M Tariq khan
Lucknow: March 08, 2009
It was a swearing in ceremony with a difference. On the podium was Missile Man Dr APJ Abdul Kalam and those administered oath of office…nay, occupation comprised journalists of HT and HH.
The former president recited and members of the fourth state obediently repeated each and every word: “I love my profession. As a young journalist I am a partner in national development. I will increase my research; promote good news, celebrate the success of our people, particularly rural people, protect/ revive water bodies, propagate scientific and technological stories and report innovations and societal movements wherever they occur.”
In his own inimitable style, Dr Kalam laid out the road map for development, progress and set priorities, issues on which the media should focus on.
The first loyalty of a journalist must be to the people. While there should be no compromise on truth telling, media organizations should exercise restraint when it comes to reporting news that may affect national interest, social fabric and peace in the society.
We have realized the Chandrayaan mission but we have yet to make everyone literate in our country. We have outstanding women who have shown their capabilities in many fields but we still have instances of violence against women. We have best aircrafts ferrying people across the cities at the same time we have villages that are not connected with roads. The priority is how to bring an inclusive growth. We have to strengthen our legislature, executive, judiciary and the media to achieve it.
WORD TO THE EDITORS, JOURNALISTS:
Encourage research. It can do wonders, improve the excellence in reporting and enhance the participation of journalists in national development missions. Regular updating of knowledge is essential. For instance, before any issues are discussed in foreign newspapers, they send it to an internal research group where data is studied, verified and factual news is generated and published. It was through a research by one of their
journalist that the US learnt that BPOs provided an indirect for 90 per cent of the equipments/hardware being manufactured by them and Europe. Thomas Friedman did a research on the growth of Information and Technology in India and the book “The World is Flat”, which he wrote later became a world hit.
BALANCING RURAL-URBAN FLAVOR FOR THE BILLION:
In the past the news was of certain limited sectors and essentially urban. Today, it is global, national and has to be about 6 lakh villages in the country. Our news reporting has to strike a balance between the rural and the urban in all the States. An unused water pond made operational by collective efforts of social organizations can indeed be big news. If lakhs of water bodies and ponds can be rejuvenated and desilted there would be no drinking water crisis. People have the right to know. Constructive criticism of how the government funds are being utilized either by a village panchayat or an urban body is always welcome.
HIGHLIGHT GRASS ROOT INNOVATIONS:
The National Innovation Foundation (NIF) has identified 80,000 innovative practices in the past nine years, which have lead to 100s of patents including 20 international patents. In Iledu Village in Kancheepuram, the National Agro Foundation has been working on improving agricultural productivity and also finding non-farm avenues of value added work for the rural community. They have created a linkage between the rural woman and a garment export company in Chennai. The design and raw material is provided to the workers in Iledu and the finished product is then sent back to Chennai for export. Such stories should be reported.
THE ROAD MAP
Dr Kalam asked the media in Uttar Pradesh, especially, Hindustan Times and HH to initiate specific projects to benefit its citizens and ensure overall development. “Can you bring about a series of meetings of citizens belonging to different professions and common man to formulate a development plan,” asked the former Prez.
Prepare database of all parliamentary constituencies taking into account the current development parameters, quality of life indices and targets for 2020 and channelisation of funds under major schemes to the intended benefit for citizens. Set periodic milestones for monitoring and aiding the development process with citizens' feedback.
For accomplishing the mission of developing a constituency, we must know its correct parameters. This database can be collected with the help of authorities. The aspects to be factored in the study should include present per-capita income of citizens and their literacy level. Information on all the water bodies and their status, the core-competence and resources of the villages that are presently providing employment potential, what value addition can be made by way of technology or additional farming practices? The present Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) and the Maternal Mortatlity Rate (MMR) of all villages and also the number of reported polio cases in the constituency.
This database, according to Dr Kalam, should then become the basis for planning action of all the developmental tasks towards sustainable growth of the constituency with a five-year target. The elected representatives should then be held accountable for improving the per capita income of the constituency by at least three times, increase literacy minimum by 20-30 percent, desilt all water bodies and ensure reduction of IMR and MMR to be less than 10 per 1,000 and a polio free constituency. The peoples' representative should generate value added employment opportunities for rural citizens also with both agro and non-agro based enterprises, provision for safe drinking water and quality electricity reaching every home by 2014.