Opinion: Are journalists in India Narendra Modi’s PR agents?

Written by Vidya Bhushan Rawat | Published on: January 2, 2019

In India, the opposition is dumb and somehow exactly like the ruling govt minus a few minor issues. The corporate media acts like the PR agency of the govt and all of these things pose the biggest threat to our democracy.


Narendra Modi

Image Courtesy: ANI
Those of you who are fond of Narendra Modi's classes must have found that he has mellowed down a lot. The one-way communication that he is habituated to has not worked. He is still not ready to face the grilling questions about his government's track record on governance issues. It is not merely the question of notebandi or GST, there are wider issues of lumpen people being appointed as vice-chancellors of universities, curriculum changes, scholarships being denied to SC/ST/OBC students, the goondagiri of the Hindutva affiliated groups and so on.
Normally, Modi does not allow any journalist to sit beside him or be photographed like that. It has now become a norm to have a wide gap between the interviewer and Modi. This is a clear signal to them that 'Bhai tum patrakar ho, apni aukat me raho, dont cross the line'. And perhaps it is on this basis that interviewers are selected. Though it is a normal procedure these days to ask for a set of questions in advance so that the people in high positions speak with authenticity, now that is being replaced by fake data. Now, impromptu press conferences are also not sure whether they are planned or fixed. But perhaps we might which journalists are being invited to Modi’s classes.
If you see the questions, the interviewer is already on the defensive. She finds it difficult to question him. 'You have done so much good work for women, you have shown your concern for women's rights but why not the same about Sabarimala?' How are Sabarimala issues and Triple Talaq bill related? The issue could have been, Mr Prime Minister, we appreciate your concern for Muslim women but for the same crime Hindu men are not punished. Is there going to be any change in the Hindu laws where Hindu men too will be criminalized for divorcing their wives or those who just abandon them? The number of women left in India, according to a survey, among the Hindus is far higher to what is there among the Muslims. There are many such reports available. Smita Prakash could have asked the Prime Minister, whether he would also bring a law to protect Hindu women.
Obviously, the bhakts have no questions to ask to him about his foreign policy failures, the blunder that this government has made in Jammu and Kashmir, what happened to 'historical' Naga accord that this government signed in the beginning (details of which are still a secret,) the issue of Kartarpur Saheb, our relationship with our friendly neighbours like Nepal and Sri Lanka, etc. Obviously, the issue of Muslims and their isolation does not come on the agenda of these journalists.
Why are we afraid of asking questions? We have become a farce. We have legitimized the state effort to create an atmosphere of suspicion against one community which is the second biggest majority of India. Can you deny a community whose history and track-record of building this nation is over 700 years old? How can a state allow and encourage the goons to terrorize a community every day? And these goons enjoy the patronage and protection of the police and administration. The cow campaign has finished farmers, particularly the marginalized ones. When have we seen such a government, which was at war against its own people?
Look at how these devotees have changed the narrative. Now, Modi and all others are saying that 'courts' are not fast-tracking the issue. Basically, everyone in the media and the administration wants the Supreme Court to not only give a judgement as soon as possible but also give a judgement in their favour. This is the pressure tactic to gather favour and get a judgement which supports the temple construction so that a clamour can be generated among the voting masses. Will Modi and his PR agencies accept the Supreme Court Judgement if it goes against them?
This the irony of India. Everywhere in the world, the political class uses the public sentiment for power and the media, intellectuals speak for the public, minority and marginalized rights. They work as an opposition along with the political opposition. In India, the opposition is dumb and somehow exactly like the ruling govt minus a few minor issues. The corporate media acts like the PR agency of the govt and all of these things pose the biggest threat to our democracy.
Modi's interview has given another opportunity for the corrupt media to kill the big story from Kerala, where women came out of their homes and made a huge 620-kilometre human chain, an unprecedented event in the history of India. There was a huge congregation at Bhima Koregaon where lakhs of people turned up despite the government of Maharashtra's effort to stop them and yet it did make the headlines. Kudos to each one of them but then the Brahmin Bania media knows how to kill stories of resistance because Kerala's historical event or massive gatherings at Bhima-Koregaon was a complete rejection of the Sangh Parivar's hate agenda in those states. The corrupt media would not show these stories but it can’t ignore the same.
As election approaches, we will see more such fake-interviews which will eat up your prime time and each channel will spend hours and hours debating them. It is nothing but a well-planned exercise to kill other important news and protests.
We hope people will remain vigilant against the paid vigilantes on our TV channels and expose them.