I am impressed with the media’s role in the coverage of the Mumbai attacks and the elections in the four states.
First the Mumbai attacks. The greatest contribution that the media made here is it highlighted the anger of the people. To the discerning eye it was visible that the anger was not against the terrorist attacks only- it was as much against a Government that sucks. The terror attacks proved like the last straw. The common man started taking out his bile. One Mumbaite spat, “The army and the police should be paid 10% more salary than the BABUS (IAS)… and why should there be a dynastic succession in politics”? The undiscussables started getting discussed. Even Rahul Gandhi attacked the fawning attention that the Lal batti (red light) car gets. Rightly so. He is not just a politician. He is also a citizen who uses the amenities which the state provides. And he knows that he is often in a lal batti car which is also stuck at a lal batti (traffic light). Things don’t work for the VIPs also. The populace is asking why should we respect the Government or provide them unjustified perks and the well meaning politician be it Rahul or L.K. Advani has cast his lot with the public.
Media helped in this attack against the feudal mai-baap culture. I hope this is the beginning of change. Some historians say that change doesn’t come till blood is spilt. And that nothing changed for India even though the British left as it was a non-violent victory. A foreign predator was replaced by a native one. If change begins to happen now we must remember that media was a catalyst in beginning it.
Coming to the elections in the four states. The coverage was non-partisan. Impressive. Media behaved with maturity like in the West.
In Italy Berlusconni owns three TV channels- which also often criticize his policies- else their TRPs go down. Media must stay non- partisan for its own good. It also tries to ensure that it doesn’t become a pawn in the hands of the advertiser. When Chrysler demanded that the newspapers which carry its ads should report to it in advance any adverse stories, most of the news papers didn’t accede and Chrysler had to take back its demand as it was missing important target audiences by boycotting the nay sayers. When De Beers asked that its ads should not be placed adjacent to stories which go against the romantic concept of love- the media again did not give in to this demand and De Beers had to with draw it. Indian Political parties also often seek media’s partisan support- but it wasn’t coming.
Those State Governments which had strong communications and publicity departments, who had assiduously worked the media stood to gain because of this. Delhi, MP and Chattisgarh Governments came back to power- and some credit indeed goes to the Directorates of publicity and communication- who because of the less partisan outlook of the media could score more goals through their hard work. So one sees that as the media is trying to make the country a level playing field- it is also becoming one. Great work. Jai Hind.