Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana on Wednesday cited Mahatma Gandhi’s quote on the essence of newspapers as he rued that the concept of investigative journalism is, unfortunately, vanishing from the media canvas.
In his remarks at the launch of book “Blood Sanders: The Great Forest Heist”, authored by journalist Udumula Sudhakar Reddy, he said: “As a person whose first job was that of a journalist, I am taking the liberty to share a few thoughts on present-day media. The concept of investigative journalism is, unfortunately, vanishing from the media canvas. It is true at least in the Indian context.”
Citing newspaper reports on scandals and misconduct creating waves leading to serious consequences, he said barring one or two, he can’t recall any story of such magnitude in the recent years.
“Everything in our garden appears to be rosy. I leave it to you to arrive at your own conclusions,” he said.
The CJI added: “I am reminded of what Gandhi ji said about newspapers, I quote: ‘The newspapers should be read for the study of facts. They should not be allowed to kill the habit of independent thinking.’ I hope the media introspects and tests itself against these words of the Mahatma.”
He said the book gives insights into what all has gone wrong with the fragile ecosystem spread over Chittoor, Nellore, Prakasam, Kadapa and Kurnool districts of Andhra Pradesh, where Red Sanders thrived in this habitat till a few decades ago.
“Now it is facing the threat of extinction. Like all good things in this world, Red Sanders also fell prey to the greed of man,” he said.
He said the author mentions that The AP Forest Act was amended in 2016 to deal sternly with the smuggling of Red Sanders. “However, what is lacking is the necessary will to enforce these laws. This is where the media needs to play its role. The collective failures of individuals and institutions entrusted with the role of protectors need to be highlighted by the media. People need to be made aware of deficiencies in the process,” he added.
The Chief Justice said: “The destruction, not only of the Red Sanders species, but of the ecosystem as a whole. This species is known for preventing forest fires from spreading in the vulnerable forests of Seshachalam hills. The consequences of this ecological destruction are there for us to see globally. The need of the hour is to address these issues locally.”