Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Media Ethics : Making of a Pramod Mahajan

In June 1980 when Sanjay Gandhi died in an aircrash the entire country came to standstill particularly for the government controlled electronic media. We witnessed tribute by the ministers and every one in the Congress party. Those like us who were young students felt dismayed over the nature of tributes and broadcasting. It was an opportunity for the 'chatukars' to show their loyalty to the highcommand. We remained helpless in hearing those imposed obituries on radio and tv.

Nearly 27 years later, when Pramod Mahajan died, the media this time was not controlled by the government and yet fully obliged by going overboard. No doubt, Mahajan was BJP's breadwinner, a great networker, but does that make him take so much of space on our TV channels. Not only TV channels, the magazines and newspapers who normally do not carry the same headlines which tv channels do, devoted large space to him.
One need to ask the question to our editors as what was Mahajan's contribution to our national life. We all know how contemptuous our media is towards the political leaders. Our channels cannot understand the popularity of Dr Rajkumar in Karnataka ? How many of us showed the same kind of senstivity in reporting from Banglore ? Late President K R Narayanan died a few months back ? What did our channels show ? They perhaps did not have time to give some tributes and backgrounder of his life. Yes, we witnessed just a 2 minutes story or 4 column report.
This time it was not the government media but so called private channels. We did not really have that much of option as journos were obsessed with Mahajan puran. I respect Mahajan and also his families right to grieve in private. Did the media give them space to do so ? So we not allow people to moan their near and dear one. BBC and CNN never broadcast things such as we watch on our TVs. Editors will have to think of media ethics.
watching the other story along with Mahajan was reporting on OBC quota. One fact is clear that there is no organise movement against quota in the country. Yet, this has taken more space than anything else. A small march of 300-500 people is presented as an all India protest against quota. One should not forget how student organised themselves during the JP movement or even anti Mandal agitation in North India. One need to argue why the voices in support of reservation have remained unheard. Why is that the rallies in support of reservation are not reported.

I am not surprised as why this happen. Going through the websites of many news channels as well as newspapers, we are witnessing an aggrassive hate mongering propaganda all over. These hate mails are against any one who talk of sanity and human rights. Perhaps, that is one reason why the channels seems to be doing a 'balancing act'. Bring one Sitaram Yetchury and then counter him with a saffron Ravi Shankar Prasad or Abhishek Manu Singhvi of Congress. To keep religious gurus also in good humour, good to invite Swami Agnivesh or an Udit Raj for speaking for Dalits. Don't you in the media promote identities. You have fix secular people to respond on Gujarat. You never look for new people working on ground. Since activisim in India means these days filing a PIL in Supreme Court or do some Hangama at Rajghat or Jantar Mantar, those who are silently working on the ground leave your attention. That is why the well connected maverics masqurading as leaders are being projected as great leaders, future ministers or future Prime Ministers. Similarly, things are true with other 'experts' also who do 'social work'. Ultimately, almost all of them have similar high profile background.

Which brings us to question that is it media which make and unmake a leader ? Perhaps the reporter sitting at the studios might think so. If we allow the reporters to make prime ministers of India, you will be making an Amitabh Bachchan, a Sachin Tendulkar, an Amar Singh, Rajeev Shukla or Mahendra Singh Dhoni, an Aishwarya Ray or Nandal Nilkeni as our leaders. Thankfully, Indian people do not vote according to the fancies of anchors sitting in the studios otherwise we would have been in difficult times.