On air, especially when it is by the public service broadcaster, the Narendra Modi government will have you know it brooks no criticism.
The leaps and progress of the government, installed in May 2014, insofar as the peripatetic Prime Minister is concerned will be highlighted, discussed and debated only among the friends of the BJP.
Critics, and that includes the Opposition, can find their voice on private channels. That is the understanding in Doordarshan and All India Radio.
But what has taken even officials in DD and AIR by surprise is how private news broadcasters are vying for Mr. Modi’s attention as they race to mark the celebrations with the government.
To revive pride in being Indian
While the Modi government has made a phalanx of Ministers, including BJP president Amit Shah, available to them, the uncritical gaze of the private media channels, with a few exceptions, has not gone unnoticed.
Given Mr. Modi’s complex relationship with television channels, and his I-don’t-need-the-media attitude, the birthday celebrations do come as a bit of surprise, says Sandip Bhushan, media tracker and fellow at the Jamia Milia Islamia university.
Right across the Hindi and English news channels, special programmes, interviews, discussions, the deluge has begun.
“Events are being organised by the channels but it is quite routine,” said a newscaster, seeking to downplay the celebrations. From churn to dialogue, the channels are not sparing any effort, and with no prodding.
In contrast, DD and AIR have to contend with an advisory from the government as there are no doubts in their mind that the piper calls the tune. Underlying the tone and tenor of the advisory shot off a few days ago, by the Ministry of External Affairs, the dominant factor is pride which also found an outlet in almost every single trip that Mr. Modi overtook oversees, occasionally leading to some Twitter outrage.
Broadly the issues that have been flagged for discussion are neighbourhood policy, engagement with global powers, multilateral engagements, Indian Diaspora and consular issues and concrete outcome of diplomatic activities after one year.
Officials have been directed to organise discussions and interviews on these areas, especially on channels of DD overseas and the AIR’s external services division. So, what will be sought to be highlighted are the following.
An acknowledgement across the world that India now has a decisive leadership with a vision for the future whether it is the engagement with the U.S. that gave a new to the relationship between the two countries or the Rafael deal with France. A mention is also sought to be made of the President of India, who went to Russia this month to participate in the 70th anniversary of Russia’s victory in the Second World War — a visit that, in the MEA parlance, consolidated friendship with Russia this month or the visit of President Vladimir Putin to India a few months ago.