The Asia Society, a global nonprofit founded by John D. Rockefeller in 1956, recently held a much-recommended panel discussion titled, “Media and Democracy: A Political Play”, to look at the interplay of these factors in India’s enormous democratic system. The media, known as the fourth estate in every society, has the ability to frame political issues anywhere. In India, the media has built a remarkably strong link to democracy in that it is vibrant and ubiquitous. But does it truly represent the interest of citizens or the interest of political leaders in modern India?
The event was moderated by Naresh Fernandes, the editor of the digital news publication Scroll.in and an enthusiastic participant in the discussion. Panelists included award-winning journalist and news presenter Rajdeep Sardesai, spokesperson of the Bhartiya Janata Party in Maharashtra and member of the national executive council Shaina NC, and former Union Minister of State and former Member of Indian Parliament Milind Deora.
In focus during the discussion was Rajdeep Sardesai’s new book, Newsman – Tracking India in the Modi Era. Here is a brief description from the event invite:
Technology has fundamentally altered the way in which we access and consume news and information. The proliferation of the 24×7 news cycle and an omnipresent social media in the ‘post-truth’ era, has meant a significant shift for journalism. The result has been a preference to present a ‘false balance’ in news reporting in the struggle for higher viewership and bigger advertisers, occasionally compromising objective truth, fairness and accuracy. The 2014 general elections in India was perhaps the first time that social media played a significant role in election campaigning and potentially its outcome. It has since become an intrinsic and increasingly volatile part of political and civic life in India.
Four years on, as the country is gearing for another general election at a time when India’s global standing is stronger than ever, the traditional political landscape has all but changed completely. Join us in a conversation about what the future holds for India, the potential outcome of the 2019 elections, and the role the media plays in the world’s largest democracy.
The watchdog function of the Indian media is vital and goes a long way to moderating the excesses of corruption. To continue to do so better requires that Indians continue to maintain and expand their right to free speech. The video lasted for about an hour and 20 minutes. Take a look: