The thing that was feared happened; the pandemic spreading from China has finally engulfed almost the entire world. India is also in the midst of this global crisis, fighting this dangerous corona-virus outbreak with full might and limited resources. Apart from the infrastructural and medical challenges, India, like any other country in the world, is facing the additional challenge of fake news and false propaganda. With fake news on one side and Chinese propaganda on Chinese virus on the other is it not the religion of journalism to uncover the conspiracies responsible for this crisis? There is a lot of fake news on social media, purveyed by conscious design, by professional creators of such content and disseminated over multiple platforms and millions of Whatsapp groups. Fake news serves not just to spread false information but also to popularize false binaries: secular vs nationalist, blind loyalty to the powers that be vs sedition.
What is Yellow Journalism ?
Why is it such a big issue? Well, yellow journalism is a style of news reporting that emphasized sensationalism over facts, which is quite common these days in the whole world and besides this its examples are seen right now at an immense rate at this global pandemic period. The Chinese campaign is very much embedded in Indian media. This is the class which has been supported by the Chinese agencies for some time, Chinese media circulated a lie that it has not been able to identify where and how the virus spread, blaming the US for its outbreak.
Surprisingly, this claim was prevalent in the Indian media too; it was described as a new revelation, not as a Chinese claim. Elite sections of Indian media seem threatening on behalf of China. Variety of arguments are given by different sections of the print and electronic news media that shows how some of the well-known, highly- paid journalists are propagating nothing but the left-wing propaganda, treating China as a superpower. Here are few examples:
i. A leading Indian news magazine recently warned that if India tried to call COVID-19, a Chinese virus borne disease, it would see the repercussions and suffer huge losses and would pose a bigger challenge for India.
ii. While the Government was planning for various measures related with the Corona-crisis lockdown, an electronic Indian news media showed a detailed statement of the Chinese ambassador who claimed that People Republic of China neither created the new Corona- virus nor transmitted it. It was also brought in the news that China's efforts have brought the COVID-19 disease under control. These kinds of exercises by the media were uncalled for, because Indian population that is struggling with the corona-crisis, at the outset, is least bothered about Chinese lip service, especially when the credibility of the Chinese Govt. is in question and Chinese Govt. use lot of deception and propaganda and do not inform the world on time.
iii. An electronic new media channel showed an interview, without showing any restraint, and propagated news that a huge number (several Crores) of Indian population is likely to get infected in coming days.
iv. A lot of journalists are busy discussing on social media on the issue of whether the Corona Virus should be called Chinese Virus or not. Especially when we know that Chinese machinery has developed a propaganda system and have full control on its social media, it is absolutely unclear why the Indian journalists raised issues that have nothing to do with the benefits of the Indian citizens.
v. Recently, FIRs are filed against a founder-Editor and a well-known journalist for spreading fake news about the UP Chief Minister.
vi. A journalist has been booked in Himachal Pradesh for spreading fake news regarding the Government services extended for its common people amidst the Corona Virus-crisis.
Clearly, yellow journalism and propaganda by a section of Lutyens media is a matter of grave concern for all of us. In fact, a leading court of the country has asked the Indian Government to curb the fake news. China can go to any extent when it comes to saving its face from the blaze of the Corona-crisis and the way Indian Journalists are producing fake news in the India media on the issue of corona-virus is worrisome. Do the Indian journalists involved in producing fake news and anti-national have their vested interests? These are the same class of journalists who have often appeared and spoken about the growing intolerance in the country.
More than anything, they appeared highly concerned about the global image of the China. How can they come out after publishing fake news? Certainly, they are supported by strong intellectuals, business houses, lawyers and politicians. If so, the Government should keep a strict vigilance on such type of "dirty minded" journalists. Communism has its long term presence in India, both in soft as hard (Maoism) form. Issue of urban naxalism is a matter of great concern these days. There are lot of sympathizers in the Indian society who turn-twist-fold the facts to support the Chinese side. Journalists like Barkha Dutt and Ranna Ayyub appear in support of each other's thoughts and the same Rana Ayyub is then supported well by Aysha Renna, a jihad expounder.
Big media houses have been shrewd when it comes to reporting the current Corona-crisis, some of them have deleted the stories after it was proved that the news was nothing but fake, but no one has apologized in public. The issue of tax violation and money laundering is not new. Indian history shows that communism has failed totally but the Indian media sympathizers of China keep on propagating the left-wing agenda simply because they are paid by the Chinese that helps them in getting trifling opportunities and perpetuating lavish lifestyles.
How India will come out of this Corona-crisis of Chinese virus will become clear in the next few weeks, but it is certain that the risk posed by the Corona-crisis will increase if fake news and false discussions about it are not stopped. China is going to lose on its false propaganda on Corona-virus but the yellow journalism shown by various sections of the Indian news media is really a matter of grave concern. China is an adversary involved in false propaganda and it stands in support of the Pakistan on various accounts, therefore, the response shown by the "dirty minded" Indian journalists is anti-national in approach and praising China, during the Corona-virus crisis, and blowing the trumpet of China all the time, nowhere, is going to help our country men.
Dr. Kunwar Pushpendra Pratap Singh
Freelance Journalist and opinion writer
(Ph.D. in Journalism & Mass Communication from Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi)