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Indeed, Credibility is Currency!

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  • john_jacob_email
    During his interaction with the media recently, our Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh made a very telling point while referring to the current state of media s
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 28, 2013
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      During his interaction with the media recently, our Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh made a very telling point while referring to the current state of media's coverage - "Credibility is Currency". Here is the link for ready reference.


      And, by all means, Currency indeed it is - especially in modern societies where information overload is a major challenge requiring the application of due diligence on the part discerning listeners. Credibility comes from bonafides, albeit erring being human. Yet, this fact is so often disregarded by us. To restore credibility in society, the internet does have a role to play and thus promote public good. In this global village setting, no longer is man affected merely by his locality, or state of residence, etc. Thus, a mass movement and / or human rights violation in, say, the American continent can find resonance in the Indian sub-continent - thanks probably to greater respect for freedom of speech and expression that may exist here. Also, as per Christ's teachings, ought we to be worried ONLY about Christianity / Christians, and not about the rest of mankind? Also, are we folks affected by religion alone, and nothing else? Of course not! Many other factors in this secular world affect our lives – none of which has been ignored by Christ during his times. Feeding the multitudes is one such example.

      Anyway, the point our PM was making was clear – the need to restore credibility in the eyes of the general public needs to be seriously undertaken by the media. And for no small reason at that, of course! For, shouting & slanging matches (for one) make a very poor replacement for sound reasoning and incisive & objective analysis (ditto for our Parliamentarians too, of course! But then, the political leaderships cannot want to be wheeling & dealing with anti-social elements for electoral benefits, on the one hand, and expect sensitivity & decorum in Parliament, on the other; right?). Analysis & reporting biases (political, commercial, or otherwise), including in Malayala Manorama of Kerala, is yet another unbridled hazard that has been raising its ugly head in this profession. Bragging and unbridled ambitions for improving TRP ratings, etc. by media houses are also common-practice. As a result of all this, "BREAKING NEWS" (for one) nowadays is only ending up breaking the public's confidence. Another unfortunate trend noticed is that lack of sensitivity during news reporting & analysis at times adversely affect issues of national importance. In the current economic situation, for example, rather than further dampening sentiment by simply talking about gloom & doom, public discourse ought to be seeking positive outcomes – by, say, encouraging private-public partnerships while handling external challenges for larger national interests, highlighting on the positives in economy, encouraging active involvement of the likes of Y V Reddy (ex-RBI Governor) and Amartya Sen, etc., promoting contrarian calls on stocks, etc. In summary thus, as compared to their counterparts in India, BBC and Al Jazeera appear to be better managed (not withstanding a few exceptions, of course, such as programs like `Devil's Advocate' on CNN-IBN, etc) whose working, in my view, could be of help while conducting a thorough introspection.

      As regards our political leaders, the Iraq war has busted any semblance of credibility that the US State Dept must have had in the eyes of the discerning public. As a consequence, with regard to the current situation in Syria the charge of `hunting with the hounds and running with the hares', could well be true. Little do they realize that, were a couple of more countries to join in the tussle along-side Syria, the situation could well escalate into a global phenomenon. While on Syria, another question that comes to my mind is – what makes us MOSC folks tick? Yes, rightfully have we been expressing grave concerns about the abduction of two Syrian Christian bishops; but why ought we Orthodox Christians consider US airstrikes on Syria to be outside the purview of our concerns – especially when much of the impact of any such (planned and advertised) strikes are likely to be on the common folks in Syria? I think that we need to keep in mind – a Christian's Constituency is Christ....period! Also, before Christ results don't count as much as sincere effort on our part - howsoever small these may seem (remember Christ's words about the "glass of drinking water"?).

      Anyway, the recent passage of the Food Security Bill in the Lok Sabha (hopefully it would clear muster in the RS too) is a big positive for the social sector and restores some credibility insofar as the 2009 election manifesto of the Congress Party is concerned. Food, along-with Water, being one of the most basic needs of mankind, ought to be having the prime of positions insofar as the pecking order in the list of priorities are concerned. However, thanks to rampant corruption, the ruling alliance will indeed need to sweat it out to ensure that the charge of '4 years of corruption and 1 year of populism' does not stick. This said, in-spite of bountiful rainfall this year, I hope our leadership is also focusing on ensuring 'Water-Security' for our nation which, in my view, is no less important than food-security.

      By the way, talking of manifestos, etc., joining issues with the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, I am unable to understand as to how a person from the Dalit caste becomes any less Dalit merely by virtue of his joining another religion. I hope someone in the political class takes forward this point of argument to its logical conclusion, and thus stay credible on this front too.

      While on credibility, mention must also be made about our nation's Chief Justice who is conscious of the legal fraternity's accountability to the common man. The following link provides the necessary inputs on this point.


      The need of the hour here is to effectively, while justly, reduce the back-logs in cases pending in various courts for which both the executive & judiciary needs to work hand in hand. While huge backlogs may be beneficial to professions involving a greater percentage of criminals, there can be no denying that the above two pillars of democracy are accountable to the people of India. Anyway, another moot point that comes up here is – will the leaderships of political parties take cues from the above link and seek to improve credibility of their respective parties before the common man? After all, how long will common man tolerate monstrous (not merely - criminal) negligence (in Uttarakhand), for one, during the performance of their duties?

      Lastly, how could we forget the gate-keepers to ethics & morality - our religious institutions! Going by the sound-bytes in the mainstream & social media, credibility crisis is fast catching up with them too. Thus, for instance, invitations to participate in mass-movements in North India go relatively unheeded by the public while in others, when they do attend in Kerala (a recent instance), end up raising questions like "How white is white?" in the minds of the common man. Yes, it is indeed sad to note that despite a good number of Kerala Christians existing in the state, its Chief Minister gets unjustly targeted despite his pioneering efforts towards ensuring social justice through mass outreach. But of course, there is a silver lining to all this - not all are alike in any community, profession, or calling. Thus, there are some among the clergy who are conscious of such erosion in credibility, and have highlighted it quite well - the link for one of which is given below (Malayalam video).


      As the video above suggests, let us learn from Joseph whose credibility was his primary currency during the course of his journey on this planet. This video puts forward this point extremely well. Kudos!

      Yours in Christ!

      John Jacob
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