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The National Media’s Habitual Apathy to Assam Floods

While floods is currently ravaging Assam and has already affected and displaced close to 4 million people, causing 79 human deaths till date and killing close to 100 animals at the Kaziranga National Park, it has not been regarded important enough by the National Media to be its most important coverage. Instead, more important news was Amitabh Bachchan being able to go to the loo on his own and the “gussa” (Anger) of Sachin Pilot. Even a gangster’s death through encounter was found to be more news worthy.

On the contrary, a day-long-rain in Mumbai, which affected the driving of small vehicles at some key intersections was being played throughout the day, in loop, in almost all news channels. But people from the North East have now almost become immune to this step motherly treatment, when it comes to media coverage. This has been happening far to consistently throughout but it still pinches us at times.

Is this not the era of globalization, when anything that happens at any remote location in the world reaches us almost instantly courtesy notifications in our cellphones. So, isn’t it almost a tyranny that the North East does not find even negligible representation through our National Media?

The reasons for the same are:

  • Our Media has always been known to be too Delhi-Centric in its reporting. This has even been acknowledged by noted politician and author Shashi Tharoor, who has often said that the farther you are from the National Capital, the lesser will be the coverage that you will be getting.
  • Media is mostly driven by TRP (Television Rating Points) and the boxes that record these points are present in very less numbers in the North East. Hence, since they are unable to make a significant difference to viewership, it’s better to focus on other creamier zones.
  • Most of the leading publications report news from their region by just maintaining a couple of correspondents, that too in Guwahati, and they are expected to be responsible for reporting all the happenings in the region. These people are ultimately forced to outsource their information and finally choose which of them is worth projecting in the small space allotted to them and chopping out other often very pertinent information.
  • When a reputed English daily having headquarters in the Eastern metro of Kolkata was experiencing losses, the first edition and office it decided to shut down was its North-East edition and Guwahati office.
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But is it only the media that should get all the blame? In fact, it’s the people, who reside outside the region, who also are equally responsible for this apathy. They are very less interested in what is happening in that corner of the country, to be honest they are almost totally unaware of the people and the cultures of the North East. Why else would a girl from Manipur or Mizoram be subject to racial slur by their own countrymen? How many of the people residing outside the North East, who will be reading this article, can correctly name the Eight States that form the North Eastern Council along with their capitals, without taking assistance of our perennial savior ‘Google’?

Though the scenario in the media is much improved today than what it was say even a few years back, thanks to our current Prime Minister understanding to a certain extent the importance of this section of electorate, a much better effort is needed to integrate the North East with the mainstream. People of the North East have always been most amicable and will welcome you with open arms if you take a step forward in attempting this integration. Till that happens, let us at least pray for the 4 million people, whose lives have been ravaged by the swirling waters of the Brahmaputra and its tributaries. Let us make their pain a National Issue and ensure prompt relief is meted out to them; remember they are also facing a Double Whammy courtesy the COVID-19 Pandemic Crisis as well!

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