War of words on China

02 Jun,2020

 

By Ranjona Banerji

 

Events overtake the news. And some media houses work as hard as they can to ignore those events. So: Is China inside Ladakh or not and has Nepal included bits of Indian territory in their new maps of Nepal? The answers depend on how nationalistic you feel at the moment.

 

Times Now, part of the venerable old lady of Boribunder, whose owner once began the Aman ki Asha initiative claiming that the might of Bennett Coleman gave it the power to push for peace with Pakistan regardless of Indian government policy, appears to want war or military action of some sort. However, being more nationalistic than informed or perhaps being completely diabolical, Times Now seems to want some sort of action against Pakistan for China’s entry into Ladakh. Or have I misread star anchor Navika Kumar’s declamation that the PLA or “Pakistan Liberation Army” has entered into Ladakh. In some parts of the world, the PLA is China’s People’s Liberation Army. But if you are part of an Indian nationalistic entertainment channel, then obviously Pakistan plays a role in any incursion into Indian territory, including evidently commandeering and renaming the Chinese Army.

 

Rahul Kanwal, Big Chief of India Today TV, however took another line. He tweeted that we should not push for war and that diplomacy is the answer and why not be patriotic and boycott Chinese products and/or China. This is a line completely at odds with India Today TV’s normal behaviour where Kanwal’s counterpart goosesteps across the studio wearing a camouflage vest. I have forgotten his name. Fill in whatever you think is appropriate.

 

Sudhir Chaudhary, Emperor of Zee, DNA, WION and such, took to Twitter to berate liberals for not being angry enough at China’s behaviour. Liberals, as is well-known, run the country and take all major decisions in government.

 

My interpretation is that the Narendra Modi government is confused about what to do and has not sent out a clear message to its pets in the entertainment media. Each therefore has put its own spin on the silence. TimesCow has blamed Pakistan, India Today TV wants to play this softly softly and Zee’s going for the meaningless target of liberals.

 

Obviously, none of them are going to question the Government of India. Ha ha ha. What a splendidly wonky idea that, for a bunch of TV showponies.

 

The print media on the whole has just sidestepped the whole issue. There are many other things to “news” about. China, Nepal? These things happen. Move on.

 

Given the huge and mounting job losses in the media – Hindustan Times being the latest to take a hacksaw through their newsrooms – the tragedy will be that the reader will get even less news than before. “Blood bath” is how most people in the know have termed the latest cuts. Apparently 27 per cent of employee strength across departments in HT and including Mint, has been cut. Many senior journalists say they retired or left of their own accord. The ‘no smoke without fire’ adage is being applied here by other journalists: how come so many decide to quit or retire voluntarily at exactly the same time as others have been sacked? Whatever the reason though, the loss is to quality journalism and quality newspapers.

 

Network 18 has taken the other, more sensible route in bad times, of salary cuts of 10 per cent, with those higher up the gravy train taking bigger cuts. This is a far more humane way of coping with the current economic crisis than job cuts. When times are better, these newspapers will rehire and usually cheaper. So many who have lost their jobs in a bad market will remain adrift.

 

Life and payments are bad for freelancers usually and even worse now. There were times when senior editorial staff would speak up against such a management decision. However, I fear that senior editors are now part of such management games.

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In all this doom and gloom, because the virus has not stopped and the economy remains awful and the government is still lying about migrants and the courts are not helping, some sharp satire from The Onion about the ongoing crisis in the USA after the murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis (on that, next time). ‘Protestors criticized for looting businesses without forming equity firm first’: how do you beat that???

https://www.theonion.com/protestors-criticized-for-looting-businesses-without-fo-1843735351

 

Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist and commentator. She is also Consulting Editor, MxMIndia. Her views here are perso

 

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