Chanakya Pandit says that out of the two- a snake and an envious person- the envious person is more dangerous than the snake because a snake can be subdued by herbs or charmed by mantras but an envious person cannot be. No one can deny that many news agencies in India hate India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and almost all of us know that their hate is money driven.
Sadly, some news agencies have stooped so low that they do not hesitate to present even a visible success of Modi government as a failure. Deliberately ignoring rational opinions they twist every word and story to blaspheme India’s arguably most popular, most efficient and most hard-working Prime Minister. These news agencies seem to have lost even basic integrity that journalism demands.
The worst part is, always eager to find faults in Mr Modi, at times they put even national security at risk. The question is, do they realize that their actions amount to anti-national activities? And what about those journalists who write for such news agencies? Do they also not know that journalism has its own ethical boundaries and that their greed-driven or fear-driven write-ups are misleading innocent people?
Their deceitful thought process and misguiding ability become increasingly visible before every election. Prior to India’s parliamentary elections 2014 we saw a tirade against Mr Modi by several news agencies. But the people of India landed a crushing blow to anti-Modi propaganda makers and elected Modi with a historical majority. Similarly, in one of the most shameful examples of journalism, the US media went wild trying to stop Donald Trump from ascending to the White House, but Trump was elected nonetheless. What does this show?
Last year when NDTV of India was engaged in spreading anti-Modi sentiments at the cost of India’s national security, the government administration had to penalize it. Likewise, in order to create anti-Trump sentiments, a few reputable news agencies like CNN, New York Times, BBC, Guardian and others allegedly resorted to fake news, so much so that they were blocked by the Trump administration in a White House briefing. Although banning news agencies can be dangerous for a democracy, letting them do whatever they want to in the name of freedom of expression is even more dangerous and must be curbed.
The recent election results in India. especially in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarkhand is another slap on the faces of paid news and unethical journalism. Keeping an eye on Indian news agencies, which are hand in glove with western news agencies, reveals that they worked hard to help non-BJP parties succeed in Uttar Pradesh elections. Some of the news articles published by them hardly had any merits. When even an illiterate person was able to say how Modi wave will again sweep Uttar Pradesh, some news agencies tried to present an opposite image.
There could be two reasons for their bizarre predictions; 1) they were paid to make wrong predictions, 2) they were defacto ignorant of what was coming. While the first reason is outright unethical, boasting about things we do not know is far from professionalism. In effect, both the reasons are unacceptable. The results spoke for themselves.
Here is a classic example of how political parties bank on their media connections to win elections and how smart voters frustrate them:
“According to an article in Mint published on January 8, 2013, “In the aftermath of the 2009 general elections, a news report by Rediff.com cited Congress MP Kapil Sibal as saying that over 150 media publications were owned by individuals affiliated with the Congress party. The report said that with the impressive win under its belt, the Congress party would activate this machinery to ‘carve a legend out of Rahul within a decade.’ ” (Source)
But we saw what they carved out of Rahul in 2014; a shattering defeat of Congress party. Political parties need to learn that paid news agencies are not going to impress people any more the way it did pre-Modi days. Be it minorities, women empowerment, youths, farmers, backward class, or the poor, they are no more willing to be the vote banks for political parties.
Similarly, news agencies also must realize that hiring people to write politically motivated news and analysis will not go long way. The recent results we see in different elections held across India show that voters are getting smarter and won’t buy all that newspapers and TV channels sell. This is positive.
If democracy is for the people and by the people, then bias news agencies must not be allowed to govern it. After all, out of the four pillars of democracy, Media is considered only one, the rest three being the Executive (government), the Legislature (Parliament and state assemblies), and the Judiciary.
Being neutral does not mean losing the sense of right and wrong. It is the tactic used these days to stamp an individual as bias as soon as he or she utters positive of any particular political party or leader. Such tactics keep intellectuals from honestly expressing their opinion. In fact, an independently intelligent person, called a brahmana (not the caste brahmanas), does not hesitate to express his opinion, no matter how unpopular, especially when it is in the public interest. Intellectuals, including the so-called Nobel laureates and national award winners, are not really intelligent if they sell their opinion for strengthening political ties or public reputation.
If the anti-Modi news agencies do not learn this lesson, which is needed to revive the glorious days of Indian media post emergency and pre-UPA era, they are most likely to find themselves losing the ground at an increased rate. But still, we have a long way to go. There is a need to educate the masses that all that they read in newspapers and see on TVs is not trustworthy. If the Modi government can provide this education without discrimination, it can prove to be a great service to the nation as smart and well-informed voters are the most important key to a successful democracy.