Indian media seems to have become a tool for political parties and business interests rather than serving as the fourth pillar of democracy.
By Syed Ahmed Ali
The world is witnessing the inhumane actions of Israel, drawing widespread condemnation on social media platforms where netizens express solidarity with Palestine. Many countries are criticizing Israel and demanding ceasefire due to its one-sided attacks on Palestinians. Unfortunately, the fourth pillar of Indian democracy, the mainstream media, appears to be failing in its role. It seems to be influenced by Israel, metaphorically having its eyes covered, rendering it unable to witness the pain endured by Palestinian children, mothers, and fathers.
Social media brings all the sense and truth to people around the world. The videos show fathers carrying the cut-half bodies of their kids, mothers who lost their kids questioning the world, small girls searching for their parents, and many more such heart-wrenching videos and photos.
Indian media seems to have become a tool for political parties and business interests rather than serving as the fourth pillar of democracy. The media should untie the thread from its eyes and fulfill its responsibility.
To delve deeper into how Indian media is covering the Israeli war on Gaza, we have interviewed Shadia Mukhtar, M.A. in Development Communication from AJK MCRC, Jamia Millia Islamia, and Mohammad Owais Siddiqui, a student pursuing a Post-Graduation Diploma in Hindi Journalism at Jamia Millia Islamia.
Mohammad Owais Siddiqui, a student pursuing Post Graduation Diploma in Hindi Journalism at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
The Israel-Palestine war, ongoing for the last 40 days, is a global topic of discussion. People worldwide either protest in support of Palestine or back Israel, underscoring the crucial role of media. Regarding Indian media, mainstream outlets appear profoundly biased. India’s decline in the International Press Freedom Index, now at 161st place, highlights the concerning state of journalism. Despite this, India, proud to be the Mother of Democracy, seemingly remains indifferent.
Shifting the focus to the Israel-Palestine war, global media closely follows events. Each outlet reports actively with its unique style. Surprisingly, Indian media plays a distinctive role, consistently showing interest in supporting Israel, the oppressor.
A significant drawback of mainstream Indian media is its inclination toward one-sided reporting, deviating from fundamental journalistic principles that stress considering both aspects.
Even during ground reporting on the Israel-Palestine war, Indian media predominantly focuses on Israel, neglecting the pain and struggle in the Gaza Strip. This one-sided approach contradicts journalistic principles.
Another noteworthy aspect is how, when Hamas responded to Israel’s attacks on October 7th, the Indian mainstream media, unlike the United Nations, designated Hamas as a terrorist organization. While it’s not the media’s role to make such designations, Indian media fails to justify its role in this regard.
Indian media should have questioned the government about the Prime Minister’s contradictory stance, especially considering India’s official support for Palestine. Instead of portraying Hamas solely as a terrorist organization, the media should scrutinize the central government’s dual attitude. The evident one-sidedness of the media becomes apparent when it advocates Israel’s right to self-defense while labeling Hamas a terrorist organization. Additionally, during global demonstrations supporting Palestine, mainstream media should have questioned the Indian government’s response to protests in Delhi and other cities. However, it appears they either lacked the time or chose not to do so.
Shadia Mukhtar, M.A. in Development Communication from AJK MCRC, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
Even after 75 years of brutal and unlawful occupation, there has been no acknowledgment of the Palestinian people’s right to stand up for themselves against such flagrant violations of international law or their fundamental human rights. We live in a double-standard world where Palestinian lives are considered less important than Israeli lives.
Israeli soldiers have conducted numerous raids in the West Bank, detaining people from all walks of life, including students, activists, journalists, and even those who posted online in support of Gaza. Aerial and drone attacks have obliterated homes and streets, hitting many refugee camps and almost destroying the Al-Ansar Mosque. According to Gaza’s Hamas-run Health Ministry, more than 11,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli military air and artillery strikes.
Indians, having witnessed the cruelty of colonialism, may struggle to understand the hardships faced by the citizens of Gaza under Israeli settler rule. Israel has been bombing and killing innocents for their land for many decades. When Hamas responded to their decades-long attacks on October 7, the Indian media portrayed Israelis as victims, but the truth is witnessed in history.
The media, which plays a vital role in transmitting accurate information, is only providing people with half the information. The sad part of Indian media is not only the omission of truth but also the neglect of the children, women, and elderly people being killed by Israel. Israelis are targeting civilians under the pretext of fighting ‘terrorists’, attacking hospitals, and mosques, and even targeting relief aid and destroying it. This is not shown by the media, which instead portrays Palestinians as ‘terrorists’ who must be killed by Israelis.
Indian media is not much different from Western media, openly pro-Israel. It actively decontextualized the Hamas attack while failing to highlight the obvious disproportionality in Israel’s ‘response’.
The media expressed outrage at the killing of Israeli children and women but overlooked the indiscriminate bombing that killed Gazan babies due to Hamas infiltrating the civilian population. The Indian media called for the destruction of Gaza and predicted its demise.
The Indian mainstream media attempted to spin the war on ‘terror,’ claiming it instilled fear in Hamas. However, others noted that Indian media had abandoned its historical role as a voice of moderation since independence. While expressing shock at the Hamas attack, the media could have requested restraint by urging Israel not to target Gaza’s civilian population.
Even after so many days of Israeli bombing in Gaza, Indian media has not favored the call for a ceasefire, implying support for Israel’s ongoing assault on Gaza’s civilian population. Indian media seems to have become a tool for political parties and business interests, rather than serving as the fourth pillar of democracy. The media should remove the blindfold and fulfill its role responsibly.