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Sunday, January 18, 2009

When will Media become responsible?

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More than 50 days have passed since the Mumbai incident but media interest in pursuing the story has not died down at all. I was shocked to see a CNN-IBN report yesterday which spelt out exact details of where and how was Ajmal Kasab being kept. Who are they trying to help by giving out those details and why would any ordinary person be interested in his whereabouts.

Nearly a decade ago during the IC-814 hijacking incident, the media went about asking for public opinion on whether the terrorists should be released or not. If media were to conduct a similar survey on whether should income tax be levied at all, I really doubt how many people would disagree with that. Decisions of national importance are taken in the national interest and not in a populist way. This is something that media has failed to understand and I don’t expect them to learn ever.

Compare the Mumbai incident where 170 people died to the thousands of poor farmers who regularly commit suicide in the countryside. But such incidents are rarely reported. There may be an odd story on this by elite channels like CNN-IBN but that is all what one can expect. Spicy incidents like ‘Arushi murder case’ is just the kind of fodder that the media thrives on, completely oblivious to what happens in the rest of the country.

How long can we continue to ignore the rural belt particularly those in the Bimaru region (Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Orissa)? I remember once a professor of mine posed a hypothetical question to the class,”What if all rural people decide to migrate to cities. Already they live in dire straits and many of them migrate for their survival. They all know that in any case they have to end up in our city slums one day, why not do it today. What if the entire rural population decided to do so? Our entire cities would be turned in slums. “

It is surely a scary thought. Another of my professor said that historically, ‘every developed nation has developed because it had colonies in some form and it exploited the people of its colonies to develop itself’. Countries such as Australia and New Zealand did not have colonies in true sense but they exploited the aborigines or the natives. In US, we had the slave culture. China, which has been growing at a phenomenal rate, too has some form of exploitation. Chinese workers are exploited and not paid any competitive salaries.

So is this ignorance of the Indian society and media for the farmers justified? Is it necessary that some of us are exploited so that the country overall progresses? Unfortunately, I don’t any answers to these questions.

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