The Curious Case Of Anna Hazare, Baba Ramdev And The Media

Posted on August 9, 2012 in Society

By Avneesh Kumar:

The media is a loudspeaker of grievances. Once committed, it doesn’t even listen to itself.

Team Anna called off its fast without gaining any concrete surplus on Friday and also announced that it would form a political party to persist with the anti-corruption movement. On Saturday morning, I was impatiently waiting for the nation’s largest circulated newspaper to see its headlines on the conclusion of the fast. I glinted at the first page and couldn’t find a report on the event, which was enough to shiver me. I started examining vigilantly until I found a story in the left hand corner with a headline in small point size- ‘Team Anna goes political, calls off fast’.

This is just the saga of one newspaper which has discontinued its love-affair with the anti-corruption movement. In reality, the entire media fraternity seems to have developed apathy towards the movement. The paper holds substance in this case as it claims to understand the pulse of the nation. Do they have any idea about the percentage of population in India that is not conversant in the English language? In reality, they are serving a meagre number of people or a palate of the English readership.

We live in an age where the power of media is endless and they often exert it. They heavily influence and mould the perception of the people, often not realized by the people. The viewers easily sway away with the excited and ferocious news anchors expressing their vague views, and distinguished panellists entangled in screaming at each other- no analysis, no information, not even personal views.

The media guarantees, at least, the fame for 15 minutes. It did the same with Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev. The frenzy whipped up by the media outlets made both Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev a household name in no time, somewhat unfamiliar to a large number of public before. They were gleefully brought in ‘primetime’. The Yoga Guru appeared in a new AVATAR– a doctor who discussed about regaining the nation’s lost health. And the former army driver threatened the government to continue with his fast if the Lokpal Bill was not passed by the parliament.

It was the breathless coverage of 24/7 TV news channels that transformed the two ordinary people –Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev- into the new saviours of the nation. Whosoever contradicted the views of Team Anna and dared to question their intent was projected as being pro-corrupt by a large section of the media. The didactic media went further and appealed to its viewers as well as to the entire country to participate in the movement. The same media vigorously followed Team Anna in the by-polls of Hisar when it was campaigning against the Congress.

Now, the same media seems to have lost its interest in the movement, claiming that the movement has lost its way and Team Anna is divided. So why is it that the media lost its interest in the cause it had taken on its head barely some months ago, when it assisted in mobilizing people to gather at both Jantar Mantar and Ramlila grounds in Delhi? Does the media coverage of an issue determine its importance or non-importance? These are the questions that need contemplation and answers.

Away from the curdy politics and the wishy-washy media, India needs a strong law to eradicate corruption.