Oct 21, 2009

Indian Media, Bt Brinjal and Sarav Shiksha Abhiyan

Don't be angry. I can understand why you feel outraged at the way the English press is unabashedly pushing the commercial interest of the biotech companies. In the past few days I have received so many phone calls and emails not only abusing the English language newspapers but also calling them names for supporting the environmental clearance for the approval of Bt brinjal.

I do appreciate your feelings and your sentiments. But don't forget, the spate of editorials in the English language dailies, all in gratitude of the biotech companies like Monsanto/Mahyco, Syngenta and Du Pont, is simply their way of saying thank you. After all, these companies have sustained the livelihood security of print journalists all these years through their massive support in the form of advertisements, and the newspapers have to express its thanks and what better occasion than this.

[Of course, money plays the role in what appears in the print media these days. Just wait and watch for a cover story on GM crops/foods that is expected to appear in a prominent fortnightly in the days to come. Your anger will simply boil over.]

Coming back, please don't be angry at the English press. Try to be sympathetic and considerate towards them. After all, it is a question of dal-roti of these journalists. Don't forget, what the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) does for the poor landless labourers, corporate advertisements do it for the media houses.

These advertisements guarantee the livelihood security of the print journalists. The only difference being that while the NREGS is funded entirely by the Ministry for Rural Development, the advertisements or what I call as the National Media Employment Guarantee Scheme (NMEGS) is operated by the corporate and business houses.

Like most of you, I too am shocked at what is appearing in these editorials. It only shows how illiterate and ill-informed our editorial writers are. It is amusing to see that most editorials have ad nauseam repeated the same line: GM foods are absolutely essential to increase food production. What they do not even care to know is that this statement is factually incorrect. There is no GM crop in the world that increases productivity. I challenge anyone of them (and they can seek the help of the 11 PR agencies that have been reportedly put on the job to launch a media blitzk in support of Bt brinjal) to name even one GM crop that actually increases productivity?

Why doesn't the English media hold public debates on this contentious subject? If they have the resources to organise annual jamboori in the form of leadership summit, and host bollywood awards, why can't they spend on something more meaningful? After all, GM crops adversely affects the environment, and the human health. Knowingly or unknowingly, every person on the planet will have to pay a price for turning a blind eye to the routine approvals being granted to GM crops/foods.

In the light of the widespread ignorance that prevails about the potential of GM crops, I wonder whether it would be appropriate to extend the Sarav Shiksha Abhiyan (universionalistion of education) to the print journalists? They urgently need to be educated, and the media houses should hold frequent oritentation courses/workshops for these journalists. The Coalition for GM Free India would be too delighted to host such workshops, and we would of course be more than happy if this could be supported under the Sarav Shiksha Abhiyan.


Anonymous said...

Who's willing to be educated? Journalists have to get rid of much of what they had learnt to be fit for employment. It's who you know that matters, not what you know.
- RS

Gurram Seetaramulu said...

good piece of writing...
Every Print/electronic media has been functioning as paid agents of the Corporates.
Pity the Nation Where Journalists are considered to be Intellectuals....
Pity the Nation where the journalists actually work as pimps, are considered to be philosophers...
-Gurram Seetaramulu