Death of 60 Children in Gorakhpur: Sad Comparisons, Pro-Government Media

The death of more than 60 children in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh is sad. The way majority of media sources are reporting, investigating and analyzing the incident is even sadder. There seems to be an attempt by a big section of Indian media become savior of the incumbent Yogi Aditya Nath Government in the State and the Narendra Modi led NDA Government at Centre. In an attempt to absolve the Government of the responsibility, these media houses, Channels and Print, are actively looking for one scapegoat or other. This is another very visible case of media in India becoming pro-establishment. A trend which will not do us any good in both short and long run.

After three days of the death of more than 60 children in Baba Raghav Das Medial College Gorakhpur, UP; a section of Indian media (a large section) is actively looking for someone who can be blamed for the incident. Earlier they found such a scapegoat in the Principal of the Medial College. From yesterday onward, the media are aggressively trying to create a scapegoat out of Dr. Kafeel Khan, the Head of Paediatrics. He is the doctor, who for his proactive actions to contain the situation, received big praise by the kith and kin of those admitted. But from yesterday, the media is actively trying to make this person a villain, and running programmes such as “This is the truth of Dr. Kafeel Khan”, “How Kafeel Khan became became a hero to villain” etc.

Actually, the media donned the role of a savior after the Chief Minister Yodi Aditya Nath visited the Medical College yesterday. The time onward the tone of media coverage and analysis changed 360 degrees. Instead of putting hard questions to the UP CM; the media started towing the official line. This perspective change, for any reasons, resulted in them becoming pro-establishment.

More could have been learned and reformed if the media had played its basic role of being an anti-establishment (The basic tenet of journalism is: Journalism must be anti-establishment; so must be the media).

In a country where media fails to ask questions and raise, the citizens do.

You cannot make statistical comparisons here

The moment the death of more than 60 children in Gorakhpur came in media, many viewers and readers had the inkling that it would be a result of Japanese encephalitis (or Dimagi Bukhar). This part of UP is prone to Japanese Encephalitis, and it takes lives of many children at this time of the year. But irrespective of the fact that it’s a periodic occurrence, you cannot make statistical comparisons here. You cannot say a larger number died in 2014 and only 60 died this year. A lesser number of deaths in 2017 doesn’t make the pain of loss any lesser. The UP Health Minister, Siddharth Nath Singh, did just that. He compared the 2017’s death numbers with the deaths in 2014. He may be doing that or his Government, but deaths are not some GDP figures which can be compared every now and then.

No “prompt” message from the PM

Our Prime Minister is quite active on Social Media. He tweets on inconsequential of issues such as wishing ‘Team India’ on a ODI or Test win etc. When he makes speeches he speaks for hours. But even after three days of the incident, he has not said a single line, sharing the grief of those whose children died in the mishap. What may be the reason? in fact, yesterday, he tweeted about the pain he felt for the deaths in Mandi, Himachal Pradesh. But here not a single line.

May be he’ll say something about the incident on tomorrow’s Independence Day speech, but as a leader you don’t always need grand dais to get through your message.

Demanding Resignations may be a big deal today, but becoming pro-establishment and looking for petty scapegoats may not be good either

Gone are the times when Ministers would resign by taking the “Moral Responsibility” for an incident. No one expects the Media to go that far and demand that. What one expects from the media is to put some tough questions to the Government. If the Government is questioned and made to take responsibility for an incident, then everyone under it or working for it, will automatically come under the radar. But there can’t be the other way round. A media which starts looking for scapegoats at the lowest level, leaves the establishment Scott-free.