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Millennium Post

No limits to Indian politeness!

Strange as it may seem, despite India’s image of an amiable and polite nation, the country is surrounded by a league of adversaries with their noose always sharp to bait the hinterland and disturb the peace-cord of the nation. Needless to say, Pakistan is a major player in the league; China too is not far behind for all the obvious reasons. But what is most disconcerting is that the entire set of our neighbours, including Bangladesh and Nepal, have left no stone unturned to create political fissures in the border states; thus creating a rift between various ethnic and racial classes. Not only by our immediate neighbours, but India is also attacked with venomous content by and from unlikely quarters including apparently non-interfering Saudi and UAE communities.

The malicious exercise against India has been active since quite a long time and today has enveloped all border-sharing states with its circumference engulfing almost all possible ethnic communities. To get the best desirable impact, these nations exploit the local media to spread hate messages among people and feed them with anti-India sentiments.

It’s a spree that has been pervading for a long time but the Indian government seems to be miserably insulated from the reality. Despite the warning by our Intelligence Bureau that it has identified as many as 24 TV channels spreading hate messages and spurious information against India, the incumbent Ministry of Home Affairs had been largely unmoved. Unsurprisingly, 14 out of the 24 reported channels are from Pakistan, two are
Nepalese TV
channels and one each is from Saudi, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Maldives and even UK. Some of these tainted TV channels that are widely viewed in these regions include QTV, ARY TV, PTV (Pakistan’s official broadcaster), Dawn and other Pakistan based stations. Otherwise too, TV stations from various countries have been kicking down the vulnerable section of our population with insidiously motivated messages. The tastefully named Peace TV of UAE, Saudi TV, NTV of Bangladesh and even Nepal TV and Bhutan Broadcasting Service are trampling us underfoot. It was only when the news leaked into our domestic media that our home ministry was forced to act. Thanks to these 24 odd channels, incidences of violence and ethnic rift increased in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, J&K and Maharashtra.

Yes, attempts to curtail their presence were made by the UPA government, which amended the Cable TV Act giving additional latitude to the enforcing agencies to increase fine or even imprison the infiltrators. However, for political reasons, it has been difficult to attain a consensus on the issue.

And of course, no concrete attempts are being made to ban radio stations that air hate messages. The states where these channels spread their perfidious messages are relatively poorer states, where citizens rely more on radio than on television for infotainment! Taking advantage of the lack of strong terrestrial coverage and transmissions on the Indo-China border, China has installed very strong and high powered transmitters to broadcast their TV and radio programs along the bordering states. Strangely, even the All India Radio (AIR) network is quite weak and discreet in these areas compared to radio networks of Bangladesh and Nepal. So much so, Bangladeshi radio frequencies can easily be tuned into in almost all North-eastern states and even in West Bengal. Similarly, Pakistani TV and radio signals can readily be accessed in Jammu and Kashmir and nearby regions.

Even globally, such practices have been regularly followed. It’s common knowledge how the Taliban has been using the medium of radio as a major tool to sway the perceptions of common Afghans and tribal folk populating the Pak-Afghan border to further their cause and philosophy. Kenya had been victim to such hate spread in the conflict between the cattle owning Kelenjin tribe ‘Kikuyu’ that started as an innocuous cattle war but turned into something so vicious that the entire country plunged into chaos. Then, during the Bosnia bombings in 1997, Serbians resorted to radio to broadcast messages against Muslims, Americans and against the Dayton peace deal. The Americans had then retaliated by seizing various transmitters, and thus halting the hate broadcasts.

What the Americans could do in an alien land, the Indian authorities haven’t been able to do in their home turf. There is no specialised cell, no expertise, no fund disbursements worth mentioning, and most importantly, no initiatives from our authorities as they are sweeping the matter below the carpet in their typical chalta-hai style. The downright disregard to acknowledge the gravity of the situation has given rise to a ticking time bomb, especially in the backdrop of ongoing discontentment in the bordering states.

In multi-religious and multicultural societies as ours, it is even easier to break the back of the very delicately poised domestic harmony – a fact that never seems to get the interest of our authorities and least of all our ministers. The writing on the wall is vivid and clear – our neighbours are not only invading our sovereignty but have virtually waged a psychological war across the border! And we seem to be nothing but sitting ducks.

The author is a Management Guru and Director of IIPM Think Tank
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