Guess what is not on Thursday’s front pages in India?

October 1, 2009

It’s actually on page 17 of the Hindustan Times. The Mail Today, which leads on liquor being allowed for sale in shopping malls, puts it on page 16. The Hindu, which also finds space for liquor sales liberalization on its front page, puts it on page 20.

What is it? News of the Indonesia quake and the Samoan tsunami. Last night, when these papers were being put to bed, we knew that hundreds (now probably thousands) of people had died.

Why is such major news in Asia relegated to back pages of Indian newspapers (there are some exceptions, of course) ?

The Indonesia quake especially was close to India – there was a brief tsunami alert for the Indian Ocean — and how Indonesia copes will be of immense interest to people in India who wonder how authorities have learnt from the last 2004 Asian tsunami. And of course there is the simple humanitarian issue – the stories of suffering and hope that we all can identify with.

My pet theory is India is such a huge country, that rather like the United States, it has a tendency to look inwards.

There is a strong current in India and the U.S. that the rest of the world does not matter too much – India itself bases its economic growth on its 1.2 billion domestic consumers rather than selling stuff to the outside world. Much political and social attention in India is focused on the immense problems within its borders.

It comes down to details, too. Take for example, India’s airports. New Delhi is one of the few capital cities I know in the world that has done a first class modernization of its domestic airport, but left its international airport trailing way behind.

Most other capitals I know, it’s the other way round. In Chile, a small country that depends on exports and the outside world to survive, the first thing they did was modernize the international airport. In Venezuela, home to socialist President Hugo Chavez, their international airport dates from the 1970s — symbolic of the oil-rich country’s statist, nationalistic stance.

But one wonders if the relegation of foreign news (aside from Pakistan), is really healthy for a country that is increasingly playing diplomatically a global role, from climate change to trade and the Commonwealth Games?

Should the media be leading the way?


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you are right, i myself a journalist working with one of the major newspaper in India, finds nothing in the Indian media that can say about how Indian government is playing a major role in the International stage. But there are still some exceptions, i suggest you should read — Indian Express.

Posted by Vishal Dutta | Report as abusive

It has more to do with realities of India. For example, the wars India fought with Pakistan or China had no impact on any common person’s life as of now. Mumbai Blast didn’t make a national level event or affected outcome of elections and is probably wiped off from memories of people of India. Similarly, creation of Pakistan, the relevance of politics at that time and the relevance of same politics at this time has failed to evoke any response from citizens. The fact of India is that the person of India lives to die and during the process spends his life making two ends meet. The elite class is bigot as it ever was and is busy in minting money how so ever possible.

A Sunami in Indonesia, or Heavy Defeat of Indian Army in Indo China War of 1962, or the Last Sunami or the Mumbai Blast or the Kargil Event or the daily loss of countless defense personnel on Indo Pak border are forgotten even before the reported events are over. If the average Indian will remember these things then his family will go for a toss. So, a quattrocchi getting off, Nehru escaping away with glory after sacrificing 3000 soldiers, AICC of Sonia Gandhi fielding candidates of AICC of Rome, Switzerland growing on money of corrupt Indians, Jaswanti/ Advani heaping praises on Jinnah who along with Gandhi Nehru and Britishers feasted on flesh and blood of Indians is minor event.

The media in India is incapable of leading any thought process or upholding of anything that is right. Torch bearers like Barkha Dutt, Rajdeep Sardesai, Pranoy Roy love to speak in english only and that too only praises for Sonia, Roul, Priyanka Gandhi.

The global role india is playing or common wealth games hardly matter to Indians as a whole. Even today, if a political party of US/ UK is allowed to fight elections in India, it will sweep to power. Elections are fought on religious lines with constitution going for a toss. Hardly 25% of Indians would be capable to understand impact of politics, policies and they do not vote.

Posted by Rohit | Report as abusive

Ummm it is on the front pages of all US major newspapers. The US Navy immediately sent aid to Samoa and Obama responded instantly to the Indonesian quakes.

Remind me again why the US is exactly like India??

Posted by moi | Report as abusive

You can’t compare oranges with apples. US published it on the front pages because the Pacific Tsunami warning center issued a warning stating that in 9hrs after the quake hit, the waves will reach the California coast. I don’t remember seeing any warnings that would affect India.

At the end, people are interested to know what affects them. So the editors have to make a choice based on the target audience. And also, with so many newspapers around, I don’t think there is any news agency that is circulating papers as a social cause. They all look for maximum circulation and profits.

What interests you might not interest others. As long as the news is there, you can always read about it. There is only so much that one can put on the front page and there is only so much that can be put in a day’s paper.

Posted by aka | Report as abusive

Does the US have a Nuclear/Hydrogen Bomb testing base in Indonesia?,Why are quakes so common in Indonesia?

Posted by Raghu | Report as abusive

“But one wonders if the relegation of foreign news (aside from Pakistan), is really healthy for a country that is increasingly playing diplomatically a global role, from climate change to trade and the Commonwealth Games?”

Yes it is healthy for the country the citizens should focus on local and regional issues first and do work towards them before thinking about International events. That goes a long way towards building a community, and ultimately a great country.

Living in the US for the past 3 years it is amazing to see the time and effort people here put into their communities. It is inspiring and a good thing.

I do not quite see the advantage of showcasing and boasting all the good things when are own backyard in un-clean. And please stop looking towards the west for validation, and be proud of our own strong points.

Posted by boygenius | Report as abusive

This article is refreshing. Usually people complain that we don’t mind our own business enoough and we should stay out of other country’s affairs!

Posted by whatever | Report as abusive

Was it only Indian Newspapers? Was India the exception?

Posted by Dara | Report as abusive

In India 100s of people died in floods during last two days. Total losses run in billions. I wonder if this was reported on the first page of any news papers outside India? Did we Indians complain about this? Most Indian news papers reported Indonesian Earthquake if not on the first page, certainly on the international page. Does it really matter the page no?

Posted by Rajendra Kumar | Report as abusive

it is a joke, that a western news outlet like reuters would question the media creditentals of another country. between reuters, CNN, BBC, and the other western media, the news is so manufactured and biased that its not worth reading. indian media report on indian affairs because that is their concern. they don’t waste time interfering in other people’s business. prime example is the coverage of iran and it’s nuclear path. for the past few years, we have read about the “concerns” of iran’s nuclear work. yet not one credible report has ever been written about israel’s collection of nuclear weapons. the western media has FAILED to even bring any attention to that. i suggest that any reporters from reuters or any other western news source look in the mirror before questioning anyone else media practices.

Posted by Hassan | Report as abusive

Which newspaper or news agency can dare Yellow Journalism? That sells, right. In India, the various news channels/papers/agencies cater to disasters, murders, crimes and political propoganada rather than any sensible and analytical news, which are limited to talk shows or discussions. And from when we really care about our country India? Who got guts to cover corruption, nepotism, common man problems unbiasedly, unless they have already blown up.

Posted by Dharma | Report as abusive

Its shame to read the any Indian Newspaper where the news revolve around rape,thief,murder. There is no sensible local or world news other than what ”the Pakistan says or the Chinese demands from India”.
The newspaper as an organization it seems are scared to even touch the secret cows like Bal,Udhay,and Raj Thackerays or even the Ranes,our beloved netas and many our babus of their corruptions, their gundageri’s, lack of services.I sincerely urge the Journalist community to give more attention to these topic rather chasing our insignificant neighbor who are like barking dogs and insignificant news.

Posted by max | Report as abusive