Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Islamophobia in Indian media, hate spread through TV channels: Is the media's right-wing Hindutva shift irreversible?

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Is the Indian media's right-wing shift irreversible?

The question was actually raised on Twitter, in a discussion. Baba Glocal asked, "Do you guys think the genocidal brand of Rwanda Radio journalism will survive even after BJP loses the center?".

He further wrote, "The people who they are catering to remains the same, even if BJP doesn’t get the majority. (Lack of) funding is the only way to stop them".


I don't think even after BJP gets weakened a bit in future, there will be a major change. The society has been deeply divided and the communal poison has permeated everywhere sphere--no longer the urban and rural divide exists, Islamophobia has now swept the country.

Besides, there is no strong will to fight these people, ideologically, by any of the opposition parties and hence in the absence of any such movement, more and more people in society getting affected with time and turning right-wing, getting converted to the Hindutva cause through channels, daily dose on Whatsapp, Facebook and all other medium including print.


Common people can fight up to a level but it needs groups and cadre for example youth wings of parties, the support of party organizations in legal cases against owners-anchors and public naming-shaming of channels-owners who indulge in hate but the entire ecosystem is now ultra right-wing.

If the core right-wing vote for 15-18%, sustained propaganda on a daily basis over the years has led to this figure going up, probably, past 25% and even more. Such is the situation that leave Muslims aside, every 'secular party' and particularly,Congress and its leaders are hated by a large section.

They can suffer but can't even think of not voting the BJP. All these debates on TV channels, the clips of the shows, are later shared on social media. The 'IT cells' often edit and make them even more 'lethal' for the society.


The fight is not easy. This needs planned work, taking to the streets, demos as well, apart from ideological support, serious efforts to fight, counter propaganda, not just stop core right-wing base grow but get them see reality, especially, those who just see 'Muslim appeasement' & 'population growth'.

It is an unprecedented situation, for example even if 10,000 farmers commit suicide, there is no tear for them in this society, no major movement or 'anger in society' narrative, because papers-media that work from cities, don't make it an issue.

This is the scenario when most of the farmers belong to the majority community. Failing economy or even banks' collapse is immaterial too. Then comes the idea that can a grip on funding of these channels, affect their business!

Funding not as big an issue here as in the West, because media always made losses here but businessmen needed it for power and to bargain with government. Spending is controlled as mostly there are debates, not much in-depth reporting or specials that need money, resources and dedication.

Even if a few channels are reined in, most of them would continue doing it on particular days, issues and keep raising controversial things. Also, the infiltration in media is such that the ideology is now difficult to remove.

READ: World must wake up, TV channels spreading Nazi-level hate against Muslims in India

The 'hate is now around us' and not dependent on TV alone. There are 'warriors' who issue threats to people or even go to bizarre levels like call to boycott entire community. Emergency steps are required and real tough action on part of State can only stop it. And, this is highly unlikely.

One factor that will come in way of any change is the composition of the newsrooms--people who form an overwhelming majority of the editorial positions in the channels, and there is no major difference in it, over decades.

There is no serious attempt to give representation to communities, groups in newsrooms. Diversity is just not an issue. So what? Though it's all gloomy, still, it is necessary to do our bit and fight as much as possible.

There is need to name and shame owners, their main brands, and telling the entire world about how the owners are acting like genocidal maniacs and what monsters they have created.

Legal ways, activism, social movement and 'halla bol' on channels are also to be used along with these options. TV has definitely harmed the nation. It has created prejudices, deepened hate and widened the existing fault lines. Further, it has demonized Muslims and has hurt the nation more than our real enemies could have done.

A national movement for harmony that stresses on the need to remain united in the best interests of the 'desh' (country) is the need of the hour. For this, some of the celebrities need to show conviction and millions of people who believe in harmony, would have to support it. This is also a possible way to deal with the situation.

[PS: There are some other ways too but everything can't be part of a blog post]