Coverage of Chandrayan 2

Window Seat | Mrinal Chatterjee | 15.9.19

The way some of our TV channels covered Chandrayan 2, especially the last phase- was appalling.

Many of the channels unnecessarily brought in Pakistan into the reporting. Sample some of the headlines and montages: ABP News headline was ‘Aatanki hi banaoge, ya chaand par bhi jaaoge?’ (Will you only make terrorists or go to the Moon?). India TV headlined: ‘Chaand par Hindustan, paataal mein Pakistan’ (India on the Moon, Pakistan in hell). Aaj Tak montage read: Hum Jatey Hain Aasmaan, Rota Raha Pakistan (We are going to space, let Pakistan cry).

I fail to understand why should we bring in Pakistan in every matter? Why should Pakistan cry as we go to moon? Any scientific development is a progress for the whole mankind. And, even if they ‘cry’, how does that matter to us? I fail to understand – why is a part of media so obsessed with Pakistan?

Some other channels brought in Prime Minister Narendra Modi big-time into the coverage. Montage of one channel read: Ab Chaand Modi Ki Muthi Main (Now, the moon is in the fist of Modi). News 18 montage screamed: ‘Desh ki sarhad se lekar chaand tak Modi’ (Modi from the country’s borders to the Moon).  What kind of language is this? Not only the channels jumped the gun (as ISRO lost contact with Vikram lander in the last moment), it reeks of sycophancy. There is a limit to everything. Even Modi would not be pleased with this kind of language, if that was the original intention.
Some other channels had their anchors in fancy tin-foil space suit with repainted biker’s helmet. Some of the sets looked like the surface of the moon. Some of the anchors (TV9) and their guests sat on what was made to appear like seats of a spacecraft.  It is news, for God’s sake- not a theatre.
Instead of sensible discussion and providing information- there were attempts to consolidate superstitions by some channels. Instead of any scientist on the panel to explain the mission and its complexities- a channel had Sadhguru.

Some of the anchors asked their guests about the possibility of purchase of property on moon.
An Odia Daily jumped the gun and published a front page report with a headline that declared ‘India reached the Moon’.
I strongly feel, we need to organise workshops to teach Science Journalism to some of the practising media persons and teach Science Journalism more rigorously and vigorously in our media schools.

Bagha Jatin

Jyotindranath Mukherjee, popularly known as Bagha Jatin (Tiger Jatin; he was called by this name as he killed a tiger with a dagger) attained martyrdom in a confrontation with the British police at Chasakhand in Balasore district of Odisha. He died on 10 September 1915 after suffering fatal wounds the previous day.
The supreme sacrifice made by Bagha Jatin and his associates, two of whom died on the spot fighting the British police is little known outside Bengal and Odisha, although there is no dearth of well-documented historical records.
Long before 1947, there was an attempt under the leadership of Bagha Jatin, Narendranath Bhattacharya better known as M.N. Roy and others in 1915 during World War to attain Independence through armed insurrection in cooperation with Germany. In fact, the incident can be considered as a precursor of the subsequent attempt by Subash Chandra Bose in 1945, under the aegis of the Indian National Army (INA) during World War II with the support of Japan.
Bagha Jatin (born on 8 December 1879 in Kusthia district of present Bangladesh) was greatly influenced by ideals of Bhagvadagita and the writings of Bankim Chandra. He was also inspired by Sri Aurobindo’s Bhavani Mandir and Swami Vivekananda’s Present India.

At the turn of the 20th century, disillusioned with the slow pace of the independence movement, the youth of India, Bengal and Punjab particularly were losing faith in the efficacy of constitutional agitation involving protest and petition. Militant nationalism began to sprout, particularly after the Partition of Bengal in 1905. An organization titled Jugantar (which means Change of the Times) emerged which galvanized the youth. Its icon was Bagha Jatin.

Bagha Jatin and his associates were planning to get arms through sea route to Balasore. British police could know it and blocked the sea route. Bagha Jatin and few of his associates were hiding in Kaptipada, in present Mayurbhanj district of Odisha about 22 miles from Balasore. Police came in large numbers to apprehend them. Bagha Jatin and his associates tried to escape. Running through jungles and marshy land in torrential rain, they finally took up position on 9 September 1915 in an improvised trench in the undergrowth on a hillock at Chashakhand in the neighbouring Balasore district. His companions asked Jatin to leave and go to safety while they guarded the rear. Jatin refused to leave them.
The contingent of Government forces approached them in a pincers movement. A gunfight ensued, lasting nearly two hours between the five revolutionaries armed with Mauser pistols and large number of police and army armed with modern rifles. It ended with an unrecorded number of casualties on the Government side. On the revolutionary side, Chittapriya Ray Chaudhuri died, Jatin and Jatish were seriously wounded, and Manoranjan Sengupta and Niren were captured after their ammunition ran out.
Bagha Jatin died in Balasore hospital on 10 September 1915.
Wish somebody can make a biopic on this remarkable man with a mission to free India through armed struggle in Odia, Hindi and other languages. A biopic on him in Bangali was made in 1958.

Tailpiece 1 : Vikram’s Response

ISRO: Vikram Lander, Please respond…

Vikram Lander: (No reply)

ISRO: Hello?? Vikram Lander…

Vikram Lander: (No reply)


Lander: JAI!!

Tailpiece 2 : Achhe Din

In the new rule the fine for drunk driving has been raised to Rs 10,000/-.Wife to Husband: Suno ji, aap ghar par hi pee lo, snacks mai bana deti hun (Listen, you may drink at hime, I’ll prepare snacks for you.)

Achee Din aa gaye.

(Good days have arrived)


The author, a journalist turned media academician lives in Central Odisha town of Dhenkanal. An anthology of his weekly column Window Seat, published in 2018 has been published as a book. Write to him to get a free e-copy.

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