For Indian media obsessed with English, Modis Hindi speeches lead to biased reportage

 

The other day, a high ranking bureaucrat told me that a lot of weightage was being given to public grievances these days. I asked him if he meant his particular department. He said no, this was happening across departments. The Prime Minister, it seems, was cracking the whip. Apparently, Narendra Modi holds one or two meetings each month with all departments only to discuss their public grievances score. The pressure on them is intense.

Its remarkable how many bureaucrats call the prime minister their prime tormentor these days. He grills them at meetings, demands results immediately, calls them back to meetings at midnight, drives them crazy with his zero tolerance for indiscipline and tardiness.

But then, why is it that we rarely hear about these stories in the media and when we do, it is generally a negative portrayal of how babus are begging to be moved out of Delhi? A few of these do get into an Indian language news bulletin but, by and large, the coverage of Modis one-and-half year of government can safely be termed as negative. And that is to put it mildly.

What is it about Modi that makes the English media, in particular, so blind with bias? I have a theory about it. The first problem is his personality. When Modi is not aggressive, he is forceful. The sheer power of his personality can be rather overwhelming to deal with, especially in this age of 24x7 television. That partly explains the strong reactions he evokes among people. His pro-Hindu leanings are indeed a problem (which is woven into the second point) but not as much as his in your face passion for his job.

 

If modern Indian history is crisscrossed with stories of invaders and marauders, its partly because not only did Indians never invade others, we were also too embarrassed by our own existence to assert ourselves in the face of an outsider. There was this underlying acceptance of our inferiority to all foreign nationalities and races on the planet that made us crawl when asked to bend. Mostly. During British rule, the whiteness of their skin dazzled us, and we got sucked into the English tide without ever having looked back.

The looking down happens smoothly and almost subconsciously. There is a subliminal acceptance in each one of us of the superiority of the English language and of the superiority of the moneyed class. If you have neither, it becomes hard for the possessed to accept you. Its an outrage, a how-dare-you. Add to that Modis advocacy of Hindutva and you have the perfect package to drive most of the English intelligentsia to rant instead of simply criticise.

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