Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Rise and Fall of Godman Nirmal Baba: Role of Electronic Media Vs Newspapers & Websites

Print Vs Electronic: One media Patronises, other Exposes
The meteoric rise of self-styled spiritual guru Nirmal Baba was seen with awe across the country.

Initially it was thought that he was just another new 'saint' on the block.

But, over a couple of months, his 'darbar' became quite popular. When the Baba's photograph started selling in shops and even on streets, people realised that he had also arrived and was to stay.

The live telecast on channels suggested that the programmes were sponsored. However, in a country where there is no dearth of believers, his 'simply and instant' solutions, like wearing a black bead or carrying a brown wallet, attracted viewers.

A person would tell his problem and the Baba would tell him, 'Feed the particular animal' or 'Buy jalebis and share it with entire family'. You might feel intrigued but people were not enjoying it, a huge audience had built up, that was watching these half-hour long durbars which were shown on several TV channels.

The legend of Nirmal Baba was growing, courtesy, News Channels. Media was a silent, proactive partner, and the empire was expanding fast. Baba is right that he had to get money because channels charged him for the air space. If Baba spread superstition, channels are surely to be blamed.

Suddenly, Baba's word seem to be crashing. Once a newspaper published a report, others took charge. A website began a series of articles running into nearly 50 parts. Other publications also targeted Baba. It seemed, rationalism was again the buzzword. Huh.

So one form of media was minting money, making itself available to be exploited. The print media, that didn't get advertisements, can claim to be responsible for 'exposing' the Godman.

To be fair, newspapers still have much more credibility, than TV channels, and this episode again shows why print is needed, even more, in this era. Though there is heat on Nirmaljeet Singh Narula alias Nirmal Baba, it is still early to count him out. Let's see how TV channels resist their love for moolah.


Sarthak Ahuja 7:25 AM

Here's a little satirical rhyme that I recently wrote on Nirmal Baba.

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