Monday, March 30, 2015

Rajat Sharma, Naqvi and Uday Shankar responsible for turning Hindi news channels into a circus, journalists into jokers

Many are wondering how Rajat Sharma could be awarded Padma Bhushan?

This post is about the fall in standard of TV news and journalism in India.

While Arnab Goswami is accused of killing English TV news [as Outlook claims], who is responsible for the death of Hindi TV news?

This question has been raised by Senior journalist Dilip C Mandal who has written a series of Facebook posts on it.

Mandal, who was managing editor, India Today (Hindi) till recently, names three journalists for their role in bringing down credibility of Hindi news channels.

The names are Uday Shankar, Qamar Waheed Naqvi and Rajat Sharma.

Read the English translation here:

Dilip C Mandal

Under whose leadership did the Hindi TV channels enter the 'circus mode'? In prime time, instead of news, TV channels began showing stories about naag-nagin (snake) superstitions, call girl who charged the most and about cars moving without driver.

This journey continued to such an extent that everybody kept slipping, even falling into gutter, and no one bothered.The three leaders who are responsible for turning Hindi media into Peepli Live and its journalists into jokers are Uday Shankar, Qamar Waheed Naqvi and Rajat Sharma.

I will write a detailed paper on it, sometime later. I have no personal issues with any of them. But they are responsible for the situation that today there are jokes on media. Talk about reporters and kids start laughing.

These channels got audiences addicted to such humour that ultimately TV News channels began showing half-hour laughter challenge shows. If this trio won't be there, may be other leaders would be around, doing the same. But they were leading the three major channels in the era.

There was a time when Ganesha idols were sipping milk but SP Singh countered superstition on TV and used the cobbler's tool and showed that it could also sip milk in the same way, and also demonstrated how TRP can be generated by going against superstition.

There is tamasha in Indian English news too but that is mostly around news. In Hindi news channels, tamasha is foremost and there is no need for news at all. Uday Shankar, Qamar Waheed Naqvi and Rajat Sharma drove Hindi TV news to the superstitious age, even though all of these three persons are modren people. However, news was brought the lowest common denominator.

Read the posts on Dilip C Mandal's Facebook Timeline

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Fortunately it was an Ashram, not a Madarsa: Media 'softness' on Sant Rampal, his guards' fight against State

A self-styled Godman's private security guards who are ready to fight the State government and its police, stopping them to enter the Ashram, by firing and throwing petrol bombs on them.

What could be more sensational for Indian media? Did it ever happen before? The scale of violence and the resistance towards police was simply mind-boggling.

It was surprising that the Ashram's guards were motivated enough to fight the police. Gunshots were being fired from within the Ashram at the policemen. This lasted for over a day.

The 'gunmen' or 'private army' was fighting the State. It can be termed treason or pure foolhardiness. But there were thousands of people including women and children inside the Hisar Ashram, during the operation.

Finally, six persons including a child died during the siege--either due to illness or possible injuries during the violence. Just think, when you had witnessed such a scene in independent India, before? An open defiance against the State, leading to an operation in which six people died, what's that?

Imagine, if it was not an Ashram, but a Madarsa. What'd have happened then? Wouldn't the media have begun speculating immediately about 'radical ideology', 'links', 'modules', taking names of obscure organisations & opining about 'jehadis infiltration' in the community?

In fact, any other act of much lesser magnitude in urban India, would have immediately drawn national attention. TV channels would have gone ballistic, with their vocabulary. Self-styled security experts would have gathered on talk shows, talking about threat to nation.

In fact, there would have been immediate call to send NIA-ATS squads and storming the place by taking the personnel through helicopters. Cases under the draconian laws would have been slapped, immediately. Have they used UAPA in this case, yet!

No newspaper or TV channel even bothers to talk about it. Thank God, it wasn't a madarsa. In fact, ,omds have been modulated to such an extent that a law-and-order problem that should be dealt with promptly, is handled differently depending on these factors.

Just recall the figure of those injured: over 100 policemen suffered injuries in the attack by Ashram's men. In a country, where a gunshot fired on a security personnel, is enough to cause ripples, this incident--though getting media coverage, didn't cause much alarm.

Journalists were injured when police allegedly targeted them. But one must say that the police didn't act irresponsibly at all. In fact, it was far far cautious, when one looks at the police role in similar situations otherwise.

After injury to policemen, they generally use more force. But here, even facing bullets and petrol bombs, police didn't fire recklessly, and instead used water cannons. There were announcements and appeals to the 'Baba'. Otherwise, ordinary protesters or those pelting stones get shot in other places.

The use of force and the magnitude of media coverage are different. The operation in Hisar, has left lot of questions unanswered. In fact, it also tells a lot about inaction of the local police and intelligence.

Role of local police, security officials

Were intelligence agencies were not aware that the Ashram had such committed guards, who can go against the state? Or, if they were aware, why action was not taken earlier? The tragedy, especially, the deaths could have been avoided.

Also, when there was court summon and it was known that 'Saint' Rampal was gathering supporters to use as 'human shield', no intervention was made earlier. It'd have been easy to nab him then. But thousands were allowed to gather inside the huge Ashram, which finally led to the violent showdown.

Finally it's good that Rampal is arrested and will now face the law. He is behind the bars and may be convicted. Time for media persons to introspect. Also, for the state. The fact is that all law-and-order situations should be dealt with firmly (and promptly) and with similar response, without any prejudices.

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