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Gujarat issue: Role of media, secularists

Gujarat issue: Role of media, secularists

Author: Ravi K Sharma
Publication: The Daily Excelsior
Date: May 22, 2002

Ever since Godhra happened in Gujarat our media virtually struck a goldmine for filling their otherwise dull and empty space with vivid accounts of the incidents in the most sensational and chilling manner. The channel after channel and newspaper after newspaper has vied for presenting the incidents in the crudest and most irresponsible manner. English media in particular has been reporting in a one sided way thereby presenting a distorted picture to the world. This all has lead to erosion of India's image as a responsible, tolerant and multicultural democracy. The 'panelists' speaks as if they are speaking on behalf of people of India. They speak in a biased and with preconceived views and notions. Most of these panelists from 'secular' brigade talk in a way which leads one to conclude as if minorityism and majority bashing is the correct form of secularism.

In fact the scope and meaning of secularism needs to be defined and established in present context where we find that the Nehruvian concept of secularism has not helped in fostering mutual goodwill among different communities. This concept of secularism has rather been used by politicians to suit their own agenda by playing vote politics. It is rather natural to ask these secularists if majority bashing is the correct form of secularism. When lacs of Hindus are driven out of Bangladesh these secularists maintain a deafening silence. But when you point out the presence of lacs of Bangladeshi Muslims illegally living in India these secularists raise a hue and cry that Muslims are being harassed unnessarily.

Over the past half a century of Independent India our politicians have played a politics of communalism, casteism, linguism and regionalism right from Indira Gandhi, V P Singh to Kanshi Ram. The creation of States on the basis of linguistic uniformity was the first step towards the Mandalisation of Indian society. The Dravida Munetra Kazhagam usurpers the power in Tamil Nadu on the slogan of 'Tamil nation' and anti North and anti Brahministic sentiment. Yet all these Political groupings who played havoc with the unity of Indian society are considered the champions and pillars of secularism. V. P. Singh who 'mandalised' Indians on the basis of their birth is self-proclaimed 'messiah' of secularism. Kanshi Ram who coined the slogan 'tilak, tarazu aur talwar, inko maro jootey chaar' is considered one of the pillars of Indian secularism and saviour of minorities.

Politicians see very Indian through the lens of communal and casteistic identity to create and perpetuate their vote banks. The levels to which these 'secular' politicians can stoop for their vote politics is shocking. Every word they speak, every thought they express, is brim full of vote politics.

All this dirty game of political jugglery, is being played and sustained through the powerful means of electronic media. Almost daily you will see one or the other politician speaking his heart out on one or the other TV channel. In their quest to keep up the interest and curiosity of viewers these TV channels are always on the look out for a breaking news.

The media boasts of the photos and TV footages showing uncovered charred dead bodies, throwing to the winds the Journalistic ethics. Their only quest is to top the TRP viewer ship chart, gain popularity by presenting the sensational and 'breaking' news. Nobody really cares about public sensibilities and emotional vulnerabilities of audience. Rather than presenting the facts in right perspective the news is sensationalized in a way which further leads to worsening of already surcharged communal atmosphere in the country instead of assuaging the hurt emotions of people at large. Contrast with the media of US in the wake of September 11 episode. Dead bodies were shown sparingly on the TV channels and whatever little footage was shown it was with properly covering them in body - bags.

It is high time that media in India learns its lessons and realizes its responsibilities. Because the present day society takes its inputs directly from the media for forming its opinion about politics, society, religious issues and the list is endless. Therefore it is the bounden duty of media to behave in a responsible and mature way keeping into consideration the well being of its readers and audience and nation at large. Our forefathers while fighting for freedom kept nation one pedestal above their life Otherwise we would still have been salve of British. Now it is our duty to keep our personal interests atleast one pedestal if not more the importance of motherland.

The views of our 'secular' and 'enlightened intellectuals' of the ilk of Mr M J Akbar, and Ms Arundhati Roy in New York Times, Washington Post and Time describing India is a country of religious fanatics' and 'Hindu fascists' does create impact on world opinion. The naive western reader never tries to authenticate the facts and creates a picture of India exactly similar to what has been presented in the form of write ups by these 'intellectuals.'

India basically is a tolerant, secular, and multicultural national and has been so since ages. India has provided shelter to one of the many persecuted ancient societies i.e. Zoroastrians in her bosom. It has been home to Muslims since ages when they first set their home in Malabar coast. Sarva dharma sambhav and Vasudev Kutumbhakam have been the mantras guiding us in our daily lives since ages. And today when certain aberrations like Gujarat, Mumbai occur the prophets of doom declare that India is the worst country to live for the minorities. But it is ironically true that the very Indian culture - which is essentially Hindu culture - which the 'secular' brigade and educated 'chatter' class denounce is the bedrock on which the multicultural and secular nature of India rests otherwise India would have long ago been declared a Christian or Islamic State.

The need of the hour is to forget petty self interests, shun vote politics and see the things in right perspective. The way the hair splitting discussions are held on TV Channels about the 'genocide' of minorities by 'fascist forces', 'experimentation of hindutva in the laboratory of Gujarat' is no way going to the reduce the bitterness. Rather it will further add fuel to the raging communal fires which God forbid may engulf entire nation. The media men, politicians and other opinion makers needs to realize their duty towards the country than be guided by their own narrow selfish agenda.

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