Published On:22 May 2012
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

Media’s love for non-issues

By Arindam Chaudhuri

Concerned only about its TRP ratings and business success, the Indian media now dishes out titillating entertainment in the name of prime-time news. On the rare occasion that it does offer real news, there is little effort to report the truth. Instead, it just parrots the opinions of the West
While the media demands special privileges because it claims to be the fourth pillar of Indian democracy that has a national purpose, the sad reality, especially over the last two decades, is that social conscience and the pursuit of a public good has been replaced by total commercialisation of the media. “As Rekha takes oath, the camera kept focussing on Jaya Bachchan’s priceless expressions”... Thus went the first few lines of articles on the first pages of all national dailies the day after the film star took oath in the Rajya Sabha, and that is exactly what television channels had done the day before.

Add to that the shameless gossip about Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha. What national purpose does this story serve? And that too as headlines in the front pages of respectable dailies? Or even as the key stories on TV news channels? Yes, Rekha is a big star, and her swearing-in makes news. But is this the way to cover the event? Aren’t there enough Bollywood shows on TV and entertainment pages in newspapers where such news could have been easily showcased?

A few days earlier, the biggest story in the media was to do with the ‘hurt’ of some of our MPs over a cartoon in an NCERT textbook. Prior to that, there was a front-page outcry over actor Shah Rukh Khan’s detention at a US airport. Similarly, the media went overboard covering the fracas over author Salman Rushdie not being allowed to attend the Jaipur Literature Festival, over the people that US talk-show host Oprah Winfrey met during her India visit, and even Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra’s comments that he wanted to join politics. The entire Sunny Leone saga has been hyped up, and the same can be said about the scores of lines written on who killed Aarushi Talwar, about the two children taken away from their Indian parents by welfare authorities in Norway, and for that matter even Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s electoral campaign in Uttar Pradesh.

Are any of these real issues that concern India? Of course not. The real issues that confront Indians are farmer suicides, the crisis in Indian agriculture, India’s pathetic human development indicators, a virtual collapse of the public health and education system and rampant corruption.
The only issues highlighted by our media are high-profile corruption cases — and even in those cases there are no  follow-ups. For example, it is almost a decade since the Ghaziabad Provident Fund scam came to light, but who cares about following up on it? This is despite the fact that many witnesses have died mysteriously. Yet, there has been no recent coverage because, as I wrote in my earlier article, like no lost child can wake up this country and change laws or school rules, no killed witnesses will can change the laws that should have provided for their protection.

Similarly, while our mothers keep dying at childbirth and our children keep dying before the age of five (in both these counts, our figures are shamefully comparable to those of sub-Saharan Africa while China’s are comparable to the most developed nations of the world), our media will keep our masses busy, feeding them the ‘Silsilas’ of our Rajya Sabha.

These are not the only examples of the shameful fall of media standards in India. The herd mentality of Indian media is another worrying aspect to ponder upon. One of the best examples here is the media portrayal of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who has been presented as a demon in the past 10 years. But the media is mysteriously silent about other riots and, as a rule, never highlights Mr Modi’s achievements that invariably show him to be the best Chief Minister in every possible ranking.

Also, the Indian media almost never highlights the real story around the Hindu-Muslim divide (often the real cause of riots) — the pathetic state of India’s Muslims when it comes to education, job opportunities and quality of life. These are things that the Government denies Muslims by keeping them in poor economic conditions. The same applies to the Dalits in this country.

But then, who cares about the real story. Who cares about fighting for the rights of the millions of Muslims or Dalits in the country when fraudulent sympathy and Modi-bashing can get us more mileage in the international media.

But then again, most of the times, the Indian media blindly apes what comes out in the Western media; so how can one blame the international media? Let’s take, for example, the case of Iran. India does not have any problems with Iran. Instead, it badly needs oil and gas from Iran and it is in India’s national interests to have good relations with Iran. There is absolutely no reason why India should participate in any kind of Iran-bashing. But, just because the Western media demonises Iran, the Indian media parrots the same tune. We shamefully didn’t protest the many American wrongs over the last couple of decades just because the USSR broke down and we lost our voice.

And, of course, our media didn’t have the voice either. So, whatever the West says, we love to promote. All in all, I believe it’s time for the Indian media to stop treating the Indian populace as dumb donkeys who can be fed anything; or like dustbins, where any waste material can be dumped. It’s time that the media plays a role in making Indians more aware of the world around them by giving them the news that matters instead of only offering information that titillates.

[The author is a management guru and the honorary director of IIPM Think Tank.]

(Courtesy: The Pioneer)

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on May 22, 2012. Filed under , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

By Indian Muslim Observer on May 22, 2012. Filed under , , , . Follow any responses to the RSS 2.0. Leave a response

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