Healthy public opinion is the threshold to enter the well built mansion of democracy. Those were the days when public opinion was miraculously created by Gandhi through Grass root work in India. It was the time when it was rather easy to take people into confidence against foreign rule. There was almost one programme before all- how to secure freedom. In democracy it is the responsibility of the people to look after the interest of the society and the nation through their elected representative in the parliament. With 68% of the electorate voting against congress in 1981 the party came to power with overwhelming number of seat in the Parliament. In such cases the ruling party may turn autocratic for there is no opposition in the parliament to check the arbitrary actions of power drunk ruling party. It is the press that plays the opposition. It is a free press which can force checks and balances which are a essential part of running government – checking it from becoming dictatorial. It gives voice to true public opinion.
Checking the government and its moves, of course, may be called a negative side of the Press, but that is the function of opposition too. It require courage and conviction. To oppose a Marcos or a Idi Amin , a Hitler , a Stalin or Mussolini require guts. At least Indian Press have been demonstrating it from time to time to keep flag of democracy flying high in the Indian sky. 50% of media, ie Akashvani and Doordarshan being totally in the hands of the government it was only Press which came to the rescue of the people in 1975 when the Prime Minister declared Emergency and the parliament passed constitution amendment bills with retrospective effect.
Press played a very effective role in bringing down the ruling party from the seat of the governance in 1977. To strengthen democratic trends a new phase is coming up under the purview of the Press — Investigative journalism. With rampant corruption at all the level the Judiciary comes into the picture only when a complaint is made. Through investigative journalism the Press has been able to expose the nexus between government officials, the politicians, the smugglers and the mafia as also between politicians and national and multinational industries Empires. A large number of Journalist are joining the rank at the risk of their lives and career.
The Press does not play simply the role of the opposition but shares the responsibility of welfare work too. In the recent years in Indian Press has been making suggestions about ecological disaster caused in denudation of forests in many states. Similarly it has been the spokesmen of the mute animals and birds which are mercilessly killed. The Press has special responsibility in the social field. Indian Press has raised the questions of dowry and child marriage. The most important issues on which it initiated a debate in the recent years was the questions of injustice done in the society. The questions of exploitation of childrens in different cottage industries, hotels, and business establishment have been taken up by Press throughout the country.
Child health care , the problem of rural poverty, and urban slums and fresh trade and many other important issues have been raised by Press. The local and regional parties have gained ground in the National scenario of the country. Let us hope that the language papers may one day give direction to the national Press too.