Electoral campaigns and the media: The coverage of India's 1991 general election in the Indian and the British press.
2015-11-19T08:56:30Z (GMT) by
This study looks into the way India's 1991 general election was portrayed in the newspapers of India and Britain. The thesis stipulates that while the elections generated a keen interest in the Indian press, it kept a low profile in the British press. However, the British press' attention was heightened when the former Indian prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, was assassinated during the same election campaign, which failed to invoke a substantial and appreciable amount of coverage. While the Indian newspapers, after providing an extensive coverage to the themes related to the assassinated leader for one week, returned to emphasise the campaign and other contemporary issues, the British newspapers relentlessly continued to fill their pages with the same themes even over three weeks after the event had happened. The thesis also argues that the British press accentuated far more than its Indian counterpart the issue of violence in India during the 47-day long campaign. It clearly emerges from the findings that during an election, the campaign agenda is formed by the journalists rather than by the political parties/leaders. While the newspapers of both the countries carried more media-initiated stories than party- initiated, the British press outnumbers its Indian counterpart. It shows that the sacerdotal role the British journalists are known to play in the coverage of the election in their own country is dissolved when they report election in a Third World country. Discussed in this thesis is also the fact that the powerful political actors and parties are referred to more than the minor parties and their leaders. Nevertheless, the basic and development issues like inflation, poverty, unemployment, education, rural development etc. - notwithstanding their inclusion in the manifestos of virtually all the Indian political parties - get a low priority in the press.