Hardnews Foreign Policy
There is no dark irony in the affair, even as cacophonic prime time shows on television channels boom and zoom, as if nothing has happened. When being thick-skinned becomes a feather in the cap, a medal on the chest, when media ethics is dumped into a non-biodegradable garbage can for the whole world to see, when there is neither shame nor guilt at the way human affairs are conducted, then the values of life and journalism is yet another trump card on the table. In this win-win game of absolute abandonment of principles, protocol or professional paradigms, public life is a perpetual and relentless game of how close one can get to the establishment, by hook or crook; the voice of conscience, or the inner call of truth and objectivity, or basic human decency, they can go to hell and be eternally damned! By their conduct they have sullied the access journalists have built to get information.
The latest is surely not the last. It is part of an infinite soap opera of sucking up to the powers-that-be, or selling one’s soul as a daily ritual, no problems if even human lives are at stake, or if the dark shadows of war and mass tragedy loom in the horizon. So, in this sinister game-play, the death of 40 soldiers in Pulwama weeks before the parliamentary elections of 2019, becomes a moment of unbridled celebration.
Surely, this is no Freudian slip! This is the compulsive celebration of the banality of evil, as Hannah Arendt would write, reporting on the trial of Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi big boss who presided over the mass murder of millions of Jews. That he did not feel guilt or remorse was a priori. That Eichmann and and his deputies could actually celebrate, even after gassing and murdering tens of thousands of children, women and men, and thereby go for a picnic with their own wives and children, or generally enjoy life with family and friends, is a story of barbarism told and retold by reporters and historians since the war.
Hence, you can see history repeating itself, as a tragedy and nightmare. You can see the gloating of the bloated ego, all self-proclaimed, chest-thumping ‘nationalists’, pumping their chests post-Pulwama, so clearly untouched by the death of so many of our Indian soldiers.
And not one question was asked by these loudmouths – for instance, among others, how come this huge quantity of RDX was being carried in a lone SUV in a high-alert, conflict zone, for one; or, how did this alleged fidayeen escape the multiple, high-powered, chain of security checks; or, how come the news travelled so fast to certain people; or, even, whatever happened to that big-time cop who was caught with two terrorists later, and then released so decently and clandestinely from prison — no questions asked. Well, doubt everything is not even a philosophical criteria these days in India. You can only agree wholeheartedly with whatever Republic TV has to say or the government and its agencies will go after you- if one is a public figure.
Asking questions is a crime in the current scenario when Indian democracy itself is at stake. Instead, the gloating went on, anticipating and predicting the so-called Balakot strike, which the international media reported as total bunkum, or, the military clampdown and traumatic lockdown on an entire population in Kashmir, with the suspension of the original principles of the Constituent Assembly with a dictatorial hand.
Erroneously, in order to display themselves as independent and superior, some commentators called the plaint media persons as godi media without realising that their facile description of journalism would question the credibility of all journalists and tar the entire profession and its faceless foot soldiers. By handing over an easy description of the pro-government media to fascists that hate independent journalism, grievous harm has been done by these glory seeking anchors and commentators. By constantly attacking pro-government TV channels and their opinionated anchors and by professing unpopular views that revile the ruling ideology, they have willy-nilly become instruments to feed majoritarianism.
In this sinister and daily theatre, now depicted as a public spectacle for the whole nation and the whole world to see, the original case of how Republic TV was allegedly fudging TRPs has been lost. Or, a certain criminal case now under investigation and judicial scrutiny, of two cases of suicide in Mumbai. What remains are reams of WhatsApp conversations, leaked by the Mumbai Police, telling a gory and grotesque narrative of total complicity and insensitivity between a channel owner and the government.
So, who says that journalism should be adversarial, ethical, objective and in public interest?