'Most people in India are of very low intellectual level'

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Markandey Katju
New Delhi, Nov 25: After his controversial remarks about the media Press Council of India Chairman Justice Markandey Katju has said "most people in India are of a very low intellectual level, steeped in casteism, communalism, superstitions and all kinds of feudal and backward ideas".

Given this, the argument that the media should provide programmes and news as per the tastes of viewers degrades it to an ordinary business dealing in commodities, he said.

"My point is, and I have stated this several times, including in my interview with Karan Thapar, that the media is not like an ordinary business dealing with commodities. It deals with ideas," Katju wrote on Friday in a letter to a mediaperson.

"Hence, to say that the media should supply the viewer whatever the viewer wants is really reducing the media to an ordinary business dealing with commodities and degrading it," Katju further said.

Katju wrote the letter in response to a reader's comment on a website which had published an article by Katju. The mediaperson whom Katju addressed the letter had brought his attention to this comment.

"The comment mentions that the media must provide the customer what it wants. Unfortunately, most people in India are of a very low intellectual level, steeped in casteism, communalism, superstitions, and all kinds of feudal and backward ideas," Katju said in his letter.

"The Indian masses today are very backward, as I have already mentioned, full of casteism, commualism, supersititous and against equality for women", he said.

"Should our media then become casteist, communal, and promote superstitions and condone oppression of women?" he said.

"In my opinion", according to Justice Katju, "it should not, rather it should attack these backward and feudal ideas and help our country in coming into the modern age by propagating modern, rational and scientific ideas.

"Should the Indian media go down to that low level by pandering to the tastes of the masses and perpetuating their backwardness or should the Indian media seek to raise the intellectual level of the Indian masses by propagating rational and scientific ideas and make them part of enlightened India?" he said.

Katju said that in the past the European media had played a "historical and glorious role" in educating the public.

"The European media played a historical and glorious role in the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries ( that is, the period when Europe was undergoing its transition from feudal to modern society ) by propagating the ideas of liberty, equality, fraternity, and secularism, which were, for that period, revolutionary ideas," Katju wrote.

"I would like the Indian media too to play such a historical and glorious role, and thereby win the respect of the Indian people," he further said.

"No doubt the media has also to provide some entertainment to the people. But if 90 percent of its coverage is devoted to entertainment like lives of film stars, fashion parades, disco dancing, pop music cricket etc and only 10 percent to the real issues facing our masses, which are mainly socio-economic, like poverty, unemployment, price rise, health care, education housing etc, then in my opinion the sense of proportion of the media has gone haywire," Katju wrote.

"I am not against the media, and I have unfortunately been misrepresented. The Indian media has a historical role to play in the present transitional period which India is going through. That is because the role of ideas becomes extremely important in the period of transition and the media deals with ideas," Katju wrote.

"If the Indian media corrects itself and helps the people go forward into the modern age it will win the respect of the Indian people. I only wanted to remind the Indian media of its historical duty to the country," Katju added.

PTI

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