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When Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in the US for the United Nations General Assembly’s 74th session, a media blitzkrieg went underway at home. All newspapers, TV studios and FM radio channels besides public broadcasters repeated ad nauseam the same lines, same comments, same anecdotes, and hugely exaggerated reports of Narendra Modi’s “unprecedented popularity”. But there was one more thing the coverage had in common.

In almost every panel discussion or news report, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was portrayed as a villain — like the characters Pran or Prem Chopra played in their heyday. Or as a vainglorious war monger who also defended global terrorism. Some made fun of him and ridiculed him while trolls on social media worked overtime, creating fake news and morphed photographs to show how Imran Khan had been completely sidelined by the international diplomatic community.

But trolls did what they always do. Why did Indian media not do its basic job — of presenting “both sides” of the story? Back in the time when news stories and articles would pass through at least three filters before they appeared in the print next morning, the one thing that would be ensured at all costs was that the writer had presented “both sides”. All journalism schools today teach this.


Also read: Times Now did not stop at Howdy Modi!, it went on to claim Kashmir’s Hindu homes ‘wiped’


The Pakistan/Imran Khan factor

The panelists and editorial writers appeared to have come prepared with their almost abusive, critical reports on Imran Khan. So the least they could have done was televise or carry the text of his entire speech at the UN. But they didn’t.

The reason one expects the Indian media to do this is because it spends an unhealthy amount of time obsessing over Imran Khan and Pakistan. A large part of the Indian journalism today rests entirely on what Imran Khan or Pakistan says or does. Many a time, they enter prime time shows without having done or said anything — provocative journalists anchoring these shows imagine it all on their behalf. 

It wasn’t always the case, though. Not when Imran Khan was the most favourite cricketer of the game’s lovers. It was not so even after he decided to participate in electoral politics. Some leading anchors had even interviewed him live.

But things have clearly changed in the past few years. So, if the TV studios are going to weave elaborate (read flimsy, dramatic) debates centred on Imran Khan and Pakistan, shouldn’t they at least do the basic job of presenting what the PM says in its entirety? 

Imran Khan eloquently exposed the hypocrisy and brazen doublespeak by US President Donald Trump and India’s Prime Minister in their bonhomie at ‘Howdy, Modi!’ extravaganza in Houston, Texas.

The critics could have still analysed, interpreted and condemned Imran Khan the way they wanted, but they chose to deny the opportunity to their viewers and readers of what the other side had to say. So why does Indian media do it?


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Indirect focus on Indian Muslims

It goes with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) line of thinking that Pakistan and its PM are demons who must be constantly demonised for international media and politics. But more crucially, it serves the purpose at home — of demonising Indian Muslims. 

For as long as we can remember, stalwarts in the BJP have often held the rhetoric that anybody who criticises the Modi government should go to Pakistan. The anti-Muslim campaign is synonymous with Pakistan, and Imran Khan is merely the face for that incessant hate and trolling. 

Addressing a gathering of party workers recently, BJP president Amit Shah explicitly said that all Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jains, Jews are welcome to come and seek citizenship in India. He didn’t say Muslims because it’s them he and his party want to drive out of India. For Amit Shah and the BJP, they are “termites” who have “illegally infiltrated” into Assam and West Bengal from neighbouring Bangladesh. 

The BJP’s IT cell and social media handlers often mislead the Indians (Hindus) by referring to the Hindu population in Pakistan, which they claim has drastically reduced from hat it was at the time of Partition in 1947. But they do not say that after Pakistan’s partition and creation of Bangladesh in 1971, the demographic balance also changed. Many Hindus from Pakistan migrated to Bangladesh and from Bangladesh to India. 

This shows how obsessed the Sangh Parivar still is with India’s Partition that it equate Indian Muslims as Pakistanis or their agents. Essentially, it keen to take the “two-nation” theory to its “logical conclusion”. This effectively means that not only does it endorse the Partition, but wants another one. 


Also read: Why Indian economic tiger became puppy with tail between legs & what markets want Modi to do


India’s loss, ultimately

The majoritarian agenda of invoking the plight of Hindus in Pakistan is done to whip up communal frenzy against Muslims in India. In essence, Pakistan bashing is Muslim bashing in India. From kids in school to celebrities and common citizens, Muslims in India today are told to go to Pakistan. This bigoted stance helps the BJP create a narrative that Indian Muslims are Pakistanis and don’t belong here.

This narrative is then coupled with the demonisation of Pakistan and its PM. Indian media loudly (and with great delight) discusses the grave economic crisis that Pakistan is facing, but there’s hardly ever a show discussing the frightening plight of our own country’s economy. 

On all these elite TV channels, what we sacrifice is “objective” journalism. Then we blur the lines between government propaganda and news. To that extent, the journalism’s elevation to “media” has destroyed the credibility of this profession. And the Indian public is not bothered because it has been forced into keeping its attention fixated on Pakistan and Imran Khan — and thus on Indian Muslims.

The author is a former editor and Congress member of Rajya Sabha. Views are personal.

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23 Comments Share Your Views

23 COMMENTS

  1. And Have you (Modi Supporters) owned up to this:

    “We didn’t spare a single Muslim shop, we set everything on fire … we hacked, burned, set on fire … we believe in setting them on fire because these bastards don’t want to be cremated, they’re afraid of it … I have just one last wish … let me be sentenced to death … I don’t care if I’m hanged … just give me two days before my hanging and I will go and have a field day in Juhapura where seven or eight lakhs [seven or eight hundred thousand] of these people stay … I will finish them off … let a few more of them die … at least 25,000 to 50,000 should die.” — Babu Bajrangi

  2. Let this be the tutorial on how to spot Pak paid Congi liberals.
    Step 1- Notice following things in their article.
    BJP = Communal
    Pakistan = Peace loving country
    Imran Khan = Best Person on the Earth
    Step 2- Modi bashing which never goes well.
    Step 3- Consistency in their narrative
    Step 4- Always toeing the Pak line
    Step 5- questioning India and its diplomacy
    After you notice above mentioned things,
    Check the name of writer of such article.
    He will be 100 % pak paid Congi liberal. For example, Kumar ketkar in this case. Please feel free to plagiarize this. I don’t mind but make sure you spread it like wildfire.

  3. This writer has appropriated for himself the “Nobel Prize” for pure, ethical, secular, saintly, perfectly balanced, even handed, ‘Solomon the Wise’ like approach to reporting and journalism. Unfortunately for him, NO ONE ELSE is bothered. HE owes his soul to the Congress, which means he owes it to Congress to poke fun at and ridicule Modi at every opportunity ( even where there is none, just like Rahul) . Good luck to him.

  4. We have army of freedom flesh eating Dracula termites being trained by IT cells of BJP ready to pounce on sensibility of multi-faith people of India who want to live in harmony in a. Lord Rama said
    “Raghu kul reet sadaa chali aayi’
    Praaan jaaye par bachan na jayi
    Except for Ram Mandir, which is for their benefit, I do not see any such commitment any where. STAY IN POWER NO MATTER WHAT, Kashmir, Karnatka, , hell with
    VERY BASIC FOUNDATION COLUMNS SUPPORTING DEMOCRACY ARE BEING TORN DOWN.
    Opposition leaders , MLAs are shamelessly bought by offering Lolly Pops.- Oppostion rudderless, time is on their side. God save India that was envisioned by Ravinder Nath Tagore in our National Anthem

  5. The author has been a Congress stooge for decades. Much before he was rewarded with a Rajya Sabha ticket by Cong. He is now a total psycophant. When Aam Aadmi party won in Delhi for the first time defeating Cong he was really upset and started bad mouthing common voters as if Congress has been sanctified by God to rule this country and it’s people. Just ignore him

  6. Author has rightly drawn attention to a glaring negative feature of the Indian visual media channels today.
    One unexpected fallout of their heavy anti Pak reporting is that today, Pak gets as much coverage as any Indian event today. Instead of treating Pak like the small and struggling nation that it is, Our media has now brought Pak to centre stage in the discourse , as if it has become a Great Power. The huge publicity to Imran Khan’s every act and speech has hyphenated the two nations as never before and India seems like a mirror image of Pak, only due to the utterly foolish coverage given it by our visual media.

  7. Some people are pained whenever praise goes the PM’s way. How can educated people fail to see anything good in PM ? He is a successful politician so he will do whatever it takes to do it successfully. One thing for sure that he at least till he now has not taken anything that does not belong to him. Forget his efficiency and ideology which can be criticised but respect his honesty loud and clear.
    But that is the main problem the minute his honesty is accepted the the direct or indirect dishonesty of the predecessors becomes obvious.
    The “objective” journalism of some is very selective and it must comes with rewards in cash or kind.

    • Not so sure about the honest governance. Just read the various CAG reports on GUjarat ( 2010-2013) and the way the Gujarat State Petroleum Corp scam unfolded and was brushed aside by a “strategic” ONGC investment of a few thousand crores. The fact is that every PM before this one had the usual good points and blemishes and our current PM is of the same category.

  8. Obsession with Pakistan? No, it is sympathisers of Pakistan!!
    Examples:
    1. Which Indian media house has own in-house Reporters based in Pakistan? For all News, we depend on international news agencies such as Reuters, AFP, Bloomberg, NYT, Washingtonpost, Agence-France etc. OR it is some columnists such as Hussain Haqqani, Inayat etc.
    2. When has there been a intense and continours Indian media scrutiny of Hafeez Saeed, Salahuddin, JeM activities by tracking the local Pakistani Urdu Media? Just recently there was a news in Urdu media of a Pakistani Minister sharing dias with UN banned Terrorist but English media reported totally different.
    3. The Pakistani government Ministers and officials are mouthing lie one after another after every terrorism related incidents or meetings but where is the questioning by our media?
    4. Why don’t the Indian media expose the Pakistani Miltablishment and their corruptions?

    How are they possible, when Indian media establishes the guilt of our own government where none exists?
    The Ketkar, Shivam, Barkha, Rajdeep, Rana Ayub, Pankaj Mishra etc.. are deserve their title ‘Presstitures’. Actually they are much worse.

    • 2-3 days back, there was an article in WashingtonPost, saying “Pakistani Hindus emigrating to India are not treated well”.
      See the IRONY here !!
      They failed to report that the minorities are hounded, converted, killed, abused or raped by Pakistani Muslims and hence whoever still left are moving out of Pakistan. You know what? A Hindu Reporter’s name was attached to it.
      But whenever something bad in Pakistan is reported, the reporters are either Muslims or Christians who try to cover-up as much as possible.
      Real shame that no Indian media/journalists hold them accountable such nonsense.
      Instead, Shakhar Gupta holds them ‘Beacons of Journalism’. Wah-Re-Wah !!

      • A Google search shows no such “article” in Washington Post with that title.
        A custom search on Washington Post’s URL with the keyword “Hindu” returns nothing remotely resembling what you refer to in the past week – let alone 2-3 days.

        Please remember when you spew venom to at least get your facts right. You would be mercilessly exposed otherwise. Not everyone is educated in “WhatsApp University”

  9. A lowering of standards is taking place. Professionalism, integrity, credibility. At one level, futile. With so much information available on the net, it takes thirty seconds to verify and cross check. I saw PM Imran Khan’s UN speech on You Tube, learnt later that it had not been shown on our channels.

  10. First and foremost the people who use Arabic names have no place in India till they leave that. Secondly, India only have their converts who need to be brought back to their ancestral faith.

    • Why should anyone have to change their faith ? Today’s India is far different from that of Mahmud Ghazni or Allaudin KHilji.
      Or are we yearning for their Hindutva mirror images to be born again here ?

  11. Both sides of the story? My foot. Have you ever covered the expulsion of 5,00,000 Hindus from Kashmir? Have you covered the Muslim-on-Hindu rape cases, the way you covered Hindu-on-Muslim ones? Have you covered the sufferings of Hindus like you covered the sufferings of Muslims? Now don’t talk about both sides of the story. Hypocrites.

    • He is a member of the Indian National Congress. What else do you expect of him?
      If the INC is in a political wilderness nowadays it is precisely because of “leaders” like Mr. Ketkar. Such communal anti-Hindu leaders are no more acceptable to the majority population of the nation.

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