New York City-based human rights and media activist Partha Banerjee, in Counter Currents, detects an eerie similarity behind “the media-supported rise of Rahul Gandhi” as the next potential prime minister of India and the rise of Rajiv Gandhi and his brother Sanjay:
“I must say I’m frustrated to see the rampant bias in favour of the ruling party [in the Indian media]….
“The role of government as well as private media such as Zee TV, NDTV, Star-Ananda, CNN-IBN, The Times of India, etc., along with their many local and regional offshoots, to show extreme bias for parties and candidates of their choice is gravely ominous for democracy.
“”Contrary to the much-touted American media doctrine of a fair and objective reporting—doctrine they always preach but seldom practice—the new Indian media have resorted to an unrestricted, one-sided coverage of the Congress Party and its leaders.
“Sadly, even now during the election times, voters can find nearly no reporting of the fact that a vast majority of Indians still have no access to health care, education, drinking water or electricity. One wouldn’t know that in India, a world-record number of farmers committed suicide because of economic desperation and multinational companies’ forced seed-bank replacements.
“We don’t hear about the destruction of Indian environment and massive pollution and energy crisis. We don’t hear about the extreme lack of women’s rights (sure, we now have more fashion shows and jewelry models on the catwalk!). We don’t hear that India is now the fastest-growing AIDS country (and contrary to Thailand or USA, talking AIDS is still very much a taboo).
“We don’t know that police brutality and abuses on social and religious minorities are abysmal. We’re never told that international organizations have called India as one of the worst countries to protect human rights and promote equality. We’re not reminded that India has seen a massive number of communal riots, big and small, in recent years: not just in Gujarat, Ayodhya or Mumbai. And that our governments have failed miserably to protect us from terrorism.
“And that is why Indian media’s suppression of truth and generous donation to ruling class’s rampant lies are even more worrisome. In their election coverage today, opposition parties find minimal amount of time and importance. Third parties and especially those who have mass support to boycott elections are not given any time at all. Big media have belittled opposition alliances, and brought them to ridicule.”
Read the full article: Incredible India (Elections): Jay Ho!
Also read: How the media misses the woods for the trees
In our great country, parties, their coalitions, projected winning numbers, caste, religion etc., is more important than issues. Do you now understand why we are still thriving on ‘Roti, makaan, kapda’?
Whether we like it or not, that is what the reality is and I don’t see any media taking initiative to come out of it either.. Keep watching these media people over next one month, they will be back again with words like ‘% swing in Muslim/Dalit/Minority votes’ etc., Why can’t we file cases against these biased people and make india free from such skewed thinking?
Well said..Most of these media are focussed on starry-eyed rahul baba and priyanka..They are the ones to highlight and support divisions on the basis of caste/religion..experts in making mountain out of molehills..
When I see NDTV’s Barkha Dutt asking only the rt questions to Soniaji/Priyanka Madam, I wonder whether she would have prostrated before them in order to please the ladies..Shortcut to Padma Awards ???
IBN’s Rajdeep or Time’s Arnab are not far behind in such tasks !
Lot was expected of a Cong govt when they came to power under MMS, but in the five years they did nothing much to take the nation forward..How uninspiring a leader Cong can force upon us is well understood now..Everyone including the Aam Aaadmi have nothing fruitful to see on the ground than cosmetic moves like farm loan waivers,NREGA etc ..we have seen our country bleeding bcos of terrorism/naxal security attacks and price rise of essential commodities..We need a more determined Govt. which can do some wonders on all fronts..
author has just picked newscast about gandhi scion – missed rest of coverage on congress/BJP which are not at all pro-cong. so what he sees as media bias is a skewed vision. needs to change style of analysis before shooting off mouth about Indian elections/media. Cant just compare it to US elections which are a media-frenzy for 2YEARS! And candidates are under the scanner for make up, DO, school friends, etc.
Media: Media has become hand maiden of the ruling party. They are acting like the skimpily dressed cheer girls of T 20 cheering Rahul baba whenever he makes a public appearance. It will help our media to grow some ba!!s, by atleast watching Pakistani media, who fearlessly take on the Government as well as Taliban. People are bored to death watching such one-sided news coverage by Indian Media. So what do our T 20 IPL news media do to improve their TRPs? I dont want to put it down for fear of being called male chauvinist or sexist! So you have to guess how news will be rendered in future in Indian Media, to make it interesting, of course if Ram sena permits?
Elections: Every Indian election is and will be about Roti Kapada and Makaan! If every Indian had access to RKM what can our poor netas promise? So RKM needs to be an eternal issue whether in election 2009 or election 2109. We can depend on our netas to keep things that way for us!
Congress has sucked the life out of our country & ruined our nation. long live congress, because India has to stay this way for the next 100 yrs
The Hindu has changed colour as thr election is nearing. Yesterday it was an editorial on Bofors and Q, to day it is on the USA India nuclear deal as an Euphoria and the money spent for lobbying for the Nuclear deal.
The other day Mr Roy of NDTV was telling that the Elam cry of Jayalalita was a very shameful for the country and it was being endorsed by the Congress spokeperson, but the liberation of Pakistan as Bengaladesh and the IPKF in Sri Lanka did not matter and it was a very proud thing!? This was all done by the Congress so it is OK!
A great article! I wonder what Mysore Peshva saab is going to say now:)
The author has not done any homework before writing this ill informed article.
1. Media is never interested in any serious issues. Whether it is Cong or BJP, they never make hunger or malnutrition or appalling living conditions as their main story.
2. What sells is an Arushi murder, deliberately overplayed to show Congress in delhi in a bad light.
3. What sells is the Jagdish Tytler case, deliberately hounded by a biased media to ensure Tytler did not get ticket
4. What sells is the shrill cry by the media for resignation of Shivraj Patil
5. What sells is the shrill cry by the media for resignation of Vilas Rao deshmukh
6. The media did not raise a whimper when parliament was attacked. Not a single media asked for resignation of Advani.
7. The media has made leaders like Varun Gandhi and Modi. There are special programmes devoted entirely to them, clearly aimed at garnering HIndu votes.
8. The media of late has lionised Gujarat CM to such an extent that people actualy belive that there is development in Gujarat. Media has constantly fed us with stories of Gujarat develoipment.
9. MEdia does not reserve the same special treatment for Sheila Dixit , who is in fact more successful than Modi. Sheila has been elected three times successively…but Sheila is almost absent on TV channels when compared to the high visiblilty of Modi. Every word of what Modi said in campaign speeches is beamed, while other Cong CMs get ignored.
10. Media constantly over estimates BJPs strength, thereby trying to help BJP get more votes. In 2004, they over estimated NDAs strenght by 100 seats. In delhi 2008 polls, they said BJP will be back to power since Sheila has to face 10 years of incumbency
There are a 100 more examples one could give of Media’s blatantly pro BJP tilt.
Whatever you have written is equally applicable for Churumuri :-) . Compare the number of articles written in Churumuri about Modi with the number about Sheila Dixit.
The English media (including Churumuri) in India is not intentionally pro-BJP.
But in their well-intentioned (sometimes :-) ) “secular” zeal, they ignore the basic idea that for a politician, there is no difference between fame and notoriety. Varun Gandhi should simply have been ignored, without giving him the oxygen of notoriety/fame.
Good and infact surprising that you at least bothered to link to this as I don’t think Churumuri is any different from what is being said in the article.
Correct article. The media has not only become biased but also obsessed with Congress party. They say hate speech has been rendered by Varun Gandhi but never report in the same zeal hate speeches of Srinivas, Lalu and others. Its just plain turning blind eye.
They highlight mangalore pub attack as “Moral Policing” where as they turn blind eye of killing of innocent girl for marrying against family wishes (“honour killing”) at Haryana.
I was following CNN IBN’s “Know Your Neta” program and I was surprised that for the first two weeks, there was no questions about BJP or even NDA leaders at all. If they show bias in such a stupid marketing gimmicks itself, we can estimate how much they will do in the real news.
Its just disgusting to watch the news these days.
Simple AKA Simple Mind!
…What sells is the Jagdish Tytler case, deliberately hounded by a biased media to ensure Tytler did not get ticket.
…What sells is the shrill cry by the media for resignation of Shivraj Patil.
With these issues and other issues you have listd, are you being a ‘retarded devil’s advocate’ or what?
Are you wilfully turning a blind eye to media’s deliberate pro BJP tilt?
You could answer none of the points, but you choose to abuse me.
Answer me point by point.
As far as opinion polls by channels are concerned, all the TV channels and print media whipped up a fervour, in favour of BJP and NDA last time. They tried their best to project BJP as party returning to power.
But they had egg on their faces after the results were announced.
media always underestimates Cong and overestimates BJP in every election.
Well perhaps we might need the help of honest foreigners to help see the truth of our situation. Here is something that appeared in the Wall Street Journal. I was very impressed that the Wall Street Journal published this piece:
By RAZEEN SALLY
Indians are going to the polls to elect a new government. The Congress party is standing on the record of the government it has led since 2004. But elections are taking place when the Indian economy has taken a sharp turn for the worse, in a climate of global economic crisis. This exposes the pathetic, do-nothing, zero-reform record of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his government. More generally, it lays bare India’s huge reform gaps and its brittle, decaying institutions. Finally, it deflates the “India Hype” peddled by smooth-talking, upper-caste politicians, ambassadors, businessmen, management consultants and indeed some academics.
A boy works inside a workshop of earthen lamps in Nalchar village, about 76 km south of Agartala, capital of India’s northeastern state of Tripura, April 13, 2009. (REUTERS/Jayanta Dey)
A word about India Hype. One aspect of it is the thesis that India is forging a separate successful path to development, in contrast to the traditional comparative-advantage-based development of China and the other East Asian Tigers. At its extreme, this argument holds that India’s growth engines are its high-end services, and now manufacturing sectors with their globalizing, world-beating companies.
This is a fundamental misdiagnosis. The vaunted successes in information technology-based services and in manufacturing niches are welcome. But they are a high-wage, capital- or skill-intensive drop in India’s low-wage, unskilled, labor-abundant ocean. India’s growth should be focused in the labor-intensive sectors, but it isn’t.
Agriculture is stagnant, hobbled not just by very high external protection but also by crazy subsidies captured by comparatively rich farmers and middlemen, absence of property rights, terrible rural irrigation and infrastructure, and draconian domestic restrictions that fragment the internal market. Nontradable services sectors—where potential employment generation is huge—are also crippled by domestic restrictions. Backbone services sectors (such as banking, insurance and retail) suffer from external protection as well.
Last, and crucially, India’s glaring development gap is in manufacturing, for all sorts of Union and state-level policies—on labor markets, infrastructure, power generation, subsidies, the public sector, repressed agriculture and services sectors, uncertain property rights, and remaining zones of protection against imports and inward investment—conspire to prevent labor-intensive industrial production. India needs its Industrial Revolution if it is to grow out of poverty. That means putting the impoverished in the countryside into (initially) low-wage work in mass manufacturing. That is what China and other parts of East Asia have done. But not India.
India Hype extends to “Chindia,” the notion that India plays in the same league as China as an emerging superpower. This is pure myth. China plays in a league of its own; India, Brazil and Russia play in a far inferior league. China’s economy is thrice the size of India’s; its goods exports are 10 times bigger; it is even ahead of India in the world services trade; it spends about 10% of GDP on infrastructure compared to about 5% in India; and its carbon emissions—a sure indicator of industrialization—are about four times higher.
Special Coverage: India Elections
See news, analysis and opinion from The Wall Street Journal on India’s elections.
Now turn to the Congress-led government. There have been practically no market reforms since it took office in 2004, save for the opening of domestic civil aviation. Nothing has moved on privatization, the reduction of government equity in banks and insurance companies, pensions, competition regulation and the administration of subsidies. Industrial tariffs have come down (as they were doing gradually pre-2004), but otherwise external protection has not been reduced. Indeed, export restrictions were slapped on in response to food inflation in 2008. India remains the most protectionist large emerging market.
Worse, there has been reform backsliding and reversal. Fiscal restraint, put in place by the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act of 2003, has been thrown to the winds. Now, with an economic downturn, the consolidated government deficit is projected to rise above 10%. This is going to make private capital scarcer and more expensive. Funding for much-needed infrastructure projects will suffer. Administered pricing for petroleum products was reintroduced in 2008. Off-budget expenditure has increased significantly, especially through gimmicky, populist measures to support agriculture and rural employment, and to subsidize the state-owned energy sector when oil prices soared.
The government’s response to the present global economic crisis was to introduce further market-distorting restrictions, including higher tariffs, antidumping duties and assorted nontariff barriers to imports. And it is even more resistant to opening up the financial sector to competition. The result will be to entrench the power of inefficient state-owned banks and insurers, and cramp incentives to save and invest in the private sector. Finally, the Congress Party entered the general-election campaign with pledges to expand its hugely wasteful rural employment guarantee program and increase food subsidies.
This is an abysmal record. The government has squandered the boom years, left the country vulnerable to malign global economic conditions, and compromised prospects for a healthy recovery. But Mr. Singh and his “dream team” have been given an easy ride: they have escaped blame, especially in the eyes of the international commentariat. The conventional excuse is that their hands are tied by Sonia Gandhi and her Congress coterie, and by messy coalition politics.
This explanation just does not wash. Mr. Singh has impeccable academic credentials and is by all accounts incorruptible. He deserves credit for his performance as finance minister in the early and mid 1990s—though at least as much credit should go to the then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao, who had to take the tough decisions. But Mr. Singh has proved a hopeless decision maker as prime minister.
He has lacked the political instinct and moral courage to take tough decisions, hiding behind the fig leaf of Mrs. Gandhi and the troublesome left-wing parties that propped up the government. The latter withdrew their support in mid-2008, and the government won a vote of no-confidence, yet—not surprisingly—market reforms did not materialize. Sadly, Mr. Singh proves the rule that academics should generally be “on tap” but not “on top.”
The whole reform program depends crucially on the prime minister himself. Mr. Rao and A.B. Vajpayee proved their mettle, despite heavy political constraints. Mr. Singh has failed; he should bear much of the blame. That blame must also be shared with the other sweet-talking, weathervane-members of his dream team. The Congress party does not deserve to be re-elected, and the dream team does not deserve to continue in office.
The question is whether an alternative Bharatiya Janata Party-led government would do any better. Yes, if it has a decisive leader with a core of able reformers. No, if its leader follows the dictates of short-term opportunism and inevitably messy coalition politics. The danger is that the election will create an even more fractured political landscape, with an even weaker, more unwieldy governing coalition. The nightmare scenario is of a new Union government held hostage by surging caste-based parties in north India and their corrupt leaders. That would scotch further major market reforms and deepen India’s institutional malaise.
Hence the failure of the Congress-led government should be put into a larger institutional context. The Indian state, led by a neanderthal and venal political-bureaucratic elite, remains unreformed. It comprises a bloated, corrupt, tyrannical and grossly incompetent army of 20 million bureaucrats and their minions. It works for the benefit of the well-off with political connections, but it is still a crushing burden on the one billion-plus Indians outside the charmed circle of the upper and upper-middle classes.
India optimists aver that “stealth reforms” have and will continue to take place outside the state, crowding it in and reducing its ability to do harm. This view is dangerously complacent. To begin with, state institutions—the political class, political parties, parliaments, the bureaucracy, the judiciary –have gotten worse at both Union and state levels.
Arun Shourie, the leading market reformer in the last BJP-led government and one of India’s leading intellectuals, argues that modern India has two races going on. One is a backward race of a state “hollowed out by termites”; the other a forward race of market reforms, modernization and globalization. The backward race is led by India’s unreconstructed political class. The forward race is led by urban professionals in the private sector. Mr. Shourie says that these two races are fundamentally incompatible. Either the backward race will be arrested by the reconstruction of the state, or it will drag the forward race backward. He notes one silver lining: policies, governance and economic performance have been improving in a minority of Indian states, roughly in an arc from the south to the west. These are the states where the forward race is fastest. They set positive examples for other states to emulate.
India Hype-peddlers neatly sweep the country’s institutional rot under the carpet. However, India cannot be expected to grow and prosper far and fast, not just now but for decades ahead, with such shaky foundations. The upshot is that much-needed market reforms cannot continue to skirt around the reform of the state itself. Politically, that is the hardest nut to crack. If our media wrote anything against the government they have a chance to get punished or our of favor with the ruling establishment so they are chickens.
It was called Don’t believe the India hype
—Mr. Sally is director of the European Centre for International Political Economy in Brussels and on the faculty of the London School of Economics.
This article first appeared on feer.com
Doddi Buddi Sahebare,
Sorry for the tardy response. I agree with you — paragraph four onward, the (cited) article is spot on. Excellent argument.
But I don’t agree with the paragraph three — it is incorrect conclude that the coverage of the ruling party is “one-sided” only because of the admittedly excellent points recorded in the last four paragraphs.
I don’t read many “vernacular” papers (even though once a week I try to catch up with Prajavani or Saamna or Loksatta), but I get the feeling that the vernacular press’ coverage of the ruling party has been quite different from that of the “pseudo-secular” English media.
What do you say.
Thanks for the sharing the good, err.. the disturbing, read.
Thank you for great post from Far Eastern Economic Review. Somehow the UPA spin meisters prefer the old school Economics rag The Economist. Having run out of all excuses for British Economics it is only natural that Economist is being Economical with truth with regard to UPA and Mind-Relaxation Lion:)