Kashmir Editors Guild (KEG) has called for a complete revamp and overall of the Department of Information and Public Relations. It wants the department to rediscover itself and stay relevant to its mandate and responsibilities.
KEG met in Srinagar on Monday with President Fayaz Ahmad Kaloo in the chair and discussed in detail the functioning of the department in wake of a series of decisions taken by the government in its various interactions with KEG and other media bodies. Though almost a year has passed, not a single decision has been implemented on the ground.
While the media was expecting the decisions to be implemented, the department was lost in the abyss of mismanagement during which it actually distanced itself from its mandate and the responsibilities. The recent tensions within the department were just indicators towards the malfunctioning of the department.
It was felt in the meeting that from once being the high-value department, it has reduced itself to the lowest of records, so far. In its efforts to redefine its role, the department has distanced itself from its basic activities and has jumped into activities, which do not fall either in its mandate or its responsibilities.
The deterioration in its functioning is a natural outcome of the broad basing of stake holding or simply abdication of the responsibility by the natural masters of the department. Or, as members said, it could be the natural result of certain forces or characters who are impacting its functioning from the shadows. The members pointed out that the department has historically remained as part of the Chief Minister’s portfolio. They felt that the government must take this bridging department very seriously, as has been the practice in the past.
Insisting that an institution is on the brinks of disaster, the members regretted that it is using itself for subversion of the media as an institution. Of late, the media in Srinagar, especially the print, is facing crippling crisis in access to news and sustenance of the institutions. Apparently these are the outcome of arbitrary shifts in the policies, evolved over the years, under the garb of transparency and reforms.
The department has degraded itself into a fief with apparently self-projection as the sole business. There is complete collapse of communication between the media and the department.
The department displayed its negativity recently by attempting setting up of the so called advisory committee with the mandate of “managing the media”. The objective of the committee explained the line of thinking in the department. On this front KEG hailed one of its nominated members, veteran journalist, Muhammad Sayeed Malik who distanced from the committee insisting that media cannot be managed at all.
In this backdrop, KEG decided to call for a complete revamp of the department from top to bottom. It is inevitable in the backdrop of the fact that media is vital to the democracy as a concept and a governance system.