We live in the era of information where the influx of data is easy and effortless, just one touch away. This regular inflow and outflow of information is considered to be foundation of a healthy democracy and media plays an integral part in its coherent practice. Media manifests or realizes the interest of the common citizen of its nation. It has changed its attribute from print to electronic to now the social media or the fifth estate (media being the fourth pillar of democracy), but the immense power of influencing the masses has left untouched and contrarily has increased.
India the largest growing democracy has always been liberal in letting the media work impartially and the privatisation, setting up of new private media houses in late 1990’s and early 2000’s was a major boost to the era of information. The power of media has increased by leaps and bounds after Social Media came into being. However, as famously said, with great power comes great responsibility but in last few years the media hasn’t played the responsibility part diligently.
The media (Print, electronic & Social) has a huge impact on the common individuals, it is the sole source of gaining information about the government and its policies and also its criticism, as it plays the role of mirror to the elected government. It also ensures the accountability of government manifested in them by the people. It works as only channel of communication between the government and individuals and therefore is the fourth pillar of democracy but if these channels are impugned, the essence of media is lost.
In last few years with the rise of party to power, which is aligned to an ideology of saffronisation, media (generally) is acting nothing but as sycophant. Biased and propaganda based reporting from certain media houses are exploiting the power of media for a particular narrative. The rise of Hindu Radicalism, Jingoism, Cow vigilantism are few of those. This is where today media has terribly failed to be the bridge between government and people, some of them are government backed and few see profit being streamlined with the government’s opinion.
Almost all of these media houses have their presence on social media through which they gain more power as now they enter direct into the “bedrooms “of the citizen. These media houses are today waging war against each other but only the common citizen is suffering, devoid of proper information, as today what these media houses are offering are mere perceptions and “selective information”. The political parties are also making most of the “Social media” with their respective IT Cell Army who bombards the information, biased, particular opinion into our screens and we are left with no choice but to “like”. They are also no less than the mainstream news channel which propagates agenda and spread hatred in virtual world.
Amidst all of it, there are certain news channels, websites, portals who are a ray of hope for responsible media (for example: India Together, Citizen Matters, EPW). They perform the duty of locating accountability of government, ask question which pinches, but is in public good. Sadly, the ongoing narrative is so much instilled within by the powerful media houses that either the channel is made to face some legal action or face a boycott or to some extent they even carry the extra embarrassment of being called Anti-National.
The Democracy is never or never was only of majority or of majoritarian view, it means creating a balance between both and to live with peace and harmony and co-exist together. This nation is as much as of a minority as of a majority person, a minority is entitled to get whatever it has to offer as much as a majority person is. This situation brings loss to no one but these people whose rights and privileges are not recognised, their interest are not realised and there questions are never put forth and on the contrary today with the rise of Mob lynching culture and explicit support of social media which is doing the job of brainwashing the targeted millennials, the minority has to live in fear and apprehension, and are questioned on their patriotism.
A healthy democracy can exist if the fourth pillar is not harassed or exploited against the public. The plight of propaganda politics, social media (especially WhatsApp ) driven news is taking things away and the situation has worsened when some of the media houses or journalists come in support of ideology which is traumatic! The media today is sick, bed rested in ICU which need to be cured before it die and the Jingoistic, Hyper nationalistic, Cow vigilantism takes over and India becomes no less than North Korea!
Author: Anubhav Kumar
You can reach author at: email@example.com
He is pursuing law from University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, Dehradun.