News Priority – Indian Stories, Or International?

Published November 17, 2015 by vishalvkale

The recent story of an Indian mentioned by our honourable Prime Minister reaching the headlines has kindled a series of questions in me; what were our local Media doing when this was happening? Why aren’t such local heroes and success stories given more attention by the Media and the press? Why does the NRI-PIO story, the international news, the sensational or the world affairs take precedence over important local issues? Going deeper, why are we affected by these stories, and give lesser credence to the local?

Note : It is not my contention we ignore the international aspects; just that there needs to be a proper balance, which is currently absent

This event came at the culmination of a series of experiences regarding Media, when I noted lesser coverage to local issues, even important ones like tragedies and floods etc in India, even on social media, where the international triggered a huge response, and you had to actually hunt to find the local Indian reference. I slowly started clicking on local newspaper sites, most of whom I follow, and discovered a different world entirely; the world of the vernacular.

This has even lead to my first Hindi book on Shivaji Maharaj; but more of that in its book review. I intend to write on this as a comparison after a few months, but for now – the numbers tell the tale. Media is tilting towards these news houses, and I can see why. There is a reason : and the reason seems to be content that is in consonance with the audience views and requirements…

I have, for the first time in my life, shifted over to Lokmat {Marathi}, Dainik Bhaskar {Hindi} and the difference is palpable. I get far more value and far more meaningful news and views on current affairs, near-zero soft-porn or vulgar content, lesser sensationalism, NRI-PIO coverage is far lesser, local achievements get highlighted, local problems get aired – the experience is an eye-opener. The quality is far superior to what I had imagined. They might even be ahead in quality, for all I know. Reading a news portal is fun once again, is all I can say.

The numbers tell the tale. Out of a total revenue of 22400 Crore in 2013, local print had the lion’s share : 13800 Crore { Hindi : 6900 Crores, Other Languages 6900 Crore}. Having shifted over to Hindi and Marathi, I can readily see why that should be so. The disconnect is total with the English Media, by and large, for me as a person. {Exceptions are there even in English Media – but the exception proves the rule}

What do I care what happens in the USA, by and large? {Not applicable to geo-strategic or business issues having a direct impact on India}. Or in Europe? I am more concerned, both as a professional and as a citizen, with pointed local matters. What use is the views of an opinionated NRI / PIO class whose views are completely immaterial? Or the views of an international audience? Who cares what these classes think, beyond a certain point? We are a sovereign nation. We can mind our own business, and need no advise from anyone whatsoever.

What use is the achievements of an Indian Citizen or PIO abroad? I mean who cares? They left India, didnt they? They exercised their democratic right. Let them be happy and prosper. Who cares what they achieve? I certainly don’t; I would rather read about the home-grown success stories, which are in abundance. As per me, the real successful Indians who make a conscious choice to stay at home; who consciously choose India despite having the opportunity to go abroad – not your NRIs and PIOs. Does our Media portray these real successes?

These nameless and faceless Indians are helping make India a better country – with their blood, sweat, toil, effort and sacrifice. There are a lot of things money and dollars remittances from abroad cant purchase – and it is these attributes that cannot be purchased that determine the success of a country! I don’t say that you should go abroad – it is a connected world; and you should not be living in a shell. That would be disastrous. There are clear advantages to be had from a strong emigrant population; the problem is in the level of importance given to them vis-a-vis the real success stories – the stories of Indians who choose to stay in India and give their all.

Those who left, did so for personal benefit, which is a right they exercised, and is not to be grudged. But that also means that there is no reason to celebrate their successes; they left India. While the advantages are undeniable, and their love for their country is also not in question – the problem is in our response to these NRI-PIOs, judging from reactions on the ground, and from the amount of Media attention the English Language media gives them, which is completely out of all proportion to their importance to India, which is not quite as big a factor. As I said – dollars don’t develop a country; blood, sweat, toil, sacrifice and unstinting hard work is what results in development. The money is the result of all these.

The choice rests with you and me; it starts with us. I have consciously made a decision that local news, affairs and local success stories and their coverage are more important;  that these people who leave India dont matter; that international news is important only to a point, not the be-all and end-all; that the local tragedy takes precedence over the international. I have consciously decided to focus only on India. That is the only way; Ek-Se-Ek-Jude-Ek-Zanjeer-Bane. There are a lot of people like you or me; only we get the wrong impression by way of the Media which pointlessly plays up international stories ignoring truly Indian stories. That, and lesser sensationalism are the two significant reasons, apart from lack of local coverage – that account for my shift to Marathi and Hindi Channels and News.

I am reminded of a statement by an educated young woman I met : if all of us educated people leave, who will serve the country? For every one who leaves, there are dozens who consciously decide to stay at home, where they belong. We are a nation of 1.27 Billion; what difference does it make if a few hundred thousand leave? It makes no difference whatsoever. It is better they leave rather than be less productive at home, just dreaming of a life abroad. It is best for everyone concerned. But that is our opinion; may or may not be shared by all

The ones who stay back are the ones who can be depended on the develop India and take it forward. Dollars dont develop a nation; sweat, sacrifice, toil, hard work, blood and unstinting effort does. Rather than think of those who left, think of those who stayed back; or even those who came back to add value. Think of those who died for our Mother – Flt Lt Nirmaljeet S Sikhon, Havaldar Abdul Hamid, Captain Vikram Batra, Lieutenant Manoj Pandey, ACP Hemant Karkare and many many more. Think of Dr Kalam; think of the innumerable resident Indians who have done us proud, without wanting to leave India.

We have a huge number of local stories to celebrate; we can celebrate them. And for that, we dont need or want the Media. Not in the internet age. If we vote with our choice, and quit such papers who peddle this – then perforce they will have to stop such reportage. If we start giving more stress to local Indians, then the message that goes out is that it is not an achievement having gone abroad; the real achievement is in staying home – despite its problems. Home is after all, Home. It is where you belong.

ऑनलाइन लोकमत
मुंबई, दि. १६राज्यातील १४ हजार ७०८ गावांमध्ये शुक्रवारी राज्य सरकारने दुष्काळ जाहीर केला आहे. राज्यात दुष्काळाची भीषण स्थिती पाहता लवकरात लवकर सरकारने दुष्काळ जाहीर करावा, अशी मागणी विरोधकांकडून करण्यात येत होती. यावर आज मंत्रिमंडळाच्या उपसमितीच्या झालेल्या बैठकीत दुष्काळ जाहीर करण्याचा निर्णय घेण्यात आला.

Some 14708 villages in Maharashtra facing a drought like condition does not find a mention in any English Language Newspaper site that I could spot among the 4-5 I looked at on the day I found this article; I was so struck by this, that I saved the link. And some of the listed news are NRI news, or sensational news, or international news etc on that particular date;  if it appeared later, I cannot say. And this important thing does not even feature on it, when I looked at it! And further, I have been noting this on many an occassion; this is not a one-off. Where are our priorities?

The choice rests with us; we determine the modal response. Let us place our vote forward, and start regarding those who left as unimportant to the equation. Let us start placing greater emphasis on Indian News and Views; let us start appreciating the importance of local news and developments; these have the greatest and most visible impact on our lives. Let us start appreciating Indian successes, and let us start placing lesser emphasis on “Videshi” brigade. Let us start appreciating that less sensationalism and more news matters.  It starts with you and me. With us…

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