The Zee Controversy has all the ingredients in it, corruption, nexus and what not, to become a front-page story for many days across media channels and papers, but there is a strange silence over the issue. Before we go further to dissect the issue, let us look at what happened in the case of Zee editors and what is the Zee issue?
Zee News had reportedly made a sting operation featuring representatives of Jindal with respect to the allocation of coal blocks. Jindal representatives made a reverse sting featuring the editors of Zee News seeking 100 crores (as contracts of advertisements) in return for not airing any further videos of the sting on the channel. Editors of Zee News were arrested in 2012 after Jindal released the video of them asking for 100 crores. Both are now out on bail, the bail has been challenged by Jindal and now the court has issued a notice to the editors of zee in response to the petition by Jindal.
Role of Media, Corporates and Government
What Ideally, Media Should Be? Media is supposed to be independent of an arms length from the government, having a moral responsibility of informing the citizens without any bias on the things which need people’s attention and raising awareness of social issues, government policies, its critics and most importantly, propagate a progressive and inclusive views and opinions that will shape the citizens of the future and consequentially the country itself.
Status of Media today?
It is not a blanket statement, there are some reputed media houses that have done tremendous work in enlightening the citizens of the country and informing them with the right news and opinions. However, many networks of media that have been corporatized has taken a different route. One might call a short-sighted and dangerous path of inclining politically and resorting to back-door deals to promote entities besides overlooking many key issues the society is facing. The Zee controversy puts to the forefront, how corporate media can trade information for money, advertisements for truth and virtually anything for anything else. The moral and intellectual high ground which media had over the citizens, is fast deteriorating and slipping into the abyss. Media, the way its business is and the proximity it has towards political parties and corporates in terms of advertisement contracts is asphyxiating truth and professionalism from journalism.
What do corporates ideally prefer?
Corporates, the job creators of a country, the engine of growth of a country, they move people from one strata of the society to the other. As a country, we should create an environment, where innovation and knowledge thrives and where ideas are valued. Any individual should be able to start a company and create jobs based on what he knows rather the people he knows. Enabling such a scenario will help in job growth, economic development and helps more entrepreneurship.
What have corporates got into?
Today there are MPs from corporates in political parties, they are one of the largest funders of political parties, naturally, there seems to be a quid-pro-quo there. Projects sanctioned and policy decisions made for the most benevolent among the corporate donors.
The triangle is completed by the political parties themselves. There are two issues of importance which makes all the entities, the corporate, the media and the political parties, a tightly knotted mutually beneficial. Ideally, all three have to be at an arms length distance.
1. Funding of political parties – We, as a society, as concerned citizens of the country, have to take the tough call, start debating and look into other countries and their models of funding of political parties or if needed innovate new ways which will delink corporates from political parties. A link that is established the benevolent donations made by corporates to political parties before elections. Clearly, big corporates benefit out of it, the small companies lose out, giving a unique advantage at a policy making level to few big corporates and asphyxiating the other small companies.
2. Advertisements – An important source of revenue for the media houses and the fact the government is one of the largest spenders on advertisements makes media houses and political parties dependent on each other. Media and government can be anything but independent.
All the three entities have to keep that arm’s length distance, their capability to do that will define the vibrancy of our democracy, the future of our country and fasten our transition into a knowledge and innovation-based economy. Let India not be a victim of the past practices, let us build a better future for all, the people, the political parties, the corporates and the media.
Have you ever spotted a speeding car without a care for the traffic signal? Ever spotted a person rushing to the other side of the road when the traffic light is green? Ever seen bikers use pavements as roads to save a few minutes? Ever seen cars change lanes on highways or rush hour traffic on a whim? Well, so have thousands of other Indians.
Road safety in India is a serious concern. For a country that boasts the second largest road network in the world, it is inarguable that we need to pay more attention to our safety on roads – a place where we step out every day, spend a handsome amount of our time.
The government has come up with several regulations on road safety, but is this enough? Not if awareness around the topic is still lacking.
The intention behind the initiative is to bring together lawmakers, local authorities, traffic police and citizens under one umbrella.
The cities will be rated on parameters such as Pedestrian Rights, Road Lighting and Maintenance, Motor Laws and Traffic Control, Emergency Services, Road Cleanliness, Connectivity, Road Transport Infrastructure, Heavy Vehicle Traffic Management, Road Safety, Differently abled friendly, Road Quality and Road Safety For Children.
Here are the ten cities that were chosen for Road Safety Index 2018 and the reasons that make their roads safe or unsafe:
Mumbai has facilities for the differently-abled like reservations in public transports, special train compartments, concessions on fares, etc. The city that never sleeps scored the best when it comes to citizens’ participation in making the city accepting and warm toward the differently-abled. It won the category ‘Differently-Abled Friendly’.
However, there are areas of improvement – illegal hawkers, pavements and footpaths need to be fixed or reconstructed.
Anyone who hails from the capital of West Bengal knows about its recreational parks and brightly lit streets. Its traffic police deserve special mention for redirecting rush traffic every day as Kolkata roads are narrow and many are one-way streets.
During Durga Puja, the city tries to make Pandals differently-abled friendly by installing ramps.
It won the categories – ‘Road Lighting & Maintenance’ and ‘Road Safety For Children’.
But the City of Joy needs to work more on giving its residents #HappyRoads. Issues of waterlogging and numerous street hawkers, roadside vendors in busy areas need to be solved.
There’s no one who’s been to Delhi and not praised its excellent connectivity. Delhi prides itself for broad roads, top-notch metros, pavements and foot over bridges. The national capital surely serves as an example for cities across India when it comes to road connectivity hence, it won the categories ‘Connectivity’ and ‘Road Quality’ in the Road Safety Index.
While Delhi has made many of its public places differently-abled friendly, the areas that need improvement are long hours in traffic, fixing of roads that pose a hindrance to daily commute and rash driving by bikers.
The city boasts well-marked zebra crossings, adequate footpaths for pedestrians, underground SMART dustbins, reduced encroachments. Raipur fares well in almost all parameters of road safety. It won the category of ‘Road Safety’ and ‘Pedestrian Rights’.
However, the city could do better with stricter fines for traffic violators and awareness about road safety and garbage disposal.
Other cities can take inspiration from Chennai on how to ensure good road safety. The city has wide, well-connected roads that are lit properly. It also boasts rigorous night patrolling where traffic rules violators are fined. One of the best initiatives taken by Chennai is the separate parking space on city roads that prevent traffic from accumulating. It came out on top in the category ‘Motor Laws & Traffic Control’.
Areas where Chennai needs to improve are street lighting and cleanliness.
Indore is one of the few cities that has used plastic waste for construction of roads and covered garbage disposals, which explains why the city won the ‘Road Cleanliness’ category. Indore also has adequate zebra crossings, visual signals, street lights, footpaths.
But areas where the city needs improvement are – strict action against traffic violators, public spaces more differently-abled friendly.
There is a lot to learn from the road safety measures implemented by Ahmedabad – sound medical facilities, separate lanes for local buses, special cab service for differently-abled, wide roads. Ahmedabad won in the category ‘Emergency Services’, ‘Road Transport Infrastructure’ and ‘Heavy Vehicle Traffic Management’.
If the Heritage City improves road safety awareness among citizens, it’s bound to fare even better. Better street lighting and lesser encroachments will work in favour of Ahmedabad.
The other cities shortlisted were Pune, Bangalore and Hyderabad but they didn’t win any category.
Maruti Suzuki’s initiative to rank cities will encourage citizens and administration to do better and emerge on top.
The Logical Indian community wholeheartedly appreciates the various initiatives undertaken by Maruti-Suzuki in this direction. Not only the government but we, as citizens of this country, should also pledge to make our roads safe. One of the first steps towards this is that we understand our duties.
We hope the authorities take a note while we pledge to do our own bit towards happier, safer Indian roads.
For more information about the Maruti Suzuki’s initiative and the Road Safety Indexclick here.