(One of the issues that I intend to touch on in my ongoing series on the state of the media relates to how governments, with the active contrivance of media houses, periodically creates ‘issues’ intended to vitiate the atmosphere.
One such ‘story’ is gathering steam right now; I’ll use this post as a scratch-pad to capture it as it unfolds, and then circle back to the larger point in my Media Matters posts. So:
On December 10, 2014 then Human Resources Development Minister Smriti Irani, via her office, sent out a circular to all schools in the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya scheme mandating that December 25 — the birthday of, among others, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and freedom fighter Madan Mohan Malaviya — should be celebrated as Good Governance Day with essay contests and other activities.
Newspapers reported that this would entail schools having to compulsorily remain open on Christmas Day. There was, predictably, a sizeable backlash. Minister Smriti Irani, on Twitter, termed the report ‘deliberate mischief‘ on the part of the Times of India and that schools would remain closed for Christmas and the essay competition was online only; suggested that the reporter should have checked with colleagues covering the HRD beat or directly with the Secretary of School Education; and asked for a front page retraction in bold type.