Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Media houses behaving like cheerleaders of Modi on foreign trip, but "ignore" major humanitarian crisis in Myanmar

By Our Representative
At a time when a large group of media house representatives is covering Prime Minister Narendra Modi's trip to China, Mongolia and South Korea, an incisive analysis wonders why is there indifference towards a major humanitarian crisis taking shape across the border in Myanmar, with whom India shares 1,624-km-long border. This is happening despite the fact that the Rohingiya crisis in Myanmar has lately come under direct scanner of the United Nations, the analysis complains.
Insisting that the "looming humanitarian crisis in Southeast Asia deserves our attention", the analysis in newslaundry.com by Arunabh Saikia, says that for the last several days the Indian media confined its foreign coverage to becoming "cheerleaders than neutral observers during the Prime Minister’s trip to China", yet the media houses houses "no newsworthiness" in another neighbour.
The analysis points to how the long-standing Rohingya crisis escalated last week when around 1,600 Rohingya Muslims fled Myanmar in a bid to escape persecution, and were rescued off the coast of Indonesia on Sunday.
It adds, quoting reports, that as many as "8,000 could still be stuck off the coasts of Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, with limited water and food", adding, "The UN has issued a warning stating that the situation could soon lead to a 'massive humanitarian crisis' as no government in the region was willing to take responsibility."
Indian media houses' behaviour, says Saikia, stands in sharp contrast to international media organisations which have since "doggedly" pursued the story. Al Jazeera carried ground reports from Myanmar and Indonesia, while BBC reported from the southern coast of Thailand. The Guardian also reported from the camps in Indonesia and The New York Times carried ground reports from the Andaman Sea. CNN, too, covered the story in great detail.
Saikia comments, "The Indian media, though, almost completely ignored the story, instead choosing to report on the minutiae of Modi’s foreign trip", insisting, "If reporters (more than one in many cases) could be sent to China to cover the Prime Minister’s visit in such detail, then surely a reporter could have also been dispatched to Myanmar or Indonesia too."
Saying that this "apathy" cannot be blamed on "lack of resources", considering Myanmar’s "physical proximity to India", the analysis comments, "Is it then that the story doesn’t affect (mainstream) India in a tangible way? The four Indian states that share their borders with Myanmar are Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur – and the amount of coverage issues in these place get is well known."
It says cases of Hindus being targeted and temples being attacked in Pakistan "have always been highlighted in the Indian mainstream press", the analysis insists, "Reporting on issues in neighbouring countries is vital because it helps put things in perspective and analyse possible impact on India".
It says, "There have been reports about terror organisations trying to exploit the Rohingya crisis – the implications of which could directly affect northeast India’s internal security. Also, it is imprudent to ignore developments in Myanmar owing to many northeastern insurgent groups operating out of the country."

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