Does India care about the tragedy in Myanmar?
I was a little shocked this morning to realise how little coverage the terrible tragedy in Myanmar has received from India’s major newspapers.
Latest official estimates suggest 22,500 people have died and another 41,000 are missing in India’s eastern neighbour — a death toll comparable to Sri Lanka’s experience in the 2004 tsunami, and one that could easily rise further.
Yet the story does not even merit a mention on the front page of the Delhi editions of Wednesday’s Hindu, Indian Express or Mail Today, with the Hindustan Times granting it a tiny paragraph pointing to a page 18 story.
Only the Times of India and the Asian Age thought Cyclone Nargis merited a front-page story.
Nargis is the most devastating Asian cyclone since the one that hit Bangladesh in 1991, with a death toll already higher than in Orissa in 1999. And it could so easily have hit India’s eastern coast.
The Indian government is already sending relief and medical supplies to Myanmar. But why do parts of the media in the capital appear indifferent?
Last year, foreign correspondents rushed to north and eastern India to cover widespread floods, reported to be the worst in decades in some areas. In New Delhi, the devastation hardly seemed to merit a story.
Is bad weather, death and destruction simply not news for Indians these days? Is India so inward-looking that events in Myanmar simply don’t interest people? Or is the media just too Delhi-centric?