Friday, March 25, 2011

The New Dilemma

 When Alex Perry was detained for the malicious report in the Time magazine. it was viewed as an act of national pride. But when the very next day the government moved towards FDI in the print, Perry attained Is sainthood and his report was added to the golden annals of the history of journalism. Today Perry qualifies to be  nominated for a Pulitzer. Time can now start their own edition in the national capital to peep into the health reports and competency of many more leaders in future.
 Forget about the ban on the visual media in the Kerala Assembly, or the recent raids on Surya TV in Trivandrum or the hunting of Tehelka men or the Nakkeeran's travails; for these instances can be dismissed as the false prejudices of immature politi­cians. But the government's han­dling of the Time report and the surprise decision to allow FDI in print speaks out the illegal nexus the politicians have with the media and how media bargains with them. It was something like cursing the enemy in public and host­ing a feast for him at home. This has been the relationship the ruling class have in most of the so-called modern democracies and of course the media returns it. Now we can anticipate a sober report of the Indian prime minister or of his virtues in the near future in Time.
If the decision on FDI in the print is a compromise with the global media on issues of strategic and diplomatic importance like Kashmir or a political game to save the government's face on issues of, criminal negligence like the Godhra carnage, it is more danger­ous. This indicates the birth of a new political culture where media­-political coteries decides upon a nation's policy or control its activ­ities. The power of the Jewish lobby in the US media and their involvement in shaping the US pol­icy on West Asian crisis is the best example. Media's relationship with a national government or a ruling political party must be symbiotic in broader terms and not of protecting mutual interests. Media initiates the social-political dialogue from within the society, the government takes over it, makes necessary acts or implement welfare measures then its back to the media, which completes the cycle through its evaluations. Thus it's a cyclic process in the social echo-system.
Today the media has gone very far from its basic, functions. Instead of setting the agenda it now carries with it the programmes and hidden agendas of the party in power, or works upon an agenda· determined by the coterie. Thus along with these powers media also stand to gain and hence such destructive deci­sions like the foreign direct investment in the print despite the curse showered on the government by a foreign media. So powerful is the coterie.
This is also a case in point how media tries to bargain for the favours. The FTV recent­ly showed a superimposed image of a Hindu diety (this is now regularly shown) in the much criticised 'lingerie show' programme of the chan­nel. None of the theories of Hindutva would apply here. One should remember that it was this same political power, which once banned this chan­nel, later withdrew its deci­sion in a week. It also banned an advertisement of a popular bath soap on charges that the commer­cial was obscene.
Now we have plenty of ads depicting nude and semi-nude men and women. But the government is not bothered. The Indian Express group recently launched an adver­tisement in a national magazine for its Sunday Express which is not only obscene but also advocates a new culture for its readers. This ad is not advisable for a respected newspaper. The caption of the advertisement says, "all is pack­aged in a sassy new look." If the image shown in the ad is symbolic of the sassy new look, then the implication is much serious. Was the Express preparing to compete the soon to arrive foreign media?
Perry's report and the Sunday Express ad are only pointers to the evolving nature of the media in our country. If we want a change it should start from the media per­sons, that they would never be bandwagons of anybody.

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