Journalists as activists



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Sage Narada, the popular mythological Sanyasi known for creating trouble with his habit of carrying tales, of course, in the larger interests of the society and the universe, is considered by many to be the pre-historic precursor of the modern day journalist.

Some Puranas suggest that Narad Muni, also referred to as ‘Devrishi’ (the Sage of Gods), appeared from the forehead of Lord Brahma, the creator in the Hindu trinity, whereas some like Vishnu Purana describe him as the son of Sage Kashyapa. Narad rishi is one of the Prajapatis and is counted among the seven revered Rishis (Saptarishis).

It is believed that this ancient father of journalism used to travel all over the universe with his trademark Veena in hand singing and communicating information. Rig Veda has some hymns attributed to Narada. Ancient scriptures also project him as the chief of the Gandharvas or the divine musicians as also the inventor of Veena.

Narad Jayanti, the birthday of this pioneer of communication, is celebrated on the day after full moon day in the month of Vaishakh, i.e. April or May. Many media organizations in the country are celebrating it as ‘Patrakar Diwas’ (Journalists Day) on May 7 this year.

The day is celebrated to inspire journalists to follow his ideals, broaden their approach towards the society and make public welfare their ultimate objective.

Journalists, whether it be Mahatma Gandhi or Lokmanya Tilak, have played a significant role not only during the freedom struggle but also in post-independent India. They have contributed not only through their writings but also as Parliamentarians, administrators, authors and mediators. From LK Advani to Arun Shourie, Dinanath Mishra to Balbir Punj and now Rajiv Shukla and Dileep Padgaonkar (as the Kashmir interlocutor), journalists continue to influence the nation in different ways.

There are also a significant number of journalists who maintain a low profile but are rendering yeoman service to the society at large.

Abha Khanna, a senior Delhi-based journalist, for example, launched Sum Vikas along with fellow media persons, doctors, chartered accountants, teachers and businessmen.

Among other things, the NGO imparts informal and formal education to out-of-school children, and organises adult literacy classes, counseling for teenaged girls, stitching and tailoring classes for poor women, skills training in handicraft etc, scholarships to meritorious students for computer & other professional courses, micro-credit scheme for unemployed youth & widows, health check-up and check-up camps in Sewa Bastis and JJ clusters, and legal counseling for women besides contributing to marriages of poor girls and facilitating special aids for physically challenged persons.

Working within time and resource constraints, in a short span of five years, Sum Vikas has helped over 300 children. About 125 students are currently enrolled in its classes and around 150 women have learnt stitching and tailoring, many of whom are now working regularly at boutiques. The organization, with branches in Delhi and Uttarakhand, has facilitated and contributed to the marriage of 14 poor girls.

As he sped past through the busy, congested and often insensitive lanes and bylanes of the national capital on way to his workplace, M. Atharuddin Munne Bharti, working with a leading television channel, was pained to see children from poor and lower middle class families carrying heavy school bags, walking long distances to reach their schools, mostly run by the municipality and the local government.

What began initially as a habit of dropping such children in his own vehicle soon took the shape of Karneji Foundation, with the objective of providing free school conveyance. Munne Bharti gave away his own car for the cause prompting his friends and well-wishers to donate more vehicles and funds. Apart from expanding the area of his operations, this dynamic, young journo is now planning among other things a ‘Gramin Ambulance Service’ for the benefit of the rural populace, who are unable to access medical services in the absence of transportation.

The society needs to support such bravehearts in all possible manner. The nation salutes these true inheritors of Sage Narada’s legacy.