Construction of 'Anti-National': Framing and Othering Discourse in Indian Media
Nationalism and patriotism are two ideologies that define us. It encompasses national belonging and unity within a nation. History stands testimony to the fact that Indian nationalism was an off shoot of anti-colonial sentiment. This anti-colonial sentiment is deployed by the media and politics in times of national crisis such as the Pulwama attack, Mumbai attack and Indian Parliament attack. The media sensationalizes such news and the political parties’ further manoeuvre this to take advantage of the situation created and to gain votes and popularity. Sensationalized media coverage of news targets Pakistan which perpetuates ‘anti-Pakistan sentiment’. Hence, large part of motivation for this research came from the Indian media reportage: news articles, television reports and social media posts, where Indians taking neutral to not an extreme stance against Pakistan, were trolled and tagged as ‘anti-nationals’. It raises important research questions related to Indian nationalism in particular. Is Indian media changing the perception of Indian nationalism? Does having a difference of opinion on matters related to the neighbouring country, make Indians anti-nationals in the eyes of media? Has anti-colonial sentiment been replaced by anti-Pakistan sentiment amongst Indians? Media’s portrayal of Indian nationalism has been regressive to the point that Indians are compelled (ordinary or famous people) to have an extreme stance, so as to avoid sinister media targeting and trials. The objectives of the study were therefore (a) to critically examine recently published articles and news in print Indian media asserting that exchange of cultural art, sports and political diplomacy with Pakistan is ‘anti-national’ and (b) measuring the constructs of evolving Indian nationalism. The study uses primary data collected through focused group and survey method, and applies principle component analysis to quantify constructs of the concept- Indian nationalism. The study finds that Indian media aggravates the negativity between the two countries, acts as ‘gatekeeper’ and frames its own people, othering them in the process.
Rida Ansari and Sadia Riaz