Ranjona Banerji: Journalistic ethics, anyone?

13 Dec,2019

By Ranjona Banerji

 

So what did the Citizenship Amendment Bill, coupled with the promise of a nationwide rollout of the National Register of Citizens, achieve?

Deaths in Assam as widespread violence against the CAB spreads in the northern state:

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/anti-citizenship-bill-protests-people-defy-curfew-in-guwahati-army-conducts-flag-march/article30283600.ece

Staff of an Assam-based news channel beaten up by the police:

https://scroll.in/latest/946675/assam-police-beat-up-staffers-of-news-channel-inside-its-guwahati-office

And the Prime Minister of Japan may cancel his trip to India:

https://in.reuters.com/article/india-japan-idINKBN1YH08Y

 

Veteran journalist Patricia Mukhim explains the faultlines in the North-East which have now been exacerbated by both NRC and CAB:

https://www.livemint.com/news/india/the-new-fault-lines-in-the-north-east/amp-11576075188118.html?__twitter_impression=true&fbclid=IwAR1A9RqVHZHLBlgsHBG_cMYxg_E2meQUdkJxGkmTDUE7lLjZlhNwJ4nc4VY

The Telegraph, Kolkata weighs in, on bloodshed and communication shutdowns :

https://www.telegraphindia.com/india/blood-stains-citizenship-amendment-bill/cid/1726381?ref=top-stories_home-template

This is some of the media. Some of the rest of the media, which includes people who work for The Hindu, have been used to putting forward the BJP-RSS point of view. This one is in the form of an interview, but given the deaths, violence, anger and destruction, not to mention the pain and constitutional destruction, note how mild the questions are:

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/citizenship-bill-is-intended-to-address-partition-related-fallout-ram-madhav/article30289943.ece?homepage=true

There is no challenge from the interviewer. Senior journalist Samrat provides the proper challenge on Twitter with this tweet in response to the interview and RSS ideologue Ram Madhav’s assertion that this bill addresses “Partition-related fallout”: “Partition related fallout was in 1947, which was 72 years ago, and up to 1971, which was 48 years ago. Those people who were affected are either here as citizens, or dead.”

The Bangladesh foreign minister has cancelled his visit, the Bangladesh Assistant High Commissioner’s car was attacked in Guwahati.

Questions that the media needs to ask therefore is what was this for: what did the BJP-led government hope to achieve other than furthering their Hindutva agenda and how are they going to fix the disaster that now stares India in the face.

There are lies being spread by Amit Shah, as ever:

https://thewire.in/rights/watch-shahs-speech-in-rs-contradicts-modi-govts-official-statements-apcc-chief

But the most important question of all, which drowns all others is: where is the Prime Minister of India? There some smirking that Narendra Modi has left everything to his deputy, Amit Shah. But that is a cop-out explanation for any journalist to accept. Modi’s government has once more brought India to the brink of disaster, if not already pushed us over. What does Modi have to say about this?

I have not bothered to watch television, I must confess. Those debates will only increase anger and frustration and spread hatred. This is not the time for that, when our future as a nation is at risk but it is hard to trust our colleagues in television to put journalistic ethics ahead of the desire for fame by creating drama and stoking tensions.

I sincerely hope that I am completely and utterly and totally wrong on this, but…

This Telegraph’s editorial comment on the CAB and the disaster ahead:

https://www.telegraphindia.com/opinion/tryst-with-a-new-chilling-destiny/cid/1726295?ref=editorials_opinion-page

Sometimes, there are words of hope, people who stand against fascist bigotry. This is Indian Nobel Laureate Venkataraman Ramakrishnan:

https://www.telegraphindia.com/india/india-taking-a-wrong-turn-were-not-pakistan-venkatraman-ramakrishnan/cid/1725876?ref=trending-stry-1

 

**

In other news, equally horrific, the Indian economy. The Index of Industrial Production has contracted again:

https://www.bloombergquint.com/business/india-iip-data-industrial-production-contracts-38-in-october

Put that together with all the other calamitous figures on GST, exports, currency, inflation, interest rates, sluggish consumer figures, there is not much hope. All this you will mainly read from the pink papers, if at all.

In a normal world, ha ha, CAB and the economy would battle for the front pages, for debates, with calls for heads to roll. Right now, the only heads rolling are those of citizens.

 

 

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