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Breaking Down News: Reality Check for News Television

Various important knuckles were rapped this week. And Shaktiman the horse, showed that this nation of nationalists, has a beating heart.

Written by Pratik Kanjilal | Published: March 19, 2016 12:50 am

Dehradun,After Big Operation (cut leg) and Putting Artificial Leg in Shaktiman at Police Line.photo,virender.singh.negi

The wonderfully obscure put-down of ‘misandric’ has been mainstreamed by the misanthropes over at Times Now, which was censured and fined by the News Broadcasting Standards Authority for an aggressive media trial it conducted in the Jasleen Kaur case, projecting the accused as guilty until proven innocent. Turning the law on its head is fashionable this season: even Delhi’s former police chief BS Bassi had pronounced the students of JNU guilty until proven innocent.

Now, Kaur’s alleged tormentor has been proven innocent, and support groups for wrongly accused men are making big whoopee. This is the second setback suffered by Times Now in weeks, following a public scragging for going after the JNU students even more enthusiastically than the Delhi Police. But given its basic instincts, the channel could just add all those triumphant men to its viewership figures and carry on regardless.

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Meanwhile Zee, which has surpassed Times Now in its latest paroxysm of pseudo-nationalism, has been petitioned by five citizens of substance for a three-step mea culpa. It has been called upon to issue a corrigendum to counter its attack on the scientist and poet Gauhar Raza and run it as often as the offending story, headlined ‘Afzal premi gang ka mushaira’, ran. In addition, it must apologise for publishing “inaccurate information and malicious propaganda” and award the injured party Rs 1 crore. When (not if) Zee fails to do these nice things, the petitioners will approach the News Broadcasters Association. It does not have the power to award damages, but the outcome could be unforgettably unpleasant.

A couple of years ago, Spain laid down the law to Google on the right to be forgotten, an issue which assumed significance in the first half of the 21st century, when the internet became the race memory of humankind. Typically, it refers to something which is trivial in public affairs but makes a catastrophic difference to the life of an individual. The Spanish case against Google was moved by a man whose mortgage had been foreclosed in the distant past. He had stabilised financially since, but his creditworthiness remained a private hell because whenever bankers Googled him, they found a link to the foreclosure story. The search giant was ordered to kill the link by a court. The day it did that, it received over 12,000 similar takedown requests.

At the time, search engines and their caches were seen to be the foes of forgetfulness, but humans are the real enemy. On Sunday last week Rakesh Sharma, director of Final Solution, released a dozen video clips online which were not included in the film. He promises to release a dozen more over a fortnight, all dating from the time of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s Gaurav Yatra. Sharma suggests that Modi’s less savoury remarks following the ‘riots’ of 2002 have been crowded out of internet search results by a vast, expensive PR whitewash job. The old videos being released into the wild give internet users the option of a balanced history.

In print, there’s Kiran Nagarkar’s appeal to saner voices in the BJP, like Suresh Prabhu and Arun Shourie. And Piyush Goyal, who apparently sang ‘Our Father who art in heaven’ in Don Bosco, with feeling. This is deliciously damaging stuff! Nagarkar says that he is speaking out of turn, since Modi has rendered septuagenarians irrelevant, but he successfully shows that Make in India will come a cropper if universities cease to be incubators of ideas.
Shaktiman the horse, who was brutally assaulted by a BJP MLA and activists and has lost a leg, has broken a million hearts, suggesting that we are not as brutish as we think we have become. Fortunately, most of us don’t spend a day at the races, where it’s hard to tell brutality from kindness. A horse which breaks a leg in the course of a race is put down by lethal injection before it’s even had time to struggle to its feet. This is supposed to spare it the pain of amputation, but happily, it also spares owners the pain of having to maintain an animal which can never race again. The inhuman efficiency with which lame racehorses are eliminated is unrivalled.

To end on a lighter note, Rajasthan proposes to institute birth control by education. Not in the manner that well-meaning liberal economists promote, reports NDTV, but by beefing up the school curriculum with the biographies of freedom fighters. So that, in the words of the minister of state for education, “no one like Kanhaiya Kumar is born” in the state.

pratik.kanjilal@expressindia.com

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  1. G
    green
    Mar 18, 2016 at 8:17 pm
    Shame on Times Now and Zee
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