Cobrapost sting operation further exposes Indian media

Madhuri Danthala
Madhuri DanthalaMar 27, 2018 | 18:04

Cobrapost sting operation further exposes Indian media

Between April and July of 1994, an estimated 500,000 to 1,000,000 ethnic Tutsi people were massacred in ethnic cleansing in the African nation of Rwanda, by the Hutu majority government.

While the Tutsi people were the primary targets in the Rwandan civil war, moderate Hutu people too were killed in thousands. The macabre orgy of violence and death was whipped up by the Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), a radio station that was popular among the general public. Broadcast from July 1993 to July 1994, the RTLM, was instrumental in inoculating the general public with prejudice and whipping up hatred against the Tutsi people and the moderate Hutus. Researchers from Harvard and even the United Nations state that much of the cause for the Rwandan genocide can be pinioned to the RTLM.


It is important to learn about the Rwandan genocide and the role of the media played in causing the deaths of so many innocent people, which led to the debacle of their nation, in the light of the details of Operation 136, the sting shared by Cobrapost.com on Monday (March 26). Despite the apparent skew of the media towards the ruling party, the callousness with which they were willing to trade the sanctity of the principle of neutrality was shocking. While some of those caught in the sting bragged about their affiliation with the right wing, others wanted an advance payment in cash, which evidently was a euphemism for black money.

The revelation should make us all worried about the strength of our democracy, no matter what our political preferences and affiliations are. As if the weakening of the constitutional institutions was not bad enough, we now have not a subservient media, but one that is willing to be actively culpable in the weakening of the Indian democracy. Senior functionaries of about two dozen newspapers and channels were willing to tarnish the image of Opposition and divert attention from impending questions that ought to be posed to any government.


Ironically, on Monday, three journalists lost their lives in "purported accidents", even as they were reporting on politically sensitive cases. Whether the deaths were indeed accidents or cold-blooded murders the investigations shall reveal. However, India still has the ignominy of being ranked the eighth worst country for journalists, by the International Federation of Journalists, indicating that the free press is being coerced into silence.

And yet, the media honchos who were exposed by the sting operation had no qualms in further damaging the democratic fabric of our country, forgetting that neutrality is paramount for any journalist.

In addition to character assassination of the Opposition leaders, the tainted mediapersons were also willing to peddle soft Hindutva. What they don’t realise is that indulging in unfair and even nefarious activities, like accepting black money for their unholy services, they bring a bad name to the Hindu faith. If they indeed believe in God, they would be aware that they can never find peace with a blemished conscience. Therefore, it is clear that in the garb of religion, they are indulging in activities that are extremely dangerous for India, often blinded by the greed of pelf.


And much like the RTLM, the Indian media too has often berated the moderate Hindus, albeit very subtly.

The supporters of the government, however, have taken the cue and moderate Hindus are often trolled and coerced online. It appears that only those who follow the spurious version of the rightist parties’ interpretation of the Hindu faith are accepted as Hindus, and everyone who stands for an inclusive society are berated as being naïve or "turncoats". If we want to undo the damage done to the Indian society, and our political system, we must introspect and ask ourselves whether the Indian media is emulating the RTLM, wilfully or inadvertently.

We cannot lose the momentum of progress and development we have painstakingly built since independence, after overcoming many national contingencies. It would be apt for the journalistic fraternity to recall the words of the French writer and filmmaker, Marguerite Duras: Journalism without a moral position is impossible. Every journalist is a moralist. It’s absolutely unavoidable.

Last updated: March 27, 2018 | 18:04
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