By Amit Chamaria
30 December, 2006
It is obvious truth that reinforced building is made up by the proper combination of mainly, bricks, cement, sand, small stones and iron rods. In fact these are the essential elements without which the existence of the reinforced building is only an imagination.
Similar situation is with the word ‘Democracy’. Like reinforced buildings, there are mainly three constituents of Democracy that is legislature, executive, and judiciary and essentially, media is considered as the fourth pillar of democracy. For the healthy democracy, purity with in the constituent elements is essential. ” Only pure things can make pure products.”
A very common definition of Democracy advocated by Abraham Lincoln is-“Democracy is of the people, for the people and by the people.” Not especially for only India but for the whole world where the Democracy exists, it includes the proper representation of the all the people where people are divided among various castes, classes, religions and ethnic groups. Without proper representation in the constituents they can’t function properly. In fact the constituents of the Democracy can formed a pure and healthy democracy only if the constituents have been formed in it selves in a democratic way.
Media is the mirror of the society. In fact it provides the direction where democratic constituents imbalances. But if the media in itself is not arranged in a democratic way, how can it gives the messages about democracy.
Ironically, the most prominent exponent of democracy is media but a recent survey report about the dominance of the upper castes in media highlighted by a group of journalists named as Mr. Yogendra Yadav, Mr. Anil Chamadia, and Jitendra Kumar is sufficient to understand that how far media is democratic. In this short survey, the social background of 315 key decision makers of the 37 Delhi based (Hindi and English) publications and Television channels have been underlined. They are predominantly Hindu upper caste and male. Almost 90% of decision- makers in the English language print media and 79% in television are of the upper caste, although the upper castes are about 16% of the country population; Brahmin alone constitute 49% of this segment, and 71% of the total are upper caste men. Not one of the 315 is a Dalit or an Adivasi. Only 4% are OBC, 3% are Muslims (13.4% of the country’s population). Christians do better (4%) as a proportion of their population (2.3%). Women are vastly under represented, 17% of the total, although they do better (32%) in the English language electronic media. However this survey report is pithy.
However, having lack of social diversity per se, the messages given by the media about the social diversity for various milieu of the society are worthless. More often political party rhetoric, electoral agenda have been criticized by the media for using caste and religious affiliations and alliances as parameters .The English language media is critical of this trend in politics, in its view, reduced the citizenry top the ‘vote bank’. But also the media does favour the certain section of individuals both at the time of recruitment and reporting. The recent reporting during the Reservation controversies is a burning example to show that how far media goes to take favour the certain section of individuals during the coverage of the story and news of a particular incident. During this period media has covered only one-sided story.
In this scenario, an eminent sociologist T.B. Bottomore argues that a truly democratic national government will only be possible when all the major institutions of society operates on democratic principles. Very often media suggests about the modern policies and programmes for India to becoming a Developed State.” Even media in it self is still away from modernity. Modernity can’t be achieved only by modern infrastructures. Most of the media organizations, particularly English news paper and channels take all the tips that is useful only for businesses purpose from the U.S.A. but they always forget that American Media do something else which is
very close to rationality and modernity. It is true that, according to N. Ram American society of Newspaper Editors has been starting a diversity programme since 1978 and it has tried to cover up all the communities in proportionate way so that the role of media could do their function properly in the democratic way. America has 33% minority of the total population. Owing to the diversity programme since 1978 American media has got some success to achieve the target, as a result, presently, The New York times has 19% minority, The Washington Post has 23%, The wall Street Journal 17.7% and The Los angels times has 18.6%. Minority. But it is very shameful that barring this diversity programme, the Indian media has tried to adopt most of the programmes and policies of the American media.
It is obvious that social order can be established in the society if and only if the proper coordination among the various constituents exists and in addition to this proper coordination can be established if the constituents are arranged on the basis of democratic and rational principle. So media firstly should adopt the democratic and modern notions. Other wise the faith of the individuals on media will be debilitated.
Amit Chamaria is a freelance journalist and can be reached at amitchamaria@ yahoo.co.in