Only the Media can save India

March 6, 2006

On Sunday(26/2/2006) evening, NDTV showed a program to get Justice for Jesicca lal whose murderers were recently acquitted by the court even though she was shot in front of over a hundred people. The people participating in the show were a supreme court lawyer and a judge and a deputy commisioner of police apart from another victim who had a case similar to that of Jesicca. Ex-miss India Shobha De and actress Preitty Zinta spoke for Jesicca from Bombay on television and the owners of the place where the murder took place, Bina and Shalini Ramani were speaking from Goa.Many finer points were contributed by all concerned in the program on how to prevent such a recurrence in the future.

Since then, the print media has also been persistently following up with a reference almost every day.It was heartening to see the media finally taking up the cudgles on behalf of the victim and play its real role as the watchdog .  

The main issue is where do we go from here. What about the rest of us whose cases may not be high-profile or who may not get the attention of the media for one reason or another.  This is the most glaring case of the dictum “Without danger, we cannot go beyond danger”. Things got completely out of hand in this case and the media was forced to take a stand though trials by the media are generally deemed undesirable.

This brings to mind the opt repeated statement that “Public memory is very short” and everybody forgets once the issue goes on the backburner. The issue here is -why does the media let it get on the backburner in the first place? Is the role of the media confined merely to highlight the wrongs without seeing to it that there is redressal? A couple of years ago I read in a weekly newsmagazine how prominent politicians were occupying bungalows which they should have vacated after losing power. There was no follow-up after that till one fine morning one read about the governer of Bihar being forced to vacate. The media should have a page at the back of their publications “Issues unresolved” in which such issues should be mentioned. In corporate management, one is constantly told to follow-up. Why can’t the media follow up?

Talking of mangement reminds me of the concept of goals. There are umpteen number of workshops conduting people teaching the importance of having proper goals to the extent that even students should be habituated early in life about setting goals in all spheres of personal life- family, health, social life, financial independence etc. I even learnt from once consultant that daily goals were too restricting while having monthly goals made one a little careless but weekly goals were the best- they could be set realistically set and achieved. This was in the individual’s context. I have never understood that why there are no goals for politicians. You elect somebody, he sets no goals for himself and you can’t do a damn thing for five years if he does not perform properly whereas in management one would be kicked out in a very short time frame if there was a slip-up in performance. Why can’t there be goals for each member of parliament in each constituency and why can’t the media follow-up and see to it that they are fulfilled. This would be good for politicians themselves in the long run.Its a win-win situation for everybody.

Mrs Shobha de mentioned in the program that if the Judiciary also became corrupt, all hell would break lose. Everybody knows that cases get delayed and “Justice delayed is justice denied ” is more a rule than exception in India. From a common man’s perspective, how does it matter because as far as he is concerned whether it is lack of efficiency or corruption, he has to suffer. Why can’t the media get after the root cause?-how cases get delayed in the first place because that is the root cause of all the mess. People are scared of the courts because the remedy is worse than the disease.

I have heard cases of judicial corruption but not experienced them myself. However there is one type of corporate corruption that is very common. Many suppliers of raw-materials are always scared that their payment shall be held up. Recently, a friend told me how demeaning he found to almost go begging for payments. Many are scared to increase the volume of their business because if payments get stuck , they stand to lose more. In the United states, there is a credit history of a person which one can check on the payment of a nominal sum. There, nobody fools around with his credit rating because the whole system operates on credit and he would stay nowhere if his credibility in this respect were questionedor lost. Why can’t such a system be followed in India? On one hand the finance minister talks on business matters at “Davos” but if the basics are not right, how bright are the chances are success. Here again, the businessman is scared ot the law because it takes its own sweet time.

This Jesicca case has set a good precdent. Some elements in the media have earned a bad name in recent times because of sensationalizing issues.Why can’t the media do good work by highlighting and speaking up on behalf of the common man as it has done in this case. There must be thousands of such cases. A discussion forum can be created on the internet on each issue and then cases can be tackled case by case. Having talk shows without followup on discussion forums is efficiency without effectiveness. Only the media can make things totally transparent and effect a “Dood ka dood, aani ka paani”.

Congratulations to both NDTV and whoever took up the cause.Talent and motives are more important than the tool and now it can finally be said that the informtion revolution and mass communication revolutions have been successful. 








  1. hmmm.. NDTV. the same tv which made cash out of the sensational , sensitive issue of kushboos conterversy. Just doing the TRP rising. some time the fortunately on the side of better applause some time they get to oil the fire.

    NDTV or what ever – their prime moto behind is making money and increase their share stock rising in NSE with a cover they are serving the masses for good.

  2. I have tagged you. 🙂

  3. hey media plays an important part…. but it has both faces of the coin.. head and tail..
    as v have seen in the past

  4. Hi

    That was an interesting post

    I’m surprised that you haven’ received more comments, more accolades so far

    Keep such posts coming

    Though I may NOT agree to all what your said, your blog brought back lots of old memories and thoughts about OUR COUNTRY, our society, friends and relatives

    While we as world citizens think that Justice and equality are the most important cornertones of a civil society, does the ground reality reflect that ?

    We feel that friendship, love, affection and above all our family is very important in shaping our lives and thoughts. To most of us, a mother, the epitome of love and sacrifice, plays and important role

    But what happens when the same mother is denied justice in her own family ?

    more at


  5. You have written a brilliant post. And I like your funda of goal setting for MPs and MLAs. But I know that in my lifetime I will never see it implemented. But you should keep up the good work.

  6. Alright! Well done, NDTV. But people will do well to notice that all these headline grabbing stories always involve popular persons. I am shocked at how Jessica Lal’s case is being handled (for once I was ashamed to live in the “relatively successful democracy” of ours when the verdict came) but note here that Jessica Lal was a model. Had Jessica been just another person, this case wouldnt have grabbed all the newsprint that it has. Nobody would’ve known about it. Even those 100 eyewitnesses would’ve forgotten about it the next day.

    Grab a copy of the Times of India and you see atleast one picture of a Bollywood superstar somewhere in the paper. And trivial things like which male star is dating which female star and which star has relations with which underworld don grab headlines.

    If the poor Indian farmer living deep in the drought prone villages could read English, I can imagine him wearing a big wry smile on his face everytime he reads the innumerable headlines like “Backstreet Boys come calling for Mallika Sherawat”, “Salman-Ash tape creates sensation” etc.

    We have a vibrant media in our country alright. A lot of sting operations have been made, dirt has been exposed but it seems they have a predilection to publish news which relates mostly to the country’s superstars (even the sting operation involve high profile people, like the 11 MPs case). Why? Simple -> make people watch -> make profit!

    Why do we always get to read only about the Bachchans, Khans, Sherawats, Tendulkars and Gangulys, Narayana Murthys, Vijay Mallyas and Azim Premjis in the newspapers? Why not about a poor Indian farmer like say some Mr. Ellayya or Mr. Ramayya? Why? Are they inferior? Do all the Bachchans, Khans and Tendulkars belong to a superior subspecies?

    Is the media really doing its job?

    No. Not as long as undue attention is given to things like Tendulkar’s elbow and Sherawat’s butts while the poor man of India suffers all diseases in the book and gets not an alphabet’s space in the newspaper.

  7. Kudos to NDTV for a job well done. In recent years its rare to find words of praise for the media so let us not lose this chance and give the media its due. If only the media did this more often instead of indulging in trivialities that sell sensationalism.

  8. Surprise surprise

    I just finished wirting a post on my blog on Jessica Lal and here I come and you have also lend your voice to the movement or whatever…

    Lets see what happens.

  9. I used to many times get carried away on media news really thinking and wanting they are doing good job and justice to their profession. later came to know it was always zoomed and as many of the other comments say, concentrate more on uplifting issues than abt mallika or salman or ash or which flower is named and which actor is admitted in hostpital etc.. Media is meant for going public in a rapid way to reach out across the globe. It should be used in a better way other than just commercial purposes too.

  10. Nicely put. But did it every strike you that most papers and until some time ago most television channels rarely followed up on a story?! The Indian Express is the only newspaper displayed any modicom of responsibility. It is not surprising really, with the competition heating up, NDTV has an ulterior motive for raking up the past – and the more glamourous the better. Noticed that? Btw I think the verdict on Zaheera is the most sensible thing I have heard in ages – perjury MUST be dealt with.

  11. Rama, I disagree with the SC verdict on Ms. Sheikh. While perjury must be dealth with, it shouldnt be till witnesses feel comfortable and safe with their testimony. Considering that the system doesnt offer you any such safety, the verdict is a very harsh one.

  12. We are all having a lot of fun bashing the media, arent we. I am not defending it in anyways, Indian media sucks, as does the media of every country in the world. Why? Because no one is going to read about the bounty crop that a small Tamil Nadu farmer had this year. However, they are going to gloat at pictures of Mallika’s bosom everytime the ‘newspapers’ put it up there.

    While the media brings issues to our notice, it is the citizens’ in general responsibility to ensure that problems brought up are fixed. The media, made up of citizens also shares this responsibility, but the onus does not lie on them. In the US, this is handled by citizens groups, but in India very few have taken the initiative to setup such groups.

    As Indians, we love to find groups, organizations and institutions to lay responsibility on, for the damage caused by our own ineptitude, callousness and apathy. The media, while no angel itself, is indeed a victim of such an attitude. Yeah…keep passing the buck on…

  13. hey! thanks for dropping by:)

    “Issues unresolved” page is a good idea.

    I liked this post cause it was dedicated to the media and how its taken a stand…and lots of other issues

    I think NDTV has ‘character’ so to say…they didnt feel threatened and when one starts others follow…thus newspapers started taking stands.Like following the leader.

    At least we’re starting something. The laws are a mockery…they’re too many provisions and sects etc…but none are followed or implemented in our country..sadness

  14. Well, its true that media plays an important part but then its upto them.. do they play angel or devil… a responsible media is the need of the day and without it the country is at a loss. Media as called the Fourth Estate aor the fourth pillar of democracy need to be just as much…. as it gives the ppl their daily dose of news and stuff. Thus, it can make or break, just nething….
    but yes the recent media coverage of Jessica Lal controversy was well covered and in the true light…..
    Nice work..
    GBU n TC

  15. Honestly tell me how many people will ever read a news about a poor farmer dieing or commiting suicide? tell me how many ppl will read about a a burning issue like dowry-death?

    Now tell me how many will read a sensational story about some hot actress showing off her assets in some film event?how many will read what happened between Ganguly & Chappel?

    Very simple..media gives what public wants..
    Having said that..still there is a repsonsibility from media’s side too.It is true that media these days has been not doing that ‘watch dog’ role what it is supposed to do.But good to see once in a while, someone in media doing what exactly they are supposed to do.

    But what public is doing? why blame evrything on media alone?why are we shooting the messenger gere?dont the ‘public’ have some responsibilty?

    Jessica Lal episode will keep happening untill ‘public'(thatz all of us) and ‘media’ are not doing what we are supposed to do.

    Hiren, I liked the concept of goals for MPs/MLAs.In fact, the 5-year plans was such a grand idea for the country.But where do we stand in achieving these goals?

  16. Hope justice is served this time. I know the media is playing the part of a saviour this time, but contrary to your Heading Only the Media can save India, I would not bank too much on it. The media can at times be a devil.

  17. media is a two edged sword….

  18. I wonder wh y “jessica lal” murder case was never debated in big fight or we te people two very famous programs of NDTV?
    Dont bet on media saving the country for the country’s sake.

  19. Problem with media is, most of the time they don’t follow the story or case once telecast. Which was not true in this case so does still there is little hope of justice. These politicians are root cause of 80% of problem related with law and order.

  20. Well I think the attention and good things comes only as a good by-product.
    All media is interested is in sensationalizing the news and increasing their viewership nothing else. Probably this would answer your thoughts on why no follow-up happens. They just use the hype when it is there nothing constructive.
    In this world nobody does anything for free 🙂

  21. The facts dealt in are real and clear. All the opinions and questions are excellently put up! Great! Can we or any one or in fact all of us do something for a good cause. THE INNOCENT PEOPLE NEEDS HELP, THEY HAVE NO MONEY, NO ONE TO LISTEN THEM, ONLY THE THROBBING HEART.

    If the system starts working on its place, it can work wonders. All is great,good and green from far off. The roughness can be felt only when one is directly involved.

  22. Thats rightly said. Indian media, especially the hindi news channels are going off track with increased coverage of things trivial and unnecessary

  23. It is true tha media singles out cases,espicially high profile cases to hound.They don’t dare to touch mighty ones.BMW case is an exception.

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