Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Journo's Jaundiced View: 100 days of Modi Sarkar


"The press in India is free, but co-operative, ” wrote John Kenneth Gaibraith once.

The truth of the matter is the Indian media also seeks "all kinds of cooperation" from the power that be!


As the nation, sickularists and ‘Modiban’ (read Narendra Modi admirers) debate 100 days of the Modi Sarkar, one is confronted with the possible idea that if Namo that is Modi did not exist, the country would have to invent him.
The analogy is not mine original as decades back an ardent observer of Chinese developments had written that: “If China did not exist, we would have to invent her”.
So, why this pompous flattery on the eve of mere 100 days in office by Prime Minister Modi?  

While the Congress and other opposition parties are finding fault with anything and everything, he and his government is doing; others find no faultline.
Opinions about Modi Sarkar are divided right across the spectrum.

At one end there is admiration for Modi’s pro-reforms agenda, muscular diplomacy and initiatives to build up investors’ confidence; at the other there is deeply repressive view of those who believe Modi is “harmful to a pluralist India” and that the country has already plunged into a verge of catastrophe and communal frenzy. 

On one dedicated day, a leading newspaper published columns of three noted anti-Modi opinion makers: Mark Tully, Karan Thapar and Ramchandra Guha. 
"The first 100 days of the Modi raj indicate that India doesn't have a listening prime minister. It is therefore possible, I believe, that he will become isolated from reality," Tully almost passed a judgement despite the fact that past is a testimony as in Gujarat, Modi was found to be most ear-on-ground neta. 

Karan Thapar was more emphatic in sharing his venom asking, "Has the BJP taken leave of its senses?" Guha similarly had his analysis on how incumbent Prime Minister is not sparing his rivals in his public outbursts! 
The basic lesson of journalism ‘B for Balance’ from the starting classroom: A, B, C was obviously missing. But who bothers?


Moreover, there is little to dispute that the media in the country or at least in the Lutyen’s city is particularly perturbed ever since the NDA-2 took over. 

At times, at the crowded press club and media centre, one often gets the impression that for journos, column writers and TV-show experts; a corrupt regime of UPA-2 was ‘better’ than NDA-2 under irreplaceable Narendra Modi.

The ‘gag’ order on ministers from the PMO has left the journalists baying for blood of Modi, who incidentally is commanding good respect even from ally ministers like Ram Vilas Paswan. 

The silent of ministers and seldom off the record briefings and news-plantations for select media persons has only exposed the so called ‘efficacy of Delhi’s fourth estate’.

“Why there is no briefing for cabinet meetings?” is often heard oneliner these days in the corridors of power.

In the process, the efficient army of Delhi’s journalists have hardly anything to report about. Actually, for long the ‘information’ came walking to the journalists. The more vulnerable you were to be misused for news-plantations by netas, you were more efficient journalists in Delhi. But owing to Modi’s gag order, even the likes of Paswan has gone silent. There is no off the record briefing about what transpired at cabinet ministers. So some people are almost jobless.
India watcher: Mark Tully
Journalism used to be fun in Delhi but no longer.
So what does efficient magazine writers and editors, TV-debaters among journalists-turned-members of 'Sarkari commissions' etc etc have every right to “curse” the incumbent regime and the chief architect the Prime Minister himself.

In the meantime, the junket travel in PM’s special Air India aircraft overseas has been also curtailed, least forgetting perhaps that those who traveled abroad really reported back for newspapers. In many cases, owners themselves traveled with PM and high and mighty and ‘reporting’ was left for some other day and for lesser mortals!
These only make it obvious that journalists from English media in particular put on the ‘secular mark’ on their sleeves. So, the best option is to lambaste at the Modi government and demand that the ‘news-planting’ operations be revived. Journalism can be made a good business again!! Apni Dukan chalni chahiye !!  

Tail Piece:

But in spite of sharper criticism of Modi regime and his party, hardly anyone expects the government to fall or the party to split suddenly. Perhaps very few critics except the likes of immensely talented Lalu Prasad, Prakash Karat and H D Deve Gowda breed --- or Mani Shankar Aiyar and Nitish Kumar with a pathological hatred – call for such a collapse or would say that it is desirable.

The foreign powers would be scared of the very idea itself as there is a big difference between Congress strength being reduced to 44 from 200 plus and BJP under Modi losing the number from 282 to its half. 

The chaos in BJP could result in chaos in Hindutva forces --- sharper divide between hardliners and the rest and so that could only propel India to a bigger crisis. 

Foreign investors would have to go bag and baggage.  



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