Vikash Sharma

“The mainstream media is very obsessed with Mumbai, Delhi, politics and business due to which several news do not get played. There are issues with regards to a lot of social issues, environment and a lot of that doesn’t get played. Luckily, we are moving away from TRP driven obsession now,” said author and journalist, Rahul Shivshankar on Saturday.

Rahul’s statements came in response to a question thrown by Founder of Olive Ridley Media, Samar Pratap Nayak during the event as to why Odisha is not given the required coverage whenever a cyclone hits the state.

Reading out headlines of several other media houses on the day cyclone Fani hit Odisha, Nayak questioned why the state doesn’t get the desired coverage during such natural calamities. Rahul admitted that the mainstream media is very obsessed with Mumbai, Delhi, politics and business for which several news do not get played. However, the mainstream media is moving away from TRP-driven obsession now, he said.

“It is happening due to digital platforms where you can put your stuff. We have started to stratify our coverage. People come to TV to watch big political stories and on digital you can put other content. A lot of this has also happened as viewers have started moving towards regional channels like OTV as they have been giving news that is more relevant to them,” said Rahul.

He further said, “Fani claimed several lives and it was a terrible tragedy and the second worst devastating storm to hit Odisha. There was no coverage on that day. I think the authorities here did a good job in containing what could have been a bigger tragedy. The success that Odisha has demonstrated over the years might have made editors like me complacent which is non-excusable. I had come to Odisha to cover the aftermath of the super cyclone that hit the state in 1999. Hundreds of thousands of people had died then. Since then, Odisha has been an exemplar of how to insulate population from the effects of cyclones,” said Rahul.

About his book ‘Modi and India: 2024 And the Battle for Bharat’, Rahul said it is a balanced account of what Prime Minister Narendra Modi aspires this country to be.

“One cannot do justice to his (PM Modi) career in a book that is about 230 odd pages with 100 pages of just annotations. This book is not about any individual. It is a balanced account of what Mr Modi aspires this country to be. It is an interrogation of a bunch of ideas and it is a co-authored book,” said Rahul.

Rahul Shivshankar’s Take on His Book

According to Rahul, his book does look like at the 2024 elections as a watershed. The detractors of Modi and BJP say that India will be unrecognisable after 2024 as a constitutional entity, he said.

“The term used by Shashi Tharoor that India will be turned into a ‘Hindu Pakistan’, that we will be turned into Hindu Rashtra, is very narrow in his thinking. If you say it often enough you begin to wonder if it is really happening. A constant number of steps have been taken by the government in its second term in 2019. And, one obliviously gets rattled and also curious,” said Rahul.

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Rahul further said that this book is a thesis and deeply researched. “A dharmic civilisation like ours will not become a Hindu Rajya. People confused with the term –Hindu Rashtra with Hindu Rajya. We already are a Hindu Rashtra. Just like America has a Christian Rashtra, Britain is not only a Christian nation but also a Christian Rajya. But they are secular countries. There are reasons which I explain that the civic iteration of Christianity that the British and Americans evolved in 1700 was burrowed very much from the larger philosophy, the outlook of Hindu view of life, not way of life. They got inspired by our way and unfortunately, we had an interruption in the normal Hindu view of life,” he stated.

The book is critical of BJP’s outlook on certain issues and answers to the fundamental question- are we becoming Hindu Rashtra under Modi as the Left says it is the last chance to stop him, Rahul added.

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