The “Undeclared Emergency” Is More Convoluted Than the “Declared One”

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has a team of 250 people, whose job is to monitor the contents of the television channels and ensure that the “obnoxious” contents are removed from the receivers.

ABP News
Punya Prasun Bajpai, the senior news anchor, has been forced to leave the ABP News, allegedly at the behest of the present Modi government. But, he is not alone. There are many others who either have been removed from their posts or have been asked to resign. The media groups have been asked to bear the brunt in case anti-Modi reporters are not tamed or their policy is not in tandem with the Modi rhetoric. Being anti-BJP is no problem for the ruling coterie, but the reporters must neither write nor speak against Modi. And if they do, then the channels will be strangulated – either by withdrawing the government advertisements or by opening files at the behest of enforcement directorate, CBI et al. Or may be both. Such are the instruments of intimidation at use. But these are old methods, new tools have been adopted to counter the anti-Modi media (howsoever little that may be). 

Many have declared it as an emergency-like situation where the basics of reporting are engulfed in the swirl of the BJP threats. But this is what has been happening all through, is the prompt reply from the bhakts of the ruling government. “The declared emergency was extremely bad”. People were not allowed to lend their voice and the press was stifled. No doubt that was the situation, but the condition is not better if not worse than what happened during the official emergency period. 

This is an “undeclared emergency” where tools of the state are being used to hound the journalists and their management. The cases are numerous. NDTVThe WireThe Tribune et al and their respective correspondents had to undergo the pain and trauma as a result of their objective reporting. The latest to the point happens to be Milind Khandekar and Punya Prasun Bajpai. Another senior producer of a show, Abhisaar Sharma, has been grounded and asked to not to host any show for two weeks. 

As we all know that the issue of contention is the near tearing of the Modi campaign and demolishing his spree of lies. The interesting story of an interaction of Modi with the tribal people of Chattisgarh happens to be the latest precipitation. Modi, as usual, hyped the propaganda of social inclusion – how during his rule the income of the farmers has doubled. There was a direct interaction over a video conference between Modi and the beneficiaries, and this was shown to the media to gain accolades. Those sitting on the other side (the so-called beneficiaries) were tutored, and asked to say what the government wanted to hear.

However, Bajpai, in his famous programme called Master Stroke exposed these lies. The ABP team went to the village of one of the beneficiarie,s and interviewed Chandramani, the tribal woman from Kanker district  in Chattisgarh, who said that she was tutored to speak the government’s language, though there is no improvement in her living. This completely falsified and rubbished the claims of the government. It was a major embarrassment to Modi, in particular. Similarly, the exposure of the government’s story of improvement in law and order situation in UP and the exposure by ABP falsifying their claims hit the BJP badly. 

Modi, over the years, has used his clout to completely cow down the media. It intervened in the News 18 CNN –IBN group, and ensured that the editorial policy is pro-Modi. Times now and Jagran have already gravitated to pro-Modi policy. Cobra Post, in a sting operation, was able to expose their sinister designs by getting the media houses to agree for a pro-Hindu and pro-Modi paid
campaigning.Zee and Republic channels do not require any comment, as they are owned by pro-BJP groups, and are more of propagandists than news channels.  

But the tools that the present dispensation has used are new and different. The tools are numerous and demand a comment on the new forms of ‘emergency undeclared’by the Modi government. In comparison to the past, the newer forms are far more extensive than the previous ones. Apart from the regular forms like stifling the media by not giving advertisements and coercing them through the law enforcement agencies, here is something new that was unheard of in the past. 

The telecast of the stories against Modi on the ABP News was continuously being disrupted. Twitter users too complained on the microblogging website that they had been unable to watch ABP News,when Bajpai’s show was being aired.   

According to Bajpai, people familiar with the network said disturbances in the channel’s signal began around July 13. “Things began to change after the first week of July,” he said.

On July 26, Bajpai tweeted that instead of paying any attention to starvation deaths, unemployment, farmers’ suicides, clean air and water, the focus seemed only to be on disrupting the signals of his programme. 
Even Rajdeep Sardesai, another senior journalist, tweeted saying that the ABP channel “(Between 9 and 10 pm for last 10 days, signal of @ppbajpai show on @abpnewstv would go to black, start blinking. This is the most outrageous use of state power to interfere with media indep. And yet, no one, including the channel, dares speak out!.”

According to the media reports, when it was enquired, the service provider companies like Airtel and Tata Sky clarified that it was not from their end, and that the broadcaster could be facing technical issues. However, the broadcaster too clarified that its parameters were correct. 

So, who could intervene, if not the broadcaster and the service provider? This is the modern tool used by the present BJP government. Catch the wave in the air. The intermediary can be either the Army or the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting that did not want such an item to be received at the end of the consumers. It seems like the signals of the broadcaster were hit in the air.

And for that, the Ministry has a team of 250 people, whose job is to monitor the contents of the television channels and ensure that the “obnoxious” (according to BJP) contents are removed from the receivers. 
Punya Bajpai quite eloquently elaborates it in his writing. He states,

As if on cue, on the following news night, ABP’s satellite link started misbehaving during primetime. The disturbance continued for an hour or so that viewers would be prevented from watching masterstroke and might switch to some other channel. Exactly at 10 pm, the satellite link would be restored.”

The minute he put his resignation, according to him, miracle of miracles started happening. “The Patanjali ads are back, Master Stroke sees an increase in ads as well. The 15 minute slot for ads, which had shrunk to a mere three minutes, swells up to 20 minutes.”

The undeclared emergency is more convoluted than the declared one. We have seen the perils of the previous one; we are witnessing the results of the present one. 




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