By Mosarrap H. Khan
Martyrdom is cathartic and necessary for the renewal of hope. In moments of collective despair, martyrdom offers us a sense of purpose.
The collective ‘liberal’ orgasm regarding a one-day ban on NDTV for its coverage of Pathankot attacks redeems a news channel that is culpable in its own condemnation.
When Modi’s election as the Prime Minister became almost certain in 2014, this author wrote how a certain ‘star’ reporter/anchor bent over backwards to hail Modi’s campaign in Banaras. Being out in the cold after its coverage of the Gujarat Riots, NDTV was nervous and tried to jump into the bandwagon of Moditva in 2014.
The same ‘star’ reporter/anchor at NDTV has mainstreamed and deified the Indian army like no one else. But she sheds ‘copious tears’ over the plight of the Kashmiris. How do you reconcile NDTV’s constant jingoistic celebration of the Indian Army with its supposed empathy with the Kashmiris? Therein lies the conundrum of Indian liberalism – the state apparatus and the nation must be worshipped. In this liberalism, empathy mustn’t amount to challenging the authority of the state.
Following on this logic, NDTV recently pulled off an interview with Mr. P. Chidambaram on the surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the Line of Control (LOC).
While Times Now and Zee News are known sympathizers of the current government and the RSS, NDTV plays its own ‘soft’ Hindutva card. On each and every program, Rakesh Sinha of the RSS is invited to offer his expert opinion on everything under the sun. Why was Sinha not invited before the Modi government came to power? Because like liberals in India, NDTV, too, thought the RSS was marginal in India. But why this sudden interest in the RSS? Why should a prominent liberal channel bombard the citizens of a nation with the views of a fascist, majoritarian organization every day? Did NDTV invite members of the Jamaat for their expert opinion on the happenings in India?
Our liberals in India don’t even bat an eyelid at these developments. Because they have accepted the RSS as part of the fabric of our public-political life. This is ‘soft’ liberalism at its best. It would never take an antagonistic position vis-a-vis the state power. These ‘soft’ liberals would incessantly bicker on social media. But they would never challenge the fundamentals of state-power. NDTV is a symptom of this very malice. When has NDTV taken a tough stance against the government? From Kashmir to Manipur to Bastar, it has toed the line of the government. Unquestioningly.
Our ‘soft’ liberal politicians, who are currently experiencing a meltdown with the ban on NDTV, are part of the problem. They include those from the Grand Old Party in India, which takes pride in banning cow-slaughter in many states and which rushes to support Muslim clerics in perpetuating the regressive pronouncements of triple talaq. They include the Chief Minister of the union capital territory, who rushes to capitalize on the murder of a Muslim man but has nothing to say about the denial of houses to Muslims in his own state. They include a certain professor-turned-politician, who feels deeply about the farmers but had nothing to say about the enactment of the cow-slaughter law in Haryana and who had tacitly sung the virtues of the khap panchayats. NDTV is a product of this ‘soft’ liberalism and is supported by this ‘soft’ liberal class.
NDTV is part of the problem. Today NDTV stands complicit in its own indictment. NDTV has frittered away a chance to carve out a space for a truly radical ‘liberal’ media.
Banning a TV channel is wrong. Gagging free press is wrong. But the collective ‘liberal’ orgasm over NDTV’s martyrdom is a cosmetic attempt to address the deeper questions of Indian liberalism.
Are we a truly liberal country? Do we have a truly liberal, non-statist media?
Dear ‘soft’ liberals, sorry to disappoint you. Your liberalism is deceptive and opportunistic. NDTV is a symptom of your fake liberalism. You haven’t created the conditions for the possibility of a truly liberal media in India.
If the current government has the audacity to trample our media, the responsibility lies with our ‘soft’ liberals as well.
Until we have a genuinely liberal media in India, Ravish Kumar’s histrionics would only periodically enable our collective orgasm.
Cafe Dissensus Everyday is the blog of Cafe Dissensus magazine, based in New York City, USA. All materials on the site are protected under Creative Commons License.
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