Ravi Singh: #IAmWithKhalsaAid Versus Godi Media
The Godi media is all too snug in towing the Indian government’s line and ridiculously labeling all and any dissent as anti-national or extremist
January 19, 2021 | 3 min. read
It is no secret that far too many Indian media outlets have become comfortable in the lap of the Modi-led government. But if the viral hashtag #IAmWithKhalsaAid showed us anything, it is that even the Godi (lap) media is nothing in the face of people-powered movements and a powerful reminder to decision-makers that they cannot act with impunity when the people are united.
Reporters Without Borders has India ranked 142 out of 180 countries on its World Press Freedom Index, just below places like Myanmar, making it one of the lowest ranking democracies in the world. This often comes as a shock to casual observers of South Asia - how could India be so bad? One need look no further than the rise of the Godi media and attacks on legitimate journalists.
The Godi media is all too snug in towing the Indian government’s line and ridiculously labeling all and any dissent as anti-national or extremist. This would be amusing if it were not for the fact that it puts many in real danger, has ruined lives, and continues to corrode away at already weak pillars of democracy in India.
You need only see how fake news and conspiracies led to the attack on the Capitol in the United States by those who wholeheartedly believed the US election had been stolen. Imagine what happens in India when the media decides to target the country’s marginalized and minorities. In fact, no need to imagine. We have seen the resulting violence with our own eyes, over and over again.
Khalsa Aid, the international humanitarian organization I found and now oversee, has been active on the ground at the Indian farmers protest currently blocked by the government from entering Delhi. We responded to the humanitarian needs of farmers taking part in the protest in Delhi, expanding on the work already started in Punjab when the protests began in September 2020.
Whether it is providing food and resources in a dignified manner at our Kisaan Mall or providing shelter, comfort, and foot massage machines at our dedicated tents, we have through the generosity of donors across India been able to play our small role in serving humanity.
These efforts have come to the attention of the Godi media with a popular anchor from one outlet, Zee TV, accusing us of being extremists.
I did what I always do in response, I let our voice be heard on social media to dispel their disinformation. Now, for those that follow me online, this would not come as a shock. But what did surprise many of us at Khalsa Aid was the immediate and widespread public condemnation of the Godi media and those trying to demonize and other the farmer’s protest through hashtag advocacy.
The #IamWithKhalsaAid was started by the public to support us against the tirade coming from the Godi media and became top trending in many countries. It is a hashtag that challenges the compromised Indian media and resists attempts from detractors to spread disinformation about not only Khalsa Aid but #DelhiChalo as well.
Online advocacy has become one of the most powerful public checks on a media landscape that has often acted with impunity. It continues to be mobilized in asking advertisers to pull back spending on Zee TV and others, hitting these outlets where it hurts the most - their bottom line. In both the UK and Canada, many celebrities and advertisers have disavowed themselves from Zee TV.
If you want to continue to support the farmer’s protest, then ensuring Godi media is held to account is a great way to effect real change. It will help counter disinformation that influences not only Indians but also global media houses that republish uncritically.
As for Khalsa Aid, we will continue to provide foot massagers, much needed humanitarian supplies, and top-notch twitter content.
Ravi Singh is the founder of Khalsa Aid, a Nobel Peace Prize nominated humanitarian organization. You can follow him on Twitter at @RaviSinghKA
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