CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

“Social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex” - Karl Marx

OPINION


MODI REGIME’S VISION FOR MEDIA INVOLVES TOTAL ALIGNMENT


It could be a tricky 2021 for those who practice play-it-safe journalism. For over six years—ever since the BJP came to power—many indulging in this dubious craft (opinion writers included) have been treading the tricky middle path where even mild criticism of the ruling dispensation is carefully calibrated without crossing the Laxman Rekha to ensure no displeasure is invoked.

  But time may be running out for such journos. Reports in the press reveal the recommendations of a Group of Ministers (GoM). It has called for “evolving a multipronged strategy to amplify messages through media engagement, outreach programmes at the level of states and districts, and working with influencers.”

  Reading between the lines one can safely assume that this PR exercise would end up with the government covertly demanding nothing short of total allegiance from those who wish to be in its favoured category of “friendly reporters, editors and influencers”. The new “communication thrust” will no doubt shrink the already diminished grey area further. And this will result in many more journos lending their services to one-sided journalism favouring the government and justifying all its actions.  

Ordinary reporters may be compelled to do so to hold on to their jobs. Many newspaper managements are clear that they do not want strong anti-government stories. A few reports against the so-called fringe elements in the BJP and minor policy decisions are tolerated. But those who venture further risk being side-lined, or, worse, asked to resign to facilitate “restructuring” of the organisation that employs them.  

Those who would rather quit than become a PR arm of the establishment have one option—go silent or write for alternative websites which welcome their reportage. The number of such journalists have grown in the last few years and 2021 will see many more joining the tribe.   

Of course, those in the mainstream will still be encouraged to prove their journalistic mettle by attacking and exposing the Opposition, particularly the Congress. The grand old party, thanks to rebellion in its ranks, electoral failures and the capricious functioning of Rahul Gandhi has been a favourite target. It is even occasionally questioned on the failures of the ruling party, almost as if it is in power. But far too many anti-stories against one party and lampooning its leader, have rendered this journalistic exercise predictable and repetitive.   

Perhaps the same micro-targeting of other opposition parties may be the next step as journalists and commentators continue their “good work” for the government. However, one understands that the establishment is now looking for fresh voices to endorse its governance and to attack the Opposition. In this effort, the GoM recommends employing the services of out-of-work journalists. The objective, a journalist tells me, could be to propagate not just a Congress-mukt Bharat but an Opposition-mukt India.   

Defanging political forces standing in the way of the government is one thing, but what about heaping praise on those in power? The BJP would like its court poets to further sweeten their verses. They cannot get away by merely rubbishing the Opposition. Or by subtly advancing a “balanced” thesis that despite all his flaws, there is no alternative to Modi.   

As journalists, we are already familiar with thinly-disguised PR pieces which have already appeared as “think” pieces using stock phrases like “give the devil its due” and “at the end of the day this is a step in the right direction.” Some editors/opinion writers have even gone so far as to project an Assembly election result as the endorsement of policies implemented at the national level.   

But pushing the envelope further and blindly applauding the BJP may be difficult for “liberals” who would not like to lose their standing as commentators with an “unprejudiced” view. Also, to be taken seriously in forums and universities abroad, while still pleasing a regime at home which has scant respect for human rights will be the challenge of 2021.   

Indeed, maintaining a façade of being secular and democratic may be difficult. But even at the risk of losing credibility, some “influencers” and editors will make compromises to show their allegiance to those in power. We have already seen some honourable gentlemen go out on a limb and say that too much democracy is bad for reforms. Implying that what is required is a supine republic and a media that will ask no questions.  

There has been a string of issues on which the press has not discharged its role as a watchdog. On a range of issues—from Aadhaar and anti-CAA protests to Kashmir, China and the pandemic—sections of the press have silently presented the government’s narrative without raising any significant questions. Others have carried fake news without any fact checks and drawn up report cards favouring BJP chief ministers.   

The latest example of one-sided journalism is the farmers’ agitation. The media has been guilty of portraying lakhs of agitating farmers as rich and not deserving our sympathy. And opinion writers have been presenting the view that only privatisation can save rural India. In fact, they would have us believe that every businessperson in a suit and a fancy car is full of noble intentions and has only the best interests of the nation in mind. Any minor lapses on their part such as the mega loan defaults must be written off with taxpayer’s money since these were risks taken to boost the economy!  

With the next general elections due only in May 2024, expect more such opinions thrown at you from “fresh” and converted “influencers.” Also, some compliant journalist friends, rendered unemployed during the pandemic, are likely to be placed in media organisations or compensated for being active on social media where they will lend their name to government-friendly reportage, posts and tweets.  

As for the “liberals” who pleaded the case for voting Modi in 2014 and changed their tune since, the new year offers a chance to “redeem” themselves and join the band of government influencers and be close to those in power. To justify the U-turn to their 2014 position, the cliche “we must change with the new reality” will come in handy.  

Real journalists, however, have their work cut out. Though they have been excluded from the mainstream, they must continue to raise questions and keep the public informed. This is a task they have been dedicated to in the past even when the UPA was in power. Also, publications and websites bold enough to carry reports that hold the government to account must be encouraged and supported.  

Propaganda alone cannot fool people for ever. Perhaps the only silver lining one can hope to see in 2021 is the realisation among a growing number of people that the so-called truths being fed to them are falsehoods. Luckily, such a realisation has become more pronounced after the farmers’ agitation has exposed the real intentions of the government.   

The writer is a senior journalist and author. The views are personal    

OPINION

  • River in a 'Court of Law' - Legal issues pertaining to its personality
  • Syria: A Testament To International Moral Bankruptcy
  • When the State Sought to Muzzle Privacy, U-Turn Now Only to Accommodate SC Verdict
  • The Bull in A China Shop Wrecks Indian Economy
  • When Buddha Looks The Other Way: The Plight Of The Rohingya
  • A Fatal Blow to The Judiciary
  • The Dramatic Rise in Wealth Inequality
  • Wild And Baseless Speculations of Crisis in the CPI(M)
  • Budget 2018: Fantabulous Schemes With Not A Paisa Earmarked
  • Kasganj: Sankalp Foundation and the Politics of Hate
  • PM Modi Sounds the Election Bugle: Congress and Hindutva the Agenda for 2019 Polls
  • The US Game Plan in Syria
  • Both Nehru and Patel Were the Need of the Hour in 1947-48
  • The Battle of the Two Begums of Bangladesh
  • Why Bangladesh Matters
  • Kejriwal's Apology is Not What the Media Claims
  • Arrest of a '5-minute Dalits' Proves Why SC/ST Act Dilution Will Grossly Impact Real Dalits
  • The Dalits and the Law
  • Winners May Be Losers In Karnataka's Catch 22 Endgame
  • Jinnah and the BJP
  • Jawaharlal Nehru (Nov 14 1889- May 27, 1964): We Still Live In A House That Nehru Built
  • Implications of Trump-Kim Summit: Nuclear Pays!
  • Thomas Reuters Foundation Survey: Measuring Safety, Generating Outrage
  • ROADMAP TO A CEASEFIRE: AFGN - PAK
  • What Are People Voting for?
  • Foreign Policy: A Double Whammy Awaits India
  • Changing Discourse
  • Assam: The Mythology of "Immigrants"
  • Imran Time is Here
  • 71 Years on, Forsty Relations Countinue
  • To Stop Climate Change, We Need to Open Bordera
  • Make Use of Bid to Postpone Provincial Elections
  • Cringing and Fuddled at 71
  • Ensuring Strident Voice Will Not Become Majority Voice
  • Nehru, Vajpayee and Modi
  • Religious Bias Okayed
  • The Oslo Accords: A Bloody Legacy of Betrayal
  • Crushing the Campus
  • Three Stories And Task of The Office Of Missing Person
  • Drama Over Indo-Pak Meeting
  • An ill Wind
  • Symbolic Actions Alone Are Insufficient For Long Term Change To Occur
  • If Democracy Subverts Itself
  • Returning Land to Civilians is a Promise That Needs Follow Up
  • Democracy In Crisis: What we Know and What we Don't
  • Reparations Office Can Bind The Nations Together
  • Implementation Challenges Facing The Ayushman Bharat Program
  • Subverting the Central Bank
  • Under the Yoke of New-Imperialism: A Fake War of Patriotism and Treason
  • India Joins the Club
  • The Third Phase
  • President is Best Situated to Resolve Political Crisis
  • No Country for Adventure: Challenges Extreme Sports Athletes Face in India
  • Setting A Perilous Political Precedent
  • What Rahul and Modi can do in the Next Four Months
  • Finding a Win-Win Solution to Break the Deadlock
  • Temple in the Age of Colliders
  • Four Parameters of a Political Solution at This Time
  • Resolve National Question With President's Support
  • Decapitating the Leadership
  • Four Takeaways From the 2018 Election
  • Science of Words
  • The Ace up Modi's Sleeve
  • The Government Must Not Deny The TNA
  • The Prolonged Wait For Justice And For Political Leadership
  • Endgame in Afghanistan
  • Pluralist Ethos is More Relevant to National Identity
  • A Concerned Citizen's Points For Inclusion in The Manifesto of Political Parties
  • In My Own Voice: Circle of Unreason
  • RBI To The Rescue of Modi Government - It's Election Time!
  • Say No to War
  • A terrifying Fallout
  • The Type of Leadership The Country Needs
  • Death Wish as Nationalism
  • Politics on Kashmir Need Not be About Optics Alone
  • Why an Urban Job Guarantee Scheme is Not a Bad Idea
  • National Security: The New in 'New Normal'
  • Re-Promulgating an Ordinance is a Fraud on the Constitution
  • Elections 2019: India at a Crossroads
  • Peace and Inclusive Development
  • NYAY Providing Basic Income Fulfills the Vision of Mahatma Gandhi and Changed Election Narrative Based on Basic Issues
  • Advani Should Blame Himself For Promoting Modi
  • Kashmir: Tracing the Degeneration of Mainstream Politics
  • Elections and the Issue of Civil Liberties
  • Jumlanomics:Chronicles of a Post-Truth Bharat
  • BJP: Hiding Failures, Targeting Nehru
  • A Mayawati Moment
  • Godse is a Synonym of Hindu Nationalism, Agenda of the RSS Combine!
  • Development Beyond Numbers
  • A Rational Approach to Countering Extremist Violence is Needed
  • In My Own Voice: Is This the Sprit of Democracy?
  • Prevention is The Best Migration Cure
  • The Rise of Hate
  • The Right Mantras for India's Change
  • Coming Home - Where Family Overpowers All
  • Easter Sunday Bombing Used to Create a Major Rift in Sri Lankan Society
  • Hacking Humanity
  • Environmental Rule of Law in India
  • Peace is a Word That West Has Taken From Afghans
  • Trump's War Games
  • Modi & States
  • Who is an 'Outsider' in West Bengal?
  • China on Maps
  • 19th Amendment Will Correct Itself at End of President's Current Term
  • Authoritarianism and the Crisis of Public Ethics in India
  • Presidential Candidate The People Want
  • Has India's Kashmir Cape Given Pakistan Reason for War?
  • Icons and Ideology of Religious Nationalism
  • Why NRC in Assam May Create Another Kashmir
  • Campaign to Abolish the Executive Presidency in Sri Lanka is a Red Herring
  • As US Tries to Isolate Iran, China Steps In
  • Of Hindi and Hierarchy
  • Why Sri Lankan Elections May Bring Far Reaching Change
  • What US Policy Tells Us About India's Growing 'Friendship' With It
  • Gandhian Philosophy is a Critique of Modernity and Power
  • Inner Party Democracy is Just as Important as Funding
  • India's Foreign Policy Has Dug Itself a Deep Hole
  • 'Broken Promises' and Politics of Hate': Is Political Autonomy The Way Forward For J&K?
  • The Ninth Betrayal: America Has Let Down Khurd, Yet Again
  • Who Benefits From The WhatsApp Hacking Case?: Pertinent Question Left Unanswered
  • State Elections Results Expose "Limits" of BJP's Nationalist Agenda
  • "Religious Belief" vs. "Rule of Law": Did SC's Ayodhya Verdict Legalise Building of a Theocratic State?
  • What Does Trump's "New Refugee Ban" Mean for America's Immigrants?
  • India Must Change Course as Rajapaksas Return on Sinhala Buddhist Wave
  • The Supreme Court's First Judgment Without an Author
  • Geopolitics in South Asia Renders Millions Stateless
  • "Shakespeare's Vision of the Improbale" Unfolds: Is Modi Today's Macbeth?
  • Sri Lanka Under Rajapaksa: Finding Areas of Mutual Agreement
  • "The Game of Religion is Played by Men": Women Speak From the Margins of Ayodhya Dispute
  • Telangana Ecounter- Failure of Local Police Poses Grave Danger to Democracy
  • The Changing Nature of War and Diplomacy
  • Sri Lanka: Government's Cooperation A "Temporary Phenomenon"?
  • The Role of Corruption in This Season of Revolts
  • New Citizenship Law to a "Brazenly Divisive Agenda"
  • Youth Agitation Against CAA Brings a Historic Generational Shift
  • "Digital Authoritarianism": With Internet Shutdowns Normalised, the Digital Space is Democracy's New Battleground
  • Sri Lanka: The Challenge of Development Amidst Devolution of Power
  • The Political Divides that Split India
  • 'Never Again': Echoes of Nazi Crimes Remain Alive 75 Years After Auschwitz
  • "Legacy of Mutual Suspicion" Plagues Opponents of the Modi Regime
  • "Toxic" India Sliding into an Environmental Abyss
  • Manufacturing Hate: From Anurag Thakur's 'Shoot the Traitors' to Pistol-Bearing Youth's 'Yeh lo Azaadi!'
  • Kejriwal Isn't Communal, But His Desire Not to be Seen Anti-Hindu May Prove Self-Defeating
  • Religion States Won't Oppose US-Taliban Deal
  • Lessons From Pathogens: Coronavirus, A wake Up Call?
  • The Geopolitics of the Covid 19 Pandemic
  • Cold War Begins As Nations Fued Over Coronavirus
  • India Fights Coronavirus...With Scriptures, Morals and Police
  • The Burden of COVID 19
  • Do Israeli Settelemnts in Occupies West Bank Constitute a War Crime ?
  • The Global Debate on COVID-19 Lockdown: Listen to Divergent Scientific Voices or Risk Manipulation by Big Businesses?
  • Sri Lanka's Easter Bombings And The Demand For Justice
  • How India Can Solve the "Catch-22 Situation" of Allowing Migrant Workers to Return Home
  • The Time for Universal Basic Income Has Arrived
  • COVID-19 Crisis Exposes Fatal Weaknesses of 'Strong' Leaders
  • The Pandemic Has Taught Us the Importance of Maintaining an Ecological Balance, Will we Remember IT?
  • The Muslim Elite Has Let Down the Muslim Poor
  • "There is Nothing Nationalist or Non-Nationalist in Reporting"
  • Why WHO Took 3 Months to Declare a Global Pandemic
  • A Political Lockdown That Silences Voices
  • The 'Relief Package' of Online Education May End up "Institutionalising Drop Outs"
  • Can Democracy Survive the Coronavirus?
  • As China Ups the Ante, This is What India Must do...
  • Tackling Racism With Compassionate Reporting-CNN Leads The Way
  • Sri Lanka: Pluralism In Governance Required In The Absence of Parliament
  • Idia's Tactical Non-Solutions To China's Incursions in Ladakh
  • "At The Brink of A New Cold War": Sino-US Ties at a Crossroads
  • In Light of Rising Conservatism, Can The Personal be Political Again?
  • India-China: The Complete Breakdown of Trust, How and Why
  • Rethinking Development After Covid-19
  • The Pandemic Must Transform Our Agriculture
  • Treacherous Road to Make Manu History
  • The 'American Way of War' Is Built On A Foundation of Racism
  • Covid -19 And The Crisis of Education-An Insight
  • Governments That Preach Non-Violence Must Lead By Example
  • New Status of Hagia Sophia Signals The Death Of Secularism
  • Covid 19 and Furthering of Sectarian Agenda in Education
  • Biden's "Conventional" Approach vs Trump's "Whimsical" Handling of Foreign Policy
  • Why Arguments Against Reservation are Flawed
  • Curfew Welcomes One Year of Abrogations in Kashmir
  • Ayodha: What is BJP's Motive For Holding Ram Temple Ceremony Amid Pandemic?
  • New Education Policies of India And Pakistan Will Further Divide, Within and Without
  • Does India's Handling of China Make Sense?
  • Return of the Rajapaksas in Sri Lanka
  • An Independent Supreme Court Is a Must for Democracy
  • Does Rule of Law Trump Tide of Public Opinion?
  • UAE-Israel Deal Accelerating Fragmentation of West Asian Politics
  • Congress And Its "Unprecedented Political Challenge""
  • Does The 20th Amendment Threaten Pluralism in Sri Lanka?
  • Digital Hate, Now A Profitable Commodity
  • Rising Cases, Unemployment: Is India Ignoring Fears Stoked by the Pandemic?
  • Surging Pandemic, Slumping Economy - And the Crisis of Democracy
  • Anxious Leader, Passive Citizens and "Criminalised" Governance
  • Parliamentary Session Merely A "Notice Board" For Government Decisions?
  • The Collapse of Democratic Institutions Under Majoritarian Rule
  • Mughal MUseum Rekindles Question of India's "Slavery""
  • Babri Masjid Demolition Case: Court Ignored Findings of Liberhan Commission
  • As Politics of Hate Takes Over, The Biggest Casualty is Compassion
  • Hathras: The Last Opportunity to Reflect
  • India Joining Ranks of Illiberal Democracies
  • Rising Uncertainties May Lead to Election Chaos in The us
  • 'Secularism': A Dirty Word
  • Is Bihar Tired of Nitish Kumar Rule?
  • In Crisis: India Now A 'Pale Shadow of Former Self'
  • Economy VS. People: Differences Between US and China's Response to Covid-19
  • Trupm is Gone But Trumpian Populism Lives on
  • Bihar's Silent Voters: Explaining the BJP-JDU Alliance
  • How Many X-Factors Can an Election Take? Many, it Seems
  • Objectivity and Fascism
  • Is The Saudi Kingdom Moving Towards Recognising Israel?
  • Asaduddin Owaisi: An 'Exasperating Opponent' For Right,Left, And Centre
  • 'Do Not Trifle With the Peasantry'
  • Is Modi's Popularity on the Decline?
  • Farmer's Agitation: A Spoke in The Wheel For BJP's Hindutva Strategy?
  • Maleeha Lodhi
  • A DYSFUNCTIONAL PARLIAMENT: POLITICAL COMPETITION LEADING TO THE DEMISE OF DISCUSSION AND DEBATE
  • Shaheen Bagh and the Farmers Protests, the Urban and the Rural
  • WILL US RUSSIA ESCALATE MILITARY TENSIONS?
  • A CASE OF ‘TOO MUCH’ OR TOO LITTLE DEMOCRACY?
  • MODI REGIME’S VISION FOR MEDIA INVOLVES TOTAL ALIGNMENT
  • FASCISM REARS ITS HEAD, A NEW THREAT FOR THE BIDEN PRESIDENCY
  • RIGHT TO PROTEST: PUBLIC MEETINGS A “TRADITION OF OUR NATIONAL LIFE”
  • Biden is Shifting Leftward?
  • The handmaiden of capitalism
  • ‘Lose a Battle to Win the War’- Kisan Leaders
  • People’s Power!
  • The Peasants Movement Constitutes a Major Crisis for Corporate Capital
  • Democracy Crumbles Under Central Push to Control NCT
  • Overzealous Crackdown in Jaffna Adds to Divide
  • Ambedkar and the Writing of History
  • ISRAEL'S METAMORPHOSIS FROM DAVID TO GOLIATH
  • UN PANEL PROPOSES ACTIONS TO PREVENT FUTURE PANDEMICS
  • ‘Outright Attack on the Land Rights of the People of Lakshadweep’
  • Biden Under Pressure to Harness Israel
  • THE POLITICAL JOURNEY OF MAMATA BANERJEE
  • A Public Health Necessity Gives Birth to Billionaires
  • THE END OF NETANYAHU AND ABBAS
  • This is No Time For Competition
  • WE ARE CREATING IDEAL CONDITIONS FOR FURTHER VIRUS EVOLUTION
  • THE IRAN HARDLINER WHO COULD HELP BIDEN
  • TALIBAN IN COMMAND AS US DOWNSIZES IN AFGHANISTAN
  •