Campaign for Corruption-free Media


Parmanand Pandey, Advocate, Supreme Court (Secretary General IPC)

‘Unity-in-corruption’ among journalists is not a new phenomenon but now it is witnessed on an unprecedented scale. It is seen that the journalists in India are vulnerable, weak and conceptually dull and bleak. They do not join journalism because they are fired with any zeal, but they come to the profession because either somebody has facilitated their entry or they do not have any scope anywhere in any other area and then somehow sneak into it. This is the reason that sycophancy of the worst form is found in the profession. Some journalists fawn on their political masters, proprietors or those who are in a position to oblige them in different forms and ways. Most of the journalists become self-seekers in over a period of time.

This is an open secret that most of the politicians, bureaucrats and media house owners use these journalists as their agents to get their works done and in return, they award them with petty gains. Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg of New Delhi is known as the Fleet Street of London because of the concentration of newspaper offices here. However, of late, it has changed. The office space for the newspapers was given at a ridiculously low and throwaway price but all newspaper proprietors have been making money with the gross misuse of the so-called freedom of the press. No government takes action against them because they make hullabaloo of the freedom of speech and expression.

The late Ramnath Goenka of the Indian Express was a classical blackmailer and he used to employ wily and crooked journalists to beat his drums. He used to openly blackmail ministers and the judges of the higher judiciary and the so-called big journalists used to dance at his tunes without any qualms and compunctions of their conscience. I have seen a journalist who, now no more, was the editor of the Hindi newspaper of the Indian Express group and he used to get excited at the call of that fraud Ramnath Goenka. Once it so happened that he himself prepared news on the basis of a report of a meeting between Vishwanath Pratap Singh, a conspirator against Rajiv Gandhi and Chaudhari Devi Lal, a Jat leader of Haryana. He wanted that news to be taken as a lead story but I as the Chief-Sub-Editor put that news item on page five in a double column space. Next day he came and started shouting in the newsroom and shamelessly disclosed that the item was prepared at the instance of RNG (Ram Nath Goenka). I found that all nincompoop journalists were nodding in his support. I silenced him by shouting more loudly, which was witnessed by many journalists; some of them are still around us.

Thereafter, there was a strike in the Indian Express and I was the leader of the strike. Meetings were held at the Sundar Nagar Guest House of the Indian Express. RNG put a condition that the President of the Union, who was an outsider, would not participate in the negotiations and then I told his General Manager that ‘no editor from the Indian Express Group’ would come near the negotiating table. RNG wanted a polemicist editor, who later manipulated to become a cabinet minister in the Vajpayee government, to join the negotiation but due to a firm ‘no’ from the Union, he was kept out.

Now when I find that a large number of journalists lining up in support of Pranoy Roy and his wife Radhika Roy, the owners of the NDTV, whose stories of corruption, blackmailing, spying and money laundering are stinking to the high heaven, I am not shocked. But what certainly shocks me is that they do it in the name of the freedom of the press. Luckily, the people of India have also become very conscious about such gimmicks of these dishonest media persons and they do not allow themselves to be trapped by the ingenuity of such journalists, who unabashedly support their proprietors to remain in employment.

The governments of the states as well as at the centre will be doing a great service to the country by ensuring that all the corrupt deeds of media house owners would be brought forth and stern actions would be taken against them.

An honest and corruption free media is the strength of democracy; it is a prerequisite of sound and vibrant democracy. Dishonest and corrupt media is like termites, which make the pillars of democracy hollow. The servants / journalists would do well by keeping themselves away from such proprietors like; Pranoy Rao and Radhika Roy, who have indulged into the daylight crime of corruption, loot, plundering and stashing away of money of poor Indians in foreign countries for their own enrichment.

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