One persistent issue in our country is this—how can we have an
informed discussion on any topic when our media tends to give you the
partial truth if not the varnished truth. This dissemination of
partial information contributes to polarization of views and fosters
misunderstanding that is inimical to national and human interests.
Take a recent headline ‘Anna Hazare wants MMRDA ground for free’.
I was in three cities in the days that the Anna fast in Mumbai was on.
In each city I was asked : How can Anna be so silly, asking for rent
free occupation of a government owned ground? The guffaws that
followed struck me as another instance of how sections of the media
determine the contours of discussion in our country and how such
discussions tend to be inherently flawed.
I asked my guffawing friends —Did the media ever tell you of Rahul
Gandhi paying rent for the thrice weekly meetings that he addresses
in UP these days ?Is asking such a question an act of blasphemy?
The silence that usually follows my questions is eloquent. It was
clear to me that the media by highlighting the partial truth that
Anna has requested rent free facilicities has led the reading and TV
viewing public up the garden path with the intention of planting
doubts in their minds of the integrity of the movement. By the way
the state government of Maharashtra is Congress led and hence can
only be expected to make life difficult for the Movement for
obvious reasons. Thus even as we were told that the Mumbai fast was a
‘ flop’ the truth was different. Not many people may be aware that
after denying free occupation of the ground the state government
openly declared that anyone arrested for participating in the
movement and the jail bharo to follow would lose the right to obtain
a passport [i understand this is unlawful] and his arrest would be
recorded in the public domain so that he or she will never get any
job in India. Reminds you of the state of Emergency. This in a state
where the political and bureaucratic class is most reluctant to put
their asset statements in the public domain even though required by
Did the media tell us these facts? The people of Mumbai were aware of
this and understandably failed to turn up un large numbers . Will
‘activists’ tolerate such an action say by the UP government in the
context of Rahul Gandhi’s rallies?
Take another raging controversy –the mass protests at Kundankulam and
Jaitapur where nuclear plants are either ready to go operational or
are to be set up. In the wake of Fukusihima there were legitimate
concerns in many quarters about the safety of our nuclear plants . We
were told that ‘Even Germany has abandoned all plans to set up
nuclear plants’. ‘Experts’ told us that ‘all over the world there
is a rethinking on the issue and India must abandon any plans to go
nuclear in energy’.
I was genuinely worried at our plans to set up about 20 nuclear
plants. Till I realized that our media has been telling us the partial
truth. The international press—but not our media—tells us that Germany
has decided to buy power generated by nuclear power plants from
neighbouring countries like Russia and France ! As for the claim that
all over the world the nuclear option has been abandoned the fact is
that Brazil, South Africa and Saudi Arabia are going ahead with
massive plans for nuclear power. Saudi Arabia will set up 16 plants.
As for Fukushima the media that gave us ball by ball coverage of the
disaster at that Japan plant did not tell us that this plant was
poorly designed and executed ignoring all safety systems.
I am afraid the financial media too indulges in such partial truth
telling. More about this later.