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Mass media versus mass reality

Mass media versus mass reality

Salil Tripathi cannot deny the fact that P. Sainath is a great developmental writer (Mint, 1 May). The amount of research he has done cannot be matched by any other Indian journalist. He has spent days living in villages and rural areas. Sainath is right when he says the media is charmed by frivolity because of a fundamental disconnect between mass media and mass reality. There is rampant mediocrity, journalists are not well trained and don’t care. They are lost in the rat race for TRPs and advertisements. All the major agendas that were set by the media lately —the Jessica Lall, Priyadarshini Mattoo, Shivani Bhatnagar cases—were for their celebrity value. That’s what sells these days. How much rural India do we see in reports?

-Saumyata Singh

The commentary titled “After biofuels, a new culprit that threatens food supplies: fertilizer" (taken from The New York Times and published in Mint on 1 May) reads sadly like a press release written by the fertilizer industry.

It is baffling to see this kind of reporting at a time when there is growing global consensus on the problematic role of fertilizer use in the food crisis.

The article ends on a quote from scientist Norman Borlaug implying that without fertilizer use, the “game is over".

Challenges to this view are the story of the hour, NOT the outpacing of fertilizer demand to supply.

Even more significantly, the commentary makes merely a passing mention to a UN panel that has called for urgent review and change of agricultural practices worldwide and highlighted how industrial agriculture is partly responsible for the current crisis.

The issues raised by the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) are what reporters need to follow up, examine and dig deeper into. I hope that Mint’s own reporters, whose writings on these issues have been so much better, will be doing this in weeks to come.

-Rajni Bakshi

I have read your remarks in Our View column, published in Mint on 5 May. I am writing to express my unhappiness over some words picked up in this editorial.

These words are: “He (Prime Minister Manmohan Singh) gave a sermon to the business audience" and asked them (industrialists) to absorb higher costs rather than pass them down to consumers."

And: “He (PM) also repeated his message that lavish lifestyles of the rich can be a social problem." I have objections about the use of the word “sermon".

It appears that you are referring to the annual meeting of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) which was attended the Prime Minister and also by L.K. Advani, the prime ministerial candidate of the National Democratic Alliance and leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

According to me, the Prime Minister of India attends the CII annual meeting not to show his face to the assembly, but to share some problems of India with a body of noted industrialists.

Now, what is your objection if the PM asks the industrialists to reduce the cost of borrowing, which can be brought to zero if they use capital— own, self-generated or borrowed—in the business of the company and not divert it to invest in other companies?

How in your opinion is the economist Prime Minister unjustified in repeating his message before the august body of industrialists that lavish lifestyles of the rich can be a social problem, especially in view of the fact that one of the country’s leading industrialists is building his residence in Mumbai at a cost of Rs8,000 crore?

-S.C. Aggarwal

We thank our readers for some very interesting letters in response to our stories and columns. Do continue to write to us at yourviews@livemint.com

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