Friday, 16 November 2012

Indian Media - Wake Up Hanuman!

   
The test of every system is whether under it the standard of living of the masses is rising or falling. The same applies to the Indian media too.

If freedom of the media is helping raise the standard of living of the Indian people, it is a good thing and must be supported. If, however such freedom is keeping the Indian people backward and poor it is a bad thing and must be suppressed. 

It follows that freedom of the media has by itself no value, and it will have value only if it helps improve the lives of the Indian masses. And the lives of our people will improve if scientific ideas are propagated and backward and unscientific ideas like casteism, communalism, and superstitions are combated.

Today the Indian people are facing terrible problems---massive poverty (it is estimated that 75-80 % of our people are earning 25 rupees a day), huge unemployment, sky-rocketing prices (vegetables cost about Rs. 40 a kg. ), lack of any proper healthcare for the poor people, child malnutrition (about half our children are malnourished), farmers suicides (about 47 every day for the last 15 years, making a total of about 250,000   a world record of farmers suicides ), etc

And yet our media (particularly the broadcast media ) devotes 90 % of its coverage to lives of film stars, cricket, and glamour. A few years back the Lakme Fashion parade was covered by 512 accredited journalists, at a time when the farmers who grew the cotton worn by the models in the Fashion Parade were committing suicide one hour's flight away in the Vidarbha region. Only one or two journalists covered those suicides locally. 

Is this a responsible way in which our media has been behaving ? Is not our media behaving like the French Queen Marie Antoinette, who when told that the people have no bread said that they could eat cake.

Amitabh Bachchan's 70th birthday, Kareena kapoor's affairs, Sachin Tendolkar's 100th century, Rahul Dravid's retirement from cricket, Dev Anand and Rajesh Khanna's death, Rakhi Sawant's swayamvar, etc-----these are depicted as the real issues facing the nation, not poverty, not unemployment, not price rise, not healthcare, not malnutrition.

Several T.V. channels show astrology, which is pure superstition and humbug, and therefore tends to perpetuate backwardness of our people. In my opinion there should not be any freedom to show such superstitions.

The corporatization and crass commercialization of the media is no doubt largely responsible for this irresponsible behaviour. While corporates may have a legal right to own and run the media, this freedom has to be coupled with responsibilities. There cannot be freedom to to defame, incite religious, caste, regional or racial riots, , extort and blackmail, hold media trials, practice paid news, etc Hence a balance has to be struck between freedom and responsibility.

A section of the media has misunderstood me and depicted me as some sort of tyrant who wishes to muzzle or gag the media at the behest of the government, when the truth is that I have been throughout my one year as Chairman of the Press Council fighting for media freedom, and raised my voice of protest against attacks against media freedom and media persons, whether in J&K, Maharashtra, U.P. , West Bengal, Karnataka, etc. I strongly criticized the arrest of the cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, and the threat of a senior politician to break the camera of a journalist.

At the same time I have been constantly advising media people to act responsibly and in a manner which will benefit the Indian people. This they can do by spreading scientific ideas among the masses as scientific thinking is the only way out to solve the country's huge problems.


I regard the Indian media as Hanuman, and I regard myself as Jambawant. The Indian people are Lord Rama, and it was the duty of Hanuman to serve Lord Rama. However, Hanuman forgot his powers and duty because of the curse of a sage. Like Jambawant, I have been reminding Hanuman (the media ) of its duty to Lord Rama (the Indian people ).. The Indian media has to serve the Indian people, and if it does so it will win the respect and admiration of the people.

   -Justice Katju

34 comments:

  1. Completely agree! Keep on Justice Jamvant :-)

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  2. People should understand that the day education will become irrelevant for the society and there will majority of the uneducated people, the development ? growth / progress which is the part of the living process will vanish and only lawlessness will prevail like Afghanistan and other countries around us and seen in India too as the ratio has gone 75%/25% from 50%/50% before and becoming difficult for 25% to carry 75% uneducated. We have to do something right away before we go into neck deep and will have no chance of survival and become an ANIMAL KINGDOM.

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  3. Propagation of scientific ideas and implementations and investment on science by the state and citizens is the only way the nation could rise . History and present is full of examples how lack of science can destroy the nations economic system . Gone are the days when agriculture alone was sufficient .

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  4. Dear Sir,

    I totally agree with you as there should be balance between freedom and responsibily. If media is given freedom then it is media's responsibility to use that freedom in a rightful manner. Hopefully one day Indian media would surely understand their true role.

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  5. Please sometimes look at print media which is your own purview. They are are propagating adult content while circulation news e.g. Times of India. I humbly request you to write about them too. Let the justice Verma decides what he wants under his supervision. Jambawant must also focus on print media.
    Thank you,
    A

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  6. Forgot to ask, Did Justice Verma replied to your request on probing news channel and now Foreign affair minister's scam?

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  7. Well Said !! Infact the recent trend is just discussions on news channel and no news. everyone is running after money and glamour !!

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  8. sir,do u think u have got the chance to express ur view after reriredment only ?

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  9. i agree with u sir, hope u have noticed our PMs message on National Press Day

    PM's message on National Press Day:

    "A free and fair media has been an essential pillar of our democracy. Since our struggle for freedom, media has been guiding social change, informing readers of their rights and contributing to the nation-building process by spreading awareness.

    As a country, we believe in complete independence of the media from external control. It is true that sometimes irresponsible journalism can have serious consequences for social harmony and public order, which the public authorities have an obligation to maintain, but censorship is no answer. It is for the members of the Fourth Estate themselves to collectively ensure that objectivity is promoted and sensationalism is curbed. It is for them to introspect how best they can serve our country and society and advance their well being."

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  10. Sir,
    the comparision is not apt. Hanuman never did negative things, he was passive until enlightened by jambavant whereas todays media is outright corrupt and actively working towards distorting indian society and ethos. e.g., media-corporate nexus, media-politics nexus, contract-journalists, private treaties, extortion, non-reporting of important events, distorting debates etc.
    we need strong and independent press council and tv-media regulator that can suspend license and impose heavy fines and force media to publish clarifications and correct errors in a well defined and prominent fashion.

    Infact media has become more like lanka with several ravans and very few vibhishans (p. sainath, paronjoy guha etc.). we need someone to kill ravans and destroy ravans gardens and establish truth, honesty and integrity in media

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  11. कल 18/11/2012 को आपकी यह बेहतरीन पोस्ट http://nayi-purani-halchal.blogspot.in पर लिंक की जा रही हैं.आपके सुझावों का स्वागत है .
    धन्यवाद!

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  12. Sir, at the end of the article you have confused everything by using names of mythical characters. The fact is that the media speaks the language of its owner (Maalik) and not yours'.

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  13. The media is serving opium to the masses. If you dont like it, switch to DD and Lok sabha TV. This is the age of consumerism. Idealism is dead, Private enterprise is king and regulators are symbolic at best. The column above has been published a million times by far more accomplished writers, men and women of greater integrity and intellect, you did not bestow new "gyan" upon us.
    Please Do Your Job and try to clean up the mess that is the print media of this country rather than ranting about a domain you have little control over at the moment. Writing righteous articles is very easy, can you list some of the steps you took to combat the phenomenon of "paid news" in the print sector? How many investigations have you ordered into the operations of repeat offenders? Ordered any inquiries into the finances of such companies? What are your views on Mr. Jain's comment that he is in the business of selling advertising space rather than News? I could go on for another 10000 words but I believe talk is cheap Mr. Katju, how about putting your money where your mouth is?

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    1. Your views may make some sense to some people, including me (to some extent), but on the whole I find myself at odds with your views. The tenor of your arguments (or rather questions) makes it seem like you have a problem with Mr. Katju (though I could always be wrong). You have very wisely applied and extended Karl Marx's views on religion to present day media. And went on to argue that people have a choice of not watching all that non-sense (i.e. they can chose not to take opium). But these two statements essentially are contradictory. If media is in fact serving opium then people do not really have a choice because they are addicted to it. Ask any addict and he'll tell you if it's that easy to make a choice. Even Marx realized this fact and therefore said that unless people are aware of their objective reality, they can't really exercise that choice. They will just keep on relishing that opium. But then million dollar question is how to make them aware of that reality?. People of high intellectual capacity, such as yours, may come up with many ways, of which one is definitely educating them by 'righteous articles'. This is what I believe Mr. Katju is doing here. He is trying his best to educate us by appealing to our rationality via logic of his arguments. Now if we believe them to be correct then isn't it our duty that we act in a manner that is consistent with it rather than questioning Mr. Katju's propriety of writings such article? Like we can debate such issues in our circles and make people aware of them. Because as far as my experience goes, it's not the apathy of people but their ignorance, which makes for perpetuation of such sorry state of affairs. I am an IIT Graduate and you would be amazed by low level of political & social consciousness of India's supposedly most accomplished youth. I totally agree with you when you imply that mere words will not help and concrete actions must be taken. But I ask you how one can take concrete actions if he does not even have a full understanding of the problem. Mr. Katju's article goes a long way in fulfilling this objective.

      "This is the age of consumerism. Idealism is dead, Private enterprise is king and regulators are symbolic at best". This statement may be true but betrays a sense of pessimism. While agreeing with statement, I believe in something else. I believe if 100 people are made knowledgeable then 10 will surely act. Even if one acts, then I deem the purpose of informing them is realized. Sweeping changes do not take place in a day. Not least in a democracy. All one can do is play his part and keep on doing it inspite of such vilifications. And that is what I believe Mr. Katju is doing and, I sincerely hope, will keep on doing til his last breath.

      And as far as your stinging questions, that you've put to Mr. Katju towards the end of your comment, are concerned, I am sure he must have taken appropriate actions when presented with sufficient evidence. I do not have access to evidence nor do I have much knowledge about the details of the case, so it's not really my place (or anyone else's for that matter) to question Mr. Katju. We don't really need to tell him how to perform his job. I hope I made some sense.

      Narender Kumar

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  14. I hope some sense prevails and the society becomes better with time. Getting rid of religious fanaticism is a big challenge in that process.

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  15. Sir with great respect media is behaving irresponsibly. Black Cat on tree ,Kaal kapaal mahakaal, comedy circus 90% nonsense stuff. And se ems to be opinionated with the ruling class.

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  16. Dear Sir,
    I think what you have mentioned is absolutely right about the current situation. But considering the freedom of speech in our country, media should be free to broadcast. But since the society itself demands for such programs then media alone cant be blamed. I would say, we would need to invest extensively on primary education for the masses which stresses on the broad outlook in our country. And this education should be able to nurture the society into a good citizen. Once the society realizes the truth about the situation in the country it shall itself demand such programs higlighting the economy, societal problems..etc of the country. And also I would like to add that the DD should be made independent of the government, instead it should receive only funding from it (something sort of BBC). With this they shall be able invest in research and get good programs and documentaries about our society.

    -Karthik

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  17. You Sir,talk a lot of sense.Please make all this happen.

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  18. 24 hour news channels cannot show the real issues for all the 24 hrs
    Most of us will not watch them for so long. We know the issues and many of us understand the causes and solutions to them. To watch them again and again is not going to change anything. After all everyone has to make money and media houses know better how to survive. The idea is to view them as Entertainment channels and not information channels. When we do need information we flock to serious new channels but then we do need our entertainment. Intellectuals need to differentiate between rice and chaff and not generalize news channels in one basket

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  19. what is this Jamwant ji? You made things messy.

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  20. I, too intend to vouch the same sense and utter sentiment in one breathe which spoke off(justice M. katju) most radical issues which need to be dealt with rational and logical scope . yet, what is more important to imbibe the kind of rational jest that forge an allience between free speech and progression of a free society which is duty bound by epic note of union of india i.e constitution of republic. Thus as they say, " Nothing is absolute, Absolute is not free".

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  21. The Indian Media is serving it's masters, the Congress!!

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    1. that's absolute rubbish ..in the context of this particular article Congress, BJP, NDA, UPA have no difference whatsoever ...

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  22. I would love to see a ban on reality shows that have intellectual carcasses.

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  23. Hello Sir,
    I totally agree with your views on the Indian Media. I have been pondering over these questions for a while and seem to have arrived at some clarity now. I would love to listen to your opinions on this.

    Though there is a serious need to attend to these issues immediately, expecting to resolve them soon seems very impractical. The current generation is probably the first generation of people who have seen so much money in their lifetime, and for some it's very early in their career. Hence the need to acquire materialistic wealth is at its peak and the need to make money & fame will just grow no matter what. I believe, all economies have passed through this phase. Then comes a brand new generation for whom this money just seems normal and they start expecting more (a better lifestyle, enviornment etc)...

    The average Aam Aadmi at this point in time wants to earn money. He seems to be least bothered on issues such as pollution, corruption etc. He is more concerned on making more money and not creating a better country for his children. This applies to people in Media as well, they too fall under this umbrella. It appalls me at times that people run behind money like there is going to be no tommorrow and all money needs to be made today.

    Politicans, Media people have an opportunity to earn crores and crores and this completely blinds them. The vision of building a better country does not feature here and this blindness stops them from dreaming of a better country. We need visionaries to build this country (most importantly in media & politics) and currently there is too much at stake to concentrate on vision. I feel recovery will happen but at a very slow pace until a new generation takes over who see the need to make changes and for whom stacking more and more money makes lesser sense (It doesn't mean they'll stop but they'll definetly slow down)...

    However, the best we can do at this time is start sowing in the seeds for the next generation to take over. I'm probably half your age but I feel even my generation will not be able to achieve this but 30 years from now we can see this dream being achieved. We will see a much more responsible India in about 30 years.

    At present the average Indian who wishes for a change is ready to dream but not ready to act, in some cases not even ready to dream. The majority of people who reply on these forums are people who belong to the category of talking a lot and doing nothing. People who post on these forums are the same people who violate laws every day in the traffic, ready to pay bribes, cheat people but talk big on forums. We need to develop a sense of responsibility within us to achieve change. At this period of time we are not responsible...

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  24. Completely agree sir..!!
    as media is the medium through which we can take out the real problems of our society, government system etc etc..Media should behave more responsibly by covering events and articles which are more relevant to the benefits of Indian people.

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  25. Comrade I like ur honest. But end of this article u have confused..

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  26. well said i completey agree with your views

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  27. I fully concur the thoughts of Mr. Katju. I am also of the same opinion that why media projects those things which sells new. What is media? Medium to convey right things to masses, or VOX POPULI, the voice of the population. But media here projects certain things. And i don't understand that why india still pours heavy money in the game which our rulers used to play, cricket. In IPL huge amount of money is wasted, which otherwise can be used to develop infrastructure in india itself, like hi-tech research universities and schools.

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