Introduction – Indian media being the eyes and ears of the people of India has a huge responsibility of providing the people with credible and reliable information free from any sort of bias, prejudices, interests or association. Media being regarded as the fourth pillar of democracy in the modern time makes it indispensable for the smooth and healthy functioning of the nation.
Constitutional Position of Indian Media – In 1947, when India achieved Independence, there was a debate in the constituent assembly over the status of media in the Constitution of India. After much deliberation, no special mention to media was provided in the constitution. Dr. B.R Ambedkar said that the rights of media to report and publish is covered/implied Article 19(1) of Indian Constitution – “Freedom of speech and Expression” This meant that Indian media has no special rights with respect to others citizens of the country.
What is Indian Media comprised of – Indian Media includes newspapers, magazines, websites, Blogs, Radio, Videos and other possible means which can impart information in a swift manner to maximum number of people.
In India Media is under two heads.
Significance of Indian Media – Being the 2nd most populated and 2nd largest country in the world the role of Indian media becomes very challenging as it has to cater to a huge audience separated by vast distances. One more problem faced by Indian media is the language barrier. The same news has to be broadcasted in many languages.
The pressure being faced by media persons during views coverage.
1. Covering news from disaster hit areas like the recent Uttarakhand and Chennai floods.
2. Covering news from war hit areas.
3. Facing threat of life like the case of a reporter found dead while reporting leaving the Vyapam Scandal.
Tasks performed by the Indian media have also evolved with time. In addition to their normal reporting work they are also entrusted with:-
1. Disseminating information about latest government schemes and policies especially to rural areas with appropriate criticism and loopholes.
2. Acting as a pressure group on political representatives checking dictatorial tendencies.
3. Assist in free and fair elections covering the full process from promulgation of Model code of conduct to opinion polls to final results. Ever during the counting process Indian media representatives are present.
4. Disaster and war coverage.
5. Shaping opinion like in the recent Middle East refugee’s crises
Indian Media as a Corporate Representative – Now a day’s Indian media is being blamed for being pro-corporate. Being pro-corporate means media presents the corporate interests in good light without an objective or neutral assessment of those interests in return for monetary or other favors.
This blame is correct up to some extent as big corporate is owning or is stakeholder in major media houses. But it is also not true in all the cases. The issues are being looked into by the Press council of India who is headed by a retired Chief Justice of India. The involvement of corp-orates is a thing which will take some time to solve as media houses specially the private ones work with a profit motive and when profit is involved achieving 100% transparency and neutrality is difficult through not impossible. The way forward is an informed citizenry who knows the good and bad, fakeness and genuineness of what is being displayed.
Others problems associated with Indian Media – IN addition to the corporate and profit motive there are two more important problems which hurt the neutral reporting of newspapers.
First is the political leaning of the media houses towards specific parties as these political parties provide huge funds to the media houses. Doing election campaigning these media houses have a huge potential to alter and modify voters mood which is not so good for democracy.
Second is the ideological leaning. Since the 18th century the world has witnessed many revolutions like communism, socialism, capitalism etc. All of these are present in India in some from or the other. Any media houses associated or following any particular ideology will tend to ignore the good points of the other ideologies. This discrimination is not good for Indian democracy.
Issues of Unethical and Immoral Reporting with Indian Media – Many a times media is seen in irresponsible media coverage which hurts our own interests like – coverage of 26/11 attacks assisting the terrorist handlers unintentionally providing them the live coverage, while working in the disaster hit areas media tend to complicate the process of relief work. Many a times while covering national news the media hurts the global image of India in other countries and international forum, For eg. Recently in the JNU crises and the Intolerance debate.
Reforms required in Indian Media – These is a need to regulate and reform the functioning of Indian media. There regulation does not mean interference in its normal coverage but yes coverage in sensitive matters should be regulated like in the cases of national security, foreign relations etc. Also an independent and statutory body should be formulated to overlook the functioning of the Indian Media like the business model, source of funds, relation to foreign entities, political leanings, corporate leanings etc. Even the non sensitive issues of major media houses should be bought under the ambit of Right to information. Also the media should understand its own responsibility and ethicality as ultimately their healthy functioning depends on their own will and not on repression.
Conclusion – In today’s digitally advanced world when information dissemination is a task of seconds, the role and responsibility of Indian media becomes manifold as they in their capacity can destroy or mend the evolving fabric of our democracy. Any organization including media has its own pros and cons but here the pros have to overcome the side effects of cons significantly which is happening in the case of India media as it has started to gradually evolve as an enabler for our accountability and developments.