Please Come Out of The Dark

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A statement during the ongoing Assembly session of the State Legislative Assembly, made by an honourable member of the House was hardly honoured by the Chief Minister, who is also the leader of the House. This was during the demands for Agriculture and Fishery department were tabled for discussion in the House. The name of a national awardee farmer from Kumbi was not mentioned in the top of the nomination list for the State award. A member of the opposition had enquired to the minister concern of the said department, if the nature of nomination was the reason behind the farmer not receiving the State award. The member accentuating his concern over the issue added that the matter had already been highlighted in the local newspaper. To this query, the minister of the department with all nonchalance replied on the Floor that he no longer reads newspapers. The reason cited by the minister was that the media in the past have carried many unfounded reports about him. “What could have been easily resolved through dialogue had often been splashed in the newspapers”, the minister remarked. The Chief Minister was quick to retort, wasting no time reminded the minister to keep a habit of reading newspapers, underlining that the media are not bias and there are enough room for dissension. We cannot but agree with the Chief Minister’s observation. Not to revisit the clichéd topic of the role of media in a democracy, the discussion in the House, particularly the minister’s view on the media, however hints for a wider discussion on the issues of public accountability and public debate in different fora. Accountability in this context, in a way is transparency that is obligatory for governance in a working democracy. Among all other important stakeholders, the representatives of the House are the No.1 publicly accountable people because of the mandate the people have given to them. It is in this picture that the indispensible presence of the media as a watchdog of transparent governance chips in to facilitate access to information for the public; so that the public know what is happening in the government. Further, in order to expedite a participatory involvement of the public in a democracy, opinions, commentaries and grievances are also given spaces in the media. This is definitely a form a dialogue. Whereas a dialogue does not necessarily mean a verbal exchange across a table or a meeting place. And debate is again an essential part of a dialogue. Public debate in the media is one of the highest forms of democratic practices. The local media of the State have been able to accommodate all kinds of voices, although the media houses have their own ideological predilections. An opposition member in the same House has categorically put on record that it was like staying in a dark room without newspapers. This observation was made the day after media had decided to halt the print for a day, in solidarity with a newspaper hawker who got apprehended by the security forces. If the honourable minister is still not following the Chief Minister’s advice even to this day, it is time for him to come out of the dark soon. Please take part in the dialogue, no matter the myriad views that may come through. As mathematician-writer-artist Jacob Bronowski has said, “Has there ever been a society which has died of dissent? Several have died of conformity in our lifetime.”

Leader Writer: Senate Kh

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