Silence on ‘barking’ TV channels no longer an option when courts & I&B ministry do not stop them

This piece was written before Delhi HC stayed the programme on a Hindi channel, which stupidly claimed that Muslims were infiltrating Indian bureaucracy. But ignoring barking dogs is unlikely to work

Silence on ‘barking’ TV channels no longer an option when courts & I&B ministry do not stop them

Atul Cowshish

As one who has long been a regular morning walker one will agree that the best way to save oneself from attacks by barking dogs prowling on the streets is to ignore them, not try to shoo them away in anger. But the experience of more than two decades of morning walk includes some unhappy moments when the barking dogs did not respect one’s silence or benign neglect and made their intentions clear by trying to dig into the leg bone.

The abomination on display on most of the TV channels and the speeches of those claiming to carry the flag of ‘Indian culture’ has reached a level where mere silence or a gentle shooing away will not do. Even if some decent and sober people still advise you to ignore the overflow of loathsome output on the idiot box, you have to take notice and speak up. Not to do so would only make them more bold, sure in the belief that their critics are too timid or scared to encounter them.

This becomes all the more necessary when the government and the so-called monitoring agencies refuse to be moved into action against the despicable programming on air. It is deeply disappointing to find even the higher judiciary not opting for its famous ‘activism’ to deal with the unstoppable growth of hate speeches and baleful, mischievous propaganda in the country.

Even the most dumb-witted can see how the army of hate mongers has been given a licence to ply their deleterious trade freely--on TV screens, public platforms or even the print media, with the blessings of not only the rulers and the law enforcing authorities but also the custodians of the basic rights of the citizens.

Instead of continuing to believe that barking dogs are best ignored time has come to deal with them strictly: Animal lovers please pardon the incensed. The judicial mechanism has to be goaded with a concerted effort and the voices believing in pre-2014 India have to be heard loudly in public squares and streets. Sad to say, opposition politicians have been found wanting in raising their voices sufficiently loudly against the rising tide of venom and pestilence.

In the last six years, the tone of makers and supporters of a dubious ‘New India’ has become rapidly more and more toxic. The volume has gone up several notches. It cannot be doubted that all that has been possible because of the protection, if not encouragement, provided by the state.

Now to the root of this piece. The ‘editor in chief’ (EiC) of a Hindi TV channel sees a ‘jihadi’ conspiracy in the ‘sudden’ rise in the number of successful Muslim candidates passing the UPSC civil services examinations. Had there been saner elements in the ranks of the crowd of hate-mongers they would have, in fact, welcomed this trend. But that would have required a mindset which is open, liberal and secular—the very qualities that have become an anathema under the intellect-handicapped present dispensation.

The EiC may be worried over the ‘sudden’ sprouting of ‘jihadis’ amidst elitist cadres of Indian bureaucracy but the reasons touted by him are juvenile. The Muslim population in an India of 1.4 billion people is a little less than 15 per cent. The highest percentage of Muslims who cleared the UPSC examination (IAS, IPS etc)—two or three years ago during this very regime-- was about 5 per cent—out of a total of 800-900 who had sailed through the vigorous test. In the last few years, the number of successful Muslim candidates has hovered around 4 per cent—by no means an impressive number, or at any rate insufficient to sabotage the steely frame of Indian bureaucracy with ‘jihadi’ activities.

It would ‘shock’ a ‘Love Jihad’ protagonist to know that the bulk of the successful Muslim candidates were trained at government-aided academies set up to benefit minorities, scheduled castes and scheduled tribe candidates, by the government within minority institutions like Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Milia Islamia in Delhi. These are institutions that along with JNU and many other places of higher education across the country are regularly debunked by the ‘Desh Bhakts’ as ‘anti-national’.

It is both amusing and intriguing that a government that hardly hides it dislike for the minorities actually opened one ‘IAS-coaching’ academy attached to an institution in Hyderabad only about a year back.

When the Supreme Leader says that he stands for ‘sab ka vikas’ (development for all) and seeks ‘sab ka vishwas’ (trust of all sections) why doesn’t he do anything to curb hate-filled, insulting harangue by anchors and his party leaders?

To expect that from him will be foolish, considering that he himself follows such ‘dedicated’ fans of his on the social media. Need one spell out the cause to which they are ‘dedicated’?

(The author is a commentator based in Delhi. Views are personal)

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