Indian journos need to be aware of their limits while on serious foreign tours

Indian journalists, who accompanied Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his state visit to the US, came back with a lot of egg in their faces, and that was all their fault.

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Indian journalists, who accompanied Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his state visit to the US, came back with a lot of egg in their faces, and that was all their fault. A state visit is a serious affair, and every journalist promotes the prestige of the country, as well as that of his/her leader, because he/she is also a representative of the country at that point of time. Turning this entire issue into a joke can only negatively affect India.

Acknowledgement from the West, especially from the US of A has remained a ‘badge of honour’ for Indian media, which has failed to shrug off its colonial hangover. How special is The New York Times, or The Washington Post or CNN or even Fox News, for that matter, for Indian readers/viewers? Not much, I presume. Probably it is because Indian media has, of late, degenerated into a pile of mush, alternating with screaming bouts called ‘debates’ and bias reportage, just so the jobs stay safe. That is not any gauge of journalism.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent trip to the US has been a case in point. We have published a brief report on that in this edition of Views on News, but the overall picture as presented by Indian media representatives in Washington and New York weren’t very encouraging.

One Aaj Tak reporter – obviously following instructions from her head office – was going around asking people their positive views on Modi’s trip, and the rebuttals she got (no fault of hers) are now depicted in several objective and humorous memes around social media. The lady reporter in question approached a set of American-Indians with drums and pronounced how their opinion will be heard “all across India” over the channel. She asked if they had gathered there to drum up support for the Indian Prime Minister. The drummer simply said he was there as a musician, because he was asked to be there as such. Period.
My opinion to such acts of Indian media is that such acts neither glorify the Indian diaspora, or the country, nor does it add to the prestige and honour of our Prime Minister. The Prime Minister was on a state visit, and if, this time around, there has not been that level of support in the US as had happened during his visit in the Donald Trump era, then it is a political issue. Deal with this serious issue in a serious manner, report the political changes in attitude.
In New York, this lady reporter – and I do not want to name her – also barged into the office of Sneha Dubey, an IFS officer and First Secretary at the UNGA, whose lambasting of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was in the news. The reporter touched Dubey’s arm and started speaking as if she knew her from way back. Dubey simply told him she has nothing to add and showed her the door.
Such public snubs for the Indian media is hard to digest. This was completely unnecessary. Why can’t we stick to the facts, why cannot we report serious issues with analysis? Why must this sensationalising happen? Such acts happen and are permissible in India, because the entire Media industry seems to have turned into a circus. Abroad, they still do not baulk at speaking the truth. Our media needs to be careful.
Considering the above and many more such incidents – a lot of such footage may not even have seen the light of day – we can realise why the Indian media still yearns for this ‘badge of honour’ from foreign media. It is pathetic how our own standards have degenerated, and whatever the likes of CNN do, we react to. Your importance emanates from your credibility, at home and abroad. Not on how loud you are, or how brusque you come out in print and on screen. And if you have failed to live up to the expectations of international journalism, you have failed in your principal purpose disseminating news.
The fallout of such mindless acts is that it reflects poorly on the leader of the nation. If you lack a plan and fail to generate a proper approach strategy to issues of national and international importance that your leader may have come to discuss, you are only denigrating the prestige of your own leader. Be aware that when you have come over with your leader, in the press party, you are as much a representative of the country as your leader is. This awareness needs to percolate down to every newspaper reporter, every television journalist that wants to take a free ride to the US or any other country for that matter.
I hope this remains a shameful reminder for all journalists who aspire to be one, true to the ethics of the trade.