What Is Indian Media’s Focus On Pak’s Multiple Failures Hiding?Apr 14, 2023 | Shalini Rai
Distraction has been the favourite tool of rulers. History is replete with instances when those in power have sought to distract masses from the pressing issues of everyday living and get their attention focused on something that seems critical but in reality is not.
In India today, this is exemplified by the hour-long ‘specials’ on the dire economic condition of Pakistan, our bellicose neighbour and the ‘failed state’ that it has become. Browse through any major news channel and you will find the anchor speaking of the ills that have befallen Pakistan — including civil war — in an almost jubilant tone.
‘Kangali ki kagar pe Pakistan!’ (Pakistan is on the verge of bankruptcy!), ‘Pakistan ka haal behaal…’ (Pakistan is in a shambles) and so on. Why is this deemed newsworthy and so much editorial energy being spent on it? Could it be that the intention is to divert the common person’s attention away from the exorbitant increase in the cost of living in India, mimicking the cost of living crisis in the United Kingdom?
The prime-time anchors expound on Pakistan’s failed economy and speak at length on what a disappointment it has generally turned out to be. Yet, it is a sad truth that ‘bure din’ (bad tidings) seem to have arrived when Indians are made to feel ‘good’ about themselves by constant comparisons with Pakistan.
While India has been a democracy since its independence in 1947, Pakistan has been a military dictatorship for most of its existence. In light of this, keeping up the barrage of Pak’s failure bodes ill for India’s future.
Why are the news channels that devote so much time and attention to our neighbour’s teetering existence not making ‘specials’ on the hike in the rate of cooking gas and petrol/diesel? Where is the outrage over the increase in electricity and phone bills? Why are they not covering the acute water shortage that threatens to render a large part of our country drought-ridden? What about doing an in-depth investigation into the politics of bulldozing that is being repeated in many states of the north, including but not limited to Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh?
If news channels can conduct blanket coverage of mafia don Atiq Ahmed, while he is taken from a jail in one state to a court several 100 kms away in another state, with media vans following the gangster’s convoy closely throughout the route, why can they not speak to the masses hit by water-scarcity, women in particular, who can be found in almost every state of India?
Is the focus on Pakistan and its many failures more important than covering the blight of the drug menace that has left an indelible mark on the state of Punjab? Where are the news stories about the ‘cancer train’ that runs across the fields once famed for the ‘Green Revolution’? What about the continuing atrocities on Dalits in India’s villages? Why is discriminatory treatment of Dalits who manage to step outside India not being given adequate space in the media?
If news channels can have dedicated programs covering all that has happened and is expected to happen in ‘saas-bahu’ sagas and even provide a detailed breakdown of important scenes and plot-twists, then surely they can earmark some screen time to the woes faced by Indian women in abusive relationships. If entire programs gloat over glamourised pre-teens and teens in the name of ‘talent-hunt’ and ‘dance’, there should be hardly any compunction in focusing attention on child abuse and incest, the ‘taboo’ topics which seem to have been left behind in this melee of readily, happily recounting Pakistan’s many failures.
The question that begs asking is ‘what are they trying to hide’? What is it that the Indian public should not become aware of? What is constantly being peddled as news and views and opinions? If without knowing the answer you still feel somewhat squeamish, then it’s a reflection of the state of the media in our country.
The fourth pillar of democracy has always shouldered the burden of speaking the truth — to those in power and to those being ‘governed’/’ruled’. It will be a sorry day if the media becomes a willing accomplice in the grand design of political parties to peddle lies as truth and half-truths as fact.