IS THE 4th PILLAR OF INDIAN DEMOCRACY COLLAPSING?
- “The moment we no longer have a free press, anything can happen. What makes it possible for a totalitarian or any other dictatorship to rule is that people are not informed.” – Hannah Andret
1. Introduction: The Legislature, Executive and Judiciary are the three eminent, esteemed and exalting pillars or pedestal of democracy. There is smooth, serene, stable and steady sailing when each pillar plays its role without pressure, strain, strength or stress. But when these pillars are malfunctioning, then there is corruption, crime, exploitation, extortion and confrontation. The fourth pillar Media has a vibrant, vigorous, vital and vivid role to play but when it fails and joins hands with the other three, the marrow, core or cream of Democracy become cancerous, calamitous, cataclysmic and catastrophic.
2. What is the role of the media?: Media is the watchdog of the three pillars of democracy. Media cannot make white into black and black into white but for them white is always white and black is always black. That is the greatness, intensity and potency of media. The words of the novelist and playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton “Pen is mightier than the sword” is worth mentioning here. A journalist is credible and creditable, conceivable and conclusive. There should not be any bit of deceit, fraud or graft but clarity, accuracy and certainty should be the hallmark of one’s vocation. A journalist’s heart and soul is modesty and morality; propriety and purity.
3. Why the media is losing its credibility or integrity?: Nowadays, what we witness is nothing but unhealthy competition and unsound perception between the journalists and the media. The values and views, philosophy and perspectives are slowly and steadily vanishing and evaporating from the vocation of journalism. Gradually people are losing faith in the media. The fourth pillar supposed to be the watchdog but unfortunate and untoward to say that they are waiting and watching for the bone to chew and bite. The sacredness and the sanctity of journalism at times are stinking and putrid. The channels and newspapers have seized and captured their stand for supporting the political parties and religion. The result news items and columns are coloured and contained according to the dictum and maxim of their godfathers. Today, the main and uppermost task is pleasing and gratifying the donor and patron, a few exceptions are to reckon with.
4. Who is responsible: If media is losing its credibility then the entire blame is to be on the shoulder of the fourth pillar of the democracy. Values are compromised, truth is buried,
morality is accommodated, voice is choked, stifled and strangled, the whole system is gasping for clean air. The available democratic procedures and constitutional authorities sad to say purchased and procured for one’s selfish gain to reach the concealed, hidden and invisible agenda. This is the time where the media should stand on its own feet to clear the air and bring truth to the public.
5. Constitutional Right: Freedom of the press is not specifically mentioned in article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution and but only freedom of speech and expression. In the Constituent Assembly Debates, it was made clear by Dr. Ambedkar, Chairman of the Drafting Committee, that no special mention of the freedom of press was necessary at all as the press and an individual or a citizen were the same as far as their right of expression was concerned.
Article 19(1) Freedom of Speech and expression: Freedom of Speech and expression means the right to express one’s own convictions and opinions freely by words of mouth, writing, printing, pictures or any other mode. It thus includes the expression of one’s idea through any communicable medium or visible representation, such as gesture, signs, and the like.
Freedom of expression has five broad special purposes to serve:
a) It helps an individual to attain self-fulfilment: Every person who born on this earth comes up with the rising sun, twinkling stars and sparkling saplings to contribute, execute and accomplish the task adhere to. The person attains self-fulfilment by expressing one’s god-given talents, genius and gift. Democratic set up is the most favourable, sought after and benign one to express one’s richness of inner self. What do we see today? Sensibility sentiments and sensitivity are coloured by party agenda as a result humanity is pushed to the wall whereas callousness, soulless, indurate rules the society.
b) It assists in the discovery of truth: Truth is upheld at any cost and ultimate only truth will win. The media has an important role to play in bringing out the truth in every sphere of society.
c) It strengthens the capacity of an individual in participating in decision-making:
When we analyze at the end of the day the people are frightened tortured tormented the effect they remain far from decision making. Minority make the decision for the majority starting from food to eat partner to choose. The effect, progress and development are in jeopardy. The very fiber of democracy is at stake.
d) It provides a mechanism by which it would be possible to establish a reasonable balance between stability and social change: Society is not static but dynamic; if it is static then there is no development but recession. The freehand is a must for development and progress. Our voices are choked, opinions are blocked; the truth is hidden under the carpet. The primary role of the 4th pillar is shaky due to the sharks that rule and dictate society.
e) All members of society would be able to form their own beliefs and communicate them freely to others: The constitution of India gives open and allows its citizen to hold on to their belief system. The self-centered people so-called hard nuts of the society for their hidden agenda choke the very life of the constitution and make the people slog to form their conscience thus there is a threat to practice promote and propagate one’s own belief or faith. The very vocation or mission of the 4th pillar or the media is to facilitate the citizen to find solace in the constitution of India.
6. Conclusion: It is the appropriate time for the media to stick to its primary job. In a democratic setup, media is the voice of the voiceless, conscience of the conscienceless society and a lamp to illumine the dim, dull and dingy spirit. The events and movements that take place in the society are to be pictured, presented and portrayed as it is and never
colour them according to the vested interest of a few individuals, members of the political parties, and religious leaders. “Freedom of the press is not just important to democracy, it is democracy”– Walter Cronkite.
Fr Joachim D’Souza, Advocate