marie-lou fernandes is former deputy commissioner of police, mumbai.
After remaining wilfully silent on India's biggest corruption story of the year (Hear the Radia tapeshere), the immediate reaction of some sections of the Indian media was to divert attention to Brand India and corporate privacy concerns. We are now witness to another diversion -- the case for corporate lobbying (never mind that corporate lobbying has just robbed the country of hundreds of millions of dollars).
Let's take for example a single routine event like last week's conference on corporate sustainability addressed by Corporate Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid. Since the event was held in the wake of the Radia tapes leak the Minister was quizzed on legal regulation of the corporate sector by attending journalists. What follows is a quick and, unfortunately, dirty analysis of the reports that were published in the English media
Of the fourteen randomly surveyed reports, not a single Indian publication mentioned the real context of the questions viz. the corruption issue unearthed by the Radia tapes. The only publication to report this context was non-Indian, the South Asia Mail. While the others remained silent, six of the Indian publications chose to cite a misleading context instead, viz. privacy concerns, not the issues of corruption that the tapes revealed. These publications include Times Now, Economic Times, Indian Express, Express Buzz, Deccan Chronicle and Business Standard.
Despite the enormity of the corruption issue in the Radia tapes leakage and the role played by the country's top journalists in facilitating it, the Indian media shows little accountability to the public and there are still no apologies forthcoming. On the other hand, at a recent forum by India's press corps, the President of the Editor's Guild continued to support those journalists who manufactured convenient stories and brokered deals for corporate interests.
There can be no greater disgrace than the fact that the entire dissemination of the biggest corruption story of the year was managed by citizens and nonresident Indians through the Internet. If the Indian media wish to remain relevant in the Internet age, they will have to fight for change -- a working code of ethics, new leaders, better role models for a new generation of journalists, and if possible, a little humility now and then.