Media & The State

Media HousesBengal is the center of attraction yet again. Unnecessary to say for the wrong reasons again. A recent circular from the Ministry of Libraries caused a furore on mainstream and social media. The government has decided that it will not stock any “politically funded” newspaper in libraries funded by the state.

The decision has been widely criticised across newspapers which did not make it to the select few papers that will be kept at public libraries. Leading the ranks were Anandabazar Patrika and Bartaman. The latter even ran a headline openly threatening the present government of “showing its might”. ABP on the other hand has been in its usual propagandist form.

The national media as usual woke up late to the story and started running headlines which were miles apart from fact and bordered on shoddy fiction. Some papers even ran headlines that the government had banned English dailies. How they come to such conclusions is best known to them. But time has come we take a stock of the situation at hand. Has the fourth pillar of Indian democracy turned itself into Demi God?

It is the duty of the media to present news to the people. “Report not Support” is the motto they should go by. Sadly in India, and specially in Bengal, it is just the opposite. Not only are most newspapers in the state run my people with political affiliations, but some media houses are famous for their ties with certain colours.

Among the reputed dailies which have been kept out of the list of permitted newspapers, inlcude Aajkal (with soft spot for the Left), Bartaman (anti establishment, will go to any length to defame party in power), Anandabazar (have agenda of their own, will support anyone who supports them), Telegraph (product of ABP group), and several other English dailies.

A state government, which runs the libraries, has the prerogative to choose which papers it wants to house in its libraries. Like a school principal has the onus to decide the text book for the school, it is up to the govt to decide what comes into the govt libraries. However inclusion of a newspaper run by a TMC MP shows the initiative by the government in bad light.

The way media has played out this story is really shameful. It has become a free for all, every channel giving their own version of the circular. Some have even gone to the extent of saying circular banned some newspapers from circulation. Is spreading misinfomation the aim of free press?

governmentThe reputation of ABP is quite well known. The same paper which had virtually campaigned for Buddha in 2006, became Mamata’s ally in 2011. A media house deserted by reputed names like Suman Chatterjee, Arkaprava Sarkar. This is the same media house which stooped to lowest levels of propaganda against those who did not conform to the paper’s agenda during Singur agitation, and then made heroes of same person after fall of left regime.

Some people are comparing this act with the ban on several plays against Left Front govt during Singur-Nandigram revolutions. Their basic premise is wrong. In a state enforced ban, that happened in Buddha Babu’s regime, people were forcefully kept away from plays of Kaushik Sen or Saoli Mitra. We did not have any access to those acts. In this case, people are free to read a paper of their choice, albeit outside the state libraries. As “owners” of libraries, it is absolutely justified if a govt has a wishlist of books and papers. Even i would. Or for that matter, my readers.

A large number of people have voiced their angst against the government stepping into their personal freedom. I wonder if the same people ever complain (let alone protest) when the companies they serve unilaterally block websites and social networking platforms in their offices. Just like it is the prerogative of a company to decide what will be available in its office, it is for the state government to decide what it will put up in its libraries. Outside office we are free to access any website we want, similarly beyond the realms of the library, everyone is free to read anything they want.

While we may keep discussing about the government and it trying to impose views on people, is it justified for press to carry stories (with very little base in truth) to form public opinion against a particular government? Is it justified for a media house to stoop to propaganda against a party because they fell out with the media house concerned on a policy decision? Is it right for the fourth estate of democracy to poison people with opinions, knowing very well that they have power without accountability?

What is the role of media in a democracy, i am forced to ask? Has the media become just another manifestation of political class? What should the general public do when a media house wages war threatening of “annihilition” against an elected govt because they do not see eye to eye on an issue of land policy?

My answer would be to boycott those media houses. What about you?

About Agnivo Niyogi

Typical Aantel, reader, blogger, news addict, opinionated. Digital media enthusiast. Didi fanboi. Joy Bangla!

Posted on March 29, 2012, in kolkata, Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. I don’t agree with you comparing it with office blocking social networks or headmaster choosing text books. Let all newspapers in the library and it is for the people to decide what to read. People should be given options.


  2. Really.. comparing blocking of websites in offices with the ban of newspapers in library???? The worst argument one could have given… Just don’t try and defend for the sake of defending…


    • agnidattagupta

      Why do you think it is a “worst argument” one could have given? Personal freedom has different yardsticks for government and corporates? Or is it because the corporates pay us fat pay cheques so we should ignore their tyranny? 🙂


  3. Today , in West Bengal , Dr. Mamata Banerjee’s Govt. imposes ,’Reign of Terror ‘ . 54 Left Front workers & leaders incl. one ex-MLA slain-ed by TMC Death Squad . 23 women ,supporters of Left Front raped by TMC Leaders . So , if you , want to hide the fascist nature of Dr. Mamata Banerjee & TMC , either you live in fool’s paradise or you are TMC cadre/leader . Latest heinous act of Dr. Mamata Banerjee is to impose ,’ Censorship-Fothowa’ on Libraries is not only one example to ,’curb’ Free-press activities . Dr. Mamata Banerjee herself denounced ,’Free-Press’ -concept as a Chief-Minister no other from Writers-Building ! As a , so called,’Free-Thinker’ you even forget to say something about Library – Minister of West Bengal , Mr. Abdul Karim Choudhury ! I can say that People of West Bengal know well that Mr. Abdul Karim Choudhury never claims to be Ph.D-holder as DR. MAMATA BANERJEE CLAIMS ,SO! Do you want to shed some light on that issue ? LET US SEE !!!


  4. ‎”A state government, which runs the libraries, has the prerogative to choose which papers it wants to house in its libraries.”

    LOL. Disagree big time with your post. 🙂 Media shouldn’t be censored. ANYDAY.

    The case of censoring media in certain cases that the COURT feels may hurt those involved IS a positive, NOT what the GOVERNMENT is doing right now.

    You say the media should be without political/capitalist tinges. Can’t happen.

    I say the Government should be without political tinges. CAN happen.


    • Where did censoring come into this? You are free to read any paper outside of the libraries, and even inside the libraries given that you buy them. Free-riding on the state is over.

      *ban *censor* etc are just sly words being used by a section of the media to paint this incident as a fascist step. It is hardly so. 🙂


  5. We all have our little freedoms, but how dare the government try to have a mind of its own! It’s ok if the corporates do it, but we must scream slander if the government does. I don’t agree with you entirely, but yes, we do need to have same parameters for everyone.


  6. aditya nandode

    To be clever about the step, TMC government could have just released t as part of budget cut as govt is facing some problem to meet its expenses! And stilt these papers at public libraries albeit reader has to pay extra!


  7. This is not a move to censor any kind of Media, You are still free to buy and read whatever newspaper you want to read.A tea shop owner, a fish vendor, a saloon all are free to choose their newspaper than why not a Government Library ?

    On the blog, I think little statistics about which newspapers are in and which are out, would have added value. Overall it is a well written piece. Kudos !


  8. LET the toilets and compartments be neat and clean along with the food u get in the train ,then think of all these luxuries…..


  9. What exactly are you trying to say? Banning newspapers in State Library is the worst thing that a Government can do to its people! And to support it, you come up with an eg. of the corporates? Really?

    This reminds me of the burning of books and newspapers in libraries during the Hitler regime just because they didn’t conform to Hitler’s ideology. Freedom is where public has the right to choose! A library that caters to the mass can NOT ban newspapers. This has got nothing to do with the Government that’s in power. Agreed, media today is corrupted to the core and they are big time into paid news, but that doesn’t at all justify the ban on newspapers.

    I can hardly believe an educated person like you actually supports the ban on ‘right to choose’? Are you in real?


  10. @Agnidattagupta
    You are absolutely right in pointing out that Government has the right to decide which newspaper should be bought in the “govt-funded’ libraries.Specially when the govt has declared that it wants to spread “Free-thinking” (“Mukto-moner Prosar”) through its diktat.But I wonder why the list of the esteemed dailies approved by the govt are completely biased towards a particular political party? Is it just a co-incidence or only those who don’t criticize the govt have the APPROVED “Free thinking”? When the editors of four of these esteemed dailies get ticket to RS from TMC, then it all becomes clear.
    CM has warned that in due course Govt will decide “which newspaper to read”.Sadly, in a democratic country her dream will remain unfulfilled.

    School principal deciding on which text book to read shows his discretion on the subject matter which he thinks will best suit for his students,if the notion is driven by “which publisher pays me in return” will surely evoke same questions.Corporates block websites at our WORKPLACE,which they think can hamper the productivity of the employees,does this apply to libraries?please think twice before you compare apples with oranges.:)


  11. rubbish


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