K.N. Panikkar, vice-chairman of the Kerala State Higher Education Council, has said the media are seeking to create a virtual reality under the influence of neo-colonialism.
Inaugurating a seminar on ‘Neo-colonialism and media' organised in connection with the valedictory function of the year-long commemoration of the banishment of Swadeshabhimani Ramakrishna Pillai, here on Sunday, Dr. Panikkar said the media, as an intellectual tool, were playing the role of creating a virtual reality. After reading sections of some of the leading newspapers in the country, one would get the impression that India was a country of millionaires, he said adding the media, in general, did not give space to resist this tendency.
Attributing this to a growing monopolisation of the media, he said the media in the United States were today controlled by just four corporations, some of them engaged in weapon industry as their main business. Stressing the importance of theoretical skills to unravel the virtual reality, he said the media were today trying to present the reality through filtered news.
Observing that Swadeshabhimani's view that the interests of the country and of the rulers were not synonymous was still relevant, he said that often the media tended to reduce the problems facing the country and their solutions to individuals. If Swadeshabhimani were alive today, he would have raised his voice against this colonial and imperialist influence on society, Dr. Panikkar said.
Stating that the main mission of journalism was not just narration of facts and ideas but also their presentation in a way that would allow the common man to understand them, Dr. Panikkar said the reality in contemporary times could not be easily grasped by lay people. Today, the term media encompassed the old media and the new media including the Internet and text messaging, he said adding that attempts were now on to control the whole media. Colonialism was a constantly changing phenomenon. If violence and use of force were the hallmarks of colonialism in the past, neo-colonialism involved no use of physical force and attempt to control territories, he said.
“Colonialism of today is invading minds of the people as part of cultural imperialism,” he said and observed that the media today could be seen as part of the cultural imperialism.
Kerala Press Academy chairman S.R. Shakthidharan presided. Among those who spoke at the seminar included Sebastian Paul, C. Gouridasan Nair, N.P. Rajendran, O. Abdurrahiman and P.M. Manoj. Information and Public Relations Director M. Nandakumar was present.