Ranjona Banerji: How about a star news anchor heading our Armed Forces every week?

07 Aug,2015

By Ranjona Banerji


On social media, there is no middle ground. You are either a patriot or an anti-national. More and more journalists in India are joining, it seems, the anti-national brigade. Some commentators too. Many of these had been flag-waving, slogan-shouting, bandwagon-charioteers for the new government in power at the Centre before it became the new government in power at the Centre. Now there are turncoats everywhere you turn.


Luckily, given the immense fear of a social media backlash, we still have several top notch news anchors who are ultra-patriots and given their nightly hysterics on TV, they can singlehandedly take on every Pakistani terrorist with their bare hands if need be. Forget terrorists, the whole Pakistan army, ISI, everything. Listening to them talk about war and terrorism, you wonder why they aren’t all chief of army staff. Maybe we can have a lottery system where one star news anchor heads the Indian Armed Forces every week? Or to be fair, since all are not equal, we can send them off to other para-military services as well.


Every news channel nurtures at least one of them. This ensures that no anti-national tag can ever be attached to them. The winners however for the UPA (Ultra Patriot Accolade, don’t get your saffron knickers in a twist now) are Times Now (the great man himself) and India Today TV (the other two).


Print journalism and to some extent web journalism continues to be anti-national. The government and its policies are questioned and investigations are conducted into claims by every government agency, even those deemed by UPA winners to be beyond reproach. It is incumbent upon all Ultra Patriots to call every person who has ever died a “martyr”, thus adding bad English to their other remarkable journalistic achievements.


It is a very intriguing way of practising journalism or perhaps it is a direct lift of the “Fox News” way. But there are deeper questions at work, not just for patriots but also for journalists. If India is attacked, is a journalist allowed to ask difficult questions? We are not in a state of war at the moment after all, where conditions may apply. Is inefficiency for instance to be condoned in the name of patriotism? Even if you disagree with the extreme position taken by Julian Assange (come on, UPA winners, who he?), is there not a middle ground?


It appears however that fear of social media reactions is frightening journalists into forgetting their primary purpose and that is really frightening.




How about our commentators? All those articles headlined, “Five things Modi will do, should do” have dried up. For a while they became, “Five things Modi must do” but when it was clear that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was not listening, those also stopped. Then it became, “Five things Modi would have done if these other evil people within the BJP would let him”. And right now, it’s “Modi has to change his methods of functioning”.


It was an article of the last sort by veteran journalist R Jagannathan which got removed from firstpost.com as we had discussed last time. And now respected columnist Pratap Bhanu Mehta, who led the anti-UPA march of columnists before the election, writes a critical piece against Prime Minister Modi in his much-admired column for Indian Express.





However, those who are pro-Narendra Modi must read this piece in Swarajya, a web magazine started in the spirit apparently of C Rajagopalachari and Minoo Masani, but that runs wholly in the glorification of the prime minister. It will warm the cockles of your heart and make up for the high number of turning worms. This piece outdoes the love that Mani Shanker Aiyar demonstrated for Rajiv Gandhi in his book, Goodnight Sweet Prince. That until now had been my gold standard for “lurrve”. Swarajya beats Aiyar hollow!




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