Screen grab of Chandrayaan-2's Vikram module taken before the final moon landing. | PTI Photo
Screen grab of Chandrayaan-2's Vikram module taken before the final moon landing. | PTI Photo
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New Delhi: The media coverage of India’s maiden attempt to land on the Moon with Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram lander was a sight to behold. Even before Vikram made its unsuccessful attempt to land on the Moon’s south pole, India’s television news anchors had beaten it there.

Aaj Tak’s Sayeed Ansari, in the backdrop of tacky virtual graphics, explained the mechanics of Chandrayaan-2. The channel even attempted to make it look like Ansari was on the Moon, while he tried to explain how the Vikram lander and the Pragyaan rover were supposed to operate.

ISRO chief K. Sivan had called the period preceding the landing “15 minutes of terror”, which eventually proved to be prophetic. TV9 discussed these 15 minutes with the anchor and his two interviewees sitting on what seemed to be the seat of a spacecraft, with the Earth and Chandrayaan-2 floating in the background. News18’s anchor was also on the Moon.

And then there was News Nation’s Deepak Chaurasia, who dressed up in a makeshift space suit resembling leftover foil and became an instant Twitter favourite. He justified the choice saying: “I am trying to understand what it would feel like to live on the Moon, since this is what we would have to wear.” He also asked three scientists questions about purchasing property on the lunar surface.

Modi and the Moon

The Indian media also credited Prime Minister Narendra Modi for Chandrayaan-2. With headlines such as ‘Ab chaand Modi ki mutthi mein’ (Now the Moon is in Modi’s fist) on Aaj Tak, and ‘Desh ki sarhad se lekar chaand tak Modi’ (Modi from the country’s borders to the Moon) on News 18, attention was diverted from the hardworking scientists of ISRO and was instead given to the PM.

Choosing to forego any scientist on the panel to discuss the mission, News18 linked ‘Ganpati Bappa’ to Chandrayaan-2, while Republic TV reported Sadhguru’s predictions on India and ISRO’s success. His predictions turned out to be inaccurate, but nobody reported that.

Pakistan-bashing

India-Pakistan relations have already been in a tailspin all year due to Pulwama, Balakot and now the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. News channels did not miss this opportunity to let the world know what India has achieved, and what Pakistan has not.

ABP News’ headline was ‘Aatanki hi banaoge, ya chaand par bhi jaaoge?’ (Will you only make terrorists or go to the Moon?). Meanwhile, Aaj Tak said ‘Hum jaatey hain aasmaan, rota raha Pakistan’ (We are going to the skies, Pakistan kept crying). India TV titled it ‘Chaand par Hindustan, paataal mein Pakistan’ (India on the Moon, Pakistan in hell).


Also read: Chandrayaan-2 mission is not a ‘failure’, plenty of science expected from orbiter


 

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