It is needless to remind, in democratic system of governance, the institution of media or the profession of journalism plays one of the most significant role as spokesman of issues related to national/ international politics, economy, society, culture, academy, constitutional, legal, etc. that Executives, Legislature and Judiciary either forgotten unknowingly or skip intentionally and give injustice for their personal or dynastic or party or ideology or all-put-together vested interests. But, what is noticed during the last few years (it is not that media/journalism was 100% professional/democratic before) that in fight between secularism and nationalism as the media houses have been divided into two groups, journalism loses its purpose which is the worst thing to happen to any healthy democracy. Now, it is found that media/journalism has been party to this conflict most vigorously almost ceding the respected position of neutral umpire in Indian democracy.
With some examples, I write what use to disturb me on the above aspects.
On 03 July 2020, in its editorial, popular Marathi daily Loksatta (Part of The Indian Express Group founded by late media baron Ram Nath Goenka, popularly known as warrior journalist, a renowned freedom fighter and Indira Emergency hero for whom ‘Indian Express was not an industry, it was a mission’), edited by eminent journalist Girish Kuber, writes, “Actress Kajol is presently on the board of Prasar Bharati. No one knows what the professional contribution of this ‘zara sa jhoom loon main’ half clothed skilful dancer lady is. But it is true that she is a ‘part time’ director of Prasar Bharati. This is precisely why professional journalists started staying away from this ‘Bharati’”.
To my biggest surprise, I could not understand why eminent journalist Mr. Kuber could not understand that Prasar Bharati is a media outlet which mandated to cater to the people’s need of the news, views, culture, development, education, entertainment (film, shop-opera), etc. and journalists are not masters in all the trades? And Kajol as a popular yesteryear Bollywood Star fit the bill in entertainment category. Or is it to accept Kajol or Bollywood stars does not have print media privilege that Kuber has, so later misused his privilege for vested interest? I don’t mean to say Kuber is wrong in criticizing Kajol so long as he restricted him with “No one knows what the professional contribution of this ‘zara sa jhoom loon main’”. But his mention of verbatim “half clothed skilful dancer lady” exposed his skilled yellow journalism or sick mindset, which needs Agra mental asylum urgent attention.
As we know many yesteryear film stars such as Nargis Dutta, Shabana Azmi, Jaya Bachchan, Rekha, etc. were nominated by Presidents/Governments to Rajya Sabha. What is their individual contribution as Law Makers concerning to National culture, theaters, films, etc.? Has any media outlet ever done any performance appraisals of them? Were any of them (Film stars) ever criticized with “half clothed skilful dancer lady” verbatim? Or Kajol is a victim of secularists because she was not member of Bollywood bandwagon known for secular candle-light march for brutal Kathua rape and murder while ignoring equally brutal Kanyakumari rape and murder. And media (both print and electronic) has different yardsticks for coverage of victims from two different religions?
Going further Loksatta editorial opines, “This is precisely why professional journalists started staying away from this ‘Bharati’”. The editorial instead of writing Prasar Bharati writes ‘Bharati’ highlighting with quotation mark which deserves to be interpreted keeping in mind PM’s speech which often have mention of ‘Maa Bharati’? And Kuber’s editorial says “professional journalists started staying away from this ‘Bharati’”. In my knowledge, no journalist worth their professional salt has left ‘Bharati’ but money-laundering accused owned NDTV’s journalist/anchor Nidhi Razdon, ill-famous for shouting “Get Out” to her invited a political party spokesman in her studio. Nidhi has just announced to leave for US’s Harvard University latter this year with an academic assignment. Between the announcement of intent-to-leave and actual-leaving, there are about six months gap. Why journalists should leave India when journalism is so lucrative with reference to Radia Tape? And when US billionaire George Soros promises $1 billion investment against Indian nationalists in Davos Business jamboree in 2020?
Has anybody ever heard or read any criticism by Indian media and journalists of US citizen Soros’s investment which is no less interference of India’s sovereignty? Is Indian democracy so weak that Indian Nationalism can pilot it to wrong side?
And no media house ever left ‘Bharati’ in my knowledge.
Many of us might have seen the belly dance of Sr. Journalist/Anchor and Consulting Editor of India Today Rajdeep Sardesai in India Today studio while he was announcing land-slide victory of AAP (branded secularist) over BJP (branded nationalist) in Delhi Assembly election 2020. What kind of media umpiring is this? Last year, Sr. Journalist and Editor of periodical ‘Caravan’ Mr. Vinod Jose told in London ‘1984 anti-Sikh riot was engineered by RSS’ when it is publicly available the riot sponsor and the then PM late Rajiv Gandhi’s statement “When big banyan tree, fails, earth shake” and investigation after investigation proved that it was Congress goondas who raped, looted and slaughtered innocent Sikhs in broad day-light on the streets of national capital for long two days. And many of these goondas (Former Congress MP Sajjan Kumar accused of crime against humanity is now serving jail term) punished and Congress party owner has apologized for the riot.
Journalism objective is to tell the truth, not to perpetuate lies.
In 2018, within minutes of the murder of Kannada tabloid Lankesh Patrike editor Gauri Lankesh, eminent Gandhian historian-cum-media columnist Rama Guha accused Hindutva forces for murder. At the time of murder, Karnataka government which held the state police administration as per the provision of Indian Constitution was headed by secular Congress Party and after the 2018 state Assembly election secularist H. D. Kumarswamy supported by secularist Congress ruled the state till July 2019. But, they could not find out national/Hindutva killer of Gauri Lankesh. Yet nobody questions the Gandhian historian turn crime investigator Rama Guha finding. And what is Gauri Lankesh? Here find one of her tweet: “hey, you idiot modi, no one owns me. i owns myself. and I might not have gold but i have independence, self respect and freedom of thought, those are very special attributes. but i guess an rss man like you who think that women should be measured according to her husband, son, gold, etc. can never understand that.” From this, one sane mind can assess the mental stability of the lady who edited a newspaper and what kind of people are in media fraternity which was a ‘mission’ for freedom fighter, media warrior and Emergency Hero late Ram Nath Goenka. Were journalists enjoying the ‘freedom of abuse to establishment’ during secularists Indira and Rajiv time which is possible today despite nationalists rule?
It is not that all ills in Indian media lie with secularists. Now, it has been also noticed that nationalist media have also jumped to bandwagon of ‘destroy media credibility’. Anchor’s shouting and not allowing invited guests to complete their point-of-view in leading media house Republic TV is getting worst day by day. I can’t watch the same though there are somethings worth watching.
All the above are destroying the Indian democracy’s Fourth Estate, and unfortunately, there is no sight of media proprietor of Ram Nath Goenka kind, editor of G. Kasturi kind, cartoonist of R. K. Laxman kind, etc. at the distance horizon.
By Bimal Prasad Mohapatra