With the Lok Sabha elections coming up, news channels play a huge role in shaping the perspectives of those who avail their services. With all the debates taking place at 9 pm sharp, most of the urban population are glued to their television screens, not hoping to see a constructive debate about policy or the socio-economic matters that this country faces. Instead, they witness politicians baying for blood as they try to rip each other to shreds by calling out past mistakes or hurling abuses and claiming that the other is ‘anti-national’ for questioning the actions of the government. The news channels meanwhile thrive on this. Their viewership and advertisement revenue closely tied to each other, there is no reason for them to stop this.
There is however a larger issue at hand, an issue about the free press not being free anymore – loss of autonomy or the lack of it since the channel’s inception. Take, for example, Republic TV, one of its main investors being Rajeev Chandrashekhar, a Rajya Sabha MP of BJP and the vice-chairman of the Kerala wing of Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition National Democratic Alliance. Now let’s go through the debates Republic TV has been having over the past few days. It has been constantly either trying to reduce the credibility of the Congress and its leaders or promoting the ruling party’s recent endeavours or worst of all, playing the role of judge and jury in calling citizens as ‘anti-national’
Many channels are biased mouthpieces of the government while some are forced to keep quiet or risk being raided. In some cases, unfortunately, threats to life are made to those brave enough to highlight the real plight and condition of the country. Barkha Dutt has been given countless death threats on twitter and in other forms. How can one expect the media to operate in a non-biased or unfrightened manner? How can they highlight the farmer’s distress, scams by politicians and the various other problems of our country? The situation is so bad that the average news-watcher still does not see the agrarian distress as a major country issue(probably because it hasn’t been covered much) but will know all about how India is ready for ‘space warfare’.
A certain biased narrative is being spread – apart from a few news-channels – the once great watchdog of democracy has become a lap-dog of the corporations that run it and the government who wishes to spew its propaganda to the masses, hoping to regain power once again.
The situation is so bad that the average news-watcher does not see the agrarian distress as a major country issue but will know all about how India is ready for ‘Space Warfare’.
Most of the people who do engage with the television debates do it for the entertainment factor it provides. Watching big names go at it on the screen, insulting and poking fun at each other has become everyone’s time pass or topic for discussion. Talk about any political rally speech will mostly be focused on either how the politician insulted the opposition party, or any other noise-worthy statement made. Take, for example, the recent “Mein
While this does provide entertainment to the masses, it also disconnects them from the true reality of politics and gives a very parochial understanding of what politics is. Their understanding is limited to the squabbles of the politicians making them further wanting to disengage from the field of politics. According to a recent Centre of Studies of Developing Societies survey, only 34% of the youth had an interest in politics. While the rest had dwindling interest, 46% had no interest. Hence, most of the youth of our generation is not interested in politics, calling it a waste of time and thus allowing those in power to carry on their nepotism and operate unquestioned and unchallenged.
When people decide to leave the television and move to a different information source, they go to social media. Social media has however been infiltrated and fake news is rampantly spreading. The situation is so bad that foreign news channels like the BBC planned to provide special coverage relevant to India, putting forward their solutions to the fake news crisis.
While this does provide entertainment to the masses, it also disconnects them from the true reality of politics
The BJP IT cell has been notorious when it comes to spreading propaganda and fake news. Focused on spreading hate-filled messages in order to mock/discredit opposition leaders or stoke communal tensions to use to their advantage, the IT-cell forwards thousands of messages through WhatsApp and has multiple accounts on Twitter and Facebook. From reports about false military developments, religious matters, Ram
The voters have to look beyond the Whatsapp messages, fights on television, communally charged speeches and the last-minute announcements. It is only us who can oust the fascist politicians currently in the seats of power. Violence and poverty are only two of the many problems that have drastically worsened since the rule of BJP. Adding to that list attempts to distract the people by glorifying the supposed attacks in Pulwama and investing in statues and what-not. The politicians must learn to fear the voters as they previously did, for in a democracy such as India those who put you in places of power, can also remove them.
Featured Image Source: The Quint