A good impartial journalist is one who is in touch with one’s culture, while not being blind to the faults of one’s country. We find in the West that many of us have an overrated idea of ourselves, while being overly critical of so-called developing countries like India. In India we find the opposite: much of India’s media is sometimes highly appreciative of Western culture, while being blind to its faults.
So what is the solution for impartial journalism, particularly in India? Ultimately, we need to have schools of journalism, where as Sri Aurobindo, Calcutta’s son said: “we must take the best from the West, while keeping in touch with the genius of our own culture”. We also find that Indian parents are reluctant to make journalists of their children, firstly because journalists do not have such a good reputation in India and secondly because most Indian parents want their kids to become doctors or IT engineers, so that they can export them to the US where they get triple the salary. This is the great brain drain of India.
Yet, why is a career in journalism attractive today ? There are five reasons
1.A journalist is more powerful than a politician. When he writes something, it is read by thousands, sometimes by millions of people and it has a deep impact on society, witness the exit polls during elections.
2.A journalist travels a lot, gets to meet a lot of different people and experiences life in a way that very few people do. .
3.Salaries have improved a lot and although, there are a few years of struggle, a sub-editor in a national newspaper gets anything from 150.000 Rs upwards + perks. .
4.Journalism can, and should also be an idealistic career, as the prime task of a journalist is to educate people on all matters, whether ecology, human rights abuses, corruption etc. .
5.A good journalist also helps to uplift his or her readers, making them feel that all is not rotten in their country and that there is scope for hope and improvement. We call this “proud journalism”. .
There are quite a few good schools of journalism in India, such as the Journalism & Mass Communications Dept of the university of Calcutta, the oldest and most venerable in the country, run by the versatile Prof Tapati Basu; or the Indian Institute of Journalism, Bangalore, which has the dean of the Columbia school of Journalism on its board; or the Asian College of Journalism of the Hindu, Chennai, which has a tie-up with the BBC;. But amongst all these stands a school with a difference: the Sri Sri Centre of Media Studies in Bangalore, In this school, students are not only taught the complete art of journalism – print and electronic media, web journalism, how to edit their own newspaper (Dateline Bangalore), but they also learn to look at India through an INDIAN perspective, to cast an eye on the world which will carry some of the knowledge and wisdom of a civilisation – their own – which is five thousand years old.
They will, for instance, be taught a little bit of pranayama, the ancient and unique technique of breathing devised thousand of years ago by Indian sages, so that they know how to regulate their breath in time of stress and thus control their emotions; they will be taught simple and non sectarian methods of meditation, so that they can get their inspiration from a quiet, strong and silent mind; they will learn a few asanas, so that their body is strong and resilient and can endure any physical situation, in peace or war.
In short, SSCMS, which aims to be the best school in Asia in three years time, wants to fashion a new generation of Indian journalists who will be proud of their country without being chauvinists, who will be brilliant without being superficial, who will take the best of the West, without being western clones, who will draw inspiration from the knowledge alive in this country, without being bigots… In brief they will be INDIAN journalists.