Statement by P N Vasanti, DG, Center for Media Studies (CMS)

Shameful to have politicians blatantly promoting their own interests at the cost of health of the citizens and the nation. The current tobacco discourse in our country rises two critical issues :

  1. The conflict of interest issue of our elected and esteemed members of parliament who make and amend laws of our nation. In this age of accountability and transparency such blatant promotion of vested interests in unacceptable. We the voters, cannot afford to keep quite in such circumstances – or job is just not to caste the vote and elect a government, but to also raise our voices and keep in line such elected representatives.
  2. The power of the tobacco lobby – its quite sad and also obnoxious to all the research and advocacy efforts of doctors, scientists, activists and researchers in India, for our parliamentarians raising these fundamental issues. Whether policy on advertising or warning in films or even the issue of pictorial warnings have been made after rigorous efforts of scientists and activists – based on evidence. Both national and international organizations have been involved in such efforts. For example Dr Srinath Reddy of PFHI has been one such advocate and pioneering such efforts.
  3. Ultimately, consumer education and awareness of the poisonous effect of tobacco is critical. In a study conducted by CMS (2004), on the ban on smoking in public and the mandatory warning prohibiting sale of cigarettes to minors (below 18 years) by all shopkeepers, such efforts clearly discourages smoking. Advertising campaigns like the one by DAVP and warnings in feature films, also played critical role of reminding the menace of tobacco to health and creating an enabling environment that makes smoking unfashionable.

The media today has taken up both these critical issues – an important forum to make our law makers more accountable and also highlighting the lobbies at play. I just hope all this media hype result in more informed and active citizens by raising their voices in different mediums and ways against such blatant misuse of power.

UNICEF Awards for Children-Related Programmes in Telugu TV Channels

Hyderabad: The 6th UNICEF Awards for Children-Related Programmes in Telugu Television Channels waspresented at a special ceremony in Hyderabad on December 16, 2014. Eleven awards in diverse categories, including the highest “UNICEF Awards for Channel Most Committed to Children” were conferred to Vanitha TV on this occasion. (complete list of award winning programs attached)

Renowned lyricist Mr. Sirivennela Sitaramasastri, was the Guest of Honor at this ceremony and gave away these prestigious awards. Jury Chairperson Mr. P.V.R.K. Prasad, IAS (Retd.), Ruth Leaño, Chief Field UNICEF Office for Andhra Pradesh, Telangana& Karnataka and Ms P N Vasanti, Director General CMS were present at the awards ceremony.Select government officials, heads of TV channels, eminent media personalities, members of the academia and representatives of the civil society organisations attended the event.

The UNICEF Awards, initiated in partnership with Centre for Media Studies (CMS), is now in its 6th year. The purpose of the award is to enhance awareness, knowledge and understanding about children issues amongst Telugu news and entertainment channels and encourage the editorial staff and the producers of the channels to pay greater attention to children-related programme content. The Telugu TV Channels have been an active participant in the UNICEF Awards since its inception and have demonstrated sustained commitment towards issues related to children.

This year, from August 6 to November 14, 2014, CMS recorded, monitored and analyzed over 4,56,000 minutes (7,600 hours) of content churned out by the 19 news channels during prime-time. In these 100 days, the channels together contributed a record number of 2,578 programmes on children-related issues which accounts for 11,386.23 minutes – this is approximately 2.5 percentage of the channel’s prime-time in the 100 days of monitoring of 4,56,000 minutes. The News Stories dominated the entries with 2,175 programmes. The other formats which were covered by the channels were – 111 News Features, 64 Discussions, 40 Documentaries, 2 Fictional Programmes, 42 Public Service Messages and 144 Other Formats. A significant enhancement this year was a total of 76 Self-Nominations with a total duration of 1524.33 minutes.

In this sixth edition of the Awards, there was a substantial increase in the number of programmes and the total time contributed by the participating 19 channels. In all, the percentage of prime airtime dedicated to children in was a significant improvement from the finding of last edition. In terms of quality better programmes and a wider range of issue related to children were covered. Overall it has been found that the quantity and quality of programming on children has improved substantially.

The Telugu TV programmes were evaluated on parameters such as message research and presentation, innovation, quality of visuals, treatment of the subject from legal and rights perspective and overall assessment of the potential impact of the programme on the viewers.

For further information please contact:

Prosun Sen, Advocacy &Communication Specialist, UNICEF Office for the states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, Tel: 91 40 23227226, 23227236, Mob: 91 9502655533 Email: psen@unicef.org, Website: www.unicef.in

Or

 

Anita Medasani, Regional Manager, CMS Hyderabad, Tel: 91 40 2354 0493, Mob: 91 88975 07936, Email: anita@cmsindia.org, Website: www.cmsindia.org

Neighbours Political Will and Commitment towards Good Governance

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Alok Srivastava

Director, CMS Social

My two recent visits, as a member of a Mission on sharing of experiences about Good Governance with the Governments of Bhutan and Bangladesh, were very refreshing!!

A lot of commitment and interest to know about good governance measures combined with transparency and accountability was visible at the highest level.

In fact, Bhutan seems to be head of India in terms of commitment at the top political level. In Bhutan, the Prime Minister has signed Performance Agreement (PA)- a commitment between two stakeholders within the government, such as between the Prime Minister and each minister(10 nos.), between the Prime Minister and Dzongkhags (20 nos.) and between the Prime Minister of Bhutan and head of the autonomous agencies (6 nos.) to stand committed towards being accountable for driving implementation and delivering the results against the annual priorities and to provide an objective and fair basis for evaluating the Ministry’s overall performance at the end of the year. As the document says, “The Performance Agreement represents an important accountability mechanism for inculcating a performance based culture at all levels of government.”

The brain storming workshop attended by senior officials of different ministries/departments including Prime Minister’s office of Government of Bhutan, showed very positive and high intention to introduce more systemic changes, particularly to strengthen government to citizen (G2C) service delivery platforms.

In Bangladesh, the participation of senior bureaucrats such as Ministries/departments’ Secretaries, Additional and Joint Secretaries, in very intensive brainstorming exercise based workshops, was full of positive energy and commitment. The top most bureaucrats including the Cabinet Secretary took lot of interest to know and understand about good practices related to Government Performance Management System (GPMS) being practiced in India as well as in other countries. As part of learning by doing, the Additional Secretaries and Joint Secretaries of Government of Bangladesh, distributed in six groups, spent around one and a half day to develop a Result Framework Document (RFD), in Bangladesh it is proposed to be called as Implementation Agreement (IA) for six different ministries/departments using India’s Result Framework Monitoring System (RFMS) software. The Secretaries during a day-long workshop organised on a holiday (Saturday) spent good time to understand GPMS as well as evaluated the RFDs developed by the groups of the Additional Secretaries/Joint Secretaries.

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In both the countries, the level of involvement of bureaucracy to work towards good governance is worth noticing and appreciating. I strongly believe that the adage, “Where there is will, there is way” will stand true in case of both the countries!!

Greening is best bet to absorb effects of massive infrastructure

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Swachh Bharat (clean India) programme is acquiring potential to be a turning point in India’s transition to next level of economic development. Even more significant is its potential to change the mind set of people of the country.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reiteration that it should not be viewed as a yet another Government programme but a movement of people should receive serious consideration.

We need not wait for five years to see the results of this landmark initiative. There are equally important other initiatives that need to be considered with similar thrust and seriousness. What are these?

A WWF report recently has reminded us that since last 40 years land, rivers, forests, oceans have lost out their potential by a significant extent. The result of which we are witnessing holocausts in Uttaranchal earlier, in Jammu and Kashmir and Visakapatnam more recently.Who knows where it is going to be next. Which one Initiative could neutralize such a threat and also help in addressing yet another issue bothering the country? That is the energy crisis.Because of more recent Hudhud cyclone there was extensive destruction of greenery in Visakapatnam with uprooting of trees. This is expected to increase temperature of the region by two degrees in the coming months which means increase in consumption of electricity apart from effects on health and productivity of people.If, on the other, temperatures in Andhra Pradesh (AP), for example, could be reduced by five degrees next ten years, the face of the state could change for good. Only then the state could expect to excel and achieve its development goals. Is it possible to bring down temperatures when in fact it is rising these days as never before? If Malaysia could do so long ago, why not Andhra Pradesh? Prosperity of Malaysia in a matter of couple of decades is attributed to its determined efforts to green the country by bringing down the temperature of the country by more than five degrees.

In anxiety to build infrastructure and fast catch up as a developed state, all out efforts are being made to convert fertile agriculture lands of the state into super cities and concrete jungle.There seems so far no parallel commensurate concern for the environmental implications.This however does not mean that the state should not improve living standards of its people.


The people should be more productive, prosperous and the state should stand out as a model state of the country. The state is poised to become. But that cannot be ensured if any of the environmental features are threatened.The responsibility for such a concern and initiative should not be limited to the government.


In fact, the primary role should be that of citizen and communities. Civil society activism has to acquire a mission mode and take the course of a movement. This calls for citizen and communities led campaign and actions as to the need to bring down temperature by greening the state. How a decline in temperature helps the state need to be packaged and fed into popular belief system.


The new state of Telengana very rightly and promptly announced a three year long ambitious programme towards greening one-third of the terrain of the state. This Harita Haaramprogramme proposes a green week every month next three years when elected representatives and government offices take to planting 210 crore seedlings and saplings including Neem on all barren places, river and canal beds and shore areas at the rate of 40 lac in every assembly segment. The Chief Minister of Telengana in fact wishes people to feel such a way that they are walking through a forest. It is a visionary idea. But such plans should not be forgotten or sidelined.


As to the activism, three programmes are suggested for massive and prolonged movement. The first is echo system of water sources ..water tanks, canals and rivers flowing in the state. The beds of all these need to be planted with trees like neem and the like (experts could identify a set of trees or plants of certain species). Local citizens and communities should take on this task or mission as an urgent responsibility. The government could help by way of supplying species. A competitive spirit has to set in between communities to do this for all local water sources. Programme of dredging water sources should once again be taken up on a war footing simultaneously.


A second massive mandatory programme should be for bettering water levels everywhere. Rain water harvesting has to be a concern of the local community not merely of the government, there must be other ways of reviving, reenergizing water sources. A water conservation and reuse practice should not remain as a campaign rather it should be a tradition or ritual, a compulsion and part of life style. Local school and youth should be convinced of logics and entrusted with the responsibility.


Another mission parallely is minimizing the extent of use of air conditioners and use of petrol or diesel based vehicles for individual use. The Government should upgrade the quality of public transport vehicles and also their maintenance, reliability, frequency and should be such that public transport should be viewed as good enough. They should become mandatory practices.If children could go by school bus why they cannot continue using a pooled service. There must be alternative technology to air conditioner like water coolers which require least electricity and release least carbon. Sooner these changes in life style the better it is.


A third campaign should be for adopting to solar source for household and institutional uses.Both government and households have equal responsibility. Despite giving subsidy by the government for more than a decade, hardly five percent households have taken to solar(whereas despite taking to solar almost a decade after India initiated, more than one-fifth of households in China already rely on solar). Government should promote manufacture of solar panels within and restrain China dumping in India. This is not possible without an all out motivational campaign among stakeholders like electrical consultants, contractors, architects,manufacturers, etc.


These campaigns need to be taken up in a mission mode. The government role should be more of facilitative and external review. The initiative and responsibility should be that of citizens,communities and civil society organisations.


Industry and corporates too should be in the fore front in initiating and supporting each of these missions and movements. Now that the new Company Law allows all such expenditure under CSR, these should become long term concerns and commitment of corporates.


There is nothing new I’m saying here. In fact, NT Rama Rao and Chandrababu Naidu had taken up these in the earlier years. But those ideas were not pursed to become life style concerns and with seriousness that they deserve. And they were taken up more as government programmes.


Now the government of Telengana has gone a step ahead. One positive outcome of disastrous Hudhud cyclone in Visakapatnam is to revive the programme to plant trees. Local citizens have taken to the idea. They should set an example. This initiative should not limit to Visakapatnam alone.


India Corruption Study: Lure of money in lieu of votes

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That money is paid to voters for their vote is known to those who are familiar with grass root polities of India. We do not have any data for the magnitude of the phenomena except occasional newspaper reports and television pictures of voters being distributed cash (and of course gifts of all kind) or unaccounted cash being confiscated before reaching voters. But neither the extent of voters lured nor the amount of money involved in this menace is known for any state with any reliability. The Assembly elections in Karnataka (2013) and Municipal elections in undivided Andhra Pradesh (2014) and some by-elections earlier in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have set a new benchmark in this regard. When viewed together with 2007 and 2008 pre-general election surveys, the trend has become of threatening proportion to the very fundamentals of democracy. India Corruption Study which CMS started in 2000 as annual series found certain linkage between bribes citizens pay in availing basic public services and the quid-pro-quo practice of voting. That is how CMS went about tracking this phenomena of money in lieu of votes in Lok Sabha and some Assembly elections.

Although corruption is much talked about as a national malice, one aspect that has not been seriously pursued is that this corruption by way of “note for vote” is depriving good governance and is threatening the roots of democracy, equity and development endeavors of the country. And that in fact, is the source and origin of “cycle of corruption” in the country. That is why CMS described it as “mother of all corruption” in the country. This particular phenomena has not become a priority concern either of corruption crusaders or of political leaders or of mass media as it should have been by explaining voters what accepting doles in lure and in lieu of vote meant to voters. On the contrary, news media reports boost the phenomena. The way the news media reports such instances is as if it is an isolated affair to do with a few candidates in some constituencies.

When CMS took to the annual surveys on corruption involving citizens availing basic public services in 2000, corruption in general was among the top ten concerns of the people at large. More than a decade later, with expose of series of scams and extensive media coverage, corruption is being viewed in the top five problems or concerns of the country. Corruption across the public services has not declined, as one would expect. Increased public concern has not led to decline in note for vote either. India Corruption Study bring out that the phenomena of bribe giving by citizen and taking cash as voters in fact has spread far and wide.

The year 2014 could be called as “Year of Elections in India” as it had elections to Lok Sabha as well as to Assembly of seven States. Three of them were held along with Lok Sabha and the others were held separately in a different month. In two of the States, Maharastra and Haryana, Congress or Congress led government is ruling for second or third term and they are accused of corruption. Field survey in these States indicate that a high percentage of voters changed their voting choice in the last minute. As such, in these States, special inquiries were made with probes on what factors determined such last minute shifts in voting preference.

To read more: http://cmsindia.org/publications/India-Corruption-Survey-2007-14.pdf