The abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is showing up the Indian media in its glory and less flattering sides. Images of National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval breaking bread with Kashmiris flash across our screens is propaganda for some, confidence building for others and a third section pours bile. A fourth is waiting to see which is the most lucrative pitch to take. Like parasites they survive all systems and are also part of the media. They pose a serious threat to the media because they are stockbrokers hunting for the next deal, terrorism and war included.
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh invites Kashmiri students for a meal to celebrate Eid. The star and the sunken media in India that often looks for western applause is flummoxed – how to report something good in bad light? How to swim against the tide?
For the broker editors, peace is a boring. It involves hard work, fact-checking and multiple sources. These are the basics of journalism all good newsrooms strive for irrespective of their political bent. In fact one of the main tenets of straight reporting is to write a story as if you’re writing it for the first time, making no assumptions about how much the reader knows. Parasites dislike deontology. For them, everyone and everything is wrong in India except them.
Down south the Congress party’s P. Chidambaram stirs up communal tensions in Tamil saying had Kashmir been Hindu dominated, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would not have abrogated Article 370. He has managed to alarm even the most diehard critics of the Narendra Modi government at a time when his own party is leaderless and rudderless and has played a key role in running J&K to the ground.
Let us make no mistake. All political parties have played golf with the dominant Abdullah and Mufti families of J&K. There are however special links between the two dynasties and the Gandhi dynasty that has profited from the status quo. Terrorism is not an overnight addition – it has been allowed to grow, even nurtured almost to a point of no return. The big difference now is that the Modi government is playing its version of golf where there is no handicap and all caddies have been fired.
Complex problems like J&K cannot be solved sequentially. Multiple processes and initiatives have to be engaged with and calibrated to achieve convergence. The abolition of Article 370 is a beginning. A heavy helping of firm compassion will be necessary for the government to turn this master-stroke into a piece of Indian history we can all own and rejoice in. The media must be a lighthouse, not a parasite in this journey.
If journalists believe they are writing the first draft of history, now is the time to show their deontology, knowledge and faith. They have to earn the right to write about national security and terrorism where nothing is a given and where lives are at stake.
It is important to call out all propaganda. For that you need to read, something many breathless sous fiefs that includes editors in Indian newsrooms have never felt the need to as dollars were free and discussions were fed. Few have read United Nations (UN) Resolution 47 of 1948 whose obligations were to be implemented in sequence beginning with the vacation of aggression by Pakistan. While India has maintained its part of the resolution in letter and spirit for 65 years, Pakistan has assimilated regions under its control using demographic change and violence.
I have yet to read a single report from India or outside that tells the whole story coherently from a correct historical perspective. The worst offenders this time around are the London-based Anglo Saxon media. Perhaps they are envious India has managed to break free of the legacy of partition that meant India would have to carry the yoke of religion as part of its foreign policy. Without religion, Pakistan has no foreign policy. I would even go so far as to say that unable to cope with religious difference and diversity in their own country, the United Kingdom (UK) – something India has managed to do with all its faults and freckles – they are flapping around to run New Delhi down. So far India has steered clear of that trap, but these are early days. China, not the UK, is where the first knock could come from.
The preachers and pundits of peace may wish to reflect on war during the month the atom bomb was dropped on Japan ending one of history’s bloodiest wars. A little less that 50 later, the same powers, armed to their teeth, were killing each other again in Europe in Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia to correct what they claimed were the fault lines of history. Which lines were they referring to and whose fault were they talking about? Was it the same kind of fault that killed half a million children in Iraq as collateral damage or identical to the Anglo Saxon propaganda that won Pulitzers for reporting on the non-existent weapons of mass destruction (WMDs)? Abolition of Article 370A is not the West Bank. Read.
I have reported from Sarajevo and seen how embedded American journalists reported “live” from the “ground” from the Intercontinental Hotel. I was stuck in curfew in sniper’s alley with two other journalists one from Switzerland and another from Croatia as we misunderstood safety and security regulations. It was our fault. We had fantastic stories to report. Doing so would compromise our hosts. When not to write is also deontology.
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I have also been on the other side, working with an aid agency in Amman, Jordan where thousands of refugees arrived fleeing the Gulf War. Journalists wanted stories, they were getting call backs from their editors, they were angry. I have learnt that if you sit down and explain the situation to reporters, even the most aggressive will understand. Journalists are human beings first. The parasite however, will not understand and will stir trouble. Voices in India calling for western news agencies to be thrown out are parasites. Nothing can be worse for the country and its journalism.
Absence of deontology is the first sign of disrespect. In journalism, it sticks out like a sore thumb. Reporting from J&K is not a running race with a finishing line. It concerns national security that has been pawned around for profit. That industry had abruptly ended. The guilty will fear monger – that’s par for the course. There is probably worse in store. Journalists with ground knowledge on both sides say the ISIS type jihad that has been in the making for years is gearing up. Expect the faithless to taunt and tear, dismissing the work of reporters on the ground as stenography.
How much do they hate themselves? How fake is their bleak?
(The views and opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Republic TV/ Republic World/ ARG Outlier Media Pvt. Ltd.)