During the Emergency the media crawled when it was asked to bend, but now there is no need to even ask it, opined renowned journalist P. Sainath.
He was delivering the Dr. Shanthinath Desai Memorial Endowment Lecture at Kuvempu University on "Journalism in India: Where We are 200 Years On", on Friday.
Analysing the changes in journalism since the days of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, who started his newspaper in Persian in April 1822, Mr. Sainath said Indian press was a child of the freedom movement. "Those days the tiny Indian media played a significant role in the freedom movement, but today's strong media is playing a narrow role. At least 90% of the media is there to defend every move of the government", he said.
Great journalists are those who engaged with the processes happening in their time. Hence, B.R. Ambedkar, Mahatma Gandhi, Bhagat Singh, Raja Ram Mohan Roy stood out as great journalists. They brought out multiple publications in different languages. The number of copies they printed was low, but they had a significant impact. They were widely read and heard. "When Bal Gangadhar Tilak was arrested for his courageous journalism, the working class of Bombay hit the streets and faced bullets in his support."
The present-day media in India is the least representative and most exclusionist, he said.
"India has produced Dalit presidents, judges, chief justice and one deputy prime minister also. But it would be difficult to find Dalits, Adivasis in today's Indian newsrooms. There were hardly any dark-skinned people in the visual media", he observed.
Mr. Sainath said many small media platforms in Indian languages had been doing a wonderful job. During the freedom struggle, it was the Indian languages press that played a significant role.
His talk was followed by an interaction with students.
Vice-Chancellor B.P. Veerabhadrappa, and Nagya Naik, Head of Department of English, were present. The lecture was organised by the Department of Studies in English.