Now forgive me for using this line from the popular TV series ‘House of Cards’, but I haven’t found a better, more apt situation than what I have discussed below to try and understand the meaning of this phrase.
I have always believed that mine is a great nation. In spite of its many flaws, as with any other country which has its fair share of shortcomings, India has managed to prove that it has made exceptional progress in close to 70 years that it has been independent.
While subscribing to the pages of international media houses on global social platforms such as Facebook and occasionally watching their news programs on TV can keep one informed about the goings on around the world, it also serves as a forum to assess how the rest of the world views one particular country, in this case ours. This is what has prompted me to write this blog
While all news channels and media houses in the world are entirely free to print any matter that is true and of major relevance, one cannot help but notice the sheer bias that prevails in what kind of truth is given importance and prominence.
It is an issue that has intrigued, not to mention disappointed me for quite some time now. And to wake up this morning to find that the Wall Street Journal shared an article about how open defecation is a still a major issue plaguing India; with a picture of our Prime Minister attached to it, is not a great start to the day for any Indian. This, because the article is printed against the backdrop of his presence at the Nuclear Security Summit currently being held in Washington, and takes precedence over an alternate piece about India’s nuclear prowess and its stand on global terrorism, given the relatively young country that it is.
It is in fact disheartening that these international news channels choose to repeatedly highlight issues such as open defecation, poor quality of roads, widespread corruption and large slum populations, over news such as schemes to build more toilets in schools in rural areas, rise in the number of start-ups and enterprising young individuals and the means to support them, good work by honest political officers (refer to the recent case of a district collector in Kerala), rapid growth in technology and medical breakthroughs and the surge in numbers of quality real estate projects along with welfare schemes for slum dwellers, just to name a few.
While it is a fact that the issues highlighted by these news channels might be true and in no way scandalous, it is a question of the kind of news and discussions they choose to bring to the fore for the rest of the world to see. Consider for example, that you have a huge luxurious mansion that someone was to visit and express his views on. Digging up the drain and highlighting that the stench is unbearable while overlooking the grandeur of the rest of the building is truly an unfair assessment, although it is true that there exists a drain with an unbearable stench.
I came across this unfair and bias assessment of a particular situation while watching a report of the recent flyover collapse in Kolkata on BBC. The reporter chose to specifically highlight the fact that volunteers were using their bare hands to move and lift slabs of concrete from the rubble. While it is true that there was manual labour involved in the relief operations, there is just one problem; the reporter was standing against a backdrop of cranes, bulldozers and trucks.
As I read the comments on such articles on social media platforms, essentially from westerners, I am overcome by a sense of helplessness. Such repeated coverage and one sided views about problems such as construction failures, rapes, poor infrastructure and sub-par living conditions in India, although true, are the ones that inspire the easily impressionable minds to believe that India is a country of snake charmers where elephant-back is a popular mode of transport.
It is indeed unfortunate that the world should so often be exposed to the so called left, ‘liberal’ views on India’s shortcomings, rather than news about its significant progress, development and rapid rise to the status of the world’s fastest growing economy, which I believe should be at the centre for a change.
Written by Shrikar Indaram