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Indian media not playing an enabling role, says civil society

Mar 10, 2017

The civil society leaders alleged that most of the media houses are owned by very few businessmen.

New Delhi: Many non-profit leaders at a panel discussion in New Delhi alleged that media is producing the narrative of their corporate owners.

These views were shared during a discussion on Changing Landscape of India: Role of Philanthropy, Media and Civil Society during the silver anniversary celebrations of the National Foundation for India in New Delhi. NFI has-been doing philanthropy for the past 20 years.

Civil society leaders were talking about the importance of the civil society in a democracy and the role of media in furthering the larger interests of the society. Most of the leaders were of the view that civil society along with media is the conscience of society.

Discussants felt that media does not have a neutral role as seventy percent of electronic news media is controlled by a very few individuals which is a very scary scene. They regretted that development and agriculture issues covered by the newspapers are very far and few in between.

Neera Chandhoke, Political Scientist and Former Professor, Delhi University believes that media, especially the television media is not doing its role, which is enabling people to question.

Arun Maira, Management Consultant and Former Member of Planning Commission of India, talked about the frivolous nature of social media. “Because of social media nobody is listening. Everybody just wants to talk. We desire to make life better for human beings. We are not listening to each other. We are just suggesting others,” Maira said.

Maria acknowledged media as the prime instrument of people's participation in democracies all over the world, while others felt that media has largely been a business extension. “We cannot have state media. We have doubts on private media. So, we need to think what kind of media we need. Social media, the way it is today is not doing any good to society,” Maira said.

Aakar said that India was the only country where advertising subsidises 85 per cent of the newspaper cost. “Newspapers cannot survive for long in this scenario. Television is a lean medium, more of an opinion. A very dark landscape is awaiting Indian media,” he opined.

Nisha Agrawal, CEO, Oxfam India, said that the role of civil society is to speak up. “But now even individuals are not supporting. Corporates are not supporting NGOs, not even media. Why do we need to be so timid,” she questioned.

Talking about the role of media the discussants felt that every individual has the capacity to think. “People are politically aware. The idea of civil society and media is to enable to question,” they said.

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