Shubhendu, the quint essential news junky, the man who loves science and politics in equal measure and offers the complete contrast to it by being a fan of urdu poetry as well.
For almost every electronic, print, and digital news media outlet August 5, 2020, is a 'historic' day. A day when they all shifted focus from 'in public interest' to 'interest of the public'.
A day when issues like police brutality, natural calamities, and healthcare, that should form the national interest, took a backseat and the national media decided to give minute by minute coverage of a religious event.
Much of it is also attributed to the Prime Minister from a Hindu nationalist party visiting the religious site, in this case, the Ram Temple site in Ayodhya.
For the news media, the live 'updates' of PM doing pooja took precedent over real-time coverage of floods, COVID-19 situation among dozens of other issues that required live coverage.
Here are the five most crucial issues that deserved as much focus.
Incessant rains have batter northeast India especially Assam where lakhs of people are displaced due to the deluge. At present, over 56 lakh people have been affected due to Assam floods.
More than 100 people have died while crops in over 2,62,723 hectares have been destroyed. The most damning figures are of child deaths that accounted for nearly 45 per cent of the total deaths in Assam.
MLA Mrinal Saikia, whose photos of rescuing people in waist-deep water went viral on social media got little coverage in the national media.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the faults in the Indian healthcare system. There have been numerous videos on social media where patients are forced to share a ward with dead patients, hospitals are denying patients due to the shortage of beds, patients are succumbing to disease without care.
The government conducted fewer tests during the initial phases of lockdown compared to what is being done today. Though more tests are being conducted today, the tests are not enough.
Besides, India has resorted faster and cheaper antigen tests rather than the RT-PCR tests. This increases the chances of false negatives.
Even though the pharma companies are conducting rigorous research to come up with a vaccine, they are also not happy with the infrastructure to conduct clinical trials.
Earlier this week photos of senior Congress leader Saifuddin Soz trying to talk to media persons outside his home in Srinagar had surfaced. The security personnel then told the media that they should move from the site.
Even though the Jammu and Kashmir administration has been denying that Soz is not under detention. He has been confined to his house.
This is also the case with leaders like Mehboba mufti who was detained under the Public Safety Act. Along with her former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Farooq Abdullah, and hundreds of other leaders were also detained last year after the Centre scrapped Article 370, on August 5 2019. At present, her detention has been extended by another three months.
Following the move, a curfew was imposed in the valley which lasted for more than six months. The internet services that were suspended during this period are still not restored fully and high-speed internet still remains suspended.
Ahead of the anniversary of the scrapping of Article 370 a curfew was also imposed on Monday this week. Jammu and Kashmir has become the only territory in the world where the internet was suspended for over a year.
The Centre's Environment Impact Assessment Draft 2020 has drawn flak from environmental activists.
The draft proposes dilution of many environmental laws to promote economic interests, reduction of time allowed for public consultation, and even extends the time for submitting a compliance report throughout the term of the project.
The Centre published the EIA draft only in three languages contrary to the required 11.
Prakash Javdekar, Union Minister for Environment is also a Minister of Heavy Industries, two ministries serving contrary interests. In such a scenario questions are being raised as to whose interest are being taken care of.
After the COVID-19 lockdown was announced thousands of migrant labourers were forced to return to their natives due to job losses. Images of caravans of the migrant labourers had made headline for some time. According to reports July was even harder than June for several workers. Since most of them do not wish to return they are finding a job at their native places under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA). Due to this, companies which highly depend on migrant workers for their skills are struggling to increase the output.
In 2019, several sectors like textile and fast manufacturing consumer goods saw the closure of factories. The automobile sector continued to witness contraction and struggled to get back. The dip in consumption had a huge impact on industries across sectors. But this didn't stop the government from telling public sector banks to give more loans. The government is also reluctant to recapitalise banks which are already walking a tight rope with regards to NPAs. But the Centre still is infusing more money in PSU banks.
Former Reserve Bank of India governor and world-renowned economist Raghuram Rajan in his Linkedin post recently wrote a review of former deputy governor Viral Acharya's book 'The Quest for Financial Stability in India'. Rajan opined that if the government fails to contain overspending, it may harm the Indian economy in the long run. He suggested that the government should listen to the Acharya or any other person if they wish to revive the economy.
"What appears from Acharya's book is how he had some advice for the current government to fix the legacy problems including Non-Performing Assets (NPAs), but unfortunately, too little of the advice was taken, which is one of the reasons we are where we are. Acharya is silent on why this was the case, though readers can guess," Rajan said. This news was not covered by several media outlets.
Suppression of economic data is another big problem with this government. Last year 108 economists from all over the world had written to the government asking them not to hide the uncomfortable data. The economists had raised doubts on the figures released in 2015 with the new base year of 2011-12 as they "did not square with related macro-aggregates." They have urged the government to restore access and integrity to public statistics, and re-establish institutional independence and integrity to the statistical organisations
Thank you for subscribing.
We have sent you a confirmation email.