I was quite annoyed with the non-coverage of the ferry disaster on some of the Indian news channels that we receive on the Pehla network. I found it very puzzling that despite the death of 21 Indians, these networks chose to sideline the disaster completely. I wrote a letter about the matter to Peter Griffin, a friend in Bombay who is not just an active blogger but very much involved in the media as well. He directed me to a few blogs and sites, and asked me if he could reprint my letter in "We, the Media", one of the media blogs of which he is a member. Since the matter is relevant to a wide circle of readers here in Bahrain, I have decided to post it here as well.

I am extremely angry with the kind of shallow, superficial and senseless 'reporting' that seems to go on. Yesterday, a ferry capsized in Bahrain and among the 62 dead were, almost, 21 Indians. And yet... none of the Indian new channels that we get here (NDTV, Star News, Zee News) bothered to even give it the kind of saturation report that CNN and BBC and Al Jazeera did.

Ofcourse, while questions were raised about the safety of the boat and Bahraini officials were grilled to reveal the nationalities of the victims... what do you thiink the Indian channels were showing? Some conclave of some BJP legislators and some other shenanigans of the folks from Delhi. Oh yes, Star News had this interesting story on a little girl who was trying to stand on her feet or something. Very touching but I sat there with my mouth wide open.

Now I am not much of a fan of these Indian news channels, and so I checked the websites of some of the newspapers... and what do I find? The news is tucked right under some very important news like the next cricket lineup, political party soap operas, Gandhi-Bachchan feud... and it was 'agency' news as if the newspapers wouldn't even be bothered by the death of 21 Indians.

Contrast this with CNN and BBC, and it was amazing to see how they picked up the story, followed the threads, asked the right questions, brought clarity, embarassed a few people, and in short... made us, residents of a small country, feel that our disaster was not insignificant at all.

As Gulf based Indians, we are more than aware of the indifference and apathy we experience at the hands of the Indian establishment. Just because the bulk of Indians in our part of the world are the labour class, it is assumed (I guess) that we don't matter in the wider scheme of things. But when it comes to investments in real estate, mutual funds, or just plain seeking money from us, then, they remember us with such devotion that one would want to weep with joy.

We are expected to be loyal and to remember the country at ALL times, especially when there is natural disaster, war or any other calamity but when something hurts us... complete indifference.

The irony is that the same Indian media and 'personalities' are the ones who cry hoarse against CNN, BBC and other multinationals using words like 'imperialism' and other kind words. And yet when the time comes to establish their own credibility they are found seriously wanting.

It is easy for them to accuse CNN or BBC to be western oriented but that doesn't explain why the Indian media choose to ignore and sideline the deaths of 21 Indians. I am, also, upset that a close friend died in this disaster and it pains me to see that his death and that of other Indians would remain a mere footnote and not the tragedy it really was.


Anonymous said…
Indians don't really value life. Nothing new in this. Gulf NRIs come lower down the list of people whose lives are valued anyways.

It's just like the pay-scale in Gulf countries where the briton is valued above a mere Indian or Filipino.

As for the channels, the Malayalam channels did report it in some detail. But then, they have a huge Gulf audience and dedicated news about the gulf region.
Ashish Gorde said…
I know, and that's what annoys me the most. I felt I had to make a point because this kind of indifference to a tragedy is unpardonable. They won't admit it but, I guess, the truth is because the majority of Indians in the Gulf are labour class anything that happens to them becomes less important. I'm glad the Malayalam channels did some reporting though... anyway, I think, I'm going to post a diatribe soon about this indifference and apathy against Gulf based NRIs... hate that word NRI!!!

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