FOOD ORDINANCE BILL
Food ordinance bill is the most recent ordinance cleared by the Indian government. According to this, 70% of Indian population will be provided with food at 1-3rs per kg. One major thing is at stake, which concerns all Indians is the money which we pay in the form of tax. The money involved to fund this program is 125,000 crores ($22 billion). The UN (United Nations) has welcomed this and has considered it as one of the smartest decision by India. The UN said that- this bill will certainly lower the margin of hunger in India and with proper effect it may even erase hunger in coming years. This bill was in queue from past many years. On the contrary, many economic pundits, who understand the Indian economy better, feel that this was not the right time to bring this bill into affect.
Now, what I am concerned with is; the media’s response to this whole thing. When was the need of highlighting this issue? Did the media give us what we wanted? At the time when we wanted? Or was it shown when media wanted?
So, the media has reported about it lately. And I saw more coverage about this in print more than on electronic media. Now, does that convey something to us? Of course it does! Gatekeeping theory again (for details of this theory refer to my previous post), the owners and Editors of the channels have full authority of playing up or dumbing down a news. And that’s what happened with the reporting of this bill. The newspaper too started giving enough coverage only when the monsoon session is near. Both the media, television and newspaper, ran out of other more catchy content to publish or broadcast.
I ask all of you- is food more important than entertainment? I am asking this because media kept on playing the cricket game, IPL, instead of discussing a bill, which is a key to remove hunger from the face of India. Hence, what media did is, they made their agenda (Agenda setting theory, for details of this theory refer to my previous post) very clear. They projected the IPL fiasco so much that we though it is the only humungous problem in India at that time. We were glued to our TV screens and papers and kept reading about Sreesanth and team who were involved in this scandal.
And now it’s too late as the bill is cleared. But yes the media is coming up with the story, from both angles. They are reporting about this bill and why Congress was in a hurry to clear it. Anyways, most of the economic pundits suggest that Congress should have slowed down and thought about it once before clearing it. Questions were raised, such as- why this hurry? Will the government be able to stand with it in years to come (due to the amount involved)? Or is it just for the 2014 elections? Well, we all have our opinions! But it is for sure framed in some or the other way by the media. Here comes framing theory, which states- the media houses frame a particular story and give a slight slant before producing it in front of their audiences. It completely depends on our knowledge that how we perceive the news (Knowledge gap theory, for details of this theory refer to my previous post).
There are other problems related to the bill too. The two main problems are; proper channelization of food grains through its centers to the needful people and the storage of the food grains. We have already seen reports in media about food grains wasted just because government has no proper storage basements. Hence, such factors too come into play while considering this bill.
This is an important issue. My blog deals with media more, hence it restricts me to go on to the political views. But still if you want more on this (political angle), let me know through your valuable comments. I will be happy to write on that for you.
(Photograph & graphics – Izaz Ansari)