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Of course the Indian Media is irresponsible and rotten...
Issue Date - 24/11/2011
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Were the matter not so serious and so important to the future of Indian democracy, I would still be laughing my guts out. Yes, I am talking about the firestorm triggered by the strong criticism of the Indian media by the new chairman of the Press Council of India Justice Markandey Katju. And the equally ill concealed anger and contempt with the which the Shankaracharyas, Ayatollahs and Cardinals of the Indian media have responded to the criticism. Before I bore you further with grimy and unsavoury details of the whole mess, let me point out one truly startling aspect that seems to have escaped the eagle eyes of media pundits.

One of the key criticisms made by Justice Katju is that the Indian media often covers events in an irresponsible, and even dangerous way. Obviously our Gods and Goddesses of news and views have not taken kindly to that. So the Broadcast Editors Association (BEA) that represents the scores of TV news channels has slammed Justice Katju by issuing a statement that has been dutifully carried out by all media outlets. But there is a hidden gem in that diatribe that actually got me laughing. Let me quote the August BEA: "The sane & balanced (italics mine) coverage of two recent incidents – the Ayodhya judgment and Gopalpur riots – belies the assertion of the PCI chairman."

Just look at the manner in which the statement reflects the mentality of a spoilt brat who now claims to be less of a spoilt brat. What exactly does the BEA mean when it says that the coverage of just two incidents – Ayodhya and Gopalpur riots – was sane and balanced? Isn’t it admitting in a perverse way that the media coverage of many past events has been insane and imbalanced? Anyone with common sense knows how true the latter is!

Please allow me to bore you to death with more quotes that reveal as much about the authoritarian mindset of Justice Katju as they do about the intolerant mindset of the Indian media. The first is from the BEA and the second priceless gem is from another august body called the Editor’s Guild. “Any criticism made in a holier-than-thou fervour defeats the very purpose it is sought to be made for". Now just pause and think for a moment. How would you describe the tone, tenor and approach of virtually all television anchors of India when they are holding forth on the 2G scam, the Radia tapes, the so called Chinese military threat to India or the so called destruction of Indian secularism because an essay on the Ramayana by A.K Ramanujan was taken off the syllabus by Delhi University? Does the term holier than thou come to mind?

Here goes the second quote: "The Editors' Guild of India deplores the ill-considered, sweeping & uninformed comments (italics mine) on the media and on media professionals by the new chairman of the Press Council of India, Justice Markandey Katju.” Now please turn the clock back just a wee bit and recall the hysteria surrounding the Anna Hazare fast in August, 2011 or its precursor in April, 2011. Was the manner in which every single politician of India was branded a corrupt thief not ill considered, sweeping and uninformed? And I must come back to that old chestnut 'holier-than-thou'. Do you remember the manner in which most in the media virtually formed a lynch mob against you if you had the temerity to suggest that many statements being made by some members of Team Anna were ill considered, sweeping and uninformed? Let me provide you with another very recent and shining example of how an ill considered, sweeping and uninformed Indian media misleads readers and viewers either because of ignorance, plain stupidity or sheer laziness. Now that the dictator of Libya Muammar Gaddafi is gone (Saddam has long gone), the Western powers ably supported by the western media now have Iran in the cross hairs. In a sickening enactment of déjà vu, the western media is going to town about how Iran is now on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons and how the West must take preemptive measures before mankind is destroyed by the Iranian Ayatollahs. What does the Indian media do? It blindly repeats what the western media is saying. Are the well read, thoughtful and historically well briefed leaders of Indian media not aware that this is just a repeat of the lies unleashed by the USA in the run up to the invasion of Iraq? Today, consumers of media have many other sources of information thanks to the internet. And can you blame them for not having an iota of respect for the manner in which this free, independent and fearless media blindly apes its cousins of the West?

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