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Every year from July to September Torrential rain, flooding and monsoons are the norms for South Asia. The annual event is unpredictable in its danger, death, and destruction. In 2019, the first onslaught of catastrophic monsoons hit on July 12 in the South Asia region in countries such as Bangladesh, China, India, and Nepal. Numerous Publications have covered the event from differing perspectives to their respective audiences. From local viewpoints, foreign opinions and ultimately transnational behaviour the event is perceived, constructed and consumed in a variety of ways. By using discourse analysis to identify meaning from the language used by these publications’, traces of socio-cultural, political and ideological influences surface. Transnational behaviour is observed; however, publications of origin within the affected areas in distinct ways concentrate on local experiences and reporting. As society attaches meaning to language, the realms of knowledge and culture become inextricably connected. Using media outlets from Germany, Qatar, the United Nations, India, and Bangladesh, publications like Deutsche Welle, Aljazeera, UNICEF, India Today and Prothom Alo present this connection through the reporting of current events; such is the South Asia Monsoons and Floods of 2019.

Deutsche Welle provides a humanitarian viewpoint in the wake of the Rohingya refugee crisis as a flood ridden Bangladesh struggles to cope with large camps of refugees and makeshift ‘shantytowns’ via the desolation of the Monsoons and Floods. The article ‘Rohingya refugees struggle to survive in monsoon season’ reintroduces the Rohingya refugee conversation, from its 2017 beginnings during their persecution from Myanmar. Through a video format, Deutsche Welle aims to move beyond language in written form and instead evoke an emotive response through visual means concerning their continued plight. Communication takes an oral form to convey the devastation the events of the monsoon season have brought to the already harsh reality of life in a refugee camp. The video itself also provides a means for easily translatable content as sound recordings can be dubbed over and text re-written in one of the 30 languages Deutsche Welle operates online. As a conservative German International Broadcaster; their content and mission focus on their motto ‘Made for minds’ to reach their audience of “international decision-makers, to people who have or will have an influence on opinion-making” — reaching an estimated 197 million people a week.

The word ‘Minds’ insinuates that their target audiences are of education and the lens through which they view the natural disaster taps into socio-political issues regarding refugees and the actions of governments in addressing the increased devastation to this particular group of people. Another Humanitarian view was taken by UNICEF, the United Nations organisation for the preservation and long-term improvement of the needs of children and women in developing countries. Created by the United Nations General Assembly in 1946, the organisation targets its media material towards governments, corporations and the general population of developed countries. Through their similar humanitarian lens, they use emotive language to invite their audience into the reality of the people affected by the monsoons and floods; especially women and children. The article ‘Monsoon rains bring severe flooding and landslides across South Asia, affecting more than five million children’ is characteristic of their mission statement shifts to focusing on UNICEF’s involvement and “the most urgent needs” conveying an immediacy as all the articles similarly portray solutions to the devastation. “Clean water, hygiene supplies to prevent the spread of disease, food supplies and safe places in evacuation centres for children to play” . Praying on socio-cultural ideals of a child’s standard quality of life is key to receiving the intended outcome of UNICEF as an NGO requiring support and donations for ongoing work.

Prothom Alo, a Bangladeshi Newspaper published a host of articles on the Monsoons and Flooding; themes differentiated from local to lifestyle as devastation reports and jewellery protection. The article to be discussed, ‘Taking care of yourself in Monsoon’ focuses on the self-preservation nature of the monsoon’s effects on individuals. Remedies and precautions to take on the advice of Dermatologist Nivedita Dadu “Staying hydrated will also help to prevent any headaches or infections which you might normally have during monsoon” . As the publication date of the article precedes the events; the nature of the report focuses on pre-emptive measures and a prediction of the impending risks and adverse effects of the monsoon season as an annual event. “The monsoon season brings relief from the scorching sun, but it also brings along allergies, infections, frizzy hair, germs and more. Take care of your body from head to toe, suggest experts” . The cultural attitude attached is highlighted as a reminder of the annual event within an air of comfort and familiarity. The embedded attitudes towards the 2019 instances were individualistic as it appealed to the everyday reader of the media outlet as the casual majority who already have an understanding of the events to unfold; however, the degree of severity is always an unknown.

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In contrast, the Aljazeera news outlet has focused on a transnational accumulation of sources and views as it covers the Indian subcontinent. The three reporters Asad Hashim, Roshan Sedai and Faisal Mahmud all report from Islamabad, Kathmandu, and Dhaka respectively have provided information interdependent of one anotherfor the article ‘Monsoon floods: Death toll rises to more than 660 in South Asia’. Apart from the consistent references to government and health officials in all the articles provided; meteorology experts were consulted by Aljazeera to anticipate further flooding and destruction in the northern regions of the affected countries.

A final note alludes to the poor infrastructure and quality of dwellings that are common in these regions. Ultimately the subject reignites the obvious disadvantages the people affected already have. The “Heavy losses due to the yearly monsoon rains are common in South Asia, where many rural homes are built of mud or stone and mountainous regions are prone to landslides” . Aljazeera’s platform aims to provide an alternative viewpoint from the perspective of the Arab world in the English language in comparison to the dominant western media viewpoints like the New York Times, Reuters and Bloomberg. As a state-owned publication controversy is not absent from the narrative of Aljazeera as confusion between the Aljazeera Arabic and English channels were misconstrued to be the same; as a perceived direct translation of one another. Each station provided by Aljazeera is unique in its efforts to target specific cultural audiences, and the cultural ideologies and languages of that audience have contributed to the perceived political affiliations of the media outlet as one unit. This criticism by Oren Kessler who believes in during the Obama administration and since 2001 Al Jazeera “deliberately fans the flames of Muslim outrage” . State-owned entities always retain some form of political risk in the media industry as socio-cultural dimensions of organisation and ideologies shape opinion and viewpoints. The reader understands this dynamic as a substantial quantity of past controversy has not involved the South Asia region and therefore poses little risk in the coverage of the South Asia Monsoons and Floods.

India Today has generated a local perspective of the urban populations affected by the floods and monsoons in Mumbai and Bengaluru in comparison with destruction seen in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The widely circulated article ‘Mumbai, Bengaluru worse than Dhaka in water access: Report’ reaches approximately 8 million people to whom they provide a politically centre-right lens upon the events. The focus of the article is to shed light on the devastation sustained by the economic centres of India regarding a clean water supply; which has already been compromised in Chennai. The article has various a traditional text magazine format with a highlights section summarising the inadequate piping facilities in Mumbai compared to Dhaka, São Paulo, Colombo and Caracas. The article proceeds to take the form of a transnational comparison of ‘Global South’ cities and their access to a regular supply of piped water. With references to the formal institutions of the World Bank, WHO and UNICEF; the argument is that due to the increased catastrophe the recent monsoon season has brought in its early stages more destruction, injury, illness and death. Socio-economic issues arise later in the article addressing the wealth-gap as another factor contributing to the devastation. A final note on safe water access addresses the crisis in a global context as $US141 billion would be required to provide universals safe drinking water to the world in five years, compared to the current 260 billion dollars in annual global losses for contaminated water . India Today focuses on the water supply and piping via the Monsoon season coverage to address an issue that also exists outside of the principal events.

Through an analysis of language, structure and visual aids presented by the publications Deutsche Welle, UNICEF, India Today, Al Jazeera and Prothom Alo a condensed variety of contextual information and sources has been compiled to understand the direct effect of the interpretation of current events. Discourse analysis has allowed for understanding these interpretations in a way that highlights language, culture and form as frames for consideration.


  1. Anonymous. “Monsoon rains bring severe flooding and landslides across South Asia, affecting more than five million children”. UNICEF. Published 18 Jul 2019.
  2. Anonymous. “Rohingya refugees struggle to survive in monsoon season”.
  3. Deutsche Welle. Published 17 Jul 2019.
  4. Discourse Studies”. 3L: The Southeast Asian Journal of English Language Studies. Vol 21(2): 57 – 68. Published 1 Sep 2015.
  5. Hashim, Sedai & Mahmud. “Monsoon floods: Death toll rises to more than 660 in South Asia”. Aljazeera. Published 24 Jul 2019.
  6. IANS. “Taking care of yourself in Monsoon”. Prothom Alo. Published 30 Jun 2019.
  7. Kessler, Oren. “The two faces of Al Jazeera”. The Middle east Quarterly. Published Winter 2012.
  8. Rai, Dipu. “Mumbai, Bengaluru worse than Dhaka in water access: Report”. India Today. Published14 Aug 2019.
  9. Ramanathan, Renugah & Hoon, Tan Bee. “Application of Critical Discourse Analysis in Media. 3L : Language, Linguistics, Litterature; The southeast Asian journal of English Language Studies. Vol 21, No 23 (2015). Published 2015

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