Do you feel, sometimes, that Hindi news channels are like a bad espionage novel – you know, a third-rate Jack Ryan thriller—where, nuclear, chemical and any other earth-destroying warfare may break out any moment? Where the United States, Russia, and China go from being the good guys to the bad guys in a matter of headlines?
It’s fascinating stuff: each morning and afternoon, we are treated to the latest chapter in the struggle for world dominance – at least that is how the Hindi news channels frame the war in Ukraine, the rivalry between US and Russia and now, the ‘Roosi-Cheeni bhai bhai’ against their common and biggest ‘dushman’— the United States of America (TV9 Bharatvarsh).
With the ‘dictator’ (Mirror Now) Chinese President Xi Jinping in Moscow this week, Hindi news channels, in particular, saw all kinds of intriguing possibilities emerge from his talks with Russia’s Vladimir Putin: ‘Is this the end of the war? Can Jinping end the war?’ asked India TV. ‘Will Xi’s peace plan work?’ asked News 18 India. “3 lakh NATO soldiers will be stationed along the Russia borders with Norway, Estonia, Latvia, within 10 days – NATO ka chakravyuh,” prophesied the Times Now Navbharat anchor. ‘US President Joe Biden unnerved by Xi’s Moscow visit,’ said News 18 India.
ABP News had a ‘war breaking’ scoop: Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida took a ‘Modi peace plan’ to Ukraine, after his talks with the Indian premier in New Delhi, Monday.
Oooh, this is too exciting for words. What a wonderful blockbuster film it would make: imagine for a moment: Chinese and Russian leaders work on an ‘anti-NATO axis’ (CNN News 18) when India steals a march on them with a preemptive strike: Japan delivers India’s secret ‘peace plan’ to Ukraine and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy agrees to it. Hoorah!
All this plays out in the backdrop of bombs falling, bombs exploding, smoke ballooning into mushrooms, tanks rumble-tumbling this way and that, missiles zipping left and right, aircraft swooping down for the kill as Russia and Ukraine go boom-boom.
In the wake of Xi’s Moscow visit and the West’s continuing support for Ukraine, Times Now Navbharat detected war clouds gathering in the Pacific – ‘Will there be war?’ between China and the US, it wondered in excited headlines.
The chances of a conflict between America and China may appear unrealistic to security experts but on Hindi news channels, world war is being waged every single day. Don’t be surprised if you see the American eagle and the Chinese dragon in mortal combat, soon – who knows what tomorrow brings on Hindi news…
That there are profound security implications for India in any Russia-China axis, or a US-China confrontation, doesn’t seem to bother the Hindi news channels. For them the theatre of war is a spectacle for viewers — I don’t think they want audiences to take them seriously or to genuinely believe there could be a world war; it’s a TRP game for them.
Also read: Khan Market, George Soros gang, bulldozer politics – TV news just can’t stop these phrases
It’s all Amritpal on English channels
English news channels haven’t found the Ukraine war or the prospect of a US-China stand-off worth much of their time.
They had a thriller of their own to cover: they followed the ‘Hunt for Amritpal Singh’ (NDTV 24×7) with about as much success as the Punjab police. ‘Amritpal aage aage, police peeche peeche’ (Zee Hindustan) just about sums up the situation.
You have to give it to the news channels, though—they are nothing if not optimistic. So even though the ‘Khalistani thug’ has evaded the long arm — and leg — of the law, by ‘`absconding for 96 hours’ (India Today), it hasn’t prevented news channels from seeing the ‘endgame’ in sight for the ‘most wanted gangster’ who India Today said had been ‘cornered’. Well, but if he had been ‘cornered’, how was he still on the run? Perhaps, the channel knows something the Punjab Police don’t? Confusing.
All that we have seen of Amritpal Singh is what Republic TV called ‘The escape video’ — brief clips of his disappearing act as he went from one vehicle to another. Aaj Tak led channels to his village where it found no clues to his whereabouts but it did claim that Amritpal planned to start a ‘force’ of his own. NDTV India walked the Jalandhar streets with the police on a flag march, which looked most impressive but yielded no Amritpal Singh, the ‘K-crusader’ (Times Now).
As the ‘manhunt’ continued, channels, just like the Punjab and Haryana High Court, became exasperated with the Punjab Police. “Who let Amritpal flee? (How was he) allowed to escape?” demanded Times Now, angrily. Nobody knew the answer, so channels turned their attention to the ‘foreign hand’. They saw a ‘clear Pak link’, with the ISI as Amritpal Singh’s supporter and funder — ‘Pakistan’s mission Khalistan’ was afoot (India Today). “Where is Amritpal? Pakistan knows,” claimed Zee Hindustan, darkly.
Protests in England, Australia and the US by Amritpal’s supporters meant ‘India under attack from Khalistani thugs’ (Times Now). We saw mobs in London bring down the Indian flag at the high commission amid cries of ‘shame, shame’ from the protesters — it led India TV to cry shame on them, too.
Try as news channels did to make the ‘hunt’ for Amritpal exciting, it has none of the ‘explosive’ energy of the Ukraine war which for all its melodrama can be addictive watching.
Time we read the headline, ‘Amritpal arrested’ and moved on – or back to ‘BJP v/s Rahul’?
Views are personal.
(Edited by Prashant)