Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Media controls people But who controls the media?

by Dina Nath Mishra

Media has become a staple for the masses. It is the chief source of ideas, impressions, interpretations and understanding. Mornings begin with print media while the day ends with people watching television till late night. Television viewers include illiterates. From 1950s onwards, slowly but surely, the literacy rate has increased. Backward communities joined schools en-mass in 50s and 60s. The same happened to SC/ST persons living in towns and sub-urban areas in 70s and 80s. This was the period of the explosion of print media in Hindi as well as regional languages. Those who could not afford to buy a newspaper went to libraries and teashops to read it.

From 1990s till date, India has witnessed an explosion in electronic media, online news services, radio and SMS. Media has acquired such a great control on the mass mind that it now controls their behaviour to a great extent. These include what one should wear; where and what should one eat; where to tour; which books and newspapers should one read and which kind of music should one listen to. People are guided by the media on every front.

It's no doubt that media informs and educates, but it is also the most powerful propaganda weapon. This was proven in the Second World War and, thereafter, by the Soviet Union. Till the Soviet union disintegrated, heavenly achievements of the Soviet block needed no confirmation. The hellish truth of the Soviet was revealed only after its disintegration. That is the power of propaganda. Media is also the weapon of US domination. The lie of Saddam Hussain acquiring weapons of mass destruction became the gospel truth for the US Government so much so that it launched a full-fledged attack on Iraq and hanged Saddam. His hanging was a result of his demonisation without any evidence.

At present, over 9.5 crore copies of newspapers and 5.5 crore copies of weeklies are sold in India. Compared to the print media, electronic media has grown faster. There are two television sets in every third household. Nearly 65 per cent households own a TV. Given the conditions in rural India, where a TV set is watched by many families, one can imagine the power of the media to influence the masses.

Media controls the people, but who controls the media? The first generation of print media owners came in the 1950s and 1960s for those persons who could not be accommodated in the Congress - the monopoly of power. These regional and Hindi newspapers multiplied their circulation with socio-economic power. Each of these houses are worth about Rs 500 to 1000 crores today. The circulation commanded by them made them darlings of industry and business. English press has a disproportionately large share in the ad pie. Their profits too jumped by leaps and bounds. By 2002, it was counted amidst the top industries.

India's media and entertainment sector attracted foreign investors in a big way. The moment this sector was opened for FDI, master players of media entertainment jumped into the fray. Media and entertainment is growing faster than any other sector. While Indian economy is growing at around 8 per cent, the media and entertainment sector has a compounded growth of 17 per cent. It's estimated size by 2008-09 would be about Rs 52,000 crores. The way FDI is coming into media, it sometimes looks alarming. We do not know which channel is financed and controlled by whom. But the bias made in the telecast of programmes does give an insight into who could be the owners.

Media, particularly the electronic one, is desensitising the young generation. Obscene scenes bordering on vulgarity have provided an overdose of sex and resulted in increase of sex-related crimes. Media is, at times, anti-social, anti-society and anti-women. There is no self-regulation in the Indian media. Even at difficult moments like terror attacks, hijacking, police raids or interrogating terrorists, the media's role confuses one whether it is siding with terrorists or victims of terrorism.

It also creates doubts whether the moneybags commanding the channels are just slaves and working against interests of the country. This does not happen even in the fatherland of so called human rights countries, the US and UK. But in India, we get to regularly watch statements and footage of human rights activists as if victims have no case and human rights are confined only to terrorists.

Human rights organisations and anti-India subversive intellectuals have become an industry. They are five star people enjoying foreign money and are causing damage to national interests. A majority of the media projects them and gives them celebrity status. The reach of the media is vast and instant; an anti-India virus can poison people's minds and be detrimental to the national interest.

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