Friday, December 1, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Press is more than “product”

THIS has reference to Mr Hari Jaisingh's article of November 22 ("Press is more than product: foreign money no panacea for all ills.") It is heartening to learn that the Vajpayee government brought the curtain down on allowing foreign equity in the print media by declaring that the government had categorically decided against such a move.

The newspaper industry may be a trade but its primary task is to be the watchdog of the country's interests. It has a duty towards both the people and the nation. A foreigner has no such obligation and, in fact, may have interests inimical to India. Worse, with immeasurably more financial clout, he can financially ruin the Indian newspapers by selling his own product dirt cheap.

Another aspect to consider is that no foreigner wants to come to the country to involve in its development. He wants to come to exploit the country economically. He has his eyes on the members of the middle class.

The Press Council has rightly stressed that there is no reason to change the Centre's 1955-56 policy not to allow publication of foreign newspapers in this country and to allow the entry of news agencies only through the Indian news agencies.



Basic principles: Mr Hari Jaisingh has rightly pointed out that for the healthy growth of the media it is necessary that basic principles are not lost sight of or allowed to be overshadowed by commercial and personal interest.

Indeed it is heartening to note that Mrs Sushma Swaraj has played her part well and blocked the entry of foreign money.


Dangerous portents: To allow foreign print media to function from this country is full of dangerous portents. Disregarding the conditions laid down by the government, foreign press can function in a way that is detrimental to the sovereignty and unity of the nation.

The government has done well by shelving the issue of foreign direct investment in the print media. The author has rightly stated: ".... newspapers are not the products like toothpaste. They represents the people's feelings and ethos and hence must remain tuned to the grassroots."

In the wake of our border conflict with our hostile neighbour, Pakistan, foreign print media can play a role adverse to our territorial integrity and national security.

Bijhari (Hamirpur)

For want of foreign capital: The idea of videshi print media to fetch foreign capital reminds me of a funny poem:

"For the want of a nail the shoe was lost

For the want of a shoe the horse was lost.

For the want of a horse the rider was lost.

For the want of a rider the battle was lost.

For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost

And all for the want of a horseshoe nail".

Certainly for the want of foreign capital the government will not lose the nation.


Ground for fears: Why are we averse to foreign money? Perhaps the answer lies in our fears about perversion of our way of life. There is ground for such fears.

Just have a look at India's national newspapers which are in the grip of a new kind of frivolous garbage-promoting journalism. This paradigm is not looking at what is of real concern to flesh-and-blood people, especially the poor section of our society.

The Indian press can't enrich itself by foreign money but by conveying positive values.



Congress in angry avatar

I read with interest the editorial "Congress in angry avatar" (Nov. 24), drawing pointed attention to the drastic change in "policy gear" by the party in question.

By and large, I share the points in the thought-provoking editorial. To my mind, the reported change in "policy gear" by the Congress was overdue.

There is no gainsaying the fact that, as the main opposition party, the Congress has all along been badly fumbling vis-a-vis the onerous role and, in the bargain, lost considerable ground to other (much smaller) political outfits.

It would do the party immense good if the said change in "policy gear" helps make it aggressively assertive both within and outside Parliament and, simultaneously, give its policies and programmes a palpably pro-poor tilt - an earnestly genuine tilt and not merely a populistic posture.

Ambota (Una)

Privatising education?

A controversy is currently raging on the subject of emoluments that are being paid to the government college teachers, appointed on temporary basis, in Punjab and Chandigarh.

Though court judgements and UGC notifications are being cited in defence of full payment to these ad hoc teachers, none seems to be interested in finding the root cause of the ongoing malady.

With seemingly no respect for education, the administration, via ad hocism, acts wise and saves quite a huge chunk of money, its sole love, that otherwise it would have to pay to the teaching community. And why not? The simple law of demand and supply, that these administrative bosses have learnt well, governs our education system fully well.

If a qualified teacher is readily available at Rs 2000 a month, and that too without paying him other fringe benefits that a regular government employee gets, why the administration should pay him Rs 20,000 a month?

By neither allowing to fill vacant posts with regular teachers/principals in the government-run colleges in Punjab and Chandigarh, nor making full pay scales to the temporary teachers/principals, the administration seems to be working on a "hidden agenda" of privatising education.

And in this way government run educational institutions would automatically be phased out.


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