Friday, January 31, 2014

Why Indian media loves to hate the AAP - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

Why Indian media loves to hate the AAP - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

Why Indian media loves to hate the AAP

Party in power in Delhi has not deviated
from its stated goals, but is being maligned for its unconventional ways.

Last updated: 29 Jan 2014

Antara Dev Sen is
founding editor of The Little Magazine, an independent journal of ideas and
letters based in Delhi. She is a commentator on media, politics, culture
and development, and has earlier been Senior Editor of The Hindustan Times
and of The Indian Express in Delhi.

This was an unkind take on the AAP - the Aam Aadmi Party or the Common Man’s
Party - that the media was so enamoured with just a month ago. The AAP has just
completed its first month in power. And practically everything has changed
since that misty-eyed day when the media whooped in amazed delight as this
bunch of young enthusiasts in caps declaring, "I am the common man!"
took their oaths as ministers in the Delhi government, in a massive open air
swearing-in ceremony.

Practically everything has changed, except the party’s own attitude towards
politics, and chosen method of ushering in change.

The starry-eyed media’s disillusionment with AAP and Delhi Chief Minister
Arvind Kejriwal may have begun sooner, but it came to a head when the media was
confronted with this unlikely hero in muffler and AAP cap, coughing in the cold
as he lay wrapped in a blanket in the freezing streets of a rainy Delhi winter,
surrounded by his cabinet colleagues. Was this really the best chief minister
and cabinet of ministers Delhi could hope for? Was blocking the road in protest
right before the Republic Day parade the best path to governance?

"Raj dharna!" screamed the media, highlighting the irony of the
ruler being on hunger strike. "Dharna drama!" they declared unkindly;
the protest was just theatrics.

Media relationship endangered

The media demanded that the hot-blooded activist calling for change needed
to first change his own attitude and method, now that he was chief minister
(CM) of a state. And when Kejriwal sat in protest demanding that the federal
Home Ministry take action against police officers whom his party perceived to
be out of line, he must have been aware that he was endangering a close
relationship with the media; the media that has largely supported him from
2011, when his mentor Anna Hazare launched the India Against Corruption

Then in November 2012, the AAP peeled away as a political party, inheriting
the media goodwill generated by the politics of protest. But when Kejriwal did
as a CM what he had been doing for the last three years with great media
success, the same media accused him of anarchism.

By taking the issue to the streets in a protest which turned unwieldy,
[AAP leader and Delhi chief minister] Kejriwal created an impossible

The CM’s protest was triggered by the fact that the Delhi Police seemed
reluctant to follow the orders of the AAP ministers. Unlike other states,
Delhi’s chief minister has no control over the police, which is answerable to
the federal Home Ministry. A solution has been sought for decades but an
activist chief minister was never an option.

The issue cropped up again this month when Law Minister Somnath Bharti
launched a made-for-TV midnight raid on Ugandan women whom he accused of
running a drugs and prostitution racket, but the police refused to play ball,
insisting on the technicality of a search warrant. Meanwhile, the police
apparently had also failed to arrest those suspected of burning a woman to
death in spite of AAP’s Rakhi Birla, minister for Woman and Child Welfare,
urging the police to do so.

By taking the issue to the streets in a protest which turned unwieldy,
Kejriwal created an impossible situation. There would be a constitutional
crisis if he was arrested, and governance would languish if he was allowed to
persist. That insupportable standoff robbed the AAP of a lot of media backing.

See how they fall, guffawed some in the Indian media. A creation of the
media, they are now being destroyed by the very same media, they laughed.

Sadly, those who deride the AAP as a media creation are those who had not
seen the AAP-quake coming. They belong to sections of the media that had missed
the new wave. Of course, the AAP greatly benefited from the enormous interest
and affection of the media, but it was never a media creation. It was fated.

Urban origins of AAP

Business as usual had become impossible after a string of big-ticket scams,
large constituencies cutting across traditional interest groups had become
restive, and disruptive politics was obviously inevitable. Anna Hazare provided
the lightning conductor in 2011, launching the protest movement from which the
AAP broke away later.

The media had been an innocent bystander until then, but it soon entered
into a symbiotic relationship with the movement. The core constituency of the
AAP and the protest movement it sprang from was urban. They read the news,
watched TV and used text messages to organise flashmobs on an epic scale. They
saw media as a mirror held up to their world, chronicling history as they made

And that history in the making - protests, fasts, sit-ins - served as free
programming in bulk to broadcast media. Even in a country as lively and
unpredictable as India, it is hard work to run news 24x7. An ongoing urban
movement, which is taking on the system, can be a comfort - all producers have
to do on a lean day is to park OB vans at protest sites, and they have endless
programming on tap.

rise of the AAP has created more than a flutter in the establishment [File:

In politics, the Indian media instinctively roots for the outsider and the
powerless. Both the professedly Gandhian Anna Hazare and his former manager
Arvind Kejriwal, whose middle class car and positively plebeian sweater and
muffler are familiar sights on TV even after he was elected chief minister of
Delhi, fitted the bill. Especially since, according to the script, they were
engaged in a principled David and Goliath battle against the entrenched
interests of the political class which rules Delhi, which is perceived to
pervert democracy, colluding across party lines to run the nation from behind
closed doors.

But that changed on counting day after the state elections in Delhi, in
which the AAP performed far better than expected and denied the mainstream Congress
and the BJP the opportunity to form a majority government.

Led by Times Now and Headlines Today, the media were initially beside
themselves with joy at the possibility of a third alternative, an AAP-led
government. The fresh and new make great headlines but traditionally, the
Indian press has been sceptical of power and government. Within hours, the
party was facing hard questions even from friends in the media. Could an
untried party govern? Could it deliver on improbable election promises like reductions
in water and energy bills, in a country which is increasingly resource-hungry?

Now, a month after it took office, the AAP is being severely judged and
found to be a bit of a failure. The media is now taking a dim view of
Kejriwal’s inability to come to grips with intractable problems in Delhi, such
as nursery admissions and the poor delivery of services. And his attempts at
alternative governance in a culture of openness are being dismissed.

From 'activist' to 'anarchist'

The media is alarmed by the activist chief minister lying on the street. He
has better access than the common man, better ways to get his demands heard.
Why doesn’t he use all that? Besides, he does have to maintain the dignity of
his office, they point out.

The Indian media fails to recognize that in the AAP age the concept of dignity
of office may have changed. Perhaps now it has less to do with formalities and
protocol and more to do with being true to your constituency and getting
results. A month ago they would have hailed him as a reformist. Now they were
calling him an anarchist. "Yes, I am an anarchist," retorted
Kejriwal, and promised to spread this unrest further.

But the media appraisal misses the point, because seeking office was never the
AAP’s priority. On the contrary, it was the last resort. In interviews to
Headlines Today, Times Now and NDTV, Kejriwal has traced his rise from a man
who set up a table outside public utility offices and offered to help people
deal with corrupt officials. That was too small-scale; the need for a movement
was felt.

Anna Hazare led that movement, which mainstreamed corruption as a political
issue, established the urgent need for a Lokpal or anti-corruption ombudsman,
but could not force legislation on the issue from outside the system. A split
with Hazare made a foray into electoral politics possible. The party was
extraordinarily successful in its very first election and is now preparing for
the parliamentary elections.

The [AAP]’s critics seem to believe that protest is undemocratic, whereas
it is a legitimate democratic tool.

While the media has withdrawn support and denounced the politics of the AAP
in office as insupportable and anti-democratic, the party has actually achieved
many of its own goals, as distinct from poll promises. The Congress, a closely
held party which takes its decisions in meetings of the first family, small
coteries and party bodies that are not exactly democratically operated, is
producing an open election manifesto for the first time in its history. In a
distinctly AAP-like move, it is even seeking comment from voters. And
corruption, AAP’s focus area, was a key issue in Congress vice-president Rahul
Gandhi’s first interview since he joined politics a decade ago.

The BJP’s media campaign has taken a beating. When the party’s prime
ministerial candidate Narendra Modi launched his election campaign from the
unlikely location of a Delhi commerce college a year ago, almost all media
houses tacitly resolved to cover his every act until, presumably, he became
prime minister. But before the general election, the BJP was supposed to win
the Delhi state elections. To its enormous embarrassment, the AAP is in the
driving seat, and days go by without any news of the sayings of Modi as screens
and front pages are taken up with the doings of the AAP.

Protests un-democratic?

The media’s concern about the vigilante streak in the AAP, which is truly
problematic and invites charges of fascism, is valid; as are concerns about
racism, sexism and majoritarianism among AAP members. The rest of the media
reservations seem puerile. The party’s critics seem to believe that protest is
undemocratic, whereas it is a legitimate democratic tool.

And there is a general feeling, often visible on TV, that the AAP’s politics is
improper because, er, it is improper. This tautology of disquiet arises out of
mainstream media’s deep discomfort with any political method that falls outside
of electoral politics. It calls it anti-democracy. Curiously, even as the media
glamourises dissent, it cannot recognise protest as a valid tool of democracy.
Unless it happens in recognised ways.

For example, opposition parties have been disrupting parliament for years,
tremendously affecting governance and policy. The Indian media does not label
these troublesome opposition leaders as anarchists.

The media’s suspicion of new political methods coupled with a tendency to
evaluate the AAP on governance, which the party is not interested in, rather
than on the achievement of the AAP’s own goals, gives the impression that the
media has turned on the AAP. But the other side of the story is that the AAP’s
job is already done: it has made corruption a huge issue in mainstream
politics, it has changed the way big political parties look at voters, it has
brought a certain amount of transparency in politics, and it has made social
media an integral part of traditional politics.

And it has established itself squarely in the media spotlight. The love
affair between the AAP and the media may have changed to a love-hate
relationship, but it is still the strongest passion on public display in the
run up to the parliamentary elections.


When any Media submits the dignity of
freedom of press to government threatening rules and regulation contrary to the
International law of rules and regulations of freedom of press. Every
profession has hazards and so the journalists have. One should not be in journalism
profession who fears to write the truth on the basis of substantiating
evidences. What is most regretting some compromises and and avoids writing the
truth and or mixes the truth with false with no substantiating evidences and
when gets caught then pays a heavy price.

stated the facts above in very brief all these boils down to the fact that no
government however, well reputed normally do not like the journalists and if
they can fight tooth and nail to get them severely punish them if its a Foreign
Media then the local government agency would very much like to ban  the
media. Such situation is created because Journalists are not internationally well
organized.  Even if there is an organization
it might be an inapt organization of taking the government to tasks with facts
and evidences and fails to protect and establish the International law of
freedom of press, and freedom of speech. AAP suffers because of its weakness,
it must remember print media is a very powerful establishment and there is no authority
in the world that is not afraid of Print Media.

must have the material to stand up equal and confront Indian authorities and
teach them a lesson and also legally fight to get the Judgment to the effect the
government should be barred from banning the Media's stay in the country. Print
medias must strongly also fight for its existence in this world of corrupt
governments whether it is in India or any other.  AAP must remember pen is
mightier than sword. Therefore, use the pen to fight hate and erase the word
against APP but not by compromising 
professional ethics and norms.


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