Ranjona Banerji: Do we wait for annihilation

16 Apr,2021

Ranjona BanerjiBy Ranjona Banerji

Please, please tell me that India’s fabulously influential TV personalities are now going hammer and tongs at the Modi government for its extreme mismanagement of India’s Covid-19 second wave?

I jest of course. Although there are strong indications that the Indian print media and India’s digital media practise real journalism and some individual TV reporters have gone above and beyond, when it comes to our stars, what can one expect?

For one, blame the states. For another, carry on with promoting all this irresponsible government’s “Chanakya” political chicanery. Chanakya is in inverted commas because poor India’s oldest political scholar is regularly defamed with comparisons to the BJP’s Amit Shah.

Yes, sections of the media have done their job. And excellent jobs at that.

This article is from the wicked anti-national Scroll.in:

https://scroll.in/article/992172/india-played-down-new-mutant-covid-strains-to-avoid-panic-but-this-may-have-backfired

The Hindu’s Mahesh Langa reports on the situation in Gujarat:

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/coronavirus-situation-in-gujarat-is-turning-grimmer-by-the-day/article34321018.ece

More from the Scroll on the media in Gujarat, which is on a “warpath”.

https://scroll.in/article/992217/as-the-dead-pile-up-in-gujarat-the-states-media-is-on-a-warpath-with-the-government-over-covid-19

Of course, for TV “news” to go on a “warpath” against any BJP government is almost unconscionable for them. Their unbounded love is such that only very mild criticism and deflection is possible.

Across India, reporters inform us of mass cremations of people who died of Covid going on. The photographs are horrific. The result has been, in parts of UP for instance, for the state administration to cover up the crimination grounds with tin sheets. What you do not see does not happen and how convenient that is for our beloved TV anchors. This leaves them free to blame Uddhav Thackeray and Arvind Kejriwal for instance, while offering laddus and jalebis and get well soon messages to UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath aka Ajay Mohan Bisht, who is Covid positive.

As India’s death toll climbs scarily, The Print kindly informs us that while India is bad, Brazil is even worse.

https://theprint.in/world/covid-is-much-deadlier-in-brazil-than-india-and-no-one-knows-why/640694/

Hopefully, this keeps Bhakts happy that while India may have thousands of cases and who knows how many dead, thanks to Modi’s great governance, more Brazilians are dying.

Like here: Indians are dying too:\

https://science.thewire.in/health/indias-covid-19-story-goes-from-bad-to-worse-with-2-16-lakh-new-cases/

When do we reach the limit, the tipping point for India’s celebrity media? When these irresponsible, shameless, conscience-less anchors remember to do their basic job?

It is more than likely this will never happen. The coverage of the Kumbh Mela at Haridwar gives one clear indications. In spite of the event – where millions have gathered minus any protocols and cases are on a massive rise – channels like India Today felt that it was better to concentrate on the first day of Ramzan in Hyderabad. Why blame a Hindu event when can blame and defame Muslims instead?

Maybe because I cut my eyeteeth in journalism at Living Media, where we were really taught “gold standard” journalism, I feel especially angry with what India Today has become. But even if I had no connection, the manner in which this media group and most TV media groups vilified the Tablighi Jamaat last year is enough to enrage any journalist. And that these same anchors are willing to cover up the Covid disaster at Kumbh because it is a Hindu festival shows you the extent of the iniquity.

The biggest target for many of India’s “journalists” has been the Congress party’s Rahul Gandhi. Having successfully amplified the BJP nickname of “Pappu” for him (as in a dope), they have incessantly attacked him for everything he says and does. The same standards are not applied to either Narendra Modi or Union Home minister Amit Shah or anyone else in the BJP.

As it now turns out, Gandhi has been correct about Covid, among many other things. So we see a slight change in media coverage and social media reactions. As Swati Chaturvedi has pointed out here, Gandhi has been more right than wrong:

https://gulfnews.com/world/asia/india/rahul-gandhi-to-become-congress-boss-again-but-is-he-the-opposition-leader-india-needs-1.1593332872242

 

Sadly, for Modi and BJP fans within and without the media, it appears that good sense will never prevail. From the deaths of Muslims, Dalits, women, migrant workers and now large swathes of India’s populations, they have remained cheerleaders. It is Amit Shah who gleefully informed voters that ABP News might be with Mamata Banerjee now, but will shift allegiance to the BJP after the Bengal elections. ABP has not clarified on this.

I have now reached a stage where I believe that India’s society is not just evil, it is viler than in Nazi Germany.

Because, do not forget, large sections of the media continue to applaud the BJP strategy when it comes to the ongoing assembly polls, especially in Bengal.

I ask again: is there a tipping point? Or do we wait for annihilation?

Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist and commentator. She writes on MxMIndia every Tuesday and Friday. Her views here are personal

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