Global Britain and Little England?
What we have to learn and discard from the British media industry?
Yes, there are comparisons and contrasts!
When the Corona Virus hit India, all vulnerabilities of the Indian media scene came to be exposed!
We saw India’s many hidden weaknesses were brought out. The world media came out in all fury and called India all names. Even, the FT carried a “big read” feature! Till then, we used to see the Indian media, both print, and electronic media were rather mild and differential to the authority. It is another thing that we didn’t have a really free pass or rather our information authority was rather highly bureaucratic.
The Broadcasting Authority is a remote entity and for the vast majority of small and medium newspapers is almost a hidden entity.There are all India-level bodied and the Editors. Guild and other bodied don’t stand up and protest the infringement of the freedoms of the editors and reporters. The living conditions of the average newspaper reporters and correspondents are rather very poor or almost nonexistent. And this sort state of affairs you can see if only you had traveled abroad and lived for some time in the UK or USA. We are not so familiar as we are in the UK which has been the home of traditional establishment pass.
Even newspapers like The Guardian had survived the long-established practice of radicalism and the other establishment press had all almost disappeared.
The recent passing away of the long-standing editor of the Sunday Times, Sir Harold Evans’ life and times were the golden era. I had interacted with some of the great editors. In particular, I had interacted with Kingsley Martin, the redoubtable editor of the Socialist Weekly, The Newstatesman, a name that could stir no feudal courage, moral courage and stirred a whole generation of young men and women, why, a newer of anti-colonialism and spread out all over Asia and Africa. You can always see a few Asian and African students loitering in front of the Newstatesman’s office in London and the British colonial era press was a true awakening of press freedom in the then world.
Now, coming to the present times, it is a measure of some strength that of all the growth of democracy and equally the anti-democratic authoritarian governments today, in the Asian and the rest of our own times there is the question of the press freedoms and much else.
Unfortunately, there is this erosion of press freedoms and freedoms of expression. The British press is no friend of the Indian democracy and we are not helped by the traditional British press. The BBC is also not a friendly institution. In fact, it is also an irony that the British press has become more light and playful. A media, compared to the Indian TV scene. We have some 1,000 odd TV channels, most of the poor quality, and also we have not seen the many weak spots in the Indian media scenario.
On the other side, we have a vigorous film industry that fills up the entertainment space. We have to write and comment on the weak spots in the Indian media space. Indian democracy has many weak spots as well. The Prime Ministers used to give a press conference, in Jawaharlal Nehru’s time this was a regular feature of our polity. Both Dr.Monmohan Singh and Mr.Narendra Modi have discontinued this great tradition of press freedom.
Also, mails and medium newspapers use to have some special patronage. This space must be attended to. One more important feature of a new India is our role in the Commonwealth and also what we have to learn in disengagement with the new Britain.We have to emerge as an independent nation. Britain is no more a Great Britain. It is already a reduced entry. A Little Britain.
We have to evolve into genuinely independent people. Commonwealth was once justified. As a defender of democratic values and conventions. This, we, Indians, have to do and not take the old imperial mindset we see even now in many of the habits and actions of the British establishment decisions, be it extradition requests and other similar issues etc.
In the end, the Indian media also must learn to stand up speak for the genuine freedoms of the citizens.