Saturday, November 22, 2008
In a futile search for TRUTH
It was interesting to listen to luminaries & professionals, from varied walks of life, sermonising on the media at a National Debate organised by The Telegraph. The latter is a newspaper known to doctor news. The debate was being televised live by Tara TV.
The motion put forward by the British Dy. HC, Simon Wilson was " This house believes that the Media is misleading the masses."
Supporting the motion was pulp-fiction authoress Shoba De who blasted the media for selling out news on all pages to corporate houses & other interested parties. In her team was R. Gopalakrishnan, ED of Tata Sons , who is normally very well prepared but appeared uneasy today. It was quite difficult to accept R. Gopalakrishnan, a very senior executive himself, accusing the media houses of becoming business entities & focusing on maximisation of profit with zero accountability. Is he trying to say that profit-making necessarily compromises the vision & objectives of any business house? His other team mate Sandip Chattejee, a medical surgeon, eloquently debunked the media for presenting facts without context & knowledge. Finally it was left to Swapan Dasgupta, a media man himself, to bring out his best language & diction while expressing his anguish at media's tendency to paint any situation in pure black & white and not letting the truth rest in its gray overtones.
Opposing the motion was Rajdeep Sardesai who , attired like an activist, thought that those who support the motion actually find the "truth" dug out by the media unpalatable & hence are spreading calumny to change it. Mukul Kesavan , Rajdeep's teammate, opined that news need not be presented in its entirety like a novel with a beginning , an expansion of the theme and the end. More often than not stories about truth will appear like a torn out page. It is left to the readers to assimilate the same & make his own judgement. Ramachandra Guha utilised drama to entertain the audience & thought that accountability of media gets automatically taken care of by the next evolving form. Television reporting made print media more accountable while Internet & blogs hold television journalists accountable for their mistakes.
The guests at the lawns of Calcutta club , where the debate was being held, concluded the proceedings by voting in favour of the motion.
The truth about the media is that its become a circus in India with hundreds of channels & hundreds of dailies sensationalising every event in order to vie for viewers' attention.So much so that like a true circus it has become a form of entertainment which the Indian masses are lapping up like they lap up unrealistic bollywood films with their song & dance routines. The investors are putting their money in , the advertisers get a mass channel & the masses enjoy their relaxation amidst their dreary daily existence. Imaginitive & witty blogs on news such as this dot the margins of the spectrum of mass entertainment.
Where lies the truth then ?
Truth is like the Rashomon story of Japanese film maestro Kurosawa. There is no absolute truth in the world . Every situation will have multiple perspectives. Even a full picture will not be able to reveal what happened to actual truth if truth did not appear naked in the first place.
Consider an example of two brothers. One who squanders away his money & time after born losers and does not believe in savings while the other meticulously saves and spends judiciously. Over time as the first one runs out of money during his rainy days , his 'truth' about brotherhood will be linked to "valuable support & subsidy " from the other. While for the other brother which sees it savings dwindle month after month after his squandering brother, the truth about brotherhood will be linked to a hope for the subsidies to reduce progressively.
The only truth about 'Truth" is the fact that life on earth is a chance occasion. And that's because "Earth" itself is a chance organic creation in the vast emptiness of inorganic matter. Since we live life only once, the only absolute truth is death. Everything else can best be described as , "...that's interesting".
Truth Picture source : David Salaguinto's blog