March Towards Fascism

Metamorphosis of the Media

Barun Das Gupta

The Indian media—or at least the most dominant and influential part of it—is undergoing a rapid metamorphosis. From being the vehicle of informing the public with news and objective analysis and being the vehicle of articulating the people's voice and gauging the public mood, it has become a willing adjunct of a coterie that seeks to transform a democratic State into a fascist one.

These media-persons, especially those in the electronic media, are waging a valiant war against domestic 'anti-nationals' and foreign enemies from their five-star comfort of air-conditioned studios. 'Peace' has become the most hated word today and 'peaceniks' the most hated species—the target of insults, insinuations and innuendos—whose patriotism can be questioned by any Tom, Dick and Harry. And the questioners are usually those who have no record of patriotism, no record of participating in India's freedom movement.

Anybody who dares to differ with or criticize any statement of the leading luminaries of the ruling party or has the guts to differ with any policy or decision of the Government, is routinely branded as anti-national, unpatriotic, pro-Pakistani and condemned as a downright traitor who has no right to be in the country. Some would say that they should go to Pakistan as if Pakistan were eager to embrace these Indians with open arms.

Some of these media channels have become de facto agencies for issuing certificates of patriotism. Do you support the using of a private citizen as a human shield against stone-pelters by tying him in front of an army vehicle? If the answer is 'No' then you are, ipso facto, a separatist and a pro-Pakistani. To hell with the Geneva Convention and its provisions against such (ab)use of civilians.

It is a strange phenomenon that those who have sworn to uphold and protect the Constitution to become ministers, MLAs and MPs, are openly showing their contempt for the Constitution which says that India is, among other things, a democratic and secular polity, by declaring that India must be a Hindu rashtra if it has not already become so. They are not subverting or betraying the Constitution. Rather, in this topsy-turvy world that is India today they are the exemplars of patriotism and nationalism. Woe betides him who dares talk about the reality of India's being a plural society and its civilization having the abiding characteristic down the millennia of assimilation and absorption. This is a civilization that has not shut its doors to anyone, not treated anyone as an 'outsider'.

Those media warlords and their minions, the anchorpersons, who have never faced or experienced a war, nor known the destruction and devastation that war causes, are talking most about war. These pseudo-patriots and fake generals who are itching for a fight—against anyone they think is an enemy of the country—perhaps does not know what Clausewitz, the famous Prussian general and author of the magnum opus, 'On War' has said : "No one starts a war or rather, no one in his senses ought to do so—without first being clear in his mind what he intend to achieve by that war and how he intends to conduct it".

These instant generals of the media who have never fought a war and never will, are merrily playing the game of warmongering, to quote Clausewitz, ''without first being clear in his mind what he intends to achieve by that war". Indeed, what do the Goswamis and others of his ilk want to achieve by war—the destruction of China and Pakistan by India's armed forces? Is that possible? And even if possible, at what cost to India?

As far as India's policy towards China and Pakistan is concerned, there has been no basic change in the policy of the erstwhile UPA Government and the present NDA Government. The Pakistani army is regularly recruiting, training, arming and pushing terrorists across the Line of Control for years. Military commonsense demands that the terrorists should be destroyed in their home soil so that they cannot burgeon and infiltrate into India and strike. This means, first, a local war and then a full-scale war between two nuclear-armed countries with unpredictable consequences. Moreover, the rest of the world cannot stand idly by and watch the two countries plunge themselves into a nuclear holocaust because the rest of the world would not remain unaffected by it.

But, apart from carrying out some occasional and limited 'surgical strikes' across the Line of Control, India has never attempted to destroy the training camps of the terrorists on the other side of the border. This was the policy of the previous Government. This is the policy of the present Government, too, because the alternative is a local war escalating into a full-fledged war which neither side can risk.

This is the stark reality. Ceaseless and virulent war-mongering by the media may ultimately create a situation in which the rulers of India will be forced to go to war to 'satisfy public opinion'. These media generals also do not seem to have an understanding of the geopolitics of the region. What will be the role of China in an India-Pakistan war? With the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) coming up and passing through the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, China cannot remain unconcerned in any possible Indo-Pak conflict. China is quite likely to intervene and intervene on the side of Pakistan. Can these fake generals envisage such a scenario?

The real problem is that the corporate-controlled media for its own compulsions want to be on the right side of the ruling party while individually some media-persons may be ideologically inclined to the Hindutva philosophy. Ultimately, there is little likelihood of a full-fledged Indo-Pak war but the fanaticism that is being generated will eventually target sections of our own people. The way the cow-vigilantes are being allowed with impunity to lynch people transporting cattle, with the civil administration benignly watching it is inevitably creating a situation of civil war in which not only members of the minority communities but also those of the majority community who cherish the values of democracy and secularism will be targeted. The Hindutva brigade will not spare even those Hindus who dare differ with them just as the Islamic State has not the least hesitation in killing those Sunni Muslims who do not obey its orders and differ with its interpretation of Islam.

What is most painful is that a powerful section of the media is conniving at the enslavement of the Indian people and helping the transformation of India into a regimented society and a totalitarian State where dissent amounts to subversion and treachery. It is time to counter and resist these pseudo-patriots all along the line.

Vol. 50, No.10, Sep 10 - 16, 2017