Monday, 25 March 2013

Wake up Hanuman

Journalists comment on everything under the sun. But when someone comments on their profession they let loose a furious fusillade flaunting the slogan ‘Freedom of media in danger’. Most condemn even the suggestion for a public debate on the issue of media regulation and media responsibilities.

No one can deny my credentials as a strong supporter of media freedom wherever and whenever it was threatened, whether in Maharashtra, J & K, Bihar, Delhi, West Bengal or elsewhere. But at the same time I have also called for media responsibility What is wrong in that? Every social activity has to be regulated, because man is by nature a social being, as ‘Aristotle said. So our freedom cannot go to the extent of damaging society. No freedom can be absolute, it is always subject to reasonable restrictions in the public interest. It follows that every profession has also to be regulated.

I am against control of the media, but am in favour of regulation, the difference between the two being that in control there is no freedom, whereas in regulation there is freedom but, subject to reasonable restrictions in the public interest.

My latest suggestion for prescribing some minimum qualifications for journalists and regulating the schools of journalism has also resulted in a fierce denunciation from many quarters. So let me explain my view.

       Journalism is a profession. When a professional field is at an undeveloped stage there is no need for formal  training or a formal qualification. For instance, in Europe uptothe 18th Century and early 19th Centuries, when medical science was still relatively undeveloped, there was no formal qualification required to become a doctor. One sat with a doctor (usually one’s father), saw how he worked, and got advice from him, and became a doctor. Our hakims and Vaids usually learnt from their father by watching him work, and learning from him.

But when medical science became a developed field the need for formal training and formal qualification became imperative. The same is true of other professions like law, teaching, chartered accountant, etc.

It is true that one learns journalism in the field. But one learns much of the legal profession too in the field, after one has obtained a law degree. Why then have the requirement to have a law degree for becoming a lawyer? Why have the requirement to have an M.B.B.S. degree to become a doctor? Why not just allow a person to sit with a lawyer or doctor, watch him work for a few years, and become a lawyer or doctor? The answer is that when the field has become developed there is imperative need for formal training where the theoretical principles and basic skills are taught. Later, when one has completed this formal course and obtained the formal qualification, one will no doubt learn a lot in the field, but without this basic formal training one may not be able to become a skilled professional.

 It is true that there have been many great journalists without a formal training or qualification. But they have been great inspiteof not having this, notbecause of not having it. There must have been many journalists who remained mediocre and did not flower into great journalists because they lacked a formal training in their profession.

Nowadays many persons enter into the field of journalism with little or inadequate training in journalism, and this often leads to negative effects because such persons often do not maintain high standards of journalism. Since the media has an important influence in our lives, and since the field of journalism is now quite developed, the time has now come when some formal qualification should be prescribed for those wanting to become journalists.

Regarding the view that one learns journalism only by entering in the field, a senior journalist Mr. Vinod Sharma, in a recent Rajya Sabha T.V. panel discussion (The Big Picture) said that nowadays what one learns on the job is trickery, making improper compromises, saving one’s job rather than saving one’s conscience, etc. So should one not be taught ethical principles in journalism? Where will one learn this since what is taught in the field is often the reverse?

In the Institutes and departments of journalism, which have sprouted all over the country, many technical and ethical skills in journalism are taught. These will no doubt be  of great use when later, having completed the course and obtained the qualification, one enters the field.

Also, this is the age of specialization. To report on financial matters, for example, one has to have at learnt a rudimentary idea of finance, and similarly one should have a rudimentary idea of medical science, law, history, literature, agriculture, labour matters, etc. All this knowledge can be provided in a good school of journalism.

        Unfortunately many of the departments and Institutes which have mushroomed all over the country lack proper teaching staff, proper facilities and infrastructure. Hence I have requested the committee constituted by me to look into this matter and give their recommendations.

         The committee constituted by me will study the matter in detail and everyone is welcome to give their suggestions to it. The Press Council can also organize a seminar for this purpose, invite the media persons and others to give their views. After the committee submits its report I will place it before the Full Press Council. The Council may accept the report or reject it or accept it with modifications. If the report is accepted, with or without modifications, I will send it to the Central Government, which may accept or reject it, or accept it with modifications. If the government does not reject it, it will be sent to Parliament, which, as is the usual procedure, send it to a select committee. The select committee, after considering it, will then send its recommendations to Parliament, which may accept it or reject it or accept it with modifications. It will become law only when the President gives his consent.

From the above it is evident that my suggestion is not creating a law (which indeed I have no power to create), and it will have to pass through several procedural stages before it becomes law, (if it does at all). What then is all the hullabaloo about? Can one not even make a suggestion? 

It is time that mediapersons realize that I am not their enemy but their friend. I regard the media as Hanuman, who had forgotten his duties and powers, and I am the Jambavant reminding it about the same.  

( Published in The Indian Express on March 25,2013 )

Indian Journalism at Ground Zero. To read click here


  1. Mr.Katju, with due respect,
    I envision India of this :
    You as a Head of PCI are in a position of power and influence. The world knows media of any and all types are not "Satya Harishchandra". Its in the hands of few who neither promote absolute truth nor practice in personal or professional life.
    If your conscience too agrees with my vision of India then you can start, right now, right here to make it your goal of life.
    Best wishes.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. 'Regulation' can become 'control' in hands of not-so enlightened individuals just like democracy became dictatorship in hands of Fascists. Regulation can also become a ploy for exercising 'control' and the freedom of press would be doomed. We criticize the British for trying to 'regulate' (in their opinion, they were regulating)Indian media during colonial times, yet we think that our own governments are so enlightened that they will only 'regulate'. A regulator on an LPG cylinder can be used to 'decrease gas supply' as well as to switch it off completely - better analogy than the Hanuman -Jambvanta story. Secondly, you cannot proclaim yourself to be Jambvanta and friend of media if they are not ready to trust you. Hanuman and Jambvanta had a different relationship - Jambvanta was not running around trying to convince Hanuman that he was his friend and trying to 'regulate' Hanuman. Your views about 'feudal society', 'transition', 'farmers of Vidarbha' are too repetitive to convince majority of people. All articles have same story - 'ghoom phir ke wahin aa jaate ho aap'.

  4. आदरणीय सर हमारा सुझाव अपनाने के लिए बहुत धन्यवाद, पत्रकार बनने के लिए शैक्षिक योग्यता या सनद होना जरुरी है, आज संवेदनशील पत्रकारिता करने जरुरत है। कुछ न्यूज संस्थाए सिर्फ न्यूज के लिए अपना जमीर गिरवी रखते है, संवेदनशील समाचार दुनिया के सामने आने से रोकते है. इसपर कुछ हद तक चाप बैठनी चाहिए। आजकल मीडिया अपनी जिम्मेदारी भूल कर समाचार प्रकाशित कर रहे है। अपनी स्वतंत्रता का गलत इस्तेमाल कर रही है। एक आप ही इसपर काबू पाने में कार्य कर सकते है।

    कलिम अजीम

  5. Dear Sir,
    Please do read

    Thank You

  6. No objections to you becoming Jambavant or even ordinary bhalloo with fur all over your body. But do not write comments on greats with silly wording. It is sheer idiocy to say Hanuman forgot his duties....
    BTW, what is the use of formal training? Everyone in judiciary goes through for formal training. But what we get? A judge questioning others judgement. A judge suggesting the executive overrule judiciary with the help of special powers granted by constitution. This is what media already doing. Why do they need formal training?

  7. Though India has not produced great discoverers, inventors or researchers, but India has produced "World class Engineers, Doctors". India has perpetually failed or rarely produced "World Class Leaders/politicians, World class Justice, World class Executive councillors, World class media persons/journalists". Its fact. Causes / reasons for such big underachievement needs to be filled soon if India has any commonality with vision as that of Mr. APJ Abdul Kalam, Ex. President of India.
    AIMS, IITs are the factories of some world class professionals who unfortunately are very very dissatisfied / disheartened from all 4
    pillars of Indian democracy.
    This gap filling could even be a very good business opportunity of creating / grooming "World class" Leaders/politicians, Judiciary, Executive councillors, Media persons. It could have been easily envisioned by Late. Smt. Indira Gandhi.
    Atleast, during formative years of any country, if it doesn't have "World class" 4 pillars, then what the fate of such country would be? Every power holder such as Mr. Katju can lead & start putting efforts aligning with some common national goal.
    What I strongly feel that, Ex judiciary must transform the inexact science of Jurisprudence into statistically proven science and help prevent crimes in any and all spheres of life.
    Such prevention will be remembered along the lines of great Indian sages, it won't go unsung.
    Best Wishes.

    1. India's contribution to solution of international political problems/ Legal problems/ administrative problems /media problems, if any are qualitatively and quantitatively infinitesimally small.

  8. "Journalist comment on everything under the sun". By that definition, sir, you are a journalist too as you comment on everything under the sun, moon and universe. Where is your degree in journalism?

  9. होली मुबारक

    अभी 'प्रहलाद' नहीं हुआ है अर्थात प्रजा का आह्लाद नहीं हुआ है.आह्लाद -खुशी -प्रसन्नता जनता को नसीब नहीं है.करों के भार से ,अपहरण -बलात्कार से,चोरी-डकैती ,लूट-मार से,जनता त्राही-त्राही कर रही है.आज फिर आवश्यकता है -'वराह अवतार' की .वराह=वर+अह =वर यानि अच्छा और अह यानी दिन .इस प्रकार वराह अवतार का मतलब है अच्छा दिन -समय आना.जब जनता जागरूक हो जाती है तो अच्छा समय (दिन) आता है और तभी 'प्रहलाद' का जन्म होता है अर्थात प्रजा का आह्लाद होता है =प्रजा की खुशी होती है.ऐसा होने पर ही हिरण्याक्ष तथा हिरण्य कश्यप का अंत हो जाता है अर्थात शोषण और उत्पीडन समाप्त हो जाता है.

  10. Mr Katju now a days media has become "PAY AND PROPAGANDA" even many laws are made or many things are changed as you have mentioned above there should be basic training. In that basic training the trainees are not exposed to original journalism as they were under these some( worst media) their mindset is changed and actuality they don't learn original journalism and continue in their future. First of all the media should maintain values to bring truth out. itte

  11. Mr Katju now a days media has become "PAY AND PROPAGANDA" even many laws are made or many things are changed as you have mentioned above there should be basic training. In that basic training the trainees are not exposed to original journalism as they were under these some( worst media) their mindset is changed and actuality they don't learn original journalism and continue in their future. First of all the media should maintain values to bring truth out. itte

  12. Hi Sir, your recommendations are highly useful for larger interest of people, democracy and journalism; particularly after Radia tape and other similar media scams, it has become that media is not working what it should be working for. It needs regulation and journalists should be given training and punished if they do not follow the professional ethics or code formulated.

  13. Dear Justice Katju,

    Greeting to you.

    You are aware that hate mails against minorities especially muslims and their holy book and Prophet Mohammed is on the rise now. All so called messiah's of freedom of speech (read media) publish comments which are derogatory and inflame hatred against minorities. You may even observed the same in your own blog.

    Iam afraid if this trend is allowed to be continued, may have very bad repercussions and would destroy the social fabric of India and create enmity among people of different denominations, which I believe is against our revered constitution.

    Iam sure this practice is against the Law of the land and offenders can be prosecuted, hence, would request you to kindly issue notices to news medias and website of news papers in general to stop this abominable hate propaganda.

    Your immediate action is this regard, would be highly appreciated.

    Best regards

  14. Today's Mumbai Mirror with Justice sir's photo.

  15. Hats off to your are reaching the new height by your daily dose of are the perfect product of corrupt collegium system of corrupt is the biggest pimps of prostitute govt....and you are the above all biggest jerk in the world...

  16. madarchod tumhare jaison ke biwi bacche nahi marte isliye tum aisi baat karte ho...... only 1 thing "a slut is better thn u".... she loves her country more than u katju..