Main Page





India & Pakistan...



home.jpg (6816 bytes)


home.jpg (3800 bytes)


home.jpg (6503 bytes)


home.jpg (6695 bytes)

Women Studies

edu.jpg (8984 bytes)

Issues in Education

home.jpg (7893 bytes)

Literature & Scholarship


Parables of Love


About Us



3 Information dissemination and popular culture

Dr S V Raju | Khaled Ahmed | Raj Chengapa | Karamat Ali | I. A. Rehman | Arif Hasan | DISCUSSION

Session 3 CONTENTSQuestions
Q. Why does India pose as a world power when it is not, and why does it say that it will sign the NPT only when America does away with its nuclear weapons? (2) [Addressed to Mr. Raju] Is it not a better option to think about a unified, independent Kashmir? (3) [Addressed to Mr. Khaled Ahmed] What, in your opinion, is the way to reducing the influence of religion in the political processes of Pakistan?

Wing Commander (Rtd.) Farooqui

Q. (1) How can we make better use of media for building bridges between the two countries? (2) [Commenting on Mr. Khaled’s observations] One reason why the PTV and the Door Darshan fail to reach the audience in the other country is language: the language of the PTV news is too much Arabicised and the language of the Door Darshan news too much Sanskriticised. (3) Why cannot we have separate pages in the newspapers of India and Pakistan to cover the other country? (4) Why doesn’t the media carry out public opinion surveys and push it to the policy makers as an instrument for pointing out to them what the people really want? (5) Both in India and Pakistan there is a mass of people which only reads the vernacular press, so if you leave the Urdu press in Pakistan and the regional press in India out of this discourse, the job is not even half-done.

Dr. Navnita Chadha Behera

What should be the role of the Ministry of Information in India and Pakistan, now [1997]  that both the countries are eminently enjoying democracy?

Mr. Basheer Khan

Mr. Chengappa: Combining the [Wing Commander Farooqui’s] question about India’s aspirations for becoming a world power and Navnita’s reference to media survey of public opinion, I would like to say that as someone working in the newspaper that carried such a survey, we found that 75% of the people, surprisingly, said that they wanted India to keep its option of nuclear bomb open – even though some of them said that if America agrees to do the same, and if Pakistan also agrees, then we should also go. Apart from the survey, we also took our own stand in a number of articles pointing out the inconsistency in India’s own policy on the subject. I think it is the role of the press to take a stand. After that, it is the people or the people in power who will decide whether the stand was right or wrong.

Mr. Khaled Ahmed: I don’t think the news in the free channels of India are free, especially in the realm of foreign policy. Their coverage on Kashmir began all right and then declined into a partisan coverage. I don’t think it will correct itself unless these channels are able to earn something from Pakistan. I have said it many times, and I will say it again, that freedom in the media and in the press is connected with market. Unfortunately payments [from India and Pakistan and vice versa] take a very long time. Someone who is idealistic will have to take into account the function of the free market; how will the market overcome this? [As regards the state controlled media] I think the problem with Arabic and Sanskrit is there but there is so much else that is understood but it is totally counter-productive: it is a proxy war and no communication, because communication means that you get to the other side and persuade the other side. A very horrendous observation is that down to the level of tehsil there are Indian films on cassettes. [Given the fact that] we are the biggest ethnic cleansers [as shown by what happened on both sides of the border in 1947] these films have not changed our attitudes and made us friends. The only result can be that the next time we will rape more Indian women, and the other way round.

Q. Media reflects the social attitudes of the people. If our media is interested in disaster stories then there is a certain section of our society that it is catering to. How are we going to change the media in this context of social attitudes?

Aftab Ahmed

Q. We need to redefine the word responsibility to reach a middle ground so that it would not be taken as propaganda either by the liberal or the conservative side of the society, because both sides are part of the civil society – both sides, I think, shy away from the views of the other side.

Pervaiz Mohsin

Q. Remembering the 1960’s, when there was a complete black-out about India in the Pakistani media, I think the much-despised Indian films have done some job of breaking ice, and now the satellite channels are also going some way towards that.

Q. The question is whether the media is going to take the leadership role or is it going to depend entirely on public opinion for its support?

Mr. Karamat Ali: I don’t see the media in India or Pakistan providing you the space. You have to fight for it. When we speak of civil society it is a very vague concept. People are divided into classes and groups. The media has to look at them and acknowledge their struggle. In 1982 there was a struggle going on in a factory whose owner was an advisor to Gen. Zia-ul-Haque but had not cleared the dues of the workers for months. As the Eid was approaching, we decided to give a paid advertisement in Daily Jang. The newspaper took the money but the advertisement did not appear. When we called them, they said they cannot print the advertisement and returned our money. We went to two more newspapers and they did the same. Only the editor of the third newspaper, Amn, gave us the reason. He said; "We get three half-page advertisements from this firm every week. If you could get me one, I will print this." Of course we could not.

We have to focus: which sections of the civil societies in India and Pakistan have common goals. Only those classes in both the societies who are at present the victims of this violence are the ones who have a stake in a lasting peace and stable relations. For instance the new agenda of the free market wants a working class whose hands are tied and who have no rights, as this imperative under the new World Trade Organisation. Therefore we have to look for real basis for creating and re-structuring the civil society.

[Regarding the survey conducted in India] how did you get this 70% response to the option of an atomic explosion? What did the people, who said yes, really know about an atomic explosion? Did you show them pictures of Hiroshema? I am sure if you had told them what will happen if a nuclear bomb explodes on Lahore or Delhi then they would not have said things like ‘yes, we should go on with the atomic explosion.’ This is how you manage public opinion – you manipulate this public opinion and then present it as something that is forming a barrier against better relations. No media, I think will do anything that will harm its economic interests – that is the first thing, and that is what the free market teaches us.

There are very few positive aspects to what is free market and what it can do – but there are severe limitations. It has to be through common interests that people can come together.

Mr. Khaled Ahmed: Public opinion surveys are very, very deceptive. Amitabh Mattu in India carried a survey on nuclear bomb, called "who are you afraid of." The state doctrine in India is that it is the Chinese bomb that they are afraid of, but the survey revealed that the people feared the Pakistani bomb. But if that is the case then India should sign NPT and CTPT and be free of the fear of the Pakistani bomb – because Pakistan has said that if you sign then we shall sign too. So, in my view public opinions are very, very deceptive.

Mr. Karamat Ali: No democratic government in the world has a ministry of Information and Broadcasting. What they have are autonomous corporations, like BBC. The only purpose of the ministry of information and broadcasting is to control the information and they are notorious for twisting arms through their grants of advertisements.

Mr. Rehman: As to the question, what can be done [about the media] I have two answers. One, all who claim to be a part of the civil society have to learn what the modern technology is offering them. If they equip themselves with that then they will be able to project themselves better, they will be able to create space with the media. The second point I was offering was that there has to be a dialogue between the people and the media managers. Because the media managers have their own priorities and all of them are not determined by the social reality. Whether the media should take a report by the intelligence bureau about a person interviewed in captivity. Does that reflect the social attitude? No. Pakistan has been branded all over the world as a fundamentalist society, which we are not. Pakistan is not even a religious society. It is a secular society. [Then] who is projecting [that] image. What I mean to say is that it will be for the civil society to equip and manage its own information systems and not necessarily be influenced by the state media.

Mr. Chengappa: As regards to the question what will happen to the print media in view of the invasion of the electronic technology. What the television does is that it whets your appetite for more news – as in the case of the Princess Diana accident, you didn’t stop reading newspapers and magazines for more information. Secondly, the television has a tendency to immediate, quick sound-bites, which very difficult for people to understand and analyse.

The other thing is about attitudes and images and we talked about the difficulty of saying which survey is right, which opinion is sane. I think we need to keep on doing that. That is one thing, and secondly, during these Fifty Year Celebrations we talked to people about what happened [in 1947]: the killings, the rapes. These are old wounds, our generation hasn’t read much about it. And for me, I must confess, after reading all those things from both sides I had to hang my head in shame. Because I didn’t think that our people could do that to each other. Now, some would say that by talking about these old wounds you are again giving fuel to those amber but I think we all should think how we could do these things to each other, and probably learn from them.

TOP ||

Hit Counter HOME | Chronicle | Pakistan - India   | History | Religion | Iqbal | Cinema | Women Studies
Issues in Education | Literature and scolarship | Parables Of Love | Contact | About