Lull after the storm...

RESEARCH-BASED Nilofar Suhrawardy says she took 10 years to get all facts right.   | Photo Credit: PHOTO: SANDEEP SAXENA

Nilofar Suhrawardy's book "Ayodhya without the Communal Stamp" says nuclear diplomacy stands defeated before communication diplomacy

As December 6, 2006 commemorates the 14th anniversary of Babri Demolition, media readies itself to look back and `cover the incident' in the light of its aftermath, subtly. And there is book that scrutinises the role of the people and media, pre, during and post demolition of the Ayodhya-based Babri masjid. Penned by columnist and political analyst Nilofar Suhrawardy and published by Delhi-based Manak Publications Private Limited, this 240-page book "Ayodhya - without the Communal Stamp; In the name of Indian Secularism", is a result of Suhrawardy's 10 years of research in India and the U.S.

How it began

"I was doing my research the US' Madison University when I saw the direct demolition coverage on TV and subsequent media reports. It branded the entire Hindu community as terrorist. I objected to it in my columns and interviews on American television. I voiced that just because a section of the Hindu community targeted Muslims, or a handful of Muslim targeted Hindus, those sections shouldn't have been taken as the representatives of their respective communities. This very idea propelled me to write a book. I came back to India in 1993 to study the role of the people and the media during the demolition."And her studies led her to find various hidden truths. Most important being the huge success of Ramanand Sagar's serial Ramayana on Doordarshan in 1986, that Suhrawardy assumes, "might have sown the seed of capitalising on the temple issue among the advocates of Ram temple". "Moreover, those days no private channels were as active as they are today. And those who reported freely in newspapers were within educated class, so those with impressionable minds couldn't understand the political motive behind the demolition, for them, lord Rama became more important than lives of their Muslim counterparts. So it led to communal violence," she asserts.But now, she avers, the situation is almost the opposite. "Ayodhya is a dead issue now. Now if Gujarat violence happens, people question, media scrutinises, academics discuss and political leaders are made to stand before the court of law and on camera. Now, it doesn't lead to nation-wide communal violence. Rath Yatras are of little significance. This is a positive change. People at the grass root level and business community have understood that such politically-motivated communal frenzy will only lead to the economic unrest in their lives."She asserts that it has happened because of `interactive' media role or the communication diplomacy.

Liberal media

"That way our media is far more liberal and democratic than Western media. Even today if a black commits crime in America, it gets wider coverage while the same doesn't happen to a white Christian committing the same crime. I was more discriminated in America for being a Muslim rather than in India. On the occasion of Eid, they would insist that I should to go to Pakistani Eid parties to which I protested also."That today nuclear diplomacy stands defeated before communication diplomacy is what the author suggests in the book.Now her book on Western Media Diplomacy followed by one on poetry, are in the pipeline.RANA SIDDIQUI