Unwelcome Relief

By: |
Published: May 5, 2015 12:40:04 AM

Indian media’s coverage of the earthquake in Nepal needs to be sensitive, and not self-congratulatory.

All the goodwill India gathered with its rescue efforts in quake-struck Nepal seems to be wilting, thanks to how the Indian media has handled the coverage of the disaster. Nepalese Twitter users took to the micro-blogging site to castigate Indian media over its “insensitive” and “patronising” coverage of both the victims of the disaster and India’s aid efforts, and by Sunday evening, #GoHomeIndianMedia was one of the top trends.

While no one would deny that intense media coverage, Indian or otherwise, has rightly focussed the world attention on Nepal’s tragedy—and this, in turn, would have helped generate more aid—there is a case for the Indian media to tone it down a bit when it comes to highlighting India’s contributions. Of course, the good work done by the government, and particularly by the Indian military and paramilitary forces, merits making it to the news, but such coverage runs the danger of seeming tastelessly self-congratulatory, or even worse, being seen as generating PR mileage from Nepal’s woes, if it is not done right. There have also been instances—as pointed out in many tweets—where TV coverage of the quake-affected has been downright insensitive, like the time when a reporter asked a woman who had lost her son to the quake about “how she was feeling”? There is already quite some unease about India’s Big Brother attitude amongst some of its neighbours; media coverage that runs around the theme “India: Nepal’s hero” is the last thing that anyone needs right now.

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