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Arun Sadhu

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A Journalist by profession and a renowned author, Arun Sadhu, works with the same passion in both the fields. The precision and convincing power of his reports; alluring yet captivating power of his stories and novels; both are equally enthralling. His news are unbiased while the characters of his novels are real life and absorbing.
Starting a career as a school teacher in a small village of Maharashtra, Arun Sadhu has worked with many news paper from the Times of India, The Statesman and finally as the Editor of the Free Press Journal in Mumbai. At the same time he wrote many novels in Marathi language, Short stories, plays and Biographies, varying on range of subjects from Politics to science fictions and human relationships to history.

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July 26, 2006

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Celebrating the Freedom of Media - By Mr. Arun Sadhu

The vibrant Indian media is in continuous celebration of its freedom. Frenzied, chaotic, cantankerous, often anti-establishment and yet robustly concerned with the issues that affect the people's lives- that is how the Indian media is. The Government of India's Right to Information Act (RTI) has given a sharper weapon in the hands of the media. While some newspapers and satellite TV channels have launched popular campaigns to expose corruption in government administration and help people to assert their right to get useful information from the state, others are plunging with abandon in investigative bouts and sting operations. A large number of citizens groups too have sprung up in the country to help people use RTI to redress grievances.

True to Indian character so eloquently elaborated by Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen in his book, The Argumentative Indian, a loud cacophony of divergent opinions is passionately traded through the medium of the media among politicians, intellectuals, academics, social workers, concerned citizens et al. And again, in keeping with its people's penchant, in passionate pursuit of its democratic freedoms the media often crosses the boundary lines of sobriety, moderation, rectitude, fair-play and decency. Sadly, the Indian media does not seem to have developed the culture of media ethics and self-regulatory mechanisms to discipline itself so far. It happily accepts American Constitution maker Thomas Jefferson's preference to a chaotic press against a restrictive government but has not so far shown the understanding that freedom cannot survive without broader responsibilities.

Here comes the opportunity for the government to play its hand. Any government- democratic or not- prefers a subservient media. Indian citizens appreciate the power of the media and yet they are sick of its frivolous excesses and lack of responsibility. The government is trying to exploit these popular sentiments to bring in legislations to make the RTI less liberal and to impose a code of conduct both on the print and the electronic media. The bloggers may also face the music.

The problem with the Indian media is that it is so recklessly free and it so jealously guards its freedom that it brooks no restrictions on its expression. Few media units have their own code of conduct and fewer have mechanism in place to implement even the unwritten and informal codes that are followed universally in the media. There is the Press Council of India (PCI) tasked to evolve ethical codes and monitor implementation. In reality, it is a body of journalists but the later view it with skepticism dubbing it as a government's tool. It is an institution created by an act of Parliament and is funded by the government. But the Indian media is so suspicious of outside influence – particularly the government's hand – that it has never accepted the PCI as its own.

There is a precedent. The British press has been equally free if not more. And perhaps, more frivolous and sensational in exposing the scandals of the high and mighty including the Royal family. There was no self-regulating institution to govern its ethical codes. In the 1950's the government threatened to bring in legislation to protect the privacy of the people from the marauding journalists. The threat was enough to unite the media fraternity and accept the government proposal for evolving a regulatory institution. Now famous Press Complaints Commission of UK, a body entirely of journalists, evolves codes of ethics and monitors adherence. Non-compliers are punished. Most democratic countries have similar institutions, completely independent of the government or partly funded by the state, but in essence self-regulatory in nature. Perhaps, the Indian media can learn a lesson from their British counterpart.