A much debated issue is the role of media in crises resolution and this has acquired special importance in the current crisis confronting the Central as well as the Jammu & Kashmir government.
In February 2004, India and Pakistan resumed the process to normalise their relations after half a decade of confrontation over Kashmir which could have had catastrophic consequences. A similar process in 1997-98 had resulted in the signing of the Lahore Declaration which had restored Kashmir settlement as a key to peace in South Asia. However, the conflict over Kargil in the disputed region brought India and Pakistan back to the confrontational path.
In this scenario, the book tries to assess the viability of the renewed ‘composite’ dialogue’ vis-à-vis Kashmir with reference to a sort of comparative study of the two national newspapers from the second round of composite dialogue to the third until the break due to the Mumbai blast of 2006.
It is normally felt that when engaged in peace negotiations, the news media should be kept out. The greater the level of media involvement, the more likely the talks will fail.
The author speaks of corporate ownership which is killing hard-hitting journalism and the emergence of global media system whereas earlier the media systems were essentially national.
The author also describes the role played by international media in the Israel-Palestine, US-Iraq, US-Taliban conflicts and as for India, he says the revamped news media, influenced by the global media system, now focus more on fashion designers and beauty contests than on the dark realities of a poor democratic country. At the same time in countries under dictatorship, popular ideas can be silenced while unpleasant facts kept dark without any need for an official ban. As the media conglomerate spread its tentacles, there is every likelihood of an increase in the spread of popular tastes as can be seen from the fact that the Bollywood industry is developing close ties with global media and in turn, “the entire global regime is the result of neo-liberal political policies urged on by the US government.” -MG
(Kalpaz Publications, C-30, Satyawati Nagar, Delhi-110 052; [email protected])