Information and Broadcasting Ministry
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
I once heard Salman Rushdie say: “I might be indifferent to religion but if it acts as a balm to billions, who am I to quarrel with.” This is a perfect position for both atheists and non-atheists; believers and non-believers. devotees and rational. If you can’t help or console humanity, a majority of whom are without power or hope, the last thing you ought to do is to hurt the faith which allows them to live by.
The only set who wouldn’t agree to this position are artistes. They are a different breed. They argue, they question, they debate and we all feel it’s for our advancement. There is no harm if dogmas are revisited. A faith reformed is a faith purified. It’s rationality. The problem occurs when your are not out to cleanse the faith. It’s to use your art to abuse the faith. Messenger, instead of message, becomes your target.
Unfortunately, it pays. More in the case against the Hindus than say Muslims or Christians. If you take liberty against Muslims and their faith—dare even sketch a portrait of Prophet Muhammad—it’s unlikely you would see the next day. The retribution is swift. Charlie Hebdo isn’t the sole instance. But against the Hindus—you could slap at their Hanuman; call a “kutiya” (bitch) a Savitri; term “Chitrakoot” as “Paatal Lok”; show them genocidal—and its’ artistic license. Worse, it ensures raving reviews and 10-serial contract with the new beasts in town: The Over The Top (OTT) platforms.
The OTT platforms are your Netflix and Amazon; Voot and Hotstar etc. The stream straight into your living rooms. There is no censorship. It doesn’t come under the CBFC (Central Board of Film Certiication) or the Cinematograph Act of 1952. Profanity passes off as gritty dialogues; sex scenes are watched together by both father and daughter, one skirting his eyes, the other holding her breath; a young kid bemused why the “uncle” on the screen finds a young boy in his mirror-image so tempting.
This is my third piece on the matter. One was on Leila, last year, a futuristic tale of Hindus in ethnic cleansing. The second was Paatal Lok which filled me with disgust. Now it’s on Chippa where an old man is narrating how his grandma once slapped “Hanuman” and the latter “sar jhukai. dum dabai, ae bhaaga (bowing his head, tail between his legs, he scampered for safety). All three have been streamed on Netflix in rapid succession.
Twitteratis this morning were outraged at Chippa. Predictably, excuses came up: “Langaurs in Bengal are called Hanumans”; or “A specie of monkeys in India is called Hanuman.” Rebuttals came that “if so, why a man is seen kicking a kid while reading Hanuman Chalisa in Chippa;” or “If true in Bengal; why use this truism for rest of India?” Surely, two million Hindus of Bengal isn’t the same thing as 1000 million other Hindus in rest of India.
It’s easy to understand the motive. Such artistic liberties secure a platform, ensure good reviews and probably a 10-series contract from an OTT outlet. Guaranteed profits. Secured careers. Unlike Muslims, Hindus are unlikely to walk into the Mumbai office of Netflix and spray bullets. Their impotent outrage on the social media—for no mainstream media gives a hoot to Hindu sensibilities—actually drives up the viewership. India’s OTT market would be worth $5 billion in 2023, as per Boston Consulting Group. Netflix has reported a 30% hike in their viewership during these pandemic months. Be pretty sure also they are not taxed either by the Indian government.
Not that Information and Broadcasting ( I & B) ministry hasn’t stirred. Just before lockdowns, a notice had gone to these OTT platforms in March to standardize their code of conduct and set up an adjudicatory body. China, France, Singapore all enforce it. However, in a meeting which the minister Prakash Javadekar summoned in his office, to abide by the rules of the Digital Content Complaint Council (DCCC), predictably, Amazon Prime refused. Netflix asked for extra weeks to firm up their mind. Others, such as Hotstar, Voot etc have come on board.
The OTTs hiding behind censorship is a joke. It can’t overrule what the courts in India find outrageous in light of the Constitution. You can’t be promoting religious violence or show barely-concealed pornography in the name of artistic licence. And if you could, dare and do it against Islam. You know as well as I do, you won’t. Between money or a hole-in-the-chest, the choice is not too difficult.
(This is a reprint of NewsBred).
The rule of law has taken two extraordinary steps this week which should send a chill down the spine of forces hell-bent on breaking up India on religious lines.
The first one concerns media which clearly works on partisan political lines, if not to the smell of funds which they could be receiving from Indian and foreign sources. The other involves the alleged anti-CAA violence perpetrators in Uttar Pradesh who have been hung out to dry in public by the state government.
The Information and Broadcasting ministry banned two Malayalam channels for 48 hours, beginning 5.30 p.m today (The ban was subsequently lifted this morning following appeals by the two channels). The two channels are Media One and Asianet News. Media One is owned by a company which is backed by Jamaat-e-Islami. Asianet News is indirectly owned by BJP Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrashekhar. (So please cut out the notion that the Centre is discriminating on partisan lines).
The I & B Ministry’s charge against Media One read: “The anchor/correspondent saying that it seems the vandals and police are hands in glove (on Delhi violence)…and the government’s cold-shouldered approach towards anti-CAA protesters is the main reason behind ongoing protests in the national capital.”
On Asianet News, the Ministry cited similar instances of anchor/correspondent claiming “Centre gave silent consent for the violence”; and that the “violence turned communal after a group of Hindu people chanted Jai Shri Ram.”
Centre had to return to its trenches against NDTV for a similar ban in 2016 on fake news after the Channel knocked the doors of Supreme Court. The present move seems to convey Centre’s intent to check unbridled “press freedom.” A few newspapers too, with their glaring bias and prejudice, promote ill-will and communal hatred. They too deserve be booked.
The second instance, which concerns the CAA protestors and the UP government, is sensational. The Yogi Adityanath government has put up big banners at four prominent junctions of Lucknow, the Capital, which puts the faces, names and addresses of 28 arsonists booked for anti-CAA violence last December. These people have claimed it puts them and their families at risk. And that the charges against them haven’t been proved. The UP government says it’s not a conviction rather a recovery notice made public.
I have a feeling it’s the start of Big Brother striking back. The gloves could be off. Media had crossed the threshold where it could hide behind the garb of “freedom of press.” The “mob-street” strategy of political, colonial and Islamist forces could now be paid in the same coin. You wanted to take the battle in your hand; avoid the Courts? Go ahead. Governemnt would meet you with the guerilla tactics of its own. Tomorrow, when you don’t want to show your papers—“Kaagaz nahin dekhaenge”—your mobile networks could go out of coverage area. Your bank accounts could be suspended. You would then remember Indian courts–and find your “kaagaz”–for good reasons.
Who knows, judiciary in this country could be carrying grouse of its own. This “mafia” all too often drags them in the mud. One day, the Chief Justice of India is embarrassed on sexual harassment charge. Other day, an innocuous praise of PM Modi makes a judge an object of hatred amongst Liberal media. At other times, social activists say they find judiciary redundant. Impeachment moves are made against the Chief Justice of India. When judiciary offers mediation to Shaheen Bagh protestors, the latter evinces no interest. Its plea not to occupy public places falls on deaf ears. No wonder, the judiciary is now taking its own sweet time on anti-CAA petitions. It has said it would settle Sabrimala protest first and then worry about CAA. Meanwhile, the government would roll its own National Population Register (NPR) process next month.
It apparently escaped the notice of anti-Modi forces that a person who could rearrange the decades-old Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir won’t be cowed down by pressure tactics. A man who could send the armed forces to border in an eye-to-eye showdown for months in Doklam, won’t be cowed down. A man who could do a surgical strike inside the Pakistani territory, can’t be cowed down. A man who could defy the threat of US sanctions against buying S-400 missile system from Russia, can’t be cowed down.
So Left-Liberals, dub him the way you prefer. Take steroids of Islamist forces such as Iran and Turkey. Inject the poison of United Nations Human Rights Council or European Union. The man doesn’t give a fig. A billion behind him don’t give a fig either.