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For a Media Marvel

Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD) Director Chang Jin on Friday read out Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s message delivered during the closing ceremony of the two-day Asia Media Summit in New Delhi. Modi pointed to the Asian region “emerging as one of the promising regions for media business, especially the broadcasting sector”, while “the opportunities for international cooperation range from technology partnership to sharing of successful strategies for inclusive communications, and our eventual aim shall be to deepen the media and democratic space in the region”. He also commended the summit’s “noble aim” to give voice to the region’s poor population. But what Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore said merits greater attention: “For far too long, the West has shaped the stories of Asia. I think now it’s time for Asia to shape its own stories, real stories, the stories of emotions, successes, struggles but eventually the stories of human ability to conquer difficulties and move ahead.” While the role of the media in the Asian region still plagued by chronic poverty and underdevelopment in many of its parts, including India, in projecting the problems faced by the poor, and also in contributing to solutions to mitigate their woes, cannot be overemphasized, what is imperative for the media in the region is scripting of stories pertaining to the region – including its many struggles with democracy, and rising fundamentalism – from its own viewpoint not adulterated by biased Western viewpoints often verging on unfounded but exaggerated versions. Localism can play a major role here – it is the local media that is the best repository of local knowledge. At the same time, given the issues of poverty in the region, the media can go a long way in contributing to their pragmatic and sustainable solutions by collaborating with some of the leading universities here for research in the domains of poverty and backwardness alleviation. The free Indian media can help define a marvellous role here. It should.

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Ankur Kalita