10 April 2014

What has the Media achieved?

Misleading the voter?

As a large section of Indian voters begin to exercise their franchise for Lok Sabha elections 2014, one wonders what has our national television media achieved in the crucial last two weeks, which can influence voting behaviour?
     1. They have quietly allowed the removal of the most important issue: that of corruption.
     2. To do so, they have loudly brought in the issue of communalism - the Hindu-Muslim question.
     3. They have allowed nationalistic jingoism to mix with communalism - the India-Pakistan question.
     4. They have tried to pre-empt voter's thinking by offering 'election opinion polls'.
     In effect, the media has taken the focus away from the Anna Hazare-led and Kejriwal-driven Jan Lokpal anti-corruption movement. What I have seen in the last two weeks is a kind of information blitzkrieg that Goebbels (Hitler's media man) was famous for. Our media has used, abused, and sensationalised communal statements day after day, they have hosted loud and vulgar slanging matches in their so-called 'debates'.

In doing so, they have drowned out the primary concern of the aam aadmi - that of building a corruption-free system by electing clean and honest politicians.
     This is exactly what the major political parties, Congress, BJP, SP, etc., have wanted - to take the focus away from corruption and clean politics, which was embarrassing them because they were seen to be weak and insincere, and instead bring in their favourite game of the Hindu-Muslim identity.
     Some media anchors have weakly tried to defend themselves: 'we are only reporting what is happening'. Sorry, anchors, you have forgotten your job profile. The media's prime responsibility is to report what the aam aadmi feels, what are the things that can make Indian society better, more just, more equitable, more prosperous, more peaceful; what can bring about an honest, credible, corruption-free society? The media has to research this, feel this problem in their hearts, and then take this aam aadmi's feeling to question as well as educate the politician.
    I feel this has become the basic problem over the years - the people in the media do not feel the problem of the nation in their hearts. They are looking at society as if it is outside them, as if all these things do not touch them at all. It appears that just like the politician and babu, the mediaman too has indulged in the system so much that he has also become a khas aadmi now.

Why Opinion Polls?:
     When the media sells itself to advertising companies, it show off its TRP ratings to boast how much it is watched; in effect, telling them the large audience they can reach and influence (to sell their products). But, strangely, when one questions the wisdom of telecasting opinion polls because it may mislead the voter, the media says, oh, but you cannot influence the voter, he has 'his own mind'. This is such a peurile argument.
     If even one per cent of viewers would be influenced, isn't that good enough to not have opinion polls? In a mature civilization, would not the media voluntarily reject such an inane prediction game? The fact is that election polls are completely useless. When the fact is going to come out, officially, in a few weeks, why predict? This is a colonial habit of the race course, predicting which horse will win.Doesn't the media understand that elections are a serious thing, they involve the future of people, society and nation; that it is not just a gambling and entertainment event?
Guru and the Sage:
     I see an important role for religious guidance, the way it used to be in our tradition. The king, too, bowed his head to the revered sage and listened to his advise. That advise was about ethics. The sage, with his interventions, guided society as a whole, from king to commoner, helping keep them to the ethical path, and also to inspire them to work on their own chitta shuddhi.
     Unfortunately, no such thing is being either sought or given in today's society. I have wondered many times why our Shankaracharyas are silent in the face of mounting moral turpitude, why they have not offered guidance to set right our exploitative economic system and blatant profiteering, and to correct our falling ethical standards and growing corruption?
     Of course, one may ask whether there are such people with a sage presence in society? I feel yes, there are many, but they are not to be confused with those who are appearing everyday on media. I respect Shri Ramdev for his work on reviving yoga, preventive health care and ayurveda, and I respect Shri Ravishankar for his work on sudharshan kriya and the Art-of-Living workshops, But neither is the sage or rishi that I refer to. They are 'gurus' who are too close to the trapping of power and pelf and profit, and they have taken sides in a political game being played by the corrupt. The true sage does not stoop, he inspires others to rise.