By Syed Zubair Ahmad
Well-known journalist and the former press adviser to the former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Pankaj Pachuri said the Indian media particularly electronic media has “divorced” journalism. And in the just concluded general elections, it has been once again proved that the media especially the TV channels have been unofficial spokespersons of the ruling party particularly Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his right hand Amit Shah.
So at last some opposition political parties lost their patient and decided to boycott these so-called news channels which have “divorced” journalism and brazenly become mouth-piece of the ruling party. Calling it ‘enough is enough’, first Samajwadi Party and then the largest opposition Congress pasty also announced that its spokesperson won’t take party any TV discussion. This decision has also sparked a debate in the Muslim circles and they want that those Muslim persons who are regular feature in the lopsided and TV debates must also follow the suit in the interest of the community. They are of the firm view that TV debates are designed to promote the ideology of hate in the country and these so-called Muslim debaters are strengthening hands of communal forces as the elections results proved this point.
In this context, the SP’s decision to not send its spokespersons to participate in news channel debate is being seen as the right decision by many. Following this, Congress media department in-charge Randeep Surjewala announced that the party’s spokespersons will not take part in TV debates for a month. He also requested the TV channels not to invite the party’s spokespersons.
This development has triggered a debate among Muslim intellectuals and activists as the community has been a ‘whipping boy’ in such TV debates with a sole intention of polarizing the Indian society on communal ground to benefit a certain political party. Now, the community wants that ‘Muslim’ debater should also boycott these TV debates.
In fact 24x7x360 Hindu-Muslim debate on news channels have cornered the whole Muslim community and many so-called ‘ Islamic Scholars’ are being used as pawns in their game of divisive agenda. Those so-called ‘Islamic scholars’ with a horrible look without knowledge of the subject kept participating in many news channels whose owners proximity with RSS and BJP no ore a secret. Most of them shout like dogs, are short-tempered and ready to misbehave with women or thrash their opponent.
One certified ‘Islamic scholar’ even lost his temper and slapped a woman participant during a well-planned and scripted show. In spite the fact that the same ‘clergy’ was advised by Deoband Islamic seminary not to participate in TV debates but that advice fell on his deaf ears. The so- called media warriors have stooped to such a low that they even participated in many debates which have nothing to do with Muslims.
It is a well-known fact that most of the TV channels pay Rs 2,000-5,000 INR to each panelist. No doubt money is big attraction for these so-called Muslim TV warriors but they have been inflicting irreparable damage to the community by their mental bankruptcy. The Indian society was never divided in such a way even after the horrific events such as demolition of Babri Masjid or Mumbai bomb blasts.
‘By participating in air-conditioned studio discussion, they (Muslim TV warriors) wittingly or unwittingly help in promoting the agenda of RSS and BJP. How and why? As the TV channels always call half-baked Maulvis. Who don’t have a glib tongue and good knowledge of the subject. They don’t go prepared. Perhaps they don’t even ask about the topic of the debate to prepare themselves accordingly. Several times it has surfaced that they were invited for something else and when you go there you find the topic changed, said NasimAkhtar, ex professor King Abdul Aziz University , Jeddah.
Recently it happened with the noted activist Yogendra Yadav on a channel. He quit the panel immediately. But our so-called Maulvis have no such guts to leave the show. The panelists and the anchors alike are all hounding dogs. They just want to shove their point of view down your throat. Neither would they listen to you not will they allow you to speak,.Why don’t they call Swami Lakshmi Shankaracharya to learn about Islam they want to know? They know it quite well that he will fix them up in a minute. And their agenda will be exposed. These TV debates are hardly conclusive. They leave viewers utterly confused. It’s done so purposely. The moment anyone gets to the thread giving the discussions a logical shape, he is interrupted vehemently so much so that the thread lost, he added.
‘Of course, they should not participate in TV debates as they have been playing into the hands of TV Channels which have well-designed agenda of hate, said Amir Eidrisi , the president of Association of Muslim professional.
While Prof. P. Koya the former editor of Thejas has a different view. ‘Personally I don’t accept their invitation as I have the feeling that they are trying to send the message of objectivity. But we can’t tell every Muslim to keep away as many like the free publicity and sometimes it will function as a tool to present our views’ said Koya.
‘Those Muslim debaters should keep away from the media as they are using Muslims as tool to antagonize and polarize people. This is the trap game we should be aware of it. We should respect our ideas and Muslim dignity. Then they will realize not to exploit us. Our ideas and brains are not for sale. Muslims should learn to respect themselves, said US based psychiatric Dr.M Khutubuddin.
‘Absolutely, the novice and self-proclaimed Muslim leaders, representatives and so called Islamic scholars should stop appearing in “TV debates” to increase TRP thereby polarizing the communal harmony’ said Er. TanveerAlam , a Kolkata based activist-journalist.
‘These TV channels are sold out. They are not impartial. The moment a Muslim intellectual or political activist will open his mouth with a sensible point of argument, they will let lose upon you a barking and attacking hound in the form of a news anchor and he would keep bragging you and may, tear your throat if you continue or until you digress to submissive discourse. Media houses are no more the fourth estate, they have become the strongest pillar of the new fascism in India – the most corrupt face of India- socio polity, said S.M. Anwar Hussain, ex-president of AMU Students Union.
Rather than boycotting them we should learn how to defeat them, this is the solution presented by Mumbai based journalist Dr,Saleem Khan .’They shouldn’t boycott but learn to defeat them. Our case is strong but presentation is weak.Need improvement in that area’ said Dr. Khan.
The knowledge and wisdom of these Muslim debaters have always been questionable. ‘They only allow those debaters who have half-knowledge, short tempered and will not answer wisely and should look stereotypical. But they will not boycott, because of their love for fame and easy money, said Pune based physician Dr S H Khan.
Muslim community should ideally boycott completely any person who goes as representative on any ‘sold’ media debate from now on, he added.
Advocate Sharfuddin who is frequently seen on different channels have got some strange experience, although he is invited by different channels on daily basis but generally he refuses politely to them. But sometimes when he thinks the topic is v important and he should present his viewpoints then he joins the debate.
‘My personal experience is though inviting us at debate apparently seems to be innocuous yet often premeditated to infer a negative conclusion against Muslims with a view to widening the communal and sectarian gulf. In most of the TV shows where self-claimed and falsely-prospected Muslim representatives without commanding knowledge at issue of debate do more harm by their mere participation and in a way render authenticity to debate purposely organized on fake issues deliberately projected to distract public attention from the real issues. Participation may only be with deep preparedness on the debating subject, said Adv. Sharfuddin.
‘The socalled Maulanas should desist from going to TV debates, they end up miserably defeated and rejected. They do not understand the nuances of an issue. Even on religious matters which are very complex the semi educated of mostly fake Maulanas end up making the community a laughing stock as they lack serious scholarship on the issue.
However, Kolkata based advocate Sadaf Parveen is dead against the participation of fake Muslim scholars in TV debates, who are doing irreparable damage to the image of community. ‘Such debaters must be stopped at any cost’ she said.