Monday, June 21, 2010
What is wrong with the Indian media?
Bihar’s police blinded a dozen undertrials with cycle spokes and acid in Bhagalpur (the story of this casual act of punishment took weeks to emerge). Government engineers on deputation regularly abused tribal women, and there was no end to stories about the barbarism in the Indian village (there still is no end).
But there was always something missing from this journalism, and it is this: You could read Indian newspapers every day for 30 years and still not know why India is this way. The job of newspapers is, or is supposed to be, to tell its readers five things: who, when, where, what and why. Most newspapers make do with only three of these and are unlikely to really tell you “what”. This is because urban Indians are tired now of reading the horror stories that come out of our villages. Only a couple of newspapers, such as TheIndian Express, persist in reporting news that isn’t pleasant, and they haven’t much circulation.
No newspaper at all can tell you “why”, because they do not know themselves. The same stories from 30, 50, 100 or 500 years ago keep repeating here, and the peasant will still murder his daughter for falling in love. The happenings in the city are also difficult to understand. The news from May was that Delhi University sold radioactive Cobalt-60 as scrap. This killed the merchant who bought it and crippled another. The university, which is supposed to be a research body, had unthinkingly buried some of the other Cobalt-60 earlier and this will poison the ground.
Why are we so casual? Nobody can say, and there will be an explanation along the lines that it was an accident. But this will happen again, of course.
Union Carbide’s plant in Bhopal was owned by Americans. But it was managed, staffed and run by Indians. Its foreman was Indian and its workers were Indian. Why were they so casual about their own safety? The media doesn’t know, but it is convinced the solution lies with getting Warren Anderson.
From Aakar Patel's article in Livemint. More Here.