How Is The Media Also Weakening Democracy in India and Across The World?

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Representational image of some Indian TV channels

Though the BJP changed five CMs in six months, the time donated by TV channels to Punjab was much more than these five states

Soroor Ahmed | Clarion India

IT is generally argued that the presence of media is essential for the growth and strengthening of democracy. But what is often overlooked is that the advent and expansion of electronic modes of communication are contributing to the weakening of democracy across the world. There are many mavericks or ultra-Rightist leaders who have got elected to the top post of their respective countries. Why just talk about Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil; why not about Donald Trump of the United States.

The champions of democracy in the West are quick to question the election of Vladimir Putin of Russia and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, but conveniently ignore several extremists who had got elected in Europe and North and South Americas in the recent years — Germany may be the exception — not to speak of Asia and Africa.

The situation in the United States is also not less alarming. Not only was the White House attacked and ransacked on January 6 last by right-wing hot-heads and the then President (Donald Trump) openly refusing to leave the post, what is more worrying is that the Americans have elected the oldest person in their history to lead the country. Oldness is not a disqualification, but what is shocking is that President Joe Biden’s mental health condition is being questioned in his own country by even Congressmen.

The man whom they have elected President, often forgets the names of people around him and even foreign dignitaries. The latest incident took place on September 15 when he could not recollect the name of Australian Prime Minister Scot Morrison at the time of sealing a deal (AUKUS) for the sale of nuclear-powered submarines. “And I want to thank that fella down under. Thank you very much pal,” he said hesitatingly while addressing virtually. “Appreciate it Mr prime minister,” he further added.

He has often been caught napping at public functions. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the United States is virtually being run by the deep state. It is not only in India that the Congress party is passing through a bad patch, but in several other countries that the Left-to-Centre outfits are facing a crisis — be it the Labour Parties of post-Tony Blair Britain or Israel.

The reference to Tony Blair is necessary because he sounded very much like Rightist when he teamed up with Republican US President George Bush-II in an attempt to delete Afghanistan and Iraq from the map of the world.

The barbaric display of the western fire-power got disproportionately high television media coverage and thus in the process helped the growth of Right reactionary forces in the so-called ‘civilized’ part of the planet. The case of the Labour Party of Israel is very much similar to that of India. If the Congress fought for the independence of India, the Left-leaning Labour Party of Israel played a pivotal role for the creation of the Zionist homeland on May 14, 1948.

Both the Congress and Labour Party continued to rule the respective countries till 1977 when they were voted out of power for the first time by Janata Party and Likud, respectively. No doubt both these parties did manage to return to power later, but their golden era is over. If in India the Congress is struggling to revive, in Israel the Labour Party has only seven members of Parliament in the House of 120. It is one of the eight parties of the present ruling alliance led by Naftali Bennett of Yamina. Incidentally, an Arab party, the United Arab List, with four MPs or MKs (as the parliament is called Knesset) has also joined the ruling alliance for the first time in Israel’s history. Mind it, in the previous election the Labour Party had won only two seats. This is the predicament of a party which in the past had produced David Ben Gurion, Golda Meir and Yitzhak Rabin — the three great heroes of the country.

PM Rabin was in fact assassinated by a Right-wing Jew, Amir, after he signed the Oslo Accord with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

How stable democracy is in Israel can be measured from the fact that the country has had 36 governments in the last 73 years of its existence. This included the longest tenure of 12 years by Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu, who could be unseated by coming together of eight parties earlier this year after four elections in the last two years which failed to give any party or alliance a clear majority.

Be it Japan, Italy and till sometimes back France, the change of government is a regular phenomenon — most of the time due to crisis within the ruling party. What is not generally discussed is that the rise of television channels has contributed to the expansion of influence of non-serious elements in the society. No doubt the print media too have their proclivity yet there is still some scope of objectivity and rational thinking.

The big multi-national corporations and religious zealots have quickly come to realize that they can reach their objective by investing in the electronic media. The recent example of the coverage of the Punjab crisis by various channels needs to be seen in proper perspective. Though the BJP changed five CMs in six months, the time donated to Punjab was much more than these five states where the crisis within was not less serious.

Not only that, instead of objectively debating the Punjab crisis several anchors gave undue coverage to the Group of 23, who were obviously critical of Rahul Gandhi. They carried interviews of the outgoing chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, but hardly anyone asked him about his disastrous performance as the CM of the state.

The channels consciously try to distract the attention of the viewers from the real issue and thus obfuscate the matter. For example, on September 28, the day Navjot Singh Sidhu resigned from the post of Punjab Congress Committee and Kanhaiya Kumar and Jignesh Mevani joined the party, India Today at its 9 pm programme telecast the interview of former External Affairs Minister, the 90-year-old Natwar Singh. Want to know why? Simply because he is the brother-in-law of Captain Amarinder Singh. Otherwise, his political relevance hardly matters.

1 COMMENT

  1. Media
    The fourth pillar of state affairs has now become a hollow pillar.
    Media
    The voice of people has now become the noise of the government.
    Media
    The watchdog of public interest has now become the lapdog of the government

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