May 5, 2015

Social Media roasts Indian media in Nepal: for good reason

It is not that common that social media takes on the mainline media. But when it does so with the media of another country, it gets complicated. 

The Indian media is facing the wrath of the Nepalese social media right now. The hashtag #GoHomeIndianMedia is trending on Twitter in Nepal for many days, with disdain against Indian electronic media. There are reports that Indian media teams have been attacked in many places in Kathmandu.

There are people in kathmandu who say, some groups inimical to India are targeting Indian media and branding it Indian government's mouthpiece. Boys in motorcycles are said to be hired by a particular agency to throw stones at Indian media teams and shout slogans against them so as to discredit the marvelous work Indian relief and rescue workers have done in its neighbouring nation. It is also reported that the social media trend against Indian media is also a guided affair by a foreign agency.

Part of the anger is spontaneous, we reckon. India is taken as 'the big brother' in the neighbourhood and its support to the Nepalese people will always be seen with that prism: Is India using this opportunity to dominate us? Is it playing with our agony? Is it trying to put us under undue obligation? Is this tragedy being used for spying and other such activities? Etc etc. 

China and Pakistan do not definitely like India to be seen as a hero and her influence growing among South Asian nations. In fact, the way Indian army is being picturised in Nepalese social media during this time, one can sense a sinister handiwork because there is palpable level of goodwill among the Nepalese about Indian army (Indian army even has a Gurkha Regiment, with majority of its soldiers from Nepal). If this hypothesis is true, Indian media is naturally a soft target that can be shown to be doing the bidding of a hegemonic neighbour.

In fact, part of Indian channels' showing of Indian help (both, the genuine help and genuine reporting) might be boomeranging because of easy availability of these channels in Nepal. On top of that, Indian channels have been catering to Indian viewers by trying to boast of their own feats in reaching remote areas and bringing exclusive footage as compared to rival channels. A bit of self-patting might be OK, but when such boasts become patronising or condescending, these are not likely to be taken kindly by Nepalese as they are distinctly a proud, sovereign country. 

That was for professional reporting of calamities, But we Indians know how brazen Indian electronic media can be when reporting on even the most heart-rending event. The uncouth reporters can damage anybody's reputation, transgress any person's privacy, ask questions that sworn enemies would not ask from grieving family members, make a show of a kid in pain. For the sake of Television Rating Points (TRP), they are known even to create scenes when there is nothing on the ground, and put others' lives in danger. Some more sober channels and print media have put the entire blame of social media anger against Indian media on 'tabloidisation' of news' by the aggressive ones. A great number of people feel in India, such channel deserve to be castigated in the strongest manner.

Shows how social media does not spare even the traditional media for its follies; also shows how social media can be manipulated by those who have an axe to grind.

To refresh your memory on how social media can be used for wrong purposes, you might like to read this ITB take on recent use of social media by terror outfit ISIS. All articles on social media can be accessed here.