Politicians Imagine Conspiracies by the MediaWhy is it that when the media highlights problems, the first reaction of most governments is that it is a Ã¢â¬ËconspiracyÃ¢â¬â¢? Why would a relatively free media in a democracy indulge in conspiracies against a democratically elected government?
By Sunil Garodia
The facts are very disturbing. When the Park Street rape happened in Kolkata and the media took the administration to task, the immediate reaction from the state chief minister was that it was a Ã¢â¬Ësajano ghotonaÃ¢â¬â¢ (fabricated incident) and that it was a Ã¢â¬ËchokrantoÃ¢â¬â¢ (conspiracy) against her government by the opposition and the media. Then, when a series of rapes happened in Uttar Pradesh in quick succession and media reported them on the front page, a visibly disturbed Mulayam Singh Yadav and his chief minister son Akhilesh called it a media conspiracy. According to them such things happened everywhere but UP was being targeted. Later, even Arvind Kejriwal, that nobody whom the media catapulted to instant fame and then political centre stage, said that the media was after his government. He even came out with an ill-advised circular to browbeat the media. Now, as the media highlights the growing dangers of unchecked air pollution, the first response of the Central government is that it is a conspiracy.
How long are we going to live in a foolÃ¢â¬â¢s paradise where governments will try to brush most problems under the carpet?
No government likes to be opposed. In theory, democratically elected governments are supposed to listen to public opinion but in practice this seldom happens. Driven by their one track mind of pushing through their agenda come what may, such governments too ride roughshod over what the public thinks. Rather like Bollywood, they keep rolling out mindless fare, saying that this is what the public wants.
But governments have to be opposed. The fourth estate is a strong pillar of democracy. Its job is report and analyze all news in a fair manner and point out shortcomings in governance. This necessarily makes it look like the media is opposing the government of the day, for if the government does one good thing, it also does three bad things. If the government thinks that the media should only report the good thing and keep mum about the bad, it has another think coming. The media will be failing in its duty to the public if it does not highlight the mistakes of the government.
It is here that the problem starts. Take the four cases cited above. If corrective action was taken on the first media reports in each case, the focus of the media would have gone towards reporting how the administration was tackling the problem. The media would have followed investigations and tracked corrective measures and would have lauded the governments for taking swift action. But as the governments dragged their feet and tried to divert attention from the problem, the issues escalated. The respective governments did not do their job properly and called it a conspiracy when the media tried to do its own job well.
This is becoming a recurring feature in India. Very soon, we will become a land of million conspiracies Ã¢â¬" all imagined by politicians. Governments will have to realize that the media is by and large fair Ã¢â¬" it does not criticize just for the sake of it. Politicians will not fall from their delusionary pedestals if they themselves analyze the comments of the commentariat and, perhaps, act on them. For its part, the media Ã¢â¬" especially the electronic version Ã¢â¬" should desist from sensationalizing news. Only a responsible media will usher in an era when we might have responsible politicians in India.