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BY: AMIT KHANNA
With several platforms, from traditional newspaper, radio, mobile phone to social media, almost the entire adult population of the world has access to news instantly. India is no different in the always on networked world. What has changed is, unlike say a few decades ago, almost the entire media is partisan today.
It’s not that all news was always objective but most purveyors of mass communication of information did balance their socio-political bias with simple reportage of people and events.
In fact almost a century ago the high priest of modern journalism Walter Lippman put this dilemma well: “The news of the day as it reaches the newspaper office is an incredible medley of fact, propaganda, rumour, suspicion, clues, hopes, and fears, and the task of selecting and ordering that news is one of the truly sacred and priestly offices in a democracy.
“For the newspaper is in all literalness the bible of democracy, the book out of what a people determines its conduct. It is the only serious book most people read. It is the only book they read every day. Once you know the party and social affiliation of a newspaper, you can predict with considerable certainty the perspective in which the news will be displayed.”
Marshal McLuhan, another media theorist, is even more brutal: “All news is fake. It’s pseudo-event created by the medium that is employed. There is no honest reporting of any medium, it is all fake necessarily, created by the medium in question.”
Both these gentleman could be writing about news media in today’s India.
The genesis of partisan media goes far beyond personal bias. The first to use media as a tool of molding public opinion were the followers of Karl Marx. Much before Hitler and other fascists thought of controlling media on ideological lines the communists (and socialists) harnessed it to their advantage.
In Britain and America this polarization had begun even earlier thus creating two party polity in both countries. In a world beset with poverty, colonialism, industrialization and of course wars, the Left movement created a constituency of writers, thinkers, artistes and intellectuals since early 20th century in spite of the tyranny of many left-wing dictators like Lenin, Stalin and Mao.
The Right on the other hand was condemned to carry the baggage of despots like Hitler and the colonialists. With their intellectual heft the Left dominated academia, while the rise of free markets economies like US, Western Europe and Japan led to faster growth and development. Media and creativity largely hitched its wagon to the Left and the Right unfairly reduced to being synonymous with big bad businesses has unfairly redefined words like liberal and secular to their convenience.
Non-alignment was a Fabian fantasy of fence setters (Nehru’s was one of its proponents) which was nothing more than a motley collection of the newly independent nations. The North-South divide is one of the myths of this clash of ideologies.
Indian artistes, writers and journalist too leaned towards the Left in Post Independent India. This was the beginning of partisan media in India.
Even in the 50s most political parties had their own newspapers and magazines. Unfortunately by appropriating words like ‘liberal’ and secular (incidentally both never part of the Communist manifesto.
When Mrs. Gandhi made a fundamental change in the constitution inserting “socialist, secular” something the founding fathers had never done — the first seeds of divergence were sown. Fault lines in our social fabric started emerging by the 1990s.
With rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the decline of CPI-M (CPI never mattered) there was a shift in the axis of Indian polity and, society and culture. However, the Left liberal (another oxymoron) cling onto intellectual power well into the new century helped by political patronage of Left of Centre Congress and allies. By 2004 elections arrived, media had clearly got divided on ideological lines, though still dominated by Left leaning journalists. Interestingly the liberals claim that a binary has been created by Right wingers. It may be so but then the others too, have created their own binary. Either you are with them or you are a sellout. Independence be damned either way.
TV news and online news sites have only accentuated polarization. The way every channel in India manipulates news through selective reportage, biased questions and using data which suits their slant. So, if the channel is anti-government, it will pick up known anti-BJP commentators, panelists and anchor intervention and if its pro-government, the process reverses.
Almost every publication, TV channel and online news service is partisan. There is literally nowhere to seek news and information which is unbiased. Social media only redistributes messages but has become the whipping boy for self-serving media who conveniently calls what doesn’t not suit them as “fake new”.
I am not defending or condoning any particular ideology here. My only objection is feeling free to express your opinion but don’t call yourself independent or liberal just because you dislike a particular ideology or party. By all means criticize and condemn it but do not assume a holier than thou attitude.
However, under pressures of the “breaking news” syndrome and reportage based on leaks from political parties, corporates and other interest groups most of today’s media specially in democracies is slanted and loaded with bias. Partisan media is here to stay.
A study on media bias, by Tim Groseclose and Jeffrey Milyo, talking about the US media, says “an unbiased media outlet would cite material equally from sources favoured by legislators in each party and from each ideological perspective”. They found that most media outlets disproportionately cited sources favoured by Democratic and more liberal members. Their measure of media bias allowed them to compare media outlets with members of Congress on the same ideological dimension and the result was startling-lack of independence in media.
But another study by them using another methodology did not produce stable results. All outlets they studied appeared to be more moderate or conservative in later years.
Media scholar Brendan Nyhan on the other hand observed: “Technocratic centrist to liberal organizations like Brookings and the Centre on Budget and Policy Priorities tend to have more credentialed experts with peer-reviewed publications than their conservative counterparts”.
Matt Grossman summing up both reports said: “Conservatives tend to doubt the ability of academic experts to maintain neutrality for the same reason that they are skeptical of the media; academics are also disproportionately Democrats and liberals. So the media bias debate reflects a broader conflict over whether technocratic expertise can be seen as neutral.”
I have pointed out earlier that social media chatter on politics is limited to less than 1% of the population. Most of the mud slinging is confined to a couple of thousand inveterate Facebookers and tweeters.
In no other countries planted messages of different ideologies keep going around WhatsApp that it is almost farcical. If someone does offer an independent analysis, he/she is trolled by either sides. No one politician, media person or activist is willing to accept that one can be agnostic to ideology. Its either you are with us or your anti-people/anti-democracy/anti-secular/anti-justice/anti-national.
Unfortunately, just because institutions have people supporting a particular ideology (when was it not so) they are supposed to be destroyed. If a court judgement is not to your liking then the judge(es) are corrupt or influenced. If 60 or 600 bureaucrats/artistes/writer oppose a party they represent civil society but if 600 or 6,000 support another then they a bunch of puppets. This is what I oppose.
By all means support or criticize or support what you believe in but don’t write off others. The axis of political and economic thought has moved right of centre after decades. Obviously, the apple cart has been upset. But that’s life.
A small minority of people can never discount what a larger section of people wants. Our Constitution has mandated a first past the post system of election. You can’t claim the percentage of votes polled by the winner in not the majority. This is how 18 elections have been held so far.
Media, thinkers and intellectuals should not make it a partisan debate because life is impartial. (IANS)
Indian wrestler Ravi Kumar (57kg) and Deepak Punia (86kg) enjoyed fruitful outings at the Tokyo Olympic Games as they secured semifinal berths in their respective weight categories at the Makuhari Messe on Wednesday.
On the opening day of the wrestling competition, Ravi Kumar defeated Bulgaria's Georgi Vangelov 14-4 on technical superiority to reach the last-four in the men's 57kg category, while compatriot Deepak Punia overcame China's Zushen Lin 6-3 on points to advance to the semifinals.
Ravi Kumar will take on Nurislam Sanayev of Kazakhstan in the last-four, while Punia will be up against David Morris Taylor of the USA.
Earlier, Ravi Kumar had won his opening-round bout by technical superiority against Colombia's Oscar Tigreros to secure a quarterfinal spot. Competing in the Round-of-16 bout against the Colombian wrestler, the 23-year-old Ravi Kumar, who is making his Olympic debut, showed no nerves as he dominated the bout to win by technical superiority (13-2).
Ravi Kumar landed attack after attack and went 13-2 up, winning the bout by technical superiority with minutes to spare. In wrestling, building up a 10-point lead over the opponent results in a victory by technical superiority.
India's 86kg freestyle wrestler Deepak Punia showed no signs of the niggle that had forced him to pull out of the Poland Open Ranking Series in Warsaw in June, as he defeated Nigeria's Ekerekeme Agiomor on technical superiority to secure a quarterfinal berth.
He got his Olympic campaign to a fine start as he was in control from the start of the bout and hardly ever allowed his Nigerian opponent any room to maneuver his moves, finally winning with a 12-1 on technical superiority.
Punia, who had also suffered an elbow injury just before the Games, was slow at the start but came into his own as the bout progressed, inflicting takedowns at regular intervals to earn points.
The Indian wrestler eased into a 4-1 lead at the break and extended his lead comfortably in the second period.
Punia, the silver medallist from the 2019 world wrestling championships, then set up a clash with China's Lin Zushen in the quarterfinals and defeated him 6-3.
Indian origin girls -- New Jersey-based Natasha Peri (11) and Dubai-based Priyamvada Deshmukh (12) -- have been named in the worlds "brightest" students list based on results of above-grade-level testing of 19,000 students across 84 countries, according to Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY), a part of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.
"Peri, a student at Thelma L. Sandmeier Elementary School, was honored for exceptional performance on the SAT, ACT, or similar assessment is taken as part of the CTY Talent Search," said a statement from the CTY.
Deshmukh, a student of GEMS Modern Academy, Dubai, has been honored for her exceptional performance on the SCAT assessment taken as part of the CTY Talent Search, a university statement said.
She was one of nearly 19,000 students from 84 countries who joined CTY in the 2019-21 Talent Search years. CTY uses above-grade-level testing to identify advanced students from around the world and provide a clear picture of their true academic abilities.
Peri took the Johns Hopkins Talent Search test in Spring 2021 when she was in Grade 5. Her results in the verbal and quantitative sections leveled with the 90th percentile of advanced Grade 8 performance.
"This motivates me to do more," she said, adding that doodling and reading J.R.R Tolkien's novels may have worked for her.
Deshmukh took the Johns Hopkins Talent Search test in Spring 2020 when she was still in Grade 6. Her results in the verbal sections leveled with the advanced Grade 10 performance. She made the cut for Johns Hopkins CTY 'High Honors Awards'.
Due to the Covid19, induced delay in Global logistics support, she finally received her much-awaited "High Honors" pin this week, which she lovingly kept in front of her Grandparents photograph as a tribute to her roots.
The delay in officially getting the certificates did not stop her from attending the summer program at John Hopkins University's CTY in English literature where she studied the confluence of Art and Science in literary writing and completed the course scoring 'A' Grade.
She followed up with top-scoring the second level of Asset Talent Examination which also qualified her for the summer program at Northwestern University this year, where she is learning about world-building in fiction writing this year.
Her elder brother was among the first UAE students to have cleared the Duke University TIP (Talent Identification Programme) when he was in Class 8.
Her parents joke that it's nothing but routine sibling rivalry that she wanted to achieve the same, just a year ahead of her brother. Even though she loves Physics and Computer Science as subjects, unlike her elder brother (who is Chancellor's Scholarship holder student of Astro Physics at the University of Massachusetts), Deshmukh wants to pursue humanities and literature when she goes to college five years down the lane.
As part of Johns Hopkins policy, granular information is not broken down by age or race.
Likewise, it is left to the guardian to disclose the prodigy's name. Within the US, awardees come from all 50 US states.
"We are thrilled to celebrate these students," said Virginia Roach, CTY's executive director.
"In a year that was anything but ordinary, their love of learning shined through, and we are excited to help cultivate their growth as scholars and citizens throughout high school, college, and beyond," Roach added.
The quantitative section of the Johns Hopkins CTY test measures the ability to see relationships between quantities expressed in mathematical terms, the verbal section measures understanding of the meaning of words and the relationships between them.
Basil scientifically called Ocimum basilicum, and also known as great basil, is a culinary herb from the Lamiaceae (mints) family. A common aromatic herb, it is usually used to add flavor to a variety of recipes, but what may astonish one is that there are various health benefits of basil that make it well-known for its immunity-enhancing properties.
Basil seeds or basil essential oil are proven to help prevent a wide range of health conditions, which makes it one of the most essential medical herbs known today. Basil has vitamin A, C, E, K, and Omega 3 components including cooling components too. It also contains minerals like Copper, Calcium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Zinc, and Potassium. An ancient Ayurvedic herb, basil has various proven benefits including being anti-inflammatory, ant-oxidant, immune-booster, pain-reducer, and blood vessel-protector.
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This herb also contains cooling components thus making it really helpful for summers. It detoxifies the body and maintains one's body temperature pace. Adding to the benefits Basil contains antioxidant-rich volatile essential oils, which are considered hydrophobic, meaning they don't dissolve in water and are light and small enough to travel through the air and the pores within our skin. Basil's volatile essential oil is something that gives the herb its distinct smell and taste, but basil contains some great healing properties.
In the long history of Ayurveda, basil seeds were also called tukmaria seeds. These seeds may support one's gut health, may complete one's fiber quota, reduce blood sugar, help in weight loss, and also reduce cholesterol.
The herb has rounded leaves.Pixabay
There are more than 60 varieties of basil, with sweet basil being one of the most widely used. The herb has rounded leaves that are often pointed. It is a bright green plant, although some varieties have hints of purple or red in their leaves, basil makes a colorful and flavorful addition to many different dishes.
It has been observed that many of the cooks use basil to thicken their dessert instead of using any artificial/ unhealthy powder to do so. Sometimes people are not able to differentiate between Chia seeds and basil seeds, to make it clear basil seeds are different in nature they are larger and a bit duller in their color. These herbs are used in various recipes as a cooling component in desserts, drinks, and fruit juices for refreshment, also beating the summer heat.
For better digestion, weight loss, and immune system, I suggest this simple recipe which can be easily made at home:
*Take 2 tsp of Basil seeds (sabja) + Add in 1/2 liter of water +10 mint leaves crushed
*1/2 tsp cinnamon powder + A little bit of sendha salt (pink Himalayan salt)
*Or to make a sweeter version one can add organic honey.
*Mix it well and drink it.
This recipe will help to flush out toxins from our body making it feel light and healthy. (IANS/SP)