New Delhi,Dec 22: Amidst all controversies engulfing Demonetisation, introduced on November 8, 2016 by the Government, there arose a blog by a certain ‘Chaiwallah’ (tea-seller) which soon turned viral given its stand against the known media houses in the article. The article named Demonetization: What does the world’s most unbiased reporter say? is a full blown rant which criticises the Indian and the foreign media houses for their biased claims when reporting about demonetisation. While the article claim that the media houses were hell bent on showing only the negativity of the demonetisation drive, and questioned the media on ethical grounds of being neutral and provides an argument which for a moment seems relevant, soon we realise how this blog seems to be justifying its point by doing exactly the same thing that it censured before. Let us look at the blog and its content, being as less bias as possible.
What is the blog about?
Published on the website, My Voice, an opinion page with various sections labelled politics, media, satire and open letters, the blog post Demonetization: What does the world’s most unbiased reporter say? question the negative coverage received by the Demonetisation drive, which was introduced to curb ‘black money’ and also to facilitate the initiation of ‘cashless’ transactions. The writer named ‘Chaiwallah’ names Indian media houses like The Indian Express, The Hindu and foreign media like The Wire, The Huffington Post while posing the question and stating that it is perhaps price of commodities which reflects the truth about Demonetisation.
Citing various headlines in the aforementioned publication, the author goes on to question that if people were actually suffering probkem, wholesale markets were running dry and the movement of trucks was affected by the demonetisation, should not it be reflected somewhere in the prices of the commodities? Using this claim, the author wishes to single handedly prove that all the news reports in the mentioned publications are politically motivated and are result of biased reporting.
How does he fair in the argument?
The Chaiwallah clearly makes herculean jumps in the article when it jumps from one assumption to another and finally lands up in the conclusion that media houses were indeed reporting with political motives and hence were unethical in their profession. But is it true?
The claims of the author that if the market was not working properly, it should have created a shortage of products, hence resulting in the rise of prices, seems to be a very generic assumption. It also notes the claim by India Today which said that demonetisation has resulted in 70 per cent of the trucks going off road. To this he attaches the inflation claim and tries proving how wrong information has been passed by the media against the drive and all these headlines are nothing but consequence of the same misinformation.
But a reply to this by an user on the article seems to provide a counter argument which cannot be ignored by us as well. The user claimed that if anything, Demonetisation triggers deflation and not inflation. In the state of deflation, prices fall in a drastic and continuous manner which can be very harmful in the long run for the economy. Another user states that due to less access to physical cash, the wish to spend cash on things declined and the worst affected are those who had no other form of transaction than cash. These agreements seemed valid in the way that in a practical way, they made sense.
The real issue with the article
The first and foremost issue that the article must deal with is the idea of unbiased news reporting. It is understandable that the article is in some way an opinion piece, but even opinion pieces should be neutral in presenting an argument and then go ahead and try proving the argument. But in this case, the author goes full offense against the media houses which produced stories which were not favorable to the ideology of the writer. In this sense, when the writer let his personal ideology interfere with his work, it in itself makes the work questionable as well.
Throughout the article, the Chaiwallah use the keyword ‘unbias’ but then ends up producing just another piece of biased story, this is what undermines the role of the article. But given that it has produced an image different than what generally is expressed and has gone full offense against the media houses that have questioned the demonetisation drive, the article has gained popularity within the mass and has thus been proclaimed as one of the viral posts on internet.