Saturday, July 08, 2006

..take back the night..

The right to information should be a basic and fundamental one. Many times, in a country mired with red-tape and corruption, one can almost forget that we live in a democracy where power lies with the people. The media certainly has a grave responsibility in educating people; its something I'm looking at more closely with Doordarshan and Kalyani (aimed at education people across the states about health related issues). The ongoing campaign, 'Drive Against Bribe' is a step in the right direction. You might have seen it on TV or read about it. Parivartan is an NGO behind the scheme- it has tied together groups like NDTV and HT to remind people that if they come across government officials (etc) asking for bribes, the only recourse is NOT to simply pay it but to get justice delivered by following the rules. The right to information: find out what they are meant to do and use that information against them. We should not need to bribe people to simply do their jobs. Hopefully this is true- the more people look at you- the better you need to perform.

I'd mentioned Rang De Basanti in a previous post- it impressed on me the need for action. Well, this is the basis of a mass movement. Sometimes I feel almost fake talking about issues that face our country. Let me explain; if I don't put on the TV to find out about the massive power cuts Delhi is facing, I may not even know it. I live in the NDMC part of town where electricity is practically guaranteed. I've had a fortunate life no doubt, but that doesn't mean that it should necessarily lead to complacency.

Now, I've been thinking about the possibility of a people's movement since my mother suggested that is the only way we can have change in this country. Watching 'The Big Fight' where politicians played the "blame game" about everything from electricity and water shortages to poor urban planning its impossible to imagine any constructive solutions ever coming up. But as was pointed out, in assigning blame we often delude ourselves into thinking that everyone in the government is corrupt and the few honest people calling for change are kept out of the powers of corridor, unable to do anything. Its institutional change that is the problem. Beyond that, how do you get people to DO things? The promotion of the RTI act is one way. Compel people to do their jobs, force the bloated bureaucracy to get some exercise.

Talking to your representatives is key. I think, often, we expect problems to be taken care of and bitch about the fact that they still exist, but we never file an official complaint ourselves. When I was working with Orion Publishing I would often have to go through authors post. I would be amazed to find that so many people wrote to authors telling them how much they enjoyed the book, sometimes making a correction or telling them a fact the author may be interested in and so on. I love reading but I've never written to an author expressing my admiration. Which is odd after all; I write too and I look forward to feedback. Yet I haven't really given any myself. The same can be said of democracy-- we expect the government to work but we don't want to participate in it. Change doesn't happen from couches in front of the television.

Voices need to be heard. Journalism paving the way for social change? I hope so. Its time the media really mattered. But lets not forget the role each and every one of us has to play in this.


Anjan said...

well said...i second that motion.

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Ksingh said...

the media plays a very important role in a countrys future , in many ways im proud of our countrys media which is free and has the freedom to take on anyone.

but with the advent of the new 24 hr channels i repeatedly get this feeling some sort of borders need to be drawn on what is news and what isnt. its a very tough line to draw, but its required. when rajdeep launched cnnibn i had great hopes, today sitting in nottingham wanting to know whats happening at home i log on and instead im informed that g strings are banned on french beaches and what pamela anderson is doing on her yatch.
i could rant on about various other channels or portals that are degrading the status that a news channel had. the whole concept of breaking news has been killed, if amitabh is wearing a white kurta pyjama in hospital after surgery its not breaking news.
someone or some institute needs to be making that call.