‘Protect the constitution of India’ was the call reverberated in the speeches at the National Convention of Christian writers on the theme, ‘Print Media and Indian Democracy’ held in Indore on March 9.
All speakers pointed out that the Constitution of India is the very foundation of democracy. The ideology, policies and actions of the BJP government amply vindicate that the ruling party is bent upon replacing the present Constitution of India with one that is in tune with the Manusmriti. The print and electronic media in general are being influenced by the ruling party either to support or to be indifferent to the attacks on the freedom of expression and speech that is guaranteed by the Constitution.
Bishop Salvadore Lobo, the bishop of Baruipur diocese and chairman of CBCI Commission for Social Communication, in his inaugural speech recalled the appeal made in the statement of CBCI (Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India) meeting held recently in Bangalore. The CBCI had called upon the members of the Church “to He also said that we need a journalism that stands for peace, trust, harmony and it should be the voice of the voiceless.
“Indian Constitution is the backbone of democracy and it is under attack today,” said Dr. Ram Puniyani, the keynote speaker. According to him, the organizations that do not want democracy in the country have come to power. The politics in the name of Hinduism has nothing to do with Hinduism. Today religion is being used to attack democracy. Hinduism is abused left, right and centre, he stated.
The anti-democratic forces spread misconception and hatred, leading to communal violence. The misconception being spread is that all Muslims are terrorists and all Christians are bent upon converting poor people to Christianity. Those who work in the media have a great responsibility to combat the wrong notions by disseminating the truth, Mr Puniyani elaborated.
Even though social media is getting prominence today, the print media is playing a crucial role in the life of the people of India, said Mr. A J Philip, a prominent journalist. Today democracy has become the autocracy of the majority, he said. The role of the media is to bring out truth. At the same time the media is facing a credibility crisis, he added.
Dr. Suresh Mathew contented that the Media in India is controlled by the government through harassment and threats. The arrest of cartoonist G Bala and the CBI raid on the office of Prannoy Roy were pointed out as examples of harassment. During the last four years, the Prime Minister has not given any press conference. His engagement with public is limited to tweets, Dr. Suresh stated. The widespread fear among the journalists is due to the vindictive attitude of the government. The purpose of the media is to communicate to the rulers the aspirations and agonies of the ruled, he added.
Mr. Shravan Garg emphasized that the print media is not informing the people what is happening in the society. Nobody is dictating the media, nor there censorship now. Even then things are not being reported. There is a fear of something unknown among the journalists. According to his analysis, after the September 11 terrorist attack in the USA a lot of things are happening all over the world in the name of national security. In the name of protecting citizens, their rights are being taken away. All our personal data is with the government and it is watching our movements.
Fr. Varghese Alengaden said both democracy and print media have become hollow. People’s representatives are being purchased. Media people are also being purchased because of degeneration of values. “How many of us are ready to tell the truth?” He challenged the journalists present at the convention. He said that journalists have to become prophets or conscience of the society. This requires a radical shift from ecclesio-centrism to Christo-centrism. He also said that the content of Christian journalism should be for the whole society and not for Christians alone.
Indian Currents Honoured with ICPA Award
Dr. Suresh Mathew, the editor of Indian Currents, received ICPA’s (Indian Catholic Press Association) prestigious annual “Louis Careno Award for Excellence in journalism” at a colourful function at the convention. The award was given for the weekly magazine’s bold stand against communalism and fundamentalism.
Accepting the award Dr. Suresh Mathew said, “This award goes not to Fr. Suresh but to all those who write, subscribe and read Indian Currents”. What is urgently required for the leaders of the Indian Church is to read and promote the Indian Constitution, support Indian Currents and read newspapers diligently, he added.
The award function was presided over by Bishop Salvadore Lobo. Renowned painter and writer Mr Prabhu Joshi was the Chief Guest and Fr. Alphonso, the President of ICPA, was the guest of honour.
The ICPA also honoured Fr. M D Thomas for his exceptional contribution to Hindi Christian literature and four other members of ICPA for their contribution as journalists. Mr Chinmay Mishra from Indore, a writer, thinker and social activist, was honoured for his contribution to the promotion of art and literature.
(Published on 12th March 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 11)