The nature of discussion that goes on in news channels and social media has planted many questions in me regarding the quality, manipulation of data and also the conduct of journalists in handling sensitive issues. There were many incidents in recent political scenario that have made me fact check with other sources. One of them was politicians and spokespersons falsely claiming with numbers regarding the issue of unemployment. I recently was going through some numbers regarding this issue, I was able to remember the numbers given by one of the spokespersons in a TV debate, which turned out to be the numbers that of another country with poor indicators.
In one of the incidents when the union minister of textiles, Smriti Irani, took pride in the ease of sanctioning of loans in her government’s tenure which helped a poor, uneducated woman with whom she had a chat, to do a small business was immediately replied with mockery by the interviewing journalist who goes on to ask if the government intends to improve the life of poor by making them sell pakoras etc. which was the pun already existing in the social media. This reply would imply that, either the interviewer hoped that the woman in this case should have been provided a job in an MNC or she takes pleasure in reading such puns from the social media. Many such incidents would plant a question in viewers, if the quality of discussion in television has reduced. I am now habituated to check the numbers on the internet, if I find them bizarre.
One such incident was that of Rafale deal debate, the journalist fraternity went on asking the questions to ministers, who answered many questions even after the Supreme Court verdict. What amuses me is that the interviewers started their sentences with “But the opposition accuses the government of…”, this comes after there is facilitating power like RTI, and defense experts for every channel. A member of the parliament didn’t shy away in falsifying the information, not in an interview but in front of cameras in rallies and those that were on him in party HQs, airports etc..
The hon’ble Prime Minister, Narendra Modi on the occasion of new year’s eve, gave an interview, thus making clear of his views regarding many issues. Now the ball is in the opposition’s court, let us not make this upcoming election a failure of democracy where people vote with skepticism, which might work wonders for most parties, except the party in power, and would be unjust to the government which grabbed every decent opportunity for answering to the questions raised, be it in parliament or on many news channels.
To make this a fair play, the journalists might have to run a campaign “#AnInterviewMrGandhi?”, this would make either him or the ones who are alleged to come out clean. Or else already sensationalized false reports on the deal would be the exceptional indicators that the system is ill in itself i.e. confusing the citizens. To balance the situation the whole fraternity must give the one who interviewed the Prime Minister, an opportunity this time too. In case the country enters election without Audi alteram partem, “Listen to the other side”, in this case Rahul Gandhi, the fourth pillar of democracy is doing justice to no one, let alone themselves. People from the political domain understand the compulsions that the bureaucrats and the judicial fraternity have, to not to let information out in public, which the politicians make complete use by claiming fictitious things. This is where the media has to play it’s cards right. It has immense intelligence and responsibility that it can break these shackles by questioning and understanding the views on other side and also clearing doubts in people, about its role in a democracy.
The above exercise would clear doubts in those who are skeptical to choose between the spectrum of parties, this might lead to increase in voters turnout. Also the debate on problem of people opting for NOTA would have found a new solution. I remember the co-founder of Infosys, Narayan Murthy, in one of his interviews emphasizing the way presidential debates being held in US need to be implemented in other ways in this country, so that people are clear of the views and claims of candidates. I think this could be a start to at least let people vote with confidence in what they believe is right. This is possible only by the media, which has power to uphold the principles of democracy when all the other democratic institutions are either truly or falsely questioned on their credibility.