Wednesday 23 January 2013

Narad Muni --The first Indian Journalist

Vishnu Bhagwan was lying on the great serpent Sheshnag in the middle of the sea having in his four hands a lotus, a mace (gadaa), a shankh (conch) and a chakra (wheel), when the first perpetually peregrinating Indian journalist Narad Muni came to see him. As usual, Narad was carrying a Veena in his left hand, and wearing a dhoti and with a garland of orange coloured flowers around his neck.

"Narayan, Narayan" said Narad on beholding the Lord, and he bowed and folded his hands.
"Vatsa Narad" said the Lord, "Nice to see you again. How are you ? How are you doing in your profession of journalism on earth ?"

"Narayan, Narayan" said Narad, "Lord, it is for this very reason I have come to you. Please grant me a pension as I wish to retire from journalism. 

The Lord showed great concern. " Why, what has happened Narad ?"

"Lord, I cannot face the competition anymore with these young Indian journalists."

"Oh come on Narad" said the Lord " You are such a senior journalist. How can these youngsters create a problem for you ?"

"Narayan, Narayan" said Narad, "Lord, it is not journalism anymore. What exists in India today in the name of journalism is not journalism but magic, and unfortunately I have never learnt magic. There is a new medium called television which never existed in my time. It is truly magical. The job of this medium is not to inform but to create public opinion by whipping up sustained mass hysteria over a certain issue, such as the corruption issue, the Delhi gangrape issue, the beheading of an Indian soldier issue, etc.

Most T.V. channels, hungry for higher T.R.P. ratings, and convinced that rabid demagoguery is profitable, are falling head over heels over one another to make people angry, frenzied and hysterical and go to the streets over some issue. For doing this everything goes : half truths, downright lies, sensationalism, trivialization, etc. and a meticulous search and empanelment of ' experts' and 'opinion makers', who often advocate and indulge in jingoistic chauvinism like 'unleashing the sword', anchors who instead of being neutral and objective, aggressively give a slant to a story, rudely interrupting and not allowing those invitees who disagree with their views to speak.

Some time back most T.V. channels projected Anna Hazare as a modern Moses who will lead his chosen people to a land of milk and honey (though a careful study of the man's statements show that he has no scientific ideas). The whole country was led in a frenzy by the media, somewhat like the children of Hamelin led by the Pied Piper, over the issue of corruption, but where is the issue now ? It has disappeared, and so has Anna Hazare. Obviously because the issue is now no longer profitable as it does not increase the T.R.P. rating. And has corruption dropped by even 0.1% in India ? Not at all.

Then the Delhi gangrape issue exploded. For over 2 months most T.V. channels created a manufactured hysteria which drove young people to the streets and to Jantar Mantar. Rape had become the one and only issue, a matter of life and death for the human race, while poverty, hunger, malnutrition, unemployment, price rise, lack of healthcare, farmers suicides, etc. became non issues and counted for nothing.

When this hysterical wave subsided another was created by our T.R.P.driven broadcast media : the beheading of an Indian soldier allegedly by Pakistanis. Despite offer by the Pakistan High Commissioner to India to hold an objective probe, our media whipped up jingoism and war mongering, leading to attack on Pakistani hockey players and sending them back, postponement of the agreement on visa on arrival for the elderly, etc.

"And what about the print media" asked the Lord.

"Narayan, Narayan" said Narad, "It has largely become advertisements. Many leading newspapers really begin on page 3, the first 2 pages being advertisements. And the print media is often led by the nose by the electronic media with its 'breaking news'.

Paid news is so rampant in both print and broadcast media that there is no point even talking about it.

Lord, please give me a pension otherwise I will go mad in the company of the great Indian journalists of today."

"Tathaastu" said the Lord, and disappeared, and now Narad Muni is sitting in padmasana in a Himalaya cave with his eyes closed and wishing for nirvaana!


  1. Yes!! This is the job on which you should spend all your energies. Media is the 4th pillar of democracy but in India we have fools and that too corrupt, managing all the media!!

  2. Splendid Sir..
    In a lucid manner you have not only depicted the real picture of print and broadcasting media, but have also made us realize to think with an open mind on issues pertaining to not getting emotional and carried away with hypothetically projected news..

    Hats off sir..

  3. I pray Narad Muni's Padmasana doesn't become next hot topic for these TRP driven broadcast media.


  4. You failed to mention in detail on two most important things....

    Narada Muni (I wonder why you said "Narad" Muni, a distorted one even by Sanskrit - a language which you admire a lot)

    1. He never married but claimed to have 60 wives

    Now, who are the wives? Of course, the political parties & the mid wives who come in various forms as panelists.

    2. Who said finally "Tathaastu" or gives him the power?

    The Lord himself.

    And who is the Lord? The people of INDIA. When Lord is fooled, Narada Munis rule! But, Lord, though gracious, can not be fooled again, again and again. Lord forgives, does not mean he will be fooled all the time!

    And the killing on LoC was not alleged. I'll go by the army account here & have the anger/rage with which they said goalkeepers on penalty shootouts.

    Good post informing Narada Muni is the 1st journalist on earth!

  5. that's true sir. We have given the power to newspaper and forgot to take it back. Very fine briefing about the media state. Time is to awake and penalize the one is doing wrong.

  6. Good satire.

    But someone being in the position ( Chairman of PCI ) to correct the situation ( at least print media ), I think the onus is on you and you owe the responsibility to straighten it. So can also say this is a self-criticism

  7. So it all comes down to the question of regulation or perhaps censure. But stringent rules to regulate media or overarching regulatory authority negates the purpose of existence of media in the first place. What then is the way out?

  8. Sir i must say one thing you are awesome person .Hats of 2 u sir..

  9. Well I agree with you sir, and the best way to stop the hysteria and chaos created by media is to restrain media and this restrain should be by media itself without invading the freedom of speech and expression.

  10. Sir, I totally respect you for your opinion about journalism. Even I also belong to the same boat when it comes to what journalism means nowadays.

    But what do you have done for issues highlighted by you eg. poverty, hunger, malnutrition, unemployment, price rise, lack of healthcare, farmers suicides, etc.

    I am regular reader of your blogs and I have observed the 'negative' essence in everything. Developing countries have always went through some chaotic problems before reaching to the pinnacle.

    I believe in "LEAD OR LET OTHERS LEAD". I'm hoping for your fundamental actions against flaws ((mentioned by you) ) of this country. Jai Hind.

  11. Absolute truth. Nothing but facts. But then people get what they want , what they deserve. don't they?

  12. Justice Katju should do his job objectively -

  13. You are the modern day Narad Muni.

    Look at what you do. In your own convoluted way, like most T.V. channels that are hungry for higher T.R.P. ratings, and convinced that rabid demagoguery is profitable, YOU have also been falling head over heels to make people angry, frenzied, and hysterical to create sensationalism. The ability to mix issues that have no relevance to one another to cause confusion comes to you directly from Narad Muni. Otherwise, why should you bring in Anna Hazare and other unrelated issues in your narrative.

    It is unfortunate that you should immerse yourself in demeaning and trivializing people and issues that are of national importance. Believing in yourself as an expert on all issues and often putting forth biased opinions, confirms your self-aggrandizing tendencies.

    1. That was a perfect shot. You have said it so correctly. Justice Katju seems a person who has problem with everything but when asked to act on those problems, he becomes 'silent'. Action speaks louder than words. Prove Mr. Katju.

  14. Respected Sir,
    I disagree with your views. I do agree that media is not always honest and is more interested in TRP ratings than the truth. However the points you raised above to substantiate your claim are unreasonable.
    You say that Anna was projected as moses and he doesn't have scientific ideas. But there is more to it. It was not that he was suddenly on every news channel and people got excited and came out into his support. He was protesting for something our political system has failed to deliver in past 60 years. It was the governments apathy(and later his arrest to muzzle people's voice) rather than hysteria created by media for the popular support. Also as for scientific ideas, in my opinion he doesn't have to have any. It is not that its Anna who has to deliver a LokPal. We have many learned people who can make a good effective lokpal. The problem is lack of political will and the collusion between political parties to secure their interests. The public came out because they are fed up with corruption and lack of governance.
    Again in the Delhi gang-rape case you say that media focussed only on this issue. This does not mean that other issues are made any less important. The brutality of this case left everyone shocked and many of the protestors were young who could relate themselves to the young victims. Its not that this is a unique case or there are no other problems in society. But due to the publicity this gang-rape has got people came out on streets and I think this is good for country that people come out streets and are not indifferent to fellow citizen's sufferings. This case has again exposed the government's indifference towards public. You are well aware of our Home Minister's comments. Media has also highlighted in past the plight of farmers.
    Regarding the case of beheading of Indian soldiers you say that Pakistan's High Commissioner offered a probe. However going by the past record of Pakistan do you believe it will result in anything concrete ? What has happened in 26/11 case? Nothing. While I am against war but this is not an isolated incident. Neither is it that Indian soldiers had crossed LoC where they were killed in defense. The Pakistani government is incapable of conducting a probe as the real power lies with the Pakistani military. Moreover why would they indict their own soldiers ? The TV anchors may try to hype the issue for TRP but in this case it's not completely wrong. Pakistan has been consistently bleeding India and we keep forgetting their devilry. A red line must be drawn somewhere
    I will conclude by saying that I am not trying to defend media. I myself believe that many of them are more interested in money making than highlighting issues of society. But points raised by you in support of your agreement are incorrect in my opinion.

    IIT Kharagpur

  15. Fantastic Article... I just wish, all those who have disliked your above article or opposed it, could understand the overall picture of the media today and the reason why you have written this article. Everybody is trying to defend themselves... Ghor kalyug hai sir !

  16. You, Justice Katju, are a man of heart. It's a difficult thing to continue to be, in today's world. In a world where flash often passes off for substance, and "cliches" are feared not for their repeating content but for fear of falling out of latest fashion, it is quite refreshing to hear your truisms and thoughts, over and over again if needed be.

    Truth can never become a cliche, no matter how many times it is repeated. Even verbatim repetition of truth can't turn it into a cliche.

  17. Bravo sir!!!1 Thats why I become your fan. Exceptionally true. Just couple of minute earlier than your blog, I tweeted, " Sometime I feel, this country is run by media. NOT by any political party."
    I am desperately missing those social messages as commercials used to aired on Doordarshan about performance of duties by bureaucrats, common man on how to cross the road, what to do what not to...
    Alas!!! its all become the business now. Sir, keep your voice high. you are not alone.

  18. Katju, u might be right about other examples but not Anna Hazare's. In the build up to the anshan, the media was fully silent. On the 4th day of the anshan, when people started pouring in, the media suddenly became active, and later claimed it as the victory of the media. It was one example where the people drove the media, and not the other way round.

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  20. Making the funding of these media houses public and bringing them under CAG audit could solve some of the issues.

  21. Enough of sattire katju sir.. do or suggest something to change the situation.

  22. Sir with all due respect,Journalism demands neutrality.
    Narad Muniji often had an ulterior motive of favoring the "devas". Isn't it?

    Also, what about "conflict of interest". Wouldn't there be conflict of interest when reporting between devas n asuras? :)