Is the Indian media mature or immature?
See their reaction to Kejriwal’s gimmicks and Rahul Gandhi’s latest interview
Rahul Gandhi gave an interview to the high profile Times Now channel, widely broadcast and widely viewed on 27th January 2014. Conducted by the garrulous anchor Arnab Goswami. It was billed as the big interview of the year.
Then, the very same day there was one more widely broadcast news and debate item on the India Today’s channel, Headlines Today. That was about the latest turn to Aam Aadmi party’s leaders, especially by Arvind Kejriwal and his law minister Mr.Somnath Bharti.
The Kejriwal show drew enthusiastic and much critical audience from Delhi itself, its main base and the criticism on the many gimmicks adopted by the AAP leaders and their failure to live up to their promises. There had been serious setbacks, there were some estimated 174 deaths of the poor and even 14 children in Delhi’s cold for which Kejriwal promised night shelters and yet he was shown as visiting the sites with TV cameras and yet nothing was done to protect the poor. There were allegations as to the higher costs of the drinking water supply by the water mafia and the non-payment of the subsidies for the electricity supply etc.
There was rebellion of one MLA, Mr.Benny who is now suspended from the party and the chorus of the audience was AAP disappointed the enthusiastic voters and this came out loudly and clearly.
The Rahul Gandhi interview proved a pleasant surprise. Contrary to what was expected the young Gandhi proved a surprise performer. He looked earnest throughout the interview and with all known tricks of the trade at the disposal of the otherwise so self-reassured anchor, Mr.Goswami this time was very much on the defensive, his questions proved a damper and he sounded rather silly and light-hearted and even downright in bad taste.
For a question as to Mr.Gandhi’s educational qualifications, Mr. Gandhi shot back: I had submitted an affidavit and anyone can see that and what otherwise is great about this question?”Not just that, Mr. Gandhi shot back” I came to the show expecting you would ask big questions, as to my vision for India, my dreams and plans for India. But you indulge in peripheral issues and questions”. This threw Mr.Goswami out of his usual confidence. In fact, Times Now man didn’t have enough questions of any depth or gravitas.
Rahul Gandhi’s finest hour!
This time, Mr.Rahul Gandhi emerged as a self-confident and self-assured young leader of some consequence.
In fact, at one point, to the questions: whether you are confident of winning your own election, Mr. Gandhi shot back: “What does it matter whether one wins or not, what matters is what you are going to do for India!”For other questions:”Are you ready to debate on the same platform with Mr.Modi. Mr.Gandhi was again in his very self-confident mood.
It doesn’t matter, does it? This was the tone and tenor of Mr.Gandhi’s conduct throughout the interview. What about the reaction to the AAP brand and credibility?
Now, the point here is that the next day, the Indian media showed itself in its very confused and ,may we say, in its most very lack of confidence about its own place and role in the life of India, the Indian people to whom they care.
The Indian print media industry, the English daily newspapers, the industry veterans say, is very healthy and growing. In such matters we have to take their words at their face value only. The very TV channels and the print media that built up the AAP brand and went out of the way to keep Mr.Kejriwal in the public eye, suddenly got lost in the sudden turn of events.
Every move of the AAP leaders turned bizarre and just gimmicks for the sake of the TV cameras. The print media?
The print media too didn’t react in an objective and open-minded manner. In fact, there was unexplained silence all around. Now, what about the high profile supporters of the AAP in the first few days?
Prof.Amartya Sen, Capt.Gopinath, Mallika Sarabhai and a host of nouveau riche, the IT crorepathis and others?
Why silent, gentlemen and ladies? Please speak out and take a stand? The common man won’t excuse you, all!
There are so many cross currents and conflicting issues and claims and counter claims, right?
As for the electronic media, the large number of TV channels and the way they are growing and the mergers and reorganisations(one such recent cost-cutting moves saw a large number of staff, all very educated and highly skilled and motivated saw themselves on the streets suddenly.
The most recent and latest developments like the sudden ouster of editor and CEO in The Hindu last October, the Board of Directors of The Hindu met one fine morning and the next day we saw the editor and the CEO gone!
Then, comes, not necessarily linked to this sort of sudden ouster of editors and senior staff in the most popular language TV channel and in other magazines like Open, Forbes, TV 18 and one or two other instances took everyone by surprise.
What really happened?
It is said and why it is also openly written in the print magazines that the Modi phenomenon is linked to these sudden moves. We are not sure. But we are sure that such sudden ousters only indicate that things in the Indian media scene are not signs of a healthy situation.
There are also developments that big corporate, Reliance and Birla, among others who have invested in the media industry heavily. And the big corporate control of the media industry is another new development in the Indian media scene.
Of course, we have travelled lately in the South East Asia and media in these countries is very poor, undeveloped and there is fear in the air in every country in this region. From Sri Lanka to Philippines, Malaysia, Cambodia and Thailand. Only in Hong Kong there is a semblance of a free press. We are not sure how deep or how really free.
Of course, in China, the media is poor and there is widespread censorship.
As for the West, we know that in the UK, the press is in its own tradition of much freedom and there is much debate and discussion and also much new insights in its fight for press freedom. We have just to watch what the Guardian newspaper and its courageous editor Mr.Alan Rushbridger is doing.
The recent visit of the world newspaper editors to UK to see how the debate is evolving with the Edward Snowdon and the Wikipedia leaks and its author are fighting for their freedoms and thereby for the freedom of the people everywhere for freedom of censorship and resistance to the governments (USA and UK) silly practice of extensive phone tapping and spying of phones of countries’ leaders. Germany and Brazil have retaliated. In spite of Barack Obama putting curbing’s on the National Security Agency in its spying activities, the US President’s image stand battered!
This is the media universe in which Indian media has what standing?
Not much! Indian media, like the rest of us, people, are living under the heavy hand of the state power and also held hostage to the “monopoly capital”, a phrase we borrow in spite of our dislike for Marxist jargon!
We seem to live with a sense of helplessness. That is not good for the future of Indian democracy. Let citizens awake!