Media, now broadcaster of government propaganda, must take blame for Gorakhpur tragedy


Never mind which government, servility and corruption are the hallmarks of most Indian media. These two traits are now being exploited to the hilt by the present fascist regime. The electronic media especially is merely a broadcaster of government propaganda now. It refuses to question the government over anything – no questions on manifesto promises, on U-turns, on poor delivery, on recklessness. It is in fact on a mission to brainwash citizens that raising questions against the government is anti-national and unpatriotic.

American journalist Edward Murrow had said that “A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.” and this is exactly what has happened in India. The wolves have come to feed on our infant children in Gorakhpur.

63 babies have lost their lives because an incompetent and callous government hospital cut off oxygen supply. The oxygen supplier repeatedly wrote to Baba Raghav Das Medical College Hospital about non-payment of dues, even sent notices and finally stopped the supply.

The Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath visited the hospital two days before the tragedy but visits by him are artificial and antiseptic. There are so many flagrant examples of his charades – the famous case where lower caste people were sent soap and told to bathe themselves before meeting the upper caste CM, the other where a martyr’s home was painted and furnished before the CM’s condolence visit, and this is the nauseating part – the furnishings & fittings, a sofa, an air-conditioner, were removed the moment the CM left.

There are also the unspeakable pictures where visitors are pinned down to their seats by the CM’s security guards so that they don’t inadvertently touch the CM.

Had the media outraged over his appointment, had they outraged over his lack of empathy and lack of administrative seriousness, his government would have been forced to correct themselves. However, the media chose to gush over his petting a cow and rambled about his food preferences. They deliberately chose to promote his divisive and backward agendas, like fatwas over minorities and anti-romeo squads, and while he moved on blithely from one photo-op to the other, 63 children were left gasping for breath.

Unaccustomed and incapable of actually governing, Adityanath keeps the nation distracted by flexing religious muscle. His latest fatwa is a demand that Madarsas (Muslim religious schools) should compulsorily sing a patriotic song Vande Mataram.

Why? Just because he so wishes. Immediately servant channels swung into choreographed action and packaged this as the ultimate patriotism challenge. An anchor of a English news channel, known for her friendship to Union Minister Arun Jaitley, said on prime time, as a shocked nation was watching the Gorkahpur tragedy unfold, “We are discussing Vande Mataram and you are running away from real issue by talking about deaths in Gorakhpur.”

To her, and other servants of this present government, singing a song that this government fancies is more important than children dying, including infants in the neo-natal unit, because oxygen supply was cut off by the callous and incompetent UP government administration.

6 million rupees was the unpaid oxygen bill. In a country where just the advertisements of the Prime Minister (not the whole government) on electronic media (not print, hoardings, etc.) were 11 billion rupees in 26 months, that is, 423 million rupees a month, this 6 million bill was unpaid!

The ruling party, one must credit its intelligence on this one, quickly realised that Indians are led by television. They unleashed huge spends on electronic media, during their campaign and more so when they came into power. In the face of this huge spend the electronic media did not just bend but prostrated.

Today the manual for all TV news channels reads like this –

  1. No questions on alarming increasing in casualties of soldiers and civilians in conflicts, or about inept handling of cross border tensions and internal insurgencies.
  2. No questions on the slowing economy, on job losses, on manufacturing slowdown, or on fake economic figures.
  3. No questions on widespread mob violence and public lynchings in the name of protecting cows.
  4. No questions on going back on the promise of ensuring minimum selling price to farmers and the growing farmer suicides.
  5. No questions on corruption of any BJP leader, minister or Chief Minister, none whatsoever on the Prime Minister himself.
  6. No questions on growing nepotism and cronyism where policies are being used to benefit select business houses.
  7. No questions on how the Central Bank’s efficiency and integrity have been demolished. No questions on crumbling autonomy of institutions.
  8. No questions on blatant horse trading, and use of money, muscle and blackmail to steal opposition representatives.
  9. No questions on selective targeting of opposition leaders by using enforcement agencies and unfounded baseless cases. No questions on rigging elections through manipulated EVMs.
  10. No questions on the inept handling of the calamities – natural or man-made.
  11. No questions on BJP leaders involved in harassment, abduction, trafficking, rape or murder of women.
  12. Absolutely no questions on misogyny, bigotry. No questions on rights of women, minorities or lower castes.

If forced to discuss any of the above issues the manual spells also out how to deflect blame from the government. All tragedies rest squarely on the shoulders of a fractured, dysfunctional and powerless opposition.

Any bigoted violence is because of the liberals. Any failure, especially in international affairs, is the fault of student activists. What TV news channels busy themselves with is baseless, unverified rumours floating on Whatsapp or social media, and yes, interviews with celebrities, who sing hosannas to the government. And no, we don’t have any Meryl Streeps here.

The nation remains transfixed to the farce playing out on prime time every night and while we mutely follow the electronic pied pipers, propaganda is bludgeoning our democracy to death.

“Do you know we are being led to slaughters by placid admirals & that fat slow generals are getting obscene on young blood

Do you know we are ruled by T.V.?”

― Jim Morrison, An American Prayer


(The author is a senior AAP spokesperson and views expressed here are her own. Janta Ka Reporter does not endorse them)

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