Media– The New ‘Divisive Agent’
Border problems have been plaguing the north-east states since sometime. As if political greed, student leaders, irrational insurgents, outside power lobbies were not enough, now we have a new entrant to add fuel to the fire. This new agent is the frenzied Media which flares up every issue as a border related problem. Take the example of the quarrel between two families in Sadiya last week. It revolved round a marital dispute between a Mising family from Assam and a Nyishi family from Arunachal Pradesh. The manner in which the skirmish was reported in the media, especially the television media, the entire incident was given the colour of an inter-state conflict.
I was very surprised at the news presentation of ‘News Live’ regarding this incident. On Sunday at 11:30 a.m. when I switched on the TV, this news was repeatedly telecast. The way of news presentation in most news channels is sick. Urgent treatment is required. If such news is presented in such a sensational fashion, anyone and everyone will be provoked at the propaganda. News in Assam has become very judgemental. News should be news. My father related me of times when the Nyishis (then called Dafalas) and the Misings (then called Miris) used to have skirmishes now and then. But at that time there was nothing called two states, one being Arunachal Pradesh. So things didn’t take the menacing shape of inter-state dispute. For example, a couple of weeks back, there was a fight involving a few boys from the Nocte tribe and a few boys from the Singpho tribe in Bordumsa, Arunachal Pradesh. Had the Nocte area been in Assam and the Singpho area put in Arunachal Pradesh, the media would have had a feast by blowing the quarrel out of proportion and calling it an inter-state dispute. Actually this entire idea of statehood in north-east, a territory with more than 200 tribes will be a failure in the 21 st century. The best administrative arrangement for a ethnically diverse region like north-east would have been that of a Zonal Republic (based on zones for administrative efficiency) with English as the official language because of its international spirit and usage. But that would never be a reality because of the ethnic politics, misguided notions of insurgents and vested interest of the power lobbies who operate from other parts of India as well as Bangladesh. These are the band of people who best benefit from unrest in north-east states.
I would also request the Journalists Association of Assam and senior journalists to take the initiative of organizing training classes for the news producers, reporters and cameramen on the pattern and style of news presentation from time to time. We need trainers from channels like BBC and Times Now, since most of the news channels in Assam are aping the uncultured manner of news presentation rampant in Hindi news channels like Aj Tak or India TV. Its high time quality is ensured in the style of news reporting in the TV channels of Assam for the present breed of channels is lowering the taste and refinement of the people of Assam and several areas of the neighbouring states as well. The reporters and news editors have no knowledge in distinguishing constructive criticism from cheap sensationalism. News channels should not be used to create a society steeped in misinformation and vile tastes and attitude. The media should endeavour to promote a sober and informed society.