Ranjona Banerji: Imagine if the media had ignored the Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh completely?

10 Jul,2015

By Ranjona Banerji


The Madhya Pradesh examination and recruitment scam remains the top media story this week. It has overshadowed almost everything else and even made the international media. This is hardly surprising, regardless of how upset people get when their favourite political party is targeted.


Arnab Goswami of Times Now for instance is now a ripe target for BJP supporters for going hammer and tongs at both Lalit Modi and now the “Vyapam” scam. The interesting allegation being made is that TV news stopped discussing Lalit Modi the minute the Gandhis of the Congress were mentioned. Short-term memory loss is very useful when you make suggestions like this. Because then you can forget how angry Congress supporters were when Goswami reduced Rahul Gandhi to a gibbering mess in a pre-general election TV interview while being far less aggressive with Narendra Modi.


Also, in Modi’s first six months as prime minister, every TV channel lovingly followed him around the world, tracked every finger wag, eulogised every comment, bless-youed every sneeze and called him everything from a rock star to a pioneer who has changed the course of Indian history like no one else before him. No complaints were made by the BJP and its supporters then even if the Congress and other parties were frothing at the mouth.


This is a sad reality of life if you live it by the media. It can turn on you for not fulfilling you promises or potential as it did with the India Against Corruption and its metamorphosis into the Aam Aadmi Party. Or it can wait for you to trip up as it has done with the BJP. As it happens, the national media and especially television got to the Vyapam scam very late. It was only after Aajtak journalist Akshay Singh’s sudden death while investigating the scam that TV cameras and star anchors landed in Bhopal. Before that it was the local media and to some extent the print media which was highlighting the story.


It is therefore very unfair to blame the media for doing its job, in this case. Imagine if the national media had ignored this scam completely. Even without the scary inexplicable death toll when it comes to witnesses and accused, the exam and recruitment manipulations themselves are frightening.


It is not internet trolls that I am talking about here. It is well-known columnists, veteran journalists most of them, who actually believe that Sonia Gandhi and the Congress party control the media. If that was true, then Goswami would have been the purring pussy cat he was with Raj Thackeray with Rahul Gandhi too. Besides, from a cynical point of view, what does the Congress have to offer the media, powerless as it is?


Taking media gossip and making it part of your informed commentary is a bit, well, tacky.




Although I have liberally attacked them in the past in these columns, must congratulate Star Sports India for its coverage of the ongoing Wimbledon tournament. Two channels on the two main courts (four if you count the HD channels as well), enough information on what was happening elsewhere and even a little bit of Indian doubles action.
Well done!




Reading through all the various articles on the Greek crisis, realised sadly that those of us who do not regularly read the business pages or the pink papers are at a severe understanding deficit when it comes to management and economic jargon. I forgo the oft-repeated comment from Casca in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar except to say that most of it was in a foreign language…


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