By Pramod Kumar
“Since media has a great impact on all walks of life including social, political and economic, in any of the country, its responsibility becomes very important. But the way commercial forces have today made it a medium of earning profit, the crisis of credibility has deepened for the media, both print and electronic,” said Shri P.A. Sangma, former Lok Sabha Speaker. He was delivering the keynote address at a seminar on Media and Future of India, organised by Hindusthan Samachar, the leading multi-lingual news agency, on December 18 in New Delhi. Shri Sangma also released a poetry book Satyam Ekamev, composed by Shri Ramshankar Agnihotri, who has recently been elected president of the news agency. Intellectuals, scholars and distinguished people, associated with different media institutions of the country, assembled at the seminar. Journalists of Hindusthan Samachar from different parts of the country were also invited.
Shri Sangma said the media has played a crucial role in social development since the eighteenth century. “But with change of time, the growing involvement of commercial forces have developed a serious crisis of credibility for it. Today, the media lacks transparency. Presentation of news has changed due to commercialisation. Facts have become irrelevant. The media needs to rethink on this suicidal new trend. Corporate culture must be stopped in the media, otherwise the fourth pillar of democracy will itself be ruined,” he added.
Presiding over the seminar Shri Charanjit Singh Atwal, Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha, said the media had played an important role during the freedom struggle. “This fourth pillar of democracy has the strength to improve or ruin the democracy. At the time when the country was facing many problems, the role of media became very crucial. People trust the media. Hence the people’s trust and faith should remain intact. The media should abstain from airing wrong, misleading or negative news,” he added.
Shri Achyutanand Mishra, senior journalist, said that the media was today protecting the interests of advertisers and not of the readers or audiences. “Media has today become an instrument to propagate the lies of advertisers at the cost of its own credibility due to the tendency to earn profit among publishers or heads of media institutions. It appears the media has not been able to fulfill the expectations of the people and its credibility is at stake. It has also developed more challenges before the democracy. Need of the hour is that the media should itself evaluate its performance and re-identifying its responsibilities it should behave in a responsible manner,” he added. Conducting the proceedings of the seminar, Dr Nand Kishore Trikha, veteran journalist and secretary of the news agency, said that the Hindusthan Samachar had been revived to save the asmita of Indian languages.
Speaking on the occasion, Maj. Gen. (Retd.) B.C. Khanduri, former Union Minister for Surface Transport, cautioned the country against the dangers posed to its internal security. Speaking on ‘Media and Security of country’, he advised the media to abstain from sensationalising the news related to the army. “Media should leave the mentality of holding the army responsible for the crime committed by an individual. Terrorism and infiltration should also be included in the dangers posed to internal security,” he said, calling upon the media to highlight nationalist news and keep national interest supreme. Shri Milind Gadgil, editor of Tarun Bharat, Mumbai, said the media worked against the interest of the country while reporting news of certain defence scandals, in which certain international pressure groups had vested interest. He said media should abstain from airing or publishing sensational news on defence matters without any concrete evidence.
Shri Shahid Rahim, senior journalist, described the Bangladeshi infiltrators as the biggest menace to internal security. He pointed out that there were over 1.27 crore Bangladeshi infiltrators in the country. “Only 20,000 of them are Hindus; the rest are Muslims. After 1971, over one crore Bangladeshis have entered and settled in India,” he said.
Speaking at another session, Prof. Mohan Lal Chhipa, Vice Chancellor of Dayanand University, said the whole world was looking at the Hindu way of life as an alternative in times of terrorism. He said today both Christians and Muslims were looking at each other as enemies. He stressed the need to create awareness against terrorism and religious fundamentalism. He said that organisations engaged in spreading a positive outlook should come forward for this cause. Brig. (retd.) Raj Bahadur Sharma said that the government of India must put pressure on the Bangladesh government to destroy terrorist training camps in operation on its soil as had been done by Bhutan.