Friday, October 8, 2010

A Letter to Indian News Channels!

Dear Indian News Channels

Let me begin by placing on record my gratitude for the proactive reporting you guys have been doing for some time now. Although at times I have felt that your coverage of issues is rather selective and sometimes seems a bit biased to my untrained mind. But today I am writing to share some concerns I have had for quite some time now.

My brief experience with you guys showed me that what news will be carried and what perspective will be presented was always decided by the political affiliations of our masters. It was a rude realization that the fourth estate was not free at all! The masters were an eclectic collection of socio-economic institutions controlling either political power or money. I have seen how you compromised standards of your profession to metamorphosise into the vengeful vigilantes you guys have come to be known as today. I must admit that your proactive activism did bring cases and issues into the limelight and hasten their conclusion. But I often wonder whether this activist approach to journalism is your true nature or whether you are selective about the wrongs you choose to highlight.

Take the Commonwealth Games as a case in point. Despite the fact that you have done a commendable job in revealing the underbelly of the Indian democracy, is it also not a fact that you have conveniently chosen to ignore many human aspects of the story. Why were the story of forced eviction of the urban poor not highlighted more than the mere passing references which you may given. You went to London to uncover the tracks of corruption but did you find out what happened to the people we drove out of Delhi? Why did you not cover the pseudo ghettos crated to cover the ugly sores of humanity that we otherwise see and disregard everyday in cities across India? Why was the issue of possible pool contamination not highlighted? Why was the mishap with the Ugandan team just given a cursory reference? Why did you wait for the Sports Minister to formally apologise to the team before you spoke a word about it? Why is a team accusing us of all things, racism? And why are we not overly concerned about the accusation? Is it possibly because of the wrong skin colour the said team sports? Had it been an Australia or an England rather than a Uganda, would your coverage have been more intense? I think yes it would have been so. Not even you it seems are free from the national obsession for Justify Fullthe fair skin! When you behave in this fashion, do we even need to wonder why the best business in India are the ones that can either make you fairer or can teach you English!

I do not condone terrorism in any form and I do not condone violence by Maoists but take a look at your coverage of the Maoist problem. Have we not successfully (and somewhat justifiably, I admit) demonized a large chunk of the citizens of our country? I do watch news daily and I do not remember a single program that presented their side of the story. I am sure even you will admit that the biggest mistake the Maoists are making if that have not hired a good PR agency out of Delhi! The result is that almost everyone I meet knows that there is a “Maoists problem” and that “Maoists are terrorists”. But when asked about what could have triggered such a movement, no one seems to have any idea of the injustices meted out by the land mafia and mining mafia. And for some reason no one seems too comfortable dwelling upon the fact that such widespread plunder can never occur without active support from the state governments and a criminal disregard by the center. Then why do we wonder why the youth in Kashmir or the North East or Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh feel wronged enough to pick up the gun?

I must say that I am getting tired of your pseudo nationalism too! I quit watching one you only because of the rather accusatory tone one gentleman uses while talking to guests on his talk shows! It is an embarrassment to see you be so judgmental and your propensity to pass verdicts! If you have the conviction to invite a Pakistani on air and then use your show to accuse him rather than ask or talk to him, then have enough courage to get your ministers on air and ask them about fake encounters in Kashmir.

I can go on but I guess, I will leave you with a question a wonderful friend of mine has posed on her Blog ( Where the hell were you guys when the authorities were sleeping over the games???........... Don’t you think you guys woke up a bit too late???............... Have you guys woken up at all?....... And if indeed you have woken up, could you be responsible enough to show us what "should" be shown rather than what the establishment allows you to? And for God's sake Arnab, watch BBC for a couple of days and observe how they interview people!!

With regards
Ashish K. Pillai