On 2nd May 2015, Abhigyan Prakash (Executive Editor, NDTV) was discussing “Why are farmers committing suicide?” on his show Muqabala, aired on NDTV. He was reporting from Mahuakheda Village, Uttar Pradesh.
I was very optimistic about the show. I expected to watch some good journalism and discussions around problems faced by Indian villages, but the show which was laden with sensationalized dialogues, unnecessary simile and boring metaphors in Hindi soon turned into a political propaganda. Abhigyan Prakash discussed handpump, electricity, subsidies, water and some basic issues, but all his discussions boiled down to “What is Modi doing?”
Abhigyan started his show by focusing on a defunct handpump which lacked an upper portion. He claimed that the handpump was lying useless for the last 5 years. He expressed grief, talked a few words about Akhilesh Yadav and then started questioning MPs of BJP who won elections from the area. Abhigyan not only digressed from the fact that Narendra Modi Government was not the one which was elected for the last 5 years, but he hardly enquired villagers why did they not report about it to the local bodies? He bashed Modi and the MPs of Agra but didn’t dare to take names of local MLAs, who have been representing the area for far longer period.
I am not trying to defend MPs or their role, but my concern was – why did a national reporter chose to completely sideline the MLA and local bodies, but instead focus on MPs who were elected last year. His agenda on keeping the focus on Modi became quite evident when he kept on asking, “Where is Modi who promised so much to you all?”, “Did he visit your village after the results?”, “Did any MP visit your village?” even without taking names of Akhilesh Yadav’s or his MLAs for an issue that has been pending for 5 years.
His discussion on electricity was even more interesting. Abhigyan showed a bill of INR 66,000 and talked about rising prices and subsidies. Isn’t it quite obvious that if a farmer doesn’t pay his bills for a long time, the total bill including penalty amounts will increase a lot?
He started lecturing on privatization of electricity in the locality when a local interrupted him and explained how electricity for agriculture is still under the control of the state government. Abhigyan turned clueless and twisted his questions as: If private companies are providing electricity for the household purposes, why can’t farmers use the same electricity for irrigation?
It’s the responsibility of the state government to ensure the supply of electricity for irrigation, but Abhigyan smartly tried to blame the union government for all the mistakes committed by the state government. Not only that, he repeatedly blamed Modi and used phrases like “Modi talked a lot about irrigation projects of Gujarat” in a program that was supposed to highlights problems faced by farmers.
Later he also linked Agra summit and water problem. He stated that Agra summit was organized during the NDA government’s regime, but forgot to mention that between the last NDA government and current NDA government, the country was ruled by the UPA government for 10 years.
The funniest part of the program was where he criticized Modi’s vision of having a new banking system that is expected to free farmers from the clutches of local money lenders. The scheme is in the inception phase, economists and administrators are working on it, but Mr. Prakash had his expert opinion against it.
Mr. Prakash, I hope that you will revise policies on pricing, electricity, subsidies and ethical journalism during your next coverage, else ignorant villagers will keep getting fooled by your ignorance, or probably propaganda.