We like to cling to some of the images of the
past that somehow reinforce some of the prejudices that we have against each other.
What my personal views are, are my personal
views but as a journalist the role we should be playing is questioning these things.
When we began to ask critical questions,
people started wrying up. Sources started not returning my calls.
If you just set your heart to it and put your
shoulder to some of these problems, you can solve them. To me that is a lot of hope.
Go across the board, talk about peoples
problem on both sides. It would be surprising how much empathy there would be!
Mr Raj Chengappa of India Today focused on
"National Security blinkers in the media." He began by looking at the recent
round of talks and line of control (LOC) clashes . Referring to the third round of
talks, he expressed his dismay that despite the passage of so many years, any contact
between the two neighbours was still accompanied by suspicion, hostility and media
coverage. "I think the maturing of our relationship will come only when such meetings
become boring, routine and covered as any other news event"
Talking about the recent clashes, he observed that both sides
were receiving only "one version" of what has been happening. Even to this day,
it wasnt clear as to "who fired the first shot." Mr Chengappa was of the
view that the media needed to play more awareness rather than just provide routine
coverage of the happenings. It is their job to present both sides of the picture and to
let the people decide for themselves. In this regard, he gave his own personal example of
that when he was covering the story of the recent clashes at the borders. He had received
both the picture of a displaced Indian family and an injured Pakistani boy from the wires
and there was great temptation to use only the picture of the displaced Indian family but
that would have projected only one side of the story so he used both the pictures.
"Whatever it is, whatever battles we face, I think images like that change our
perception as to who we are fighting, what are we doing"
He called upon the print media to assume a more critical and
analytical role as he felt that TV had a certain immediacy about it that did not permit
sufficient analysis and questioning. Also, the medias responsibility of providing
objective and comprehensive coverage increases especially when it comes to covering sticky
issues like Kashmir, nuclear programmes, military expenditure etc. He shared that when he
wrote something good on the nuclear programmes, he would get a very good response from the
people but when he started reporting the possible fire and health hazards of some of these
nuclear power projects, the nuclear establishment got very upset.
He was of the view that the role of the civil society,
particularly the NGOs, was significant in this regard. "I regard a lot of the NGOS
more successful than the Chief Executives or any industry because they are in a position
with very little investment, very little resources and they actually mobilise thousands of
millions of people and actually bring a difference to their life."
Lastly, he recalled what a leading psychologist had told him:
that there are two fundamental emotions displayed by human beings. Aggression, which
symbolises our primitive existence; and empathy, that made us civilised and brought us
together. Mr. Chengappa endorsed such seminars as important for fostering empathy between
the people of the two countries and bringing them closer.