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Published in the 1-15 Nov 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Ignore us not 

Through this column I would like to use the idiom which Dr. Karan Singh once used as India’s ambassador to the US for evoking media’s attention to India and Indians. The write up was aptly entitled “Please Dont’ Ignore Us”. It’s a coincidence that this year Navratra and Ramadan have started around the same time. Whereas, rightfully, on every TV channel special segments are incorporated on Navratra celebrations but not a word is heard or seen about observance of Ramadan in India by 138 million Muslims. The biggest ever observance of a religious practice by any community is Ramadan when Muslims across the globe for a full month not only remain fasting from dawn to dusk but try to imbibe and practice piety and sharing during this month. I don’t blame the entertainment channels which may not find anything sellable in Ramadan but twenty four hours news channels can very well adjust the need of their Muslim viewers by at least announcing the timings of sehri (fast beginning) and Iftar (time for breaking the fast). Except Etv Urdu, no Indian channel has any broadcast for Ramadan. Interactive programs on Pakistan’s ARY and QTv get many Ramadan-related queries form Indian viewers. Ironically these very news channels blame politicians using Muslims as votebank. At times misplaced treatment is somewhat better than complete overlook of the religious needs of the second largest community of India by the electronic media. Like Indian movies, Indian TV channels are watched all over the world. Watching the TV channels completely bereft even of tokenism to streaks of composite culture would certainly send wrong signals about India’s ethos of accommodation and the presiding motto of unity in diversity. 

Mehmood M. Abdi, Mumbai

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