Indian Media: Still The Fourth Pillar Of Democracy?
Media plays a significant role in politics as it sways public opinion and helps formulate and take up the issues. It can keep the power in check and draw clarity in actions. But what if the media devotes itself to a controversial role and compromises its responsibility of holding the state liable?
Media also known as the fourth pillar of Democracy and the perfect companion to Indian Politics has been an important part of the ruling government for generations. And for quite a long had a choice and role in the political terminology of the country.
But, after years of existing as the voice that brought social transition, it’s now being regulated and exploited by the authorities.
Post India’s liberation from the British Rule in 1947, the nation has depended on newspapers to get their daily tonic of information. Many people still religiously follow it because of the media’s crucial influence on India’s freedom movement and its role as a guard of the public interest and caretaker of democracy.
Where this just one half of the truth, the other half, also make us comprehend that media has always been passive while the government celebrated dominance over the press.
Outlining this we head back to 1782 colonial India when the first newspaper, James Augustus Hicky’s Bengal Gazette (1780) glimpsed an abolition solely because of its objection of the East India Company just after two years, faltering for the adoration for the company appropriately dictates the position of the two in the broader context. It further retains it’s positional applicability in 21st Century India, with the only modification, it’s very easy for them to compromise.
Now, the media is found naming a valid price for itself and whosoever compensates the cost finds the barter easily.
Press freedom has been deteriorating in India over the former five years
The current media situation appears to harken back to how it was at the juncture of 1975 to 1977 “internal disturbance,” when the practices of the press were governed. Back then, strict rules were inflicted on the agencies, concluding in the desertion of press freedom.
Likewise in the General Elections of 2014, sponsored the tagline of the Bharatiya Janta Party was, “Abki Baar Modi Sarkaar” and “Ache din,” and clearly we all fell to this mania and paved the way for what we undergo till now.
Media apparently had a significant role in BJP’s win of 2014 and again demanded it in 2019, the backing of media beginning again relentlessly has only footprints of growth and no veritable stopping that could be seen as of now. The Bharatiya Janata Party is increasingly interfering with the rights of the media with regulations similar to former British-Raj rules. The party has frightened to stress journalists who don’t respect the Hindu-patriot administration’s beliefs.
This clearly shows that today’s media, under either warning, luring, or manipulations, is not only sneaking but is happily licking the ‘boots’ of the present government and wagging their tails to satisfy their ‘masters’ by publishing the government’s memoirs.
It also points out that media is more influential than any army could ever be. They can establish viewpoints, alter opinions, formulate emotions, and also formulate existences accordingly.
Having the ability to literally bring transformation, how does the existing media practice such power(s)?
Utilized as a publicity machine, the media today most clearly seems to lack the law of objective and unbiased reporting. Many important organizations without contemplating pick one side of the political agenda as they say, “the one in power is always right” and adequately provides biased coverage or at nastier, to act like a salesperson or a puppet for a specific political party.
The credits for the ongoing long-time crisis of the Indian media likewise goes to the journalists holding the validation sign for the ruling government. In a period of fictitious news and decreasing faith in media, a feeble class of journalists could eventually lead to the demise of the very democracy that defines contemporary India.
A recent example of biased media would be, November 2016, when the BJP government unexpectedly recollected 86% of the country’s circulating bank notes – to fight corruption and media outlets, pursuing the guidelines of the government, neglected to ask significant questions or hold it accountable for the economic backlash.
By initially praising what most of the economists of the country referred to as a ‘hazardous move’ and by ‘selling’ everything the government said, journalists agreed in unraveling the awareness that bogus economics could decipher big problems, and in the end, India’s growth rate declined for several quarters.
Evidently, India’s affair with the freedom of the press is the exact same as its affair with neoliberalism at large.
The Modi government has accordingly manipulated its growth data. In an open letter addressed to the PMO last March, more than a hundred economists and social scientists conveyed their concerns viewing India’s statistical machinery that was being “manipulated” by favorable political agendas. And expectedly Indian media hardly encircled the letter’s release.
But what happens if some of the journalists with spines try to unravel the truth?
They are destroyed completely. Like what can be worse than over ten police grievances have been filed against a journalist who risked his life and who reported about ‘India’s migrant disaster,’ that unfurled with the size as massive as the pandemic in this nation.
Considering a public database, an approx. of 600 individuals have lost their lives because of the surprising nature of the lockdown on account of reasons such as mental pressure, starvation, suicide, and police brutality. Well, we all the citizens of India need to learn about these crucial issues in the news so that they can try to assist people who are vulnerable, but our news-channels are busy conducting their ‘so-called-debates on prime-time.’
In each of these issues – the nation’s “INFLUENTIAL” TV outlets – worked largely as directed by their ringmasters. Though within the mainstream, there proceed to be some exceptions, like that of New Delhi Television (NDTV) or The Hindu and some others that continue to stand for the right despite the political pressures.
The certainty in which we live in
The sad reality is that most of the voters across the country have surrendered their faith in the media and the government which makes it fairly difficult to urge a large crowd to go out of the way and vote these days because of the government’s politics if hiding the reality from the world. People have acknowledged that this is how things are invariably going to be.
Thus, we also need some level of positiveness from the voters’ side. It’s high time, we need to understand that this venomous alliance is damaging the country’s self-governing status and is clearly controversial on moral grounds if it is still considered, not merely taken as political humor.
Breathing the fourth-estate, media carries some serious responsibilities towards its solicitors and it should not undermine its realism for such spineless and temporary alliance with the government.