Freedom and Indian Media

press freedom

The Odd – Even ‘Experiment’ came and went again. For 15 days Only. Wonder why we do in spurts or need brakes. I really am unable to understand the thinking of Arvind Kejriwal. But it invariably leads to bill boards, hoardings, TV Ads and full page ads in newspapers reaching out to people beyond Delhi. The 2 crores population of Delhi pays to reach out to 130 crore Indians to inform them on ‘Odd-Even’ rule?

Ajay Maken had approached the Delhi High Court to restrain Arvind Kejriwal from spending money on ads communicating beyond the state of Delhi. I completely agree with Ajay Maken. AAP is responsible and accountable to the people of Delhi and everything else is wastage at Delhi tax payers cost. Every chief minister with aspirations beyond his/her state has been guilty of wastage at tax payers expense to fund their own aspirations. Sheila Dixit, Vasundhara Raje, Mulayam, Narendra Modi, Arvind Kejriwal etc. The list is inclusive and every Chief Minister is guilty. The current state of top media houses is even more pitiful.

NDTV is having a live telecast of the Bipasha- Karan wedding and TOI is devoting pages to Hrithik- Kangana mails and affair while Assam is facing floods and 100,000 people are affected. But then Assam floods cannot be blamed on Pakistan. It doesn’t harness our jingoism too. Let Assam suffer. What next NDTV – Live telecast of possibly the honeymoon of Bipasha- Karan!

But then who will broadcast the biggest environment disaster of FOREST FIRES ACROSS UTTARAKHAND…lakhs of tress and plantations destroyed…land mafia, villagers’ timber mafia and Uttarakhand govt. to be blamed.

Even the severe drought and its forced distress upon 33 crores rural masses of entire country is not bothering our scholarly elite and corporate media.

Uttarakhand forests lost their green colour due to huge fires and looking in blazing orange colour, a shocking environmental catastrophe. But none bothers. Telangana sees mass exodus to safer places elsewhere. Andhra ruling real estate centric political mafia is butchering green paddy fields to turn it into Amaravathi an anti people Capital.

Misplaced priorities or Chosen model of destructive development? Let us cry foul… or sleep till the vultures picnic is over… murmuring Mera Bharat Mahaan.

The TV stations are only reflecting the attitudes and approaches of the Indian population. In the midst of one the severest droughts of the century, a large percentage of this class/group can’t be bothered to reduce their water use. I personally know people who wanted to keep swimming pools open because ‘children have time to enjoy only in summers!’ I don’t think I know parents (particularly from this class/group) trying to install empathy and social responsibility in their wards.

Another scenario here, In IPL this year, the team, Delhi Daredevils are sponsored by ‘ManForce’ a condom brand. The brand name itself is violative in every which way. It looks like the guy who named had potency issues. I mean, how do you name a brand ‘Man Force’? Cricket is followed by children and they wear these jerseys. How did DD go with this violative and molester of a brand? More importantly, how did the IPL committee agreed to this. India is a free country, a democratic one and companies can name themselves whatever they want but shouldn’t they then restrict to their niche audience.

Also, TV no longer seems to be mainstream media. If you want news, you have to go visit website of The Hindu, Indian Express or Scroll, some of most authentic news providers in the country. If you are consuming news from TV, it means that you are living 10 years behind. Vernacular news papers online webs can also give you real issues. But TV- thats just ‘newstainment’ only.

But I suppose we shouldn’t blame media completely. After all, it just reflects the viewers taste. People are looking for Bipasa Basu rather than Nana Patekar who donated for farmers. It’s all for TRP.

Is it really surprising then that India was placed at 140th in world for press freedom.

Uttarakhand fires, Assam floods and the nationwide drought are natural calamities, therefore the TV channel anchors can’t have frenzied debates between the affected and the other side, which is probably God Almighty himself. Therefore no TRP’s and no viewers and no advertising. So that’s the reality. If you think these channels are news channels, then you are mistaken. Aren’t they drama companies and circuses in the name of media if so?

However, the real reason is alarmingly different that threatens freedom of expression and even democracy. CMs and Governments advertise in the media to actually buy them out and go soft on their misdeeds. It is as good as paying Hafta or Ransom. If the Delhi high court were to impose a restriction, it not just saves precious tax payers money, but more importantly will ensure unbiased coverage of state politics by the national media and make us a more vibrant democracy. Media will be sharper, deeper and fairer.

But this is one move that will bring the politicians and the media houses together. And no journalist will ever protest threat to free speech and expression. And that is the irony.

Most journalism on education is fed by educational institutions. It is a web of misleading info and outright lies. Now Start up journalism is what VCs feed as fodder to starved media. It is all about valuations and the size of the raise (sounds awful, isn’t it?). They rarely probe the terms of agreement. They never question your performance. What is disclosed is splashed to upstarts as start up news. Silent start ups – funded by passion, commitment and conviction have no place. And this journalism will mislead and possibly ruin our startup ecosystem.

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