While the TV news in India frequently fails in providing relevant information to the citizens and rather becomes an arena for incessant shouting, it also operates in subtler ways. The mere language of headlines, hashtags and names of shows should raise eyebrows.

American linguist and philosopher, Noam Chomsky, theorised the ‘propaganda model’ of the mass media in his book Manufacturing Consent, wherein he talked about five filters of the media: ownership, advertising, sources, flak, and creation of a common enemy. In a nutshell, media institutions are part of big conglomerates who sell their products to advertisers, and whose sources of information are also the elites; those who oppose these elite interests face flak from the system, while a common ideological enemy is created to spread propaganda.

Yet, it doesn’t take a renowned philosopher to observe elements of this model operating on a daily basis; most Indian news shows seem to be following it to near perfection in some or the other way.

Those dramatic headlines coupled with theatrical music and imagery need to only be slightly observed to understand the suggestive undertones of the programmes. Not only biases, but provocation can also be seen. Sentimental and emotive elements are consciously used to shape narratives and capture viewers. News edges closer to the genre of entertainment. Apart from the more conspicuous displays of these elements as seen in the debates and the role of star-anchors, much subtler mechanisms also seem to be at play – headlines, hashtags, and even the names of the shows are culpable.

The most visible examples of this can be seen during critical situations. Since Thursday, following the Pulwama attack, news channels focused almost exclusively on the incident – and rightly so. Yet, the gravity of the situation was used by the channels to draw in audiences with their theatrics. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with drawing audiences, because that’s what news channels literally run on, but the problem arises when the techniques used for this purpose pose harms.

For instance, consider the headlines during the 9 P.M. Broadcast of Aaj Tak on Thursday – “Ye hamla nahi, jang ka ailaan hai” (It’s not an attack, it’s a proclamation of war), “Surgical strike nahi, seedha prahaar hi raasta?” (Not surgical strike, but a direct attack is the solution?). During situations like these, when emotions of the public run high and a sense of frustration surrounds the masses, the responsibility of providing a calm and measured coverage of the news lies with the media to an even greater extent, especially on widely-watched channels like Aaj Tak. Of course, a sense of anger was present in the public. But by using provocative headlines – those that hint towards a call for war – these news shows not only fuel the fire but also send out a wrong message. Similar headlines were seen in Friday’s ‘DNA’ show on Zee News.

News shows often use problematic headlines and tickers.
News shows often use problematic headlines and tickers. Image Credits: YouTube

Be it ex-servicemen, defence experts, or even many common people, there exists a recognition that war isn’t a joke. Yet it makes for good TV, doesn’t it? The severity of a war, the appeal for revenge, the impending danger – all of it draws the audience. Instead of responsibly analysing the situation and, in fact, making an appeal to the viewers to maintain calm and let the concerned authorities take the necessary steps, such programming tries to capitalise on the emotion to attract audiences by stoking the fire. Drawing in viewers also means pulling in more advertisers. That’s just one example of how the filters operate. Yet, these instances aren’t limited to the coverage of emergency situations.

In fact, the mere usage of hashtags in everyday programming points to a bigger picture. Hashtags trend on Twitter, giving news channels an idea of what type of news pieces would sell. Further, this would allow them to focus more strongly on populist topics, which can potentially sideline some crucial but less market-friendly issues. The style and substance of the news shows is also reflected in the popularity of these hashtags; if a particular style of news attracts more tweets, channels will have greater incentive to keep going with that style.

Furthermore, the language of hashtags is also important. A simple YouTube search entry of “Republic TV debate” presents a multitude of clips of Arnab Goswami’s primetime debate show. Every video thumbnail has a hashtag in it. ‘#RahulFakeNews’, ‘#RepublicBharatVsAMU’, ‘#CongAttacksHindus’, ‘#RahulLieCaught’, ‘#UnstableAlliance’, ‘#ModiVsWho’ – these are just some of the many hashtags that invite questions. The hashtags aren’t only reflective of a singular narrative but also give an idea on the type of tweets they’ll invite. Obviously, it won’t be in the show’s interest to display tweets that go against the narrative it wants to portray. Thus, very selective tweets are displayed, giving an impression to the viewers that what they’re watching is correct and supported by the public opinion as well.

The use of hashtags in debate shows also invites questions. Image Credits: YouTube
The use of hashtags in debate shows also invites questions. Image Credits: YouTube

Sensational issues are picked by many channels. CNN-News18’s weekly 10 P.M. show- ‘The Right Stand’ regularly focuses almost exclusively on issues having a religious angle.

Even the names of these shows should be inspected. Halla Bol, Takkar, and Dangal are also, in fact, names of action movies, almost as if the shows are meant to be a platform for speakers to brawl over issues; ‘Bhai vs Bhai’ and ‘The Great Debate Show’ seem to have an entertainment element inherently attached to them; ‘Arnab Goswami on the Debate @ 9’ puts more emphasis on the anchor than the news.

Obviously, it’s not possible to deconstruct and analyse every debate in a single piece and even these examples are selective. There are innumerable debates that may be deconstructed and analysed, but the aforementioned selective examples are reflective of a larger trend. A look at the substance of these debates glaringly points towards the problems in the media. But the point is- even inconspicuous elements like hashtags and headlines are at play. So, what does the language of news shows tell us? Bias, sensationalism, and irresponsibility, for a start.

Yet, it doesn’t mean that all’s bad. Even these shows sometimes pick real issues and do a good job covering and analysing them. Like the Editor-in-Chief of The Indian Express, Raj Kamal Jha said, “Good journalism is, in fact, growing; it’s just that bad journalism makes a lot more noise.”

Feature Image Credits: Newslaundry


Prateek Pankaj

[email protected]

Studying cultural relativism is considerably easy, but applying it in a world where intolerance and oppression come easy is a lesson in empathy. This is a piece which will help you find out what minority communities’ students experience in the educational hub of the country.

With the recent political developments in the country all parties, candidates, and persons with political ambitions, are gearing up for elections and have decided to garner the support of their respective vote-banks. The move to
provide reservation to the General category candidates from economically backward groups in higher education
and government employment is a part of the political agendas, being used to appease the majority of voters. A
democracy, though, is ideally supposed to be inclusive and fair to the minority’s desires and choices as well. So, what is the way our education system treats the minority groups in the time of politically motivated communal and religious intolerance?

There exists an Equal Opportunity Cell in the University of Delhi (DU) to incorporate the needs of minority groups. Different colleges too have outreach programmes and Cells to make minority groups comfortable in the environment of the city and college. But the working of these Cells is often under the supervision of non-minority
individuals and this stumps the factor of representation.

Another issue with the functioning of the cell and initiatives of the likes is its accessibility to the students of the
School of Open Learning (SOL). Take for instance, a 21-year-old Dalit girl studying at SOL, committed suicide on
facing casteist ill-treatment at the hands of her boyfriend. As per the report of The Indian Express, the authorities at
DU were of no help because she had no access to the Internal Complaints’ Committees as a student of SOL.

There appears to be a lack of empathy in trying to understand the way minority groups cope in the educational
atmosphere. In a survey conducted by DU Beat, 57.1% people- ranging from minority and non-minority groups
responded that the professors in DU colleges are usually ignorant to the differences when dealing with students from minority groups in a classroom discussion. In fact, linguistic distinctions are taken for granted to such an extent
by the authorities that there is a compulsory test in Hindi (CTH), which must be taken up by students who have
not studied the language in the course of their schooling years. In a country with over twenty-two official working
languages, this imposition of a North Indian tongue is unjustified. A shocking 42.9 percent responses in the survey
indicated an imposition of culture and language, by non-minority peer groups and/or by teaching methods and

Numerous people feel a sense of insecurity in ‘fitting in’ with the crowd at DU, and even undergo mental health problems in lieu of this desire to be a part of a circle. One student of Hansraj College revealed on the condition of anonymity that she/he had to visit three different psychiatrists in three semesters because of the mental health issues their minority identity presented in DU. The psychiatrists were seldom understanding of the crisis, they stated, and most people do not even have the privilege of availing therapy.

There are some safe spaces in the city for revisiting this form of one’s identity. Kartik Chauhan of Hindu College states,“However, there are some places like the Meraki events, where Northeastern Indian students meet each other.
Likewise for the South Indian students, they organise various events and celebrate the festivals together, far from
home.” Nida from Lady Shri Ram College finds her safe space in Jamia Masjid Area at Chandni Chowk, while some responders feel there is no real escape from this lack of empathy.

The best way to create an actual environment that is safe by virtue for all groups appears to be a task based on
the mindset of the people, as per the survey. Most people believe that being thoughtful about cultural differences
and learning respect are the ways to go for a larger change, so as to invite students from all spheres in a holistic
environment where they can feel at home.

Feature Image Credits: Niharika Dabral for DU Beat.

Anushree Joshi

[email protected]

It is a fact that Britain has been a country that had colonized many parts of the world, and the inhabitants of the present USA were actually British. These factors led to English becoming the global language that it is, today.

Language is an invention, quite possibly the most dynamic of things created by humankind because it encompasses all. Feeling a certain feeling, and then having the privilege of expressing it is something we all take for granted, but shouldn’t because it is the one thing every person that has ever lived has contributed to. Be it by adding new words into the language, passing it down generations, or simply by conversing and keeping the language alive.

Today’s world is one where there are no borders, anything and everything is accessible to those who want it. Such times call for a unifying method communication, and for better or for worse, English has emerged as that binding force. It is one language that is almost universally accepted and is spoken more than any other language in the world. A person from India and a person from Japan don’t have to learn both the languages (and that of any other area the other person is from) rather, everyone speaks English.

However, in recent times, English has unwittingly become a symbol of how ‘educated’ or ‘learned’ a person is. People tend to not pay heed to what a person is saying if it’s in a local dialect.

In institutional spaces, too, people tend to listen to just about anything, provided it is accompanied by good oratory skills and, of course, English. There is a sort of separation between those who are familiar with the language and those who are not.

As a result, many people who may know the science of things, get discouraged and their genius remains undiscovered. They will refrain from raising up their hands and talking about issues that concern them due to this unsaid barrier.

When English gives us a common identity, it can also rob us of our basic one. Due to the glamorization of English, we are not getting familiar with our respective dialects and feel a sense of shame in using it to converse.

What can be done in the world which has turned into a ‘global village’ is that we may embrace English, but also not forget to water our heritage and never to undermine those who don’t speak it.


Feature Image Credits: Plato-Edu

Maumil Mehraj

[email protected]





If you are a student seeking admissions in Delhi University who has studied one of the Indian languages like Malayalam, Odia, Marathi or any other language then you would face a deduction of 2.5%. This provision in the admission process of the central university has made its way into the national politics with the Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan writing to the Prime Minister and the HRD minister about this language bias being imposed upon students on Tuesday.

Vijayan wrote, “It has been reported that several languages included in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution, including Malayalam, are not a part of the Modern Indian Languages list considered by the university. It means they cannot be included in the calculation of the “best of four” marks, which determines the aggregate score for admission into DU.” He added that DU’s admission procedures was thus in violation of the Constitution. “It is a matter of great concern that a Central University is penalising their prospective students on the basis of their language, when it ought to lead by example in ensuring national integration,” the letter further said.

While several languages like Hindi, English, Persian, Sanskrit, Urdu, Bengali and Arabic can be included in the best of four. Other languages are excluded from the list because these are not included in the list of modern Indian languages recognised by DU, and the university does not have departments teaching these subjects.

Meanwhile speaking to Indian Express Prof. Devesh Sinha, dean of colleges said “I am afraid the university is not aware of any such letter. If it comes to us, we will look into it”.

Students and teachers of the University who come from different parts of the country have been demanding the University to pay equal attention to Indian Languages for a long time now. Now with the issue stirring up in national politics and political leaders taking cognizance, they hope that the situation will improve.

Image Credits: www.ndtv.com


Srivedant Kar

[email protected]

With the world becoming increasingly homogeneous and ‘Pop Culture’ words taking over, there is little space left for any other language to express itself.

It is also a time where knowing a language additional to your own or English can work well for your professional or recreational activities.

A different perspective

A language, foreign or local offers a deeper knowledge in culture, ideas and history of those people. For those who love to travel, language of the place you are visiting is the best thing you can carry. A conversation in the native language between people holds greater connection and meaning and helps forge trust. It makes one feel a part of something bigger and exclusive at the same time.

 Saying it right

Looking at the menu and seeing words such as Bolognese or Quesadilla give us social anxiety while ordering to the waiter, the words are usually distressed muffles or simply a finger pointing to it that implies that neither you or the waiter really know what the dish is called. It’s always impressive to pronounce the words correctly and if your language happens to be the one of your favorite cuisine, it’s even better!

Brain and Work

Learning a new language puts your brain to work. It has been proven that knowing more than one language makes you sharp, increasing your cognitive abilities and boosting your memory and attention.  It is also great for your employability, where this skill can be advantageous in securing a position or a higher pay.

It could be just the basics to sail you through on trips or the advance that helps you write, it could be self taught from the abundant tools available on the net or a more serious language course at the embassy, it could also be the sophisticated French, animated Italian or the sweet Bengali. But it’s time to invest in learning a new language and reap the many benefits it has to offer!

photo credits: queensu.ca

Shefali Bharati

[email protected]