RADIAGATE HAS BROUGHT THE FOCUS BACK ON ETHICS IN MEDIA
Finally the malice has reached fourth pillar of democracy, though there were some whisper campaigns running on internet but the final nail in the coffin is set in by the Radiagate episode. It poorly reflects the misuse of power enjoyed by certain individuals holding strategically important positions in the national media and selling the access to power to corporate interests. Now senior editors in India are considering putting in place systems to ensure ethical practices in journalism.
The move follows a scandal involving high-profile journalists after tapes of revealing phone conversations with an influential lobbyist were leaked. At the center of the controversy are two well-known journalists, Vir Sanghvi and Barkha Dutt. Critics say they acted like deal-makers, not journalists. Neither denies the conversations took place, but they deny any wrongdoing. The larger question is why they have to do it? Money can be an important factor though both of them are paid handsomely by their respective employers. Sadly, there conduct shows a poor light of individuals who acquire power and indulge in proxy governance by corrupt means .
Ms Dutt is heard on tape offering to relay messages from the corporate lobbyist to politicians to influence the process of forming a cabinet. Columnist Vir Sanghvi is heard offering a businessman a “rehearsed” interview.
‘NO GREY AREAS’
“Journalists need to exercise their judgment and verify everything that is said by a source. There are no grey areas, it’s black and white,” Vinod Mehta, editor of Outlook magazine which published the tapes, said. Corporate lobbyists represent certain interests which should be clear to everyone.” Mr Mehta was among a number of participants who spoke in a debate held at the Press Club of India.
Rajdeep Sardesai, the editor of the TV channel CNN IBN, said: “Let us not over- look the fact that it is the media’s unflinching attempts that have exposed these scams. Most of us are doing a very good job. “This rot is not new – it’s been around for three decades at least.”In this competitive age, access is information which is where the politicians have co- opted the journalists. Corporate India and politicians are subverting the system,” he said. Rajdeep is having a valid point that media is the recent past have played a crucial role in streamlining clean governance. More than 100 tapes of conversations between corporate lobbyist Niira Radia and leading journalists were recorded as part of an authorized police tap. Police were acting on a request from income tax authorities investigating the alleged mis selling of mobile telephone licences.
Last month, federal auditors said former telecommunications minister Andimuthu Raja had undersold mobile phone licences worth billions of dollars, resulting in an estimated loss of $39bn to the exchequer. It is not clear who leaked the tapes to the media. Transcripts of the conversations have appeared in the Open and Outlook magazines and have angered many Indians.
‘ Error of judgement’
In the tape recorded in the summer of 2009, Ms Dutt is heard discussing with Ms Radia who should be in the cabinet. Ms Radia was pushing for Mr Raja to be reinstated as a minister. Ms Dutt, currently group editor at NDTV is heard assuring Ms Radia that she would speak to a senior Congress party leader on her behalf. Barkha Dutt has apologized for “an error of judgement”, but she insists that she has not done anything wrong.
Mr Sanghvi who is heard offering a “fully scripted” and “rehearsed” television interview to Ms Radia’s client, India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani says he was “just stringing her along”.Ms Radia works as a lobbyist for two of India’s biggest industrialists Mukesh Ambani and Ratan Tata.Since the leaks, Mr Tata has gone to court saying that conversations between him and Ms Radia were “personal” and that the leaks violated his right to privacy.
But who is clean?
Just blaming Ms Dutt and Mr Sanghvi should not do any good to the country, the corruption malaice has reached in every section of the society. And the most disgusting fact of the entire corruption saga of the country is that it is affecting the lower class of our country, people are suffering at large and sectors like health, education, rural development, are the worst sufferer because they are largely funded by the government grants in a socialist country. Today, political class, bureaucracy, judiciary and media are becoming syndicated tool in the hand of few powerful lobbies operating in the country thus directly challenging the ethics of democratic practice. Hence short listing Ms Dutt and Mr Sanghvi for the entire misadventure will not solve any problem.
– BY OPINION EXPRESS