Why Media So Negative...Dr. Abdulkallam

Why is the media so negative?

In an address delivered in Hyderabad early in May, President A P J Kalam spoke about his three visions of India and he felt that the points he raised were so important - which indeed they are - that the paper he produced was put in general circulation in the Internet.

The first vision he envisaged was freedom. Freedom not just for India but for everyone. He asked, 'In 3,000 years of our history, people from all over the world have come and invaded us, captured our lands, conquered our minds, looted us and took over what was ours. Yet we have not done this to any other nation. We have not conquered anyone. We have not grabbed anyone's land or tried to enforce our way of life on them. Why?' His own answer to that question was: 'Because we respect the freedom of others'.

His second vision for India was development. Asserting that India is among the top five nations in the world in terms of GDP, the President said, 'it is time we see ourselves as a developed world'.

His third vision, said Dr Kalam, was strength. He said: 'India must stand up to the world. Because I believe that, unless India stands up to the world, no one will respect us. Only strength respects strength. We must be strong not only as a military power, but also as an economic power'. And no truer words were ever said.

Having made his points, the President then asked: 'Why is the media here so negative? Why are we in India so embarrassed to recognise our own strengths, our achievements? We are such a great nation. We have so many amazing success stories, but we refuse to acknowledge them. Why?' No one in power has ever raised this question before and it has to be asked and it is just as well that the one who has done so is our own President. But first a clarification is needed. One can't generalise about the media just as we cannot generalise about any party or people. Having said that, a frank answer is needed. And that is that as a people - and the media often merely reflects people's sentiments - we have lost our self-respect.

The inferiority complex we suffer from is colossal - and this, even after we have been an independent nation for six decades. The British tried to destroy our respect for Sanskrit and sought to dismiss Sanskrit as 'a dead language'.

When, under the BJP-led NDA government an effort was made to put Sanskrit back on the school and college curricula, a hue and cry was raised by none other than a decadent set of Hindu intellectuals. For them Hinduism itself was something to be ashamed of. It was that utter sense of self-demeaning that gave birth to the war cry of Hindutva and provoked the Mumbai-based Shiv Sena, for example, to raise the slogan: Garu se kaho hum Hindu hai. (Say with Pride that I am a Hindu). Matters have come to such a stage that our Hindu intellectuals feel that to be known as a liberal - whatever that means - one must deride Hinduism, Hindutva and everything that is associated with them.

How can a nation with Hindu majority thrive, when the majority itself is ashamed of its history, culture and achievements? The achievements themselves, as Dr Kalam has pointed out, are truly remarkable. We are the first in milk production. We are Number One in Remote Sensing Satellites. We are the second largest producer of wheat and the second largest producer of rice. It is a long list of achievements but does the media reflect this? Not on your life. President Kalam recalled now, when once he was in Tel Aviv in Israel there was an attack from outside by the Hamas resulting in a lot of deaths that was shocking. But, President recalled: ''The front page of the newspaper had the picture of a Jewish gentleman who in five years had transformed his desert land into an orchid and a granary'. Added Dr Kalam: 'It was this inspiring picture that everyone woke up to. The gory details of killings, bombardments, deaths, were inside in the newspaper, buried among other news'.

Contrast this with what is happening in India. Even as Dr Kalam was addressing a meeting in Hyderabad, a handful of TV channels were trying their utmost to trigger communal riots in Gujarat, if not the rest of India. As Swapan DasGupta, writing in The Pioneer (7 May) noted, 'it was clear as daylight that the media was bent on stirring things up' following the riots in Vadodara in the wake of a demolition of a dargah dictated 'by the imperatives of urban renewal - in this case, road widening'.

Forgotten by the media was the fact that at least 10 Hindu shrines had also been demolished in the city for the same reason. As Dasgupta put it: 'To suggest that the roadside shrine should have been left alone because it was so dear to local Muslims suggesting that there should be one rule for the aamadmi and one rule for minorities'. And the blame for the fury of Muslims was automatically laid on Narendra Modi. The loathsome hatred of Modi is a reflection of the Hindu intellectuals' deep sense of inferiority complex which he makes no effort to overcome. The word 'secularism' has been so prostituted that it has ceased to have any relevance. It has been reduced to mean self-denigration. It is this total lack of self-respect as a people that is behind the media's negativism. It is not that we have no talent. It exists in abundance.

When the United States and the entire world at its insistence, denied India access to a super computer, Indian scientists built one superior to anything that the United States could offer. Hardly anybody is aware of that fact.

There was a time when we went abegging for everything, including food and money. Today we can export foodgrains and can boast of a substantial foreign exchange reserve of over $125 billion. On 10 May, in the largest- ever polling exercise in the United Nations to elect a 47-member Human Rights Council, India emerged Number One, getting 173 out of 191 votes, the biggest tally for any country, surpassing Japan (158 votes and China (146) in Asia. And yet we shamelessly go begging to western countries for their support to get Permanent Membership of the UN Security Council when we should be treating all western powers with total disdain if not contempt.

India deserves inner self-respect more than external recognition. External recognition will increasingly come when India realises Dr Kalam's three visions but who will tell that to our media which is determined to indulge in beating its breast all the time, running down the country's great past and damning its present?

The first thing the government should do is to pull up the media - especially the electronic media - for its utter misbehaviour and irresponsibility. India's worst enemies are not external - they are us, ourselves. __._,_.___

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