What was called a ‘Non-military and Pre-emptive’ action against the Pulwama Attack, the Indian Air force had attacked the facility of Jaish-e-Mohammad, an organization which claimed responsibility of the attack in Pulwama on 14 February. The attack took place in Balakot, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
The Media (Television) with its coverage has shown the ugly side of an institution which was supposed to play the role of the watchdog in a democracy. It has, in fact, acted more like a barking dog. People had lost hope from the ‘Prime-time’ shows a long ago, but at times when the nation is having a tough time with Pakistan (Our neighbor having surplus Nuclear Arsenal) they were supposed to act more sensibly. The news channels which were expected to give a logical perspective to the events unfolding have escalated the tensions to a point where People are demanding a vengeance from Pakistan, not giving any thought to the consequences.
It all started from an unfortunate event Feb 14, which eventually led to another war on Twitter. Arnab Goswami started #IndiaWantsRevenge from his primetime where he was shouting for revenge from Pakistan and anti-nationals of India. The Unfortunate event, lead to more unfortunate events where Kashmiri students were beaten-up by angry mobs all over India.
A Qatar based news organization had aired an analysis of Indian media with the title, ‘Drumming beats of War’ on 25th February. It said,
“What makes Indian news channels unique is that there are so many of them, far more than any other country. And as political debate in India has grown more polarised, often over Prime Minister Modi’s brand of Hindu nationalism, TV output has become more debased. And when that kind of coverage is fed into the Indian social media messaging machine, the effect can be dangerous.”
Just a day later on 26th, the Indian Air Force attacked the alleged Jaish targets in Balakot, which later turned out to be a Chest-thumping showcase of our Valour and vengeance with Pakistan. TV9 Telugu, a regional news channel in an attempt to show the air-defense system in the border areas had one of it’s star anchor dressed up in combat uniform and held on to a toy gun.
It was aired about a year later when a similar showcase was aired by the channel after the death of Actress Sridevi. The anchor in pursuit of unveiling the reason behind her death. The anchor that time literally placed herself inside the bathtub. Not just regional but so-called, National news channels aired their share of Chest-thumping while frivolously celebrating Modi’s courage. Celebrity Anchor Anjana Om Kashyap named aired her show with the snappy title, ‘Bam-Bam Modi’.
It is not just the flashy titles and treatment of these programmes which makes them problematic, the factual information at times is also compromised in the effort of seeking wider attention to be in the race of TRPs (Television Rating Point). Audiences are often deprived with of the actual facts and served hypernationalism and hysteria.
Has there been an official confirmation or is this just TV media being TV media? pic.twitter.com/MRx1cqL1fk
— Manisha Pande (@MnshaP) February 26, 2019
According to a report in newslaundry, ABP News ran breaking news on Azhar being killed through the day without exactly stating where they had received this information from. The channel ran the ticker “Aaj Saale Ko Maara”. Saale being a pun on the word “brother-in-law”.
— Manisha Pande (@MnshaP) February 26, 2019
Pakistani Writer, Fatima Bhutto in her latest opinion piece in the New York Times has highlighted how social media has been taken over by warmongers in the nuclear-armed neighbors. She has written how,
“…voices calling for peace and restraint were immediately labeled traitors. Hashtags were thrown in the air like confetti: #indiastrikesback, #terroristanpakistan, #pakapologist…”
While the video of the captured Indian Soldier was released by the Pakistani Military went viral online. Most of the organizations in the Indian Media didn’t even ponder how they were putting the captured soldier in danger. The Citizen reported,
In a rush to be the first, reporters and crew descended on the residence of Indian fighter pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman sticking mikes into the faces of his family. Giving soundbites of the exact location, city, and state of his residence, his family details.
They disclosed critical information about the same Wing-commander who tried to swallow his maps and documents once he realized that he has landed into Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. Thankfully he is returning soon. Such irresponsible actions in these critical situations can hamper the security of the soldier and his family.
Amidst the hysteria around war and conflict, the television media is doomed and is becoming more of a threat to the masses in a long run. It is doing everything other than providing news and information. When the giant media organizations are deliberately replacing ground reporting with loud noises and petty fights it becomes very difficult for people to put faith in Journalism.
Twitter has witnessed the worst where the voice of dissent is often abused and heckled. The social media platform has become a new battleground for the Indo-Pak war.
A purana Pappistan is facing a new India. Pakistan hasn’t changed one bit. Pak still carrying forward the old policy of trying to bleed India. A new India says we will no longer turn the other cheek. Goodbye strategic restraint. South Asia military paradigm being redefined.
— Rahul Kanwal (@rahulkanwal) February 26, 2019
Contrary to these ‘celebrated journalists’ on twitter there are many people, from both the nations who demanded that the two nuclear-armed should de-escalate the situation and sort out their differences. The hashtag #SayNoToWar began to trend around the world, as social media users emphasized the futility of war and gave peace more importance.
— Farrukh Shahzad ART (@FarrukhFL) February 27, 2019
Aurat Azadi March, Pakistan, reaches out to Indian women with a message for peace. Women & children suffer the most in wars started by men. #SayNoToWar Hamay jang nahi aman chaey, humay bombs nahi qalam chaey. Let’s build a peaceful world for our children on both sides of border. pic.twitter.com/rxXDV814Db
— Aurat Azadi March Isb (@AuratAzadiMarch) February 27, 2019
— Dhawal Odedra (@Dhawal_Odedra) February 27, 2019
There is no guarantee that these news organizations are going to perform their duty. With elections due in a few days, these organizations are going to get worse. The acting pressures of Corporates and Politics what best can be done now is to recognize the epicenters of toxic nationalism and jingoism in our newsrooms and ignore them as much as possible which is good for both the mental health of consumers of news and social health of the nation.