Indian media demanding civility in public discourse. Are you serious?


It was the tweet below by Delhi chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal that sent ripples across the world with even international media finding a considerable editorial value in splashing headlines on this development on their outlets.

As expected, from India Today to Times Now, all channels were nimble-footed in dedicating unprecedented coverage to Kejriwal’s ‘loss of civility’ as the ‘victim’ on this occasion happened to be a person no less than India’s prime minister.

A defiant chief minister, who was angry over the BJP-led central government’s alleged abuse of the CBI to raid his office, refused to apologise.

Talking to media, Kejriwal said, “tum (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) apne kukarmo ki maafi mango desh se, main apne shabdo ki maanfi maang loonga desh se. (You apologise to nation for your misdeeds, I will apologise for my words.”
Tuesday’s prime time media coverage of what Kejriwal had uttered through his twitter handle appeared to have angered the members of the media fraternity more than the BJP. Hence the blow-by-blow analyses on how the Delhi CM had denigrated his ‘constitutional post.’
Amidst widespread negative perception about Indian media and its rapidly eroding credibility, this indeed came as a very refreshing development, whereby the fourth pillar of democracy was registering its protests over the visible deterioration of public discourse.
There was one problem though. The person, who was a victim of Kejriwal’s verbal onslaught on Tuesday, has been a serial offender of calling names to his political opponents. And, I can’t recall any media debate, putting the BJP’s spokespersons in the dock for Modi bringing disrepute to the offices of the chief minister and prime minister.
Anybody, who has followed Modi, would know that the man is capable of being exceptionally menacing with his words while launching tirades against his opponents. He may have catapulted himself from a little known chief minister of Gujarat to India’s prime minister, but there has been little or no change in his public conduct while taking on his rivals.
Here are some examples;
5o crore ki girlfriend: Remember his ’50 crore ki girlfriend’ jibe for late Sunanda Pushkar. While addressing a rally on 29 October, 2012, Modi had attacked Shashi Tharoor by calling his friend, who later became his wife, Sunanda Pushkar 50 crore ki girlfriend. Of course, in his defence, he wasn’t holding the office of prime minister when he made these utterly disgusting remarks, but he was still a chief minister. In media’s enthusiasm to hate everything linked with Congress, we forgot that Modi’s obnoxious comments were meant to target Pushkar, who was a woman and somebody’s mother. I can’t recollect any outrage on national media other than the story being covered factually.
Anarchist Kejriwal should go to jungle: On 11 January, while campaigning for the BJP in Delhi elections, Modi launched a verbal onslaught against the Aam Aadmi Party leader Kejriwal, who was aspiring to become Delhi’s chief minister. He likened the AAP leader to an anarchist, who was only capable of causing disruptions and not running government. TV channels, who provided blow by blow coverage to Modi’s election rally, mysteriously forgot to raise questions if such language suited a person holding the prime minister’s office. 
Modi’s 3 Idiots: While campaigning for the NDA in the recently concluded Bihar elections, a desperate Modi couldn’t resist himself from name-calling. Among other things, he described Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, RJD president Lalu Yadav and the JDU leader, Nitish Kumar as 3 idiots of Bihar elections. Once again, quite despicable comments by a country’s PM, but once again no outrage on TV channels.
Beti Set nahi Kar Sake– And finally, his most infamous jibe against the RJD chief Lalu Yadav’s daughters. On 27 October, while addressing a huge rally in Patna, Modi accused Lalu of unsuccessfully having tried to ‘set his helpless daughters’ in 2014 elections. Although his comments were made in the context of ensuring success in Lok Sabha elections, his choice of words reflected a new low in public discourse. Of course, Lalu, his daughter Misa Bharti and other leaders of the Grand Alliance were incensed. But not the members of our media fraternity, who are often seen flying the flag for morality, whenever the guilty happens to be an individual they despise.