Sunday January 21, 2018
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Chennai floods: Is national media ‘national’?

Image courtesy: Indian Army

Incessant rains for the past 11 days in Tamil Nadu have left behind nothing but wrack and ruin, especially in the capital city Chennai. It is being termed as the worst rains in the southern state in nearly 100 years, killing as many as 188 people in rain-related incidents.

Dorms, schools, hospitals and airports are flooded and water is neck-deep in low-lying parts of Chennai to the extent that Army’s assistance was sought to rescue the marooned people and deal with the unprecedented natural disaster.

In their hour of tragedy, Chennaiites have come out in large numbers to help the people in need by opening the doors of their homes, malls and offices to strangers and offering them food, shelter and even mobile recharges.

However, the Indian media cuts a sorry figure here by virtue of their lack of action in the crisis.

The apathy of India’s national media has come to the fore, for until this day none of our so-called ‘national news channels’ found the disaster in the state worth covering and reporting.

The people in Tamil Nadu are outraged and furious over the Indian media largely based in Delhi and Mumbai for their apparent callousness and lack of concern towards the tragedy of fellow Indians.

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A resident of Chennai penned an open letter to ‘National News Channels’, excoriating them for conspicuously ignoring the disaster in Tamil Nadu and instead focusing on intolerance debate, Sheena Bora murder case and other issues which could be relevant but not as important as the floods in Chennai that have claimed so many lives.

“I have seen several times in the past when toll-free numbers are set, relief materials collected by each of your channels etc but cannot see the word Chennai floods even in the breaking news section which in any case is breaking a lot of news which are irrelevant. It’s perfectly fine if you don’t cover this news but for heaven sake don’t call yourselves national news channel by any means,” Sujith Kumar posted on Facebook.

The point worth chewing over here is whether or not the events taking place outside the borders of New Delhi deserve as much attention by the media. If it’s not the case, the Delhi-based 24/7 channels should stop calling themselves ‘national news channels’ as they are more into misleading the masses, instead of highlighting the issues faced by the people of the remotest parts of the country.

A mere look at the political map of the country makes it clear that Kashmir is as much a part of India as Delhi is and therefore, the floods in Assam should get as much reportage as floods in Mumbai.

Contrast this with the disastrous, unflagging coverage of Nepal earthquake by the Indian media. The reporters belonging to reputed media houses were literally beseeched by the natives to leave them alone and go back to India considering their “insensitive” coverage of the crisis. #IndianMediaGoHome was the hashtag that trended on Twitter for a couple of days.

My mind also dwells on the media’s coverage of disastrous floods in Kashmir that claimed so many innocent lives, leaving behind wreck and ruin in 2014. The reporters invited the charge of being ‘embedded journalists’ by the locals for “trying too hard” to portray Indian Army personnel as heroes instead of focusing on the plight on the people marooned in the flooded parts of the Himalayan state.

And when there were floods in Assam earlier this year, none of the news channels reported on the tragedy that left hundreds of people dead and lakhs stranded; the sheer scale of the natural disaster deserved more than the lip service. It is as though the North East and southern states of India do not exist for the ‘national’ media based in Delhi and Mumbai.

The big question here is this: if our national news channels, both English and Hindi, can give so much airtime to the earthquake in a neighboring country, namely Nepal, then what stops them from giving due attention to the plight of their fellow Indians in North East and south India.

I feel ashamed to write this being a part of the industry, but let the Truth be spoken. We have totally got our priorities wrong here.

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Jayalalithaa’s death: Apollo submits documents

The mystery still continues after Apollo submitted treatment related documents

The death of Amma continues to be a mystery. Wikimedia commons
The death of Amma continues to be a mystery. Wikimedia commons
  • OPS was the first top AIADMK leader to allege that no one was allowed access to Amma.
  • Ministers and party leaders had various version of the scenario.
  • Following all this, an inquiry commission was set up to probe the matter.
Sasikala has been alleged of not allowing access to anyone while Amma was in hospital. IANS
Sasikala has been alleged of not allowing access to anyone while Amma was in the hospital. IANS

On Friday, Apollo Hospitals submitted two suitcases packed with documents related to the treatment given to J. Jayalalithaa to an inquiry commission set up to probe her death. The commission was also set up to investigate the circumstances that led to Jayalalithaa’s hospitalization and her treatment.

The commission, headed by retired high court judge Justice Arumugasamy, followed by several ministers and party members alleged that they were not allowed to meet the AIADMK chief while she was in the hospital.

V.K. Sasikala’s advocate Raja Senthurapandian has been ordered by the panel to appear before it on 22nd January.

You may also like: All you need to know about T.T.V Dinakaran


After O Panneerselvam alleged that ‘there’s more’ to Jayalalithaa’s death, what followed was a mirage of statements from several party leaders and ministers. The various version came up regarding the scenario of Amma’s treatment.

Opposition DMK had demanded a CBI inquiry.

OPS’s role

OPS was the first leader who came out with allegations against Sasikala, Wikimedia commons
OPS was the first leader who came out with allegations against Sasikala, Wikimedia commons

O Panneerselvam was the first top AIADMK leader to allege that there’s more to the death of Amma. All of it wasn’t made public, he said. OPS also said he wasn’t allowed to meet Jayalalithaa.

The inquiry commission was set up after the AIADMK merger of EPS and OPS factions.

The inquiry was a pre-condition for the merger set by OPS. This was seen as to move to target Sasikala as she was the only one who was allowed access to Amma, at the hospital.

Panneerselvam had also accused Sasikala of ‘forcing him’ to resign when he was the acting Chief Minister. The picture which came up was, Sasikala is trying to assume power.

Also read: Iron Lady of India: Jayalalithaa was an inspiration for Women

Ministers and party leaders

Observing the differences between the ruling AIADMK leaders, Opposition took advantage to demand a CBI enquiry. Wikimedia commons
Observing the differences between the ruling AIADMK leaders, Opposition took advantage to demand a CBI enquiry. Wikimedia Commons

The inquiry commission was lost in a maze of contradictions as various ministers had various versions of Jayalalithaa’s treatment at Apollo Hospital.

Forest Minister Dindigul Sreenivasan: Sasikala’s family manipulated Jayalalithaa’s treatment and also prevented access to VIP visitors like Arun Jaitley and Rahul Gandhi. This was done to ensure so that the truth about her hospitalization doesn’t come out. Only Sasikala and her family had access to Amma. Even the ministers weren’t allowed.

Tourism Minister Vellamandi N. Natarajan: He repeated the charge. “The truth is that none of us saw Jayalalithaa during that period of hospitalization. We only saw her body when it was brought out of the hospital lift on December 4 night.” said the minister.

Whereas Cooperation Minister Sellur K. Raju differed on the matter. “All of us, ministers, saw Jayalalithaa when she was undergoing treatment at Apollo. This is the truth,” he said.

P Vetrivel, a disqualified MLA from Dinakaran’s camp had released a video in December last year which show Amma resting on her hospital bed and sipping fruit juice while watching TV. He said it’s untrue that no one met Jayalalithaa during her treatment days. Dinakaran claims the video was shot by Sasikala herself.