The Indian media is not singling out the political ideology of Hindutva for criticism, said K.N. Shanth Kumar, Editor of Deccan Herald and Prajavani.
Tracing the role of the media as a watchdog from the time of the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Mr. Shanth Kumar pointed out that the media was not any more critical of Hindutva than it was of several other ideological streams, including Nehruvian socialism and Naxalism.
Inaugurating a seminar on “Media and Hindutva, A Dialogue”, organised by Vishwa Samvada Kendra in Bangalore recently, he noted that the media had been especially kind in its reportage on the former Prime Minister and BJP stalwart A.B. Vajpayee. “If the media has erred in its representation of the Hindutva, it has been more on the side of generosity,” he said. Disagreeing with the view that Hindutva was the favourite whipping boy of the media, Mr. Shanth Kumar said that in fact, Hindutva ideology had gained more from media exposure than any other stream of political thought over the last 25 years.
He focused on two developments in the eighties – the popularity of Ramayan and Mahabharat serials on television, and the Shah Bano case – as examples of this. While the former generated an unprecedented revival of the idea of Hindutva, the latter had generated a debate on secularism, he said.
Earlier, columnist S. Gurumurthy argued that the idea of secularism had “no Indian roots”.
The secular and the sacred were never divergent ideas in India, he said. He called upon the Hindutva ideologues to be “more strategic” in their approach to the media and the world at large.
Also present on the dais were Chandan Mitra of The Pioneer, columnist A. Surya Prakash, A. Jayaram of The Hindu, Varadesh Hiregange of the Mass Communication College, Manipal, N.S. Ashok Kumar of the Department of Electronic Media, Bangalore University, Deepak Thimaya of Udaya TV and Tarun Vijay of Panchjanya.