Distortions and Discourse

It is a tough time to be an aware Indian these days. No matter which side is your ideology left, right, or centre these are the times of turmoil. One of the key features of any democracy is the political discourse, and the irony of our country has been, that despite being the largest democracy in the world, the situation of our political discourse has become extremely frivolous.

There is a lot of processing and reprocessing of information happening these days. I call it reprocessing because a lot of information that is being processed as opinions, inference and sometimes modified truth. Couple of decades back, there used to be three sources of news Doordarshan the state owned television broadcasted news every night, All India Radio which again run by the government broadcasted news, and the news papers large and small across multiple languages which mostly did factual reporting with a page for editorial opinions. So the major media was either a government mouthpiece or a fact based channel.

The came the age of cable television where we had a new breed of news channels cropped up. This was the era of breaking news and making sure the people knew the news upfront, creating major celebrity news anchors/reporters/journalists like Barkha Dutt, Sagarika Ghose, Ravish, Rajdeep Sardesai, Arnab Goswami etc. The news channels were the gold standard of truth in the decade in a race to uncover the shady story in echelons of the government. The holy grail was exclusive news and coverage, the better news channel was the one to break the most shocking news story at the earliest.

Then came the age social media, which almost killed the breaking news stuff. The fact is if you are on one of the social media bandwagons like Facebook and twitter you would probably hear the news breaking there. News like 26/11 attacks and the killing of Osama were in fact first reported on twitter. Initially the social media was primarily crowd soured. There have been a lot of controversies which have been of mainstream media and reported by the social media primarily. One of the key controversies was Barkha Dutt & Nira Radia tapes. The problem started when the social media caught up with masses and the political parties realised how effective this can be a tool. It probably started with Obama’s election campaign and quickly adapted in India before the 2014 general elections.

The problem started when the political parties started the propaganda speech and fact manipulation. It started with a harmless modification of images to make the crowd larger, change the global forwarded messages to reflect their own leaders. This has gone to an extent that doctored videos are broadcasted by mainstream media and reach the court as evidence. The fact is anything on the social media today is a difficult to believe; this has been a far reaching consequences for the country in general. The fact is so much of content being shared on the social media after modification either to reflect pro-government or pro-opposition that has ended up polarising the social media and the society in the factions which believe different versions of the same event.

The fact remains there are things happening in the country, and these are really important things. There are things which need to be appreciated, other things which need to be criticised and some which need to be debated. The fact remains or either of the discussions to happen people need to know the facts on the truth, not interpretations.

So next time when you read something, look for facts and skip the distortions.

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