If you are an ardent follower of television news, you may be a little confused: which of the three Cs are we exactly fighting— China, Congress or the coronavirus?
A week’s evidence suggests that while many news channels are waging a spectacular and brutal war against ‘Jitler’ as India TV dubbed Chinese President Xi Jinping, some have identified Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and the Congress (in that order) as the real adversary in #ChinaGate (Times Now, Republic TV lead the way here).
Only when they can tear themselves away from their chosen battlefields, do they spare time for coronavirus. On Tuesday, the virus made headlines largely because Baba Ramdev had ‘cured’ it 100 per cent.
But the coronavirus is not giving up without a fight: Wednesday, news channel tickers announced that India had crossed the 4.5 lakh-mark in overall cases.
Warring with China in TV studios
The war against China is being fought in TV studios with a formation of retired military officers, defence experts and journalists who write about military and strategic affairs—they have replaced doctors as the most sought after TV panelists.
Besides these experts, there are news anchors armed with satellite photographs of the Galwan Valley, who have become overnight authorities on how to read the “pill boxes” that show up on these images. Giving them support from the ‘ground’ is a battery of TV correspondents, now stationed in Ladakh, all looking rather like tourists in their black down jackets and sun goggles.
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Together, their objective has been clear: to give China a “befitting reply”. With their hard-hitting headlines, they landed quite a few solid body blows to the Chinese on the LAC.
“Pitegi China”, warned News 24; Chinese troops were beaten to “pulp” by the Indian troops, claimed Times Now almost smacking its lips; “China has been taught a lesson by India’s brave soldiers”, added Aaj Tak, jubilantly; China’s bricks were met by India’s stones, declared Zee News as it waved “India-China bye-bye”; “China is zero before India’s heroes”, celebrated ABP.
“Is India ready for war with China? Yes, Sir”, said India TV with a salute.
They also telecast an unconfirmed video that reportedly showed Indian troops give the Chinese soldiers a good hiding—one they said, China would never forget. ABP and India TV led the charge with brave statements on how China was running scared, that India’s fightback in the Galwan Valley had surprised it and now its leadership was suffering sleepless nights—in English, all this sounds rather tame but set to music and in Hindi, it has the blood coursing through the veins with patriotic fervor, which is exactly what it was supposed to do. Times Now summed it up best: “Bharat will make Beijing pay”.
No channel has been able to match India Today when it comes to satellite warfare. Deploying a series of satellite images every day, the channel has tracked developments in the Galwan Valley. It was the first channel to give a detailed account of the 15 June confrontation when 20 Indian soldiers died fighting the Chinese contingent.
It has also been the one to have somewhat punctured the show of bravado in the headlines by screening photographs of Chinese build-ups: first, not far from Pangong Lake and on Wednesday in “Mega World Exclusive”, “exclusive” pictures of “Big Chinese build-up” near Patrol Point 14. Master of the board, anchor Rahul Kanwal has been fairly hopping from one foot to the other with ill-concealed excitement as he points out structures, trucks, tanks, bulldozers and cranes in the Chinese deployments. Why, on Monday, he even used satellite imagery to show us the exact spot where the Corps Commander talks between the two sides were taking place.
TV news has also joined forces with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to destroy whatever little credibility the Congress may enjoy in the public eye. Each time, Rahul Gandhi or his colleagues questioned, criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi or his government for its responses to the Galwan stand-off, many news channels interpreted these as attacks on the country or its armed forces—and went after them.
The “tukde” gang led by Rahul Gandhi has been supporting China, alleged ABP referring to Rahul Gandhi’s sharp tweets against the PM; “Congress against Army” was Zee News headline, ‘#CongChinaGate’ was the popular hashtag Tuesday on Times Now after the Congress Working Committee meeting denounced the government’s handling of the China crisis. “(Congress is) so blinded, so blinded … it’s promoting anti-India propaganda,’’ sighed its afternoon anchor. Republic TV went further –“China-Sonia pact?” it asked, accusing her of a 2008 deal with China’s Communist Party.
And so it came to pass: Wednesday afternoon, TV news reported a plea in the Supreme Court over the alleged pact.
Over to corona
One person who is loved by most news channels is Baba Ramdev—he holds regular yoga classes on several of them such as India TV. He advertises on all of them; he sponsors news bulletins. So when he launched his Coronil medication to supposedly cure or prevent the coronavirus Tuesday, leading Hindi news channels telecast the event live. They also interviewed him at Patanjali’s Haridwar labs where he described in great detail the processes and ingredients that went into Coronil.
Aaj Tak wondered if “Bhaag jayaga Corona?” but other channels simply accepted Ramdev’s claim that he had the “swadeshi” cure. English channels were more sceptical in their Tuesday evening debates: India Today questioned Ayush Minister Shripad Naik who hastily said the medication would be studied. “Corona cure or Coro-nil?” punned Times Now.
In other words, a hero or a zero?
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