Analysis

Bias is a core characteristic of Indian media

In the pre-globalisation era the mainstream media was operated by its owners for the upperclasses and uppercastes to serve their objectives. In the seventies and earlier, it was pretty difficult for those who did not have connections with the rich and powerful to even get a job there.

Doordarshan, the first national electronic media, was an example of that. The TV news anchors were usually men and women who were sponsored by some high govt official.

I know of a few women from my family friends’ circle who became news anchors on Doordarshan in this manner, even though they had no background in journalism. Their news materials were written by others and they simply came on TV to perform as anchors. The written material though was controlled big-time by the Doordarshan bosses, who were always paying attention to what the ministers (mantris) wanted.

After the advent of globalisation in India in 1991, some big businessmen started new TV news channels as a line of business. Those new TV channels gave jobs to some journalism graduates without them being sponsored by the rich and powerful. But the dictation of the owners of the channels as to the subjects to be covered and making sure that the misdeeds of the big politicians were never spoken about, continued uninterrupted. Thus speaking about the violations and wrongs committed by the major parties, e.g., Congress, BJP, chief ministers of states, senior ministers has remained taboo.

The media went along with the abuse of religion, caste, money-power by the major political parties and their bosses. A clear example is the manner in which injustice, police brutality and bribery, practiced against religious and caste minorities by senior police and govt officials with impunity, has been totally ignored for 50 years now by the media. Most owners of the media (print and electronic) perpetuated this suppression of real news.

This collusion of media owners and big politicians has resulted in what we see today - massive loot of the nation’s resources by a few super-rich.

For the first time in the last one year some educated young people have started challenging this degeneration of various forums of society, mainstream media being one. And finally an ‘andolan’ has begun, encouraged by the unprecedented success of Aam Aadmi Party in the December 2013 Delhi state elections. Also surprisingly, AAP is holding fast to all its promises of integrity in politics and are boldly spurning pressures and enticements. The high courage, candour and integrity of AAP has made a large number of youth and others who are genuinely tired of this broad-based corruption of various forums of society in the country, support AAP enthusiastically.

However, AAP leaders need to remain calm and not get angry in the face of unfair media attacks and manipulation, and should not over-react, as Kejriwall did in Bangalore. Because the media and big party bosses are waiting for AAP to make the smallest mistakes, which they can blow up, and utilising their massive resources, spread across the country where most people are not literate and are easily persuaded by contrived reporting on TV channels. It is very encouraging to see so many IAS, IPS, private sector high officials take retirement from their prestigious jobs to join this “andolan”. It is not just an election, it is a wide-ranging movement.

The volunteers and leaders of this movement will face much hardship in the years to come because they are trying to remove many basic ills of polity that have accumulated for 66 years. 

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-30 April 2014 on page no. 11

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