It was then that I mooted to him the idea of starting a group of journalists for animals. I know so many journalists throughout India ( and Sri Lanka) who are very concerned about treatment to animals. Some of them , like a journalist from Chandigarh, spend a lot of time tracking down poachers and exposing them. His latest expose is how a group of skeet shooters like Manavjit Singh Sandhu , representing India at international tournaments and have been given the highest Indian sports awards , are actually using the bullets given to them to practice with , to hunt down animals regularly.
Another girl changed papers regularly till she found one that would let her concentrate exclusively on wildlife causes and now she writes amazingly detailed pieces for Pioneer.
Karlekar has never set up the group and its absence is felt keenly. So many biased and nonsensical pieces come out regularly. In fact the word “menace” has become a surname for most urban animals – monkey menace, dog menace, even cow menace ( that beautiful , gentle slowmoving animal !). City councillors who never lift a finger to discuss the condition of roads and drains , go crazy near election time and demand the removal and killing of all city creatures as the panacea to all problems. In Himachal Pradesh it was the fury of an illiterate press that led to the sterilization of hill monkeys and when lakhs of rupees have been spent on catching and operating on them , it has been discovered that the programme is utterly useless as the catching has split up so many family groups of monkeys . And , as any monkey watcher will tell you , once a group is split up, their anger and fear increases and so does their entering human habitation and bites. Now the press is demanding that they all be shot. Once the monkeys in H.P. are shot , more than 50 % of all the trees will go as well as their generation depends solely on monkeys.
Likewise the illiterate articles on removing dogs from cities. It was the ranting of a single newspaper that had 5000 dogs killed in Bangalore when the politicians got scared. Three weeks later, after the massacre started, the newspaper suddenly changed its stance and the killing stopped. A single reporter in a local Hindi daily in Ghaziabad writes about the need to kill all animals. So the local mayor has finally capitulated to this rant and ordered the killing of all animals in the city. Last week the leading newspaper of Delhi wrote about the killing of a child by a dog – in fact put it on the headlines. I sent three separate teams to the area to find the story was completely untrue. The child was dead. But neither the family , nor the neighbours nor the police claimed it was anything to do with dogs. They said some journalist came from the newspaper , barely listened to their story and insisted herself that it was a dogbite and then filed a story. By then , all the TV channels had come in and it was only because my people were standing there with the family that they realized that they had been conned.
I wish local journalists who care and who understand that man and animal have to live together if man is to survive at all would set up state groups of Journalists for Animals. The The purpose of the organization would be to
a.Bring more knowledge about animals into the media
b.Bring more writing about animals into the media
c.Give input about the truth of specific issues
d.By writing about organizations, bring more awareness about them
e.Respond to motivated and selfserving journalistic rants against animals and give scientific ways of management
All it needs is one person in each state who is willing to open a small office in their own house and have access to a computer. The target would be to have a minimum of 5000 members of media people in every language. What he/she needs to start work is simply the big book that is brought out every year by the government listing the publications in India, their addresses,phone numbers and emails. He could write to each publication , starting with the ones he knows and ask if anyone would like to join the group. This mail could be directed at : journalists in the print media , television and radio ,editors,columnists, even advertising and public relations people and disc jockeys. If the person does not know the names of local journalists , perhaps he could get their names and addresses from the local animal welfare groups.
This is what the office does :
1.Keep membership growing
2.Send each member a summary of animal issues daily, weekly etc
3.Send them readymade articles so that they can rehash and use them
4.Make slogans and give to DJs
5.Contact media people with ideas for articles : organizations, issues,
6.Get signatures from them if a crisis arises with the administration
The organization should get itself registered and have major journalists on the board. They could have award ceremonies every year.This would become one of the most powerful groups for change in the country.
Is there no one in India in the media who is willing to start ? Shall we keep looking on as helpless spectators while the media is misused to destroy and kill the innocent ?