Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Indian media fanning politics of religion and polarization

A minority that is giving the majority a bad name and defaming an entire religion and a slanted media narrative that is adding fuel to the fire – welcome to the new style of ‘politics of polarization’ taking roots in India.

 No, I am not referring to the now clich├ęd “minority community”, but the motley minority of extreme thinking Hindu politicians who have voiced opinion adverse to the tenets of Sanatana Dharma* and the concept of Vasudaiva Kutumbakam^, that is now the basis of a media generalization – happily lapped up by the political opposition and a ‘magnanimously-fed-by-left-liberal’ media houses.

National Democratic Alliance (NDA) 2.0 coming to power in 2014 with an absolute majority for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) meant that every step of its parent body Rashtriya Swamsevak Sangh (RSS) would be scrutinized. While there has not been any drastic approach of the Government in imposing the “Hindutva agenda” as the Indian National Congress and its alliance partners have been mongering the Indian electorate for securing the power for itself for decades, few insensitive remarks by BJP MPs began to give enough fodder for the starved-for-sensationalism media to play up.

Every action or speech of a few outspoken Sangh background ruling party MPs gave discomforting moments for the popularly elected Government, causing enough embarrassment to the democratic fabric of the nation of diverse religion and culture.

There is a rising wave of anti-Hindu political reporting in the media, thanks to the jealously driven hate against Narendra Modi. An outspoken politician whose popularity gave his party the massive victory in the general elections and one that has only grown through the endorsement of his Government’s vision by the international community, Modi is continued to be undeservingly hated by the media for quite too long now.

It is really saddening that Hindus are being shamed just because the Gujarat chief minister, a Hindu icon, aspired to become the prime minister of the country and succeeded in his very first attempt, while dozens of ageing politicians across the left and left leaning socialist parties have been dreaming of and failing to grab the coveted post without adding much value through constructive debate in repeated stints in the parliament.

Vying with the opposition politicians are media houses, writers, film actors, celebrities of any and every kind - all ganged up against Modi’s idea of India. The vicious anti-Modi hate narrative is tilting its target towards Hinduism, which is becoming the victim.

While no opportunity is missed to highlight the repeatedly headline making quote “Terror has no religion”, justifiably too, there is always a “saffron terror” tag attached to one deranged Hindu’s act of crime. ‘Hindu’ and ‘Hindutva’ are fleetingly generalized, a commentary that has been built by a pseudo secular political mileage driven agenda.

Sample these two excerpts from the recent media reports:

“A mob of two hundred Hindu men, incited by the village priest, killed a Muslim neighbour and nearly killed his son on the strength of a rumour that they had been eating beef.”

“A play titled 'Agnes of God' has been called off after religious groups objected to it.”

While, the lynching of a fellow human for the food choices he makes is inhuman and barbaric and needs to condemned univocally, where is the need to paint the incident as a general ‘Hindu” mindset?  The Church is justified in its objection of the play about an American nun who gives birth to a dead child and claims it is the result of a virgin conception, which has been made into a film and has played all over the world.

Isolated acts of crime including arson and looting at religious places get reported as “Attack on Christianity” and “Burning of Churches” by HINDU RIGHT WING. There are no follow up reports on the antecedents of the criminals nabbed in such incidents and stories die natural death when the purported crime has no religious hate attached to it.

Strangely the Freedom of Expression brigade in the media goes to town only when the sentiments of a few minority “religious groups” are hurt by the Hindu men and saffron terrorrists, but it is never the other way round. This polarizing trend is increasingly becoming the norm by the media with its ‘reporters’ who are happily peddling opinion in the garb of news and reporting. Equally deplorable is the intolerant few in the Hindu right wing support group on the social media expressing their disapproval through extremely acerbic language, easily avoidable in a democratic debate.

No editor has ever questioned the usage of the “hindu men” for mob, and the “religious group” for the minority presence in a crime scenario.

Changing times for India where the words ‘ethics’, ‘neutral, ‘unbiased’ and ‘objectivity’ are losing their relevance in journalism.

*Sanatana Dharma: in Hinduism, term used to denote the “eternal” or absolute set of duties or religiously ordained practices incumbent upon all Hindus, regardless of class, caste, or sect.

^Vasudaiva Kutumbakam: A Sanskrit phrase which means "the world is one family".

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