Modern secular democracies who define themselves as ‘free’ nations have not come about just like that. It was a tortuous journey of nearly thousand years where the common man fought against the powerful regents and institutions who believed they had a divine mandate and hence divine right to rule over the people with absolutism. Regents or the Religions manifesting as the State was the most powerful enemy of the common man for millennia, ready to strip him of his rights at the pretext of protecting him from imagined threats.
A modern nation defined and built institutions to protect the common man from the tyranny of the state, ensuring there were enough checks and balances to protect democracy from being subverted by the State or the powerful groups. The role of independent media was crucial to ensure democracy was protected from being hijacked by these vested groups.
And yet, we see an ominous trend in India where the media houses, instead of making an independent investigation, instead of conducting a free debate, instead of checking the powerful groups from usurping the freedoms of the common man, have start aligning themselves with the State and the powerful lobbies, acting as their mouthpieces, engaging in subversion of democracy.
Take a look at the following events and incidents.
Far more dangerous and ominous than those uncovered by Wikileaks are the statements made in the Secret Chapter of Srikrishna Committee Report. This committee was formed by the Government of India to prescribe a solution to Telangana people’s demand for a separate statehood. Instead, this Report has become a blueprint for subverting democracy in this country, and yet no journalist or columnist worth his salt has read into the implications to highlight the dangers this ‘free’ nation is facing. This Secret Chapter writes:
…the Telangana Congress MPs / MLAs need to be taken into confidence and asked not to lend any form of support to the agitation… also the main opposition party (the TDP run by Chandra Babu) must be advised not to participate in any further meetings that would be called by the Centre. This could be an effective stumbling block for any meaningful dialogue on resolving the Telangana demand.
A report created and funded by the Government of India lays down the steps to stall the democratic processes in this country. It suggests nefarious tactics to create stumbling blocks so that no meaningful dialog can take place on resolving Telangana demand. It suggests advising a political party not to come to the meetings organized by the Center so that meetings are stalled. Machiavelli would cry in shame. Even a secret report during British Rule would not spell such divide-and-rule policy so unabashedly.
It is clear that Government of India has already started to implement this, not just in the issues relevant to Telangana but also against the Anti-corruption movement. A similar document can be easily imagined. It would read as - prop up another character that has support from opposition party, invite him to Delhi, dilute the original movement, and now blame the opposition party for furthering their Hindutva agenda. The document would say, ‘create stumbling blocks’ so that ‘no meaningful dialog’ can take place.
The Secret Report of Srikrishna Committee is far more dangerous compared to any report disclosed since the time of Indian Independence and yet no reporter or columnist discusses this. That’s because our media has become corrupt and venal – there is an all-pervading intellectual deficit amongst them. Indian media joins the powerful lobbies to celebrate such Machiavellian tactics as long as they suit their agendas. One can easily question how far the media will continue to champion the current anti-corruption movement. Will they topple the masters when it comes close to their own turf? Because most media houses in India have some tie-ups with the politicians and industrialists. It is bound to happen soon.
The Secret Report further writes:
The Andhra Congress MPs belonging to Kamma caste must be encouraged to work in tandem with TDP leadership; which is now caught in a bad shape.
Even a British Rule time report may not have written the caste equations so egregiously. The report wants the Government of India to play with castes to suppress a people’s movement.
..on receipt of the Committee’s Report by the Government, a general message should be conveyed amongst the people of the State that Centre will be open for detailed discussions… But every method must be adopted to avoid giving finality to any discussions to drag on the matter until the agitation is totally brought under control.
Should a Committee formed to address the aspirations of people of a certain region resort to this kind of Machiavellian stratagem?
Now, imagine how the current anti-corruption movement is being handled. ‘It should be dragged out till the agitation is completely brought under control’, seems to be message of another secret report guiding the current Cabinet.
The Secret Report continues:
Andhra Pradesh has got about 13 Electronic Channels and 5 major local Newspapers which are in the forefront of molding the public opinion… The equity holders of the channels… the entire Print Media are with the Seemandhra people. The main editors/resident and subeditors, the Film world etc. are dominated by Seemandhra people. A coordinated action on their part has the potential of shaping the perception of the common man.
However, the beat journalists in the respective regions are locals and are likely to capture only those events/news which reflect the regional sentiments. This can be tackled by the owners of the media houses by systematically replacing the local journalists by those from Seemandhra wherever it is possible.
How could a modern democracy stoop so low? When will we reach the bottom of this nefarious abyss?
A report prepared by the Government of India, commissioned to address the aspirations of Telangana people who bemoan they are dominated by Seemandhra, instead of addressing their issues, goes onto legitimize the domination of Seemandhras, and in fact, prescribes the formula to use that domination to further suppress the legitimate demands of Telangana people. It calls for ‘replacing’ the Telangana journalists by those from Seemandhra. Isn’t this the very discrimination cited by Telanganas when they sought separate statehood?
If women complain of sexual discrimination in an office, the report which is commissioned to address their grievances writes in its report to remove all women from all positions thereby ending the problem altogether. That seems to be how India resolves its problems.
Can India go lower than this?
Can we now create a blueprint to attack the problem of anti-corruption movement in India? The report will look like this: Look for those media houses that are pro-corruption, and ensure that journalists who campaign against corruption are slowly replaced by those who support it. To get the pro-corruption candidates, hire the sons and daughters of the current MPs, MLAs, and IAS officers who are tainted with corruption charges. This will ensure that these kids will be completely pro-corruption, thereby diluting the movement.
We look at the complicity of military and Islamic terrorism in Pakistan and feel pity for them. Now the World should pity India and Indians for creating such a defunct democracy, where media houses are mouthpieces of a corrupt government, engaging in brainwashing campaigns, in molding opinions that benefit small elite, and in architecting the grand campaign of subverting democracy.
Do we need to read further into this Secret Report?
However, the RTI Act may prove to be an impediment for the Government to deny due share of ads to publications supporting the Telangana demand.
For this purpose necessary prohibitory orders under appropriate provisions of law can be issued in advance.
A government report commissioned by India prescribes methods to subvert Right To Information Act.
I say, shame on Indian journalism, shame on Indian media. Shame on their venality for not covering this big and bold! Shame on them for being completely silent on this! Shame on them for being apathetic to this subversion of democracy!
The responsible media houses should wake up, shed their apathy, build up intellectual capacity, take up the responsibility and fight this dangerous anti-democratic report before it becomes a rule book for solving future people’s problems in this country.
And to all those aspiring journalists who still believe in sanity in your media houses: watch ‘Good Night, and Good Luck’.