NUCLEAR POWER & THE INDIAN MEDIA

Image

(Image courtesy: google images, edited by Izaz Ansari)

Well, whenever one uses the term ‘nuclear’ or ‘nuke’, you certainly would have some curious ears and eyes listening & gazing to that particular individual. Such sensitive is the issue of nuclear activity. Indians and the Indian media, whether it be the 123 agreement between India–U.S or the establishment of Kundankulum nuclear plant with the support of Russian scientists, has mostly been anti in their thinking and projection of the nuclear power. 

We shall now get into the details of the above statement and start analyzing, why is it such? So, as Indians we believe because the media tells us to? Is that so? And it also depends on whom we follow (Two step flow theory; for details refer my previous blogs). Okay, now I am saying all this because I myself visited TAPS (Tarapur Atomic Power Station) and some of my myths were busted. 

Now, the media’s projection of the nuclear power in India has been largely anti. Maybe because the media professionals are not so well versed with the technical functioning of the nuclear plant. The basic functioning is very simple – the Uranium is used to generate heat, the heat is used to boil the water, which releases the steam and the steam is used to rotate the turbines which is connected to the generator that finally produces electricity. See, I said it’s very simple! The main understanding gap of the media personal may be the structure of the plant building. Trust me, it is well planned and constructed, it is safe. Visit NPCIL’s official website and you will get a good in depth detail. 

I found some media reports, which were deviating from the truth. A fire in some industry near a plant was reported as – Tarapur station on fire. This is one aspect. On the other side, the media has always reported about the insecurity of the nuclear plants. Debates have been conducted by many news channels on nuclear safety programs in India but it hardly comes to any conclusion rather than the end product being too noisy and going in many directions. 

The nuclear power is the future fuel, there is no denying. Coal is about to deplete in 35-40 years and by the consumption rate of electricity going too high, it’s not at all possible to depend on solar energy (too costly) and wind energy (too much geographical area required) only. There’s hydel electricity, which can be used, but it too cannot wholly fulfill the complete requirements. This is the part the media has seldom touched. Why is that? Again Knowledge gap theory. The media gives us what we want and not what we need. 

The impact of earlier disastrous events like Nagasaki-Hiroshima, Chernobyl & Fukushima has made us think of nuclear energy as not safe. Thus, when the media tells us reports on anything related to nuclear we tend to think in an anti manner. Here come two more new theories; magic bullet theory & hypodermic needle theory, according to these theories, the information is injected or shot into our head with an immediate effect of it. So the media is capable of doing that. Setting agendas and telling us what is right and wrong. 

Like all my other blogs, this blog is a little different. Nuclear energy is still being developed in new forms and we keep getting updates about it now and then in media. Well hope this blog may have educated you and help you think about nuclear power in a different way.

Well, like always, do post your comments and queries if you have any? Be open and remember communicating does resolves confusion. Do share your opines!

Advertisements

WHY ALWAYS MODI?

He caught the eyeballs of the whole nation, when, for the first time he became the chief minister of Gujarat on 7th October 2001. It was after his swornship that Gujarat faced the worst hit of riots in 2002. Many accused him as the main reason for those riots. It is because this that he is always in media. He may like it or not, but the media would never leave his trail. In media terms, Narendra Modi is a ‘Newsmaker’.

Media knows the value of Modi. The weightage attributed to Modi is very high as compared to any other politician in India. His speeches are so carefully heard by the media personnel and only one casual word from his mouth can make a big front page story or breaking news on any television news channel. The end product is a fabricated, scripted and media manufactured word. My intension in writing so much before actually coming to my point is that, I want to make my point clear that how media not just reports but manufactures news at times.

Recently Modi was in news for his comments, which he made in his interview with the Reuters news agency. Now, whether the comment was controversial or did the media made it look such? Well, both the possibilities cannot be denied. Now let examine through the point of view of the media.

2014 elections are near, and media is on top again, chasing sensationalism. Media did a simple thing, played the only part, where Modi uses the word ‘puppy’ and ‘Hindu nationalist’, of the interview again and again. So, without telling us the whole scenario it is only reporting that which can spark a party against party war and media can get a full loaded content for telecasting 24*7. This is very clear on how media is setting its agenda (agenda setting theory, refer my first blog for more details on this theory). It is not giving us the false side of the story but also not delivering the whole truth. This is how media should perform its social responsibility?

Now, the reporter from Reuters who interviewed Modi made a clear statement that the context in which modi said these lines were not at all controversial. He was just explaining a situation but the media projected it otherwise. Is media setting their agenda for the 2014 election? Is the media giving us what we want and not actually what is required by us? Is just taking bytes of various leaders from various parties on a particular topic and filling up content slot is media’s main motto?

There are a lot of questions which go unanswered. And we are a part of this dumbing down of news. It at times also depends on our peers, on what opinion we form. There is always someone, to whom we look for guidance or in our opinion forming. What if the person we are counting on is biased? Two Step flow theory; which states that whatever information we acquire, comes two us in two stages. First from the media to the opinion leader and then from the opinion leader to us. Hence, we listen to what the opinion leader says. Also knowledge theory plays a vital role here (for further information about this theory refer to my first post).

This is how the news media works sometimes. Yes we cannot do much about it but we can make ourselves aware of the media business and thus can help ourselves in forming right decisions.

Well as always, you are free to drop your comments and yes I will answer your queries for sure. Also if you want to know more on media and contemporary reporting, be my guest and go through my earlier posts.

Food for everyone!

Food for everyone!

FOOD ORDINANCE BILL

Food ordinance bill is the most recent ordinance cleared by the Indian government. According to this, 70% of Indian population will be provided with food at 1-3rs per kg. One major thing is at stake, which concerns all Indians is the money which we pay in the form of tax. The money involved to fund this program is 125,000 crores ($22 billion). The UN (United Nations) has welcomed this and has considered it as one of the smartest decision by India. The UN said that- this bill will certainly lower the margin of hunger in India and with proper effect it may even erase hunger in coming years. This bill was in queue from past many years. On the contrary, many economic pundits, who understand the Indian economy better, feel that this was not the right time to bring this bill into affect.

Now, what I am concerned with is; the media’s response to this whole thing. When was the need of highlighting this issue? Did the media give us what we wanted? At the time when we wanted? Or was it shown when media wanted?

So, the media has reported about it lately. And I saw more coverage about this in print more than on electronic media. Now, does that convey something to us? Of course it does! Gatekeeping theory again (for details of this theory refer to my previous post), the owners and Editors of the channels have full authority of playing up or dumbing down a news. And that’s what happened with the reporting of this bill. The newspaper too started giving enough coverage only when the monsoon session is near. Both the media, television and newspaper, ran out of other more catchy content to publish or broadcast.

I ask all of you- is food more important than entertainment? I am asking this because media kept on playing the cricket game, IPL, instead of discussing a bill, which is a key to remove hunger from the face of India. Hence, what media did is, they made their agenda (Agenda setting theory, for details of this theory refer to my previous post) very clear. They projected the IPL fiasco so much that we though it is the only humungous problem in India at that time. We were glued to our TV screens and papers and kept reading about Sreesanth and team who were involved in this scandal.

And now it’s too late as the bill is cleared. But yes the media is coming up with the story, from both angles. They are reporting about this bill and why Congress was in a hurry to clear it. Anyways, most of the economic pundits suggest that Congress should have slowed down and thought about it once before clearing it. Questions were raised, such as- why this hurry? Will the government be able to stand with it in years to come (due to the amount involved)? Or is it just for the 2014 elections? Well, we all have our opinions! But it is for sure framed in some or the other way by the media. Here comes framing theory, which states- the media houses frame a particular story and give a slight slant before producing it in front of their audiences. It completely depends on our knowledge that how we perceive the news (Knowledge gap theory, for details of this theory refer to my previous post).

There are other problems related to the bill too. The two main problems are; proper channelization of food grains through its centers to the needful people and the storage of the food grains. We have already seen reports in media about food grains wasted just because government has no proper storage basements. Hence, such factors too come into play while considering this bill.

This is an important issue. My blog deals with media more, hence it restricts me to go on to the political views. But still if you want more on this (political angle), let me know through your valuable comments. I will be happy to write on that for you.

(Photograph & graphics – Izaz Ansari)