Social integration and the media

By Aditya Rangroo.

A society is a conglomerate of identities. There is hardly a homogeneous society in our world. Human beings are mobile and interacting. Wars and conquests, natural calamities, trade and commerce and love for adventure have been the catalyst for heterogeneity of societies.

This diversity throws up the important question of integrating these diversifying identities into a unity of sorts. This phenomenon is generally expressed by the attractive term of “unity in diversity”. To some political thinkers this dream can be realized by aiming at and working towards higher and spiritual goals of humanism. However, skeptics express doubts about the fecundity of the concept, and argue that integration will always wear the mask of superficiality.

Perhaps it will be safer to tread a middle path. While identities are stay put in their parameters, their cooperation and cohesion in carrying the society forward as a single mass of humanity should not be really forbidding.

We are talking of integration and not of assimilation. Integration of these identities is a matter of reasoned cooperation among the players. In a prospect of integration, the units do not lose their identity and individuality. In assimilation they do. In today’s social structure, emphasis is on integration meaning thereby that while the State remains the one-unit piece, its federating options are not denied.

Media is generally called the fourth estate. We do not intend to go into the entire ambit of the relevance of media to the development of society. But surely, the particular aspect of “social integration” carries much more significance today than ever before.

The need for social integration arises from growing awareness among the federating identities focusing on who and what they are. The urge for shaping the future of an individual or a group of individuals or an organization is a catalyst to that need. The concept of “back to the basics” also emanates from this thinking.

The State is bound by moral and ethical codes to forge integration among its component identities. It has the apparatus like the organs of the state to work towards that end. But additionally, the civil society must not lag behind and has to take an initiative.

Media is the crucial instrument that rests in the hands of civil society. Spaciousness of the canvas of understanding and acceptability is commensurate with the honesty and intensity of its performance. It is not for nothing that it has earned the sobriquet of ‘the fourth estate’.

Accepting that social integration is of crucial importance to the sovereignty and integrity of a society and a state, it becomes incumbent upon the media to lead the civil society in right direction. Realization of societal responsibility is a compulsion for unbiased presentation of views and news.

Media has not only to guard the civil society against fissiparous tendencies and disruption but, more importantly, it has to pursue national integration as its priority mission.

Media offers a platform to all shades of opinion on the subject of social integration. It can and should highlight the interests of individual identities and generate meaningful discussion among opinion makers. It has to neutralize and harmonize conflicting interest and views by inducting worldview of the subject.

Internationalism and globalization legitimize social integration from various dimensions. Under globalization process society has wider and increased chances of expansion vertically as well as horizontally. It should be possible for the media to iron out the angularities that separate identities, and bring about harmony in which each identity understands that it cannot survive in isolation.

Economic imperatives and the demands of a mechanized society also become compulsions for national integration. This is the age of collectivism under one name or the other.

In a country like India, national integration is the key to all-round development and smooth transformation into an advanced society. Suppression or negligence of one identity or more in order to forge space for another is an old and unacceptable game of self-aggrandisement. Sources of production and channels of distribution have to be shared. How best is that done without endangering the basics of social structure and without exposing it to violent knee jerks is what the media has to take care of.

To sum up, societies are heterogeneous in essence and can develop into a self-reliant and powerful entity only when they are able to converge into nationally integrated entity. In order to achieve this aim both, electronic and print media, have a decisive role to play. It lies in bringing awareness and knowledge of benefits of cohesive and integrated civil society to the masses of people without bias.

(The writer is student of the BMM (Journalism) University of Mumbai).

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