Monday, May 4, 2015

#SorryNepal Don’t Judge us by the Standards of our Media!

The recent earthquake, with its epicenter in Nepal and affecting many part of the North India was yet another reminder how the nature is oblivious of the man-made boundaries.  Only blind ones can ignore the fact that the lives and welfare of all people in this world are interconnected. Therefore, we all have to deal with the calamities, crises, and challenges faced by people in any part of the world through mutual cooperation.

However, human minds are not as evolved as the nature. The effect of nationalities and man-made boundaries on the human psychology is enormous. Instead of contributing something worthwhile to the world and feeling legitimate pride, human beings prefer to be proud of the artificial boundaries and identities.  Even while dealing with common disasters one has to remain sensitive about human feelings such as pride and patriotism.

When the Indian government and its armed forces responded to the tragedy in Nepal in a good neighborly fashion, it was heartening, and it was as it should be. However, soon the Indian Media stepped in and started reporting from the ground! Some elements of the media found yet another opportunity to inflate the image of their benefactor (or is it their creation?) Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime Minister, by eulogizing India’s efforts at rescue as something like a personal gift from Modi to people of Nepal (just like the 2500 KGs of Sandalwood gifted to a temple in Nepal).  

Soon, the entire sangh parivar propaganda machine joined the said elements of Media (for convenience, let us refer to these elements as Modia) and began spreading misinformation. Tweets by spokespersons of BJP that RSS is sending 20,000 volunteers to Nepal for rescue efforts (eventually denied by RSS itself) was only a beginning. Soon, Modi’s PR machinery and Modia joined forces and trended #ThankYouPM, as if India under any other PM would not have helped a neighbor, at such a time of distress.

Narendra Modi and his PR machinery are used to exploiting natural calamities for inflating his image. Be it Rs 5 Crore donation to Bihar at the time of Kosi floods, or so called mass Innova evacuation from Uttarakhand, Modi finds an opportunity to tell the world how great a man he is! This time in Nepal, he was clearly overdoing it, considering the fact that Nepal was an independent country and a separate nation, and the Indo-Nepal relationship cannot prosper without taking into account the sensitivities of the people.

In this era of instant social communication, it is perfectly fine that the Prime Minster of Nepal who was on foreign travel came to know about the earthquake, back home, from a tweet by Indian Prime Minister. It was also fine when the Nepal’s Prime Minister informed people about how he got the news. However, when the Prime Minister of another country starts telling the world that the PM of Nepal got to know about the earthquake from his tweets, it hurts the pride of both the people and government of Nepal. You don’t have to be an expert in diplomacy to know the effect of such statements.

All these indications clearly showing that the Modia and Modi PR were hurting the cause of neighborly relationship, I tweeted cautioning those who cared:

I am afraid, the over hyping of India's help in rescue operations is going to affect our long-term relationship with Nepal, adversely.

10:28 AM - 29 Apr 2015

When I tweeted the above, I was looking at the long-term effect of continuously telling our neighbors about how great we are and how we were helping them. However, the ground reality was even worse, apparently. The PR and TRP objectives of the Modia had an immediate effect on the people of Nepal, who resented such highhanded approach to rescue and relief efforts.

            To mark their resentment, the people of Nepal top trended #GoHomeIndianMedia on 03 May 2015. The tweets expressed under the hashtag were scathing in their criticism of Indian Media’s conduct in the disaster struck Nepal.  As an Indian, I felt guilty for our people adding insult to the injury suffered by our neighbors. I tweeted:

#SorryNepal don't judge us by the standards of our modia, oops media!
4:45 PM - 3 May 2015

            What I did not expect was the reaction to the above tweet from people of Nepal. I did not expect the message to reach people of Nepal as I did not have any significant followership in that country.  However, to my surprise, many people from Nepal responded to my tweet. Barring one or two tweets that were not very friendly, all the replies from Nepal emphasized one point- that they were against Indian media only and they fully appreciated Indian people and the help by Indian defense forces. Let me quote some of the responses without the identity of the persons:

आँप लोगो को सहयोग हमारे लिय सम्मान हे मगर हमारे देस मे दादागिरी नहि चलेगा
6:14 PM - 3 May 2015

we are thankful to indian people and indian government for your more support to us, we just hate indian media .
7:33 PM - 3 May 2015 · Details

India has helped us too, we are grateful for that.
7:36 PM - 3 May 2015 

we are thankful to india nd indians for ur support. Disgraceful are those media who cant understand the pain
7:54 PM - 3 May 2015 

you guys are awesome!!! Will never forget India's help:) Fuck indian media though...
8:32 PM - 3 May 2015 

No you are really nice people. We know how you guys are plagued by #IndianMedia and so you call them #presstitutes
9:22 PM - 3 May 2015

We know, don't worry. We have high opinions of you. #GoHomeIndianMedia
7:15 AM - 4 May 2015 

This is for Indian media but not to Indian people #GoHomeIndianMedia
11:00 PM - 3 May 2015 ·

            The reason why I quoted these responses is because it is easy to create an image of an ungrateful people, especially when the media is the target of their attack.  The Prime Minister of India had himself commended Indian media for the ‘great work’ done by them:


Mention must be made of the media. They are bravely covering the disaster from the ground. Thanks
12:21 pm – 27 Apr 15

I can understand the Prime Minister commending the relief workers and soldiers engaged in the rescue operations, but to praise the media contingent is beyond any comprehension. More so, when we look at the impact that the so called great reporting has made on the people of Nepal, as reflected in the responses quoted above!

            The responses in large numbers also indicate the noble intentions of the people of Nepal. They took the pain not only to trend #GoHomeIndianMedia, but also to make it clear that their resentment is limited to the Media and not to the people of India. It also shows that not all people of Nepal are sitting in a corner and crying about the misfortune, but fighting back to regain their lives, dignity, and honour! It is important to note this, since another Modia personality had expressed doubts how in the aftermath of those devastating earthquakes Nepalis can sit and trend something like #GoHomeIndianMedia, perhaps smelling or indicating a conspiracy by someone, to deflate the great man’s image!

            Nepal is still struggling against the misfortune and aftershocks. Let us wish them safety and a speedy return to normalcy.  Let us provide whatever assistance we can, without making it a cheap show. Let us not try and milk natural calamities in neighboring countries, for image building and PR.

            Diplomacy is what guides international relations. Being diplomatic includes taking others’ sensitivities into account while dealing with them. Nepal is a sovereign country and let us respect those feelings.

            I leave the following tweet for the readers to ponder:

एक बात याद रहे नेपाली हर बातो टेक्निक मे पिछे होगा पर बिरोध और आन्दोलन मे दुनियाँमे अगे है #GoSriyaIndiaMedia #GoHomeIndianMedia

9:05 PM - 3 May 2015

P.S: Not sure if it is linked to the last day’s trend or people’s sentiments in Nepal, but the government of Nepal has now urged all foreign rescuers to leave the rescue work to the local authorities and return home!

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