The recent effort to indirectly acquire NDTV by Adani enterprises is an effort in the direction of creating another Godi media. Much of the mainstream national media is already a ‘Godi media’ and perhaps it is believed that this will put an end to independent media in the mainstream media space. Godi media can perhaps be described as an extension of ‘bhakt nationalism’ as displayed in mainstream news space.
It is important to decipher as to how the godi media has become high speed pathway to misinformation and spreading hate and the role it plays in contemporary times. A 5G approach of how it has emerged as provider of misinformation and contributes to polarizing can help in assessing the same.
The period which started even before 2014 made claims as to how an ‘individual’ rescued the pilgrims struck in the catastrophe in Uttarakhand. There were news reports during Covid in Godi media channels as to how because of an individual, India was able to rescue the large number of Indians struck abroad during Covid times as well as the Indian students struck in Russia Ukraine war. Such an approach to attribute larger than life image and ability for miracles leads to Godification of an individual. In social media spaces they are also reflected in posts which describe individual as an ‘avataar’ or ‘virat hruday samrat’. They however comfortably avoid issues and tragedy which strikes the country such as issue of migrants during Covid times as well as the covid deaths which took under the regime. Inconvenience caused by demonetization and deaths which occurred standing in lines are put behind the carpet.
Godi media tends to impress and glorify rather than question power. The series of interviews in ‘godi’ news channels showed as to how glorification of an individual is done. Instead of questioning on the policies, lapses in the economy, incidents of violence in society, the growing polarization of society the interviews turn out to be events for ‘glorifying’ the individual around hard work of working 18 hours a day, managing with less sleep, simplicity as used in the word ‘fakeer’ or being a person with high energy. No instance is left unturned to justify actions of the government whether demonetization, GST, lock down announcement etc. Haphazard decisions are described as well thought out decisions whose positive benefits can only be visualized by an ‘avataar’. In instances where an opposition party or leader is removed from power, the godi media does not shy away from celebrating in front of the audience through acts such as dances and high pitched commentary.
The Godi media tends to gang up. In the so-called prime time debate that takes place, several persons from different political parties or political views are invited. The moderator of the show tends to become the ‘spokesperson’ or ‘judge’ and tends to question those in opposition to the government. In this process, the moderator joins those with right wing leaning views to question others. Those in the opposition are branded as anti-hindus, anti-nationals out there to ruin the image of the country, working against Hinduism and working against development. Instead of seeing themselves as a saffron gang, they tend to describe others in the name as ‘tukde tukde gang’, ‘khan market gang’. In case of protests by youth, students, minorities, farmers the representatives of the protestors are questioned rather than those who the cause of were the same. In incidents of communal violence, the ones questioned are not the inflictors of violence but those who spoke of peace and harmony.
Giving up rationality:
The godi media tends to run debates which gives up rationality. Hence it is not surprising to see programs which instead of questioning acts of government tend to justify it. Events such as Thali bajao, Phool barsao, Deep jalao are rationalized as having a scientific basis along with other bhakt social media communities. Programs around India’s glorious past, glorification of scientific developments of past with less historical evidence tend to take front seat than taking a critical look at historical past. Cow science and its miraculous benefits for humans and environment are run. Instead of a rational approach to debates, a non-logical approach is adopted which tends to deviate the debate from the core issue at hand. Everything turns out to be Hindu Muslim, pro Hindu anti Hindu, pro nation anti nation issue.
With everything being seen as in the right path, there is a sense of ‘gratification’ as represented by the word ‘sab changa si’, ‘all is well’. With no debates around the challenges facing the economy, social violence in society, unemployment, poor human development, decline of democratic rights, there is a sense of ‘gratification’ around performance of the government. Everything is seen to have come to ‘normalcy’ from past 70 years of ‘abnormality’. While intolerance towards opposition political parties or political views remains, it simultaneously remains so with poor performance of government on governance, economic and human development fronts.
It can be stated that the 5G pathway to misinformation and spreading hate by godi media has proven to be socially harmful, where media should have played a more critical and constructive role. Godi media through becoming uncritical players no longer can carry the tag of 4th estate of democracy.
T Navin is an independent writer.