' day?

3) What is even more shameful is how our media seems to go around
hand-in-glove with our politicians, page-3 stars and our famous people? What
happened to the 'aam aadmi'? The aam aadmi seems to be only in the slogans
of political parties, rather than being reported about in the media. Even
'The Hindu' seems to be having less on poverty and more on Kashmir fighting
between separatists and the Army-plus-nationalists. I agree Kashmir is an
important issue, but don't we have other issues even within Kashmir too?
What about that? Is poverty not a concern without Kashmir, or have Kashmiris
decided that poverty can wait and azadi is a must first? And even if azadi
is what they talk about, can't the link in their own ways be also reported
with respect to other demands, as well as an objective analysis of whether
those are possible or not?

There are more reporters covering today the Lakme Fashion Weeks and the
filmi gossip than those who are covering the villages suffering from
drought. How else can one explain that again and again exit polls are
failing in their predictions for the Lok Sabha election, and that too by
massive margins? When journalists are not in touch with all layers of
society except to the class they belong to, what do you expect of them to

Our media has simply become an object of consumption, rather than a service
to the society as well. In other words, the entire media has now turned into
a business and efficiency based model, where the only objective is to earn
profits, and if that requires turning one journalists' wife into prostitute
and then reporting it to gain TRP's, so be it. The autonomy provided to the
media has been severely abused by it, to the extent where they have become
more entertaining rather than the MTV and the Fashion TV's. (if you know
what I mean).

Whether it be national security, whether it be people's issues, whether it
be objective reporting, whether it be other related concerns, the media
seems to be failing again and again. It's time for an introspection into all
these, otherwise we may have a dangerous body which will turn media into a
servant of the ruling govt or ruling dispensation, and all media will be a
version of the China Daily, the only English newspaper coming out of the
Chinese mainland. If you don't know what news China Daily puts in, just read
it for a week and you will know what I mean.



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