Doctors wearing protective suits check residents with an electronic thermometer inside a slum in Worli, Mumbai | PTI
Doctors wearing protective suits check residents with an electronic thermometer inside a slum in Worli, Mumbai | Representational image | PTI
Text Size:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not the only political leader we see – or hear –in these tragic times. He is, suddenly, what he was always meant to be — a first among equals.

As the coronavirus sweeps through India, chief ministers of various states have been seen and heard too, as TV news has fanned out across the country and suddenly discovered Kerala, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and other states.

Usually, when we see politicians, they are either party spokespersons, or Rahul Gandhi being hammered for the contents of his latest tweet and Sonia Gandhi for being Italian (by birth) — please refer to Republic TV.

Now, things have changed.


Also read: Coronavirus: Latest updates on cases in India, all you need to know about COVID-19


Union ministers, by and large, remain in the shadows, occupants of socially-distanced chairs at empowered groups meetings monitoring the pandemic, or buried in headlines like ‘Union Cabinet to meet Wednesday’. Even Union health minister Harsh Vardhan, who is at the forefront of the coronavirus fight, is a rare sight on the news.

Indeed, politicians have been sidelined by a most unlikely cast of characters as the stars of the coronavirus fight back. Officials and administrators, scientists and doctors, health care workers, the police and economists are now the people TV anchors and reporters turn to for news and views.

We are deeply grateful to our readers & viewers for their time, trust and subscriptions.

Quality journalism is expensive and needs readers to pay for it. Your support will define our work and ThePrint’s future.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

And, the daily 4 pm televised press briefing – which for some reason was cancelled on Wednesday — is the show we most look forward to on TV. Led by the joint secretary in the health ministry, the bespectacled Luv Agarwal, and ICMR’s avuncular Dr Raman Gangakhedkar, the team of officials at that briefing has become as familiar to us as family members.

This is happening in the US and other countries fighting the same battle: while President Donald Trump dominates the daily White House briefing, the man he literally dwarfs – Dr Anthony Fauci – is an unusual hero in the US, while state governors like New York’s Andrew Cuomo have stolen some of the thunder from Trump by holding their own daily televised briefings—you can catch Cuomo, live, every evening for at least hour on CNN International.


Also read: Amul to SpiceJet to Railways — Supply chain heroes are making sure India runs in lockdown


Chief ministers finally get spotlight

Back home, chief ministers are being interviewed regularly, and their pronouncements have become the stuff of headlines—if they’re really, really fortunate, they might win some applause by TV anchors. Kerala’s CPI-M government under CM Pinarayi Vijayan, were praised by Arnab Goswami in terms he usually reserves for Modi (Republic TV).

UP’s Yogi Adityanath receives the most coverage—every time he holds a meeting, we attend it. Joking, but you get the drift: he’s a BJP CM and the most popular chief minister on TV. Just Tuesday, Times Now’s Rahul Shivshankar hailed his commitment to tackling the coronavirus at a time when his father was very sick and subsequently died in Delhi’s AIIMS hospital.

But other chief ministers have received coverage as well. Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal is the most frequent chief minister on TV by virtue of being the capital’s captain—he even makes it to DD News.

However, Rajasthan’s Ashok Gehlot, Chhattisgarh’s Bhupesh Baghel, Punjab’s Captain Amarinder Singh – all from the Congress— have also been interviewed by most news channels and mostly projected in a positive light.

Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray has been in the limelight since the formation of the Maha-Agadhi government in November 2019, but his two recent broadcasts on the Bandra migrant workers’ gathering and the Palghar lynching incident, were telecast live across many channels.

In both instances, he was accused of either negligence or misgovernance on news channels (ABP, Zee News, India TV, Times Now, etc.), but to the average viewer he has come across as a sensible man.

So have the other chief ministers. It’s been a revelation to see that along with PM, the country is in other good hands.


Also read: Is Centre interfering in Covid fight or do states like West Bengal, Kerala need hand-holding?


Out of Delhi

We have also listened to municipal commissioners and police chiefs from across India in cities such as Jodhpur, Agra, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Indore, and many more as they explain how they are fighting the coronavirus.

This indicates the other big change in the news: it’s gone federal. Reporters are chasing the virus across a nation in lockdown and in distress. Wednesday ABP was in Mumbai where coastal work has begun; Aaj Tak was at the Delhi-Noida border to observe the effect of the lockdown on traffic, NDTV24x7 caught up with young migrants walking home in Lucknow, Times Now went to Bhopal and Hyderabad, Republic TV was in Patna…. They’re going places they’ve never been (except during election coverage) as TV news has become less and less Delhi-centric.

Other experts/bureaucrats also make the cut: the CEO of MyGov, the director general of the Cellular Operators Association of India, for instance, were on NewsX. Niti Aayog chief Rajiv Kumar was on NDTV 24×7, business leaders such as Rajiv Bajaj, managing director, Bajaj Autos, were on India Today.

And by the time India Today is done with its e-Conclaves, it will have spoken to every respected virologist, epidemiologist in the world.

Finally, the medicine women and men, dutifully, appear each evening on the screen to dispense advice and information in equal doses— they are far more riveting to watch than anything you have seen on medical TV series like Sanjivani or Grey’s Anatomy.

Views are personal.

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

News media is in a crisis & only you can fix it

You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.

You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.

We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And we aren’t even three yet.

At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly and on time even in this difficult period. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is. Our stellar coronavirus coverage is a good example. You can check some of it here.

This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it. Because the advertising market is broken too.

If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous, and questioning journalism, please click on the link below. Your support will define our journalism, and ThePrint’s future. It will take just a few seconds of your time.

Support Our Journalism

24 Comments Share Your Views

24 COMMENTS

  1. ‘The Print ‘ is on expected lines, either divide the society, Divide the bureaucracy or Divide the political class.

  2. The Headline “India is in many good hands, not only PM Modi’s” assumes that Modi is a good PM and we are safe in his “good hands”

    To say the least it’s not only preposterous but reeks of sycophancy

    I am noticing that this Newspaper is platform for all kinds of people peddling their Agenda

    • Entire world. As usual, fake WhatsApp Univesity content spread by BJP IT Cell as well as BJP’s news media like Republic, Zee, TimesNow, etc are making people think that Modi is being praised by the entire world.

  3. It is good that chief ministers got the recognition of good work done in their states. But let us not give much importance to Republic TV as in my opinion it is one sided and no interested in this channel as their job is to promote only one party.

  4. All these libs are praising Maharashtra cm. How come he become secular in two months after all he is shiv sainik. Man this cm did so many things opposite/against Congress/secular in the past .once he met Sonia with in a week these people are praising. Imagine if he is bjp+shiv Sena cm then these ppl thrashing left and right

  5. So you finally admit that India is in good hands because Mr. Modi is in charge.

    Is The Print distancing itself from its strategic and dynamic 51 year old childish young leader and his bar-tender Mom?

  6. Why does ur ass burns wenever modis name is highlighted on global platform for giving his best to fight against covid….

  7. It is good you started listening but have failed to be impartial while reporting. This is a war where every one has to stand up and fight to save India.

  8. Yes. I agree with you. Also, if someone is shown in TV more no of times, does that mean he is a good man and country is in good hands. This author must know the meaning of good hand.

  9. The author does not understand meaning of leadership – let your mamata or pinaravi venture out of their burrows to prove themselves. Like it or not modi is the leader at the present times.

  10. Its a request to the government to order a total shutdown of all business including and esp. E-commerce section. We dont need more than basic groceries and hygiene/sanitation products to survive. People are going out of homes as if tomorrow is diwali and they have to meet everyone. People wont understand but the government can make these rules applicable. My family too will suffer alot if businesses are shut and i am only requesting again to give some relief from bills and EMIs. I can only request for a total shutdown to survive.

    • But it’s taking a toll on those who already led half-dead lives. Not people like us with some economic comforts.
      Also, I can’t wrap my head around the idea of not including basic stationeries and computer supplies under the category of essential supplies.
      On one hand we’re asked to work from home and on the other, we can’t because we’re running out supplies to work with. It’s sad. I hope somebody takes notice.

  11. This also certifies that “” Bharat Bhagya vidhatas ” { भारत भाग्य विधाता } do not come out of reproductive organs of a particular Delhi based ” FAMILY ” ONLY. India is full of talent . Give them chance to show their talents and knowledge. They are likely to be found more efficient and dedicated .

  12. what else to expect from your paper. you guys cant miss a chance to defame or get down modi image even in this hard times

    • Yes. I agree with you. Also, if someone is shown in TV more no of times, does that mean he is a good man and country is in good hands. This author must know the meaning of good hand.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here