Constitution exists but is non-functional: Punya Prasun Bajpai at Sambad-Kanak Annual Meet
“The constitutional rights of the citizens of this country seem to have vanished. Only those who are devoted to the ruling party succeed in getting the positions in several constitutional bodies,” said Punya Prasun Bajpai
Bhubaneswar: “During the Emergency imposed across India by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1975, the citizens of the country didn’t get to exercise their constitutional rights. Today, the Constitution exists but it continues to remain non-functional,” said distinguished journalist and political commentator Punya Prasun Bajpai at the annual function of Sambad and Kanak News organized at Rail Auditorium here last evening.
Sambad Group celebrated 39th anniversary of Sambad newspaper and 13th anniversary of Kanak News on Tuesday. While the day proceeded with final leg of state-level debate and song competitions for students, an annual meet was hosted in the evening.
Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, founder and Editor of Sambad, Monica Nayyar Patnaik, Managing Director of Sambad Group, Tanaya Patnaik, Executive Director of Eastern Media Limited and eminent writer and journalist Gourahari Das were joined by Punya Prasun Bajpai as the chief guest of the annual event.
Bajpai began by talking about how tough it has become to run a newspaper in recent times. Television has the power to influence people’s minds in certain ways whereas newspaper articles bring out the creative imagination of the reader. Thi is the basic differentiating factor between broadcast nd print, he said.
Giving a brief insight on the socio-political scenario of the country, Bajpai said, “The constitutional rights of the citizens of this country seem to have vanished. Only those who are devoted to the ruling party succeed in getting the positions in several constitutional bodies.”
The seasoned journalist later narrated how one particular business model has opened numerous pathways in today’s society. Emphasizing the importance of public media in the recent time, he said that if the media confines itself in a certain business model, soon someone would step up to buy it.
“In 2013-14, the TRP budget of television channels were somewhere around Rs.1, 800 crore. However by 2019, the funds that came in from the central government for advertisements, were twice the amount that was sanctioned for media sector in the 90s…Where does this money come from? Who’s willing to pay such whopping amount?” Bajpai exclaimed.
“During Congress rule, there was corporate love but during PM Modi’s regime, the government has been corporatized. This difference has to be understood. Earlier, media used to receive advisories. But, now the Government has become the editor,” he added.
There has been a 360 degree change in the Indian politics. After 2014, everyone wants to be number one. From newspaper editors to the Prime Minister, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Election Commission, CVC, CBI, ED, RBI and even SBI, they all talk about how difficult it has become for them to run their respective offices, narrated Bajpai.
“In 2014, PM Modi stood in the central hall and urged the Supreme Court to dispose off criminal cases pending against parliamentarians. However, in 2019, the number of such MPs increased. The Prime Minister’s speech itself has turned into a mockery. Under such circumstances, people have started mocking the articles, editorials,raids by CBI and ED,” he said.
“Once, when asked about the judicial reforms, former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had said that he would address it when he would be elected to the parliament. But, even after being elected, he never uttered a word about it,” Bajpai said.
Expressing concerns over the educational standards in the country, the Delhi-based journalist said, “Every year, at least eight lakh students go for higher studies abroad. The tuition fees they pay the foreign institutions is more than the centre and state budget combined altogether. But, nobody is paying attention to that. There may soon be no government jobs because it is not willing to bear the burden of pensions. This is going to be a grim reality soon.”
Amid growing consumerism, Bajpai said, ” The country will be divided into two sections— one would be among world’s poorest of countries and the other section comprising consumers would compete with the richest countries in the world. Their ratio would be 90:10. The centre is failing to compensate GSTs to the states. The government enterprise and public sector undertakings are ailing. There is a nefarious plan to sell them to private companies at dirt cheap prices. The big corporates are going to be benefited big time. we has chosen the government to govern. If the corporates are going to take over everything then why should be not elect corporates?” said Bajpai while signing off.
Soumya Ranjan Patnaik said, “If newspaper business will be dependent on advertising revenue, the clients will have their say to some extent. Instead of advertisers, readers should be owners of the newspapers for which they’ll have to pay a little extra. Every journalist should be a ‘satyagrahi’. For this, he/she will have to pay a price.”
“Journalism is a profession which is completely different from others. Scribes who aspire to be like politicians or bureaucrats would never taste success. Media is not the fourth pillar. It is entirely different from the other three pillars. So, it has to be a different pillar altogether,” he added.
Tanaya Patnaik said the Sambad has turned into a revolution with a ‘3S’ mantra- Sustainability, Sacrifice and Service.
Monica Nayyar Patnaik said, “Sambad has now become a brand in Odisha and across borders.”
Gourahari Das, the feature editor of Sambad, in his welcome address took the audience through a brief introduction of the chief guest. The evening concluded with price distribution ceremony.