The media, believed to be independent and objecting, has often been charged of bias. It has its own favourites and disfavourites. It is different that they prejudices and flattering coinages are masked in appropriate jargon. India has been witness to this saga for more than a year, ever since Narendra Modi became a serious contender for the highest office in the country. Even the BBC has not arraigned so much for bias or tilt in coverage of the referendum on Scotland as has been the case of NaMo or Narendra Modi.
There are awfully ferocious television anchors, who had used every adjective in the best thesaurus and dictionary in the English language to attack their targets. They had no fear of loss of reputation, as they never stopped at acting media fidayeen even after expose after expose. Like the ISIS, Al Qaeda or other such outfits boastfully taking credit for human bombs, which they elevate to the level of heroes by calling them fidayeen, these media moghuls or their owner companies, use journalists and their credentials to make efforts to destroy reputations of leaders of high integrity and bureaucrats of impeccable reputation. They are uneasy with a government practising rule of law or public servants delivering public services in accordance with the law. They team up with (rather they are in the employ of ) politicians from the opposite camp and other disgruntled elements to pursue their goals. They were crestfallen when Modi emerged as the undisputed leader of India, winning absolute majority in the parliamentary election held 4 months ago. They lost their speech, so to say. They fell silent for more than a month, when their handlers goaded them to do something. In Modi’s regime, the news industry has been going through a terrible recession, as all the news becomes public through social media before the TV channels are able to give the Breaking News or the newspapers come up with banner headlines and anchor or editorial wisdom. So the newspapers started publishing full page advertisement on the first page which has come to take five pages in less than 100 days, reducing the news portion to not even 30% of all the published words in any edition. TV channels have become so boring that the viewing time has come down to a few minutes from several hours a day ! Credit for this change in the news climate goes exclusively to the Fourth Estate because somewhere on the way it forgot its responsibility and took the intelligence of the readers/viewers rather casually. The news industry is dead if it does not stop acting fidayeen for one political party or the other.
It is quite interesting to note that the media which acts fidayeen for some also acts as the media security commandos for some others. The media plays favourites for the chosen ones. Its best journalists comprise the SPG (Special Protection Group). Netas (meaning politicians) in India get SPG commandos to provide them foolproof security. They have no real danger, but it has become a status symbol to be surrounded by special protection group commandos, also called the Black Cat Commandos. Like the security personnel forming the SPG for the Netas, there are journalists who protect their charge of politicians, especially from political or ruling dynastic families. So they are interviewed on TV by the best journalists but in an avuncular manner. They are serenaded in newspapers even for their silly words on any subject. Actually, whenever these “media protectees” open their mouth, they utter something fantastically ridiculous, but the journalists write wonderful articles published in the mid-day editions and next day editions, which glorify them for every such reaction or comment and educate the reader about the real meaning (contrary to what has been “mis-reported”) and also significance. While doing so they don’t forget to conclude by attacking target of their disaffection like Prime Minister Narendra Modi or some such dignitary.
This strange role of the media costs a country like India very much. Take for example the Prime Minister’s visit to Japan or hosting the Chinese President and his forthcoming visit to the USA. The media has either criticized every single achievement of these valuable exchanges or tried to revive bad past memories. The purpose was to drown the positivity created by the new initiatives taken by a leader who has been acclaimed globally after Nehru in a pool of gloom. They refuse to outgrow the Nehruvian time even though the world has changed drastically since then and zillions of cusecs of water has flown down the Ganges. They play blind to the change that has taken place. The media has not been able to write a single story about China or the Chinese President which could provide information not already known. They could not publish even a detailed account of visiting Chinese President for the benefit of the readers, excepting criticizing the Gujarat government for the wrong translation in Chinese on the welcome hoardings in Ahmedabad. Can’t the media provide the right translation, since they are ubiquitous? But the problem lies here: the Indian media is Unilingual; it can handle only the English language with a degree of confidence; though even here it is really the IMFL and neither the Queen’s nor the American English (IMFL: 1. Indian Made Foreign Liquor; 2. Indian Made Foreign Language). That diverts their attention from the visiting dignitaries and their country, its policy and bilateral business and global ramification to pouring scorn on India, the flaws in petty things, government functionaries and the PM. It is followed by ill informed debates, which turn into bitter slinging matches that are out of fashion even in high schools. None of the contributors to the newspapers or experts on TV shows has been able to convincingly analyse the reasons for the Chinese actions on the border even as their President was being hosted in Ahmedabad. Was it a sign to check stall India’s growth under a leader as strong as Narendra Modi, as they had done with Jawaharlal Nehru? Do the Chinese fear the rising stature of India because they see in it the possibility of a challenge to their hegemony in the region? Do they think that Modi, like Nehru, nurses the ambition of becoming a world leader? As communism stands buried deep now and there is no hope of Tibet ever getting its freedom back, what is it that fuels the Chinese designs on the Indo-China LAC? Is some internal compulsion driving China to start a war like situation as it had when its soldiers were returning from the Korean war and who were made national heroes and pushed into the war in 1962? None of these issues have been subjected to in depth analysis by the journalist the way American, British or French journalist do. It cannot go on serving the media protectees alone. It has to serve the nation and the people.
The media, more than the Americans, will be subjected to greater scrutiny during Modi’s visit to the USA to address the UN General Assembly and bilateral talks with President Obama. He will also be addressing the Indian diaspora and holding a press conference there. The media will prove itself unworthy of its role if it displays its expertise in spreading communal venom by irresponsibly using words as in India. They will get more than their appetite on matters communal in the context of the ISIS activities which they will not be able to handle as the violence is not only between the two sects of Islam but other faiths too. And our journalists are secular people with extremely limited knowledge subjects like religion, spirituality, social stratification and several such issues. They better adopt a positive attitude so that something useful for the country comes to notice. Suffice it to say that India and America are the only two countries that are natural allies, because both lay great value to freedom of thought, speech, expression and belief. Moreover India had lived the knowledge society long ago which America is now establishing. Our media has to emulate the legendry journalist Narad and none else.