Bihar government is determined to show case Bihar globally as the most happening place in the country can now be taken as axiomatic. In fact it may not necessarily be related to luring investors to this state. It is an exercise independent of utility or manifest purpose. So after the Global Meet we have the world women’s kabaddi championship. As commented earlier, there was a clear divide between the electronic and the print media on the reporting of the significant event. The print media went to town plugging the speech of the dignitaries while the shoddy arrangements got relegated to the background. The electronic media reported all these with a large pinch of salt. The poor unfinished state of the venue was the constant television motif. Both these were partly true, but the emphasis laid conveyed entirely different impressions to the readers.
The conference on” Six Years of Right to Information Act in Bihar –Road ahead”, is yet another international event which is being hosted side by side. Every state has its own RTI, there is a central act as well. One could understand the need to share the experience of the implementation of the act and learn for each other’s experience between the states of the Indian union because there is certain homogeneity as far as socio, poltico, administrative situation is concerned. But what would be common between a state of India, which scraps the bottom of the rankings in terms of transparency and corruption and a Scandinavian or even for that matter any European country or the US of America. Would there be a community of interest or a shared history? Moreover international seminars are generally held under the aegis of national governments. Neither the organizers cared to bother nor did the media ask them on behalf of their readers. Moreover the ordinary citizens and the RTI activists led by Shiv Prkash Rai of the Nagrik Adhikar Manch who could have given valuable feedbacks on the efficacy of the act were kept at bay outside. So what was on offer was only the undiluted official propaganda.
The media dutifully lapped it whole – some of them gave as much as 95 % space to the self serving speeches of Nitish Kumar and Modi. They added only as a footnote the highly significant blow struck by the eminent Justice AP Shah on behalf of the civil society. Why did the state government severely limit the scope of the act by limiting it to one question and setting the word limit of 150 words for the formulation of the query These two qualifications rule out the barely or semi literate citizen who does not have the required precision . It also makes to more tedious. The government leaders have already started talking about its misuse even while its use is limited and its utility yet to be felt on a wider scale. Its mere potential has scared the government.
The Hindustan, as always treated it as an opportunity to report its daily quota of “Thus spake Nitish.”The TOI dealt the contrarian point of view in two lines as an also spoke. It however faithfully reported what Nitsh Kumar intended to be communicated in the remaining space. .Telegraph also followed its routine of letting the government viewpoint hog the space and then rush through with the sundries. Only the Hindustan Times did some justice by taking out a box item to elucidate the issue that AP Shah had raised and every civil society activist has been rising.
It was supposed to be an international meet ; one presumes people from several countries come at great cost but all that one gets to hear is of what our dear leader said. Do not we hear that when he goes to address the rustic crowd on his seva yatra, his daily announcements of mile stones achieved, or future ambitious programmes announced.
But I have not lost hope yet. While departing the visiting dignitaries are bound to be impressed by the tremendous strides Bihar has made which the news papers will cover in several column inches.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this report are purely those of the author and may not in any circumstances be regarded as the official view of BiharTimes.