Ranjona Banerji: Furthering one man’s ego above the lives of millions?

18 May,2021

Ranjona BanerjiBy Ranjona Banerji


It took Israel’s attack on a building in Gaza on May 16, which housed offices of Al Jazeera and the Associated Press for the western media and world to wake up to the extent of Israel’s hostilities against Palestine.


For some, this took the pernicious “both sides” argument out of the equation. Israel’s defence that it gave occupants an hour’s notice and that the building was also some kind of a Hamas headquarter has not been accepted.






The statement from AP president and CEO Gary Pruitt, after the attack, contains this chilling last line:


“The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today.”



Given that India is in the midst of its own massive humanitarian crisis, the images and reports out of Gaza are all the more unbearable and heartrending. Many children have been killed by Israeli air strikes.






It has long been clear however that Israel’s rightwing government led by Benjamin Netanyahu has no concern about humanitarian needs or the lives of the innocent. As long as news agencies do not stop coverage of Israel’s latest atrocities, the world will know.


India, after some silence, has supported the “just Palestinian cause” with some caveats:





The damage done by Cyclone Tauktae presents some frightening photographs and articles of human loss and damage. However, nothing can match the continuing ravaging march of Covid-19 across our land. Every effort made, whether by governments or individuals, is not enough.


The Allahabad High Court used the phrase that is on the minds of many Indians when it comes to the government and Covid-19: we are at the mercy of god or “Ram Bharose”.



A telling indictment of the terrible mess that we are in.


The Modi government’s relentless publicity exercise to protect Modi from any criticism appears to be its main policy to deal with Covid-19. The images of death have not stopped because death has not stopped. The articles about vaccine centres shutting are because there are no vaccines across India. The reports of people dying because hospitals have run out of oxygen is because hospitals have run out of oxygen.


We know all this because now large sections of the media tell us what is happening.


However, is it not about time that some newsrooms stop hiding behind the fig leaf of “Opposition said/accused” when pointing out the various deficiencies of the Narendra Modi government when it comes to Covid-19? The massive discrepancies in the official death rates and what emerges from districts and rural centres is not because the Opposition said so, but because reporters, photographers and non-government agencies have done the legwork and found out.


That rural India has been crippled by rising cases is known because some newsrooms have investigated how desperate the situation is. Which the courts have acknowledged.


It is now criminal for media houses to carry on helping Modi’s publicity machine without question. This means they have put one man’s ego above the lives and deaths of millions of Indians.


And they diminish the lives of all those of the community lost to Covid-19:



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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