Tuesday, January 19, 2021
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1100 dead due to heatwave: Is the Indian media concerned?

By Nishtha

With the extensive reportage of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal government’s completion of 100 days in Delhi or Modi sarkar’s one year report card, the mainstream media especially the English news channels have failed to report about the heatwave that has killed more than 1100 people across the country.

The media outlets are simply busy drawing comparison between Arvind Kejriwal and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, neglecting the hundreds of lives claimed by the heatwave.

The deaths were reported merely through tickers or short videos on news channels and the news remained unreported on the front page of leading newspapers as well.

Apart from Kejriwal and Modi, another politician J. Jayalalithaa, who was sworn in as the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister for the fifth time, dominated the news. The entire ceremony of her taking the office as the chief minister was telecasted on not only regional channels but on popular news channels as well.

Probably going with the flow of capturing popular news, The Economic Times, Hindustan Times and Indian Express carried a propaganda advertisement on the front page for J.Jayalalithaa on Tuesday.

In our country newspapers are still regarded as one of the trusted news sources. While the gradual shift towards online news is inevitable, people still prefer reading the newspapers. Featuring such an advertisement is not only unethical but it speaks volumes about the editorial policies and political inclination of the leading dailies.

It seems like the media does not serve the public anymore. With industrialists and political parties investing in media conglomerates, stories affecting the common man including the heat wave will continue to take a backseat.

We often engage in conversations about western influences and claim that our country’s identity is being destroyed by it. The bitter truth is that while the Indian media chose sides in the Kejriwal-Modi ‘battle’, the global media served as a watchdog for the heat wave story. International news agencies and media outlets followed up this news with #heatwave and #India on Twitter on Tuesday. After the global media reportage, the Indian media took up this issue on social media on Wednesday morning.

Hyderabad is the worst affected area in the country with maximum deaths. Other affected areas include Telangana, West Bengal, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi among others.

“As of now, we don’t predict any respite from the extreme heat wave for the next few days,” BP Yadav, spokesperson for India Meteorological Department told AFP, adding that the department had issued warning to states where temperatures were forecasted to go above 45 degree Celsius in the next few days.

Since the heatwave news has received international attention, it will be interesting to see if the Indian media continues to report consistently on this issue or they go back to reporting on the lines of ‘propaganda’, ‘mega rallies’ and ‘political gossip’.

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