An in Time Magazine today held the “compliant” media in India equally responsible for the worsening Covid crisis as the Narendra Modi government.
Written by Debasish Roy Chowdhury, the piece said: “Indians and the world now blame Modi’s government for dropping the ball in the fight against Covid-19. Media houses that rolled over for India’s rulers are equally culpable."
Chowdhury wrote that while it was striking that even India’s “mostly servile” media was now holding the government accountable, it was a “little late”. It said that a media “trained” to amplify the BJP uncritically “failed to hold it to account when there was time, and force real action.”
The piece traced how the media “protected Modi from any proper public scrutiny” for his government’s handling of the first wave of the pandemic, dotted by a migrant exodus and crashing economy. Pointing out that the country is now facing vaccine shortages, it also asked why the mainstream media failed to question the prime minister’s approach to vaccination when his “propaganda” touted India’s “vaccine leadership.”
It also said since it came to power, the Modi government has used “levers” like advertising to turn some of the biggest names in India’s news industry from “barking watchdogs into obliging poodles.”
The foreign press has been of the second wave of Covid in India, holding Modi and his government responsible. Last week, external affairs minister S Jaishankar even held a meeting with ambassadors and high commissioners to counter the "one-sided" narrative of Modi's failure in the international media.