CJP Impact: NBDSA directs Zee News to take down video of communal show on Population Control The video of the show that used offensive taglines and pictures, is to be removed within 7 days

15, Jun 2022 | CJP Team

One more Hate Watch complaint by Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) against biased and stigmatising coverage by Zee News has succeeded. On June 14, 2022, the News Broadcasting and Digital Standars Authority (NBDSA) held that the show titled Kudrat bahana hai, muslim abaadi badhana hai violated the authority’s guidelines for fair and temperate reportage and directed that its videos be pulled down from all platforms within seven days, that is by June 21.

CJP had filed this complaint on July 3, 2021, with Zee News for their unverified and misleading live debate programme titled Kudrat ek bahana hai, Muslim abaadi badhana hai? (Translation: Nature is just an excuse, the motive is to increase Muslim Population?) that aired on June 27, 2021. The show focused on how the Uttar Pradesh government is mulling over a potential population control law, and ran taglines, displayed pictures that hinted at the Muslim Population explosion narrative.

The channel’s response was dated July 30, 2021 to our Complaint dated July, 3, 2021, and CJP’s complaint to the NBDSA was dated July 23, 2021. Online hearings took place on March 9, 2022 and Teesta Setalvad, Secretary, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) appeared for the complainants.

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In its order, the NBDSA has stated, “The Authority was of the view that the manner in which the topic was framed, and the language used clearly pointed to the fact that there was an agenda to the debate. This was also clear from the images that were displayed during the debate.”

It further said, “The Authority noted that the following taglines were run during the debate: “Nizaam-e-kudrat ya Hindustan pe aafat?”; “Kudrat bahana hain, Muslim abaadi badana hain?” ; “Hum do hamare do par majhabi rukawat kyo?” ; “UP me chunao, isliye abaadi par tanao?” which taglines were used without any supporting data or facts. In the absence thereof, these taglines amount to giving tilt to the debate which created a perception that there is only one community which is responsible for the population growth in the country.”

Moreover, the order said, “NBDSA also observed that adding a “disclaimer” to any programme including debates does not absolve the broadcaster of its responsibility in the event the programme violates the Code of Ethics and Guidelines issued by the Authority.” Therefore, “NBDSA decided that the debates as broadcast violated the Code of Ethics relating to Impartiality and the impugned programmes also lacked balance and objectivity.”

The order may be read here:


Objectionable telecast

The show used pictures of areas crowded with Muslims to spread rumours about alleged population growth. The debate programme on this topic, emphasised a statement made by Samajwadi Party MP Shafiqur Rahman who said that Children are “Nizaam-e-Kudrat” (part of the system of nature) and that nobody has a right to interfere with that. The complaint mentions how the entire show which is barely a debate and more a shrill exercise in hyperbole and heightening volume, insinuates that there is only one particular minority community behind India’s backwardness and illiteracy.

Anurag Bhadauriya, one of the panelists who was against giving a communal angle to the story and instead brought up issues like Covid-19 deaths, inflation and rising unemployment, was constantly cut off by the show’s anchor, Aditi Tyagi, who kept playing the statement made by Shafiqur Rahman about how nobody has the right to interfere with someone’s decision to reproduce.

The CJP’s complaint reads, “The debate was about how Shafiqur could make such a statement and nothing about the expected population control bill and the provisions it would entail. Moreover, it needs to be stated that every segment of society, in India or the world, surely has persons with different views: cherry picking from these and using the media to generate a stereotype is certainly not a responsible act from a media house.”

CJP’s detailed complaint also states how during the debate, Zee News’ Taal Thok Ke show tried to portray that it was against the idea of giving this discussion on population control a religious angle but ended up doing the exact same thing. It was astonishing to see that throughout the show, on several occasions, visuals of crowded areas only inhabited by Muslims were shown. “Such images of areas crowded by only Muslim people clearly displays the intention of the channel that just wanted to regurgitate the ‘Hindu-Muslim narrative’ and divert from the real issues of Covid-19 and the slowing economy. Such themes also tend to perpetuate the myths pertaining to the Muslim population and falsefully glorifies the Muslim population explosion narrative that compels people to believe that Muslims intend to do anything to increase the population of their community to dominate India,” read CJP’s complaint.

CJP also stated how the host kept questioning through the show why population is a religious issue and on the other hand, ran taglines like “Kudrat bahana hai, muslim abaadi badhana hai?” (Translation: Is nature just an excuse, is the motive to increase the Muslim population?), “Nizam-e-kudratya Hindustan par aafat?” (Translation: System of nature or a disaster upon India?). It seemed like the show tried to create rhetoric that did not exist, and it was also ironic how the channel created a communal narrative on the show and then questioned why such a narrative exists.

The complaint also refers to Former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), SY Quraishi’s book, The population Myth-Islam, Family Planning and Politics in India (Author: S. Y.Quraishi, Publication: HarperCollins Publishers India, 2021), to understand the availability of health infrastructure and services as important factors that reflect population. Recent statistics by NFHS-4 data states how Muslims lag behind in accessing delivery services at healthcare facilities and receiving advice on family planning from community health workers.

In the detailed submissions, CJP also placed some data before the authority (NBDSA) that has been provided by the Government of India. That the government has stated that the fertility rate of the nation has declined and so has the entire population of the country. That during the ongoing monsoon session, the Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Mansukh Mandaviya, on July 23, 2021, had stated that:

  • The Total Fertility Rate has declined from 2.7 to 2.2 from 2005-06(NFHS III) to 2015-16 (NFHS IV)
  • The Decadal growth rate has declined from 21.54% in 1990-2000 to 17.64% during 2001-11.
  • The Crude Birth Rate has declined from 23.8 in 2005 to 20.0 in 2018 (SRS)
  • The Crude Death Rate has declined from 7.6 in 2005 to 6.2 in 2018 (SRS)
  • India’s Wanted Fertility Rate was 1.9 in NFHS III and has further come down to 1.8 in NFHS IV.
  • 28 out of 36 States/UTs have already achieved the replacement level fertility of 2.1 or less.
  • The teenage birth rate has halved from 16% (NFHS III) to 8% (NFHS IV)
  • The teenage marriage has halved from 47.4% (NFHS III) to 26.8% (NFHS IV)

Finally, in the complaint CJP has urged the NBDSA to remove the show from all digital platforms and tender a public apology for their misinformed reportage. There were two other complainants regarding the same show on Zee News.

Image Courtesy: hindutvawatch.org


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