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Media sometimes work in anti-people manner: Katju


Press Council of India’s new Chairman Markandey Katju wants the electronic media to be brought under the purview of council. He has sent a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in this regard and sought “more teeth” to the council.

“I have written to the PM that the electronic media should be brought under the Press Council and it should be called Media Council and we should be given more teeth. Those teeth would be used in extreme situations,” Justice Katju said in an interview to a TV channel.

Describing journalists in general as having "very poor intellectual level", Justice Katju said that he had a very poor opinion of most people in the media.

"The general rut is very low and I have a poor opinion of most media people. Frankly, I don't think they have much knowledge of economic theory or political science or literature or philosophy. I don't think they have studied all this," Katju said.

Only last month, Katju had said in another TV interview that he would not shy away from using the "danda" to rein in erring journalists. “There must be some fear in the media,” he said, quoting Tulsidas' Ramcharitmanas that ‘bhay bin preet na hot Gusain’.

"I want powers to stop government advertisement, I want to suspend licence of that media for a certain period if it behaves in a very obnoxious manner, impose fines," Katju said while maintaining that all these measures would be used only in extreme situations.

When asked if these measures would not threaten freedom of the media, he said, "Everybody is accountable in a democracy. No freedom is absolute. Every freedom is subject to reasonable restrictions. I am accountable, you are accountable, we are accountable to the people."

Justice Katju said, “I have a poor opinion of the media” and added that “they should be working for the interest of the people. They are not working for the interest of the people and sometime they are positively working in an anti-people manner. It often diverts the attention of the people from the real problems which are basically economic.

“Eighty per cent of people are living in horrible poverty, unemployment, facing price rise, health care (problems). You (media) divert the attention from those problems and instead you project film stars and fashion parades as if they are the problems of the people,” he said.

“Cricket is an opium of the masses. Roman emperors used to say if you cannot give the people bread give them circuses. In India send them to cricket if you cannot give the people bread.”

Source: Agencies

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The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

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