Many things have been said about media, its relation with education and the institutions of education, as well as co-action between them. But the point which has been rarely and scarcely stressed upon, and requires to be emphasized with the force and vigour it deserves, is that the media by itself is the most powerful medium of education at large. When I talk about media, I mean it to be inclusive of both the print-media and electronic media. There is an umbilical relation between the media and educational institutions, as both are deeply correlated, collateral as well as complementary to each other.
Education on Air
So far as the print-media (news papers/magazines/periodicals/journals) is concerned, it has, somehow, been playing its role in educating the people positively to some extent, but unfortunately, the electronic media (radio, television etc.,) is not delivering the goods in this respect. Being a medium of infotainment, it is, in fact, supposed to be a means of not merely educating the masses on a much wider scale, but also a tool of promoting and developing the national ethos, culture, moral values, ethics and social manners on the nation-wide scale.
Media is the most powerful instrument of not only spreading, inculcating and ingraining the values and traditions among our new generation, but also strengthening them in the mindset of the old one. It is the government’ responsibility to use electronic media for the above-mentioned purposes and it has the powers, necessary resources and machinery to do so, but, alas, it has, until now, failed to take any concrete step in the direction. Government is therefore well-advised to press its machinery to use the centrally-administered media as a tool to provide education on air.
Media’s role compared with formal Institutions of Educations
It is an irrefutable fact that the media can prove an effective and useful tool in providing education to the masses. In this respect, media’s role starts exactly from where the role being played by the formal institutions such as schools, colleges and universities comes to an end. The media has not merely an obligation to inform the people what has happened, and what is happening in the surroundings, in the society, across the country and around the world, but it has also a bounden duty to enlighten the masses what actually must have been there and, in deed, what now must be there under the sky.
Art, Culture and Literature
The media has another function to perform and that is to take care of social manners and ethical values among the people, to preserve and promote them besides developing indigenous art, culture and literature.
A few words about literature: whatever is written is simply defined as literature. However, whatever is written with an accuracy of the language and punctuation of the grammar is, by definition, termed to be the “classic literature,” whereas whatever is printed, published, broadcast and telecast by the print-electronic media is nothing but the “literature in haste.” And this exactly is the domain of media.
Now the question arises what is the media doing now-a-days? Hasn’t it put the vehicle on the reverse gear and isn’t driving it in quite opposite direction? Is the media playing its role, doing its functions in any respect honestly and sincerely? Is it delivering the goods in letters and in spirit? The answer is, alas, a horrible “No.”
It is extremely deplorable, disappointing and sorry state affairs to see that in the name of art and culture, the Western art and culture are being promoted and boosted, and on the contrary, the indigenous arts and cultures, are, unfortunately, being weakened and relegated day by day, throwing the young generation straightaway into the “lap of the Western Culture” on a wholesale scale.
Failure of the Educational System
The role being played by our formal educational establishments is even worse. Our system of education is still based on some elements of the British policy- getting rid of which the sooner, is the better because they are, on the one hand, laying negative and harmful impact on the emerging talents of our promising students and on the other, extirpating the very roots of Indian culture. Despite having gained geo-political freedom, we are yet to be able to get ourselves released from the yoke of mental- intellectual bondage of our Anglo-American masters in certain spheres of life, especially in economy, science and technology. In the name of imparting education, our students are virtually made “the book-addicts”, rather turned into the “book-worms.” Instead of pushing ahead and encouraging them to pursue and develop their instinctively creative talents and skills, the students are, unfortunately, being encouraged to strictly go by the books from the beginning to the end, throughout their lives. Main emphasis is on theory and not on practice.
Consequently, now the nation India can boast of producing the best “imitators” in almost every sphere of life but is not in a position to proudly claim to have produced any original thinkers and scientists except Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, S.Chandrashekher, Hargobind Khurana, Amartya Sen, Venkatramana Ramakrshnan and a few other exceptions in recent history. Even a handful of those born with inner creative talents and high skills, are compelled to go abroad due to the lack of necessary facilities, proper incentives, lucrative compensations and encouragement in the country. In the field of science and technology, we are still dependent on the highly developed Western nations to a large extent, and India’s glory has been lost somewhere in the dustbin of history.
Total Overhauling needed
Unless the whole structure of the polity, which has been reduced to an abominably, abhorrently stinking rot, is overhauled and restructured, policies putting the educational system on a sound footing, and guiding the media towards its real functions, are framed afresh and implemented vigorously and vehemently, as well as suitable amendments are incorporated in the relevant portions of the Constitution in order to enact and enforce necessary laws for the purposes, the situation will not improve and India will not emerge as a totally free and independent nation in every field of life, in the truest sense of the term. In respect of media, it is more essential and imperative, especially in view of the growing greed to earn as much money as possible, even if it is at the expense of the barest minimum requisites of the common people. That the greed has overshadowed the super values and lofty human sentiments of love, affection, compassion, sympathy, honesty, sincerity and above all — the spirit of sacrifice — has been brought to the fore by the greedy, selfish and self-serving T.V. journalists/photographers, who, while reporting, always tend to prefer capturing images of even the bleeding and dying persons attacked by miscreants or injured in road accidents, to going to their rescue. An instance pointing out to the bitter truth was reported from Chennai, where a police officer attacked while on his motorbike by unidentified assailants, bled to death because of delayed medical attention on January 8, 2010. A convoy of ministers passed by, stopped, looked at the sub-inspector of Tamil Nadu police, R. Vetrivel lay profusely bleeding on the road, and simply passed off. None of them felt it necessary to take any action. On the other hand, a T.V. cameraman was so keen to capture the images that he, too, did not consider it necessary to take trouble of going to his aid.
The images were flashed by several TV news channels including 9 O’CLOCK NEWS. Although, the channels’ aim was to wag a finger at the ministers, who impotently stood around doing nothing, the same charge could be leveled on the cameraman, who was busy filming the scene, instead of rushing the man to the hospital. However, we can put the same question to ourselves; how many times do we stop when we witness a road accident? Is it fair on our part to be quick to shake our heads at the ministers, when many of us might not have stopped for any Vetrivel either? What does such an occasion demand from a journalist, who happens to be a human being? Should he shoot the event and pass off or physically intervene in it?
Arguments or Lame Excuses?
Argument goes like this that journalists’ job is just to report what happens, as clearly as possible. The journalist is like a doctor in the emergency room, strictly in accordance with one analogy- one that is iconic given the images of dying Vetrivel. One sees a lot of suffering, but it is more important to put one’s feeling aside and just work on the story. Many journalists, the world over-feel, think and act in the same fashion – especially those covering wars and unprecedented disasters. A journalist should never forget that he is a human being first and a professional last. Apart from reason and intellect, super human sentiments of love, mercy, sympathy, mutual consideration and cooperation, going to the rescue of helpless and extending a helping hand to the needy in distress, are the attributes that distinguish human beings from animals, and human nature demands that these qualities should never, in any case, be dominated by greed to earn money at the cost of lives, and the selfish urge to go ahead in the race of sweeping into the net all sorts of comfort and luxury of mundane life for the sake of the self and kith and kin, pushing behind, and sometimes, treading over others in the race.
The tremendous greed for money has virtually turned the professionals into the “ruthless machines,” and journalists are no exception. By preferring to capture footages, the T.V. photographer, in fact, proved his mercilessness. It is, of course, the economic conditions that determine how images are produced and broadcast for the viewers.
We are so accustomed to having our television journalists dramatize the news, and act like drama-mongers that they have lost our trust. Almost every televised event seems like infotainment, a soap opera, or trick for ratings. In this context, it is very difficult not to see almost every thing the news media does with an intensely suspicious eye. The panel discussions over regulation on television have been time and again raised as a way to control the runaway speed of television news, but this doesn’t seem to address the more intricate problem.