Subscribe to IMPECT updates

 

 

 

  • White Facebook Icon

© 2019 Dr. Anamika Ray Memorial Trust

  • IMPECTStudy

Indian elections in the eyes of Sri Lankan media

Nisansala Jayawardhana:


Being one of the closest neighbors of India, Sri Lanka has been influenced over decades by various issues related to India. Presently, the attention of Sri Lankan media is riveted on the upcoming Lok Sabha election 2019. With the world’s largest election beginning on April 11, 1,300 million Indians will find out before May ends who their next prime minister will be for next five years. At such a crucial juncture, it could be instructive to have a look at Sri Lankan media, to get to know how they feel and report about the political scenario in India.

This effort is focused on Sri Lankan print media, especially newspapers, regarding their coverage of the general elections in India. Around 15 articles in English and Sinhala were published in leading newspapers Daily News, Lankadeepa, Dinamina, and Resa in the period March 1 to April 10. The reporting has followed a kind of middle path between India’s ruling BJP and main opposition party Congress which ruled India for decades after independence. However, instead of analytically putting across Sri Lankan perspectives, most newspaper articles are translations with minor changes of the reports they received from news agencies or Indian newspapers such as AFP, ARAB NEWS, BBC and The Hindu. So these articles are mostly reporting on what’s happening in India and how the two main contenders for power are going about their electoral campaigning.


This doesn’t mean there were no critically analyzed articles or that they had no perspective to offer. A few articles have forecast that the BJP can nurse hopes about a victory. An article published in Dinamina on April 5 reported that, according to observers, BJP will win the election under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Another article written by Chamara Sumanapala and published in Resa on March 5 comparatively analysed Modi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Rahul Gandhi over their roles in Indian politics. In the same newspaper, there was an article predicting that Priyanka Gandhi’s formal entry into active politics will positively affect the Congress but will still not be enough to challenge the BJP in this election. Overall, most newspapers report that BJP has greater chances of winning the election, considering the relevant facts and figures. A South Asian perspective was put forth in an article in Lankadeepa based on a statement by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan expressing hopes about peace talks with India under a Modi government.

Interestingly, some newspapers here have been following Modi’s social media campaign, especially how he is engaging with voters on Twitter. An article in Daily News featured Modi’s twitter message by tagging cricketers Virat Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Bollywood actors Ranveer Singh and Vicky Kaushal asking them to inspire others to exercise their franchise.

Highlighting the way BJP and Congress are using social media, one newspaper article published on April 5 posited: “More than any time before, this election will play out online, with an estimated 39% of Indians owning smartphones. But as 4G coverage has swept India in the years since Modi’s rise, it has also brought dangers. On April 1, Facebook said it had removed 702 pages, groups and accounts over ‘coordinated inauthentic behavior’ in support of BJP and Congress, and TIME has found that BJP supporters used WhatsApp chats to spread fake news. India’s democracy may be unique in size, but it’s not immune to the problems others face”. Another article commented on the Election Commission’s decision banning the sharing of posters on FB using Wing Commander Abhinandan’s photographs for political purposes. There have also been reports covering the biopic produced on Narendra Modi and astrological predictions on victory in election.

With the world’s largest exercise in democracy kicking off with more than 900 million eligible voters, 1 million polling stations and seven phases spread across five weeks, it is hoped the process and outcome will attract Sri Lankan media’s attention still more and get considerable space in newspapers here in the coming days.

Being one of the closest neighbors of India, Sri Lanka has been influenced over decades by various issues related to India. Presently, the attention of Sri Lankan media is riveted on the upcoming Lok Sabha election 2019. With the world’s largest election beginning on April 11, 1,300 million Indians will find out before May ends who their next prime minister will be for next five years. At such a crucial juncture, it could be instructive to have a look at Sri Lankan media, to get to know how they feel and report about the political scenario in India.

This effort is focused on Sri Lankan print media, especially newspapers, regarding their coverage of the general elections in India. Around 15 articles in English and Sinhala were published in leading newspapers Daily News, Lankadeepa, Dinamina, and Resa in the period March 1 to April 10. The reporting has followed a kind of middle path between India’s ruling BJP and main opposition party Congress which ruled India for decades after independence. However, instead of analytically putting across Sri Lankan perspectives, most newspaper articles are translations with minor changes of the reports they received from news agencies or Indian newspapers such as AFP, ARAB NEWS, BBC and The Hindu. So these articles are mostly reporting on what’s happening in India and how the two main contenders for power are going about their electoral campaigning.

This doesn’t mean there were no critically analyzed articles or that they had no perspective to offer. A few articles have forecast that the BJP can nurse hopes about a victory. An article published in Dinamina on April 5 reported that, according to observers, BJP will win the election under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Another article written by Chamara Sumanapala and published in Resa on March 5 comparatively analysed Modi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Rahul Gandhi over their roles in Indian politics. In the same newspaper, there was an article predicting that Priyanka Gandhi’s formal entry into active politics will positively affect the Congress but will still not be enough to challenge the BJP in this election. Overall, most newspapers report that BJP has greater chances of winning the election, considering the relevant facts and figures. A South Asian perspective was put forth in an article in Lankadeepa based on a statement by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan expressing hopes about peace talks with India under a Modi government.


Interestingly, some newspapers here have been following Modi’s social media campaign, especially how he is engaging with voters on Twitter. An article in Daily News featured Modi’s twitter message by tagging cricketers Virat Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Bollywood actors Ranveer Singh and Vicky Kaushal asking them to inspire others to exercise their franchise.

Highlighting the way BJP and Congress are using social media, one newspaper article published on April 5 posited: “More than any time before, this election will play out online, with an estimated 39% of Indians owning smartphones. But as 4G coverage has swept India in the years since Modi’s rise, it has also brought dangers. On April 1, Facebook said it had removed 702 pages, groups and accounts over ‘coordinated inauthentic behavior’ in support of BJP and Congress, and TIME has found that BJP supporters used WhatsApp chats to spread fake news. India’s democracy may be unique in size, but it’s not immune to the problems others face”. Another article commented on the Election Commission’s decision banning the sharing of posters on FB using Wing Commander Abhinandan’s photographs for political purposes. There have also been reports covering the biopic produced on Narendra Modi and astrological predictions on victory in election.

With the world’s largest exercise in democracy kicking off with more than 900 million eligible voters, 1 million polling stations and seven phases spread across five weeks, it is hoped the process and outcome will attract Sri Lankan media’s attention still more and get considerable space in newspapers here in the coming days.

16 views