Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunny Deol and Delhi media high priests

The following was written for Niti Central. Pasting it here for reference.
The book author (Rajdeep) was coming to Hyderabad to launch his book for the zillionth time! And he also tweeted about this day long conference at the same venue:
“All day media conclave on media and Muslims at the Maulana Azad natl univ in Hyd. Guests from India and Pakistan. Looking forward.”
I figured it will be self-congratulatory session where everyone from the English media will tell us how awesome they are, when they talk or feel for Muslims on TV. And I didn’t give this any further thought. Until I saw two news reports the next day – one in Times of India and the other in The Hindu.
First, let’s see the report in The Hindu, titled “Modi fails to score on core issues: N. Ram“.
Ram is the editor-in-chief of the Hindu group of publications. Right from the day the government has been sworn in, this newspaper has been on the forefront of the campaign that minorities are not safe in India anymore. Not a single day passes when an editorial or an op-ed does not mention the dangers of “intolerance” (of course because of Modi!). Small incidents, frivolous incidents were all hyped up and an environment of fear mongering was created. And before you would want to pounce on me to show proof, here’s an excerpt from their editorial recently:
“..the statements of RSS leaders and Hindutva extremists are amplified many times over during the periods the BJP is in power
In this background, let’s now see what N. Ram had to say:
” It’s not that everything is bad, but on the core issues of the idea of India, on secularism, policy towards minorities, Article 370, on banning beef-eating, he does not respect the cultures of others,
First, when “everything is not bad”, why are the readers not given details on what is good then? Second, N. Ram is not an authority on what the core values of India have to be. Modi’s policy towards minorities is “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas”. I would love to hear from N. Ram why he opposes such a straight forward policy. Beef-eating is not banned in the country after Modi came to power.
Cow Slaughter is banned in 24 states in the country (this information is also courtesy The Hindu!). It’s been banned much before Modi became the Prime Minister, but N. Ram doesn’t hesitate to openly lie. Modi’s definition of secularism is India First. I would love to hear from N. Ram on why he thinks this is wrong. And of course, they have to end this with a bang, and hence the random statement “Does not respect the culture of others” – zero proof on this statement, but am sure he would have got great applause from those on stage. The headline instead should have been “Modi fails to score on MY core issues: N. Ram
The news report also said, another prominent editor, Shekhar Gupta, addressed the audience! We’ll quickly see what The Hindu report says before moving to a more damning report.
Prominent journalist Shekhar Gupta faulted the secular media for having taken up extreme positions in the aftermath of the Gujarat riots in 2002, as a result of which they found themselves lost after the Lok Sabha elections last year”
I had to read this twice to make some sense out of the timelines. Let me simplify it for you. Because “secular media” did something in 2002, “they found themselves lost” in 2014 elections. 12 full years it took the “secular media” to lose?! It still beats me as to what he is trying to convey here – but what is clear to me is that the obsession with 2002 is not over yet. Or “they” haven’t yet recovered from the loss of 2014, and therefore are clueless on how to counter the developmental agenda of Modi!
But that’s not it. The Times of India gives us a much more detailed account that reveals the mind-set of one of this prominent editors (who is also a Padma Bhushan awardee!).
He noted that movies in the 80s and 90s perpetuated the stereotype of Muslims being terrorists. “Sunny Deol films were totally communal. That was when global terror began and profiling began.”
Ah – there we have it. The root cause has been found. Phew!  The “global terror” incidents was not why stereo-typing happened. Sunny Deol is the reason why stereotyping happened. Shekhar Gupta and his ilk leave no stone unturned in stereotyping all those who pose difficult questions to them as “trolls” – without an exception. This same ilk cries hoarse at being “abused”. And today, we are being told that stereotyping happened because of Sunny Deol’s movies and not because of actual terror that killed lakhs of people across the world. Readers need to ask – is this the quality we deserve?
Now, let’s come back to the “host” – the author of *the* book – Rajdeep Sardesai. The Hindu report tells us that the name of seminar was: “Minorities and the media: at a crossroads“. Rajdeep tells us that the seminar was about “Muslims and the media“. High profile TV anchors are known to take liberties with the truth (posh way of saying they lie!). Minorities in the country do not equal only Muslims, but we should definitely not let facts come in the way of a cheesy title. Hindu report does not mention about what he spoke, but Times of India does. And it again exposes the hypocritical nature of this ilk. Why hypocritical? Sample these:
Many media houses invite Muslim intellectuals from the north, thereby ignoring the voices from the south
Asaduddin Owaisi was unlikely to be invited on a debate on the land acquisition bill because the media was more interested in a “Togadia versus Owaisi” debate
He talks as if “media” is some third party entity! I have often maintained that Rajdeep is the best troll of the very media he works for – he applies this same logic for any topic on which the media is on the back foot. Essentially he accepts that the debates he (and his ilk) conducts are frivolous; not inclusive; often border on selectivism; and of course add zero value to the intellect of the viewer.
Swapan Das Gupta, a prominent voice of the Right, also spoke at the seminar. The Times of India does not mention him at all. The Hindu dedicated a whopping one line. This is precisely the kind of discrimination the voices opposed to the traditional media face. The panel itself was skewed 3:1 (and then near zero coverage on what Swapan said). It also beats me that in today’s age of new media, why can’t the entire video recording of these speeches be put online? Why not let the reader/viewer see the bankruptcy in the arguments of some of the most prominent faces of Indian journalism.
The golden troika of N. Ram, Shekhar Gupta and Rajdeep Sardesai have missed another golden opportunity to introspect and adopt course-correction. Instead we are treated to the mind blowing analysis of how Sunny Deol’s movies have created stereotypes in the country!


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