‘Indian media is failing Indian democracy’

Pratap Bhanu Mehta president of the Delhi-based thinktank, Centre for Policy Research (CPR), in an interview with Karan Thapar for CNN-IBN:

Karan Thapar: How do you view the Indian media? Do you share justice Markandey Katju‘s concern, that by and large it is obsessive, it is narrow-minded, it focuses on middle class – urban concerns, ignoring the real problems that affect India such as poverty, such as joblessness.

Pratap Bhanu Mehta: My concern is not so much the issues it covers. It is that whatever it does, with a few exceptions, it is not bringing sufficient rigour and it is not performing frankly the function of being an honest broker in very, very important debates. The media is failing Indian democracy, I would agree with justice Katju to that extent.

Thapar: I know you are not a participant on television debates but do you watch them or do you find them off putting or irritating?

Mehta: You watch them in the way you would watch an entertainment show. In fact my own sense is that I think people are very wisely making the distinction that news is entertainment. It is not news.

Thapar: But of course it should not be entertainment at all.

Mehta: But of course it should not be. It’s exactly that confusion of roles that is crippling us.

Thapar: So TV debates may be entertaining but in terms of informing, educating, illuminating, they fail.

Mehta: Actually they are quite dangerous because they present a false construction of what public opinion is.

Read the full interview: Pratap Bhanu Mehta

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9 Responses to “‘Indian media is failing Indian democracy’”

  1. ERR Says:

    Indian media is mostly pro-govt, whichever Govt is in power :) Most reports are rehashed Govt documents presented with flair. Mehta is right.in fact TV debates are funnier than Kapil’s comedy nights without intending to be!

  2. Praveen Kodbagi Says:

    Very informative and so true. VIdharbha, Bathani Tola, countless rapes on lower caste women so and so forth. So many of these issues go uncovered. from watchdog of the government it has become the watchdog of the moguls.

  3. Communal Award Says:

    How does print and electronic media in India make money?
    They bully both victim and culprit to demand donations (=bribes).

  4. Jothindra Paranji Says:

    Those panel discussions! Each one trying to show off his wits, outshouting each other, demanding more time, not shutting up when requested to…I best enjoy them with the sound muted..then it is entertainment par excellence! Try it that way!!

  5. Shemej Says:

    If anyone takes time to watch the entire video (Youtube link provided by churumuri) —

    There are 13 highlights of this interview —

    1) There is Serious economic crisis
    2) Democracy is completely paralysed.
    3) For the first time, almost every institution including Judiciary is facing crisis.
    4) Politicians fails in gauging public opionion, because they are not connected with the society, the way they used to be, earlier.
    5) UPA-II is nothign short of disaster. Manmohansingh himself is confused. Rahul is a source of immense disappointment.
    6) BjP led by Sushma, Jaitly et al are more confused than congress. In terms of organization they are in chaos.
    7) The only solace for BJP is that, some of their Chief-Ministers managed to provide some degree of successful administration.
    8) The big surge in favour of Narendra modi is not because of his qualities, but created by the vaccum experienced by people bacause of Congress’ failure.
    9) Narendra Modi is going to offer immense risks for this country. Example – Muzaffer Nagar riots. Given the nature of his personality, he is going to be a divisive personality.
    10) Indian istitutions are failing.
    11) This model of governing based on “i) Centralization, ii) wide discretion, iii) secrecy, iv) arbitrary excercise of power” will not work. But indian rulers do not realize this.
    12) Media is failing Indian democracy
    13) No successful society can progress without building public institutions. Indian middle class may end up becoming the most privatized middleclasses in the world, enjoying private education to private security. We may reach a point where we may structurally begin to secede from public instituions, and trying to become independent individuals, thinking individually, and in that process, the Idea of the Nation will be lost.

    The least important is what he talked about media.

    The most important is the 13th one. If Indian middle class invididuals are behaving like independent islands without being part of an inter-connected, social group, and if they lack collective will and fails to bring social actions, that is because there is a Corporate campaign to kill “social institutions” for two reasons

    1) They wanted to loot wealth by accumulating all institutional assets. The first step was to do a campaign to paint them in “black” saying they are all loss-making bodies. Then accumulate those assets.

    2) Corporate spread the ideology of commerce. They promoted greed. New slogan is that, Individual’s ultimate aim is achieving commercial success. They propogated the idea that Social action is bad. Trade unions were being systematically dismantlled, so that there would be little resistance against the looting of public wealth by Corporates.

    When 1 & 2 is ensured, it effectively destroyed Public institutions.

    But I think no one is going to think too much about this 13th point. People in Churumuri are still worrying why govt is not alloting another 5000 acres to Infosys next to MG Road.

    The only “interesting” news is, Mehta believes, Narendra Modi & friends have played an important role in ensuring Muzaffer Nagar.

    In response to that, some of our friends may argue. If we kill another 5000 people, then it is not genocide. But that is just a communal killing. Why do you complain against a small communal killing of 5000 people? You are dirty…

  6. Anonymous Guy Says:

    Why blame the media for fundamental problems for which we are all the cause? The media is no better or worse than the public in India. We get the media we deserve.

  7. shiv Says:

    The last 8 years of Indian media tells me clearly that
    1.Media which gets lots of noise is the english media – be it print or 24/7
    2.most of the bandicoots running these english media have made huge money betting on cong(i)/leftist ideas.That idiot shekar gupta seems to have 55cr property.Never knew journalism pays so much!!
    3.Most of the english media journalists are weaned on the tits of christian church nipples so that even though they have hindu sounding names, they are nothing but brown sahibs/sheebas
    Now Modi coming in will cook their goose royally because the the social media which uses english as the language has cooked their goose royally.
    That is why there is a huge crescendo about Modi because their lies has been exposed.
    Modi being a hindu is still a question mark because hindus of this country have excellent jellybeans for cajones as history teaches us.Will he be a different hindu or like the deaf smith johnny ears comibation of vajpayee/advani as will he strike a deal with crooked people? only time will tell

  8. ERR Says:

    Here’s a test case for Indian media how they react to Vice president’s public outburst as ‘nonsense’ , tear up and throw away’ his Govt’s ordnance against his P.M. and cabinet. Will they crawl or stand up has to be seen :D

  9. shiv Says:

    “Why blame the media for fundamental problems for which we are all the cause?” – a piece of fruit cake

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