(Brig (retd) GB Reddi)
Criticism is essential for creation; destruction also is necessary for creation (Law of Nature).
Criticism for criticism sake is bad. In particular, oft repeated innuendos, lies, rumors and disinformation is Goebbels strategy to polarize people on narrow sectarian polarized ways and means.
There are various types of criticism; not all of them lend to creativity. Positive and constructive criticism lend to creativity – progress and growth. In particular, harmony and unity in a pluralistic and diverse society such as ours depend on it.
Evidently history abundantly proves that negative and destructive criticism fallout can be, quite often, disastrous although could be considered as a vital input. It develops and consolidates bigotry, chauvinism and narcissism.
How majority of silent spectators view them depends on the prejudices, biases and leanings of individuals and organizations. For one what may be viewed as constructive and creative criticism may appear to others as destructive and negative depending on which side of the spectrum of one leans.
Today, anti incumbency tirade is on grand display. Critics claim “holier than thou or know-all status” for all ills tormenting the nation and society. In reality, they claim to be “fountainheads of social, political, economic, technology and military wisdom”.
Two examples are recounted. On the positive side of the spectrum is the interviews of Nabeel Ahmed Wani, the BSF entry exam topper and acid victim Reshma Quereshi ramp walk in New York fashion show, and the para Olympic silver medalist in shot put.
On the negative, destructive and mindless cacophony coverage of Kashmir crisis, Cauvery water dispute, New Delhi’s ongoing blame game by the Aam Admi Party led by Arvind Kejriwal and his coteries against the LG and the PM.
Be that as it may, the cacophony that reverberates during debates in various media and social forums best sums up the grim realities of ongoing divisive, negative and destructive criticisms.
Surely, freedom sans responsibilities can be disastrous. Today, media enjoys uncontrolled freedom; sometimes balanced, positive and responsible; mostly otherwise, negative and one sided denigrating the entire modern Indian system with utter disregard to its fallout.
Media, therefore, alone cannot be held responsible for such an absurd state.
Call them by whatever name one wishes to, partisan politics, insane or dysfunctional politics, blame game politics etc based on polarization on narrow sectarian lines with their roots deeply embedded in society and extraordinarily complex, they are the root causes for such media coverage.
None can deny the precipitous decline of trust in central political institutions, the radicalization of major political parties, vehement oppositional politics in the Parliament, State Assembly’s and Council’s bordering on utter chaos and anarchy. Stating the obvious, political leadership is making a mockery of democratic politics.
Bad politics that is only preoccupied and survives on conspiracies, lies, intrigue and treachery provides sensational news for media – visual, radio, cable news, web and social media community. If media aggressively promotes partisan, divisive and destructive talk, they cannot be blamed for it. Surely, it is unfair to expect media to self restrain itself from exposing the murky happenings of their leaders.
Unfortunately, people are to be blamed for they are gullible and get carried away with such news. People are sensitive and highly vulnerable to radical and anti-democratic appeals. Divisive vote bank and appeasement politics is squarely responsible and accountable to the ongoing destructive criticism on grand display. Most importantly, fear due to destructive or speculative rumor mongering feeds in its turn violence.
Political leadership has mastered the art and science of indulging in combining prejudice, partisanship and panic to push governments into hasty actions that actually serve the vested interests from within, separatists and their allies, increase the risk of terrorist attacks, limit freedom, and waste scarce resources on actions with only marginal benefit.
What India needs is political leadership that is based on facts rather than self-centered opportunism. If they address the real causes and risks and carefully examine the costs and risk-benefits, media would also provides a balanced perspective – explanatory journalism.
The prime responsibility and accountability ultimately falls squarely on the “We the People of India” for opting for bankrupt leadership to rule us. Unless the civil society, particularly the youth, wakes up and throw the pretenders masquerading as leaders, there is no hope for modern India to live in harmony and peace vital to traverse on real growth and development course.
The only hope to see a positive change rests on media with its extensive reach over the minds and the hearts of people. Banish repetitive negative, divisive and destructive criticisms in their media coverage on daily basis.