So, what future for the media freedoms?
Media’s many roles. Recharging today
Media freedoms are under stress
India is a large democracy and in a democracy media plays a critical role. Even media itself has grown in its many new developments. After the advent of internet and the Information Technology’s revolution, the social media growth today we live in a world there are many opportunities and many threats to our freedoms and rights. Democracy also empowered people, even at the bottom of the societies, who have become affected by the Internet’s reach. The fallout from these latest developments, among which one is the growth and strengthening of monopoly powers of the great tech giants, the op four of their CEOs, those of Microsoft, Google one more were called upon by the US Congress and grilled for the their monopoly power and this power is now being misused by the companies. This is a new dangerous in the olden times, the growth of economic monopoly powers by the old style brutal capitalist exploitation, the new IT tech monopoly is also affecting the rights and freedoms of the people, the citizens in a democracy.
Where do the ordinary people come from? In this new complex emerging powers of the State?
As far as the democracy is concerned, today the freedoms of the people are extremely in danger. In such a contemporary world what role small media can play and enjoy and what sort of public service we in such small print media ventures like ours can play? Very little? Yes, it looks like that only!
However, when we look at the world outside, small media has a rule. Only small media dedicated to such priority sectors like agriculture and rural countries, where only the more powerless and the poor people, though in big majority live and work, there is a need for such dedicated small media to focus on more sensitive issues like poverty, economic opportunities, for sustainable livelihood issues. Now, in the grip of Pandemic crisis we see even the Western media, big ones like the TV channels like the BBC and other ones haven’t played more committed roles. This is the view from India. Also even the developed countries like UK and the USA, among others seem not to have taken the Pandemic crisis seriously in the first round and later after India was caught in the second wave of the Pandemic the Western nations to have woken up and imposed new lock downs!
We in India rely more upon Western media practices and we didnt have enough information about the Pandemic’s spread and the vaccine information as we all desperately needed. Especially for a media, that too a more restricted one like ours concentrating on agriculture issues, the information is almost nil. India is a large democracy and a large food economy. India has some unique economic strength. One it is a large food economy, India exports the largest rice targets. Also, India has some unique agricultural systems and at the same time we need many new experiments and innovations in agricultural practices.
So we need to keep the agricultural exports and trade issues very carefully focused on our own needs and opportunities. The Indian general media, the large print houses are of course faced with new challenges with the online media now seeking new business models. And we in the magazine are much more focused on the political and social dimensions of the many agricultural issues. We need to modernise the agri systems, with its antiquated land reform laws, the average land holdings as small as 1 hectare and two hectares and the many rural institutions like the panchayat raj, the very micro development institutions are caught up in the age of bureaucracy.
So we have to empower the rural people in a significant way. As things are they are talking about only putting cash in the hands of margins farmers to rejuvenate the rural farming functions. As of now, as far as we know there are almost no institution innovations, we still retain the Collector’s Raj. And the routine corruption-ridden revenue and police. Raj and that is a great pity. We need more freedoms, yes, and sort of liberal political atmosphere. Unfortunately, there is the reverse at the present. State of affairs, the same Tahsildar regime where the farmers have to travel physically to transact his or her farming business. Corruption, debts and litigation are the daily plight of the Indian farmers.
Of course there are certain glimmer of hope. New innovations are taking place thanks to some dynamic regions and progressive spirit of farmers. Especially in some geographical regions like Pune and Nasik. Nasik we can truly say is the say a new Silicon Valley of Agriculture Innovations, Nasik also can claim this distinction. Recently one agricultural innovator, an organic producer of fruits and vegetables appeared on our Video Conferencing site and explained how he meets the time-tested phenomenon of farm prices crash! That was very inspiring and an eye opener.
Farmers must learn to use their traditional wisdom and see to it that farm gate prices don’t lead to farmer’s mental caliber. Yes, there is no other way for farmers to learn new skills. Media like Vadamalai learnt to convey many new lessons to the benefit of not only the farming community, even the urban, educated middle classes about what is happening in other parts of the world. Media industry is a tough and risky field.
No government wants to promote media freedoms but the contrary of how to control media sector. Even inside Indian media industry is severely controlled, big industrialists buy media to control free opinion to circulate. So we live in a very restricted world, many big countries are turning into regimes, even in democracy, the ruling parties turn to this trend. Farmers, why even the ordinary citizens and those think they are educated are living in fear of authority of unruly politicians. India is itself a good example.
So we live in a challenging. Time, let us be always on alert!