Assam Floods & National Media: Political Drama Prioritised Over People’s Tragedy

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Assam Floods
Image Source: Twitter

Floods have wreaked havoc in Assam. The death toll in the state is rising by the day. Citizens of the state are crying out for help. Their cries have been heard by international media outlets like the New York Times which gave the tragedy ‘front-page’ importance. On the other hand, the country’s political leaders and our fourth pillar of Indian democracy, the ‘MEDIA’ have chosen to turn a blind eye. Currently, they are busy with the political drama playing out in the state of Maharashtra. 

The New York Times put up an article along with a picture of a farmer fainting in a paddy field destroyed due to floods. This picture is nothing less than heart-wrenching and has caught the attention of many. As reported by the publication, the farmer, Mr Hifjur Rehman aged 40 collapsed in the field looking at the destruction caused. Mr Rehman was under immense stress of repaying a bank loan and was completely dependent on his agricultural output for the same. 

The people of Assam are in dire need of rescue and help. BJP, the ruling party in the state and in the centre is busy organising hotel stays for leaders of Maharashtra’s Shiv Sena. The hotel in which these leaders are enjoying their stay is in Assam’s Guwahati which is 300 km away from the site of destruction. This help is provided in the hope of forming a BJP government in Maharashtra once again with the rebel MLAs of Shiv Sena.  

Commenting on the entry of the MLAs in the state,  Assam’s CM Himanta Biswa Sarma had stated, “Guwahati has many luxury hotels and if the rooms are full we should be happy as it will bring in revenue. We will earn through GST and we need it during these difficult times of devastating floods in the state. Why should we turn away Goddess Lakshmi when most of our hotels are empty or have low occupancy during this period.

This statement of his received immense flak, especially from the opposition Congress. 

Taking a jibe at the CM and his government, Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi said,  “If the Central government was bothered, they would have gone to Assam. PM Modi should have gone himself and given a package to the flood-hit people. But the Central government is so greedy for politics and power that they don’t care about people from Assam and the Northeast. Has a package been prepared? Has financial help been sought from the PM?” 

A bulletin issued by Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) states that a total of 18.94 lakh people are suffering due to torrential rainfall and subsequent floods and landslides. The situation in Assam seems to be getting only worse. Regardless, the Indian media, which should ideally be covering the plight of the people of Assam and drawing the necessary help and corrective actions, are busy covering the political drama playing in the state of Maharashtra.  

Prominent TV news channels are running cacophonous prime-time debates for one whole week at a stretch on the same issue, giving little to no coverage to the Assam floods. A similar pattern is seen in print dailies of India. 

Assam is the largest contributor to the Indian economy in the northeast region. It has the largest tea-growing area in the world, constituting around one-seventh of the global tea production. As of 2020-21, Assam contributed to about 39.12% of the total tea production in India. Despite Assam being a state of importance for India, receives scanty attention, even in desperate times. 

One prime reason, analysts say, is the regularity of these floods. Similar kinds of floods have occurred in the state even before 2022 that have caused great loss of life and property. This, however, isn’t a reason to ignore the tragedy taking place in the state. The national media has been unjust to Assam for quite a long time. It is the media that holds the potential to direct and channel the needed help to those in dire need by sharing crucial information. Sadly though, the mainstream media of our country has chosen not to do so. 

Social media, however, has been vocal about the tragedy unfolding in the Northeastern state of Assam. Apart from independent online news media, NGOs and other young individuals have once again risen to support, share information and organise help for the people of Assam. 

If you wish to extend your support and help out the people in Assam or know more about the updates on the flood, you can follow a few social media handles on Instagram listed below. These will guide you further with ways to help.  

@cacharchronicles @silcharlive @barakbulletin.  

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