Why the Indian National Media appears Anti-Hindu


I had conceived the following post in response to a question posed by Bhagwad Jal Park in the comments section of his post – Quran Burning – A book is not a person (click).

I reproduce the pertinent portion of his question here:

“As far as the media goes, I’d like to dig a little deeper. If you say that they’re biased (and I’m not sure one way or the other about this), why are they biased? Is it because (as a lot of right winger claim) there is a conspiracy between the government, media etc to put Hindus down, or is it because of sheer incompetence, or because people don’t want to hear anything else, or some other reason?”

It has been my policy to carry forward these kind of discussions in my other blog – ‘Freewheeling Discussions (Personal)’, but as this was something I was anyway planning to blog on and also because understanding what follows would not require knowing a background context, I decide to post this here as an independent blog post.

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Despite being an atheist, being not at all a fan of the fuzzy concept of ‘Hindutva’, not finding anything wrong with Sonia Gandhi’s being born in Italy, and nor being the one who would want India to ‘rule the world’ as a superpower, I have always felt that the national media appears to be partial towards what it terms the ‘minorities’ (which largely includes the Muslims, the Christians and the ‘lower’ castes) and has an anti-BJP bent. The latter, some people perceive as their being anti-Hindu. This partiality towards Muslims comes in form of making them look victimized more than they would otherwise be, and also trying to cover up, in the process, their harms done to the Hindus. But I have realized that this perception of media bias is seen as “right wing paranoia” by those who seem to share other beliefs (or non-beliefs) with me – atheism, finding Hindutva silly, etc. A fine specimen of use of this nomenclature could be found here – The Spectacular Achievements of Right Wing Propaganda……… (click).

Though since long I have found a palpable bias in the national media (in favor of minorities, which might make it look like anti-Hindu, but need not really be that way), I have not been able to conclude a firm driving force behind such bias.

I will lay down mere speculations for what could be the reasons (and I am sure that they would sound as silly to many as what “lot of other right-wingers say”, but then anyway let me put across my points) [whatever points I make here are applicable largely to the national media, and not necessarily the local media, which have their own individual biases depending what incentives they have and their political affiliations; it should not come as a surprise that media has so much power to influence that many south Indian news channels are ‘openly’ owned by politicians]:

1.The essential struggle for control over media is not so much between the Hindus and other communities, but is between the Nehru-Gandhi family v/s politicians from the Congress and other parties. So, you will see that even minor good things that the two prominent members of this family do, would be highlighted, whereas any of their failures would be attributed to the respective ministries. Hence, primarily the prominent media houses work against the rivals of the Nehru Gandhi family, be it from the Congress party or some other.

Examples:

a. Sonia Gandhi has never been interviewed on occasion of any Maoist attack or other collective failures of the government (e.g., rising food prices), but her interview had been broadcast with Barkha Dutt even when the Women’s reservation bill was just passed in the Rajya Sabha [it is yet to be passed as a law, so what was the celebration about?].

b. The media house that has done the greatest damage to the repute of rivals of the NG-family has as editor, Tarun Tejpal, who had this – Mrs Gandhi And Her Extra God (click) – to say. Apart from an element of fawning, there is clear indication of desire to bring in religion in matters of administration, when one would assume that politics and winning election are not about such silly things as what the attributes of certain deities are.

c. The manner in which Rahul Gandhi’s trip to Mumbai in wake of Shiv Sena threat to Shahrukh Khan was covered by national news channels. One of the motives could be cheap sensationalism, but I have not noticed any other politician getting that kind of coverage when the fact is many prominent politicians keep on moving in and out of Mumbai. Even his symbolism/gimmickry (you choose) of withdrawing money from an ATM was covered with much enthusiasm. Contrast that with Narendra Modi, who, in Pune (a city in Maharashtra, largely filled with Maharashtrians) had asked as to why despite having a Maharashtrian president would the people of Maharashtra want a Maharashtrian prime minister. That was a more daring and sensible thing to say than what Rahul Gandhi had done, but hardly any TV network had covered the latter. The news had perhaps appeared in the Indian Express, but I am unable to find the link. Will update when I am able to find it.

d. The manner in which all the major news channels had floated around the news that the SIT had ‘summoned’ Narendra Modi in context of March 21. And then when he did not turn up at the SIT office on that day (as it was a Sunday and as basically no such summon had been issued) he was trounced by the news channels accusing him of being arrogant enough to not respect the ‘summons’ of a body instituted by the SC. Later it was revealed that the SIT, being a non-judicial body, did not even have the authority to issue ‘summons’ (which would have to be issued under some Criminal Procedures Code – CrPC, I don’t remember the exact section, perhaps, 62). My understanding is that firstly no such date was determined, yet the TV crew outside the Gandhinagar SIT office had shouted into their mics that Modi had defied the SC and some had gone on to say that he was afraid, as he was guilty. And secondly it appears that, later he had been interrogated as (an expert) witness as he was the CM at the time of riots, and not as an accused – an impression which the media had given. I have two options to choose from to explain this kind of lapse by all major news channels – either it was sheer carelessness or that it was a concerted attempt to malign Modi. Considering the fact that major news channels (NDTV 24×7, TimesNOW, News X, CNN-IBN) had done the same, it is difficult that all of them would have been careless at the same time over exactly the same issue. So, to me the second option seems lot more plausible.

2. Funding from several sources. This might sound the most laughable, but again it is a mere speculation and much weaker than the above explanation. The reason I think so, is because there are innumerable news channels in India, and unlike entertainment channels which can cater to widely disparate kinds of tastes by having completely different programming, news channels show essentially the same news. So, my belief is the ‘number of eye balls’ must be getting significantly divided among all the news channels. In light of this fact, how attractive do the advertisers find news channels? I again assume, not much. In face of which what sustains the news channels? I am not a finances person, but I had learned that NDTV had posted losses in more than one financial quarters. Yet, the cosmetic quality of their presentation has not significantly deteriorated. I posit that keeping employed cameramen, reporters, drivers, news anchors, paying guests for appearances, and all of this in multiple cities and towns must be too expensive an affair. Other than advertising, what incentive do the owners have to keep the channels running? How do they get monetarily compensated? So, perhaps they get foreign funding to insert PoV and to distort news. Of course, this funding could be, but need not be foreign, it could come from several sources within India too. Some could be political parties, movie celebrities, industrialists, etc.

Example: Mass media: masses of money? (click)

3. Creating sensationalism. One thing the media does is to present story in a very partisan manner. It need not be because of some kind of institutional bias, but simply to make the stories sensationalist. Owing to competition, it becomes imperative that the patrons are hooked to the news. This requires that in any story, an easy-to-recognize ‘good’ and ‘evil’ are presented so that people are not bogged down by dry facts. Moreover, the advantage of this approach is that most people would like to identify with the ‘good’ in the story, demonizing the ‘bad’ in the process. It has to be remembered that news media, apart from competing with each other are also competing with entertainment channels, FM radio, networking sites, etc. If the patrons do not feel an emotional connect with the story, they would stop following news, which would further harm them financially. So by meddling with facts, the media manage to create a pure evil v/s good aspects in their story.

Examples:

a. So many inconsistencies in news reporting of “two lady doctors killing a rape victim’s baby in Raigad”! (click) – a post from my blog dissecting how it is possible to dish out news shoddily and yet make majority of people fall for it (you would be amazed on counting the number of comments and reading their content on the ToI article).

b. These are not Diwali Firecrackers, please! (click) – another post from my blog, where I point out that important issues like success of Pokhran tests were discussed like gossip magazines would, without providing a shred of evidence. My suspicion is, again only to create sensationalism. To gain further clarity on the issue, please do read my responses to Stupidosaur.

c. The Nirupama Pathak case. Even before the autopsy results were announced, her mother had been implicated and made a villain in the entire saga by the media. One of the police officers of Koderma district was shown giving impressive interviews. Along with all this, her boyfriend, who had got her pregnant (of course, guessing that it was not a case of rape but consensual sex) was being shown as some kind of hero. Then, suddenly it was revealed next day that her boyfriend had also been questioned as a suspect. A few days later the news came that the pillow cover (on which saliva stains would remain as it was a suspected case of smothering) and bedsheets had not been inspected. Later it was revealed that the AIIMS, Delhi faculty had felt that the autopsy had been conducted in a very shoddy fashion. Contrast this with the fact that immediately in the aftermath of Nirupama’s death, her friends and teacher had been interviewed, who had made stupid statements to the tune of “she was a strong girl, she could not have committed suicide (so must have been killed by the parents – a very grave insinuation)”. I don’t remember the exact details, but is seems the media had bungled up big-time. So, now there are no follow up news to the best of my knowledge on this. But the reputation of an entire family was tarnished. It was definitely unprofessional and shoddy. There might have not been a larger ulterior motive, but the attempt to spice up the story (“how could parents kill the daughter”-kind) was definitely there despite the lack of evidence to conclude the same.

4. A reason speculated (click) by Atanu Dey:

“If a journalist writing in English wants to be quoted by foreign publications, then he or she has to appeal to the biases of the foreigners and reinforce their prejudices. Otherwise, the foreign press would not touch it. The more shrill a journalist is in denouncing anything that remotely hints at Indian ethos, culture, or pride, the more likely he or she is to get invited to give talks at US universities and other goodies. The term for this phenomenon is “being a house nigger.””

Of course, I might be questioned as to “how I would be sure that the foreign media would want to hear bad things about India?”, but remember, this is just one of the speculated reasons for the manner in which some of the journalists behave.
But till now I have, at best, only demonstrated that there the media resorts to sensationalism, unethical behavior and perhaps institutional bias. But I have yet not addressed why it might seem anti-Hindu.

As I pointed out in point 1 above, it caters to the Nehru-Gandhi family, for the simple reason that it has the deepest pockets of all the political entities with pan-India presence. Meaning, even some of the other South Indian politicians might also have as much or deeper pockets, but at least as of now they do not have any need to have opinion modified at a national level.

So, why would the Congress want to make seem Hindus bad?

I think the Congress does not have any incentive for making Hindus look bad. This looking bad of Hindus is merely incidental. For this the demographics and the resulting constituencies of India are to be considered. Muslims, it is said, tend to vote en bloc. To ensure this they have to be constantly fed with the idea that they are being persecuted and discriminated against (this is partly true also that certain fraction of Hindus discriminate against them, and so do people from other religions, but this discrimination is not Muslim-specific, but an outcome of bigotry that birth-related affiliations result in). But to ensure that they vote en bloc for the Congress and not some other party, the only viable option to vote for has to be demonized. That viable option happens to be the BJP. But how can a BJP government directly go and harm the Muslims? So, it has to be shown as shielding those wanting to hurt Muslims. Of course, in terms of endearing itself to the Muslim constituency, the BJP had hurt its prospects by associating with or perhaps even bringing up the Ram Temple-issue. So, in the process it also needs to be shown there exist sizable number of Hindus who are “out there to get the Muslims”. This is what incidentally (and not as a matter of primary intention) makes the Hindus look ‘bad’. It should not be surprising then that all the major communalist riots seem to be happening only in the BJP-ruled states (Gujarat & Kandhamal), but none seem to be happening in non-BJP ruled states (Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh, Miraj in Maharashtra). But obviously, one has to also create an impression that the BJP & some affiliated bodies, like the RSS and the VHP actively support this violence. How can this impression be created? By projecting riots between Hindus and some other community to be selective persecution of the ‘minority’. This impression can again be only created by largely omitting the violence committed against the Hindus. This, I believe, is the reason that the deaths of around 200 Hindus that had occurred in post-Godhra riots in Gujarat are hardly given any coverage. Because, if once that part is also given the prominence it deserves, then people will start questioning the theory that “the BJP and Narendra Modi had organized a pogrom against Muslims”, for surely, 200 Hindus would not be killed by the people who also killed Muslims.

Now, apply the same approach with regard to perceived persecution of other minorities, and the impression we are bound to get is one of BJP and associated organizations being anti-Muslim and anti-‘lower caste’.

But why does the Congress instead not try to appeal to all the Hindus, instead of trying to appeal to the minorities? After all the Hindus are the 80% of the population!

Traditionally, the Congress has been perceived to be secular/pro-Muslim, and they cannot change that image overnight. Because it would be risky to lose 20% of ‘sure-shot’ voter share [because Muslims tend to vote en bloc]. But on the other hand, Hindus are fragmented. To make them rally around one party as one constituency is very difficult. The rivalries between various castes and sub-castes of the Hindu community are so deep that they are almost as strong as the Hindu-Muslim rivalry. The BJP had, perhaps, with some success been able to unite the Hindu constituency and that is why it came to power earlier (or perhaps, Indians could also have been frustrated with the Congress rule). Simply because Congress’ formula is tried and tested, they are reluctant to try new tactics. But in the 1990’s the BJP were the underdogs, they had nothing to lose by trying to unite the Hindus into one single constituency, and somehow they partly succeeded (and could form the government). Because had they tried the same Congress formula of cozying up to the ‘minorities’, then why would the voter instead not vote for the ‘original’ (Congress), instead!

Of course, my entire analysis above is like the ‘Strings theory’ – it might make intuitive sense, but I have no way to prove it empirically/statistically. But I continue to go by it simply, because no other single hypotheses in isolation can explain the aberrant behavior of the media in the instances I cited above.

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To summarize: I hope I have been able to accomplish/show the following (not necessarily to everyone’s conviction):

1. Cite instances of unprofessional/biased conduct by the media.

2. Enumerate and somewhat explain the motives and incentives behind the same.

3. That the Congress benefits from current anti-BJP bent of the media (and hence, perhaps provides the much needed incentive for the media to remain thus).

4. In the process of being anti-BJP, the media ends up demonizing Hindus in the eyes of the minorities and also many Hindus themselves.

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58 thoughts on “Why the Indian National Media appears Anti-Hindu

  1. A good analysis Ketan. My interest in the matter is restricted to funding. That’s the only problem that smacks of a conspiracy theory since mere sensationalism etc can cut both ways.

    Favoritism and sycophancy may be sick, but unless finances are involved somewhere it’s a very tenuous and fickle link.

    If I understand you right, your feeling is that the average news channel doesn’t make profits and so they must be getting their funding from elsewhere. Am I correct?

    If so, then the rest of your post flows from this assumption – about the gandhi family having deep pockets etc. So I feel your point about external funding is the only real issue we need to discuss.

    Like you, I don’t fully understand the business model of the news channels. It’s not just advertisement revenue but also revenue they get from service providers – at least that’s how I think it works since that’s how it is in the US…

    But there’s a saying that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. What you say about funding might indeed be true. But since it’s quite a big issue (conspiring to skew the news is a very serious thing), I would feel more comfortable if there’s a more significant link.

    Also, the news itself is just one part of the picture these days. There are bloggers, editors (the blog section of the TOI has quite a collection) and these are individuals less dependent on funding. It’s quite a stretch for me to think that all these are getting paid illegally…

  2. “I have always felt that the national media appears to be partial towards what it terms the ‘minorities’ (which largely includes the Muslims, the Christians and the ‘lower’ castes) and has an anti-BJP bent.”

    Another example of right-wingers thinking similarly. In USA , media is considered to have an “anti-Republican” bent….

    “But to ensure that they vote en bloc for the Congress and not some other party, the only viable option to vote for has to be demonized. That viable option happens to be the BJP.”

    BJP is limited to only a few states of India.
    In most states “only viable option” is NOT BJP.
    This argument has no basis.

    Muslims also dont vote “en block”.

  3. Bhagwad,

    Thanks for reading and commenting!

    Yes, sensationalism as you rightly pointed out, could end up playing either ways, provided it is employed arbitrarily. But we have to factor in institutional bias (provided its existence is acknowledged). E.g., if I’d be biased for ‘A’ & against ‘B’, I would exaggerate the good things of A, & exaggerate the bad things about B. Moreover, I will avoid mentioning bad things of ‘A’ & good things about ‘B’. Of course, to retain my credibility I will not do that too overtly.

    I’m not getting into the moral judgment part of sycophancy & favoritism, but positing that such attitude requires an incentive, when stakes are so high [the attitude getting exposed]. Moreover, unrequited sycophancy & favoritism become unsustainable over time.

    About profit, in a way yes, what you interpret is close to my point. If a company posts losses in more than one quarters, then they have to use up their old savings to remain afloat, but they also try to ‘thin down’, which is reflected in reduced quality/range of their products/services. But if such deterioration is not noticed, then a source of funding we do not know of becomes a plausible explanation.

    Yes, I had not factored in service providers for news channels, but even if that were the case, then it just proves that ‘eyeballs are getting divided’ as there are so many channels to choose from (a predicament similar to the one faced by advertisers), and that profits of individual news channels might be dropping (the extreme case of which would be posting quarterly loss).

    “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”.

    On one hand I can say that extraordinary occurrences require extraordinary explanation, of course, provided, you believe that the instances I cited above in the post would not be ordinarily expected. However, if you find them expected then there would be nothing extraordinary. But on the other hand, I would also like to ask, what is extraordinary about my hypothesis? Does it violate any fundamental law/principle of psychology/social sciences/economics?

    Whether my hypothesis is extraordinary or not will depend on what one estimates the motives of concerned parties to be. For me, political parties are interested in power (& money) and media houses are interested in maximizing revenue (& clout). But of course, one can contend that the political parties are fundamentally interested in welfare of people and that power is only a means to that end. By extension, one can also contend that media houses are interested in dissipating news and to sustain that interest they have to have revenues. Which of the two models one believes to be (closer to) the truth would depend on one’s life experiences and assessment of people. I feel first model better explains the reality.

    Yes, there are more unconventional outlets like blogs, and I have also noticed that the opinions there are less monolithic. But it must also be remembered that employees or even freelancers get to express only those opinions that are in line with their company policies, or they stand to lose their jobs/contracts.

    Lastly, one very important thing I would like to point out is that I’m aware that what I have provided here is the provisional explanation. It is just a hypothesis based on few premises and circumstantial evidence (partly because my ability to collect evidence in this matter is greatly limited), so it will not meet the requirements of most stringent evidence. So yes, those whose requirements for evidence are lot more stringent, are obviously (empirically) free to reject it. However for me, to personally forgo this hypothesis, I will have to formulate a better one, which explains all the above instances in simpler terms, or someone else will have to formulate it for me. 🙂

  4. Indian Pundit,

    Welcome to the blog!

    Yes, I know what I have suggested in my post is very enticing to be dismissed as right-wing thinking. I do not know sufficiently about the American politics or the media or the perceptions of ‘right wingers’ over there. But just because American right wingers feel that the media there is biased in favor of republicans, in itself does not prove that their feeling is unfounded. Furthermore, it hardly proves that the concerns of ‘right-wingers’ in India are also unfounded just because the American right-wingers’ feelings are unfounded (as claimed by you). It would be akin to saying that because communists in China had been violent & murderous, those in India would also be violent and murderous, but of course, I do not rely upon such stereotyping.

    “BJP is limited to only a few states of India. In most states “only viable option” is NOT BJP. This argument has no basis.”

    I have clearly mentioned that my analysis is restricted only to national media & national politics. Further, I have clearly mentioned regional media have a different set of biases & incentive structure. I am afraid, at national level, in terms of seats won in elections, after Congress, the next most successful party has been the BJP in last two decades. So, I’m surprised why you would say my “argument has no basis”.

    “Muslims do not vote “en bloc””.

    You missed the qualifier – “it is said”. I have no evidence to back up that assertion.

    As I have clearly stated, these are mere speculations, but to me they seem most reasonable explanations for how the media has behaved on several occasions.

    Just as I pointed out to Bhagwad above, you’re free to reject my hypothesis, but in that case I would also expect a better explanation as to why it behaved the way it did in each of the above instances.

    Thanks for your views!

  5. Your analysis is brilliant citing cogent examples.

    One couldn’t possibly agree more with this observation, “This partiality towards Muslims comes in form of making them look victimized more than they would otherwise be, and also trying to cover up, in the process, their harms done to the Hindus. But I have realized that this perception of media bias is seen as “right wing paranoia” by those who seem to share other beliefs (or non-beliefs) with me – atheism, finding Hindutva silly, etc. A fine specimen of use of this nomenclature could be found here…”

    ‘Indian Pandit’ the author of “The Spectacular Achievements of Right Wing Propaganda…” conveniently forgets that statistics do not reveal everything. He says “After more than 2000 years in India, Christians make up only 2.3%…” but that is as per official statistics. Thanks to reservations in government jobs and educational institutions the figure is far more than what meets the eye and is likely to assume alarming proportions in the not too distant future.

    You might not be “finding anything wrong with Sonia Gandhi’s being born in Italy…” or for that matter of her being a catholic, but one wonders how “the creeping Christianization of power elites” has escaped your attention.

    • Vox Indica:

      It is the mass media disinformation and misinformation in India, that had led to the meteoric rise of a filthy party like BJP in just over a decade or so and was not b’coz BJP had anything glorious or glamorous in their box. The misinformation campaign had conveniently led millions of innocent and unsuspecting Hindus to believe the lies cooked-up for them by the Hindutva nuts. They were cleverly and cunningly wooing the unsuspecting Hindus into their fold by posing ‘minorities’ as a threat to the nation and presenting themselves as the sole guardians of the Indian motherland. Here’s what a Nazi Commander-in-Chief had to say:

      “Why of course the people don’t want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don’t want war neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

      Yes, that’s precisely what Hindutva thugs are doing in India. Tell the people that they are being attacked, (in our case, by minorities) and denounce the other partiess for exposing the country to danger by appeasing the minorities.

      If you think that’s an old Nazi philosophy, let’s see what Zbigniew Brzezinski has to say in yet another quote:

      “As America becomes an increasingly multicultural society, it may find it more difficult to fashion a consensus on foreign policy issues, except in the circumstances of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat. Such a consensus generally existed throughout World War II and even during the Cold War. It was rooted . . . in a cultural and ethnic affinity for the predominantly European victims of hostile totalitarianisms. In the absence of a comparable external challenge, American society may find it much more difficult to reach agreement regarding foreign policies .”

      So it’s clear that an external threat, or external challenge is necessary to drum up the support of the people. For e.g., if Pak attacks India, Indians will forget their regional or political difference and fight the common enemy which is Pak. In India, BJP have cleverly fomented the minorities as a threat or enemy. In India, the external threat is the so-called ‘minorities’ and that’s why BJP and their cohorts never stop crying about minority appeasement. Because when a lie is said loud enough and long enough, it becomes a truth in the eyes of the gullible cattle. And Indian medias have been cleverly and actively doing this job for them for the past 10 – 13 yrs at least.

      In fact, if it was not for the minorities, there wouldn’t have been a party called BJP in India today. To understand the folly of BJP, all you have to imagine is an India without minorities. In such an India:
      a. Does Ayodhya/Babri Masjid issue sells?
      b. Does terrorism sells?
      c. Does conversion sells?
      d. Does Afzal Khan, Afzal guru n all kinds of nonsense sells
      e. Does sethu samudram n the likes sell..

      In fact u see that all the above issues are related to minorities and if minorities were not there, BJP wouldn’t be existing today.

  6. “So, you will see that even minor good things that the two prominent members of this family do, would be highlighted, whereas any of their failures would be attributed to the respective ministries.”

    You may claim that the “family” runs the UPA from behind the scenes….but its the ministers who are actually responsible for govt.’s failures. So its perfectly logical.
    Technically , the family is NOT in the govt….

    I suggest you read Arundhati Roy’s latest essay…..it explains perfectly how the UPA govt. runs…..

    “This, I believe, is the reason that the deaths of around 200 Hindus that had occurred in post-Godhra riots in Gujarat are hardly given any coverage. Because, if once that part is also given the prominence it deserves, then people will start questioning the theory that “the BJP and Narendra Modi had organized a pogrom against Muslims”, for surely, 200 Hindus would not be killed by the people who also killed Muslims.”

    So what?? 200 hindus killed by muslims…..and more than 2000 muslims killed by hindu extremist….i am sure muslims should have “acted” peacefully even if they are killed in broad daylight…..how very logical!!!!

    Yeah i agree that hindu killing is not given prominence but still that theory STANDS…

    Actions of muslim terrorists does not mean that US atrocities against islamic countries are justified. More than 2 million killed in iraq and Afghanistan……


    ‘Indian Pandit’ the author of “The Spectacular Achievements of Right Wing Propaganda…” conveniently forgets that statistics do not reveal everything. He says “After more than 2000 years in India, Christians make up only 2.3%…” but that is as per official statistics. Thanks to reservations in government jobs and educational institutions the figure is far more than what meets the eye and is likely to assume alarming proportions in the not too distant future”

    @Vox….reservations for Christians in educational institutions????where?in which IIT , IIM , Medical college???…..of course in minority run institutions…….reservations in govt jobs??where????

    The only bias in media is the anti-poor bias , pro-corporate bias. Nothing else.

  7. Hello Ketan,

    First time here. Your blog is difficult to navigate on my S60 smartphone. A simpler template with less scripting and graphics would be nicer.

    Comrade Jal Park’s point is:

    “If you say that they’re biased (and I’m not sure one way or the other about this), why are they biased? “

    I’d flip the question around first, and answer it before we get to answering his question.

    Why do accusations of media bias trouble leftwingers so much that they _have_ to refute them louder than they are voiced? What latent insecurities of the left does criticism of the media trigger? The answer is as obvious as it is simple. The media disseminates information and ideas, and by controlling these sources of information and idea dissemination, one wields the ability to influence people. Those who have the most at stake in the credibility of the media are the ones who defend it the most.

    Coming to Jal Park’s question: the answer is a bit complex because there are several factors at play. However — and Comrade Park will be happily surprised to know this — I don’t think the most important factor has anything to do with any underlying grand design, ideological or otherwise.

    Media in recent years has become an important industry sector, (“commoditized”, if you will). Its consumers no longer are the highly-literate elite as earlier were. The industry employs many middle-class people for who working in the media is a career option, not a personal statement of commitment to bring truth and justice to mankind. These people aspire for a steady job and look forward to going home in the evening to family and kids safe and healthy, like the rest of us who also hold white collar jobs. But truth-telling is risky business. Those adversely affected by truth would try and resist disclosure, and the consequences can be unpleasant (potentially even life-threatening where Islamsits are involved) for the journalist. ‘Suppressio veri’ is an easier option, but carries with it the stigma of cowardice. Here is where left-liberals come to rescue: by making cowardice sound like principle, even virtue. For example, they make defence of the terrorist thug (or the “Kashmiri” stone-pelter) sound like standing up for the underdog.

    That’s the main reason why media suppresses truth, or peddles untruth: because media people, like most of us, opt for the path of least resistance.

  8. Vox Indica,

    Thanks & welcome to the blog!

    I have seen both ‘good’ & ‘bad’ effects of Christian conversions. Good for individuals – children of abjectly poor parents got good education & could reach those professional levels, which they otherwise would even have never thought of. Of course, this was only at one place. I don’t know if elsewhere also same benefits have been extended to the neo-converts. But the bad effect is that this creates a rift in the society. Every time conversions are attempted, certain fraction (could be more or even less than 50% of the original population) retain their original religious identity. The neo-converts & the Hindus become the worst of rivals. There is a sense of betrayal felt by the latter (but I also do not think that sense of betrayal is something legitimate to feel; should my parents feel betrayed that now I’m an atheist?).

    Most definitely I do not approve of the motives behind enticing for conversions in this fashion – it does not look different from trying to form one large gang to overawe others.

    But having said all this, I do not believe that to promote conversions of Hindus to catholicism a particular politician needs to be a Catholic himself/herself. E.g., Mulayam Yadav, in trying to project himself as Muslim-friendly has gone on to defend SIMI, but he certainly isn’t Muslim!

    Moreover, at least up till now, except for the Kandhamal incident BJP hasn’t been shown to be much anti-Christian by the media, hence, I didn’t focus on that much.

  9. Indian Pundit again,

    If you actually read my post, you will find that nowhere I have claimed that the Nehru-Gandhi family runs the Congress (not UPA, mind you, which also contains other prominent non-Congress leaders like Sharad Pawar, Mamta Bannerjee, Karunanidhi who obviously the Gandhi family cannot ‘control’). Whether the family controls the Congress & the UPA is irrelevant to the discussion. What it does seem to have significant influence on, though, is the media. So, “what is technically logical”? That they be not blamed for failure of the UPA (which is ‘technically’ understandable), but also be praised for partial passing of Women’s rights bill & for withdrawing money from ATM? I hope, you will be equally consistent in ‘exonerating’ BJP of RSS influence, because RSS is ‘technically’ not in the NDA. Likewise, I would also like to see what you think of the assertion that ‘technically’ Bal Thackeray is not an elected member of legislature, and as he himself does not hurl any stones to break glasses, is not responsible for what Shiv Sena does. Also, how is the kind of letter that Tarun Tejpal wrote begging for Sonia Gandhi’s son as well as daughter to enter politics ‘technically logical’?

    Kindly do provide the link to A Roy’s article. But I’m amazed by how well you claim to know the manner of functioning of the UPA that you’ve certified Roy’s explanation of UPA government as ‘perfect’.

    You did not get the point with regard to 200 killed Hindus in 2002 riots.

    On one hand, media reports so prominently on Sohrabbuddin case (perhaps because government machinery was involved in the wrong-doing, though several non-Muslims & Hindus have been killed in similar encounters in past), but even comparing with that, so utterly ignoring 200 people’s death to me seems too gross an oversight. Additionally, I do not know where did you come up with strawman on ‘justification’ of Muslim killings from?! I simply questioned why 200 Hindu deaths have not figured sufficiently in media’s news dissemination. BTW, where did you get that figure of “more than 2000 Muslims killed” from?

  10. Oldtimer,

    Welcome to the blog!

    Actually, it’s not much complex scripting, just one of the settings in Blogger. It might take me some time to set it right. In the meantime, do see if turning off images helps.

    Yes, you’ve brought in a very valid point. Somehow, it had always escaped me, how so many non-Muslims get exquisitely sensitive if something negative about Islam is pointed out. There are all sorts of explanations like poverty, brainwashing by their clerics (which is perhaps true also), misinterpretation of verses (which is the most bogus point of all). I had been thinking this is due to guilt complex induced by the media selectively exposing people to miseries of Muslims, largely to the exclusion of miseries of other communities. But you point out also makes sense. It is indeed a riskier proposition to speak against Islam as compared to against other religions [if certain news are to be believed, even without actual burning of the Quran one death if Afghanistan has already occurred, and a school &/church was destroyed somewhere]. So, to cover up this (pragmatic) cowardice from the self as well as others, mediapersons avoid speaking about Islam. Am I getting you right? Is this analogous to Stockholm syndrome?

    But then (though anyway you have mentioned that underlying causes for the way media behaves are complex), what you say would not account for fawning attitude towards the Gandhi family, nor other instances where religion is not involved.

    Thanks for your input!

    PS: Bhagwad is a skeptic by disposition. In general, he doesn’t buy arguments easily. He also tries to be consistent in application of this approach, IMO. You might want to go through his blog.

  11. Firstly , the title of your posts is :
    “Why the Indian National Media appears Anti-Hindu

    Appears to whom? It appears only to right-wing hindus and our great Internet super patriots.
    And it seems it “appears” to you as well…..good.

    Now lets see what you wrote:
    “I hope, you will be equally consistent in ‘exonerating’ BJP of RSS influence, because RSS is ‘technically’ not in the NDA.”

    During Gujarat riots…..i am sure you know BJP was in power…and so its perfectly logical that it gets blame for what happened.

    “Also, how is the kind of letter that Tarun Tejpal wrote begging for Sonia Gandhi’s son as well as daughter to enter politics ‘technically logical’?”

    So what? Read his magazine regularly…….it massively criticizes UPA…..what i am not able to understand is…if media favours NG family….then why it criticizes UPA so harshly??? UPA is dominated by Congress….and criticizing UPA means criticizing congress whose chairperson is Mrs Sonia Gandhi……

    “But I’m amazed by how well you claim to know the manner of functioning of the UPA that you’ve certified Roy’s explanation of UPA government as ‘perfect’.”

    Simply because , it makes sense as far as i am concerned. You may differ.

    Link: http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?267040

    Its not “strawman” justification at all…..its based on common sense. Actions of right-wingers of one community usually provokes the right-wingers of other community……

    And from where did u get this 200 hindus killed figure from????

  12. My dear Oldtimer…

    Why do accusations of media bias trouble leftwingers so much that they _have_ to refute them louder than they are voiced? What latent insecurities of the left does criticism of the media trigger? The answer is as obvious as it is simple. The media disseminates information and ideas, and by controlling these sources of information and idea dissemination, one wields the ability to influence people. Those who have the most at stake in the credibility of the media are the ones who defend it the most.

    Reason is simple. Economic rightwingers already control the media. Left-liberals simply tries to make sure that religious rightwingers dont control it . Its the inability of religious bigots to control the media actually makes them shout louder about Media bias…everywhere..

    “That’s the main reason why media suppresses truth, or peddles untruth: because media people, like most of us, opt for the path of least resistance”

    But i AGREE with you.
    If they bring out the truth about the anti-poor policies…economic rightwingers will make sure they are fired or kicked out of the organizations. They have to compromise their values to stay employed.

  13. Hi Ketan

    The fact about NG family is greatly true. There are lots and lots of visual proof, videos and photo snaps, to demonstrate how their acts of ‘goodness’ or ‘oneness with dalits of village’ get covered, without they offering any comment or interview on anything sensitive / important.

    Vox Indica’s statement about “creeping chritianisation” is pretty apparent. Appointment of Navin Chawla as the CEC, despite the outgoing Chief Election Commissioner’s remarks and recommendation is one of the best examples. People like Indian Pundit would jump to offer some tangential theory to prove otherwise.

    What I don’t understand, honestly, is the eagerness of the media to be subservient to the NG family. Whether such keenness is due to commercial reasons or anthropological, I have no clue. But the eagerness to appease is glaringly obvious. Some of the pro-congress Magazines I can think of “Outlook”, which would kiss their @#%, and claim that to be their claim to redemption.

    The entire world is speaking about Post Godhra riots, the effect / consequence / reaction; and very little people discussing or deliberating the “Godhra Train Burning incident”, the cause / action / reason for whatever happened. Its not an excuse I am offering, but highlighting that if somebody claims to unbiased (as the asses on TV News Channels claim to be), they should demonstrate.

    We have a Chief Minister in Tamil Nadu, the holiest cow among all, and the purest of pure filth, Kalaingar Shri M Karunanidhi, who would openly call “Hindu is a thief”, and escape wrath, and not even a iota of media attention or deliberation or condemnation or cry from anybody. Why? He and his family control whole of South Indian Media, and whole of Tamil Nadu politics…. (contd.)

  14. May not be correct on my part to quote (not exactly the same words) this, but I am repeatedly reminded of what Ayn Rand said in Atlas Shrugged. “Some people destroy great things to prove their greatness over others who created those great things.” I am not claiming that a Hindu or Hinduism any better or worser than any other person or way of life, but just a thought I can think of. Especially when almost all national parties and leading political leaders have Hindu (or more specifically Brahman) political advisors.

    Recently in a series of articles in the Hindu, the celebrated journalist (one of my personal favourite) Shri P Sainath had repeatedly highlighted the Paid News Syndrome. Do have a look at that.

    Finally, not directly relevant, but relevant nonetheless. Do have a look at the following link. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/sunday-toi/special-report/Only-in-India-A-Brahmin-groom-for-a-Catholic-bride/articleshow/5935792.cms

    Thats for people who think that it is only in among Hindus that there’s this upper caste lower caste divide.

    I really enjoyed your statement on NG Family’s ability or inability to “control” Karunanidhi & Sons, Mamta and Co, etc. Know what? Karunanidhi cannot control his sons!

    Cheers

    G Saimukundhan

  15. G Saimukundhan wrote:

    “Some of the pro-congress Magazines I can think of “Outlook”,”

    Outlook criticizes congress govt. in each and every issue…so does Tehelka……still they are called “pro-congress”…..curious!

    i can understand right-wing frustrations that their anti-national “causes” are not highlighted by our media….since they dont…therefore they are “pro-congress” or better still “the creeping Christianization of power elites”…..hahahaha

  16. Indian Pundit,

    I couldn’t get your argument on BJP being in power when Gujarat riots happened – in particular, how does it explain RSS’ involvement as it was *outside* the government?

    On one hand you say criticism of UPA amounts to criticism of Sonia Gandhi (despite her being outside the Council of Ministers), but on the other hand you also say that Sonia Gandhi is not responsible for failure of policies of Council of Ministers (because she is outside the Council of Ministers). Alright!

    I read the Arundhati Roy [what an ironical coincidence – both she and Ayn Rand would be shortened to ‘AR’!] article. Thanks! It was informative. But it still did have an internal inconsistency. If all the shots are to be called by corporates, firstly, which of the corporates? Secondly, then why the need of ‘experts’ to actually run the government?

    But anyway as I pointed out whether Sonia Gandhi controls the ministers or is totally irrelevant to the discussion. Issue is her sway with the media, and not the UPA Council of Ministers.

    The reason I term your argument a strawman is because you’re answering something I never asked! I never asked if Muslims were justified in killing 200 Hindus or why they killed! Please show me where I’ve asked this. I’ve asked a simple question – why were those 200 deaths of Hindus not mentioned by major channels along with deaths of around 800 Muslims [source (click)].

    The moment one factors in death of 200 Hindus, the theory that state sponsored it gets nullified. Because if one were to accept that theory, then one would be implying that:

    1. When (80% by proportion in population) Hindus kill (20% by proportion in population) Muslims, this just cannot be done without state supported terror, and that there cannot be spontaneous outburst.

    2. But when Muslims kill Hindus, no such state support is required, and that the violence is spontaneous and reactionary.

    Do you stand by above two assertions? If you do not stand by them, then it’s imperative to explain why do you think 800 Muslims could not have been killed without state support (if 200 Hindus could be [obviously] killed without state support)?

  17. Look , firstly i never said anything related to RSS….can u show me one statement where i said anything related to it?

    You cannot.

    You wrote:

    “If all the shots are to be called by corporates, firstly, which of the corporates? Secondly, then why the need of ‘experts’ to actually run the government?”

    The point is these “experts” believe in an economic system that places “corporate profit over people”….a system which is mostly anti-people and pro-rich……a system which benefits ME AND YOU….but not India’s poor or any nation’s poor.
    Free market capitalism is slowly destroying US economy…..
    http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html
    See for yourself…..free market capitalism peaked from Reagan’s time starting from early 1980s…..see above how the share of bottom 80% of US population is decreasing in USA…….

    The Gujarat riot source that you provided is “government” figures….and you know how much truth is there……..curiously….why are right wingers not bringing out the hindu victims in the public domain??……or more importantly why is Gujarat police NOT acting against those who killed more than 200 hindus……..

  18. Saimukundhan,

    Thanks!

    Yes, it is pretty apparent that at least on news channels the two Gandhis get inordinately high attention.

    I guess, you might’ve already read my response to Vox Indica on the conversion issue. If not, please do.

    I don’t feel that mediapersons are so stupid as to fall for white skin & all. There was an amateur news report (and perhaps accompanying video) of Rahul Gandhi being driven out of a Bihar University, because he had said something to the effect of “If India is to develop, then states like Gujarat have to be corrected first”. Of course, this was never reported by the prominent news channels (assuming such a thing actually occurred), so it is difficult to say that he is popular with youth all over India, or if his white skin has such a lure.

    Obviously, any media house will indulge in token criticism of the government otherwise it will affect their reliability. But the point is these magazines are supporting Congress precisely by degrading the BJP!

    I usually avoid talking of Godhra, because the moment one utters the word politically correct people beat you up with “you are justifying killing of Muslims”-strawman. But look carefully at my argument presented to Indian Pundit above. The media does not report even those Hindu deaths that actually occurred *during* the post-Godhra riots! This is done simply to project an inter-religion riot as a systematic genocide of Muslims. Examples of genocide were what Nazis did to Jews (in which almost no Nazis died), what Congress did to Sikhs (in which almost no Congress workers died – I’ve no statistic for this, but that seems to be the outcome of few inquiry committees) & finally, what Kashmiri Muslims did to Kashmiri Hindus (again, in which almost no Kashmiri Muslims had died). Contrast this with Gujarat riots in which the ratio of Hindu:Muslim death was 1:4! And moreover, this statistic is *excluding* those who’d died in Godhra train burning! So, by what stretch of imagination can it be called systematic ‘genocide’ of Muslims?

    Yes, I’ve read a few of the articles by P Sainath on paid news, in fact I’ve linked one of them in this post itself!

    Hahaha! Yeah, I know a bit about struggle between Stalin & Alagiri.

    TC.

  19. Hey Ketan, I liked the post and found that analysis made by you is totally true as far as I found the media questioning BJP and specially NaMo, They never point out Ms. Gandhi on Maoist attacks, price hike neither they ask something to Gandhi. I have found myself about trending the wrong news about Gujrat on TOI website somehow lost the link.

    Its Awesome piece of work 🙂

  20. Indian Pundit,

    Kindly scroll back and see to *what question of mine* did you point out that BJP was in power when riots had occurred. That was the RSS-connection in your response. [In simpler words, would you say that RSS has no role to play in BJP policies & that Bal Thackeray has nothing to do with what Shiv Sena does?]

    This post is not about merits/demerits of capitalism/communism/socialism. So, are you implying that the corporates need a person who is passionate & sentimental about free market (“experts believe in”)? Moreover, why not then make MM Singh the finance minister, instead?

    Government figures have to take care of vital statistics which have to tally with census data. Moreover, such figures are arrived at after issuing of death certificates & autopsies. I find this mechanism of arriving at number of dead people much more reliable than any journalist throwing up random numbers of deceased with realistically speaking no resource to count the number of dead in over 5 districts. What’s your source of “more than 2000 Muslims dead” & what was their mechanism of arriving at this statistic?

    As to why Hindu victims of post-Godhra riots almost never figure in major debates would be better answered by you, as it’s not me who’s claiming that media is fair & balanced. If these channels give space to such victims, they would have to take back their words on what had happened in Gujarat, and also their carefully constructed theory that violence was state-sponsored would be demolished. Of course, the other alternative you have is to claim that those 200 people never died!

  21. Yogesh,

    Welcome to the blog & thanks!

    One must preserve such links. On one occasion, the Indian Express (in context of Gadkari & dog-calling instance) had edited the text of the news keeping the same URL & without any notification to the same effect.

    Also, recently it was pointed out that NDTV had inserted “(assailants) belonging to BJP or RSS” in assault case in Kerala, when three other news sources reported exactly the same news in same words, but without the ‘BJP/RSS’ sentence. Moreover, NDTV news was uploaded AFTER the the three other sites had uploaded that news.

    So, the summary is, one must preserve such links. 🙂

    Take care.

  22. “So, are you implying that the corporates need a person who is passionate & sentimental about free market (“experts believe in”)? Moreover, why not then make MM Singh the finance minister, instead?”

    Look , what they basically need is ANYONE who will let them abuse our national resources or grab our national resources….and people believing in neoliberalism or Ayn Rand supporters are perfect for that.

    “as it’s not me who’s claiming that media is fair & balanced.”

    Nor did i ever claim that.

    My simple point is : There is no anti-hindu bias in Indian media. What we have is anti-poor people bias and pro-rich bias…..

    “If these channels give space to such victims, they would have to take back their words on what had happened in Gujarat,”

    There are certain newspapers which are right-wing mouth pieces and we dont find even them reporting it…….and please answer WHY is Gujarat govt. not punishing those who killed more than 200 hindus…i am sure Gujarat govt. and their internet and print/online media supporters can certainly bring it to our notice or use it as a means of Propaganda…..

  23. Indian Pundit,

    If the corporates need *anyone* who would let them loot the country, then why such specific insistence by them on MM Singh, as claimed by Ms. Roy?

    What are these right wing newspapers? Are they popular enough? I don’t read them (except for if you count ToI, DNA, Hindustan Times also as right wing).

    Even to bring out these figures on 200 dead Hindus, the same media would be required, who won’t allow it to come out because of their anti-BJP stance and also because they would not like to contradict what they’d been teaching since long – that Gujarat government was actively acting against Muslims. Is it any surprise that that statistic was to be found in BBC, and not easily found in *Indian papers* despite its apparent significance?

  24. Hi, Bhagwad!

    I did receive your two comments as email notifications, but then when I visited the blog post, they were not there, so I’d thought you might have deleted them. This type of problem has never occurred with blogger before. If you wish, please let me know your email ID, & I’ll forward them to you, so that you can re-post them, if you wish.

    You can find my email ID in my blogger profile; just click on my name before this comment.

    I had incidentally read your blog this morning itself. Will leave my comments there on finding time.

    Thanks!

  25. Thanks for the reply Ketan. You can send the comments to me using the “Contact” link on my blog – I don’t want to expose my email ID on a public forum…

    Next time I’ll post comments using openID instead. It seems to work.

  26. @Oldtimer

    You make a lot of assumptions about me after having just read my comments. For example, your use of the word “Comrade” is frankly quite childish. As is your automatic assumption that I suppose Kashmiri stone throwers. The opposite is true, and I’ve even written about it on my blog.

    This happens quite often, and I’d like to help you realize that you shouldn’t attribute characteristics to people based on just a few opinions. I realize this requires mature judgement, but you’re an adult and are capable of taking a level headed view of things. So I’m not asking for too much.

    Let’s stick to the discussion of ideas and refrain from specific ad hominems eh?

    @Ketan

    I’ll address just the conspiracy aspect since in truth, that’s the crux of the matter.

    I would call it extraordinary because:

    1. It’s patently illegal
    2. It will have to be done on a massive scale
    3. It will have to cover all major news channels
    4. It will have to also cover all prominent editors
    5. It’s extraordinarily risky. Imagine if an opposing party got hold of even a shred of evidence – they’re screwed.

    There are possibly others as well. Also, maybe I’m just an optimistic guy and find it hard to believe that such a thing is possible.

    After all, the private sectors is less known for corruption compared to the govt. And the proliferation of private players with free enterprise makes systematic corruption difficult to sustain.

    Because it assumes that money is being paid to show something which the channels would not normally show. Normally the channels would show what the people want most. By extension, the channels are now not showing what people want and over time, other competitors should fill that gap. There are a dozen holes here I know, but you get the general just. There’s at least a little truth in it.

  27. One of the most consistent blogger I have found. I wish not to miss any of his post. However, I do miss many posts due to hectic schedule. More so because, his blogs does require the concentration of mind and his elaborative posts are longer too.

  28. Wow! Very well-thought out points in this post.

    I am also of the opinion that the media is (or as you have put it- appears) anti- Hindu.

    I like your first two points- they can be taken together, I think. Funding, in various ways, likely comes from the ruling party.

    The point by Atanu Dey seems very plausible. I agree that it is speculation, but likely to be true.

    For some well-documented instances of media- bias do have a look at this blog-
    http://mediashame.blogspot.com/

  29. Dr. Dinesh J. Karia,

    Thanks! That is some high praise. 🙂

    debkanchantwitter,

    Welcome to the blog! You could have perhaps tried elaborating further as to what in my blog post is silly and confused thinking?

    manjujoglekar,

    Thanks and welcome to the blog!

    Yes, I also felt that the first and the second points could be clubbed, but I mentioned the first point separately only because that is the single strongest reason media could appear anti-Hindu, whereas some industrialist or movie star influencing the media need not appear thus. I believe even the BJP influences the media but not as strongly as the Congress because of lesser availability of funds.

    Yes, Atanu Dey is a brilliant person. I had never thought of this point before. And it makes sense, too. 🙂

    Thanks very much for the new blog that you introduced me to.

    Take care.

  30. I personally do not think that there is a bias in national media coverage. The perception of bias might to a great extent depend on our political ideologies.

    I have not seen a lot of data on the viewing and reading habits of Indians. What is national media if there is such a thing? Is it the English and Hindi media that is targeted at affluent and middle class Indians? I think that more Indians would be following the “state level media” than any national media.

    A person in Tamil Nadu probably expects the “national media” to report on Congress, DMK and ADMK. But for a person in Delhi it might be between Congress and BJP. So the bias (left wing or right wing) might be more myth than reality. We need more hard data.

  31. Hari,

    Welcome to my blog!

    I have not invoked my political ideology in the entire debate. I have cited specific instances that make me suspicious of motivated meddling with facts.

    If not some incentive to meddle with facts, how come such meddling was so coordinated (in the instances I cited) by most channels/papers – that needs to be answered.

    Yes, I agree that the issues and battles in all states would be different, but that would hold true more for the local elections and not necessarily for the general elections. And also just because local parties are stronger, does not imply that the national parties will not try to gain a foothold. After all, the victory margins in elections are so narrow in so many instances. Also, it is not only about becoming stronger, weakening one’s rival also has the same electoral effect.

    “We need more hard data”

    While, I would not need more data to start strongly suspecting motivated presentation of news, yes, I agree that to be convinced that something similar actually happens, we will need irrefutable evidence. [What I have presented here are speculations based on circumstantial evidence].

    Thanks for reading and your ideas!

  32. Great article. Keep it up sir. Indian media anti-Hindu bias because of lot of petrodollar and missionary money. Do you know NDTV has shares in Gulf company Emaar which is accused for fraud in AP.

  33. Ravishankar,

    Welcome to the blog! And thanks for reading and the praise!

    While you perhaps do not have evidence for what you say, I would not be too surprised if any of the media houses have shares in bigger companies. Because, in itself media business is not very lucrative if one were to stick to ethics, so other avenues of raising funds have to be found.

    I do not know if having shares in Emaar would qualify as conflict of interest (e.g, NDTV would not report it unlike how it would report on Vedanta), and if indeed such conflict of interest would lead them to be selective in news presentation.

  34. Rediscovering Sai,

    Welcome and thanks for the encouragement!

    While I too get frustrated with the partisan attitude of the media, we cannot wish it away, and nor would it be wise. Media has the power to shape our opinions. Actually, in the longer run, who we vote for is not going to make too much of a difference (irrespective of what celebrities and other people tell us about the importance of voting), but imagine the power of media in other choices we make. Media’s presence is everywhere from what we eat to what we wear. A lot of pseudo-scientific research is presented with even less scrupulous scrutiny. See, how Green Peace was given so much space, who had made unscientific claims like “genetically modified food causes cancer” on facebook. And it has permanently dented the impression of GM food in a country that might face imminent starvation given the rate of rise of population, diminishing returns of agricultural land and rate of inflation.

    But now the damage has been done – “cancer” is a terrifying term. Use it in juxtaposition with anything and people will avoid it like the plague (okay, cancer! 😉 ).

    It is for this reason that I always am so suspicious of the motives of the media.

    PS: Sorry, had missed seeing your comment (it was hidden amidst so many long and disagreeing ones), and hence the delay in responding.

  35. There are 2 defining idioms that our mainstream English media believes in or should one say they would like us think so.

    1. If there is criticism for their reporting then they are definitely doing things right. This leads to greater the criticism, higher the validity of reportage. (Misconception in extreme is all one can say.)

    2. Dog bite man is no news. Man bites dog is news worthy. Yet this is precisely what they negate when they report on visits of Rahul Gandhi to the home of the dalits.

    The underpinning of reportage today is TRP’s and ingratiating before their political masters. The inherent peril in this is that they listen to their political bosses with both their ears, where as 1 ear should be firmly placed on ground to hear the rumbling that is getting louder by the day.

  36. Hi Ketan

    I would refrain from calling it an analysis since it is based on assumptions instead of facts, as you yourself admit.

    I see many weak links but I think people have discussed them at length already so I wouldn’t start that discussion all over again.

    Having worked very closely with the media, I must tell you that most of your assumptions are not true. Yes, the media wants to sensationalize every news story and demean journalism in the process but that doesn’t mean that they have a bias towards one community or the other.

    Btw FYI, the media makes a big deal of Islamic terror too! Especially the TOI and NDTV who appear obsessed with anything related to Pakistan, Taliban and so on.

    Anyway, I know this is none of my business but you might want to consider changing the site appearance. White on black is very hard on the eye and not very reader-friendly. Just a suggestion – no hard feelings if you don’t like it!

  37. Ashish,

    Welcome to the blog!

    Yes, these are mere speculations. But the instances of media’s behavior I pointed out are facts. The assumption part is my estimate of their motives behind all that. And hypothesis (based on certain premises, e.g., media houses want to survive and make profits and politicians want to mobilize public opinion, etc.) can be part of an analysis, IMO. But yes, what nomenclature you use is not of great significance. 🙂

    And I don’t know how you missed this point – one of the important points in my hypothesis was that the apparent (meaning, not true) slant is not for/against one or the other community, but it is to favor the Nehru-Gandhi family (sorry, if this seems ridiculous, but so do [to me] so many things the media people do in their efforts, e.g., the Sonia Gandhi interview, coverage of Rahul Gandhi’s Mumbai trip and Tarun Tejpal’s letter).

    My current feeling is that except for if someone comes up with a comprehensive theory as to why what I pointed out happened, or even a specific explanation for the individual events, then I would be comfortable with discarding my hypothesis. This is not a challenge, but I am open to ideas. Till now, the best explanations I have come across can be categorized only into two: “I know how media works, and it is not like how you perceive” or that “media just cannot do what you are accusing it of doing, because the scale of things is too big”, but nothing else. The first explanation is little more than personal testimony, which I keep in consideration, but does not explain the instances. The second one, is something quite sensible, but I don’t think it is big barrier if one goes by the risk-benefit ratio involved in being manipulative.

    Yes, the media makes a big deal about terror emanating from Pakistan. In fact, from what I have come to know on twitter from online Pakistani friends, just like how Indian media holds Pak forces responsible for arrests and prolonged imprisonment of large number of Indian fishermen, there are similar news in Pakistan against Indian coast guard, but they are never/rarely reported by the Indian media. This is in line with my hypothesis of media wanting to show things in pure black and white, so that people can take sides and feel an emotional connect with the story.

    What you point out on the template of my blog is well taken. In fact, I am surprised why you sounded so defensive about it! My templates are just a passing fancy. I might change the current one in near future. For the time being, apologies for the difficulties that you encountered in reading.

    Actually, most of the discussion/debate on this issue has overflown into Bhagwad’s blog, but thanks for reading and commenting, nevertheless.

  38. I-Ore Trading,
    Welcome to the blog!

    I agree entirely to what you have stated. But it is amuses me that there are sharp divides on opinions on how the media works as can be seen on this page itself. I consider some of the people on either side of the divide quite intelligent, sensible and sincere.

    It baffles me how people who on so many other issues would quite agree, reach almost polar opposite conclusions on something like this.

    I am very impressed with the point number 1 you have made. In fact, one journalist/blogger/writer – Dilip D’Souza actually takes people’s irritation at his ideas/suggestions as index of his correctness. And that idea I have been quite uncomfortable with. So perhaps, what you cite could indeed be the defense mechanism people of media use to overlook the increasingly strong feedback they are getting (and of course, the fact that they don’t have to be too scrupulous anyway, that they don’t have much to lose).

    Thanks for your time and commenting!

  39. Hi Ketan

    I see your point.

    I am not sure how much you will buy into this explanation (again, this is my experience of how media behaves and not based on hard evidence):

    As they say about movies that they reflect society and not vice versa, it’s the same with media and news publications. They reflect the mood of the nation they are trying to sell their stories to.

    So after the 2003 elections, the mood of the nation was largely behind the Gandhi family and it has been ever since. Contrast that with people such as Modi or Raj Thackrey or even the communists (against Congress) and you will see why the media sides with the Gandhi family. It wasn’t difficult for the media to choose between Rahul Gandhi and Raj Thackery. They knew very well whom to place their bets on.

    But if you reflect back on the 1999-2000 era, most of the media was very much behind the BJP – the Lahore bus, the Kargil war, the nuclear bomb etc. all gave the BJP a popular appeal and the media made most of glorifying Vajpayee and his government.

    You could see the same trends in non-political media coverage. Take for instance the Ruchika molestation case. Popular opinion was dead against Rathore and the media stories reflected that. Even better example is the Shiney Ahuja case. The media has about-turned in its coverage of that news after the victim changed her stance.

    Now you might say that media’s job is to shape public opinion and that’s responsible journalism. But again, they have commercial compulsions and quality of journalism takes a back seat in such conflicts.

    So to sum up, I would accuse the media of being dishonest to its profession only for commercial compulsions but the claims of victimhood by the Hindu right wing are downright insane.

  40. Ketan majority of the journalists or those with pretense to being journalist have not undergone any formal training, a journalist’s first responsibility to is to report events as they happen, after due corroboration of the facts and veracity of the event.

    What we are getting is opinionated information in the garb of News. Editorial is the exclusive domain of the editor and the publishing house where the opinion on any event may be expressed.
    Editors permit news in this format to be published, this leads to a situation where the media is actively involved in influencing the readers to take a stand for or against each and every event, regardless of it impact or value on the society and the collective public psyche.
    The furor on the possible Koran burning in the USA against a deafening silence on Deganga communal riot in North 24 Parganas on the 6th of Sept. where Hindu Temples and Establishments were desecrated and damaged extensively, or the burning of not just the Koran but many other books on Islam in the school in Tangmarg on the 13th Sept. by the protestors who were followers of Islam were not highlighted.

    This silence is justified by that idiom if there is criticism than I must be doing it right. This is not a defense mechanism rather a very provocative stance.
    Await your thoughts.

  41. Ashish,

    There is an important difference between movies and news. Former is supposed to be largely fiction. Moreover, movie makers have to keep on making new kinds of movies. If you see every decade had its own flavor. But every one or two decades the trend becomes cyclical, meaning, the good old action movies do well, or perhaps, tear jerkers or out and out comedies. But, news people can afford to bring in new programs with greater exchange of ideas, but the news proper they show have to unbiased and news worthy.

    Firstly, it is the media that created a war between Raj Thackeray and Rahul Gandhi. Honestly, Rahul Gandhi is unlikely to contest election from Maharashtra and nor is Raj Thackeray going to do so from Uttar Pradesh. So, I have no reason to believe that both were each others’ adversaries in any way.

    Now, compare the instances of Vajpayee government, which you cited as examples of media supporting his government with the instances I cited. A war, winning which was an uphill task, in which several people had died and which was a national emergency kind of situation. Then, the nuclear tests, where years of preparation was required, hundreds of scientists and other workers had to be mobilized, and five nuclear devices were tested after a gap of 24 years, in such a manner that none of the other developed countries with spy satellites could detect these activities. Lahore bus – I don’t remember if all the news channels were inundated with that news or there were headlines like “Vajpayee entered Pakistani den”, etc. Do you really compare the challenges involved in those events with passage of woman’s reservation bill in Rajya Sabha and withdrawing money from an ATM? Moreover, for Pokhran tests, DRDO and BARC had got prominent coverage and praise. It was seen more as a victory of Indian scientists rather than the BJP government (and of course, rightly so). I did not see any of the media houses praising the security personnel of Rahul Gandhi for protecting him from Shiv Sena, the way the scientists had been commended for their job over Pokhran. But despite these instances, I must point out that in my blog post, I have used the word “struggle”, meaning control over the media is not the monopoly of just the Nehru-Gandhi family, media is too powerful for that! In fact, the BJP leaders must be also influencing the media! It is just that the family has much greater ability to influence than the BJP! And no, I have no problems with good policies/actions of any government getting praised, but the praise and attention given should be commensurate….

  42. …When you give the Ruchika example, please think carefully, the popular opinion was based on information supplied by whom? Common people do not come to know of events nor do they form opinions till somebody gives them info about the event. And opinions are formed on the basis of what info is given by the media, and not otherwise. So I do not believe that people already have pre-formed opinions. Opinions are shaped quite subliminally as that is very easy to do with majority of people. People do not scrutinize the information they get – examples are superstitions (one of the best examples is Ganpati drinking milk!). Likewise, look at the Nirupama Pathak case. Who knew about the case till the media told people what to think about her mother by cleverly insinuating that she had smothered Nirupama? Though I am not sure, but perhaps it is now said that she had committed suicide. And that aspect the media has hardly covered.

    And no, I believe media’s primary responsibility is to gather information, verify it, and pass on all the significant aspects of it, using a filter that is consistent across time, people and communities (e.g., such a frenzied coverage of Quran book burning exactly at the other end of the globe, which did not even occur on one hand, but non-coverage of Pakistani flag hoisting or Deganga riots in Bengal, in which perhaps one/few persons had died and temples were damaged – does not constitute consistency). Opinion-forming is not the job of media per se, though they might provide platform for people of differing perspectives to present their ideas. But what makes conflict of interest very likely is that media can greatly influence opinion, and there are powerful people who want opinion shaped one way or the other.

    I don’t know what to make of your last paragraph! This commercial interest is what I have talked of throughout my post! But the commercial interest also gives rise to conflict of interest. And yes, media is not anti-Hindu in essence, but the way it allows itself to get manipulated, it appears to be anti-Hindu, and this apparent bias is only incidental.

    Thanks again, for responding!

  43. I-Ore Trading,

    Though I do not have much info, it seems the academic courses leading to the career in media are quite shoddy. I had interacted online with two people doing BA honors in mass media, and that is what they felt. Even some of the celebrated anchors are at best good speakers, but their lack of argument making capacity is exposed quite often when they try to interview others. But of course, these are not the skills that are actually vital to provide good-quality news.

    Yes, I find PoV (point of view)-insertion too common in news. I do not want to know whether a six that Tendulkar hit to reach his century was ‘elegant’ or ‘ugly’, but what I would want to know is the number of sixes hit! Information that goes into making of news should be objective and verifiable to the extent possible. If it is not verifiable, it should be attributed explicitly to the source that provides that info. Also, just as you point out, opinion should be part of editorials.

    I have also talked of the instance you provided in my response to Ashish

    “If there is criticism, I must be doing something right” – well, truly that is a provocative stance. It is an insult to the intelligence of the news patrons.

    Thanks again, for your views!

  44. @Ketan

    The Lahore bus ride was live on TV! All the TV channels showed for the entire day was Vajpayee sitting in a bus!

    I also think that the internet and social media has taken over the mantle of forming public opinion in the last few years. So who influences whom is really an open matter of debate.

    But anyway, I think we agree that the media isn’t doing its job of presenting the facts and playing a responsible journalistic role. Especially when you compare the news coverage here in the UK (BBC is the best but Channel 4 and ITV are very good too!) with that in India, most of the news programmes have turned into soap operas. They have very little legitimacy at least in my eyes!

    Cheers!
    AD

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  47. I guess you are saying India has no more news services, only lobbied propaganda machines. The former works for the society, latter for their masters. And systematically the news ones are being sidelined, marginalized and sabotaged. As for why the media favors the anti-Hindu stand is a little deeper than you say. There is a definite advantage for the corporates in promoting spineless folks like Sonia-Manmohan than a nationalistic party. That is the reason you see a definite partial presentation not just in Indian media but one whose meek imitation Indian media is – the western media.

  48. Hi Ketan,

    You must have thought a lot on this issue and it is so unselfish of you to spend that much time thinking about this issue.

    But your blog only focusses on why Indian media appears anti-Hindu.
    There are so many articles like these, which confirm my suspicion and reinforce my belief that there is something fishy about Indian media when they show something we have all been proud of – ‘Our Vedic roots’ all these years as something we have to be ashamed of.

    But reading about all this treachery in this ‘virtual internet world’ and not being able to do anything about it in the ‘real physical world’ only adds to rising BP levels and having no peace of mind.

    Some people suggest Yoga as a means to develop an ability to dismiss what is going on around you, calling it a mere ‘Maya of this world’.

    But it would be wrong to close our eyes and pretend that nothing is happening, or to shrug it off as long as it doesn’t affect us. If we as a society continue this attitude, it won’t take long to realize that we are doomed because of our very inaction.

    I am as clueless as many others on how to right this wrong, on how we collectively put a full-stop to this spreading malaise.

    So, Ketan, as our already ‘something-is-fishy’ conscious society is turning into ‘we-should-do-something-about-this’ society, I ask of you to also please share your thoughts on how the common people like me can not just read/hear about this defaming propaganda and feel bad, but also do something to combat it. A lengthy blog on this would be much appreciated. 🙂

    P.S. May the force be with you! 🙂

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