Editorial Brief: A look into Indian Media
About the Editorial: This editorial puts forward the comparative analysis about the Indian media today and what it used to be during the Gandhian era. The editorial focused on the changing trend of Media. Though the editorial is based on the personal belief of the a Congress leader but we shall be discussing only those aspects that would be helpful in our UPSC IAS examinations.
Possible Mains Question: Indian media has undergone drastic changes since its independence. With respect to the Gandhian views regarding Journalism, throw light on the changing trend of media.
Media is one of the four critically important pillars on which democracy is based. This pillar holds a critical importance as it plays a major role in influencing the minds of millions and shaping the nature of nationalism that prevails in a country. Since independence, there is a lot that has undergone change, be it the way media reflecting the key policies of government or the way it is contribution toward maintaining a regional communal balance.
Gandhi’s Journalism: What it used to be?
It was in England, when Gandhi started as journalist with ‘Vegetarian’ before he started his own weekly newspaper called ‘Indian Opinion’ in South India. When he returned to India, he laid the foundation of a number of publications including Navjivan, Young India and Harijan that proved to be an effective platform for the freedom movement. Looking from the Gandhian point of view, media has played critical role when it came to bind the Indian together all over the world. During his course of Satyagraha in South Africa, it was Indian Opinion that kept Indian across the globe in touch with the course of events. He was a firm supporter of regional media which is evident from the fact that the Indian Opinion was published in four different languages i.e., English, Gujarati, Hindi and Tamil. Gandhian views considered journalism as an effective tool that should be accessible and empowering.
The present scenario
The Gandhian principles puts up the responsibility of speaking truth and ensuring transparency and accountability on the media but today, the scenario is entirely different when media nowadays is bound to serve the government of the day, hence putting up no questions at the press conferences. There are a number of instances when media stood still in a place where it should had been in the forefront. Some of these includes:
- During the 2019 General Elections, the mainstream media avoided asking hard questions on economy despite the trend of popular economic slowdown.
- Even when the Govt. decided to reject the Periodic Labour Force Survey that records the levels of unemployment, the media did not put up any questions.
- Media was silent even when the data found on unemployment to be true and valid and there was no expected outrage from the side of media on such a critical issue.
- Further, there is a straight away denial from the Modi Government for advertising to some media houses which is opposed to the Gandhi’s views who had no problem with big businesses and advertising platforms.
The service conditions of Journalists today is also deteriorating. According to thePress Freedom Index,which was released by the Reporters Without Bordersin August this year, India was ranked at140th position out of 180 countries. The report further highlighted how criminal prosecutions, specially one against sedition, is rampantly being used to falsify and suppress the journalists. The most prominent journalists deaths in the past years was of Gauri Lankesh, who was a strong critic of the communal politics. Other includes Chandan Tiwari, Mohammand Sohail Khan and many more. The growing menace of fake news is another important factor that hampers the Indian media. Gandhi considered the publication of fake news as a “crime against humanity”. The trend of fake news has impacted to such an extent that even the doctored videos became the basis for demonising the student leaders of popular universities and the prime TV debates which can trigger a sense of hatred among group of people. Social media which was supposed to be a platform to empower citizens by allowing them to share their ideas, is now so much indulged in this fake news trend that even a whatsap message alone is enough for triggering a mob to lynch people.
The privileged position that has been provided to those who can influence thinking, behavior and attitudes is being misused for the political and personal gains. Indian media, which played a crucial role in our freedom struggle to maintain the integrity and unity among the people within as well as those outside the country, is now facing severe crisis as it has became a platform to put forward only the better side of the coin in the favour of the powerful. source: the hindu