By Syed Ali Mujtaba
“Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter,” wrote Chinua Achebe, the Nigerian novelist, in some other context.
But to the Indian Muslims it becomes contextual since the way Jamaiat Markaz – Corona linkage was reported in the Indian media. Without writing an obit about it, calling it a total collapse of free and fair media in India won’t be incorrect.
Barring a few devoted media outlets and few columnists maintaining the dignity of journalism who are still trying to do their jobs honestly, the majority of the journalists are paid agents, engaged in the business of the ‘prostitution of the pen’.
The television channels, print media, wire service, all have got colored whose only purpose is Islam and Muslim bashing, spreading Islamophobia, inciting communal feelings and hatred against the communities particularly Indian Muslims.
Some say this is part of a well-crafted state policy to accomplish the goal of ‘Hindu Rashtra,’ where media is made a party to play an aggressive role. This could be true but in the process it has tarred the image of journalism and journalists in India.
There are many Indians who have lost all hope in the media as a custodian of the voice of the oppressed and the critique of the ruling elite. What is happening today in the country is the one sided propaganda in the name of journalism.
The news stories peddled as information are false facts and figures are tampered and opinions are biased. The most conspicuous feature of Indian media is the gagging of the minority voice and complete indifference to tell the other side of the story.
Indian Muslims who are the largest minority in the country are victims of such media. They are an object of rebuke and ridicule by the so called national media. They are caught up in the situation where they have no platform to counter such propaganda against them.
In such situation the Muslim community is puzzled what to do? Boycotting the TV channels and not buying the newspapers will not serve their purpose. What can serve the purpose is to have a journalistic platform from where voice of the community can be raised, debate and discussion on the community’s problems can be held and where contrarian view point can be flagged.
In the given media platforms there are print media, television media and web media among which the community has to choose one. The print and television media are too expensive that the community cannot afford and to sustain the same will be extremely difficult.
In such situation the web media network is the only option left for the community to toy about. As the country is moving into the 5G platform and internet will be controlling the flow of information, the web media can be an ideal platform. This will be greatly helped by the mobile telephony which will be chief carrier of dissemination of all information.
This web network will have both print and video content that can be accessed on mobile phone and can be an ideal platform air minority view point. It can be on the lines of “wire” and “satya hindi”, “channel 84” where both print and video content could be uploaded and refreshed with great speed and accuracy. Licensing of web medium will be easier and with minimum cost and running such venture could be a viable proposition.
In order to float such a venture, a working capital of 10 lakhs a month maybe required. This can be achieved having 10 lakh subscriptions upfront. A nominal fee of INR 100/ can be charged as monthly subscription that can be enough to sustain this network. This may take care of the salaries and also the running costs and any other such expenses.
The other source of funding can be donation, charity and longer subscriptions. In order to sustain such venture, marketing for advertisement is essential. If there are adequate funds raised up from the ads, subscriptions and donations running such venture smoothly can be an easy task.
The first step in this will be to register a not for profit organization under which this media network will function. The second step will be to get the license for doing such activity and the registration of a name. The third step will be to put up plan for infrastructure and manpower needs needed to run the show.
Such media venture has to be established in Delhi which is the seat of power in the country. Majority of the information flows from the national capital and most of the opinion makers reside there.
A simple studio can be set up where the panelists can be called to rebut the viscous and false propaganda flouted against the Muslim community. The panelists can be drawn from the legal fraternity, religious scholars, academics, journalists and other such experts who can counter the hate propaganda going on against the Muslims in the so called national media.
In such an endeavor, guidance and expertise of media professionals working journalists and game players, marketing professionals and others can make most valuable contribution.
This media network has to be supported and patronized by the lawyers, journalists, ex IAS, ex IPS officers and others, not only from India but also abroad. In this venture Muslim intelligentsia have to play a big role particularly the AMU and Jamia alumni that have a large network. The idea is more the merrier and as many people as possible can be roped in will be beneficial for this project.
Such a media network will be free from the control of any party or leader or religious bodies. It will be nationalistic platforms and run by professionals whose ideas coverage with the Indian constitution.
This media network will have an all India focus and each state of the country will get adequate attention. The southern states of India have to play a seminal role in setting up such venture. In the initial stages such venture will be in English and Hindustani in content and later it can be put up in the regional languages as well.
The main involvement in such venture should be the Muslim youth who have to play a great part as citizen journalist and as MoJos or mobile journalist. They can make videos and send to the news room and if that clip is taken in the news bulletin, they may receive some payment.
There will be employment opportunities for the young media professionals and those who have completed their innings in the media industry can do voluntarily service in this nonprofit venture.
There is no dearth of trained manpower, be it video editor, cameraman, play out and output professionals or on the print side sub editors, news editors graphics etc who can run the show. There are many budding anchors in the community who can handle the debate show with much felicity and the make news capsules with audio video inputs.
The message of establishing such a Muslim media network has to be spread through the mouth of words and WhatsApp forwards. The venture will be a secular platform where like minded Hindus can be received with open arms.
What is needed is strong conviction on the part of every one that may like join this venture that they would be adhering to the motto of the project; “Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”
If this project has to go on floors then at least a minimum ten thousand responses has to come in with the message ‘Labaik.’ Once that is being elicited then work on the project report may start. This will comprise of the total cost involved and other planning other details of this venture.
Although this idea has been in minds of many of us for a long time but I many like to give the credit of floating this idea to Mr. Mohammad Adeeb, Former Rajya Sabha member, an Aligaran from Lucknow, who now lives in lives in New Delhi. Those interested in this project can get in touch with him on email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Kindly CC the copy to me.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at email@example.com