Friday, January 14, 2011

Environment awareness and Media

- Subhash Chandra

In the recent days media plays a significant role in reaching out to the common man. News in any form makes a huge impact, which will leave people discussing its pros and cons of it.
Issues ranging from politics, social, development, entertainment and culture any thing that makes a news is getting its due.

The question arises what is a media ? What is the role it plays for the better of the society?
Media is voice of the society, as it reflects every happenings. Its duty is to act as a watchdog of the constitution and society.

Right from clearing the garbage in front of your house, the media ensures happenings at the Ratrapathi Bhavan and Prime Minister's office get a coverage. Indian democracy has always believed that media assumes a crucial role in shaping the society. Though the Constitution does not confer a special status to media, it has earned itself a reputation as fourth estate, the fourth pillar of the Society. Henceforth its role is not restricted to socio-political issues, but also to the crucial subjects like environment.

With the world going through the critical changes like ozone layer depletion and global warming, the media has a greater role in exploring and tracing the root of the causes along with educating the society.

Awareness and education being vital in environment conservation, media is the best form to achieve this. The 21st century has diversified the media from the conventional newspapers and radio. Apart from the electronic media like television, the age of information technology has ushered in a new revolution like news related websites, blogs and twitters. These are making a much needed difference in their own way to the society.

Environment and media in a way share a bondage with each other. The issues concerning environment are crucial in nature offering food for thought. In a similar manner, media too has played a several signficant role in creating movement and ediucating mass.

For instance, the recent BT brinjal movement initiated by several NGOs is kept alive by the frequent media reports especially the regional media. The matter concerning with the livelyhood of rural India and conservation of our own brinjal diversity has now become a topic of every media. Several newspaper reports on the unknown danger has transformed this issue into mass movement sparkling the debate across the country.

The movement to save our own Bhadra river at Kudremukha was initiated following several newspaper reports including a few from Deccan Herald where some of the reports described the horrors of the disaster caused by KIOCL in the region. The fallout of this lead to a movement where several well known personalities like Poornachandra Tejeswi participated and ensured that the mining giant stopped their activities. One should not forget about the mining probe take up by Lokayukta at Bellary is a result of media report.

Several ecological disasters in the form of development and projects which would have affected the country's biodiversity have been averted due to alert media in the country. Our own Tadadi thermal power project planned at Western Ghats in Uttara Kannada is the best example for this.
Not only to human beings even the animals which were victims of habitat loss and anthropogenic pressure and poaching have received the much required attention by Judiciary and the Government following media reports. For instance a report in Deccan Herald regarding the increasing death of elephants was sufficient for the High Court to initiate a suo moto petition, which resulted in directions to the State to form a task force to prevent death of jumbos and avoid human- elephant conflict.

Similarly, a report in Indian Express and The Times of India regarding the death of tigers in Sariska tiger reserve and at Ranathambore ensured more stress by the government to conserve the big cat.

The recent episode of gangetic gharials going extinct was reported by DNA. The Madras Crocodile bank came to its rescue only based on this report.

The power of the media helps in tackling environment issues by reaching out to all section of the people both urban and rural, rich and poor, literate and illiterate by creating awareness, campaigns, mobilising public opinions and assuming a pro active role of informing people about the right steps to conserve the environment.

However there is a limitation to this as the over use of it might lead to the overkill of the issue, however good it is for the matter. The media too must be aware of its ethics, and responsibilities to the society and should avoid going for exclusivity when it concerns the society at large so that the dilution of the issue be avoided.


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