Freedom of the Press

Freedom of expression has always been emphasised as an essential basis
for the democratic functioning of a society. The reasons for this are:
the right of an individual to self-fulfillment, which right requires
the communication of thought; the importance of constantly attempting
to attaint he truth, an attempt which is frustrated if information is
suppressed or comment blocked; the inherent democratic right to
participate in decision-making, which obviously implies the freedom to
obtain, communicate and discuss information,; and the practical
importance of maintaining the precarious balance between healthy
cleavage and the necessary consensus; "coercion of expression is
likely to be ineffective (and)…. Conceals the real problems
confronting a society… It is likely to result in neglect of the
grievances which are the actual basis of the unrest and thus prevent
their correction".* Especially because we are compelled to operate our
democracy indirectly, it is of great importance that the citizens
should be enabled to know what is happening in different regions and
different sectors of the functioning of the society, and to listen to
different and alternative approaches and comments, so that they can
effectively participate in the process of self-government. If facts
cannot be freely presented and comments cannot be freely exchanged,
there is no way in which the citizens can even attempt to hold the
rulers to account.

A further dimensions to the freedom of expression is added by the
existence of mass society in which communication among citizens can
take place only through the use of media like the Press and
broadcasting and not directly, except in a limited way. With State
monopoly over broadcasting which prevails both technical and, in the
Indian context, financial, the importance of the Press is even more

Our actual experience since Independence, and especially in the last
decade or so, also suggests that a free and vigilant Press is vital to
restrain corruption and injustice at least to the extent that public
opinion can be roused as a result of press investigations and
comments. Recently a number of injustices and wrong-doings have been
uncovered as a result of the initiative taken by newspapers. Whether
it is the question of various types of bonded labour in different
parts of the country, the misuse of powers by A. R. Antulay or the
existence of smuggling rackets on the West Coast, newspapers have
served a very useful purpose by exposing them. The fear that the Press
will expose such wrong-doing is a major restraint on potential

Who Threatens Freedom? Owners Structure
Having accepted that the freedom of the Press is of vital importance
especially in our contest, the question arises: is this freedom
threatened and, if so, by whom?

It has been frequently alleged, especially in India, that the freedom
of the Press is in danger because of the ownership of the newspaper
industry and the predominance of some newspaper groups and chains. It
is also suggested that the editors and journalists cannot have
adequate freedom of collecting and disseminating facts and offering
comments as they are under the pressure of the capitalist owners. It
is further pointed out that free collection and dissemination of facts
is not possible in the case of newspapers which depend to a large
extent on revenue from advertisements as the advertising interests
cannot but influence the presentation of news and comments. Unless
this whole structure of ownership and control in the newspaper
industry, and also the manner of the economic management of the Press,
is changed, it is therefore suggested, the Press cannot be really

How far are these arguments valid?
It should be conceded at the outset that, like any large private
sector industry, the newspaper industry cannot be influenced by the
understanding and approach of those who control it. With modern
technology, large newspaper organisations enjoy various economies of
scale. Groups and chains of newspapers are therefore in a better
position to provide richer fare in their newspapers are bound to be
businessmen/capitalists, and their overall approach to the society and
its problems cannot but be conditioned by this. That is why we
inevitably find that the Press which is commercially organised-not run
by political pro-business, pro-capitalist as well as usually a
pro-Establishment viewpoint. Few newspapers will endorse a philosophy
which goes against the established they would hardly raise their
voice, or even offer investigative material, about the working of
private trade and industry. When those who own or control newspapers
are also involved in other lines of business, their stake in the
stability of the system is so large that they would not encourage
anything which is likely to create problems in the smooth functioning
of the society. With maximum emphasis on stability, they would rather
connive with oppression and injustice. Unorthodox and
anti-establishment vies may not find much place in the columns of such
newspapers, while national chauvinism-even jingoism-may come easily.
The recent controversy in a country like the United Kingdom with a
long democratic tradition about the somewhat subjective stances taken
by the B.B.C. in the Falklands crisis shows how difficult it is for
the Press or the media to maintain objectivity. The days that we can
forget that appalling experience, when the freedom of the press as
well as many other freedoms were seriously endangered in the U.S.A.

No Workable Alternative

But what is the possible remedy? Public ownership of newspapers in
effect meaning State ownership? Is that what will ensure the freedom
of the Press?
The idea has merely to be put forward to see how suicidal such a
solution can be. Cooperative ownership could be a possible
alternative; but there are few examples anywhere in the world of
successful cooperative management of large newspaper organisations, or
of any large business establishments. A newspaper industry is an
increasingly large, technically complex and managerially challenging
industry. Unless we want the newspapers to be poorly produced as a
result of continuos inefficiency in their management, we can not but
permit good and vigorous managers to control major units in this
industry. The choice is between having good newspapers even with the
shortfalls inevitably arising out of the inadequacies mentioned
earlier, or having poor quality newspapers. What our choice will be is

Competition The Best Policy

One should also point out that our experience in India is not that all
those who own and manage the newspaper industry are taking a uniform
approach on important issues relating to vital policy-making in the
country. There are differences among them and some do take a
significantly anti-establishment line. Though they may not necessarily
support socialist or communist policies, they may permit a great deal
of criticism of the existing system and encourage information as well
as comment along critical lines. The degree of such criticism will
vary. But our experience does not indicate that all capitalist owners
of newspapers will collaborate and operate in some kind of a
collusion. In fact, to the extent that there is competition for
increasing circulation, a newspaper is bound to attempt to ensure that
it is not found wanting in investigating events and giving information
which competing newspapers may provide. The owners cannot therefore
take an approach which will reduce the circulation by insisting that
it reflect his personal viewpoint rather than attempting to present
facts and other materials which the readers would be interested in. A
capitalist owner may not necessarily be actuated by any lofty motives;
but the possibility cannot be ignored that competing newspapers would
forge ahead if the paper is allowed to be too sectional or partial.
Experience both in India and abroad also suggests that only large
newspaper organisations can resist powerful institutions and persons.
A small newspaper would institutions and persons. A small newspaper
would have found it difficult to face the wrath of a Nixon.

What is therefore of real importance is to ensure that a certain
minimum degree of competition exists in the newspaper world. It is
true, as mentioned earlier, that, as in many other industries,
technology and other aspects give a significant advantage to large
scale organisations in the press industry. It is no longer possible
for the number of successful newspaper ventures to be very large. We
can only have a limited degree of competition and not anything
approaching perfect competition. But this is the difficulty in all
modern industries. All that can and should be emphasised is that a
reasonable degree of competition should be attempted to be maintained.

This can be done in two ways: Firstly, in any effective circulation
area which forms a single market for newspapers, careful watch should
be kept on dominant newspapers who control a large proportion of the
circulation. In the case of such newspapers the normal provisions of
the MRTP Act such as special permission being required for their major
expansion or setting up of new papers by them etc. should apply.
Careful watch should also be kept on the possibility of their
indulging in monopolistic and unfair trade practices. It has been
already held that the MRTP Act applies to the newspaper industry. What
is necessary is to make sure that the provisions of the Act are
streamlined and its instruments given adequate teeth so that the
anti-monopoly provisions can effectively operate. This is necessary
not only in the newspaper industry but in all industries. The
difficulty is that throughout the last ten years since the MRTP Act
was put on the statute book, the Government has not rally bothered to
see that anti-monopoly provisions become effective. In fact, the
tendency of Government has been in opposite direction, Viz, to favour
the monopoly organisations.

As for large business houses controlling a number of industries and
also newspapers, to the extent that such houses represent a
significant degree of concentration of economic power, they would come
within the purview of the break-up provisions under Section 27 of the
MRTP Act. The government would therefore be in a position to have the
possibility of such breakup examined by the MRTP Commission and, if
such a break-up is advised in public interest, it can take steps in
that direction. The difficulty is that the Government has made no use
of this section. The Government appears to be merely wanting to have
many powers with it so that it can threaten and intimidate those
enterprises, including newspaper ones, which are not ready to toe its
line. It is significant that the only instance where the Government
thought worth looking at; it was only the Indian Express, because it
was proving to be a paper not easily amenable to the wishes of those
in power at that time. This inference is supported by the fact that,
at the Government's instance, R. N. Goenka was replaced as chairman of
the Indian Express group by K. K. Birla, and the Government preferred
this arrangement in spite of latter's connections with both a large
business empire, and with the Hindustan Times. In thinking of any
special powers relating to the Press being given to Government, the
very real possibility of the powers being mainly used for arm-twisting
for partisan interests should not be overlooked.

Positive Assistance To Independent Papers

At the same time, it is important that steps are taken positively to
make it possible for independent papers to survive develop. Assistance
to them should be provided through general institutions meant to help
the growth of independent entrepreneurs, including small ones. The
financial institutions as well as promoting organisations-such as the
National Small Industries Corporation-can be used for this purpose.
Facilities such as subsidised teleprinter services, and facilitating
the setting up of small electronic presses, could be other steps in
this direction. The assistance should be granted in a manner where no
discrimination among individual papers can be easily made, and where
the subsidised facility cannot be misused and encashed. For this
reason making available a marketable commodity like newsprint at a
specially cheaper price should not be supported.

The dependence of newspapers on advertisement revenue may go against
the perspective of some puritan minds about an ideal society. But in a
world where mass persuasion is becoming respectable even in communist
countries like Hungary and Yugoslavia, we cannot think of
advertisement as a tainted source of revenue. At a time when the costs
of producing newspapers are rapidly raising, advertisement revenue is
the only mechanism which can keep the newspaper prices within
reasonable limits. Any attempt by Government to put a restriction to
advertisement revenue has to be looked upon as an indirect method of
upsetting the economy of newspapers and thus an act which would affect
Press freedom adversely. To the extent that a newspaper has a large
number of sources from which advertisement revenue flows in, it is
less likely to be influenced in its coverage by the wishes of any one
of them. A smaller newspaper is more likely to be subject to the
wishes of an important advertiser, including the Government. It is
therefore necessary to realise that larger appears are less likely to
be influenced by advertisers. Further, to the extent that the MRTP Act
is effectively used, the power of any one advertiser would be limited.
Of course, if the Government chooses to continue to keep the MRTP Act
should be available to Government to curb undue concentration and
misuse of monopoly powers in the Press industry. It should also be
obligatory for Government to consult the MRTP Commission before any
action under that Act is taken.

The State- The Main Threat

This insistence is necessary because experience all over the world, as
well as our own experience since Independence, suggest that the State
remains the source of the most potential threat to Press freedom. It
cannot be overlooked that, within a short time after passing the
Constitution, those in power - who used to swear by Press freedom
before Independence-put in provisos to Article 19 (1) of the
Constitution so as to clothe Government with powers to curb Press
freedom. This was defended on the ground that these powers were likely
to be necessary on occasions when the security of the State was
threatened; it was emphasised that the powers will not be normally
used. But a special legislation called the Press (Prevention of
Objectionable Matters) Act was put on the statute book soon thereafter
in 1951. No steps were taken to remove the lacunae which gave
Government powers to intercept material going to the Press through the
Posts and Telegraphs. Some Chief Ministers thought it proper to take
steps against newspapers whose policy they did not like, whether it
was a Morarji Desai in Bombay or a Charan Singh in U. P.

A persistent attempt to curb Press freedom how ever really began only
after 1969. Indira Gandhi felt that the Press was too critical of her
ways and she sought to change its approach. Various threats were held
out by Government and steps proposed to curb that section of the Press
which was thought to be the most independent. With the aid of some
native leftist organisations, a propaganda barrage was mounted against
the Press as well as the judiciary both of which appeared to be not
easily amenable to the wishes of Government. apparently the only
reason why the idea of spreading the equity ownership of newspaper
companies especially among the workers and the journalists employed
therein was not pursued was the feeling that such a measure would give
more power in the hands of trade unions who were opposed to the ruling
party. On the other hand, arm-twisting of capitalist owners,
especially of those who had many other industrial interests and were
not very much concerned with the freedom of the Press, was thought to
be not so difficult. The antipathy to the Press however continued and
got further intensified, especially as most of the important papers
expressed their dislike of the acts of the ruling establishment, and
many of them advised the Prime Minster to resign after the Allahabad
High Court Judgement in 1975. The antipathy culminated in the
pre-censorship imposed in the country for the first time during the
internal Emergency. That the pre censorship was used for partisan ends
is sufficiently exemplified by the data published as a result of the
various enquiries made in 1977-78.* The misuse of powers like
pre-censorship was a adequately envisaged by the fact that these
powers were even used to black out some unpleasant news about the
criminal convictions of an actress, and of some businessmen.

The experience of the Emergency also provided enough evidence to show
how weak-kneed a very large part of the Indian Press was when it felt
really threatened. One would not have believed that, during the
independence movement, a much larger proportion of newspapers had
faced difficulties and shown courage. The poor morale of many editors
and others concerned was aptly characterised by the Janata
Government's Minster for Information and Broadcasting who told the
Press that, when they were only asked to bend, they crawled!
Nevertheless, there were brave exceptions; and it is important to note
who they were. Two of the so-called monopoly papers resisted
encroachment on their freedom and faced considerable risks. These were
the Statesman and the Indian Express. Of course even a more valiant
attitude was shown by independent, small journals like Sadhana
(Marathi), Bhoomiputra (Gujrati), Seminar (a monthly journal) and
Opinion (a weekly sheet); but these were run by individuals or groups
who had a commitment to certain values and where the overall financial
stake, the number of employees etc., was not very large. A very large
proportion of the regular Press offered little resistance and
gradually accepted a kind of self-censorship. That the ruling group
was thinking of controls over the Press as a permanent measure was
indicated by the putting on the statute book of the Prevention of
Publication of Objectionable Matters Act in 1976. It was also known
that the spokesmen of Government were threatening newspapers about
"consequences", after the censorship was lifted and general elections
announced. These threats indicated what might have been in store for
the Press in the Congress party had won the elections in March 1977.

The Press began to act with great vigour almost as a rebound after the
Emergency was lifted in 1977, and especially after the change brought
in as a result of the elections in March 1977. The Janata Government
and the short-lived Lok Dal Government, felt the thrust of this
vigorous assertion of independence by the Press. This was also the
time when the Press specially developed new traditions of
investigative journalism, which has now become a major feature of an
increasing number of important newspapers.

Since January 1980, with the change of Government, the attitude of the
Government of India toward the Press has reverted back to one of
antipathy. Many of the new State Governments which came to power in
the middle of 1980 have shown active hostility. Instances of threats
to the free functioning of the Press are not uncommon. There was the
instance in Bangalore when, as a result of the publication of a press
report which was disliked by the Chief Minister, there was a kind of
gherao of important papers so as to prevent their publication on one
day and the police practically pleaded helplessness to do anything
about the matter. There was another instance of a former Chief
Minister who compared the Press to snakes and scorpions. The Tamil
Nadu Government, belonging to a different political party, has put
special curbs on contacts between Government officials and the Press,
and has stiffened the Cr. P. C. in a manner which would make
"scurrilous" writing a nonbailable offence and also one where
imprisonment on conviction is made obligatory as a punishment. The
Prime Minister herself has indicated more than once her dislike of the
manner in which what is called the National Press operates.

Hostile Attitude of Those in Power
The basic attitude of those who are in power has been one of wanting
the Press to conform. This is specially clear from the official
attitude to the manner in which the broadcasting media under direct
Government control are to operate. The demand that broadcasting media
be separated from the direct tutelage of Government, and the work be
entrusted to an autonomous corporation, has been put forward for a
long time. But this has been resisted by all those who have been in
political power at the Centre. The Government of India had appointed
in the 60's a committee (the Chanda Committee) to go into this
question and it recommended an autonomous set up for the All India
Radio. But the Government continued to ignore this recommendation. In
fact, during the Emergency, spokesmen of the Government continued to
ignore this recommendation. In fact, during the Emergency, spokesmen
of the Government made it quite clear that they thought it quite right
that the broadcasting media should propagate only the official
viewpoint. The Prime Minister herself had clearly state in 1975 that
All India Radio is "a Government organ, it is going to remain a
Government organ… It is there to project Government policies and
Government views. It does not mean we do not give the views of other
people, but primarily its function is there to give the views of the
Government of India". The Prime Minister justified this by stating
that "in no country in the world, in no developing country, do they
even allow anybody else to appear or any other viewpoint to be

Though the Janata Government appointed a committee (B. G. Verghese
Committee) to examine this question, and the Committee recommended the
setting up of an autonomous body for taking charge of broadcasting,
the Janata Government, and also the short-lived Lok Dal Government,
took no steps to pursue this recommendation and to make All India
Radio autonomous and largely free of Government control. This is an
adequate indication of the battles that may always have to be fought,
whichever party is in power, to ensure that media of mass
communication are permitted to operate freely.

A more recent indication of the Government's indifference to the
economic functioning of the Press is provided by the Government's
imposing an import duty on newsprint at a time when various costs of
the newspaper industry, including the newsprint prices in the major
supplying countries, have been rapidly escalating. To impose a duty on
newsprint which would further enhance the costs of producing
newspapers, in a country where the incomes of the common people are
very low and where the circulation of newspapers is still very small,
is hardly calculated to ensure wider circulation of newspapers. The
proceeds of the wider circulation of newspapers. The proceeds of the
import duty form such a minor part of the Central Government's revenue
that if the duty was not imposed it would have meant no real
difficulty for the Government. In spite of widespread demand in the
Press, the Government continues the import duty for a second year,
only making it specific instead of advalorem.

State Powerful in India

A further point of importance in this context is that, because of the
necessity to ensure planned development of our economy, considerable
powers regarding various aspects of the economy have been conferred on
Government. With the attitude of the Government of intolerance of
criticism as indicated earlier, the possibility of the Government
misusing these powers against the newspapers whom it considers hostile
is very real. Not only that Government misusing these powers against
the newspapers whom it considers hostile is very real. Not only that
Government has considerable powers which can be used at its discretion
under statutes like the IDRA and MRTP Act, but here are also other
powers such as under import control, the grant of credit through banks
the bulk of whom are in the public sector, and even services provided
by public utilities like Posts and Telegraphs (including telephones),
and power supply. Normal credit facilities may be denied, power supply
may be cut off or made irregular (ostensibly on technical grounds), or
postal and Telegraphic facilities may be discriminatingly used, to
harass newspapers whose policies are disliked by those in positions of
political power. Government advertisements and advertisements by the
large and expanding public sector business organisations may be denied
or they may be used in such a discriminating manner as to favour or
disfavour particular newspapers. The overall powers of the State may
be used to create difficulties for independent newspapers and news
people. Even police protection may mysteriously disappear when well
organised mobs gherao newspaper offices and threaten it with violence.
Enough data are available to show that these are not merely
theoretical possibilities but realities which face the Indian Press.
It is therefore clear that the main threat to press freedom in India
arises from the executive power of the State, both at the Centre and
in the States. What is likely is not so much a direct and overt act of
nationalisation as what may be culled salami tactics of putting curbs
in an increasing and steady manner through various obstructions and

Legislators' Attitudes

It is also necessary not to ignore the fact that the traditions of
democratic polity and essential freedoms have not had a very long
innings in India. Intolerance of inconvenient speech or writing
therefore comes easily to many people in the country. Enough data are
available even about happenings in recent years to illustrate this,
Chhabirani episode in Orissa being one of the most notorious ones.
Investigative journalism, when it touches some vested interest or the
other-whether it is in politics, castes, property rights, trade
unions, or any other-is in special danger as a result of persistent
threats of violence. It would not be wrong to say that the greater the
distance of the journal or the journalists from metropolis the greater
the risk, though it is not as if such danger is quite absent even in
metropolitan areas.

The intolerance of critical references is further exemplified in the
attitude shown by many legislators to the question of legislative
privileges. Even though it is now more than 30 years since the
Constitution was passed and the idea then was that the privileges of
legislatures would be codified within a few years, no legislature in
India has yet taken any steps in that direction and there appears to
be almost a consensus among legislators to avoid such codification.
The result is that the possibility that a legislature may treat a
particular reference as an infringement of legislative privilege is a
kind of Damocles' sword on the heads of newspapers. It does not
infrequently happen that legislators utter obscenities, trade in
abuses and generally behave in an undignified manner. If the presiding
officer expunges such words, or decides that nothing will go on
record, the idea is that publication of such part of the proceedings,
even if it has taken place, is not to be reported; and if it is, is
may be treated as a contempt of the legislature. This is strange logic
indeed. What actually happens, is actually said, is treated as if it
is wiped out by the decision of the presiding officer and is not to be
reported. Unlike in some foreign legislatures such a sin the U.K., it
is not an odd word here or there which is expunged but, frequently,
whole passages. A citizen who is present in the visitors' gallery is
obviously a witness to what happens; but those who are not present are
not expected to be informed through the Press of what actually
happened. One does not understand by what logic such an approach is
taken. On the other hand, it is only proper that the citizen should
have the maximum access to information about what his representatives
do, the manner in which they behave, or misbehave.

Importance of Constitutional Amendment

All these difficulties in the way of ensuring that the Press can have
the maximum freedom to carry out its function of collecting facts
about different facets of national life, analysing them and commenting
upon them so as to keep the general body of citizens in our young
democracy well informed show that the Press requires some special
protection. Many authorities have held that the Right to Freedom of
Speech conferred by Article 19(1) of the Constitution is adequate to
protect the freedom of the Press. Judicial decisions have however made
it clear that the Fundamental Rights are conferred only on citizens
and not on associations of citizens. In the present times, no
newspaper or other periodical can normally be brought out by
individuals; it can only be brought out by corporate bodies. Moreover,
it has also been held by Courts that, in view of the limitations put
under Article 19 (2) etc., pre-censorship can be imposed on newspapers
even when the country is not faced by an Emergency due to external
aggression or internal rebellion or similar circumstances. That
governmental authorities can be tempted to use such powers purely for
partisan purposes was adequately proved in 1975-76 and, more recently,
in Assam. There is also some uncertainty about whether some provisions
in the Indian Penal Code cannot be used as a coercive instrument
against the Press. It appears therefore necessary that a specific
Constitutional amendment so as to confer the right of Freedom on the
Press in particular and on media of communication in general needs to
be taken up in right earnest. If the general body of citizens in a
vast country like ours is to be kept adequately informed both about
the actual events and about alternative approaches to meeting the
country's problems, it is essential that the freedom of the
communication media is protected by a specific Constitutional
provision to that effect.

Such a specific provision will enable newspapers and journalists to
obtain judicial protection from direct as well as indirect threats. It
would not then be impossible for a newspaper which may receive unfair
treatment from those in charge of functions like import control, power
supply, bank credit or communication facilities to obtain judicial
redress if it can be shown that the discrimination is due to its being
a newspaper which is critical of those in power.

Codification of Legislative Privileges

A complementary measure will be to insist upon the codification of
legislative privileges, with the proviso that where a breach of
privilege is alleged, the legislature should only be permitted to file
a complaint, the decision regarding whether contempt is proved and, if
so, the punishment to be awarded being left to a Court of Law. The
idea that the legislature should itself be both the accusor and the
judge might have had a historical reason in England; but there is not
reason for such a fundamentally unjust approach to be accepted in our

Press Needs To Improve

It may be asked: Would this be enough to ensure that the Press is left
genuinely free to carry out the functions that it must perform? Would
it not be necessary to think of some other, more positive, steps to
ensure that the press does not remain a hand-maid of only the powerful
in the country?

The inadequacies of the Indian Press need not be connived at. There is
no doubt that private bussiness- and those who control it- are treated
by most newspapers with kidgloves. This partly because of the
ownership of many newspapers and therefore the philosophy of those who
are appointed to senior journalistic positions. The trade union side
of industrial disputes, the approach of the political parties on the
left side of the political spectrum and the difficulties of the
unprivileged and the dispossessed have received far less attention
than other smaller but influential sections and vested interests in
the vast bulk of our newspapers. It should, however, be said that the
situation is changing for the better. Competition, and also the
increasing influence of professional journalists, are making it
difficult for newspapers to ignore these various aspects. It is well
known that the blindings at Bhagalpur, the treatment of workers as
bonded servants by many landed interests, the exploitation of child
labour in slate factories, or of female labour in bidi factories ore
even of adult workers in asbestos factories have been brought to light
not by small newspapers but by large ones which are many times dubbed
by critics as belonging to the Monopoly or the Jute Press category.
This tendency shows that to the extent that at least some degree of
competition can be ensured in every circulation area chances are that
there would be a fair degree of investigation of different types of

A part of the answer to the difficulties lies in making it possible
for independent newspapers and especially periodicals to operate
without too much handicap. But, even then, such newspapers may not be
as successful as the large ones operated as capitalist undertakings.
Their workers, including journalists, may have to work at a sacrifice.
But unless there are elements in the country which are ready to work
with self sacrifice and zeal for causes in which they believe, new and
unorthodox ideas cannot develop and new political groups cannot
emerge. There have been examples of such efforts such as the daily
Shramik Vichar run by some trade union groups in Pune. There was even
an attempt at running a paper devoted to the requirements of the
district of Pune which however did not continue for long. Real
entrepreneurship in this field would consist of such efforts and,
except for direct and discretionary subvention, various other steps
can be taken to help the whole category of such newspapers and
periodicals. This would make it possible for the larger newspapers to
be kept on their toes.

Even though investigative journalism is fast developing in India, the
quality of the Indian Press in many respects leaves much to be
desired. Even though, as a result of various awards, the emoluments of
journalists have considerably improved in the last few years, adequate
talent is not still attracted to this field. There is also a great
deal of lethargy which leads to large scale reproduction of speeches
as well as gossip from the corridors of power instead of well
organised news. The tendency even of some of our top newspapers to
rely on articles from the foreign Press when dealing with world
affairs shows a lack of initiative in developing Indian talent for
analysing world problems from the Indian point of view.

With some exceptions, there has also not been enough effort to develop
interest in news, other information and comments on aspects of life
other than politics, crime and sports. Investigative news collection
can be of great use in matters like the operation of Plan programmes
and projects. In some newspapers, useful reports of investigations in
sectors like power and irrigation have recently appeared. But this is
still experimental and confined only to a few papers. Such
inadequacies can be overcome only with better training, more
competition and greater professionalisation. There are no short-cut
remedies for this.

The most serious inadequacy relating to the Indian Press is to be
found in newspapers published in Indian languages. Most of them are
poorer in quality as compared to newspapers in English. This is so
even in respect of Indian language papers belonging to same groups.
This obviously happens because the managements of such groups continue
to think that the prestige of the group depends more on the English
language newspapers than on the Indian language ones. It is quite
obvious that the number of those proficient in English will not expand
as rapidly as that of the literate in various Indian languages. The
demand for Indian language newspapers is already expanding faster and
this trend will be further accelerated in future. As the number of
legislators who understand English declines, it is essential in public
interest and for the proper functioning of our democracy that the
quality of the more important Indian language newspapers improves
rapidly. Special steps such as the development of teleprinter services
in Indian languages and support to the adaptation of the best
techniques for printing Indian language newspapers should be taken by
the Government so as to help.

The Main Goal - Growth with Freedom

We have had a wrong set of priorities regarding the Press. Even the
first Press Commission appeared to have been more worried about what
are called chain newspapers rather than about the very inadequate
circulation of all newspapers - chain and non-chain - in the country.
Even the so-called chain papers still hardly boast of a circulation
which would have any relevance to the numbers of people in our
metropolitan and urban areas, leave alone in the countryside. It needs
to be emphasised that the topmost priority in India should be to help
all newspapers to develop both in terms of circulation and quality. It
will take all types-chain and non-chain, multi edition and single
edition, group and non-group, large kind of Press that the largest
democracy in the world requires and deserves. What should never be
overlooked when thinking of the Press in the Indian context is that it
is only a free Press which can help develop a body of citizens who are
well informed both regarding current events and also about the
problems facing the country; and the alternatives available for
tackling them. It is only such a Press that can enable a young
democracy like India to survive, and also help its development in a
manner where social justice is ensured and the interests of the common
people served