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We need more like Justice Katju

Who is this Justice Katju ... who has been in the news since a few weeks. His statements have generated extreme reactions and he has been criticized a lot for his opinions. I first happened to read his interview in 'The Indian Express' where he had expressed his views on the current state of the Indian media. I agreed with his views. After a few days, Katju was all around in the media and today Katju bashing has become commonplace in most of websites and newspapers especially by media professionals. So now you must be wondering who is this Katju? Let me introduce you to Justice Markandey Katju - former judge of the Supreme Court of Indian and the new Chairman of the Press Council of India (PCI). After taking up as the Chairman of the PCI, Justice Katju created a flutter with his comments about the Indian media. I think for the first time, has come a person who has had the guts to reflect on the state of the Indian media. And his opinions are important because he is on an important and crucial position. So what has Justice Katju exactly said. I list it below:

  • He has low opinion of the media because they are of poor intellectual level. They do not work in the interest of people and are only concerned about commercial gains.
  • The media diverts the attention of the masses from the real social and economic problems and instead focuses on trivial coverage of filmstars and cricketers. In a recent editorial column in The Indian Express, Justice Katju has opined that the Bharat Ratna be given to people like Mirza Ghalib and Sarat Chandra and not socially irrelevant personalities like cricketers and movie stars. I can't help but agree with his contention. 
  • The media in India is careless and divided people on lines of religion and caste. If you take a look at the News channels today, you will realize why it is true. New channels make a mockery of the concept of news by making everything news worthy. Sms polls, superstitious gurus and film bytes dominate prime time TV. 
  • Media is busy promoting superstition and astrology rather than scientific and rational beliefs in the society. We do not need much proof for this fact if we are regular viewers of channels like India TV and others. So, instead of taking up the responsibility of the advancement and progress of the masses, the media is indulging in the opposite. It is contributing towards the spread of backwardness among people. 
  • Apart from few individual reporters like P. Sainath, there are very few journalists who take the pain of researching a story unto its depth and try to discover new facets in the same. Most of them after some years in the profession turn lackadaisical and churn out the same stuff again and again. They remain in their own comfort zone. 
  • Today, media professionals lack knowledge of subjects like economics, social history, politics, philosophy etc and hence it shows up in their quality of reporting and writing. For this, I believe we have to blame the quality of media education in the country.
  • Media tends to distort facts and twist people's opinions. For more on the same lines read Noam Chomsky's article on 10 strategies used by the media to manipulate public opinion. (http://theinternationalcoalition.blogspot.com/2011/07/noam-chomsky-top-10-media-manipulation_08.html?spref=fb
  • The phenomenon of 'Paid News'... give money and get news publishes in your favour. A murky coalition of PR agencies and news papers. 
  • Media's tendency to sensationalize without proper investigation into the matter can tarnish the reputation of a person and can fabricate the innocent as guilty. Basically, the media is too quick in making judgements.
  • Debates on TV channels are utterly frivolous and there is no meaning to it. A bunch of people who more than discussing an issue seriously want to merely out do each other's vocal chords. TV debates see anchors and panelists shouting more than talking!
These are some of the very important issues that Justice Katju raised and as was expected, he received a trashing from most corners of the media. Some media professionals in their write-ups asked him to shut up and even went on to say that media has just an obligation towards the people and not a responsibility. This shows how media people are taking the criticism levelled at them by Justice Katju. In India, there is a trend that whoever tries to talk something meaningful always get bashed. In this way, we never look and introspect what is wrong with us. We are happy to believe that everything is right and those who are critical are the ones who have gone berserk. What we need are more people like Justice Katju who can come affront and speak about the ills in the society and make people realize that All izzz not Well...!!!

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