Is India finally sick of hate that has been directly injected into our veins for the past six years?
It is difficult not be optimistic about ones’ own country that you love desperately even when it exposes the warts of bigotry and hate. India’s descent into hate mongering, lynching, fake news and Bollywood bashing is coincidental with Narendra Modi’s six-year rule. Normally a leader should make his people rise and be their best self. In Modi’s case he has given Indians permission to be their worst selves.
We have so lost our moral compass that Rahul Gandhi, former Congress president, attracted the ire of the woke commentariat when he tweeted: “The shameful truth is that many Indians don’t consider Dalits, Muslims, tribals to be human.” Gandhi contextualised his tweet by his reference to Yogi Adityanath, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh: “The CM and his police say no one was raped because for them and many other Indians she was NO ONE.” Was Gandhi wrong to allude one of India’s biggest yet unaddressed problems - the divide of castes and religion, which make Indians turn on each other? I think he was brave to tell citizens about something that is present in a lot of us and call it out. The commentariat who can’t see beyond Amit Shah’s cynical master strokes went into a Gandhi feeding frenzy, saying he was being arrogant and blaming the voters.
Did Mahatma Gandhi also blame the voters when he called out untouchability? Did Jawaharlal Nehru attack Hindus when his government brought in a Hindu Code Bill, which among other things ended the practice of multiple wives for Hindu men. A leader has to call out the inconvenient truth and show the way. But, the Indian media currently reeling from an excess of sycophancy reverts to a Pavlovian reflex of wagging its tail at Modi and Amit Shah. It was not only Gandhi addressing uncomfortable issues. Bollywood, India’s biggest soft power, seemed to have had enough of being smeared and filed a case against two news channels, which led the hate pack and which had demonised 28-year-old Rhea Chakraborty as a gold digging drug supplier to her partner, the late Sushant Singh Rajput. Uniting the various camps of Bollywood is unprecedented and credit must go to Modi and Shah and the fake news channel, which made them say enough of calumny.
This was followed by the pause of channel ratings after the Mumbai police exposed a racket of rigging numbers to claim most viewership. The ratings pause by Broadcast Auditorium Research Council (BARC) had three main takeaways: first, the pause indicated that BARC was accepting that there was something wrong in the way they were giving out ratings; second, the biggest open secret of television news that ratings were rigged is now in the open. Channels who claimed they were number one based on their dubious content don’t have the audience alibi anymore. You can’t claim that people watch the drivel you put out and also fool advertisers. Third, the telling silence of all news channels confirmed that the ratings rig was real.
Read more from Swati Chaturvedi
- Yogi Adityanath is the emperor of hearts, Narendra Modi only the crown prince
- Hounding of Rhea Chakraborty: National sport of India isn't cricket, it’s targeting women
- I don’t want my child to inherit an India built on hate, says Rajiv Bajaj
- Time to clean up India’s dirty TRP business as Mumbai Police investigate Republic TV
So the belief that ordinary viewers wanted this vitiated content is clearly rubbish. It was a ratings rig. And, as the Tata group pulled down a beautiful inter-faith advertisement for their jewellery brand Tanishq after a horde of bigoted crazies attacked it, Rajiv Bajaj, managing director of auto biggie Bajaj, spoke to me here in Gulf News and made a simple straight from the heart appeal against hate saying he did not want his kids to inherit a hate-fuelled India. This gave me the green shoots of hope. If all of us at our individual level reject hate it could lead to a change. Currently I am cautiously optimistic.