To call the Indian media as the handmaiden of Modi is a gross untruth
For the Left-liberal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not only evil incarnate but also all-powerful—and nowhere is his power felt so much as in the media.
‘Corporate media,’ professional revolutionaries tell us, has been either corrupted or browbeaten by Modi’s team. Orwellian dystopias are referred to; terms like ‘post-truth’ and ‘alt-truth’ are generously sprinkled in the critiques written by parlor pinks and sundry activists. There is only newspeak; news is dead; this is 1984, not 2017, we are told. But the problem with our intellectuals is that they are often wrong but never in doubt. So what’s the truth?
Arnab Goswami of Republic TV, as is he won’t, went ballistic: “Children are not voting banks and our politicians don’t care because if they did, heads should have rolled which haven’t…”
Let’s examine what happened this August, the month that shook the Modi regime. A series of variegated but extremely disturbing events took place, beginning with the Gorakhpur hospital deaths at the state-run Baba Raghav Das Medical College. The accident was attributed to the stoppage of liquid oxygen supply because of the non-payment to the supplier. Beginning on August 10, as many as 30 children died within 48 hours.
How did the media react? The news organizations that are said to be pro-Modi blasted the Adityanath Yogi administration in no uncertain terms. India TV owner Rajat Sharma said to be close to the ruling dispensation, brought out a detailed report on what he called “Gorakhpur’s Gorakhdhandha (hanky-panky).” Zee News also said to be pro-BJP, hauled state Health Minister Siddharth Nath Singh over the coals. Arnab Goswami of Republic TV, as is he won’t, went ballistic: “Children are not voting banks and our politicians don’t care because if they did, heads should have rolled which haven’t…”
Then there were a series of train accidents, the biggest one being at Khatauli in UP’s Muzaffarnagar district on August 19. About two dozen people died and 200 got injured when 14 coaches of the Puri Haridwar Utkal Express were derailed. Anand Kumar, Additional Director General (Law and Order), told the media that the team of Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) would assist in rescue work and also find out if there was any “sabotage.” On August 19, Modi-bhaktas were trying to peddle the sabotage theory.
What killed the spurious theory was not the shouting by news television anchors but a very quiet, unostentatious news story by Mahendra Singh in ‘The Times Of India’ on the very next day, that is, August 20. For once and all, Singh’s report proved that the error lay within Indian Railways’ rotten system. It pointed out that the “Railways staff was engaged in ‘unofficial’ maintenance of the track at the time of an accident, which means they did not put any speed restrictions through the red flag or signal warning on the route while the maintenance work was going on.”
Come to think of it. ‘Unofficial’ maintenance! Such exotica can exist only in the wonder that is India.
Singh also gave a short shrift to all conspiracy theories: “Ruling out the sabotage angle, another official said the train derailed after the engine and five coaches passed the spot safely which was not possible at the speed of 106kmph if the track was tampered with.”
Had Modi been the puppeteer pulling the strings of media houses, as the Fabindia crowd regularly tells us, it would have been impossible for journalists to savage Khattar, Modi’s hand-picked man for the job
The news story didn’t have journalistic flourishes and bombastic expressions but was extremely powerful—primarily because of the presentation of facts. There was also the animated rhetoric of news anchors. The cumulative effect was that with another derailment just four days after the Khatauli mishap, Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu had to tender his resignation to the Prime Minister.
Even before the Modi government could recover from the embarrassment, the Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh episode brought more flak for it, along with singing the Haryana government under M.L. Khattar. Never before was a Chief Minister condemned so severely by all media organizations; the condemnation was in unison and without any ifs and buts. Newspapers, channels, news portals, bloggers—all denounced the ineptitude and complicity of the Khattar regime.
Had Modi been the puppeteer pulling the strings of media houses, as the Fabindia crowd regularly tells us, it would have been impossible for journalists to savage Khattar, Modi’s hand-picked man for the job. In fact, the media also faithfully reported that a Punjab & Haryana High Court judge made a not-so-charitable remark about Modi, that he is the Prime Minister of India, not of the Bharatiya Janata Party. I don’t recall any other prime minister being slammed by a high court in such a manner.
In such a milieu, to call the Indian media as the handmaiden of Modi is a gross untruth. This is indeed 2017.
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2. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.