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Published in the 16-31 Dec 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

From RSS with hate

By Ayub Khan

No one can argue with the fact that the ethnic Indian media in Canada (print as well as broadcast) is way below the professional standards. Incompetence and plagiarism are rampant in this business (yes it is a business) which meets the classic definition of the yellow press. But this is not limited to Indo-Canadian press alone and not all newspapers or broadcast programs fall in this category. The Indian community in Canada is still growing and the day is not far when it will have a media of which it can be genuinely proud of. The growing interest of young Indo-Canadians in pursuing careers in journalism indicated towards this trend. Before that can happen, however, there are some serious issues which need to be addressed. While the community continues to ignore this problem, one Mohan Lal Gupta has offered his critique. Curiously enough the article titled "Indian media of Canada" was published in the November 7th issue of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh publication, The Organiser.

Gupta complains that most of the Indian broadcasters use many English and Urdu words in their programs and this according to him is a problem. In his opinion the best program in Toronto is "Bhajanawali" because: "When a Hindi sentence is spoken, there is no English or Urdu word used in it." He has somehow completely missed the Canadian concept of multi-culturalism. Also lost on him is the fact that Urdu is very much an Indian language born and bred in India and reflective of country’s composite culture. 

In his juvenile critique Gupta crosses all norms of decency. Labeling Darshan Sahota’s program as "worst" he writes : "The whole family knows no language properly. His daughter does not speak a single word of Hindi/Punjabi. When she is on the air, Darshan Sahota's programme truly becomes a programme of slave-mentality and meant for mentally slave people. The whole family is in the broadcasting business for more than 10 years. If they are presenting a programme in the name of Hindi, then at least these people should learn some proper Hindi. 

She must be understanding Hindi/Punjabi to some extent. She should encourage the audience to speak in Hindi to her, while she may speak in English. People who do not know English would know what is going on. The Sahota daughter has so far never made any attempt to speak in Hindi. Whenever there is any special programme or activity, then the programme is such that either the Hindi news is completely deleted or it is cut short, but Urdu news is never deleted or cut short. On Sunday one can hear only Urdu news, and there is no Hindi news. A person who puts himself and his family on sale—anything can be expected from him."

Darshan Sahota’s Geetmala Radio on Toronto’s CHIN network has its flaws and flaws there are many. But it is also a fact that his program is one of the most widely listened to program in Greater Toronto Area and does offer some interesting programming. The program can be improved by offering more informative programming which can be of benefit to new immigrants, students and the youth and featuring interviews and other segments which are not influenced by advertising. But all these are no issues at all for Gupta whose only issue is that of the never ending Urdu-Hindi debate. 

By indulging in cheap smear attacks and name calling Gupta has also laid bare his bigotry against some specific Indian communities. He thinks that Hindi is read by Hindus only. Here is how he narrates a story: "Some years ago I was travelling on a train. At one station, a Sikh companion got down from the train and bought about 20 Hindi magazines. I was surprised that being a Sikh, he bought Hindi magazines and secondly, I wondered why he had bought so many Hindi magazines. He told me he worked in Tamil Nadu where he could not buy Hindi magazines, therefore, he had bought so many magazines, which would last him for three or four months. To the question, why he had bought only Hindi magazines, he replied that Punjabi magazines are confined to Punjab only. What to say of world events, Punjabi magazines even do not cover national events. Moreover looking at the size of the Punjabi magazines, they do not provide the money's worth."

If Gupta is surprised at a Sikh buying Hindi magazines imagine his shock when he sees a Muslim or Christian doing the same. People usually think that immigrating to Canada makes them tolerant and open-minded. But Gupta’s article proves that this is not always the case. In today’s globalized world, not only does hate travel but it also immigrates. It also reports back to the home country. 

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