( A Must read by every one )
Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal – Research Scholar, School of International Studies Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India.
NOW that Dr. Kalam is gone as President of India, both media and the “true” Indians must feel sigh of relief. Especially those Indians who live comfortably abroad joined their Indian “compatriots” in celebrating the exit of Kalam. But the fact remains that Kalam did nothing for the Muslims in the country in any way though he was selected for the post because he is a Muslim and worse, it was during his tenure that the Muslim women were paraded nude in Lucknow, a known cultural center of Muslims, by the anti-Islamic fanatics led by a cabinet minister of UP where a Hindu woman is the chief-minister. Indian media, true to its color, did not even mention about the incident so as not to offend the Hindus. And Muslim President Kalam did not even take notice of the ghastly incident, let alone taking punitive measures against the UP government.
It is quite natural that the media, including Indian, have to survive first and expand further before defending minority rights of a given society, because their stay for journalistic activities depends heavily on the support it receives from the majority sections of society and the governments. So they have to be concerned mainly about sustaining their prolonged existence, leaving out the rest of the issues. Their attitude negates the very essence of journalistic duties and responsibilities. In the process of appeasing the majority and the government agenda media generally go against the interests of the minorities, and what in fact happens is the failure of news media to fulfill their fundamental duty as conscience keepers of the society. As a fashion, rather than duty, the media are seen determined to attack the Muslim minority in order to defend mainly the economic interests of the majority. In this process, journalistic ethics falls a silent victim, as it has happened in “pluralistic” India.
The news media in India since 1947, by and large, unwittingly go against the principles of good journalism when they have “assumed” their chief responsibility in assisting the rulers to advance the so-called national interest, but largely at the cost the fellow Muslims, the second largest majority in the country and indulge in offending and insulting them. It is not just the criticism of Muslims per-se. The fundamental objective of this type of anti-Muslim journalistic format is to serve the interests of the majorities and work against, particularly, the Muslims. This way they are hands in glows with the authorities in India determined to thwart the attempts of Muslims to get justice, social as well as economic.
Media-hype may be necessary up to certain level, but when extended beyond that it might look absurd. Indian media believe that hype is most important in this business. Reporting of news and expressing of opinions, therefore, have got a lot to do with the molding the mind-set of the readers. Once set, the readers mind gets petrified and it is very difficult to alter it by offering the reality some what correctly, even if in a new method.
What intrigues is the fact that the Indian news media do not think that protecting the interests of Muslims including their life and honor is also a major part of Indian national interest. On the contrary, the act of offending and injuring the Muslims, illegal as it is, is treated as an important sacred duty of the media. That is unfortunate.
The role of the Muslims in India’s independence, wherein many of them lost lives for the country’s sake as well as their positive contributions is totally ignored while focusing on Muslims in India. Instead, issues like Pakistan and terrorism are cleverly brought in to play a destructive role in the lives of Muslims.
US-led “terror wars” has helped India to project and treat the Muslims, like the USA and the West do, as terrorists, suspected ones and the potential terrorists. Accordingly, all Muslims thus are potential terrorists, if not real or suspected ones. The Babri Mosque, pulled down during the Congress rule at the Centre — and with its support — by the anti-Islamic terrorists led by the BJP remains a cold indicator of how much India respects so-called secularism. The State keeps this issue further to threaten the hapless Muslims in the country. Now the terrorism plank has become a convenient tool in the hands of both the governments and the anti-Muslims forces in the country to target Muslims and to deny what is legitimately due to them.
Muslims, deprived of any dependable leadership and resources to face the challenge from the media. While criticizing the Muslims for what they may or may not be responsible, the media refuse to give due credit to Indian Muslims who work in the Middle East and contribute immensely to the upsurge of Indian economy during the past 20 years with their regular bank remittances. More Indian Muslims are employed outside India than in the country, as India refuses to ensure their involvement in jobs and education. either the “patriotic” media not the governments, both the central and the states, seem to be ashamed of the fact that Muslims have to look outside India for a lively hood, if they want to live some how. That is, Muslims live in India at their own risk.
The ugly depictions of Muslims have caused tensions in the society that led to the annihilation of the Muslims. The media that are so used to paint the Muslim in India in dirty colors of their choice now would find it extremely difficult to change their anti-Muslim format. Muslims are thus deprived of any dependable leadership and resources to face the challenge from the media, are used only as mere vote bank. And the politicians don’t want to transform that kind of an approach to the Muslims.
The crux of the issue before the news media now seems to be is how to reset the mind-set of the readers who were made to believe as facts the fiction about Muslims and Islam presented to them, even if the media want to undertake that. Indian newspaper readers and media viewers were earlier told that Muslims are bad lots, terrorists and suspected fellows and that they shouldn’t be entertained in societies at all.
All these years since Independence the print media loyal to the governments, English as well vernaculars, have “faithfully” portrayed Muslims as evils and unwanted elements that need to be eliminated at all costs, secretly or, if that is not possible, openly. The majority Hindus is projected as the “tolerant ones” and “sufferers” and badly hit people by the “onslaught” of the Muslims, whereas the truth suggests to the contrast. Of late, however, Indian media, under the prevailing circumstances, seem to have been caught between its ‘duty’ to go all out for shielding the majority and advancing the so-called national interest and the need to project India as the largest democracy, at the same time. The media that are used to paint the Muslim in India in dirty colors of their choice, find it extremely difficult now to change their anti-Muslim format.
Of course, it is not to deny the fact that Indian Muslims are not great and that they also cheat, insult and would not even hesitate to kill each other. Mischief and distrust characterize the intra-relationship among the Muslims not only in Muslim dominated areas, but even in localities where there are hardly much Muslims living. But the torture, physical as well as mental, inflicted upon the Muslims has driven them away from seeking any justice from the government agencies and seeking any share in the national development or resources. One does not know, if that would be a victory for the State and the loyal media.
The Muslims face serious problems from their own treacherous “leadership” Muslim leadership is controlled by the ruling parties both at the Centre and in states and the Congress and other major parties oblige the Muslim leaders by meeting their personal demands. Net result is that the Muslims are betrayed by the very leaders who claim to be protecting their interests. Not less corrupt and less tricky than other political parties in India, the parties are presenting the Muslims, like the Muslim League and a Hyderabad based Muslim majlis party (MIM) having the pretensions of being the defenders of Indian Muslims, quietly take dictates from the Congress party.This explains why there are so many Muslim detainees, including Abdul Nasser Madani, in Indian jails without trials and the Muslims in Kashmir are selectively subjected to insults and harassment by those very personnel who are duty-bound to protect them, apart from regular genocide and loss of properties.Gulam Nabi Azad, the chief-minister of JK and the only Muslim chief-minister in “secular” India, like all other chief-ministers in the country do, pretends ignorance of what has been happening right under his very nose. New Delhi still perceives and views Kashmiris as troublesome, bad guys and hence they have been at the receiving end after having lost their Independence.
The main worry of the media magnets and their political bosses seems to be economic advancement of Muslims which they don’t wish for them. By re-projecting Muslims as humans now, the media indirectly try to make room for advancement of Muslims in the society. That would mean reduction in the “free filed” of opportunities being enjoyed by others at the cost of Muslims right now. Because the governments, by taking cue from the media suggestions, would be compelled to pass necessary laws to uplift the Muslims as well. Economic advancement would make the Muslims wiser and that is the worry of both the media and governments. More than the fact that the readers are not well equipped to receive the supposedly change in mind of the journalistic justice, it is the substantial cuts in jobs seems to the real dilemma that the media, like the bureaucracy and politicians, face today .Hence the reluctance on the part of the media to present facts as facts and turn away from fictional portrayal of Muslims as unwanted ones coming in the way of the majority enjoying all resources by themselves, just as the war booty is being shared by the US-led forces in the Middle East.
True, it is too difficult now, or at a later stage, to remold the mind of the people by giving real facts, even if the media want to set the record straight. The majority have a right to question the veracity and reliability of the “new” material if supplied to them. That would mean that democracy is farce. To accept the Muslims as fellow travelers, after targeting them thus far for no fault of them, readers would be required to treat the Muslims as humans, which would indeed be a difficult proposition.
But for the Gulf countries, perhaps, the plight of Muslims in “democratic” India would have been even more difficult to describe in any normal language. It is time now, after six decades of Indian independence, for the governments, both the central and the states, to formulate afresh the media rules of portrayal of various sections of the Indian population in the context of the growing “popularity” of anti-Muslim journalistic format in the country and in keeping with the growing urgency for the pro-people –and against anti-Muslim– face of journalism. Of course, enough of the so-called terrorism, as this plan has harmed the Muslims more than any other section in the society in terms of advancement. The Indian majority population does have a right to appreciate their Muslim brethren and not to insult them for no reasons. Will the Indian State and “patriotic” media magnets cooperate to create a genuinely conducive media atmosphere promoting mutual respect across the all sections of the people in India and thereby serve the national interest better? Or is nurturing that kind of an idea still a utopia? A section of population cannot be ill-considered and ill-treated and denied, on some pretexts, their due share in national development.