Hyderabad: Veteran journalist and former Editor In Chief of The Hindu daily, N. Ram underscored the need to undertake research studies on the deviation of the media from the guidelines enshrined in the constitution.
Speaking as the Chief Guest at the inaugural session of the two-day international conference on Muslims, Media and Democracy—prospects and challenges at Maulana Azad National Urdu University here Tuesday, Mr. Ram said that the few studies that were done in the aftermath of the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992 and the Gujarat riots in 2002 have indicated the heavily biased role played by a section of the media then. Hindi and Gujarati media agencies did not realize that they have to present an objective picture of the situation. They both took sides that inflicted immense damage to the secular ethos of the country. But no proper study was taken up to find out why that serious deviation of the principled path had taken place.
He offered assistance from the Chennai based Asian School of Journalism to MANUU for taking up research on issues of national importance, particularly related to minorities and their language.
Noted TV personality Rajdeep Sardesai said that the TV channels are more worried about increasing their TRP and in the process consolidating negative images of groups of people including the Muslims.
He advised media to strike a balance in reporting and should stay away from targeting or praising one political party or the other.
In his keynote address Shekhar Gupta, former Editor in Chief of Indian Express, said that the movies in Mumbai have played a negative role in projecting the image of Muslims as extremists and perpetuating them. The movie makers and media organizations should not indulge in maligning a community. They should be careful when they are dealing with sensitive subjects such as communalism.
He said that the Muslim in India have followed leaders from other communities to resolve their social, economic and political problems. This positive sign should be highlighted, he suggested.
Four eminent journalists from Pakistan have joined their fellow Indian professionals to discuss issues related to Minorities.
Leading Pakistani journalists Najam Sethi and Imtiaz Alam expressed apprehensions over growing intolerance in India and said that the country should learn lessons from Pakistan in not following the path of secularism and democracy.
Zafar Sareshwala, Chancellor of MANUU, asked Muslims to undertake introspection with a view to finding out why there is so much gap between Islam as a religion and its practice by the followers.
Prof. Mohammed Miyan, Vice Chancellor, said that the Muslims should demonstrate that they have imbibed the spirit of moderation found in their faith.