Ranjona Banerji: What if Trump was PM of India? How would Indian media react?

28 Jul,2020

By Ranjona Banerji


The President of the United States, Donald Trump, boasted in a television interview to his favourite Fox News how well he had done in a cognitive ability test, usually given to people to check for first signs of dementia. Trump was exceedingly proud that he had managed to remember these words: “person, woman, man, camera tv” in that order, up to 25minutes after he first repeated them.

According to his normal hyperbolic self-praise, almost no one can remember these words in that exact order and the fact that he had proved his genius.

What happened next?

Let’s imagine for a minute that Donald Trump is the Prime Minister of India.

Republic TV: Would Rahul Gandhi fail this test? Explosive debate tonight!

Times Now: Breaking News: Hindus no longer in danger as Trump aces memory test!

The Print: Masterstroke by Trump! Whole world appreciates Trump’s memory genius!

India Today TV: Trump proves how great he is! Can Rahul Gandhi match him?

Indian Express Explained: What does “person woman man camera tv” mean?

Add any media outlet you want with a mix and match.

Barring a very few, perhaps The Telegraph, Wire, Scroll, sometimes The Hindu all we will see is gushing praise for our PM Trump.

What did the American media do, since this really happened?

The Week explains how Fox and Friends spun the president’s interview. If you chop up the gushing reactions to Trump, you get about 90 per cent of what the Indian media would have done had Trump been the PM of India:



However, Trump was continuously and consistently mocked by the rest of the American media, by comedians, by commentators. This link is from The Indian Express, carefully chosen, since The Indian Express would not have done this had Trump been Prime Minister of India:


The Huffington Post which does some excellent reportage on the misdemeanours of the ruling regime in India has made this compilation of the roasting which Trump received:


Thus we can see that the Indian media is extremely brave and funny and scathing when it comes to world leaders, their gaffes and their lies. But when it comes to India… well, well, well.

The only way you can receive similar treatment in India from the mainstream media is if you are a member of an opposition party. Then you can guarantee there will be plenty of ripping, roasting, mocking, scoffing and whatever else.

Yes, there’s an election coming up in the USA. But Trump is still President. As much as there was mocking, there is fury over the brutal behaviour of the police and other agencies against Black Lives Matter protestors in Oregon and other part so the USA. Most of the American media has not shied away from presenting what has happened. There have been debates, varying points of view and anger. But the main attempt of the media has not been to shield Trump from his administration. You do not need to go further back in time than the Delhi riots earlier this year to see how most of the Indian media covered up for the Centre.

Take a look at the state of India. Covid -19 infection figures rising daily by frightening amounts. And Prime Minister Narendra Modi lying whenever he discusses the virus, about how well we’re doing.

Take a look at the economy. Is there anything to say, really?

Take a look at the border situation with China, now stretching apparently from Ladakh to Himachal to Kashmir to Arunachal and possibly to Uttarakhand? In any order you want to. And the lies which Modi and his government have blithely spread out about India’s reaction and strategy, largely uncontested by the majority of the Indian media.

Since we’ve fallen into a sort of lethargy of acceptance helped by a media which has abdicated all responsibility there is perhaps nothing left to say but person woman man camera tv and then pat ourselves on the back for a job well done.


Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist and commentator. She is also Consulting Editor, MxMIndia. Her views here are personal. She tweets at @ranjona

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