Media must question hegemonic assumptions floated by corporates in the name of development.
By A Staff Writer
Nine corporate entities control 90 per cent of the TV news media channels in India and another 40 corporate entities control the remaining 10 per cent channels. This was stated here by Ms. Margaret Alva, former Governor of Rajasthan and Uttarkhand and who was Member of Parliament for several terms. She was inaugurating the two-day workshop on ‘Role of Media in Development and Governance’ organized by the Indian Social Institute, Bengaluru in collaboration with Friedrich Elbert Stiftung, a German institute on November 11.
Ms. Alva said the corporate control of the media sets a dangerous trend as it would lead to total suppression of the exploitation of the masses and of natural resources and the infringement of rights of underprivileged masses. She said two persons were allegedly killed by the car driven by Aakash Ambani, son of industrialist Mukesh Ambani last December, but the industrial house saw to it that no newspaper reported the accident. Only websites reported the accident. Some newsportals who reported it immediately, deleted the item by evening and some newspapers omitted the reference to the Aston Martin car which belonged to Reliance group.
Noted Mediapersons Ousted
She said CNN-IBN chief Rajdeep Sardesai and his wife were asked to fall in line with the new dispensation in Delhi and were made to quit the channel after the new government stepped into power. The Doordarshan broadcast the message by RSS chief on Father of the Nation’s birthday on October 2 while it is widely known that assassin of the Mahatma was affiliated to the saffron outfit. She said media was promoting the consumer culture and was interested only in such sensational news and events that boost its TRP rating.
Ms. Alva said she wrote a piece on late Mrs. Indira Gandhi to be published on the 30th anniversary of her martyrdom, and approached five leading dailies, but no one agreed to publish it. She said a law is being pushed forward to bring about change in acquisition of land, but no newspaper would write about it. “Anger of people cannot be heard and dissent is suppressed”, she lamented. Ms. Alva said, Airports are being now sold to private parties causing grave threat to nation’s security. “Even apples and bananas are being imported and China was able to sell us even idols of Hindu deities and agarbattis even while a chant of ‘Make in India’ is being raised ad nauseum. She said there is a mismatch between media and the people with the former toeing the line of the corporates.
Few Families own all the Wealth
Rajeshwar Dayal, former director of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, run by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, said the topic of the seminar calls for elaborate research. He said only 8,043 families in India own 80% of India’s wealth (according to him, these figures were quoted by Mr. Pranab K. Mukherjee in the Parliament, when he was Finance Minister of India.). Another 17 to 18 per cent of the wealth was owned by middle classes while just two per cent of national wealth remained to be shared by nearly one billion poor Indians. Dayal said a survey conducted 10 years ago revealed that only one per cent of newspaper space was devoted to women’s issues who constitute half the nation’s population.
He said the relationship between media, Government and people has gone for massive change in recent months. The Prime Minister carried only reporters from the official media like Doordarshan and Akashvani to the US on his trip to the UN and the US. He said journalist Shalini Singh and Siddharth Varadarajan were sacked unceremoniously from The Times of India and The Hindunewspapers prior to the change in government at Delhi.
He said, the fascist organizations are trying to usurp the social media too by setting up organized outfits to assault those who write a line against saffron bodies and their agenda. He said Rs. 30,000 crores were spent on ‘carpet-bombing’ of the users of social media by the saffron outfits.
Dayal said Union Finance Minister Mr. Arun Jaitley openly says that land acquisition laws would be changed for land to be acquired for industrial and SEZs, but the media refuses to write anything critical about it. “Already 65 million people, mainly adivasis had been dislodged and dislocated from the forest lands acquired for mining, dams and highways, and wondered what would be store if land of the poor was acquired for the corporate.
Development should be All-inclusive
Noted Economist Prof. Abdul Aziz, speaking on ‘Development and Governance: Possibilities and Challenges’, said over the last few decades, the economists have collaborated closely with sociologists to take the benefits of growth to common masses. He said sustained increase in per capita income is growth, but sociologists stress on fair distribution of income for all round development. He said the development should be people-centric. He said in the last two Five-year Plans, the Planning Commission came up with prescription for ‘inclusive growth’ in order to make the process participatory and still later with ‘sustainable growth’ to take care of the environmental concerns.
Journalist M. A. Siraj addressing the participants said media should not abdicate its responsibility to question hegemonic assumptions such as promoting medical tourism to earn Rs.3 billion rather than organizing hospitals so that all infants could be born in hospitals; promoting cars on the roads and causing congestion rather than making public transport available for general masses. Quoting Prof. Peter Newman, transportation expert from the University of Perth, he said, normally 175 cars on the city roads carry 270 people, who could be carried by three buses or a tram with two carriages. This clearly showed that a reliable public transport was more desirable than bringing 175 cars on the roads which consume huge space and cause oil bills to boom. He said development debate happening in the elite media could easily obscure the needs of the masses if journalists are not sensitive enough to perceive the agenda of the corporate owned media.
Fr. Prakash Louis, Director of the Indian Social Institute welcomed the gathering. Coordinator Sagaya Shanthi proposed a vote of thanks.
(Media blackout of the accident can be seen on : http://www.kractivist.org/mukesh-ambanis-son-allegedly-kills-2-in-a-car-accident-media-blacks-out-the-news-wtfnews/)