We have become a country where anything can make it to the news headlines. The recent Halidram controversy surrounding the Urdu packaging of Navratri namkeen along with English and Hindi is a case in point. How desperate can a news channel become that it needs to heckle a store operator on the choice of languages used on its packaging to get breaking news? Dear news reporter even Indian currencies have the denominations written in Urdu along with many other Indian languages.
The popular vegetarian chain was trending on Twitter when a video of a news reporter questioning the store manager of an outlet for Urdu description on the packaging of a namkeen packet went viral. Sounds bizarre? Well, all you can say is Yeh India hai yahan sab chalta hai!
The viral video made it to Twitter after a Hindi news channel aired the clip. In the clip, a reporter can be seen confronting a store manager for the Urdu packaging on a ‘Falhari Mixture’ packet. In the video, the woman reporter is heckling the woman store manager, on what is the company trying to hide by using the language. Predictably a crowd gathers and a police officer can also be seen as a spectator who half-heartedly tries to intervene. The employee, however, is seen standing her ground in face of such unacceptable behaviour.
The snack in question, the ‘Falhari Mixture’ is a popular fasting mixtures and is a sweet and salty mix of peanuts and potatoes with mild spices. For the records, the brand has a presence in the Middle East and people freely buy the products in these parts of the world.
Urdu is an Eighth Schedule language in the country. Its status, function and cultural heritage are recognised by the Indian constitution. If you have grown up in Delhi and if you are in the central and southern part of the city all road signages are marked in three languages, Hindi, English and Urdu. Go to any railway station in Delhi you will find the signages in these three languages again. So, what is the point the young reporter wants to drive home? There is a huge Urdu speaking population in northern India, the sight of Urdu causing such a reaction is exaggerated, to say the least.
Indian media has given itself a run for its money as far as crass reporting goes, whether it is reporting Malaika Arora going braless on a dog walk or coverage of Sushant Singh Rajput’s death and Rhea Chakraborty’s arrest. The institution which is touted as the fourth pillar of journalism is fast losing its creditability. The shouting matches in the primetime news shows, and celebrity headlines, are diverting the focus of the viewers to trivial things. While women walking around fearlessly is a fact greatly appreciated. As part of the fraternity, we must raise our voice when and where it is needed. Just like in this case looking for a story by playing on people’s beliefs needs to stop.
The views expressed are the author’s own.
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