“In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way” Franklin D. Roosevelt
I go a little further and add one more word to the famous quote, Media. Want to know why? Here, I narrate my recent life-changing experience.
While walking back from the daily work to the metro station, I stumbled upon a leading English television news anchor who was frantically trying to take the opinion of the disgruntled passersby on the political scenario in Karnataka. I tried to avoid him,but soon succumbed to the curious instincts in me and patiently wait for my turn, so that I could also voice my opinion. The sharp gentleman greeted me with his signature and we soon exchanged pleasantries. He then started shooting questions that ranged across the spectrum from as basic as getting to know about my demographics on one end to the Political future of Karnataka on the other.
The range of probing questions asked included
- “Do you think the Prime minister of this country is corrupt?”
- “It is said that the central leadership is least interested in supporting the state on issues related to development, what is your take?”
- “People of Karnataka think that the PM is an outsider, do you believe so?”
In the first place, all these questions were irrelevant to the local issues plaguing the people of Karnataka. How can a state assembly elections be considered as a fight between a sitting prime minister and a prime ministerial candidate (with his roots elsewhere) for the upcoming elections?
Nevertheless, I convincingly and truthfully answered these questions. But, while these opinions were aired during prime time, the spectacular display of selective censorship was on full display. It felt as if my opinion was stifled and sabotaged.
Maybe, we as the world’s largest democracy are honoured to have a free media. However, the impression that I had after this event, makes me to retreat within myself and deeply think, if this is being followed in true letter and spirit?
The same day of having this unpleasant experience, I receive a surprise message on my cell phone. That was a snapshot of the voter ID sent by my dad. Yes, I am a first time voter and I got the legal right to vote at the age of 32 years, but, no issues. This was the perfect timing since I got disillusioned from the paid media while also getting the rush of the constitutional energy running through my veins when I saw the snapshot. In fact, I introduced technology to my dad, who in turn provided me a basic right to vote. The elation associated with technological exchange for a constitutional right was simply awesome.
It was then that I realised the importance of our Indian constitution which gives equally and unconditional right to exercise our franchise.
Although this happened 3 days before the elections, I write this on the day when the people of Karnataka (including me) are busy exercising their franchise. Most probably, we may have a Maska Chaska(50:50) type of election outcome which also indicates our failure in identifying the right candidate/party and also being a victim of a well thought strategy by the politicians to keep the general public under a cloud of uncertainty.
Let me cite an example. While all of us at home wanted to step out to vote, yet another prominent news channel was flashing that Bengaluru is facing basic issues like potholes and water logging due to the apathy of the Government. I think this as a deliberate yet subtle attempt to show the present government in bad light. Notwithstanding, we ventured out to exercise our franchise.
The bottom line is that it is the media that sways the public opinion. It has the power to make things look right when they are not and also the vice versa. We are the ones who keep our eyes glued to the TV and waste the most precious resource that we have, yes, it’s called as TIME.
This kind of approach makes me question the veracity of claims made by the media houses on most of the critical and pressing issues being faced by us. If the National News channel is controlled by the Government of the day then the private channels are controlled by the sponsors and the funders. That’s the hard fact and please don’t fall for it!