Friday, 28 January, 2022
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For Times Now and others, Vadra-Sonia link is more important than Indian economy

Republic TV went on about Congress’ secularism, India Today looked at CAA, CNN News18 remained with Kashmiri Pandits. But anyone barely touched the IMF story.

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What does the Indian economy have to do for TV news channels to sit up and take notice of it? Must it tank before the prima donna anchors of prime time debate its critical condition?

Seriously – on Monday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) pegged India’s GDP forecast for FY2020 at 4.8 per cent – a downgrade of 1.3 per cent from its earlier estimate. It also blamed India – yes, you read that correctly – for lowering the world’s growth estimates.

Now, you would think news of such global proportions was serious and big enough to merit immediate coverage and emergency discussions?

Had the IMF held Pakistan responsible for anything remotely similar, India’s English news channels would have emblazoned it in ‘BREAKING NEWS’, suspended scheduled telecasts, and called in Maj Gen (Retd) G.D. Bakshi to give it a tongue-lashing.

Hindi news channels would have demanded Pakistan be removed from the world economy forthwith.

Also read: ED claims to have nailed Vadra link with London property after Dubai businessman’s arrest

Relax, it’s ‘India First’

Luckily, though, this is India where Indian news channels always put ‘India First’ (India Today), where anchors like Sudhir Chaudhary (Zee News) remind us that the nation comes before anything else – and that, presumably, includes the world.

So, what did news channels do on Monday when the IMF made its announcement? They gave it the big ignore.

In its 8 pm Monday news bulletin, NDTV 24×7 carried excerpts from a press briefing by Gita Gopinath, the IMF’s chief economist, at Davos on the subject. Later that night (10 pm), the channel telecast an interview with her, and on Tuesday, the ‘Left Right & Centre’ discussion was ‘IMF sharply cuts India’s 2020 growth forecast’. Mirror Now also debated ‘IMF’s slowdown Alarm’ Tuesday night.

And that was pretty much that. The English news flashed the IMF forecast across the screen before the channels returned to matters of far greater importance, like Congress, Shaheen Bagh…

As for Hindi news channels, they wouldn’t recognise the economy even if it was under attack from Pakistani troops at the LoC. For them, astrology is important – that’s why they read out your fortune every morning – but the economy? Why they can’t even spell ‘arthvyavasthha’!

You don’t believe this? Consider Monday’s news channels after the IMF disclosure on India.

Also read: IMF cuts India growth forecast to 4.8%, flags stress in non-bank financial sector

Bigger issues

CNN News18 was busy lamenting the fate of Kashmiri Pandits, NewsX celebrated the new ruling triumvirate at BJP of Modi, Shah and Nadda after the election of the latter as the new BJP president, Mirror Now welcomed 24×7 nightlife in Mumbai, Times Now admonished the Congress for reportedly waiting for a Muslim ‘green flag’ before agreeing to join the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government, and India Today considered the utility of Brahmos-equipped Sukhoi 30-MKI aircraft.

At 9 pm, things changed: news broke that NRI businessman C.C. Thampi had been detained by the Enforcement Directorate. This caught the ever-vigilant eye of Times Now, which almost immediately debated the alleged Thampi-Vadra-Sonia connection (‘Is this Sonia link to Vadra loot?’).

Get this: the Vadra-Sonia news break gets a debate but not the Indian economy?

Republic TV went on and on about ‘#Secular Mask Off’ of the Congress in Maharashtra, India Today looked at the CAA, CNN News18 remained with the Kashmiri Pandits.

Also read: Shah Rukh Khan Fauji 2 must rescue Indian armed forces from Republic TV, Aaj Tak, Zee News

It’s the same story

Tuesday witnessed equal disdain for the economy, the IMF and Gita Gopinath. While India Today and CNN News18 did interview the economist, the day time news had other worries: at 5.30 pm, Times Now was still on the Vadra-Thampi connection, CNN News18 sensed a ‘Shaheen Bagh truce’ after some women from the protest site met Delhi’s Lt Governor and Republic TV was more concerned with a possible CAA resolution in the West Bengal assembly.

Tuesday night prime time? Business as usual — sorry, that ought to be politics as usual.

‘Republic investigates… Thampi mystery’ — now why can’t the channel examine the ‘mystery’ of the failing Indian economy with equal fervor?

It also stood with the people of Sarita Vihar in Delhi who complained about the inconvenience from the Shaheen Bagh protests – ‘#India with Sarita Vihar’.

NewsX went after Pakistan’s ‘radical crisis’, whatever that was; CNN News18 had a ‘CAA showdown’; Times Now defended actor Rajinikanth after his ‘naked’ statements regarding Periyar; and Hindi news channels reported or repeated Home Minister Amit Shah’s speech in Lucknow earlier in the day.

On Zee News, Sudhir Chaudhary celebrated what he considers his and Zee’s invention — the ‘tukde-tukde gang’ a.k.a. ‘AfzalPremiGang’ who are intent on dividing India into little pieces.

Fine, but what about those who are reducing the economy to bits and pieces – why not call them out too?

The Indian economy is a big yawn for news channels — first, they would have to deal with facts, which is alien to their nature; second, they would have to question the Narendra Modi government, which would then make them part of the tukde-tukde gang.

Third, if you are really so concerned about the Indian economy, go watch a business-economy channel.

Also read: Zee News, Times Now, Aaj Tak must perish in 2020. India’s TV news needs to go back a decade

Senate Trump trial like Lok Sabha TV

And finally, it doesn’t happen only in India: the US, with arguably the most independent media, saw only what the US Senate wanted it to see of President Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial hearings: private broadcasters like CNN, ABC, even C-SPAN are not being permitted their own live coverage of the proceedings but have to take a video feed from the Senate’s microphones and cameras.

And since the Senate is controlled by the Republicans, what Americans see is a sanitised version. In the words of The New York Times, day one did not make for “compelling viewing”.

Indian viewers know the feeling: we are accustomed to Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha TV telecasts of Parliament proceedings that focus on the government benches or the Speaker avoiding the drama of Opposition protests or walkouts.

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  1. If Pakistan had brought the global economy down….. Lol. Seriously? You really think an insignificant $250 billion Pakistani economy has the capacity to pull down the global economy? You should go and get a crash course in economy first.

  2. Dont worry about the economy..everything will work out fine…if u r worried about all else as in ur earlier articles..then y dont u come up wt steps and solutions to lift the economy…?..stop fear mongering…its a cycle and wt appropriate mwasures will come out fine…
    Regarding the nation…a LATENT SPARK has GOT ignited…. evidence was the election result …and there will b more to come…
    Dont b naive and fool urself in believing a 3 or 4 state election result…pawar games and all that…b very careful..aftr a long time the hindu community has risen…and all the so called seculars liberals and left or centre or wtever..whover..are all going to go down..their shops r going to get closed….(abrogation of 370 closed a lot many)
    Nobody can stop this…the genie is out…and its not going to go back any time now…CAA protests and what not…is irrelevent in the greater scheme of design….

  3. For Times Now and others, Vadra-Sonia link is more important than Indian economy.
    IMF also blamed India – yes, you read that correctly – for lowering the world’s growth estimates.
    Gita Gopinath, the IMF’s chief economist.
    NRI businessman C.C. Thampi had been detained by the Enforcement Directorate.
    ‘Republic investigates… Thampi mystery’ — now why can’t the channel examine the ‘mystery’ of the failing Indian economy with equal fervor?
    When the freedom of expression is so much in demand, why complain if some channels make money on Vadra-Sonia link, C.C. Thampi had been detained by the Enforcement Directorate, while others celebrate IMF also blamed India and Shaheen Bagh protests.
    There are no unbiased / neutral journalist besides everyone has his business model so people outside this business read and listen to both sides and make up their minds. Would have been a fair assessment if the names of Nidhi and Rajdeep were to be seen in your article.

  4. All are purchased by BJP!1 Have nothing in their spirit and wisdom to speak truth.Yellow journalism at its peak!! Sycophants of Modi and Shah.It is prostitution of journalism!!!

  5. For the print,the scroll,the wire saving vadra is more important than other issues because they gets biscuits from 10 janpath.

  6. Dear Shailaja stop hyperventilating no body takes the IMF seriously or any of these rating agencies
    Rating agencies gave triple A rating to lehman brothers, Enron and a host of other companies when they became bankrupt
    India is doing very well example real estate in mumbai is 2 percent down from its highs
    a tier 4 town in Kumta Karnataka a 3 bedroom apartment is costing nearly a crore of rupees

  7. Shailaja ji not everyone is a stooge of Gandhi family like you are. So others don’t have obligation to protect the Gandhi family and her corrupt damad. This news is more important because this family has looted the country and they are the main culprits in this economic mess.

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