Sunday, October 28, 2007

Media, Religion and politics- all mixed into one

India is all about cultural tolerance. It has survived and prospered where other more powerful have disappeared and disintegrated. The greatness of this country is that it allows many different religions to co-exist together .It’s a great religious conflux where various religions co-habit just like the many rivers flowing in this country that lose their individual identity and merge into one.

This greatness can be attributed to the fact that India through thousand of years has seen many a rules. This country has seen Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic and Christian rulers and yet it has remained secular. Religious tolerance doesn’t comes easily. India has never been a Hindu or a Muslim state and it will never be one.

What happened in Gujarat in February 2002 was shameful and it should have never happened. But what has this particular sting operation achieved? They have not come out with anything so incriminating that can be termed as path breaking or one which can help the law in giving justice. Neither they have fished out something which was unknown. Is not Babu bajrangi a known Hindu fundamentalist? His name already figures in the list of those who have taken an active part in the riots. It has been for long being alleged that it was a state sponsored riots and if some fundamentalist says that the state machinery was supporting the Hindu mob than does this it proves it?

What this sting operation has done is freshen the wounds that the people of Gujarat got in February 2002 and which to some extent was healing.

Intelligence agencies have time and again said that the Islamic Militant groups have regularly used the Gujarat riots to breed terrorism in young susceptible minds. The lessons of Jihad that are taught to the innocent minds draw their reference from what happened in Gujarat. Thanks to this particular sting operation now every house has heard and seen what happened in Gujarat.

The Tehelka people approached every national channel for airing the tapes. Some of them refused fearing the authenticity and the the possible backlash the airing may generate and some of them refused because they were not able to pay the sum desired by Tehelka in exchange for trading the tapes. Ultimately it landed in the hands of the Aaj-Tak group which aired it, and those who have seen it will agree that the whole show was more of a couple of minutes of actual footage and subsequent discussions and more time was devoted to the advertisements. The Aaj Tak Group got more than what it had paid for the tapes and their TRPs soared. As like in most cases ultimately it is all about money and the ‘national interest’ was put on the back burner.

These so called ‘guardian of democracy’ talks about media ethics that dwells on bringing the truth out. But what about the delicate religious secular environment of the country? Don’t they find anything unethical in that? Don they think that by airing such footages they are inciting the religious fundamentalists to destroy the secular fabrics of the state?

They could have telecasted the whole thing without using the crude words and graphical representation and narration. But that would have meant missing out on the ‘masala-sensationalization’.

Media is a very powerful effective tool and it can influence minds in no small manner and this is what the people in this profession should keep in mind.

Election time is about to arrive and I strongly think that the general Elections should now be called as ‘Religious elections’ because this is what the leaders have made it. Elections should be contested on issues of development, but sadly even after 60 years of Independence we have not been able to stop ourselves from being influence by religious and caste rhetorics. Religious issues will never lead us anywhere though they may pull us some steps back.

30% of India’s population lives below poverty line, millions are dying from disease like malaria and aids, forest and natural resources are being depleted and corruption is eating into our system. And mind you all these and many other countless issues are age old phenomenon and yet we are still shackled by the same Hindu-Muslim debate.

Every politician has his/her take on local, religious and petty issues but not even a handful of them can independently decide that how the nuclear is deal going to affect our country. Most of them have no idea whether to say yes or no to the deal, except the Left. The Left has decided to say no to the deal, but they themselves are confused on what grounds they have decided so.

This country sure has some confused leaders running the show, leaders who have no belief in themselves, leave alone the whole country having belief in them. But on second thought if India has managed to survive for so long then there is no reason why it won’t continue to do so in the future…. Hopefully!

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