ANANYA S GUHA ponders over the role of media in India
It is amazing as to how there is a ‘magic’ in our mainstream ‘national’ media. They can do and undo with equal finesse and alacrity. The moment a new government has come to power then so many things are being unearthed like murders, rapes, discord in general. This is a process of digging and excavation. How about telling us as to what the agendas of the new government are, and how they will be implemented? Instead of Big Fights, let us have smaller ones, where the voices of the former impresarios are a little subdued, and we have lesser known mortals in the fray!
Why is news today bordering so much on sensationalism, jingoism? Why can’t we cut across affiliations, and gently listen to another’s point of view, even if we disagree with him or her? Why dissent, at every point, why not assent? Why are they no stories about positive development? Is the country in a state of perpetual dismemberment?
No sooner than the new government came to power, were there political murders, rapes and even dissensions within. This is what the media has to say. What is their authenticity or veracity? Media reportage must be full proof and not only a dalliance with rousing sensationalism! I am not saying that everything is concocted, but what I am saying is that everyday there are reports which only create dissent, dissension and not assent. Is there nothing ‘good’ in this country. If not, then where is our collective wisdom? Why are we ‘educated’ and flaunt our doctoral degrees? Unfortunately what we do not want is consensus, what we want is animosity and acrid relationships at the political and social levels.
Bludgeoning facts, assailing people mentally are some of the mantras today. Watch any ‘debate’; on the channels. Everything is noisy , personal and vindictive. Nobody seems to want to listen to another’;s point of view though all of speak with a suave ‘English accent’.
Now, media highlighting the almost clandestine meeting between L.K.Advani and another imprisoned leader is another instance of clever insinuation that – all is not well.
It is a diverse country we have, but in vast diversity there are moral and intellectual strands of beauty. There are good people who are silently working for a suffering humanity. There are orphaned children and street children who are being tethered. What about these stories, are these not stories we have to tell? And what could be more effective than the electronic media? Why is it not used more for education? If CSR is not a myth then why not practice it via the media, because private media houses are akin to corporate houses?
If we really want positive outcomes in a morally regenerative country then let us forget the ‘whys’ and look discerningly towards the ‘hows’;…. the sensationalist ‘magic’ must go. Playing to the galleries must go and pale towards an insignificance, where might is not right, but right is right! And that can only be done by self conscious introspection and love – the ‘Beloved Republic’. The protagonists of self righteous truths must banish or vanish. What will school children learn from all such ‘reality’ shows, that querulous nature is the best form of behaviour? That, discord is better than accord? That everything about the country is vile, corrupt and immoral? That there is not even an iota of plenitude in our country? And all this while we assert platitudes about education.
And that brings us to education. The media must be provoked to give impetus to education in a holistic manner. Children can view movies, but these should have a moral and artistic content. The texts which they study in school must be ‘seen’ by this I mean that many classics have been made into movies. The educational policies must make the most of the private media, by transforming it into more and more educational content, where everyone has access. In short media content must have an educational premium or bias, and not forever get enmeshed into the politics of polemics. Young impressionable minds are vulnerable to wrong influences. It is not my intention to categorize ethics into black and white components of right and wrong. Very obviously the new media is a watchdog, but in the process it should not bite itself.
There is a lot of talk about transparency in the government. Can the electronic media enlighten us as to how and if this is taking place? The media should be transparent but minus sensationalism. Sensationalism is the order of the day. Fine, news may sell, so may education in a crassly commercialized world but not without a modicum of ethics and sensibility. If the media is a conscience keeper, it is a collective responsibility and not only pandering to short term sentiments, without follow up.
Basic human living conditions, alleviation of poverty, affordable education this is the premium. People working in these areas should be focused on, their good work highlighted. Mind you poverty can be a huge deficit and a divisive area. Need we elaborate more? Again what about low tech media? The community radio can play salutary roles for education and development. Universalizing media is a must for reaches of educational and social development.
Radicalizing our societies visa social transformation can take place only from within and soul searching.