This week, we look at Network 18’s Independence Day special programme that tracked the history of India through the speeches of its prime ministers from 1947 to 2022. In a one-hour show, the host, Anupam Kher, spent about seven minutes on Jawaharlal Nehru and 15 minutes or so on Narendra Modi. No prizes for guessing who won the best PM race. Kher told his viewers how Nehru’s speeches lacked data and detail, how he insulted Indians by calling them lazy, how he had no clue about handling the problem of hunger and starvation in Independent India, and, of course, how he didn’t pay his tributes to soldiers who died in the China war. Cut to Modi, and the viewer was told how inspiring and great the dear leader has been.
Since Kher didn’t bother to dissect Modi’s speeches, we did. From the Red Fort this week, Modi spoke of women’s safety. The same day, 11 men jailed for life for gangraping Bilkis Bano and killing her 3-year-old daughter during the 2002 communal carnage in Gujarat were granted early release and greeted with sweets. Did this grave injustice to Bilkis make it to primetime debates on TV news channels? From Monday to Thursday, we watched some star women anchors and their popular debate shows and found that there were no hashtags or calls for justice for Bilkis.
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