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Role of media in promoting an egalitarian society

Wednesday October 24, 2012 10:42:58 AM, Syed Asim Raza

There once was a beautiful country, where people lived in harmony and fraternity, where love and beauty co-existed in a natural manner. The subjects were ruled by a just ruler and cared for by the ethics and moralities of ruling class. There was shelter to one and all. It so happened that in this perfect system there grew a section of scrupulous individuals propagating malicious ideas and enflamed by their initial successes in amassing for themselves disproportionate assets clamoured for extra attention. They tweaked information reaching the ruler to cater to their personal agendas, day to day affairs o society were presented in such manner that it appeared to the ruler that there is some deliberate effort by unknown forces to shatter his kingdom. As a result he took drastic measures to safeguard his powers and in this process started hurting his own people. The national integrity fell in doldrums and the beautiful nation disintegrated owing to the concerted efforts of few.



For any egalitarian society to survive it is essential that the necessary ingredients of good governance, democratic participation, social upliftment, equality, fraternity co- exist in natural manner but the most important of them all is good, free and unbiased media, for it is upon this foundation that the success of above ingredients depend. Media’s importance is such that only the foolhardy can afford to ignore it, present are some cases:


CASE 1: Silvio Berlusconi is a man of multiple tastes, he has ruled the politics of Italy for quite long time now, this despite his well documented misdemeanours. What has sustained his stranglehold of power is clever manipulation of his work, this has been made possible by his ownership of top three commercial channels, three pay channels and various newspapers. These act as his mouthpiece and the people are made to believe that he is best for his nation. While the nation slips in debt and abject poverty, Berlusconi’s pet media blared all positivities about the events creating a false perception of development.


CASE 2: NEWS CORP'S (owned by Rupert Murdoch) group has 37 % share in Britain’s national newspapers circulation. Their manipulation of facts is well documented and partisan reporting especially during the times of financial crisis has seriously dented the progress of equality. A situation was created through concerted media campaign that resulted in taxpayer paying the burnt of spoils created by faulty business strategies of financial conglomerates. While the real perpetuators of this crisis the erring decision making CEO’s still took up huge purses pay cheques, the general masses were made to pay by losing jobs and paying tax to bail the companies.


CASE 3: False creation of extraordinary complexities and danger of disproportionate magnitude to cater to the agenda of attacking Afghanistan, Iraq etc.The perpetuators of violence used the media in extensively projecting extraordinary circumstances to serve as pretext for attacking these hapless countries and serve their interest of favourable government. The president of the errant nation ranted to an enchanted audience in united nation about the dire need of attacking the poor countries for some weapons of mass destruction which they were never able to fnd. The media was found to be hand in gloves with the efforts of the erring rulers and constantly blared rhetoric to justify its actions and project terrorism as a serious threat.



For any effort to be successful it is very important that it is supported in the right earnest and belief. Packaging news is integral part of media powerhouses. Any event caused especially in sensitive areas has the potential to fare up into serious situation hinging on media reporting of sporadic cases of violence. While the situation of such fragile areas depends solely on the reporting, the media has been found wanting in many such cases for example during height of Punjab militancy problem the local press was forced to comply with the diktats of local warlords to primarily develop a fear psychosis in general masses and fuel the need to form groups and support anti- social elements. The world scenario is akin to such polarisation wherein a deliberate situation is created to project mass terrorism as prevalent in society resulting in polarisation and stereotyping of particular community. The unfortunate part of the story is that all this is done basically to promote the growing arms sales with the concerted mechanism of media reporting.


Most of us are aware of the so called weapons of mass destruction that were supposed to be the pretext of attacking Iraq. Of course all of it was possible due to relentless media campaign sustained by lies and blatant lies. Another case in this point is the advertising gimmick relentlessly followed by the corporate bigwigs. While it is the product stability and performance that has the final say on success of product, the initial euphoria created by outrageous propagation of product knocks off the sensibilities of consumers. A case in the study is the film promotion done by the producers before the launch of any movie, such is the power of media influence that a big budget movie with a bankable star is a hit within a few days of its release even before the movie can be analysed through the prism of art of movie-making. As a result many a good low budget and technically brilliant movie loses the plot to under-cooked but better projected movie.


With the sudden explosion of so much variety of media reporting agencies and 24x7 news there has been found a tendency amongst the channels of sensationalizing the news content. While this is not only detrimental to our sensibilities, it also serves a negative and malicious propaganda of eyeball grabbing and falsification of genuine content. Of course media with such powers of persuasion can perform positive works to create a egalitarian society.


Media can make people aware of their rights and highlight instances of social inequality as in the recent cases of tribal injustice in Andaman and Nicobar. The newspapers provide instant national coverage for aggrieved and acts as a deterrent for the perpetuators of such injustices. It can serve the purpose of bringing to light the ground reality of societies.


Media can give publicity to individuals and organisation which are working in the areas of securing human rights. This shall encourage them and provide a positive impact for others to emulate. Moreover for any media to share positivism is healthy on part of building optimism in masses, for example the extensive coverage to Anna Hazare movement was mind boggling, although the jury is still out on the relevance of such outrageous publicity accorded to one man. The interesting part is the lonely struggles carried on by some other social activists like Irom Sharmila and Binayak Sen. Although the need of the hour is not to accord extra attention on every individual but at least positive and impartial attention can be accorded to people like Medha Patekar for their humanitarian efforts.


Media can provide means and methodology to masses to fight their cases for example relentless media campaigns in information about right to information act have resulted in greater participation of people and accountability. Campaigns in newspapers and televisions promoting peace and values and criticising indecent behaviour are necessary to develop the youth to inculcate positive values.

...there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters’ Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important than they all burke


Media can positively serve the purpose of link between the lawmakers of parliament and the people. They can highlight the problems faced by the people and create pressure for its implementation of necessary remedial measures. The press gallery present at the parliament has the important function of being a impartial observer and upholding values of the house while ensuring that the parliamentarians maintain ethos and moralities befitting their stature.


Media can serve the purpose of positive consensus on issues concerning humanities albeit following a different path, for example ‘AMAN KI AASHA’ an initiative of leading daily has the intention of bridging gaps between politically hostile countries. More such measures such as journalism with courage, unbiased reporting from sensitive areas has helped a lot many individual and communities develop into better contributors to society.


Media can play an important role of mass sensitization for preventive measures especially in cases of calamities, a good case point in this initiative is the polio eradication programs that has seen successes in past, more such initiatives such as dots and aids eradication are being promoted and in the process of seeing success. Programs on state run channels and privately owned ones promoting child welfare, eradication of child labour and dowry are necessary for general development.


Media can play the greater goal of ensuring parity to the marginalized and deprived society who otherwise are subject to subjugation. For any healthy egalitarian society to exist in harmony it is essential that voices of dissent must be heard and media can serve the purpose of interpreter of such voices, for this priority to see success it is essential that media plays a impartial and balanced view.


Media can bring to light injustices and subjugation on humanitarian crisis and develop a national consensus on futility or relevance of action, for example the masses turned up against the war in Vietnam seeing the reporting of humanitarian crisis unfolding in the aggrieved nation. Unrelenting pressure on the government agencies in light of media reporting of sub-standard conditions at commonwealth games, 2G scams have resulted in high profile arrests in political circles. This goes a long way in acting as a deterrent for future defaulters.


Media can get its together in bringing forward issues concerning the basic development of humanity for example it can work towards development of national consensus on implementation of governmental policies such as national food bill and right to education act. Many policies of the ruling class are unable to achieve the successes they aspire to attain owing to lack of coordinated efforts on ground level, media can fill in the gaps by simply leveraging its clout on the basis of reach.


Media can develop a systematic procedure that can benefit the neediest, on its initiative lies the responsibility of exposing the under-belly of any society. Efforts in the direction of bringing to light atrocities must be coherent and organised without the intention of creating sensationalization and majority backlash. Reports like Sachar committee on minorities must be given due space in reporting for if we continue to ignore and suppress such genuine facts chances are heavy that we may end up in the labyrinth of unending maze of violence and more violence.



The present situation in world scenario calls for cautious optimism and balanced viewpoint to establish an egalitarian society. While most of the media in the world are big corporate owned, however the mechanism of unbiased reporting and truthfulness of fact presentation is still prevalent in most democracies like India.


There are international watchdogs that ensure justice and equality, and this goes a long way in providing the necessary support. The press council in most democracies are very strong but the influence of interest groups is also prevalent. In such situation it is necessary that the self regulatory measures of media companies are strong enough and power centralization should be diluted so that individual influences are negated. Community participation is need of the hour to promote a sense of belonging in this sector, pluralistic media must be entertained to absorb different cultures and inclusiveness. Newspapers in different languages must be made available to promote equality and mass participation. The media on its part must take up lead in being the impartial observer reminding about rights and duties while maintaining its status. Only on this path of truthfulness and equality can we get the kingdom of yonder, where the just ruler will govern over his subjects with patience and equality. The partisan reporters can take the role of impartial observers and contribute to the system of perfectness. The nation can renew its glory of justice and fraternity including punishment of anomalies to how much it deserves.


The writer, Syed Asim Raza, is the 3rd year B.Tech student

at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). The above article won the top prize in

the National Essay Competition organized by the AMU in 2011.







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