Monday, January 09, 2006

Tippity, tap, tippity, tap!

A prominent opposition leader's phone is tapped, and half the press in India goes to sleep?
Why you might ask is this so?
Well, given that most of the English media in this country is tripping over itself to be seen as a pro-government newspaper/TV Channel, it is hardly surprising. What is surprising, is that the only large-scale English broadsheet raising ANY questions against the government is - say hello to the Times of India (I will give The Pioneer a skip over here, because it is the only English language daily of the opposition and calling it large-scale would be paying it a tremendous compliment). And while the Times is raising some issues, because of the Times' historical tradition of pussyfooting, they are not quite enough. At least the Times hasn't become a Congress apologist like the Hindustan Times, which makes the Express and Outlook look moderate in comparison.
I mean, the only educated journalist questioning the hair-brained economic policies of the Government of India is - Swaminathan Aiyar - who most people would have assumed would be a government loyalist. But no, the man even thinks that the policies of his younger brother are somewhat out of line - like depending on a rather undependable source called Iran for our energy security forgetting how that country shafted us post-revolution. Better still, we depend on Pakistan to ensure that the gas reaches us? Of course, if they shut off the gas, we could shut off their water, but someone in our cabinet has a very limited grasp of geopolitics. Maybe, given that Congressi geopolitics is stuck in a quandry - somewhere between Nehruvian idealism and commerce-driven realities and its policies reflect that.
But coming back to politics, why is it that we 'fire' 11 MP's who took money but people like Shahbuddin are allowed to carry on in Parliament? Why is it, that we 'media' not question the why's of phone tapping and buy the government-sponsored 'private detective agency' story? If a person like Ambika Soni instead of answering the ethical aspects of this, asks whether Amar Singh has anything to hide, we let her be?
The Naxal problem across Andhara Pradesh has reached endemic proportions, yet the media don't report about it. The failures of our foreign policy are evident in the crises in Nepal and now Sri Lanka. We have allowed Bangladesh to become a terrorist state. Our intelligence priorities have turned inwards y'see.
All in the guise of 'liberalism'? Something is going seriously wrong in the country, and if the BJP was in power the media would pouncing all over it. But because the media has bought into this school of though that doesn't question the Congress and its actions, the media has in essence become rather toothless, because if the only newspaper questioning the economic and political activities of the government is the Times of India, you bloody well be certain something is seriously wrong.
I know a lot of you reading this, would have 'Me secularist' or 'BJP Evil' written on your sleeves and would allow the Congress to get away with blue murder rather than have the BJP come back to power. Unfortunately, it is exactly that line of thought that the government is taking advantage of.


Bengali Guy said...

What consitutes truly "independent" media ? Is it merely an unattainable aspiration mired in idealism or is it actually possible ? At the core, media is a business that cannot exist without ad revenues which bring with it vested interests. Lessons learnt from the West seem to indicate that there is no such thing as an "independent media". Even the scientific publications are increasingly colored with one hue or another. Instead what we have is a mish mash of right leaning and left leaning media each at others throat at every hours of the day and night, over TV, radio and newspapers and all other forms of knowledge transfer. In India media is mostly centrist (an inch right of center or left of center doesnt count). The herd mentality follows. They all report (or more importantly, donot report) essentially the same things in nearly the same tone, and can actually get away with it. We have to have a wider spectrum of media if media is to realise its full impact on society.

thalassa_mikra said...

If only it was so simple. I've come to the conclusion that it is impossible to make such broad generalizations about the media in a country as vast as India. And you're not even talking of the newspapers with the biggest circulations.

Why should we be overly concerned if HT wants to be a pro-government stooge? There are so many other newspapers and TV channels to get your news from. Something for every viewpoint.

Shivam Vij said...

why is it that we 'fire' 11 MP's who took money but people like Shahbuddin are allowed to carry on in Parliament?

Simple! Shahbuddin's cases are in court. He's innocent until proven guilty. The 11 MP's on the other hand, were on video for all to see. They took money for asking questions in Parliament, and the Parliament found the video evidence irrefutable, and sought it best to expel them. Shahbuddin's criminal activities were not to do with something in Parliament but outside Parliament - so we'll have to wait for the courts to call him a criminal and only then can the Parliament have reason to expel him.