As a citizen of the world’s largest democracy, we are entitled to rights and are bound by laws to maintain peace and stability in the nation. The essence of democracy was beautifully worded by Abraham Lincoln. Democracy is a government of the people, by the people and for the people.
The populace of the Republic of India have the power to make as well as break the government, both in the state and the centre. But what is the basis on which they act? Information, as stated under Article 19, is a fundamental right that empowers us with knowledge to mould our opinion and take a decision.
But unless the information is being relayed to each and every person residing across the country, it will be worthless. Here is where media comes into the picture. The most efficient mode of delivering information to the common man and enable him to make an educated choice for the betterment of his own life, his family, his society and ultimately, his nation.
Media is the pluralised form of the term ‘medium’, which in this context, is defined as a tool of communication that is used to archive as well as deliver data or information. The industry which deals with this is known as mass media communication industry and it utilises a variety of platforms like printing and publishing, advertising, broadcasting, cinema and photography, to execute its operation.
An ideal media, be it private or government funded, functions independent of influence, providing the people with honest and impartial information. While non-influence and impartiality are two key factors that govern the quality of media, it itself has the power of influencing its consumers and forming a crowd mentality.
That is the authority that this industry has had a monopoly on ever since its conception. This capability definitely makes them a strong factor that can play multiple roles in upholding the standard of governance in our country.
Governance in India
On 26th of November 1949, India had adopted its constitution, and had emerged as a Democratic Republic on 26th January 1950. Ever since then, our nation has grown into being the largest democracy. Our country follows the federal parliamentary system of government. Following the trias politica model, the government has divided its powers into three independent bodies.
Legislative power rests with the Parliament, executive power is vested upon the President and the judicial power is the responsibility of the Supreme Court. While imperatively, these three function in their own limits, they have special authorities to check each other to keep a balance in powers. Prime focus of the political scenario in India is always the legislative bodies.
After all, it is the politicians whom the people have chosen as their representatives and all the schemes, policies, laws and acts are being evaluated and passed under their supervision. The development of our nation as an economy is extensively dependent upon their decisions.
But ever since India has started out as an independent nation, its political timeline has been riddled with scams, corruptions and controversies. Our development has been hindered to such an extent, that contemporary nations like Israel and China which were formed in 1948 and 1949 respectively are well ahead of India in terms of development. Israel has even attained the tag of a developed country.
Corruption in India has been so deep-rooted that it had further worsened the situations that we faced as a young country in the previous century, that were and still are major obstacles in the growth of India namely- poverty, unemployment and lack of education.
While the parliament did roll out schemes and acts to improve upon these aspects, but had the government been more transparent with its governance, corruption would not have damaged the growth of our nation. There were established watchdogs to keep a vigilant eye upon the activity of the government.
The Directorate of Enforcement in 1956 and the Central Vigilance Commission in 1964 were formed for the sole purpose of curbing corruption in the country. But it is substantially evident that even these organisations have not been able to live up to their names.
But on the brighter side, we are developing. Our country is the 7th largest economy and the fastest growing one too, beating China. There do exist policies that encourage start-ups and empower the underprivileged. Inflation rates have gone down along with the fiscal deficit.
The amount of FDI that our country received, as per the budget estimates exceed US$200 billion. Tax reforms and Bankruptcy reforms are working in the favour of banks that have been scammed by corporate vultures. Military stands amongst the best in the world and the new budget allocates US$44 billion for its modernization and upgradation. Life expectancy has boosted up with decrease in IMR and MMR.
There are more dams, nuclear power plants, roads, bridges, railways, airports, etc. today than what there were seventy years ago. Our country is on the road to become a world power by 2030. Hence, even though corruption has slowed us down, development still has not stagnated. But it is an evil that needs to be eradicated.
Merits and Demerits of Media in India
With a population of 1.3 billion, it is not an easy task to make any piece of news or data available to each and every individual resident of our nation. But with the advancement of technology in journalism and digitalisation of the country has made it feasible for them to traverse the 3.28 million square kilometres of geographical area across which India is spread and scoop up information from even the most isolated of the regions.
The Indian media has built a well-connected system across the country. News channels, newspapers, radios, magazines, social media platforms, they have been able to present regional facts and figures in front of the entire nation to assess. This brings the whole country together in a sense of shared sentiment.
An Assamese citizen who has experienced floods will definitely relate to a resident of Kerala when he was exposed to the wrath of the nature earlier 2018, as long as the media is reporting it to him. More importantly, with the variation of culture and ethnicity from one state to another, mass media has helped in indulging tolerance and reducing culture shock.
This has promoted integrity amongst the people from different states living in the same city. Other than that, it usually acts as a platform to promote talent, advertise products and services, entertain and exchange of global ideas and information.
But no matter how positive is may sound, Indian media has a tendency to promote news and information that has generally radiates negative vibes. Our former president, late Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam had once poised a question that validates this observation: Why is the media here so negative? The industry focuses on three major aspects of news namely- Politics, sports and entertainment.
The first aspect, without any dissent, has crept into the other two facets. Hence, making majority of the information that is consumed feel politically motivated. In addition to that, an average Indian person has the capability to easily manipulate others as well as get manipulated himself.
Political leaders and famous personalities use this fact to their advantage and exploit the media. In the end, mass media is operated by human beings, who have time and again proven to be an inherently selfish species. With the greed of money and power, politicians are able to take over the mantle of media companies, virtually destroying its professionalism.
The platforms are used by the political factions to spread their propaganda and secure a greater vote bank for themselves. This is in fact, one of the most despondent news in itself, the other being the huge issue of lack of credibility, which has been plaguing the industry, especially social media, one of the most trending arms of the industry. Such issues lead to distrust of the people in the media, which in their eyes was supposed to be free and fair.
Media and governance
It must be very clear by now that corruption is coursing through the veins of both the media industry as well as the government. Yet the two are in no possible way connected to each other. Media has no defined role in governance. It is not a part of any of the three branches of our democracy. Yet, it plays a vital role of empowering the voices of the citizens and gives them a platform from where they can be heard by their political representatives and lawmakers.
The first Press Commission in India had emphasized on the subject of freedom of press under which, it had clearly defined, that the Press can have its own opinions and receive and deliver information without any interference of the government. This enables the media to be able to access any information they want, publish it in whatever format they desire to, and circulate in whatever manner they see fit. These rights liberate the industry from any kind of pressure from any individual or factions involved in governance of our country, and thus are collectively considered as Freedom of Press.
Freedom of press allows people to build their own opinions and decisions. It helps them make an educated choice based upon extensive knowledge about the topic rather than ignorant guesswork or misinformation. Our first Prime Minister had called the Indian Media ‘the watchdog of our democracy’, this gives the industry an important duty to perform- being a raconteur of our nation. But this communicator has been time and again suppressed by the political Goonda’s.
Yet, we still have hope in the form of the new generation. Digital India policy has exceptionally boosted journalism and outreach of media. The youth of our country is visibly agitated by the inconsistency of the law enforcement departments to curb corruption.
Many independent projects have surfaced using various platforms ranging from internet, newspapers and magazines have come up, fearlessly exposing the incompetence of the personalities in power. They go the distance to provide insightful information about the state of affairs in a citizen’s immediate society as well as the country in general.
They understand the importance of educating the masses, making the people think critically and arrive at a logical conclusion. Their efforts are working in favour of reshaping our democracy into what Lincoln had defined it as. By enlightening the average Indian, we will be able to returning the leash of power back in their hands, making India not just the largest, but also the most efficient democracy in the world.
Achieving a complete ideal governance is a very far-fetched idea. With mass poverty, unemployment and low living conditions still being a huge bother, we can say that our government can still do a better job. This implies that we can improve our governance as long as we can correct the wrong doings, and media plays a very important role in making it possible.
It is this entity which can throw light upon what really matters to the people of our country so that the policy makers realise which direction they have to work upon. At the same time it acts as the fourth, unofficial pillar of democracy, keeping in check the other three- legislation, judiciary and executive.
But its impact will only be felt if it distances itself from the influence of the government. The final aim that media is intended to achieve is to serve the public interest, by utilising multiple outlets and voicing the diverse views that range across the country. Hence if exercised in the proper way, the mass media industry has massive potential to accelerate the growth of India.
“If it were left on me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” ~Thomas Jefferson.