Democracy gives us the right to speak and ask questions because it is a fundamental and human right. In a participatory democracy, people should not only participate in political system through their voting rights, but also participate in social movements. Therefore, awareness plays a pivotal role in shaping a democratic society, country and the whole world. People have to open their eyes and ears to watch and listen the voice of the world. No doubt, through media we are connected to the world. As we know, the media is the fourth pillar of democracy and plays a bigger role in the system.
The media not only focuses on issues, but it also creates awareness. It affects our socio-political nexus and even the everyday life of people. For over a month now, if we are trying to understand, the media has not been working as the fourth pillar of our democracy. It is only centred on a few issues and is highlighting them badly. Getting the highest TRP, and not focusing on actual issues, has become more important to them, and this will prove to be harmful for our society. The media can create a democratic space for people where they have access to their rights, but at present, the media is only focusing on Rhea Chakraborty (for the case of Sushant Singh Rajput’s death), and people are listening to the news day and night.
The judiciary system will be doing its work, but this culture of the media is not good for our democracy. Our Constitution doesn’t approve media trials the way our media is currently going about it. There are a number of issues in India and all over the world that need to be talked about, but our media is not focusing on any of those actual issues. The decline in our GDP (-23.9%) is not focused on by the media as the Rhea-Sushant issue is. What the reasons behind the decline in GDP rate are and what the next step will be, what governments should do, and how the youth can contribute to a better growth rate of our economy — we have a number of questions, but the Indian media is silent on these issues.
Presently, protests against the government for more job opportunities (through beating thalis and plates at BHU, Prayagraj and so on) is also a matter that should be of concern to the media. The youth of India is protesting for more jobs, but the media prefers talking about Rhea. If we look at any international index, India’s ranking has declined. The media should highlight these issues, create awareness about them and try to debate for the welfare of society, and not for their TRP. The discussion and debating part of media shows is also a part of the TRP game for TV channels.
If we try to understand, power and authority are two sides of the same coin. Power and authority need legitimacy, and authority is itself a legitimate form of power. However, legitimate power finds stability and after that, the power of authority gets the acceptance of people. According to Josef D. Mastrey, “A belief in the rules or theory of the Authority is a single trustable medium to secure the system.” In Gramsian view, the concept of hegemony describes how an authority tries to maintain faith or rules within its people or citizens through ideologies.
Family, school, university, media, civil society and so on are important factors within this concept of hegemony. If I try to remember the great political thinker of the seventeenth century John Locke, who advocated ‘seemit aur samvaidhanik shashan (limited and constitutional governance)’ and also talked about ‘freedom’ and ‘revolution’. If the system looks in authoritarian, people have the right to revolution. The silent revolution of England in 1666 was mostly affected by ideaa of Locke.
If we look at a few health report of India, the number of TB cases in India increased by 14% as compared to that of 2018. Sri Lanka and Maldives have eliminated Khasara and Rubela, but in India, 47,000 cases of Khasara and 1,200 cases of Rubela have come to front. India ranks second all over the world for its increasing number of cases of Khasara. In the Global Energy Transition Index 2020, India doesn’t get any rank within the top 115 countries. Freedom of Press is an important part of democracy, but in the World Press Freedom Index 2020, India’s rank declined to 142 from 140 in 2019 and 138 in 2018. Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka have ranked better in this index than India.
An American agency published a report titled Freedom in the World 2020, which is based on political and social freedom and had 195 participant countries. The theme of the report is ‘A Leadership struggle for Democracy’, and showed India’s rank decline since 2019. In a democratic country, these are concerning issues. In the World Happiness Index 2020 that had 153 participant countries, all of India’s neighbouring countries ranked better than India. India’s rank declined to 144 from 140 in 2019. The Indian media is silent about creating awareness for the betterment of society and is only focusing on trivial issues.
In the Sustainable Development Report of 2020, India ranked 117, but in 2019, its rank was 115, and in 2018, it ranked 112. Among the BRICS and neighbouring countries, only India’s rank declined in the report. In the Henley Passport Index 2020, India’s rank is 84. Even in this index, India did not rank well as compared to other BRICS countries. India has been growing day by day, but the role of media is also declined day by day.
India’s rank in all indices, be it education, health, freedom or happiness, has declined, and media plays a big role in this. The greed for a higher TRP, instead of focusing on relevant/actual news, is also one of the reasons responsible for this. The invisible hand of power and authority in media only becomes more powerful when media focuses only on its own maintenance. The media should remember that democracy gives everybody their rights and the media, being its fourth pillar, has a big responsibility.