An Open Letter to Markandeya Katju — Part 1
30 January 2012 @ 5:55 am
I want to congratulate you on your not-so-recent appointment as the Chairman of the Press Council of India. Since taking over, you’ve done some amazing things, some of them so amazing that I cannot help but resort to hyperbole while describing your achievements. So please excuse me if this letter seems a little sycophantic. I really mean this, every word of it. Just like you did, last year.
Also, I write this in several parts because I admire you greatly and have a lot to write to you about, and could not possibly write the whole letter in one sitting.
Hardly a few days after you took over the Chairmanship of the PCI, your dynamic and bold nature was on display in your op-ed. You hit the nail on the head with your three-point summary of the problems with the media in India.
Your first point particularly resonates with me. The media focus (or focuses, if I were to consider media to be a singular noun, like you do) on trivial things. I share your pain when you say :
“To give an example, I switched on the T.V. yesterday and what did I see? Lady Gaga has come to India, Kareena Kapoor standing next to her statue in Madame Tussand’s, tourism award being given to a business house, Formula one car race etc. etc. What has all this to do with the problems of the people?”
I too have, on several occasions, turned on the TV, skipped past Doordarshan and Discovery Channel to go to Star Cricket, NDTV, CNN-IBN and other such trashy electronic media and been depressed by their focus on trivial content. I am sure millions of other Indians who watch these channels agree with you that they had no choice but to watch the trash on air and let the media think that’s the content they wanted. If only they had the choice to turn off the television.
You hit another nail on the same head when you lament about the importance given to astrology in the media. You say:
“Many T.V. channels show astrology. Astrology is not to be confused with astronomy. While astronomy is a science, astrology is pure superstition and humbug. ”
What is most appreciable here is that you not just state obvious facts, but you also state the impeccable logic behind that statement.
“ No doubt most people in our country believe in astrology, but that is because their mental level is very low.”
I couldn’t agree more with you. Most people in India indeed have a very low “mental level”.
Where you differ from armchair critics (By the way, I think you should address and lambast them in a separate article) is that you provide solutions and demonstrate their efficacy with brilliant statistics.
“ These will […] be […] informal get-togethers where we will discuss issues relating to the media and try to resolve them in the democratic way, that is, by discussion, consultation and dialogue. I believe 90% problems can be resolved in this way.”
My belief is that 80 per cent people who are doing wrong things can be made good people by patient persuasion, pointing out their errors, and gently leading them to the honourable path which the print media in Europe in the Age of Enlightenment was following.
Admirably, you even back up your personal beliefs with statistics. How many people in India can do that? Very few, since we know that most Indians’ mental level is very low.
End of Part 1.
Coming up: Your penchant for facts. And your rightful sense of outrage. And your belief in democracy.