National discourse on Kashmir damaging, says Nidhi Razdan at Kasauli Litfest
As journalist-turned-authors dominated day two of the Khushwant Singh Literary Festival, journalist and prominent TV personality Nidhi Razdan’s passionate account of home truths from Kashmir won her many hearts.
Talking about her book Left, Right and Centre in a conversation with Farukkh Dhondy and moderated by Upinder Singh, daughter of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Nidhi spoke of how the national discourse about her home state was damaging.
“Kashmiri Pandits suffered and so have Muslims. Both sides have suffered,” said the journalist, adding that the discourse on Kashmir has been hurt by what we see on television debates. “This has further caused a divide between Kashmiris and the rest of India and among Pandits and Muslims too. It’s as if Kashmir belongs to India but Kashmiris don’t,” Nidhi said.
She further elaborated upon how “the issue must be seen from all angles – a security issue in which Pakistan is waging a proxy war as well as an internal issue where we must reflect why young Kashmiris are taking to the gun”.
Referring to the national anthem being made compulsory in cinema halls, she said it’s as though as a country we didn’t know our priorities and needed to reflect on the same.
The highlight, however, remained, Nidhi’s critical analysis of the state of media in the country today. Responding to a question from the audience, she said we were engaging in “fawning journalism” wherein WhatsApp forwards and press releases blindly found space on Page 1 and on TV debate discussions. “It’s a worrying trend and we need to check facts.... The problem is we aren’t asking the tough questions from the government, with a very few exceptions to say.”
However, it didn’t take her long to give her peace of mind to another elderly gentleman who blamed the media for only highlighting the negatives. “What is the positive spin on a Muslim lynching or a person being murdered for eating beef? Surely, I don’t see any positive spin to highlight in this. My job is to report what’s happening, not to be positive. That’s it.”
Sagarika Ghose takes a dig at PM
Meanwhile, another journalist-turned-author, Sagarika Ghose, didn’t refrain from being vocal about her views about the current government. Elaborating on her book on Indira Gandhi, she stated how “Narendra Modi was trying too hard to be Indira Gandhi, but doesn’t even have the style she embodied,” to which the crowd gasped.
“I think we worship power. If we talk of demonetisation, it shows irrational use of power. Indira, however, wielded real power,” said the author of ‘Indira: India’s most powerful Prime Minister’.