In the last 400 years of human history, two significant events have changed the course of development- the Industrial Revolution beginning in the 18th century and the recent Information Revolution which marks the universalization of information hitherto unseen on such a large scale based on the principle of “create once, publish many. ” Media today encompasses print media- newspapers, magazines, journals, periodicals, etc. ; electronic media-radio, television, telephony and the internet; and entertainment media- films and music.
Media has enabled decision making to be participative in nature, has made the idea of a “global village” a reality, has brought about the true realization of the freedom of speech and has helped in spreading education, health and equality. The enactment of Right to Information Act in 2005 has led to the citizen being at the centre of administration, and the media has played a key role in realising this dream. But together with the aforementioned beneficial effects of the spread of media, there have been some unwanted consequences as well.
Some of these are- magnification of disputes, sensationalization of news (called “Yellow journalism”), propaganda, cultural clashes, desensitization to violence, division of society into information haves and have-nots, lack of information authenticity and plagiarism leading to social loafing. However, the advantages of the spread of media far outweigh the disadvantages. The role played by media in developing countries such as India, is key to realise the dream of inclusive development.
Awareness regarding immunization programmes, institutional deliveries, balanced diet, healthy lifestyle and family planning are spread through media to remote parts of the country. Today All India Radio covers approximately 98% of the population of India. Farmers in distant villages are able to find the true prices of their produce through radio and telephone services. Even the spread of education through Distance Learning has made the dream of 100% literacy a reality in the years to come. Media has been at the forefront of spreading awareness on social issues.
The “Latitude of Acceptance” has thus widened. Issues such as global warming, pollution, spread of diseases, LGBT Rights, child labour, domestic violence, corruption, discrimination and farmer suicides have been taken up by the media very effectively. This has also been cited as one of the primary reasons for making governance of the country more transparent, responsive and responsible. Media has enabled an ordinary citizen of the country to play a central role in strengthening the civil society.
Through articles in journals, responses in newspapers, blogs on the web and audio-visuals on the internet, each and every citizen can realistically aspire to influence other sections of society. The Founding Fathers of our Nation laid down the path towards a sovereign, secular and democratic society where justice, liberty and equality would be secured to all the citizens and fraternity would be promoted among all. It would not be an exaggeration to state that media today, and in the coming future, holds immense promise to assist us in attaining these ideals and goals.
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