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Guest Column: Indian media is a blessing in disguise

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Guest Column: Indian media is a blessing in disguise

Gone are the days, when Indian media consisted of newspapers, daily or weekly or monthly Magazines. Now the media embraces television, radio, cinema, newspapers, magazines, and Internet-based web sites, apart from the entertainment or  magazines, about the movies.  The total number of registered newspapers,   with the Registrar of Newspapers as on 31st March, 2011 was  82,222.

The largest number of newspapers & periodicals registered in any Indian language, are in Hindi numbering  32,793, followed by English, which number 11,478.

The state with the largest number of registered newspapers is Uttar Pradesh  (13,065).
The state with the second largest number of registered newspapers is Delhi (10,606).

However the actual number is far more, if you consider the small newspapers published for a particular town or an area of town. Some of them, just do not bother for registration, as no paper moves in the Government unless the wheels of money move it. When I asked a friend running such a newspaper in a small place, he told me, that a dozen trips to fulfil the requirements were fruitless. The days turned into weeks and weeks to months and still nothing happened to his correctly filed request. He said, that it is for this reason, that people cultivate politicians and powerful people, so that, on  a word from them, their legitimate work is done in a jiffy, without having to bribe anybody.

The biggest source of advancement and diffusion is  knowledge, which is communicated by the media. It is, the only guardian, of true liberty and freedom of the people  because today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups... The result is that we are not able to discover the reality, except through the media. Whether it the politician’s statements selling dreams and  goods, or frauds on the public, we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated  print and electronic media. I do not distrust their motives of  the media or the politicians ; I distrust their vast power to influence a large segment of population, only by selling dreams.

In spite of  the above view, everybody including myself, to a large degree,  has  faith in the printed world. Once in a meeting with the Chief Secretary of all Secretary level officers, in my service Cadre of Karnataka, in Bangalore now renamed Bengaluru, one of the official swore by a news item. When the Chief Secretary, GVK Rao asked him, as  to how he could say, it was correct, the official replied that it has been printed in a newspaper.

A friend told me that what is published is not all truth. I replied with  a conversation,  between the Two Lords in London, who were members of the House of Lords there. One of them asked the other, who was a Press Baron “My Lord, everything published in your newspapers is not the truth”. The Press Baron Replied, “ Come on, your Lordship. How can you expect truth in all 50 pages, for 50 pence”.  Indian Media is a blessing in disguise. You can read in any newspapers, spiritual matters, crime, and discover  brave new world. It is an ocean, where you can pick what you want.

The author is Ex Director, CBI.

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