July 2016 News

Shah Faesal Dubs Indian News Channels' Idea Of Kashmir 'divisive', 'anti-national'

18 July 2016

Srinagar: Shah Faesal's opinion for The Indian Express on how news channels push an aggressive agenda of Kashmir, thereby edging out the state further away from the country, is the piece we need right now and the one we deserve. Faesal's indictment (of news channels) comes after a popular news channel juxtaposed his photos and videos with that of dead and alive young militants - indicating a difference in role models. What infuriated Faesal, an IAS officer who is the director, school education in Kashmir, was that it was a thoughtless effort, not just because it posed a threat to his life, but because it misrepresented India's idea of Kashmir. He further writes that this isn't the first time that news channels have projected a wrong idea of Kashmir and that it happened before 'in 2008, in 2010, and in 2014'. What made the current round of commercial savagery by a few news channels even more tragic was that they continued to promote falsehoods, dividing people, creating hatred, completely disregarding the values of democracy and secularism, even when people were dying and the government was trying hard to calm down people's passions. It did not stop even after appeals were made to de-escalate. This brazenness to market TRPs as national interest and do business over the dead bodies of young men was the worst aspect of these loud newsrooms. India's prime time news is all about one thing: loud newsrooms, as Faesal so precisely puts it. The crusaders of television news channels encourage shouting matches, create a right and a wrong boundary for issues, cultivate a bias, and grab TRPs along the way. David Devadas echoed the same view in his piece for Firstpost, calling Indian news channels 'anti-national' and that they were pouring oil on the Kashmir fire. Let's get one thing straight. This is not journalism. The so-called debate 'shows' that several television anchors now run in India are more like Roman circuses or wrestling akhadas. No wonder that the programme that first laid the pattern for these shows was shamelessly called 'the big fight'. Where the channels went wrong was in contrasting the two; in terms of pure black and white, thereby whipping up passion and dividing opinions, as some MPs chose to call it in 18 July's session of the Rajya Sabha. 'Some prime-time shows have also attempted to divide the nation on communal lines,' said Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, adding that rather than being rational and reflecting sanity, these shows have only fanned passions. 'They place four Hindu and four Muslim fundamentalists on their panel, who would fight each other and inflame passions among the people on communal lines,' he added, and singled out foreign authors like Tarek Fatah and Taslima Nasreen for vitiating the atmosphere. Azad was supported by JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav, who indicated at what seemed like media regulation. A visibly upset Yadav said that the government has failed to restrain the electronic media which continuously showed statements from separatists and, at times, 'mad persons' from abroad who compromised the dignity of the nation. 'Why is this drama allowed? ...Can't we tell the media to stop showing the propaganda of people supporting Islamic State in India?' But it's not just us journalists or politicians who see through the media circus. Viewers called out on jingoistic anchors and their news channels making the Kashmir issue about themselves than for what it really is. (Of course, there are always exceptions)