Sunday, February 28, 2010

Partisan Media

There is nothing more sacrosanct in a democratic process than the right to dissent and disagree. Walkout by the entire opposition is a matter of grave concern, nearly half of the MP’s in the Lok Sabha do not agree with the proposed policy of the Government. Why is the media projecting the trivial at the cost of substance?

Inexplicable, incessant natter in the electronic medium since last afternoon, followed by the print media this morning. Indian Express has gone to the extent of terming the walkout by the opposition parties as “Unparliamentary!”

Why is the media insisting that the authority of the Government should be unquestioningly accepted by the opposition parties? Is it not true that we need to be ceaselessly curious, raise rational inquiries and questions? As the situation evolve.

Would it not be in the interest of the Aam Aadmi if this increase in petrol and diesel prices is withdrawn? There is reason for optimism since the constituents of the UPA have also made the same demand, the media would have got a bloodied nose should this happen.

Agreed union budget is an occasion of great ceremony. No walkout! Where is it ordained? If Mr. Arun Jaitely is to be believed Congress party performed the very same act in the Gujarat Assembly while the budget speech was being delivered. Why has the media been silent on that count?

“On Friday, the opposition undermined Parliament by choosing to walkout almost to the last MP.” Press cannot dictate how the political parties must conduct their affairs in the Parliament. Would the Editor much rather have the din and the ruckus inside the Parliament, thereby hindering the speech and presentation of the union budget. How has opposition undermined the Parliament? The debate is yet to commence.

Have we not seen every year, all and sundry issue their customary statement as they come out of the Parliament on conclusion of the budget speech, it would be incorrect to assume that the full text of Budget would have been made available to them and they would also perused the same before exiting the Parliament.

“We had the oddest sight of Lok Sabha MPs feeding the waiting camera crews outside with denunciations of the proposal without obtaining the full text of the Budget.” The layman would view this with sufficient and more suspicion that the Editor is attempting to denigrate the opposition parties on frivolous grounds.

Mr Shekar Gupta goes on to level further allegations.

“It marks the flight of responsible engagement from the House.”
“It is not just that a show of opposition unity by walkout displays a lack of imagination and stamina to use the instruments of legislature to hold a government to account.”
“The walkout was another step in the gradual erosion of the House as a site for meaningful and responsive engagement.”

Was Mr. Gupta not in the country when just a day before there was a debate in both houses on the price rise issue? Was the media not questioning the opposition and accusing it of stalling the Parliament by insisting the debate be held under specific rule(s) which entailed mandatory voting. The Government did not accede to that demand, the opposition agreed to hold the debate as per the wishes of the Government.

Why is the Media deliberately attempting to portray the opposition in the negative? Media must discharge it responsibilities in an apolitical, impartial, and visibly unbiased manner.

“It is also that it confirms a suspicion that MPs see the legislature as little more than a site to numerically test a government’s majority.”

This is the hard reality, politics today has been reduced to a game of numbers and the media is an important tool employed by the parties to achieve this end.

There is another serious issue that needs to be spoken about. Is the opposition equivalent of a second class citizenship? If not then why is no respect for these parties forth coming from the media? Why is the media attempting to convert a healthy vibrant democracy into an authoritarian rule by a single party?

Often I am questioned by my son, why do we hold the police and the paramilitary forces accountable for Human Right Violations? Not the criminals and terrorists. My refrain to him has been constant, that those entrusted with upholding and enforcing the law are answerable for any excesses committed. Naturally he is bewildered as to why the media is then focusing on the opposition? Instead of the failings of government! When the responsibility of governance is squarely with it?

What we have been witnessing for over the past 6 years or so is, the Media has been busy reinventing the wheel.

They do not want to question the actions of the Government instead they question the democratic rights of the parties in opposition. The acts of omission and commission by the government are being glossed over, while highlighting the most inconsequential utterance, act or an event of the opposition parties.

The Editors of the media across the board are biased and are trying their best to foist undeserving, ill equipped, least qualified individuals for the top job of the country.

The question that these editors need to answer to themselves, as they would never respond to the public in this regards is. Are all of them holding their positions on account of their Talent? Experience? Qualifications? In a nutshell Merit? Compassion? Patronage? Or, as an Inheritance?

I am positive they will all take a very serious offence to any suggestion other than Merit. All these worthies would proudly display their detailed resumes, achievements and awards. Then why is it that they fail to apply the same exacting standards, to the aspirants for the top job of India.

Why are they deliberately exerting undue pressure on us to influence our minds, why do they want to dull our senses and ability to seek answers from those who aspire for the highest office in India! What is that makes all of them deaf, mute and blind? Is it the constant whirring of adding machines, clinking of the silver pieces or the glint of Gold or is it the glare of the Son/Sun?