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Politicians being used as props on TV shows: Khurshid

By Priyanka
Last updated on: July 06, 2012 19:30 IST
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Union Minister of Law and Justice Salman Khurshid while speaking at the Editors Guild conference in New Delhi said that many in the government do not understand how to deal with social media. Priyanka reports

Prominent editors on Friday gathered for the Editors Guild conference in the capital to assess the challenges faced by the media. Union Minister of Law and Justice Salman Khurshid made a few revelations about the problems he saw with the reach of the Indian media and its purported impact.

"There is a serious dichotomy in our country today," he said.

Khurshid, who made a late night exit from his constituency Farrukhabad in Uttar Pradesh, said that people in his constituency were still grappling with basic issues, related to water, dragging court cases and city transfers, as compared to what was captured as national news in bigger cities.

"There is a complete disconnect between what I did yesterday and what I did today," he pointed out. "And when we talk about laws, I am not sure whether they are for the people I met yesterday in my constituency or those I am meeting today," he argued.

He questioned whether the reforms or issues highlighted would be universally relevant to all citizens across the country.

"When I visit smaller constituencies, people seem to be living in a little India within India," he said, "And they really believed that nothing exists beyond it."

He said that people today are so consumed with their grievances that they don't see what exists beyond them. "As a country, we should be able to share our joys and sorrows," he said.

The Union minister complained that television anchors today are often keen on taking a judging stance, and are becoming less probing. "On most television shows, I feel, politicians are being used as props," Khurshid remarked.

Khurshid also criticised the near extreme views taken by many before the media today.

"Today, there are too many people who feel that there is only one right way of doing things," he complained and added that a liberal society must open gates to numerous options.

He was however very cautious while commenting on imposing bans on online activity, and said that the government was not keen on restricting access to websites. 

"We live in a free society, with free flow of information. Imposing a ban is not going to work here," Khurshid said. 

"We are often told that China has done it, and so why can't we. But we are not China and we won't be," he said.

Khurshid also spoke of how social media has altered the flow and access of information in the new age. Sounding almost apologetic, he said that many in the government do not understand how to deal with social media.

"Social media is a whole new landscape, and we in the government don't understand it," he said.

"We know very little on how we are going to interface and interact with it," he added.

"But, as a responsible government we shouldn't always appear like we have all the answers, and we are still looking for them," the Union minister said.

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Priyanka in New Delhi