Insensitive And Irresponsible Media Ignores Floods And Havoc in The N-E
National media censors N-E reportage
NEW DELHI: The catastrophic, devastating floods ravaged several districts of the north-east states of Assam, Meghalaya and Arunachal in the recent bygone days, leaving behind a trail of mammoth destruction and forcing tens of thousands to leave their homes.
The deluge and landslides, triggered by heavy rains and a cloudburst in the West Garo Hills have killed at least 56 in Meghalaya, 68 in Assam and 57 in Arunachal with scores of people still missing and the figures only expected to rise.
The whole purpose of briefing you about the present situation in these states of is to ask a question of which I’m trying hard to find answers to.
Describing the current state of affairs, Patricia Mukhim, editor of The Shillong Times (a newspaper) once said "The north-east will always remain a periphery.
It needs bombs and blood and dead bodies to make news" .
But my case is that there were enough dead bodies, there was ample blood. To make matters worse (rather better for the news hungry media), there was destruction, helplessness, cries- simply everything that makes for a perfect news story. Even then our news-hunting, blabbering Indian media couldn’t find enough newsworthiness in one of the most disastrous floods of all times?
The media went haywire over the Prime Minister’s visit to US, to the extent that most of the TV news channels and many columnists went there so that not a moment, pardon , not a ‘news-worthy’ moment is missed. A hullabaloo was created by our informed,concerned mediapersons when a bungalow in Lutyens’ Delhi wasn’t being vacated. But, of course all these were topical, significant news.
Mayhaps, the floods or a natural calamity isn’t as noteworthy and newsworthy in the present scenario as are the politicians and their visits.
This argument does help calm my nerves a bit only to realise that this again is another failed plea, for, such calamities only have found enough attention from our omnipresent Delhi/Mumbai media.
Just weeks before the torrential waters hit the north-east states, the floods ravaged the state of J&K and it did get enough coverage, at least after our great PM undertook an aerial survey of the affected areas. It is entirely a different question as to whether the coverage was objective or even factually true, but this was only to underline that yes, there was at least coverage.
Another example is the deluge that hit Uttarakhand last year. The blabbermouth, news hungry reporters and anchors went on and on about how Kedarnath yatra was stopped and how waters were of so and so height and the brave reporter and cameraman were right in the middle of the battlefield getting exclusive footage for the viewers.
This makes me wonder as to what really happens to the over-enthusiasm, zeal and vehemence of our media personnel when it comes to the often-ignored and neglected area of north-east India?
Even the ‘autonomous’ Doordarshan who found newsworthiness in RSS’s speech did not find the destructive floods ravaging the north-east states even a bit newsworthy?
As a matter of fact, no national newspaper even mentioned these floods in their front page, lest made it their lead story. Some newspapers covered them only to find space in the much later pages. The TV news channels went one stride further (as always) and made a mention of it as per their whims and fancies, or rather when there was no other newsworthy story than this.
But why blame the media alone? How could our informed leaders ( read heedless ignorant politicians) be any step behind? If our media was deliberately ignoring the north-east floods, the politicians were genuinely oblivious. While the media looks for their own-defined “newsworthiness”, the politicians perhaps look for their vote banks.
Although the response by Union Ministers, Kiren Rijiju and Sarbananda Sonowal (both of them belong to the north-east) were quick in terms of their visit, but sadly, it ended there only.
The ignorance could also been witnessed when Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke during his visit to the flood-ravaged areas of Assam and Meghalaya. While he was “saddened” by the fact that the floods had taken the lives of around 50-60 people, the death toll had almost touched 100 already.
Even the Centre’s response in announcing the financial aid was slow and delayed, not to say that the amount was too less to be even considered (though now, both the states have been asked to submit a memorandum accounting for the losses).
It is a doleful irony that the nation which boasts of unity in diversity and preaches “vasudheva kutumbakam”, indeed, gives a step-motherly treatment to its own north-east counterpart. When the pillars of democracy itself don’t consider the north-east states to be equally significant and distinctive as the other states, what can really be expected from the commoners?
In a country where the only-for-profit media is solely concerned with filling their pockets and has forgotten its responsibility of informing the citizens about what’s happening in the country ( and northeast, is very much a part of this country); in a nation where politicians are only bothered about their votes and doing and visiting places which would fetch them some; the reactions from the ordinary citizens terming the north-easterners as ”chinkis” and discriminating against them is only natural.