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Govt mulls digital channel to tell ‘India story’ to the world, counter foreign narrative

The Centre’s broadcast arm Prasar Bharti has proposed a 24x7 online platform through which it hopes to present an alternative narrative than the constant conflict between ‘Hindu nationalists and so-called secularism’.

india Updated: Apr 08, 2017 01:18 IST
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Digital India,Prasar Bharti,Anti-India
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing NRIs in Sydney in November 2014. The PM has addressed several large gathering of NRI during his many foreign visits, often receiving raucous applause.(AFP File Photo)

If the information and broadcasting ministry agrees to a proposal by Prasar Bharti – its broadcast arm – India will have a digital channel to tell the “India story” to challenge “the anti-India narrative in foreign media”.

In a report submitted to the ministry on Wednesday, a Prasar Bharati Committee on establishing a Digital Platform for India has suggested a platform that will report on international news to a global digital audience with an India perspective.

Targeted at English speaking audiences, global opinion makers and influences and the Indian diaspora, the digital channel will change the narrative that presents India as a “constant point of conflict between Hindu nationalists and so-called secularism,” said A Surya Prakash, Prasar Bharti chairman who also headed the committee.

Pegged to cost over Rs 75 crore, the digital platform will have correspondents across the globe to bring news to Indian audiences as well as present new of the “new India” that is emerging. It will be a 24x7 operation on internet platforms.

“The big story is that India is the most diverse and vibrant democracy; lot of things are happening, we have a government that would get a better rating than many others (governments). Yet, the whole discourse seems to be the constant conflict between Hindus and Muslims, which is totally bogus,” Prakash told HT on Thursday.

New Delhi is peeved at international media reports that they claim to portray India negatively. Recently, a spokesperson of the ministry of external affairs questioned the wisdom of The New York Times for criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s choice of Yogi Adityanath as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. “All editorials or opinions are subjective. This case is particularly so. The wisdom in doubting the verdicts of genuine democratic exercises, at home or abroad, is questionable,” the external affairs ministry spokesperson was quoted as saying.

The NYT had published an editorial, titled ‘Modi’s Perilous Embrace of Hindu Extremists’.

Conceptualised by Shashi Shekhar Vempati, a member of the Prasar Bharati Board, the digital channel will be created through an appropriate corporate structure under the Companies Act 2013 to ensure both financial autonomy and global competitiveness.

On whether the new channel would be India’s answer to foreign news media channels such as the BBC, CNN, CCTV and Al Jazeera, Prakash said, “We must begin to see the world through an Indian lens. We need a digital platform that will help us find our place among major news channels of the world, which have their own agenda.”

First Published: Apr 08, 2017 01:17 IST