Attack on church – Delhi assembly elections
Dadri incident – Bihar assembly elections
Hyderabad university student’s suicide – Hyderabad municipal elections
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he pattern is not too difficult to see; every time an election is round the corner ‘intolerance’ seems to be on the rise in the country. ‘AwardWapsi’ gang seems to come alive and all guns are trained on PM Modi. The media doesn’t leave any stone unturned to fuel the outrage. They keep shoving their mikes at every known person and asking for an opinion which becomes the ‘breaking news’ of the moment. How much of this outrage is real and how much is manufactured? Let us look at each of these instances and the outcomes.
The common man is often more concerned about earning his daily bread than anything else.
A series of attacks took place on Churches in Delhi since December 2014 just when the assembly elections were due there. A huge hue and cry was made in the media, both Indian and international, about the minority community being targeted after Modi became the PM. Strangely enough the attacks didn’t just subside but completely vanished after AAP swept the Delhi assembly polls. Even stranger is the fact that the attacks could not be either directly or indirectly linked to the BJP or the Sangh Parivar or any of the Hindu groups as alleged by Christian groups of Delhi. The Delhi Police commissioner in his report to the Government talked about a perception being created that the minority community was under attack.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]O[/dropcap]nce the Delhi election results were out things went back to being normal until the ‘Dadri’ incident took place in Uttar Pradesh; again strategically just before elections were due in Bihar. Suffice to say here that the media conveniently turned a personal fight between two people into a communal incident.
The awardees were back in action alleging the country was becoming intolerant and minorities were under threat. Many of them lined up to return their awards, actors gave sound bytes stating how they were feeling threatened and how the atmosphere seemed to be vitiated. Needless to say things went back to being normal after the Bihar election results were out and BJP was kept out of power by a united opposition. Whether a BJP win would have led to another spate of such violence is hard to say but the pattern of violence, awards being returned, media outrage and then back to normalcy is too obvious to be overlooked.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]I[/dropcap]t would not have been so much of an anomaly if both the media and others had raised their voice for every communal incident that had or has been taking place in the country. When the media turns a blind eye to instances of communal violence like the one in Malda where the perpetrators belonged to the minority community surely puts media credibility under the scanner. Not a word was uttered by those who were crying hoarse and returning their awards during the Dadri incident. Such selective outrage raises several questions about the intentions of these awardees.
Role of the media
Mainstream media plays a dominant role in the dissemination of information and therefore people expect the media to be unbiased and present the truth. Unfortunately what we find happening these days is media trying to grab eyeballs by conducting outrageous debates, fuelling speculation and in general attempting to increase their viewership. In the bargain, they are compromising on the truth and leading the viewers down the wrong path.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]C[/dropcap]ommunal violence has been taking place in our country since a long time now. I would not like to get into the nitty gritties of who is to be blamed and other such details but it is necessary to point out that these instances do not make the nation as a whole intolerant. In general, India is a peaceful land where people co-exist. The common man is often more concerned about earning his daily bread than anything else. When media, in its eagerness to extract sound bytes from celebrities, makes a spectacle out of every event it is invariably vitiating the atmosphere. Every country has its fair share of problems but that does not make the entire population in general and the majority community in particular an intolerant lot. Intolerance is more a figment of the media’s fertile imagination than a ground reality.
When celebrities like Aamir and Shahrukh Khan speak about feeling threatened, either of their own accord or in response to a provocative question put forward by journalists, they are merely adding to the already vitiated atmosphere. Responsible journalism demands that media presents the news ‘as is’ and covers every instance of violence without favour or bias. Everyone can have an opinion and voice it too but when the outrage is selective it obviously puts the intentions of those outraging, namely the ‘Award Wapsi’ people, under the scanner.
We are living in the information age and social media is an effective counter to mainstream media. More often than not it is social media that brings out the truth and also calls out the lies being peddled by TV channels and newspapers. I shudder to think what would have happened if the outcome of either Delhi or Bihar or both elections had gone in favour of BJP. I leave to the reader’s discretion to decide whether or not ‘intolerance’ is a media creation but the pattern is too clear to miss.
1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.