Press Council of India (PCI) Chairman Justice Markandey Katju on Sunday called upon journalists to play a seminal role in promoting scientific and rational ideas in society and raise the intellectual level of the masses by extricating them from the morass of superstition, casteism, bigotry, communalism and feudal tendencies.
Delivering the Jhabarmal Sharma memorial lecture here, Justice Katju flayed the penchant in a section of the media for non-issues — ostensibly to serve its business interests — at the expense of the vital issues which affect 80 per cent of the people in the country facing poverty and unemployment.
“You have lost your sense of proportion, but this cannot go on for long. As your critic and well-wisher, I will bring you to the right path,” Justice Katju told the audience largely comprising journalists and academicians. The venue was Kesargah, which is the headquarters of Hindi daily Rajasthan Patrika.
Taking note of the ongoing Jaipur Literature Festival, Justice Katju said the level of participants in the event touted as a mega literary carnival reminded him of Hindi novel Chandrakanta Santati full of fairy-tales and useless anecdotes, which he read in childhood: “What is the level of the people taking part in this festival? Does their work evoke any kind of admiration for them?”
The PCI Chairman regretted that those claiming to be litterateurs had stooped to the level of making indecent remarks on the stage and were justifying perversions. This was happening in the land which had produced illustrious writers and poets like Premchand, Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay, Qazi Nazrul Islam and Saadat Hasan Manto, he said.
Justice Katju said while the nation was “sitting on a volcano,” the media was offering four kinds of opium to the masses in the shape of religious bigotry, films, cricket and falsehood: “The intent is clear. Keep the people drugged so they do not revolt against poverty and the terrible mess created for them.”
The former Supreme Court Judge felt that the electronic media was dividing the people on the lines of caste and religion by creating an impression that Hindus alone had the first claim over citizenship and others were second-rate citizens. “Minority communities are demoralised in various manners. This is unacceptable in India which is a land of migrants,” he said.
Uttar Pradesh Governor B.L. Joshi and Rajasthan Patrika Editor-in-Chief Gulab Kothari spoke.